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Daily News & Analysis
 •  Qatar emir renews call for 'unconditional dialogue' to resolve dispute with Arab states

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Tuesday renewed a call for "unconditional dialogue" to end a crisis pitting Qatar against four Arab states while US President Donald Trump said he expected the dispute to be resolved quickly.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, suspending air and shipping routes with the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region's biggest U.S. military base.
The nations say Doha supports regional foe Iran and Islamists, charges Qatar's leaders deny. Kuwait has been trying to mediate and the United States has taken an increasingly robust role in trying to end the crisis, but as yet to no avail.

Trump and Sheikh Tamim later held a meeting in which the emir was careful to emphasize the strong Qatar-U.S. relationship after Trump appeared to be more sympathetic to the Saudi position at the start of the crisis. Qatar hosts Al Udeid air base, the largest U.S. military facility in the Middle East.
"As you said, Mr. President, we have a problem with our neighbours," Tamim said, adding that with Trump's intervention, "hopefully we can find a solution for this problem."

Trump, who has said he would be willing to mediate the worst dispute in decades among the U.S.-allied Arab states and Qatar, said he had a "very strong feeling" the dispute would be solved "pretty quickly".
In a speech severely criticizing the four Arab states' conduct during the dispute, the emir said the countries were inflicting damage on the "war on terror."

"The countries who imposed the blockade on the State of Qatar interfere in the internal affairs of many countries, and accuse all those who oppose them domestically and abroad with terrorism. By doing that they are inflicting damage on the war on terror," Sheikh Tamim said in his speech to the annual gathering of world leaders.
"We have refused to yield to dictations by pressure and siege."
A Gulf official from one of the opposing countries said it was "unfortunate that Emir Tamim continues to talk about a blockade when even he in the same speech acknowledged that his ship lanes are open."

"It's disappointing that he talks about interference in the internal affairs of others while refusing to admit that is a core part of the four nations' complaints against Qatar," the official added.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of "distorting facts," just after a report of a phone call between the leaders of the two countries suggested a breakthrough in the Gulf dispute.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke by the telephone with Qatar's emir in the first publicly reported contact between the two leaders since the start of the crisis.

ReportWorldReuters
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-09:48am
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 - 9:48am
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 •  British PM expected to offer to fill post-Brexit EU budget hole; Tusk-May to meet next Tuesday

European Council President Donald Tusk said he would meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London next Tuesday to discuss Brexit, days after she is due to make a keynote speech on her vision for future ties with the EU. He made the comment in a tweet after meeting May at the United Nations General Assembly.

The Financial Times said May's top EU adviser has told his counterparts in several European that she would in Florence offer to fill a post-Brexit EU budget hole of at least 20 billion euros. The newspaper cited officials briefed on the discussions.

Senior EU officials have given talk of such offers short shrift. They have dismissed suggestions floated in British media that an offer of up to 30 billion euros payable during a transition period after Brexit would be acceptable to Brussels.

It could not be, they have said, an alternative to the 60 billion or so that the EU executive has estimated may be payable before Brexit in March 2019.
Brussels negotiators acknowledge privately that it may help the British government "sell" its settlement to domestic voters if London can meld the exit payments with transition payments to reduce the headline "divorce bill".

EU officials told Reuters there would be no discussion of Brexit at the Tallinn dinner but that May might take the opportunity to brief the bloc's other 27 leaders on her position.
Talks on Brexit have made little progress and deepened rifts in May's party, setting up the Florence speech as a chance to put negotiations back on track and reassert her authority.
While Tusk is coordinating the 27 EU leaders on Brexit, only Michel Barnier is negotiating with the British and they have made clear to London that he is the only point of contact for Brexit talks.
Barnier's negotiating directives have frustrated his British counterparts, who want to move the talks from divorce issues such as the EU departure bill and Irish border to future relations.
Barnier first wants to see progress on the terms of Britain's exit.

ReportWorldReuters
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-09:27am
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 - 9:27am
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 •  First group of asylum-seekers to be resettled in US within weeks: PM Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday the first group of about 50 men and woman held in two controversial detention centres for asylum-seekers on remote Pacific islands will be resettled in the United States within weeks.

Turnbull's comments mark the first official timetable for when the United States would begin resettling up to 1,250 people held in Australian-run centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus island as part of a refugee swap deal struck by former U.S. President Barack Obama late last year.
Australia will begin resettling several dozen Central American refugees within weeks as part of a deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has described as "dumb" but has nevertheless said Washington would honour.

