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PM Modi to meet Mamata Banerjee today in Kolkata


Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will hold a meeting at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday, a state secretariat official said on Friday.

They are also likely to share the stage during a programme here on Sunday, a source in the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) said. Modi will be on a two-day visit to Kolkata from January 11, amid ongoing protest at various places in the state against the amended citizenship law.

"As far as we know, she (Banerjee) will attend a programme of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) on January 12, where the prime minister would also be present," a senior TMC leader told PTI. Both the leaders are also scheduled to hold a meeting at the Raj Bhavan here on Saturday evening, according to a highly-placed official at the state secretariat, who added that Modi will reach the city at around 4pm as per the schedule.

 
 

"The PM and the chief minister will be meeting at the Raj Bhavan tomorrow soon after he reaches the city," the official told PTI. However, the agenda of the meeting between Modi and Banerjee was not disclosed. Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya had gone to the state secretariat on Friday to invite Banerjee to the 150th anniversary programme of the KoPT.

The significant political development comes a day after Banerjee had said in the state assembly that she would boycott an opposition meeting called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on January 13 over the JNU violence, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and other "anti-people" policies of the Centre. Ever since the BJP emerged the main contender of the TMC in West Bengal following the Lok Sabha poll results, Modi and Banerjee have not shared the dais at any government programme.

The chief minister had gone to New Delhi in September last year and met Modi in a "courtesy call" visit. The new citizenship law has emerged as the latest flashpoint in the state, with the TMC opposing the contentious legislation tooth and nail, and the BJP pressing for its implementation.

Meanwhile, reacting to the likely meeting of the two leaders, the opposition CPI(M)-led Left Front said the Trinamool Congress' "double standard" is now exposed. "The TMC is actually a Trojan horse in the opposition camp," CPI(M) legislative party leader Sujan Chakraborty alleged. The West Bengal BJP leadership, however, said it is expected that in a federal structure, a chief minister will be present at a government programme attended by the prime minister.

 
 
 



CAA comes into effect from Jan 10, Union home ministry issues notification


New Delhi: The Centre on Friday announced that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act will come into force from January 10.

In a gazette notification, the Union home ministry said the act under which non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship, will come into force from January 10. "In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of the section 1 of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (47 of 2019), the Central government hereby appoints the 10th day of January, 2020, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force," the notification said.

 
 

The CAA was passed by parliament on December 11. According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

There have been widespread protests against the act in different parts of the country. Those who are opposed to the legislation are saying that it is for the first time that India will grant citizenship on the basis of religion which violates the basic tenets of the country's constitution.

However, the government and ruling BJP has been defending the act saying that the minority groups from the three countries have no other option but to come India when they face religious persecution there. The home ministry, however, is yet to frame the rules for the act.

 
 
 



FPJ Exclusive: Scam stuns Maha revenue dept, bogus grass payment receipts for registration


Mumbai: The Department of Revenue is stunned by the spate of scams of bogus grass payment receipts for stamp duty registration. Although two such cases in Latur and Nanded have surfaced, the department fears similar frauds may come to light in the rest of Maharashtra.

In the two cases, the department believes the preliminary reports suggest the scam will be worth Rs1.50 crore.

The department has explained the modus operandi for such fraud. “Such irregularities are in close nexus with the computer operators hired by the department on a contract basis.

 
 

The stamp duty registration is done online by choosing various options including e-chalan, certification, stamp paper, and electronic stamp paper.

In Latur and Nanded, it has come to a notice that the computer operator clicks the certification option whereby the property purchasers skip the payment of stamp duty,” a revenue department officer told FPJ.

The officer informed the paper that this is an e-payment (grass payment) scam. “There is clearly a loss to the government exchequer as the actual payment of stamp duty is not done because of an unholy nexus between the computer operator and some low-rank staff,” he said.

He added an FIR has already been registered and departmental inquiry ordered. Earlier, the stamp duty payment was done through franking but the government had introduced online payment since 2015.

The government will now have to put in place safety and security measures to avoid such frauds in future,” a government officer from Nanded said.

The officer said the department will have to recover the stamp duty with a penalty from the concerned purchasers.

The department may also initiate criminal proceedings against the purchasers for the manner in which they have paid the stamp duty through bogus challan.

Annually, more than 25 lakh documents are registered across the state through online payment. The state collects stamp duty and registration of over Rs 25,000 crore every year.

 
 
 



Bhopal: Ex-IAF officer phones Governor Tandon posing as Amit Shah, held


BHOPAL: A desperate and audacious attempt by Wing Commander, posted at IAF New Delhi, has landed him in jail. The officer posing as Union Home minister made a call to the state governor to facilitate his frend’s appointment as VC. He was arrested by the Special Task Force along with his friend on Friday.

