Separatists on Tuesday used the lowest-ever poll percentage of 7.14 in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-polls to claim “a victory of their stand” in Jammu and Kashmir.In a joint statement, separatists leaders — Hurriyat chairmen Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Mohamad Yasin Malik — hailed people “for complete and unprecedented poll boycott” on April 9.“People’s verdict is loud and clear. It showed commitment to achieving their fundamental political right. It is a victory and the deferment of polls vindicates that State rulers and pro-Indian parties have virtually accepted defeat,” said the joint statement. They said the Government of India’s own index of treating elections as a gauge of people’s faith in Indian democracy “stands completely exposed”. They urged people to boycott re-polling on April 13, too.“Election boycott is a significant part of our movement and people will boycott these elections,” said a Hurriyat spokesman. He said elections to Parliament, Assembly, Panchayats or municipalities, “will not serve any purpose”.The Hurriyat said it is ridiculous to blame Pakistan. “Neither an encounter occurred nor any militant from Pakistan was there. However, the Forces killed eight unarmed and innocent youth and injured over 150,” he said.Separatists are planning joint Friday prayers in Budgam, which witnessed widespread violence during the polls and saw the death of eight civilians.
The ban on consumption of tobacco products such as gutka and pan masala has been tightened in Goa with the State Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) banning the products under the Food Safety Standards Act (FSSA), 2006. The Act came into force in 2011.Salim Veljee, Goa Director of FDA, said the gutka lobby was trying to exploit loopholes in the ban under Public Health Act by separating Ghutka from pan masala using packaging gimmicks. “By banning the products under the FSSA, the loophole has been fixed. This ban makes everything consumed orally associated with tobacco as food.”As per Food and Safety Standards Authority of India, under the Act, gutka and pan masala consumed in any form and used in any type of containers for production, sale, consumption and storage will be banned for one year.
Chandrika Ghosh, a resident of Balaji Nagar in Akurdi, died of dengue on Sunday. Ghosh, who was in her early twenties, was admitted to Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital in Pimpri last Friday after she complained of severe body ache. She had high fever and recurrent bouts of nausea, said doctors. Ghosh tested positive for the NS 1 antigen and died at 3:30 a.m. The Health Department of the Pune Municipal Corporation has recorded 380 cases since January. More than 200 cases have been recorded in July alone with 90 testing positive for dengue. Pune claims a large share of the 470-odd cases of suspected dengue recorded across Maharashtra.Rain aids spread The incessant rain over the past three weeks has led to the spread of dengue, say health experts. Last week, a 32-year-old woman doctor who had just given birth died due to multi-organ failure following dengue fever in the city’s Sahyadri Hospital in Hadapsar. The case drew the attention of the State Health Department which accused the hospital of facilitating the breeding of dengue-transmitting Aedes mosquitoes on its premises. It directed PMC to take action against the hospital and rapped the civic authorities for poor health surveillance. On July 19, a 40-year-old man from Satara district who was undergoing treatment at a city hospital succumbed to a viral co-infection brought on by dengue and swine flu. In February, a minor died in the city’s Karve Nagar area. Notices issuedThe PMC has sent notices to 12 police stations in areas where rivulets of stagnant water have been spotted. The civic body has also issued notices to 11,000 public and private spaces and establishments.
Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday said three people, alleged conspirators in the July 10 attack on Amarnath pilgrims, have been arrested by its Special Investigation Team (SIT).The men provided logistical help to four Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) militants who carried out the attack that left eight people dead, IGP Munir Khan told the media here.The men, who had allegedly helped the four terrorists by providing them with vehicles and shelter, were arrested recently and taken into remand for further questioning, the police said.The police said the four LeT militants, led by Abu Ismail, a Pakistani national, had attempted an attack on Amarnath pilgrims on July 9, but were frustrated by heavy security arrangements.Another militant in the group of four had been identified as Yawar, a local recruiter for the LeT, the police said. Efforts are on to identify the other two, believed to be Pakistanis. The police also released pictures of Abu Ismail and Yawar.The the three “co-conspirators”— Bilal Ahmed Reshi, Aizaj Wagey and Zahoor Ahmed — had carried out reconnaissance exercises and chosen Botengo near Khanbal as the spot where the attack could be carried out, the police added.The trio had also provided shelter to the four militants in Khudwani and Sriguffwara of South Kashmir, Khan said. Bilal’s elder brother Adil, an alleged Lashker-e-Taiba terrorist, was killed by security forces earlier this year.The Jammu and Kashmir Police had constituted an SIT led by Deputy Inspector General (South Kashmir) Swayam Prakash Pani to probe the attack on the pilgrims.