"There will be about 25 from both Manus and Nauru will be going to the United States and I just want to thank again President Trump for continuing with that arrangement," Turnbull told Australia's Seven Network.
Three sources familiar with the process said approximately 25 men from countries such as Bangladesh, Iran, and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar held on Manus island would be the first to be informed on Wednesday. A similar number held on Nauru would be told on Thursday, they said.

Nearly 2,000 men, women and children are held on Manus island and Nauru, the majority of whom have been awarded refugee status by the two tiny Pacific countries.
Despite their refugee status, many have been held for four years in conditions widely criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups.
Australia is under increased pressure to resettle asylum-seekers from Manus Island because the centre there is due to close on Oct. 31.
Australia would need to make alternative arrangements should the bulk of the 800 men still be there by that deadline.
Under Canberra's hardline immigration policy, asylum-seekers intercepted at sea trying to reach Australia are sent for processing at the Manus island and Nauru camps. They are told they will never be settled in Australia.

Australia said last week approximately 200 men who have had their refugee applications denied and have therefore been ruled ineligible for resettlement in the United States, and who are from countries such as Iran that do not allow forced deportations, will be transferred to a new detention facility on PNG after Oct. 31.

ReportWorldReuters
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-09:08am
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 •  Myanmar: Suu Kyi silence on Rohingya ethnic cleansing charge draws criticism

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday condemned rights abuses in Rakhine state and said violators would be punished, but she did not address UN accusations of ethnic cleansing, drawing cool international responses and calls for action to help minority Muslims.

Suu Kyi made the remarks in her first address to the nation since attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on Aug. 25 led to a military response that has forced 421,000 Rohingya Muslims, more than half of them children, into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Western diplomats and aid officials, hoping for an unequivocal condemnation of violence and hate speech, welcomed the tone of the Nobel Peace laureate's message, but some doubted if she had done enough to deflect global criticism.
Long feted in the West as a champion of democracy in the Buddhist-majority country during years of military rule and house arrest, Suu Kyi has faced growing criticism for saying little about abuses faced by the Rohingya.

"We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. We are committed to the restoration of peace and stability and rule of law throughout the state," Suu Kyi said in her address in the capital, Naypyitaw.
"Action will be taken against all people, regardless of their religion, race and political position, who go against the law of the land and violate human rights," she said.

In a phone call to Suu Kyi, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson welcomed the Myanmar government's commitment to allow the return of refugees, but urged it to facilitate humanitarian aid to those affected by the violence and to address "deeply troubling" human rights abuse allegations, the State Department said.

Britain said it had suspended its military training programme in Myanmar and French President Emmanuel Macron condemned "unacceptable ethnic cleaning". He told the annual U.N. General Assembly he would start a U.N. Security Council initiative to ensure humanitarian access and an end to the violence.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the General Assembly: "The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, allow unhindered humanitarian access and recognise the right of refugees to return in safety and dignity; and they must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long."
A European Union spokeswoman said Suu Kyi's invitation to the diplomatic corps to visit Rakhine was "a step forward," but added: "Myanmar's leadership needs to show that the democracy they fought so hard for can work for all the people of Myanmar, beyond ethnic, social and religious boundaries."

At the General Assembly, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari likened the violence in Myanmar to genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited the international community's failure in Syria.
"Unless the tragedy taking place in Myanmar is brought to a halt, humanity will have to live with the shame of another dark stain in its history," Erdogan said.

Twenty-two members of the U.S. Congress wrote to Tillerson calling for a "strong, meaningful" response to the crisis and the head of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said Suu Kyi risked "destroying" her reputation as a force for positive change.
"She had yet another opportunity today to stand up for the Rohingya minority ... but instead refused to acknowledge the military's role in the ongoing atrocities," he said.
Amnesty International described Suu Kyi's speech as "little more than a mix of untruths and victim-blaming", saying she and her government were "burying their heads in the sand" for ignoring the army's role in the violence.

Myanmar's generals remain in full charge of security and Suu Kyi did not comment on the military or its actions, except to say there had been "no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations" since Sept. 5.
Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh have told of soldiers and Buddhist civilians attacking and burning villages as recently as last Friday. It was not possible to verify their accounts.

BURNING VILLAGES

Rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the army and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes have mounted a campaign of arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population. The U.N. rights agency said it was "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing".
Myanmar rejects the charge, saying its forces are tackling insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army who it has accused of setting the fires and attacking civilians.
Western governments that backed Suu Kyi's campaign against military rule still see her as the best hope for Myanmar's political and economic transition.
But she has to avoid angering the powerful army and alienating supporters by being seen to take the side of a Muslim minority that enjoys little sympathy in a country that has seen a surge of Buddhist nationalism.
Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said satellite images showed about half of all Rohingya villages had been torched and it was time that Suu Kyi, the government and military faced the fact that the security forces "shoot and kill who they want."

