Himachal seeks army help, 500 stranded in Lahaul-Spiti

Himachal Pradesh government on Tuesday sought an immediate help from the Indian army to take-up an aerial operation to rescue nearly 500 tourists including 45 students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee who were stranded at two different locations in Lahaul-Spiti district across 13059 feet Rohtang Tunnel after heavy snowfall in past 24 hours.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur who flew to Kullu this morning alongwith a team of senior officials, beside two cabinet ministers –Govind Thakur (Transport and forest) and Dr Ram Lal Markanda (Agriculture ) said nearly 300 tourists were stranded at Kokar and another 200 at Baracha La .Efforts were underway to organise a rescue operation and airlift the tourists.Tere is also a report of one person having died ,he said.

Himachal Pradesh  witnessed massive rains in past four days, resulting in eight deaths and massive destruction of public and private property. More than 160 roads and Chandigarh –Manali National Highway have remained closed .

Landslides  also resulted in obstruction of Pawarnoo-Shimla National Highway briefly while district administration deploy massive machinery to clear the debris. A major portion of the Highway ,which is undergoing four-lanning work also caved in on Monday evening

Three districts –Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and Chamba have been worst affected by the rains and flash floods .

Three Indian airforce helicopters have reaced Kullu for rescue of all stranded tourists.

Deputy Commissioner Kullu Yunus said 45 students of IIT Roorkee were safe. They  had gone trekking in Himachal Pradesh’s mountainous Lahaul and Spiti district

“The group of 50 trekkers which includes IIT-Roorkee students are safe,”  Chief Minister told Tehelka.

Jairam Thakur said this is first time after 1955 that Lahaul-Spiti had witnessed snow fall throwing the life out of gear. This has caught the goverment totally unaware. The Rohtang Pass also remains closed .

Reports said two foreign nationals, who were caught in a bad weather on Monday  in Lahaul-Spiti were rescued by the Air Force.

In all 45 deaths have taken place in Himachal Pradesh since July 2018 due to monsoon rains.

West Bengal Bandh: BJP, Trinamool men clash, Govt deploys police

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has called a 12-hour bandh on Wednesday in West Bengal (WB), protesting the death of two youth at North Dinajpur’s Islampur on September 20.

The WB police are out in full force in capital Kolkata and other sensitive districts, as many as 4000 police personnel have been deployed.

Protesters in West Bengal vandalised private buses in Howrah’s Tikiapara area and clashes between the Trinamool and BJP supporters have been reported in Barasat.

Government buses have been vandalised in Cooch Behar and Midnapore and the drivers of the buses were seen wearing helmets while driving to keep themselves safe from the protests by BJP workers.

However, the Trinamool government warned that strict action will be taken against those trying to enforce the 12-hour bandh today.

Party general secretary and state education minister Partha Chatterjee accused the BJP of trying to incite trouble in the state and said all steps will be taken to ensure normal life is not affected.  

Chatterjee on Tuesday had asked schools and colleges to remain open.

Two students were killed on Friday after protesters clashed with the police in Islampur.

Reports say, the clashes erupted over protests over the appointment of Urdu teachers in a local government school.

India and Morocco agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and security

Moroccan Defence Minister Abdeltif Loudyi on Tuesday met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in South Block in New Delhi to enhance bilateral cooperation between both the countries.

During the meeting, both Ministers agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and security. The Minister identified fields of Hydrography, Peacekeeping, Telemedicine, Information Technology and Communications as well as Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency as potential areas for bilateral engagement.

Cooperation on defence industry, including collaboration in Ship Building and manufacturing support were also discussed.

Two bilateral MoUs,  ‘Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Outer Space’ between ISRO and the Moroccan Centre of Remote Sensing and ‘Cooperation in the area of Cyber Security’ between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT –IN), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Moroccan Computer Response Team (ma-CERT) were signed in the presence of both Defence Ministers.

The Moroccan delegation will also visit and interact with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facilities at Bengaluru as part of programme for their two day official visit.