Wing Commander Kuldip Vaghela wanted to see his dental surgeon friend’s appointment as V-C of Madhya Pradesh Medical Science University (MPMSU-Jabalpur).

National president of Dental Surgeon Association of India Dr Chandersh Shukla was so passionate to become vice chancellor of MPMSU that he and his friend did not hesitate to take the unusual route.

According to STF, Vaghela called upon Governor Lalji Tandon, posing as Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The STF arrested Vaghela for impersonating as Amit Shah while talking to Governor Lalji Tandon over phone. The guv is the Chancellor of MPMSU-Jabalpur, the university and governing body for all Medicine, Dental, Nursing, Paramedical, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani and Yoga colleges in the state.

According to ADG, MPSTF Ashok Awasthi, the process of selecting next Vice Chancellor of MPMSU was initiated in July 2019, as part of which the Governor had ordered the constitution of search committee to select the new MPMSU VC.

Shukla (who runs a clinic Dental World in Bhopal) too applied for the MPMSU V-C post for and appeared in the interview before the Search Committee on January 3, 2020. “On January 3, he (Dr Shukla) contacted his friend Vaghela for using some high contact/office to facilitate his appointment as VC. Subsequently, Dr Shukla made a conference call to the MP Raj Bhawan on January 3.”

“During the call, Vaghela posed as Shah. He talked to the Tandon for facilitating his friend’s appointment as VC,” said Awasthi.

However, after the conference call, the Governor sensed some foul play and instructed his Raj Bhawan apparatus to get in touch with the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and verify whether the Union home minister had actually made the call to the Governor.

When the Raj Bhawan came to know that the call was made by an imposter, it lodged a complaint with MPSTF on Thursday and the STF immediately swung into action.

“Vaghela was arrested from Delhi on Thursday and his friend Dr Shukla was arrested from Bhopal. Both have been booked u/s 419 and 420 of IPC,” the ADG-MPSTF said.

Arrested duo was produced before a Special Court in Bhopal on Friday, after which the court sent the duo into three days STF custody for further questioning.

 
 
 



'Freedom of Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19': SC rebukes Centre


While delivering verdict on a batch of petitions on situation in J&K after abrogation of Article 370, Supreme Court said Kashmir has seen a lot of violence. The apex court also said that it will try to balance the human rights and freedoms with the issue of security.

Supreme Court while delivering verdict on petitions on situation in J&K after abrogation of Article 370 directed Jammu and Kashmir government to review all restrictive orders within a week.

"Temporary suspension of Internet, basic freedoms of citizens should not be arbitrary, open to judicial review. Internet suspension in J&K is to be reviewed. Freedom of Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of free speech. Trade and commerce through Internet is protected under Article 19(1)(g) - fundamental right to conduct trade and commerce", Supreme Court observed.

The Supreme Court had on November 27 reserved the judgment on a batch of petitions challenging restrictions imposed on communication, media and telephone services in Jammu and Kashmir pursuant to revocation of Article 370. A bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and B R Gavai had heard the petitions filed by various petitioners including Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin.

The petitions were filed after the central government scrapped Article 370 in August and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Following this, phone lines and the internet were blocked in the region. The government has said that it has progressively eased restrictions.

 
 
 



Deepika Padukone should stay in Mumbai and dance: BJP MLA on actress' JNU visit


Harda: In a veiled attack at actor Deepika Padukone for visiting Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Leader of Opposition Mohan Bhargava on Thursday said that "heroines should be in Mumbai and dance".

In reply to a question on Deepika's visit to JNU, the BJP leader said: "Heroine should dance in Mumbai. Why should she go to JNU? I do not know. There are many people like her.

 

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If they want to do politics then you should enter politics and contest elections." Bhargava also referred to former JNU students union president Kanhaiya Kumar who lost Lok Sabha election to Union Minister Giriraj Singh in Bihar's Begusarai.

 
 

"Many have fought elections as well. He contested from Begusarai and came at third place," he said. Deepika Padukone's upcoming film "Chhapaak" which is based on an acid attack survivor, is releasing on January 10.

On January 7, the actor joined the protest at JNU after a masked mob entered the varsity campus and attacked the students and teachers with sticks and rods.

 
 
 



'No takers for your malware': Indian diplomat slams Pak at UN for peddling false narrative on Delhi


New York: India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin, on Thursday (local time) lambasted Pakistan for peddling false narrative on New Delhi and said there are no "takers for your malware here".