'READY TO EXPLODE'

Suu Kyi, 72, said her government had been promoting harmony between the Muslim and largely Buddhist ethnic Rakhine communities. But a government official there did not share her optimism.
"They have no trust for each other," the state's secretary, Tin Maung Swe, told Reuters, adding that tensions were high.
"The situation is ready to explode."
Suu Kyi said she was committed to recommendations made by the advisory team led by Kofi Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general, which last month suggested a review of a law that links citizenship and ethnicity and leaves most Rohingya stateless.
On the return of refugees, Suu Kyi said Myanmar was ready to start a verification process and "refugees from this country will be accepted without any problem".

ReportWorldReutersNAYPYITAWMyanmar/UNITED NATIONS
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:53am
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 •  BCA advances Durga Puja festivities by a day

The oldest Durga Puja in the state is 80-year-old. However, celebrating its anniversary this year, the Bengali Cultural Association (BCA) in Ahmedabad has decided to pre-pone the festivities by a day.

Considering that many people will miss out on the celebrations if the organizers arrange the prasad distribution and related programmes on weekdays, the committee has decided to advance the meet-ups.

The Puja is starting from September 25, but BCA will start celebrating the annual festival from September 24. The attraction of the first day will be Anandamela, a food festival where women will serve home-made food to the visitors. Besides the treat that will be sold at a very little price, the pandal-hoppers will also be a part of the musical event that will be held at the same venue.

Kanak Das Adhikary, Genearal Secretary of BCA, said, "The Puja dates this year is not falling on any Sunday. This is the main reason we thought to advance it. We don't want anybody to miss the celebration as we enter 80th year. There will be around 25 food stalls during the food festival."

Wrath of the rains:

For the first time, BCA has this year invested in creating two domes of 250 feet so that the Puja is not hampered by the rains. Genearal Secretary of BCA, Kanak Das Adhikary, said, "MeT has predicted rains during Navratri. As a precautionary measure, we are creating two huge domes to cover the area."

Tribute to city's heritage status

BCA has also roped in a master craftsman, Sanat Maity, who specializes in wood carving to create a unique entrance for the pandal. "The city has been awarded a heritage status. Hence, we are creating inscriptions, depicting the heritage of the city, depicting the heritage of the city on a wooden gate. The gate will be of 20 feet high and 40 feet wide."

ISKCON temple President visits Kalibari

Located on Rajpath Club-Sardar Patel Ring Road route, the Rs 2-crore temple complex on Tuesday also hosted Jasumati Nanda Prabhu, President, ISKCON temple said. Considering Tuesday auspicious, Kalibari held an Amavasya puja also.

In 2013, BCA had shifted its venue to the ground behind Doordarshan on Drive-In road. Owned by the Ahmedabad Education Society (AES), the ground was not been used for any event for 70 years.

This year too, the Durga idol is being prepared by Kolkata artisans, who came to the city to prepare the idol, which is estimated to be around 17-feet-high. According to tradition, the artisans fetch clay from the banks of the Ganges, on the day of Rath Yatra.

CULTURAL PROGRAMME:

Date-Day Pujo prog Cultural prog

  • Sept 24 Anandamela – food festival, musical show
     
  • Sept 25 Panchami Inauguration, children musical performance, dance recital
     
  • Sept 26 Shashti Drama by BCA theatre group, singer Saptak Chaterjee
     
  • Sept 27 Maha Saptami Children drama, Bengali folk song by a band in Kolkata
     
  • Sept 28 Maha Ashtami Dance show by Kolkata triupe, song
     
  • Sept 29 Maha Navami Comedy show by Mridul Bhattacharya, folk song
     
  • Sept 30 Dashami (Sindoor Khela) Song by Anneswa Dutta
ReportAhmedabadIndiaTanushree BhatiaDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:25am
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 - 8:25am
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In 2013, BCA had shifted its venue to on Drive-In road.
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 •  Finally Raje meets Bhagwat, dispels all speculations

After keeping the powerful and popular Chief Minister of Rajasthan on a six day long “wait list”, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat finally invited her on Tuesday morning to state RSS headquarters “Bharati Bhawan” for an hour long discussions, something unusual in the style and functioning of RSS.  Around 11.23 am, she left Bharati Bhawan in a good mood and immediately summoned her trusted Principal Secretary and his team to work out a time bound plan to execute some of Bhagwat’s meaningful suggestions, which includes to further develop and beautify Udaipur “Pratap Gaurav Kendra”, a hill top RSS project, which is being developed as a “Mini Nagpur” (especially for North India).