Nirmala Sitaraman also invited the Moroccan Defence Minister to attend Aero India 2019 to be held in Bengaluru in February 2019.

Delhi, 4 other Northern states agree to fix uniform tax rate on fuels

Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh on September 25 agreed to move towards uniform tax rates on petroleum products, amid rising fuel prices. All the states and a Union territory are ruled by three different parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

In addition, the five states also agreed to bring uniformity in taxes on liquor and registration of vehicles and transport permit, official release said.

With the initiatives of Captain Abhimanyu, Haryana Finance and Excise and Taxation minister, the finance ministers of five states and officials of Chandigarh organized a meeting to deliberate on fixing uniform rate of taxes on petrol and diesel.

“It was agreed during the meeting to bring uniformity on the tax rates of petrol and diesel,” official release said.

While addressing the media following the meeting Captain Abhimanyu said, “The Finance Ministers and officials of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi attended this meeting.”

Release further said, the participating states also decided to constitute a sub-committee, which would give their recommendation with regard to uniformity in tax rates and send the report to their respective state governments in next fifteen days.

Himachal Pradesh: All IIT – Roorkee students rescued from Lahaul-spiti

As many as 300 stranded people, including all students from IIT-Rorkee, were rescued on Tuesday from the snowbound Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh in a joint operation by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO and the district administration, officials said.

The team of IIT students had gone for trekking to Hampta Pass and were supposed to return to Manali. An alert was raised after they were not returned on Monday night.

“Rescued students of IIT-Roorkee were taken to an Army base camp at Sissu from where they were brought to Manali via Rohtang tunnel,” an official said.

The Indian Air Force will start airlifting the stranded people today, comprising locals and tourists. They will be brought to Kullu and Manali towns.

The Lahaul-Spiti district witnessed about 4-feet snowfall till Monday, due to which the Rohtang Pass and several inner roads got blocked.

The border road organisation (BRO) has cleared about six-km-long Keylong-Stingri road and is working on to clear other blocked inner roads.

CM Jai Ram Thakur undertook an aerial survey of rain-ravaged Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti, to take stock of the situation arisen out of recent snowfall.

At least 20 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh as the northern states in the country were hit by incessant rainfall since Sunday.

On Monday a red alert was issued in both Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Schools in most of the districts in Himachal were closed on Monday as a precautionary measure.

A number of houses in low-lying areas, especially in Mandi, Kangra, and Chamba districts were evacuated to prevent casualties.

UP sessions court orders notice against CM Adityanath in 19-year old murder case

A Sessions court in Maharajganj on September 25 ordered a notice to be issued against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for involvement in a 19-year-old murder case.

The case dates back to year 1999 in which Satya Prakash Yadav, personal security officer of the then Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Talat Aziz, was killed during a protest in Maharajganj area when a group allegedly led by Adityanath opened gunfire on the agitators.

“We all know that our chief minister has some serious charges against him and now even the honourable court has directed to issue a notice against him in the 19-year-old murder case. We demand immediate resignation of CM Yogi Adityanath as he could influence the trial if it starts and can also harm the victims,” SP spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan said.

Aziz filed a review petition at the Lucknow High Court to reopen the murder case which was turned down by the session court in March. Lucknow HC has directed the session court to reopen the trial.

The court has also given a week’s time for CM Adityanath to respond to the notice.

While demanding CM’s resignation UP Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said, “Till the time trial is on, the CM must step down from his post, else the victims can be threatened and influenced. It is a pity that BJP that has more than 300 MLAs, could not find a person with a clean record for the post of the chief minister.”

Renowned Commentator Jasdev Singh dies after prolonged illness

Renowned commentator Jasdev Singh, whose voice captivated millions, died, on Tuesday in Delhi after prolonged illness. He was 87.

Singh is survived by his son and daughter.

Minister of State for Sports and Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore expressed his sadness at Singh’s demise.

