India-Pakistan foreign ministers to meet in New York on sidelines of UNGA

Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers will meet in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session next week, the government said today.

“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side, a meeting between EAM Sushma Swaraj & Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will take place on the sidelines of UNGA at a mutually convenient date and time,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

“It is a meeting, the agenda is not finalized,” Kumar added.

This will be the first ministerial-level engagement between India and Pakistan under the new Imran Khan-led government.

The move comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan.

In the letter, Imran Khan called for a meeting between Foreign Ministers of both the countries – Sushma Swaraj and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meet.

Jammu and Kashmir: Gunfight erupts b/w Security forces and militants in Bandipora

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A gunfight erupted between the security forces and militants on Thursday in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district, police said.

After getting a tip off about the presence of militants in Sumlar village, security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the area.

Cordon and Search Operation which was launched by Police, army and CRPF in Bandipora district has turned into an encounter after militants fired at them.

“As the Special Operations Group of the state police, troopers of Rashtriya Rifles and the CRPF tightened the cordon, the militants fired at them, triggering the gun battle,” police said.

More details are awaited.

Punjab Zila Parishad & Panchayat Samiti elections: Election Commission orders repoll in 28 booths across 7 districts


The Election Commission on Thursday ordered re-polling in 28 booths across seven districts for Punjab’s Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections. The rural polls were held on Wednesday.

The re-polling is scheduled to held on Friday, September 21.

The counting of votes will take place on Saturday, September 22.

Polling for zila parishads and panchayat samitis 2018 took place in Punjab on Wednesday amid clashes between Congress and SAD workers and allegations of poll rigging by opposition parties.

Former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal alleged a large number of Congress workers, brandishing swords, were involved in “booth capturing”

In Punjab, nearly 354 Zila Parishad members and 2,900 Panchayat Samitis members will be elected by 1,27,87,395 registered voters – including 60,99,053 woman and 97 third gender.

India, China in joint collaboration to train Afghan diplomats in October

In a joint collaboration India and China will train Afghan diplomats from mid-October 2018, government sources said. Both the countries had agreed to train the Afghan diplomats during Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s informal summit in China’s Wuhan in April this year.

The joint project was discussed during a meeting between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and PM Modi in New Delhi on September 19.

During the course the Afghan diplomats will be trained in New Delhi and Beijing. In first phase the diplomats will be trained at New Delhi’s Foreign Service Institute before they travel to Beijing for the next training phase.

“The cooperation with China on Afghanistan is going to be in the sector of training of diplomats. Part of the training will take place at the Foreign Service Training Institute in New Delhi, while the other part will take place in Beijing,” source said.

India would further discuss joint collaboration with China in Afghanistan, which could involve socio-economic projects or opening of a school.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe re-elected as LDP head, to stay on as PM

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, was re-elected as the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for the third term, paving the way for up to three more years as the country’s premier.

Abe won 553 out of 807 votes, beating his sole challenge, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba.

The 63-year-old Abe has been prime minister since December 2012 and with this victory, he may become Japan’s longest-serving premier.

According to the Japan’s government sources, with his renewed leadership, the Prime Minister might reshuffle his cabinet and the party’s leadership lineup in the coming weeks.

As the party presidential election ended, the prime minister is scheduled to leave for New York on Sunday to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan writes to Indian counterpart, seeks resumption of dialogue

Pakistan’s newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to resume the stalled dialogue between the two neighbors. He is seeking resumption of dialogue at the UN General Assembly meet later this month in New York.

According to reports PM Khan in his letter asked his Indian counterpart to green light meeting between External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meet.

PM Khan’s letter is the first formal proposal of bilateral dialogue since he formed the government in Pakistan. The letter came in response to Prime Minister Modi’s own letter on August 20 which conveyed that New Delhi was looking for constructive and meaningful engagement between two countries.

Quoting from the letter official sources said, the PM had noted that India was committed to peaceful neighborly ties with Pakistan.

Indian and Pakistan have not had any substantial dialogue since 2015 when EAM Swaraj had travelled to Islamabad for Heart of Asia conference.

‘Unknown fever’ claims 79 lives in Uttar Pradesh in past 6 weeks

An “unknown fever” in Uttar Pradesh has claimed 79 lives in the past six weeks, a government official said on September 19.