Bhagwat, apart from enquiring about the health of an ailing Chief Minister, Bhagwat reportedly discussed a wide range of issues with her and conveyed his appreciation for developing and expanding a few monumental and heritage sites in the name of towering BJP and RSS leaders.  Raje gave an impressive presentation of her government’s flagship schemes to Bhagwat and assured him that she cares and values his advice to transform and convert her government into a “public welfare government”. 

At this juncture, Bhagwat also shared the negative feedback about the “ground realities” with the Chief Minister, gathered from district level Pracharaks.  However, RSS chief was appreciative of an excellent coordination between the government and party in the state, which is headed by Ashok Parnami at the moment.

The issue of social harmony was also discussed between the two leaders but it is yet not known whether Behrore’s Pehlu Khan case figured in the discussion or not.

Both in CM and RSS camps, Parnami is considered as a “valuable asset”, who is successfully working as a bridge between the Chief Minister and the state level RSS functionaries.  Recently, Parnami also got succeeded in establishing a “functional rapport” with the powerful party Chief Amit Shah, who took out some moments out of his busy schedule to make a “thank you call” to Parnami for arranging a tasteful coffee during Shah’s Kolkata bound Indigo flight  during his transit halt at Jaipur airport.

After a six day long unusual stay at Jaipur, Bhagwat finally left for Nagpur by Train.  A Bharati Bhawan source revealed that before meeting the Chief Minister, RSS supremo had carefully gone through the contents of a 17th September DNA lead story titled as “CM waits to host Bhagwat, RSS Chief busy branching out Shakhas”.  The story had categorically stated that the Chief Minister doesn’t belong to only a particular political party, she actually represents the entire state and therefore the respect, status and dignity of the Chief Minister should always be maintained, at least in public life, by the visiting dignitaries.

ReportIndiaAditi NagarDNAJaipur
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:30am
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 - 8:30am
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CM stepping out after meeting RSS chief on Tuesday.
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 •  80% brain of victim damaged, serious

The minor girl gang raped by the school director and a teacher in Ajitgarh is in serious condition. She is under medical observation at SMS Hospital in Jaipur and reportedly got Hypoxia (a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level) due to infection spread in her body.

As per doctors treating the girl, she has shown very little recovery but it is not sure that her brain will be recovered completely as it is around 80% damaged due to mental trauma during repeated gang rape followed by a forced Medical Termination Process to clean the foetus.

 After the repeated incidents of gang rape, the girl got pregnant and the accused took her to a private hospital in nearby town Shahpura for abortion. As per the doctors at SMS hospital the victim had an abortion before she was brought to Jaipur, and during the abortion she got severe infection. As she did not get medical treatment on time, the infection reached the brain, as a result the brain stopped functioning. Considering her serious condition, she was referred to SMS Hospital. 

“She has got Hypoxia as infection has spread up to her brain. Her body has started to show response towards treatment but we are not in a condition to say anything certain about her brain recovery,” Dr SS Yadav, spokesperson at SMS Hospital told DNA.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister has directed for free treatment of the girl.

ReportJaipurIndiadna CorrespondentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:20am
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 •  Centre to adopt AMC's MDR-TB policy nationally

The new drug and time intervention policy for the MDR-TB patients implemented by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in mid-2016 would find place in country's health policy by the early half of 2018.

The new drug, Bedaquiline, with a programme shortens the time of Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) for Multi Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis-which at present comprsies two years of tablets and daily injections.

"For a tuberculosis patient, government is providing DOT for free. AMC has started a programme along with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international organisations to shorten the time period of drug. The one in practice at majority of places in the country is much painful and time-consuming. The end result is also around 40 to 50% positive," said Dr Sanket Patel, project coordinator, AMC.

"Now a national-level policy will be made based on what Ahmedabad is practising for MDR-TB patients," said Dr Patel.

In 2016, WHO had recommended for shorter regime of drugs- nine to 12 months-for MDR-TB patients as against two to two and a half years. The Corporation had then identified 150 such patients out of 9,000 patients of tuberculosis. The nine-month long first phase of the programme started by AMC is on the verge of completion and based on that a new drug policy will be made at central level.

Under this programme, instead of daily drugs, the medicines are given only three times a week.

"After nine months, there has been an improvement.The result is better and chances of relapse are decreasing. Similar project has been successfully implemented in Bangladesh. Second phase will start soon. We are planning to rope in community leaders for the same," added Dr Patel.