"It is increasingly acknowledged that the Council faces crises of identity and legitimacy, as well as relevance and performance. The globalisation of terror networks, the weaponisation of new technologies, the inability to counter those resorting to subversive statecraft are showing up the shortcomings of the Council," Akbaruddin said during an open debate at the UN Security Council.

"One delegation that epitomises the dark arts has, yet again, displayed its wares by peddling falsehoods earlier today. These we dismiss with disdain. My simple response to Pakistan is even though it is late, neighbour, heal thyself of your malaise. There are no takers here for your malware," he added.

The diplomat stressed upon the Council as "part of the political toolkit" to address ongoing and future threats to global peace and security.

He also said that there needs to be a Council which is a "representative" of current global realities.

"The answer to the crises the Council faces, lies in invoking and working through Charter provisions that provide for reform and change. We need a Council that is representative of current global realities, credible, and legitimate, rather than one that rests merely on the claim that it existed at the inception. The Council needs to be fit for purpose for the 21st century," Akbaruddin further said.

 
 
 



'Not fighting anyone else's war': Imran Khan on US-Iran tension


Islamabad: While offering mediation between the US and Iran again, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that Islamabad would not become part of anyone else's war but would try to resolve differences between warring states.

"Pakistan will not become a part of any war because we had committed mistakes in the past by taking part in the wars of others," Dawn news quoted Khan as saying at an event on Thursday.

"Today I want to present my foreign policy that we are not going to repeat our mistakes of getting involved in others' wars. Pakistan will become a country which will make peace among states," he added.

He said Pakistan would try its best to resolve confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as between Iran and the US.

"We will try to restore friendly ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I have also offered to US President Donald Trump that Pakistan is ready to mediate between Iran and the US to resolve differences between them.

"Nobody emerges victorious from wars... Now Pakistan will not fight wars but will bring countries together."

Ever since tensions have heightened in the Middle East following the death of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack on January 3 in Baghdad, Pakistan has stood by it decision not to become party in the regional conflict.

Pakistan had on Sunday reaffirmed its resolve not to become a part of any conflict in the region and renewed its offer for mediating in the Middle East crisis, Dawn news reported.

The offer was formally conveyed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi during the telephonic conversation with his counterparts from Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

While briefing the Senate on Monday, Qureshi again made it clear that Pakistan would not become party to the ongoing conflict, adding that Islamabad's "soil will not be used against any other state".

 
 
 



'I see a confident trans person': Siddharth slams Shefali Vaidya


Hate and disgust for minorities seem to have come to the forefront in India, and self-proclaimed crusaders of Hinduism or rather Hindutva aren’t here to spare anyone.

Shefali Vaidya, an author and contributor for the right-wing magazine Swarajya, recently felt the need to add 'Hindu' to her Twitter bio, along with 'Indian' and 'woman'. Shefali is being called out for a controversial tweet concerning the picture of a person with a non-gender confirming look.

She had shared a picture on Twitter of a person sporting long hair and beard with a purple bindi on their forehead. However, Shefali’s caption for the picture seems to showcase a deep sense of transphobia, homophobia and disgust towards the LGBTQIA+ community.

"How the heck can I unsee this?" she asked Twitter in the photo caption.

"Sharing it to spread the misery. Why should I suffer alone?” she wrote.

How the heck can I unsee this? Sharing it to spread the misery. Why should I suffer alone? pic.twitter.com/NU92wcyJE1

— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) January 9, 2020
Her tweet seems to imply that merely viewing the image of a person dressed outside of the binary gendered fashion brought her great suffering, and she felt the need to share it with thousands on twitter because she did not want to “suffer alone”.

Needless to say, Twitter was not happy. Shefali was called out for her insensitive tweet by multiple people online.

Kavita Krishnan, the Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) replied to Shefali’s tweet. Krishnan claimed to know the person in the picture and said that they are a transperson.

She said, “The trans person in the picture below is a student, a scholar, a fine human being whom I am proud to know and admire. This handle is shamelessly dehumanising and deriding a trans person for their appearance. Report #transphobia”

The trans person in the picture below is a student, a scholar, a fine human being whom I am proud to know and admire. This handle is shamelessly dehumanising and deriding a trans person for their appearance. Report #transphobia @TwitterIndia @jack @Twitter @stoptransbill19 https://t.co/itJM8VJ0OO

— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) January 10, 2020
Another person who called out Shefali’s attack on the transperson was actor Siddharth.

I see a confident trans person living and expressing themselves. You can't. You are incapable of understanding the goddess within. All you can do is hate. Shame on you for being so vile. #Transphobia.

