Shutdown in Srinagar parts on Gaw Kadal massacre anniversary

Srinagar: A complete shutdown was  observed on Monday in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk and its adjoining areas to mark the 29th anniversary of Gaw Kadal massacre in which around 53 civilians were killed after paramilitary  forces opened fire on demonstrators near a bridge at Gaw Kadal, a Srinagar locality.
The call for the hartal was issued by the top Hurriyat leaders comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. 
All shops and other business establishments in these areas remained closed. However, public transport plied normally. 
Authorities arrested Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) supremo Yasin Malik  to prevent him from leading protests on the occasion.
Another top Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned the  arrest of  Malik.
“Impunity, killing over 53 people on spot and injuring more than 250 ! Strongly denounce arrest of Yasin sb, Hilal war and other activists for protesting this massacre,”  Mirwaiz tweeted adding that the massacre was  “another painful reminder of the huge human cost we pay living under forcible control”.

CJI recuses from hearing plea against Nageswara Rao appointment as interim CBI chief

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim director of the CBI.

The CJI said, he is a member of the high-powered selection committee that will select the next CBI Director after Alok Verma’s removal.

The selection panel is likely to meet on January 24 to appoint the new CBI director.

M Nageswara Rao was made to continue as interim director after the selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with its other two members being Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A.K. Sikri decided to remove Alok Verma as CBI director and transfer him to fire services.

NGO Common Cause had earlier approached the Supreme Court through advocate Prashant Bhushan, seeking a direction to cancel the government’s order appointing Rao as the acting director of the agency.

M Nageswara Rao, a 1986-batch IPS officer from the Odisha cadre had joined the CBI as a joint director in 2016.

Soon after he took charge as interim CBI director, Rao reverted all transfer decisions taken by Verma restoring the position of officials.

EAM Sushma Swaraj, UP CM Yogi Adityanath inaugurate Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) on Monday.

The stage is all set for the beginning of 15th edition of PBD 2019 in Varanasi on Monday. For the first time in the history of PBD, the event is being held in Varanasi, the cultural and spiritual capital of India.

Over the next three days, from January 21 to 23 the city will witness scores of sessions, seminal talks by experts and luminaries in their fields, cultural programmes and visit of the NRIs to renowned places of Kashi, Sarnath and Ganga Ghats among others.

The theme for PBD this year is the “Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India”. Several world leaders of Indian origin will share their insights into the role of Indian diaspora for a New India.

 Major events include –

Youth PBD: The opening day on Monday was marked by the Youth PBD with the focus on the generation next especially from Uttar Pradesh. The young diaspora will engage with its counterparts back home in India. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj along with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath,  , Minister of State Sports and Youth Affairs Colonel Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore shared the dais with Member of Parliament from New Zealand Kanwal Jeet Singh Bakshi and MP from Norway Himanshu Gulati among others.

Plenary: On January 22, PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate the PBD with Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnath as the Chief Guest. Several plenary sessions will be held on issues ranging from challenges and opportunities to sustainable development, artificial intelligence and cyber capacity. PM Modi will also host a lunch for the Heads of states and over fifty selected Pravasi Bhartiya delegates and leaders. 

Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award: The Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award (PSBA) is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indian. It will be conferred by the President Ram Nath Kovind on January 23 to selected NRIs, PIOs, organisation or institution established and run by the NRIs who have made significant contribution to various fields both in India and abroad.

Cultural Events: Numerous cultural activities have been embedded in such a way that the delegates may get a very enticing, enriching and fulfilling experience. Several exhibitions including a digital exhibition on the theme of ‘Ek Bharat Swacch Bharat: Sardar Patel and Gandhi ke Sapno ka Bharat, has been put up among others. These exhibitions are being organised at TFC Bada Lalpur, BHU and the Tent City.

The Ghats of Ganga have specially been decorated to welcome the guests with their divine attraction.

Fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi surrenders Indian Passport to Antigua government

PNB scam accused Mehul Choksi has given up his Indian citizenship and surrendered his passport to Antigua government. The move is seen as an attempt to avoid extradition to India, where he is wanted for loan fraud.

According to the sources, Choksi has also submitted 177 dollars with his passport to the Indian High Commission in Antigua.

Choksi, 59, was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2018. 

Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi are accused of cheating Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore.

Both left India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI.

Jammu and Kashmir: Gunfight breaks out in Budgam

Representational image

A gunfight broke out on Monday between militants and the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district, police said.

A cordon and search operation was launched by security forces after receiving specific information about presence of militant in the area.

“As the cordon was tightened, the hiding militants fired upon the security forces triggering the encounter which is currently underway,” the police said,

Jammu and Kashmir police tweeted, “Brief exchange of fire at Hapat Naalah area of Zinpanchal in District #Budgam. Area under cordon. Details shall follow.”