On Tuesday, Ezio Tavora, an expert from Brazil, who runs a programme in 11 countries, conducted a workshop in the city.

"We have selected Ahmedabad because the local body is well equipped and good at follow up," he said.

ReportAhmedabadIndiaGargi RavalDNAAhmedabad
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:20am
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 •  GST for marriages, tying the knot gets dearer

Planning a wedding by an agency will be a costly affair in the coming marriage season starting from November, thanks to the implementation of GST.

“The wedding season starting from November will be the first under GST regime. Under the new tax regime, the service tax has been increased from 15 to 18 percent that will affect the budget of the families planning wedding. This hike is payable by the wedding planners who are likely to raise their charges as the sub letting agencies do have to pay the taxes under GST,” said Ravi Jindal, state president of Rajasthan Tent Dealers committee, telling about the impact of GST.

Tax experts suggest that a marriage estimated at Rs20 lakh will cost at Rs22-23 lakh with GST impact spoiling the budget of the families planning wedding. A sharp 10 percent jump in the budget is much likely. It is opined by the experts that instead of planning a wedding the families manage the affairs self which could bring their budget under the ceiling.

“Undoubtedly hiring a planner for the wedding will be a costly affair under the GST. So, the customers are advised to self manage the affairs to avoid taxation. They do have to deal directly with the sublets and in this, they could save taxes avoiding billing. This can bring down their expenditures,” said Vijay Garg, CA and financial consultant.

Jindal explained that GST has brought creases on the foreheads of the small planners working at the town and semi town level too. “Most of the planners at town level are having turnover below Rs20 lakh and hence they did not enroll for the new tax regime. As per the norm, the traders not registered with the GST will not be under government works of planning . Hence, they will get no work orders from government that will impact their business.”

 

ReportJaipurIndiaYuvraj ShrimalDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:15am
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 •  Rape accused held, action against school, doc demanded

Sikar police arrested the school director and teacher accused of gang rape and abortion of the minor schoolgirl late on Monday night. However, on Tuesday, villagers assembled at the police station in huge numbers demanding strict action against the doctors as well, at whose hospital the abortion was done.

The villagers also demanded that the registration of the school be cancelled. After the matter came to light on Monday and a case was registered, Ajeetgarh police of Sikar district initiated a search for the duo - school director Jagdish Yadav and teacher Jagat Singh - following which the duo were arrested late in the night by the police.

However, early on Tuesday morning hundreds of villagers assembled outside the school and raised slogans while holding an agitation. The villagers even forcefully shut the school and declared holiday for the students. As the information about the agitation reached the cops, a team from Ajeetgarh police station reached the spot and pacified the agitators. The agitators demanded that strict action be taken against the doctor couple that conducted the abortion.

The agitators also demanded that the registration of the school be cancelled. Meanwhile, district collector Naresh Kumar Thakral sent the district education officer to the school and demanded a report on the matter by Tuesday evening for taking final action regarding the school registration. Moreover chairperson of state women commission Suman Sharma even met the victim girl and her family at Sawai Man Singh hospital. Notably a teenager girl was gang raped over a period of time by her school director and a teacher from the school.

A case has been registered against doctor Rajnish Sharma for conducting the illegal abortion procedure” officials said.

 

ReportJaipurIndiaDNA CorresponedentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:10am
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School director and teacher accused of rape of minor held.
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 •  BJP plans 2 yatras to bolster campaign

Gujarat BJP is going to surge in the massive political campaign through Gujarat Gaurav Yatra that will be flagged off by BJP national chief Amit Shah on October 1 from Karamsad. The campaign will conclude in presence of PM Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on October 16.

The Yatra is going to cover the entire state. One group of campaigners will begin from Karmasad, the hometown of Sardar Patel, on October 1. This part of the Yatra is expected to cover central, southern and northern parts of the state, while another slot of Yatra will commence from Porbandar, Mahatma Gandhi's native on October 2, covering Saurashtra and Kutch region of Gujarat.

The roadmap for Yatra was decided during party's executive committee meeting held in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. The poll in-charge of BJP in Gujarat and union minister Arun Jaitley, who convened the meeting, said, "The Gujarat Gaurav Yatra will be held on two different routes and our leaders will approach the voters of all 182 constituencies covering the distance of 4,600 km across the state. The rally will be flagged of by Party president Amit Shah while the same will conclude in Ahmedabad in presence of PM Narendra Modi on October 16."

