United Nations, Sep. 24: India will be focusing on a multilateral agenda at the high-level UN General Assembly (UNGA) session that begins on Tuesday and let Pakistan be a "one-trick pony" on Kashmir if it wants to, India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin has said. The UN works best on the basis of multilateralism and "India's positions based on partnerships get a great resonance", he said on Sunday at a news conference while replying to a reporter's query about the possibility of Pakistan raising Kashmir at the UNGA. He said: "If somebody else would like to be a one-trick pony, it is for them to regurgitate that act. We've handled this act many times in the past and are confident we'll do so again." "Solo players in a multilateral context have neither a past nor a future" and get "no resonance in such matters", he added. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that Islamabad would bring up Kashmir at the UNGA and give "unequivocal support to the cause", Radio Pakistan has reported. Pakistan has been raising Kashmir at all UN forums, regardless of the topic of the meetings, but no other country has joined it in making it an issue or even talking about it. During the 2017 UNGA meeting, Pakistani zeal produced a major embarrassment when its Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi was caught out trying to pass off a picture of a wounded Palestinian girl as a Kashmiri. Akbaruddin said that even when India talks about terrorism, it does not treat it as just a bilateral issue but deals with it in the international context of havoc it wreaks around the world, for example the Boko Haram in Africa, and terrorist groups elsewhere. Led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN session, India will focus on five topics: reformed multilateralism, climate change action, health, development and peacekeeping, he said. Fresh from India's launch of the world's biggest public health insurance programme, Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda will be joining the Indian delegation to represent the country at a high-level event on Ending Tuberculosis and on Non-Communicable Diseases. Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to address the UNGA on Saturday at the morning session scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Listed as the fifth speaker, she will likely speak around 7.15 p.m. (India time). Qureshi's speech is set for Saturday's afternoon session, which will give him an opportunity to react to Sushma Swaraj's address. If he raises issues relating to India, the nation would have a right of reply which could take place towards the end of that session or Monday's session. Customarily a junior diplomat exercises the right of reply at the UNGA high-level meeting.
New Delhi, Sep. 24: Indian Navy's decorated sailor Commander Abhilash Tomy was rescued from the Indian Ocean on Monday, three days after he suffered a severe injury when the main mast of his boat was ripped off in a storm, officials said. Tomy was sailing his boat as part of the Golden Globe Race (GGR) - a solo sailboat race around the world -- when his boat was damaged in the storm about 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia. Tomy was battling for life on the dismasted sailboat Thoriya with a severe back injury, the officials said. The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra was coordinating the rescue mission in cooperation with many agencies, including the Australian Defence Department and the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy deployed its P-8i surveillance aircraft to as part of the rescue mission, officials said. A French vessel, Osiris, was also deployed in the rescue mission.
Lucknow, Sep. 24: Under attack from the Congress on Rafale fighter aircraft deal, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Monday said that following "clarifications" from former French president Francois Hollande, there is no room for any doubt in the matter. He also accused the Congress of trying to gain political mileage over the issue with an eye on the Lok Sabha elections next year. "The opposition does not have any issue left so it is raking up Rafale deal issue," the home minister told reporters after a meeting of the Central Zonal Council here. "After clarifications from Hollande there is no room for any doubt about the deal. The Congress is making it an issue to gain political mileage in 2019 Lok Sabha polls," Singh said. Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication 'Mediapart' that France was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the Indian government proposed the name of Reliance as offset partner for the French aerospace giant. AFP reported that Hollande told it on the sidelines of a meeting in Canada on Friday that France "did not choose Reliance in any way". When asked whether India had put pressure on Reliance and Dassault to work together, Hollande said he was unaware and "only Dassault can comment on this". The Centre on Saturday had asserted that it did not have any role in the selection of Reliance Defence as a partner for Dassault while France said it was in "no manner" involved in the choice of any Indian industrial associate for the contract. On Kashmir issue, Singh said, "I think the matter will be resolved. The problem is not increasing. We are ready to talk to everyone. As far as terrorism is concerned, all security agencies are working in coordination." "Terrorism in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored," he said. About the issues raised in the zonal council meeting, the home minister said that out of 22 points, 20 have been resolved, adding in the last four years, in 12 meetings, 680 issues were discussed of which 428 were resolved. Besides Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath and Trivedra Singh Rawat respectively, the meeting was attended by representatives from Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as well. The Central Zonal Council comprises Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. The council's meeting aims at addressing common concerns of the participating states and settling cross-border concerns, if any. Five Zonal Councils -- central, western, northern, southern and eastern -- were established under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