More details are awaited.

Traffic suspended on Jammu-Srinagar highway after fresh snowfall

The traffic on Jammu-Srinagar highway on Monday was suspended after fresh snowfall in Kashmir Valley.

There would be no vehicle movement on Jammu-Srinagar highway as roads were blocked due to accumulation of snow.

“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” traffic police wrote on Twitter.

According to Meteorological department, Kashmir is likely to witness moderate to heavy snowfall during the next 24 hours 

Jammu and Kashmir traffic department had tweeted on Sunday, “As per advisory issued by MeT deptt. there may be chances of heavy snowfall/rain in Jammu and Kashmir may lead to disruption on NHW-44. Therefore, decision regarding the vehicular movement on Jammu Srinagar NHW shall be taken tomorrow after assessing the weather/road condition.”

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal calls ‘opportunists’ those who left AAP

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday hit out at those who recently left the party, calling them “opportunists”.

While addressing a rally in Punjab, Kejriwal attacked the Congress-led state government and said it had betrayed people as it failed to deliver on its poll promises.

Kejriwal said that few days back some people left AAP and our political opponents started saying that AAP has begun to disintegrate. “Nobody in the country has the courage to disintegrate the party,” he added.

“Congress, BJP and Akali Dal have tried their best in the last five years to weaken the party but God has been with us,” he said.

“Those who have left AAP were not worthy of staying in the party. They were opportunists and were greedy for tickets and posts. Kejriwal said.

Besides senior lawyer HS Phoolka, two rebel AAP leaders from Punjab, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Baldev Singh have quit the party.

Kejriwal also accused Prime Minister Modi-led government at the centre of creating hurdles in development works in the national capital and trying to kill him.

Meghalaya: Indian Navy suspends operation to retrieve decomposed body of trapped miner

The Indian Navy “suspended” its operation on Sunday to retrieve the decomposed body of one of the 15 miners trapped inside an illegal flooded coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, an official said.

“The Naval divers suspended their operation to pull out the remains of an unidentified miner as the body is disintegrating with every pull by the UROV (underwater remotely operated vehicle) jaw,” Rescue Operation spokesperson, R Susngi said.

On Wednesday, the navy had detected a corpse of a trapped miner through remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) inside the mine’s main shaft.

The miners have been trapped in the illegal mine since December 13.

The families of the trapped miners had said that they want the dead bodies of the miners to be taken out.

The Navy divers are waiting for further instructions from the government.

A Supreme Court bench had earlier expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of the rescue operations.

Two killed, four injured in Jammu ropeway crash

Two workers were killed and four others injured on Sunday after a cable car of the Jammu ropeway project crashed during a mock rescue drill, ahead of its scheduled inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the month of February.

The accident took place due to some technical snag near the Mahamaya temple, a police official said.

During a mock rescue drill, a trolley carrying six workers got unbalanced and fell down, leaving one-person dead on the spot and five others injured,” the source said.

The injured were immediately rushed to government Medical College and Hospital, where one of them, who was stated to be critical, succumbed to injuries.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives in Jammu’s trial run accident and ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident. He also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 5 lakh to family of those who died and directed the divisional administration to provide free medical treatment to the injured, an official spokesman said.

The Jammu ropeway project is likely to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 3.

PBD 2019 Festival, starts receiving its Guests at Kashi

NRI guests from all over the world have started to be the part of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) 2019 at Varanasi. Upon arrival, they are being welcomed in traditional ways by kids of various schools at Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport. The will of most them is to reach to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Many guests from Indonesia, Malasiya, Mauritius, USA, UK and other countries were seen spiritually mesmerized when they reached Kashi Nagari and especially when they reached to bow with obeisance before Baba Bholenath at world famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

This year, there are over 5800 NRI guests from over 125 countries who got them registered for PBD participation, said the Varanasi Authorities.

According to the Vice chairman of Varanasi Development Authority,  Rajesh Kumar, the nodal officer looking after stay arrangements of PBD guests, told that contrary to the common perception, most of the guests who registered for PBD 2019 are from USA and not from Mauritius and other such countries where Indians had migrated centuries ago. He further apprised that there are three types of stay arrangements for the PBD guests. First is ‘Shri Baleshwar Agrawal Prawasi Nagar’ at Aidhey village popularly known as the ‘Tent City’ where 1480 guests are being accommodated. The second is the blocked hotel rooms of Varanasi where around five thousand guests will get standard accommodation and the third is ‘ Kashi Atithya Yojna’ under which nearly 400 guests will reside with the citizens of Kashi in their homes.