The BJP expects a turnout of 5 lakh people in Ahmedabad on the concluding ceremony of the rally. The union minister during the meeting also directed the party leaders to contribute their bit to make this Yatra successful one. Meanwhile, Jaitley also lambasted state cadre leaders for reacting upon anti-BJP social media campaign 'Vikas Gando Thayo Che'.

"Jaitley was annoyed with CM, Deputy CM, Gujarat BJP chief and other leaders for reacting on the anti-BJP social media campaign. He seriously asked all the leaders to ignore the campaign and to stay away from defending or reacting on such issues. He also directed all to put stress on the positive sides of central and state government as well," a senior leader of the party said.

RALLY SCHEDULE

  • One group of campaigners will begin from Karmasad, the hometown of Sardar Patel, on October 1.
     
  • Campaign will conclude in presence of PM Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on October 16.
ReportAhmedabadIndiadna CorrespondentDNAGandhinagar
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:20am
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 •  Cong woos farmers with farm loan waiver promise

Accusing the BJP government of failing to provide the right prices to farmers for their produce, the Congress on Tuesday announced that it would waive off loans for the farmers if the party is elected to power in the upcoming assembly elections.

Addressing the media, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said the farming activity has taken a huge hit in the state in the last 10 years.

"The number of farmers in the state has fallen by 3.55 lakh over the last 10 years. Over the same period, number of farm labourers has gone up by 17 lakh. The BJP government has been making tall claims, but the reality is that agricultural output has been on the decline. This is the reason why instead of exporting, we are forced to import certain food items," Solanki said.

He said that ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had promised that farmers would be paid 50% more than their input costs, but nothing in reality happened. He said that fertilizer, diesel, and other inputs have become costlier, but the minimum support price being paid to farmers is insufficient to even cover costs.

Solanki also criticised deputy chief minister Nitin Patel for his statement a few months ago that farmers in the state are well off and do not need a loan waiver.

"The truth is that farmers are in a bad state, and it is our promise that we will waive off farmers' loans when we come to power," he announced. Effective implementation of minimum support price policy, free canal water for irrigation, 16-hour electricity supply to farmers, and construction of Narmada canal network on top priority, were the other announcements by the Congress, which has been out of power in the state since 1995.

Alleging several irregularities in land resurvey undertaken by the state government, former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia said a fresh survey would be conducted so that farmers do not end up as losers.

Former MLA Siddharth Patel alleged that more than 7,000 farmers in the state have committed suicide in the last 10 years.

OPPOSITION ATTACKS

  • Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki says number of farmers in the state has fallen by 3.55 lakh over the last 10 years.
     
  • Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had promised that farmers would be paid 50% more than their input costs, but nothing in reality happened, he alleged.
ReportAhmedabadIndiadna CorrespondentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:15am
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 •  Vatva GIDC tank tragedy: Death toll rises to six

One more labourer, Sarvesh Diwavkar, died on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in the Vatva GIDC effluent tank tragedy to six. Two others — Jitu Kumar Roy and Golu Singh (26) — remain critical at L.G hospital.

On Monday afternoon, eight contractual labourers were cleaning the chemical effluent tank of Advance Dyestuff Industries when they became unconscious due to a poisonous gas. A few others rushed in to rescue them; however, they too became unconscious.

The deceased have been identified as Shailendra Divakar (25), Puran Divakar (38), Bharat Divakar (25), Mavji Thakor (43), Bunty Singh Divakar (28) and Sarvesh (30).

The Vatva GIDC police have registered an offence under IPC Section 304 (Culpable homicide) against factory owners Kiran Patel and Bijit Shah, a supervisor and two contractors for not providing proper apparatus to the workers to clean the tank.

D.B Vaghela, additional commissioner of police, Sector-2, said “We have detained three accused – a factory owner, a contractor and the supervisor, who is hospitalised. One of the contractors had gone to Madhya Pradesh before the incident, and the other factory owner has run away. We have deployed a search team and will nab him soon.”

ReportAhmedabadIndiadna CorrespondentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:10am
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 •  Potholed B2 by-pass drives vehicles to accidents

Stretches of road on the B2 Bypass which connects Tonk Road with the new Sanganer Road is an open invitation to road accidents these days.

The road bearing heavy routine traffic is marred with streets which neither have road lights functioning nor have clean, levelled road. Significantly, a patch on this road which sees heavy traffic, particularly at night is bearing dangerous potholes.

Frequent instances of vehicles from Tonk Road coming in speed and bumping into these potholes results in injuries to the driver alongwith damage to the vehicle.

There have been instances in last few days when, on suddenly seeing the potholes, commuters moving in high speed tried to turn the vehicle by applying breaks abruptly.