New Delhi, Sep. 24: "Everybody has taken the law in their own hands," the Supreme Court said Monday while hearing a matter related to sealing of unauthorised constructions in Delhi. The bench made the observation while hearing a plea filed by the owner of a motel, situated near Chhattarpur area of South Delhi, which has been sealed by the authorities. "Everybody has taken the law in their own hands," a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said, adding "why somebody has to say that please obey the law?" Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the applicant, said that on September 14, the basement of the building was sealed by the authorities and then on September 20, the entire premises of six acres was sealed. He said due to the wedding season, they had made pandals which was removed by them but still the premises was sealed despite the fact that they had already replied to the show cause notice issue to them by the authorities. "Your client must be literate. Why literate people have to be told that you have to follow the law? Why do you want to endanger the people," the bench told Rohatgi. To this, Rohatgi said pandals were used traditionally during wedding ceremonies. "But what about fire hazard," the bench asked and observed that as per reports, there were around 51,000 houses in Delhi which were being used for commerical purposes. Responding to the query, the senior counsel said they had the fire clearance to use pandals, which were also used during functions at the apex court. To this, the bench said, "We have the fire safety clearance". Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the sealing matter, told the bench that the motel had applied for regularisation on September 11. "They (motel owner) had applied for regularisation of basement. That means they also understand that it was not regular," Kumar said. The bench, after hearing the arguments, said as an interim measure, the seal of the premises would be opened. It, however, made it clear that basement of the motel would remain sealed and no pandals would be made there. The apex court asked the monitoring committee, which has been mandated to identify and seal illegal constructions in the national capital, to file its report in the matter within 10 days and posted the case for hearing after two weeks. The top court had earlier ordered restoration of its 2006 monitoring committee to identify and seal the offending structures. The monitoring committee, comprising K J Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner, Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, and Major General (Retd) Som Jhingan, was set up on March 24, 2006, by the court. The top court is also seized of the issue related to validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect illegal construction from being sealed.
Lucknow, Sep. 24: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday accused Pakistan of "sponsoring terror" in Jammu and Kashmir and said the military was fully capable of thwarting any terror attack. In the Uttar Pradesh capital to chair the 21st meeting go the Inter-State Council (Central), Rajnath Singh said that there was no doubt that Pakistan was behind all forms of terror in Jammu and Kashmir. Targeting the opposition parties on the Rafale deal, the BJP leader said they were raising non-issues as they were bereft of any worthwhile cause. At the meeting, the Minister underlined the need for better and closer coordination between state governments and the Centre and said it was for this reason that there had been two meetings of the council in the last four years. He reiterated the Modi government's commitment to promote cooperative federalism. Also present at the meeting were Chief Ministers Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh and Trivendra Singh Rawat of Uttarakhand and the Home Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The Maoist threat in Chhattisgarh also came up for discussion.
New Delhi, Sep. 24: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Wednesday said the government will fight the "perception battle" over the Rafale deal by putting facts before the masses to counter the Congress' "false propaganda". She also alleged an "international dimension" to Congress president Rahul Gandhi's relentless allegations of corruption against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rafale deal but did not elaborate. "I, others will go around the country to put facts before the public. It is a matter of perception battle," she told reporters. She also rejected the Congress' charge that the Modi government had undermined the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, saying the HAL on an average got annual orders worth over Rs 10,000 crore during the 10-year UPA rule against annual orders of around Rs 22,000 crore given by the current dispensation so far. The Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that former French President Francois Hollande is part of the nexus to sabotage the deal to purchase fighter aircraft, with Gandhi doing "conspiracy, internationally".
New Delhi, Sep. 24: Escalating its attack on the Congress, the BJP Monday drew a parallel between the opposition party and Pakistani leaders, saying both want Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed from Indian politics. Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Sambit Patra read out tweets attacking Modi posted by Pakistani leaders, including its Prime Minister Imran Khan and present and former ministers, and said they have been campaigning for Congress president Rahul Gandhi. "Some people want Gandhi to become a big leader in India. Who are they? They are Pakistani leaders, and also those who stand for corruption, dynasty and politics of appeasement," Patra told reporters. He then added that the poor, Dalits, backwards and the common man back Modi, and "nobody can remove him". The Congress and Pakistan have this commonality that they have "frustration" with Modi, and their "only aim is to remove Modi anyway from Indian polity", he claimed. Patra accused Gandhi of targeting the Indian Army by using the term surgical strikes mockingly to attack the Modi government. Pakistan has been using his tweets to attack India, he said. He also referred to party president Amit Shah's dig at the opposition party, wondering if it has formed a "mahagathbandhan" (grand alliance) with Pakistan against Modi. He said Gandhi and his party should learn from Modi as he played a video clip of him, when he was Gujarat chief minister, attacking the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly mocking his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. He also cited past comments of Congress leaders like Mani Shankar Aiyar, Sandeep Dikshit, Salman Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi Azad and mentioned Navjot Singh Sidhu's hug of Pak army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa to attack the opposition party. While dissent is important in democracy, there should also be dignity for the nation, he said. The BJP spokesperson claimed that Modi's motto is "all work, no holiday" while that of the UPA government was "no work no headache".