“It is with deep sadness that I note the demise of Sh Jasdev Singh, one of our finest commentators. A veteran of @AkashvaniAIR & @DDNational, he covered 9 Olympics, 6 Asian Games & countless Independence Day & Republic Day broadcasts. His demise is truly the end of an era,” Rathore tweeted. 

Congress leader and former chief minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot also expressed condolences and said, “My heartfelt condolences on the passing away of renowned commentator Sh. Jasdev Singh… Padma Bhushan awardee Sh. Singh was considered the voice of Indian sports on Doordarshan.. His contribution will always be remembered. May his soul rest in peace.”

Juan Antonio Samaranch, the former International Olympic Council chief honoured Singh with the ‘Olympic Order’ at the Seoul edition in 1988, for his role in spreading the Olympic movement.

Singh also did commentary from 1063 for the Republic Day celebrations for 48 long years.

He was bestowed with the Padma Shri in 1985 and the Padma Bhushan in 2008. 

Anil Khosla appointed as new Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force

Eastern Air Command chief Anil Khosla will be appointed as the new Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force. He will take over as the new vice chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with Air Marshal SB Deo set to retire.

There are other approved postings by the IAF, including that of Deputy Air Chief R Nambiar who is all set to be designated as the Commander-in-Chief of Eastern Air command, which is headquartered at Shillong.

On the other hand, Air Marshal HS Arora will be handed over the position of Commander-in-Chief of Western Air Command.

While new Deputy Chief of Air Force will be Air Marshal VR Chaudhari and New DG of Air operations’ post went to Air Marshal Amit Deo.

SC constitutes committee to look into prison reforms

The Supreme Court on September 25 constituted a three-member committee to look into jail reforms.

The committee will be headed by apex court’s former judge Justice Amitava Roy to look into the aspect of jail reforms across the country and suggest measures to deal with them.

A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said that the panel will look into the issues, including over-crowding, reformatory environment and basic facilities to prisoners.

The committee will also look into the various issues concerning women prisoners.

Government officials will also assist the committee and also submit a report before the apex court in a stipulated time frame.

The apex court bench was hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions in 1,382 prisons across the country.

The SC had reserved its order on the issue of constituting a committee to deal with issues pertaining in Indian jails and suggest reforms for prisons across the country on Aug 27.

Chinks in NC civic poll boycott after spokesman decides to contest

Indicating a difference of opinion among  the ranks of National Conference  over the boycott of the upcoming Municipal Bodies and the Panchayat election, the NC spokesman Junaid Mattu on Tuesday decided to resign from the party and contest Municipal polls from Srinagar.

“Based on my humble disagreement with the party’s decision to boycott the upcoming ULB and Panchayat Polls, I have just sent my resignation from the party to the JKNC General Secretary,” Matoo posted on his Twitter handle.

 “I strongly believe that leaving our grassroots democratic institutions open to misrepresentation would inflict serious harm on the state and also wreak havoc with our social fabric and cultural legacy”.

Mattu said he will announce his candidature for the polls on Wednesday.

“I will announce my candidature for the ULB elections from Srinagar tomorrow isha Allah and I remain committed to serving my people and helping the city I grew up in meet the challenges it’s faced with. I won’t be addressing the media or taking any questions today”.

The development has surprised the Valley considering Mattu is the spokesman of the NC.

Early this month, National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah has decided to boycott the local polls citing legal threat to Article 35A which grants special citizenship rights to the people of the Valley and bars outsiders from settling and buying property in the state. In fact, Abdullah threatened to boycott even the Assembly and parliament elections if the Centre does not take “effective steps” for protection of Article 35. 

“We are not afraid of elections, neither we are running away from this process, but first do justice with us,” Abdullah told reporters at the time. “Today everybody in Kashmir, whether a shopkeeper, hotelier, labourer, taxi driver, shikarawala, ponywala, others  are perturbed that the Article 35A will be tinkered with after the elections. So we can’t participate in the process until we get an assurance’’.

Similarly, the PDP has also boycotted the civic polls for the same reason. The party’s leader Mehbooba Mufti has also sought assurance from the centre on the Article 35A before it would participate in the election.