‘I don’t agree with the decision in Bihar,’ says Sharad Yadav ‘First time in history’Some RJD leaders and party workers were seen receiving Mr. Yadav and shouting slogans in his favour at the Patna airport. However, a lone senior JD(U) leader Ramai Ram, said to be close to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, also accompanied Mr. Sharad Yadav from the airport.Mr. Sharad Yadav continued his three-day journey of “direct interaction with the people of the State” and received a warm welcome at Hajipur, Sonepur and Muzaffarpur. “In the history of Independent India, it has happened for the first time that two parties contesting against each other on separate manifestos joined hands midway and formed the government,” Mr. Yadav said while addressing people at Hajipur.At Sonepur, he said, “People of the sarkari (official) Janata Dal have become the Chief Minister and ministers in Patna but, there is the real Janata Dal among the masses.” When asked whether his tour would not amount to ‘anti-party activity’, Mr. Yadav declined to comment.Meanwhile, JD(U) State chief spokesperson Sanjay Singh reminded him, “JD(U) means Nitish Kumar and Nitish Kumar means JD(U).” On his three-day Bihar tour, State JD(U) chief Basistha Narayan Singh said, “It is his [Sharad Yadav’s] personal initiative and the JD(U) has nothing to do with it.” Earlier, along with Sharad Yadav, two other JD(U) Rajya Sabha MPs — Ali Anwar Ansari and Virender Kumar — had also opposed Nitish Kumar’s decision to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).If sources in the JD(U) are to be believed, party chief Nitish Kumar may suspend Mr. Sharad Yadav from the JD(U), which would mean that the latter would lose all his privileges that a leader of party in the Rajya Sabha.Grapevine abuzzThe political grapevine in the State is abuzz that Sharad Yadav is in touch with some other disgruntled JD(U) leaders, MLAs and MPs to form a new alliance with the RJD and the Congress to take on Mr. Nitish Kumar.“The JD(U)’s 14 State presidents are with Sharad Yadav…let Nitish Kumar be with his Bihar unit and rule the State with the BJP,” said Arun Kumar Shrivastva, who was recently was removed from the post of general secretary of the JD(U) after the lone party MLA in Gujarat, Chhotubhai Vasava, declared that he had voted for the Congress candidate Ahmad Patel in the Rajya Sabha election. Also Read Kicking-off his three day “direct interaction with people” programme in Bihar, disgruntled Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) leader and the party’s Rajya Sabha member Sharad Yadav on Thursday said, “I continue to stand by the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (‘grand alliance’) of the RJD, Congress and JD(U)…ending the alliance is betrayal of the mandate of 11 crore people of the State…the mandate was given for five years.”Accompanied by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leaders on his tour, the senior JD(U) leader said, “I was personally hurt and pained by [the decision] as I too had campaigned hard for the ‘grand alliance’.”
NAGPUR: Nagpur, with its mix of infrastructure and culture, has the potential to become the centre of development of the country, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Friday. The President, who was on a day-long tour of Nagpur on Friday, visited Deekshabhoomi, where Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism with lakhs of his followers in 1956. Mr. Kovind also inaugurated the Suresh Bhat Natya Sabhagrah and a vipassana meditation centre at the Dragon Palace Temple complex in Kamptee area on the outskirts of Nagpur. This was his first visit to Maharashtra after assuming the office of President. “Maharashtra is the karmabhoomi of many revolutionaries, social reformers, and saints. The list of great social and political leaders produced by the State is a long one. Maharashtra was one of the main centres of the freedom struggle. Many important chapters of the freedom movement, including the Quit India movement of 1942, were written in Maharashtra. Mahatma Gandhi regarded Gopal Krishna Gokhale as his guru, and made Wardha his workplace,” Mr. Kovind said at the inauguration of the Suresh Bhat Natya Sabhagrah. He added, “Maharashtra is not only a hub of industry and business of the country, but that of its culture and art as well. Mumbai is described as the economic capital of India. By linking its heritage of education and culture with trade and technology, Maharashtra is giving strength to the entire country in the 21st century. In the quest for development and economic change, we have to take care to keep our cultural moorings intact. In this context, Maharashtra is setting an example for the nation.” He appreciated “the rapid development of modern infrastructure in Nagpur”. “The Zero Mile Nagpur, traditionally regarded the geographical centre of the country, has the potential to become the centre of development of India as well,” the President said. Earlier, at the inauguration of the vipassana centre, Mr. Kovind called vipassana an effective way to cleanse our mind and body. He said the ideals of Buddhist philosophy were reflected in the Constitution.