The sudden act comes as a shock to the commuter coming from behind and there are strong chances of collision of the two vehicles.

“It is dangerous. My car got bumped into the pothole in day light as I didn’t know there was a pothole here,” said a car driver on his way to new Sanganer road speaking to DNA.

The non functional road lights on certain stretches of this road is adding to the agony of the commuters. Notably, there is heavy movement of trucks during night through this bypass. They move in a line on a certain speed. On seeing the potholes, they stop suddenly, causing other vehicles to hault abruptly, which again is an open invitation to accidents.

Apart from the one huge pothole on this road, there are many small ones too, adding to the misery.

One such big pothole near Mansarovar on this road was repaired few weeks back, which had been posing similar problems to the commuters.

 

ReportJaipurIndiaAbhishek TiwariDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:00am
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 •  Realtor in 2-day custody over cheque bounce

A Delhi court on Tuesday sent the director of a Delhi-based real estate firm in to two-day police custody, in connection with a cheque bounce case, in which cricketer Munaf Patel is also an accused.

Metropolitan Magistrate Manisha Tripathy sent Rahul Chamola, Director of Nivas Promoters Private Limited, for interrogation, after a complaint that the accused duped a Delhi resident of crores, which was used for betting and match fixing. The complaint was filed under provisions of the Negotiable Instruments Act against the company and six others.

ReportDelhiIndiadna CorrespondentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:20am
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 •  No Blue Whale-linked suicide in Delhi: Cops

The Delhi Police on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court (HC) that no incident linked to the online game Blue Whale Challenge has taken place in the city.

"There is no reported case of suicide linked to the Blue Whale Challenge in Delhi. Likewise, there are no such complaints with the Cyber Cell, Crime Branch, and Delhi Police," the report stated.

The HC had sought responses from the Delhi Police and the Centre on a plea seeking directions to social networking sites such as Facebook, Google, and Yahoo to remove the links to the game. The petition was filed by Advocate Gurmeet Singh.

The police also informed the court that the game was not a freely downloadable application and children could not access it on their phones through app stores.

"As per the available information, the game is shared among secret groups on the social media or on chat networks. The creators seek their players or victims and send them an online invitation link to join in," the report added.

The police further said that the death of a 19-year-old boy, who fell from the terrace of a Hauz Khas eatery, as mentioned in the petition, could not be linked to the game as there was no such evidence, so far.

Also, according to the report, an advisory has been sent to parents on Twitter, mentioning various steps that can be taken to keep children out of harm's way.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar fixed the next date of hearing on October 12, after the counsel appearing for the Centre said a similar matter will be heard by the Apex Court on October 9.

Meanwhile, the Centre has filed a status report in this regard, following which the court directed them to mention the steps taken to comply with the Madras High Court direction to ban the Blue Whale Challenge.

On September 4, the Madras HC had directed the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to explore the possibility of banning the game.

ReportDelhiIndiaRicha BankaDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:15am
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 •  Three cycle to Lucknow to meet UP CM

A group of cycling enthusiasts from Noida are pedalling from Delhi to Lucknow, to submit a petition to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, urging him to provide for better infrastructure for cyclists in Noida and other cities of the state. They will cover 550 km in three days, and will be returning to the Capital within a week.

The riders, IT professionals Anupam Gupta and Kirti M Rawat, and homemaker Suchanda Vyas started their journey on Tuesday.

The trio, a part of the Bicycle Commuters Group, which is trying to popularise the concept of cycling to work, has already circulated a petition on the social media, urging the government to take back the recent decision to demolish cycling tracks, to set up cycle stands, and rental stations, and to start a mobile app to help cyclists locate existing tracks.

The petition would also like the Chief Minister to set up a panel with bureaucrats, elected representatives, and cyclists to monitor the condition of cycle tracks.

"We expect to cover 200 km on the first day and nearly 150 km each on the next two days," Rawat said. The cyclists, who will be carrying gear weighing around 8 kg.

ReportDelhiIndiadna CorrespondentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-07:50am
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 •  AAP leader filed plea to delay defamation trial: Arun Jaitley

Terming it an attempt to delay the trial, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday opposed a plea in the Delhi High Court (HC), filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Deepak Bajpai, which challenged the lower court's order of summoning him in a criminal defamation case.

In an affidavit filed through his counsel Manik Dogra, the Union Minister said that the plea was devoid of any merit as no sincere attempt was made to satisfy the grounds for condonation of the gross delay in filing the petition.

He said the plea was filed after over one-and-a half years, which "establishes a clear case of malafide intentions and a sorry attempt to delay the trial".