The official further said that the medical teams have been put on high alert and they have been asked to check the spread of unnecessary alarm among the general public.

Government spokesman said that the death count due to an “unknown fever” in the last one-and-a-half months has risen to 79, in view of which officials have been alerted to take all necessary measures in addition to creating awareness among general public.

The spokesman added that the toll in Bareilly has reached 24, followed by Badaun and Hardoi at 23 and 12 respectively. He also further said that Sitapur accounted for eight deaths, Bahraich six, Pilibhit four and Shahjahanpur two.

The government will undertake a “death audit” to find out the number of those who died due to the fever, UP Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh said during his visit to Bareilly last week.

UP DG (health) Padmakar Singh said that the state government has constituted three teams of doctors to look into the cases in Bareilly and Badaun.

DG Health Singh added that necessary medicines were being distributed, fogging and spraying of larvacides have been undertaken as well.

Former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD Workers Booked for Thrashing Congress Worker in Muktsar

Former deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief and few other party workers were booked on Wednesday for allegedly thrashing a Congress worker.

The incident took place at Killianwali village in Muktsar district of Punjab during Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls in the state.

The victim identified as Jatinderpal Singh, alleged that he was thrashed by a group of Akali workers led by Badal, his vehicle was also damaged and he received life threats, police said.

The complaint also said that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) workers pelted stones at him and his associates.

A case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) was registered, the SSP said.

Meanwhile, former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said a false case has been registered against him and his party workers.

On Wednesday, polling began at 8 am and concluded at 4 pm. The polling was done for 22 Zila Parishads (354 members) and 150 Panchayat Samitis (2,900 members).

The counting of votes will take place on September 22.

As per State Election Commission’s figures, Mansa topped in polling percentage (71), while Gurdaspur witnessed the least polling percentage of 47.

Police arrest principal, clerk for allegedly raping class 5 student in school premises in Patna

Police arrest a principal and clerk of a private school in Phulwari Sharif in Patna for allegedly raping a girl student of class 5th for a period of over 9 months. The clerk allegedly filmed the act and blackmailed the victim. She was allegedly raped by the two repeatedly in the school premises.

The girl also allegedly got pregnant during the period.

Police said that the incident came to light on September 19 when the girl returned home from school and complained of vomiting. The parents informed the police about the matter when the medical test confirmed that she was two months pregnant.

After the confirmation of the medical report the victim said, “The school clerk had made a video of the act and used to blackmail me by threatening to circulate the clip on social media platforms.”

Victim added that the principal had first raped her by calling her to his office on the pretext of examining her exercise book.

Police confirmed that on the basis of the statement of girl’s parents the women police station had registered a case under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Manu Maharaaj, Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP), said that police acted swiftly and arrested both the accused. The knife used to threaten the girl has also been recovered.

BJP, Cong to battle it out in J&K civic polls

SRINAGAR: With the major regional political parties like National Conference and the PDP resolving to boycott upcoming civic polls in J&K on account of the government’s hostile stance towards Article 35A, the arch rivals Congress and the BJP have decided to fight it out in the election.

On Wednesday, Congress finally announced its decision to take part in the polls.

“If we boycott, we are giving free run to RSS-BJP and other communal forces,” State Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said during a press conference in Srinagar. He added that boycotting elections would be irresponsible. “Need of the hour is to stop RSS-BJP. Boycott means we are not fulfilling our responsibility”. 

Earlier the party had adopted an ambiguous approach towards the exercise – albeit,  it didn’t cite the Article 35A as the reason. Congress, on the contrary,  alluded to the deteriorating security environment which made it difficult to conduct an elaborate exercise like Urban and Local Bodies and Panchayat polls.

Mir, however, added that the decision to participate in the polls could be reversed if the security environment deteriorates further and the fairness of the polls came under question. He also threw his weight behind the protection of Article 35A and said Congress had sought the legal opinion on the issue.

“In election we will work towards overthrow of fascist forces,” Mir said.

The election to Panchayats would be held in 9 phases on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29 and December 01, 04, 08 and 11. And those to the Municipal bodies would be conducted in four phases on 08, 10, 13 and 16 October this year.

The election to around 4500 Panchayat Halqas in over 35000 panchayat constituencies will have over 58 lakh electors. Last elections held in 2011 had witnessed a massive participation of the people.