Please report this bigot to @twitter @jack https://t.co/9nlsfo6uyQ

— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) January 10, 2020
Siddharth’s tweet read, “I see a confident trans person living and expressing themselves. You can't. You are incapable of understanding the goddess within. All you can do is hate. Shame on you for being so vile. #Transphobia.”

Both of them tagged Twitter’s official handle and twitter Chief Jack Dorsey.




As he turns 75, this 'angry young man' and his pen are both going stronger


“The anger erupting among the youth is not only to do with the economic setbacks. In the hatred, bigotry and exclusion they have smelt the danger of what is coming their way.

The resistance which is growing by the day stems from that,” says Javed Akhtar of the growing wave of protests against the CAA and NRC. The sea outside his Mumbai apartment window seems to mirror the sea of ideas that the septuagenarian poet, lyricist, activist and screenwriter has carried in his head over the nearly five-decade-long career.

Akhtar who along with Salim Khan created the cult of the angry young man with iconic films like Zanjeer, Deewar and Sholay, insists it was not a conscious intellectualisation of the era's socio-political angst.

 
 

“That was also our own lived reality. When located within it is not possible to think so big . Those were stories we genuinely wanted to tell and they happened at the right time and place.”

Always unabashed in his criticism of rabid extremism, he says he welcomes the film fraternity coming forward to support protesting students. “As creative people closer to that demographic and its aspirations it is natural they'll support.” On other well-known names who have chosen to be quiet he says: “You should ask them about it.”

But we have gotten ahead of what we are actually at Javed saab's home to talk about. This is a very special time for the Akhtar- Azmi families. “14th Jan will see the hugely celebrated Kaifi Azmi centenary draw to a close with the screening of Baba Azmi’s first directorial effort Mee Raqsam (I Dance) - a Hindi feature film – shot entirely in Mijwan, Kaifi saab's village in UP's Azamgarh,” he informs. The two families have then planned a host of celebrations in the run-up to the poet-lyricist's ringing in his 75th on January 17th.

 
 

Two days before, an exhibition of photographs, posters and paintings curated by Pradeep Chandra and SMM Ausaja - The World of Javed Akhtar – will be inaugurated by Zoya and Farhan Akhtar.

He laughs modestly, “I found the name quite pompous,” and adds in his signature tongue-in-cheek style, “The duo had done something similar celebrating Amitabh Bachchan in the past. Its taken them a while to get to me.”

 
 

The occasion will also mark the launch of a specially crafted limited edition Javed Akhtar pen. Like his legendary father-in-law Kaifi saab, the son-in-law is also quite attached to his pens. “I get very sentimentally attached to small everyday objects.

In the past I've gone back 200 km and more to retrieve an old cigarette lighter costing Rs 50,” he recounts and points out how there is a Montblanc pen which is now inseparably with him for over five years. “I get restless without it.

It is not because there are no more Montblancs around. Though I've never bought one, most people think they are perfect gifts for me. I've lost count and some are still lying unpacked for 4-5 years.”

Away in the US, Javed saab's partner actor-activist Shabana Azmi told this writer: “We lost mummy (Shaukat Azmi) less than two months ago but her spirit envelopes us like the air we breathe. This is how she'd have liked the celebrations,” and added, “After all it is a milestone.

Its been such an amazing journey for a boy who came to Bombay with eight annas in his pocket and a fistful of dreams. He slept on the pavement, went without food for days but what carried him through was his indomitable will.

On his darkest day he sat under a shelterless sky with sheets of rain piercing into his body and nowhere to turn to. Instead of giving into despair he told himself “Main yunhi marne ke liye paida nahi hua tha. Yeh din badlenge aur main kamyab hokar rahoonga!

She says it runs a shiver down her spine to recall this. “I salute his resilience, his fortitude and his intellect. At 75 he is a man tempered by the ups and downs of life - he is wise and compassionate. And has never lost his ready wit or humour,” and admitted it was a privilege to have this respected social commentator, writer and poet as a partner.

“He is my best friend and often says: 'Shabana and I are such good friends even marriage couldn't destroy our friendship!” and laughs: “Of course I'm not sharing all the times he has me tearing my hair in exasperation! That's for another day.”

The platinum jubilee will see a big bash with the who's who of the film fraternity in attendance, an evening hosted jointly by Shabana Azmi, Zoya and Farhan Akhtar. While taking leave Javed saab says the country needs to shake off its air of sombre despondency.

“The night is at its darkest before dawn. So we must keep hopeful. Life is not one linear progression but a bunch of them. These protests will gather momentum and go on just like everything else.”

We are pinning our hopes on that.

 
 
 




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