The reply came during the hearing of a plea by Bajpai, who along with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, was put to trial in a defamation case filed by Jaitley.

In his plea, Bajpai challenged the lower court order of summoning him and framing notice against him for the alleged offence of defamation. He also challenged the order by which his application seeking to be heard on the point of notice was rejected.

"The petitioner (Bajpai) has stated three events, which, according to him, have resulted in the delay in filing of the criminal revision petition. These include Punjab Assembly election, MCD elections of NCT Delhi, and the Bawana by-poll. It is submitted that the Punjab legislative election were held on February 4, the MCD elections on April 23, and the Bawana by-poll on August 23," the affidavit read.

Justice IS Mehta posted it for hearing on September 21.

Appearing for Jaitley, Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra contended that there was no urgency in the matter before the HC and the criminal revision petition was filed to stall or delay the ongoing trial in the case before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

What jaitley said

In an affidavit filed through his counsel Manik Dogra, Jaitley said the plea was devoid of any merit. 
He said the plea has been filed after over one-and-a half years, which “establishes a clear case of malafide intentions and a sorry attempt to delay the ongoing trial”. 

ReportDelhiIndiadna CorrespondentDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-08:10am
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 •  Sewer cleaners' death: Ashram staffer held

A day after two men died while cleaning a sewer at the ashram of jailed self-styled godman Rampal in outer Delhi's Mundka, the police have arrested a manager at the ashram for negligence. A person who tried to rescue the duo was affected by toxic gases as well and had to be admitted to hospital in a critical condition, the police said.

The arrested man was identified as Shyam Rathi. Senior officers said he was being questioned about the lack of safety gear as the probe, so far, has pointed out that no safety equipment was provided to the cleaners. The officer further said that the role of any civic agency has not come to the fore as the sewer was located on private property.

The incident took place around 4pm on Monday, when the two men, Amarjeet, 30, and Makhan Lal, 27, entered a sewer inside the ashram to clean it. When they did not come out, two more men went inside to check, but were themselves affected by the gases. Amarjeet and Lal were declared dead on arrival at the hospital while the third person is under treatment.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis has written a letter to the Chief Minister, demanding Rs 10 lakh as compensation for the families of the deceased. "We had come here to inspect the site. It is a 8-9 feet deep water tank. We came to know that the tank is connected to a toilet or sewer and there was presence of toxic gases, which led to the death of the two," Sant Lal, the commission's chairman, said.

"The commission will try and help the families get the compensation. As per law, the families must get Rs 10 lakh each. We have written to the CM about it," Lal added. Even devotees at the ashram expressed shock and anger over the incident. The deceased were also members of the ashram, where no outsider is allowed.

"We have lost two brothers because the government does not have machines to clean tanks," BD Sharma, a devotee, said.

ReportDelhiIndiaAdvitya BahlDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-07:45am
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 •  Kailash Gahlot to discuss ‘stuck’ taxi scheme with unions

The Delhi government’s new City Taxi Scheme, 2017, is stuck due to the lack of consensus between the government and the stakeholders. Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot will now meet the stakeholders on Wednesday to discuss the issue again.

The new rules, aimed at regulating taxis and app-based cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber in the national Capital, are being opposed by taxi unions, which are against giving permits to app-based taxis.

The scheme plans to bring in a uniform law for all taxis plying in the city, but the taxi unions, including kali-peelis, radio, and economy taxis, are of the opinion that this will adversely affect their business. Most of the nearly dozen major auto-taxi unions in the city are affiliated with political parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Congress.

The Transport Department, which had prepared the policy, has held several consultations with the unions over the last few months, but the talks have remained “inconclusive”. “The past meetings have been more or less inconclusive. We are trying to safeguard everybody’s interests. There are, however, some issues regarding fares and benefits, which need to be addressed,” a senior Delhi government official said.

President of the All Delhi Auto-Taxi Transport Congress Union, Kailash Verma, said: “We have requested the government to not let our business suffer. These ride-hailing apps do not have permits to ply. Also, they are a threat to passengers’ safety, as their drivers are not verified. We have held three meetings with the department in this regard earlier.”     

Last month, DNA had reported that the scheme was likely to be bifurcated for taxis and technology-based aggregators. Bifurcation would mean that the app-based aggregators will be able to procure permits to ply as on-demand transportation technology, with fixed fares and service benefits for employees, unlike at present.

The new rules will require cab aggregators to install panic button, provide for PSV badges, fixed hours of work, and no surge pricing.

ReportDelhiIndiaVatsala ShrangiDNA
Wed, 20 Sep 2017-07:40am
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