Chandigarh, Sep. 24: Authorities in Punjab on Monday issued a red alert in several districts following heavy rainfall in the state and the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh over the last three days, in view of the threat of flooding of rivers. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered closure of all schools and colleges on Tuesday (September 25). The Chief Minister reviewed the "flood-like situation triggered in the state due to incessant rains" in an emergency meeting here. "The Army has been asked to remain on alert to help the state deal with any eventuality arising out of the situation," a state government spokesman said here. "Deputy Commissioners have been asked to identify hot-spots with clear evacuation and relief plans to be ready beforehand. Equipment to drain out flood waters has been kept handy. Apart from these, boats in catchment areas of three rivers -- Satluj, Ravi and Beas -- have been arranged to rescue the affected people," the spokesman added. With the standing paddy and cotton crop being damaged due to rainfall in the last three days, the Chief Minister announced a special 'girdawari' for assessing crop damage. The Chief Minister asked ministers and legislators to extensively tour their respective areas to assess the ground situation and tie-up with the concerned departments for immediate mitigation of the hardships being faced by the people. He also directed the Food and Civil Supplies and Animal Husbandry ministers to appoint nodal officers for distribution of food packets to the affected people and dry fodder for animals. The Chief Minister also asked the Financial Commissioner (Revenue) to seek assistance from the Army, Border Security Force (BSF), NDRF and other paramilitary forces, if needed. Expressing concern over the possible outbreak of water-borne diseases including diarrhoea, jaundice and conjunctivitis, the Chief Minister asked the health department to take preventive measures by organising special medical check-up camps and arranging sufficient stock of medicines. Taking part in the deliberations, Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) Chairman D.K. Sharma said that the situation at the Bhakra reservoir was in control so far and they were regularly monitoring the water level at Pong Dam. The water level at Pong Dam was at present 1,385.12 feet against the maximum level of 1,390 feet while the water level at Bhakra was at 1,655.49 feet against the maximum capacity of 1,680 feet. The water level at the Ranjit Sagar Dam, which feeds the river Ravi, was 526.65 m against the maximum level of 527.91 m.
Mumbai, Sep. 24: Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya told a special court here Monday that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) "resisted" his efforts to settle his loans with public sector banks. Mallya, who is currently in the United Kingdom, has been charged by the ED of defaulting on bank loans to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore. Mallya, through his counsel, was replying in the PMLA court of Judge M S Azmi to an ED application seeking that he be declared a fugitive under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. In his reply, Mallya stated that "despite continuing efforts over the last two to three years, when efforts have been made to repay the public sector banks, instead of taking steps to facilitate the process of repayment to banks, the ED has, at every step, resisted this effort". Mallya's reply also stated that the ED's application, in its endeavour to confiscate assets, is one which is contrary to public and national interest. Objecting to the ED plea to declare him a fugitive, Mallya mentioned that he has been cooperating with the authorities in the UK in extradition proceedings and has submitted himself to the jurisdiction and process of the UK courts- a process invoked at the behest of the government of India. Mallya's reply contended that, in these circumstances, it was false to contend that he "refuses to return to India", adding that "adherence to the law of the land cannot and doesn't render one as fugitive economic offender". The arguments in the extradition proceedings in UK have concluded and the matters are to be listed on December 10 for judgement, the reply read. Mallya's reply sought that present proceedings ought to be stayed or adjourned sine die till the judgement is delivered in the extradition proceedings (in the UK). Meanwhile, the ED Monday filed its say in the intervention application moved by some parties seeking to implead themselves in the matter. The PMLA court on Monday set September 28 as the next date for hearing on the intervention application. The main application (to declare Mallya fugitive) will be heard after its order on the intervention plea, the judge said. The court had earlier issued non-bailable warrants against the businessman in two cases filed by the ED. Mallya, his now defunct venture Kingfisher Airlines Limited and others availed loans from various banks and the outstanding amount, including interest, now stands at Rs 9,990.07 crore. Both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have filed cases for alleged loan default against him. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act has provisions for special courts under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender and order immediate confiscation of assets. The law lays down that a fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution. Cases of fraud, cheque dishonour or loan default of over Rs 100 crore come under the ambit of this law.
New Delhi, Sep. 24: Seeking to calm the nerves of worried investors, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Monday that the government would take all measures to ensure adequate liquidity for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and mutual funds. The minister's remarks come in the wake of stock markets witnessing sudden and stiff fall in intra-day trade on Friday over concerns of liquidity crisis being faced by some of the NBFCs. "The Government will take all measures to ensure that adequate liquidity is maintained/provided to the NBFCs, the mutual funds and the SMEs," Jaitley tweeted ahead of the opening of stock markets. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and market regulator Sebi said on Sunday that they were closely monitoring the developments in the financial sector and were ready to take "appropriate actions" to calm the jittery investors. There are liquidity concerns following default in repayment of loans by diversified IL&FS group. Another housing finance company, DHFL, too is reportedly facing liquidity crisis.