The Yogi Adityanath government on Wednesday gave its nod to a new law against organised crime in Uttar Pradesh along the lines of the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). At a meeting presided by the Chief Minister, the State cabinet approved the Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Act, 2017.The BJP government is expected to introduce the proposed legislation in the Winter Session of the State Assembly, which commences from Thursday. The government said the UPCOCA was brought to check and curb acts of oganised crime and mafia, including land grabs, illegal mining, sale of illegal medicine and illicit liquor, wildlife smuggling, extortion, abduction syndicates as well as white-collared criminals. The draft of the proposed law, which could be tabled in the Assembly soon, was prepared in consultation with the State Law Department and after an “intensive study” of MCOCA, Cabinet Minister Shrikant Sharma said. A similar law was passed by the Uttar Pradesh government in 2007-08 when Mayawati was in power but it had to be withdrawn after then President Pratibha Patil refused to give it assent. Shrikant Sharma, U.P. Cabinet Minister, said it was the BJP government’s “priority” to make the State “free from injustice, crime and fear, and establish the rule of law.”Under the UPCOCA, the State would be empowered to seize the property of those implicated by the law during the period of investigation and properties acquired by people through illegal activities and organised crime would also be seized. State security would also be withdrawn from persons booked under the the law. Special courts would be set up for the trial of cases under UPCOCA for speedy conclusion. “Criminals will not be able to roam free for too long,” said Mr. Sharma.The government is introducing the UPCOCA when it already has a stringent law to check crime syndicates, the Gangsters Act. However, the UPCOCA would have 28 provisions in addition to the Gangsters Act.S.R Darapuri, retired IPS officer, was critical of the UPCOCA. He said the present laws were sufficient to deal with crimes in UP and there was no need for a special Act. Mr. Darapuri also said that the general experience was that “all such laws were misused against the weeker sections of the society,” in particular Dalits and Muslims.”These Special Acts do not help much in controlling crime. The need is for the existing laws to be implemented uniformly. There is a tendency to add more laws to cover up failure of the state in implementing existing laws,” Mr. Darapuri told The Hindu.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said a decision on any electoral alliance in Punjab for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be taken by the Congress high command at the appropriate time.He was replying to a media query about the possibility of a poll alliance on the lines of the one forged by Samajwadi Party with Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress in Uttar Pradesh.Talking to journalists on the sidelines of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation convention in Patiala, Capt. Amarinder Singh said any decision in this regard would be taken by the party’s central leadership.In response to another question, he hinted at a new Sports Minister being appointed in the State’s Cabinet expansion, which is expected to take place soon. “The new Sports Policy would be finalised thereafter,” he said.On the issue of alleged illegal mining in Patiala, he promised a thorough probe and action. “I won’t allow illegal mining to continue,” he said, pointing out that he had already issued stringent directives to the police and the concerned administrative departments to crack down against such activities taking place in any part of the State.On the report submitted by the Special Task Force (STF) in the drugs case, Capt. Singh said the matter was sub judice and he could, therefore, not comment on the same.
Mumbai: A 45-year-old Congress worker was allegedly murdered at Asalfa in Ghatkopar on Monday morning. While the Congress has called it a political murder and an attack on democracy, the Saki Naka police believe the victim was killed in a road rage incident. Manoj Dubey used to stay with his family in Shivaji Nagar of Asalfa. Dubey, the police said, was found in a severely injured condition near Asalfa Metro station around 1.30 a.m., and was rushed to Rajawadi Hospital, where he died during treatment. After Dubey was identified based on some documents on his person, the police contacted his family.“Dubey’s family told us that he had got into an argument on Facebook after he put up a status saying the next government would be formed by the Congress, which attracted the ire of some local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers. On Sunday evening, Dubey and a BJP functionary came to the police station and Dubey registered a non-cognisable complaint against the people threatening him. To the best of our knowledge, the matter ended there,” an officer at Saki Naka police station said. Inquiries established that Dubey left his residence after midnight on Sunday to meet someone, and got involved in an accident. “We have found eyewitnesses who saw Dubey drive on the wrong side of the road and hit another car, after which an argument ensued between Dubey and the car owner. Dubey’s murder seems to have occurred during this argument, although we are verifying whether the people threatening him could be behind it,” the officer said. Meanwhile, calling it a murder of democracy, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said the BJP has brought in a new tactic of eliminating political rivals by murdering them. “This is not only the murder of a Congress worker but that of democracy. Our nation follows the tradition of discussion over differing views. Goons of the BJP murdered Dubey over his Facebook post,” Mr. Chavan said. Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam slammed the BJP and demanded action against its party workers involved in the crime. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the murder of the Congress activist merely over a Facebook post is absolutely shameful. “Is this State run by the law or goons?” he asked. BJP denies allegationReacting to the allegation, Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar said the government is doing its duty and an FIR has been filed against the accused. “None of them are BJP office-bearers. Above all, the police are investigating. Merely an allegation by the Congress does not prove anything. The law will take its own course,” Mr. Shelar said. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone X) N.D. Reddy said, “An FIR of murder against unknown persons under the IPC has been registered, and several suspects are being questioned.”
The Congress Working Committee (CWC) is set to meet on February 26 in Ahmedabad and possible alliances across the States will be top on the agenda for the meeting. The meeting comes less than 100 days before the general elections, where the Congress is fighting an all-out battle. The Congress is working towards an alliance in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Jharkhand. “It is easier to declare alliances in Delhi and difficult to work it out at the ground level. For example, in West Bengal Raiganj is CPI (M) leader Mohd. Salim’s constituency and he will be contesting from there. It is also the constituency of our prime candidate Deepa Das Munshi,” a senior party leader said. The alliance with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and other parties in Maharashtra has been almost sealed barring a few details that need to be ironed out. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi had a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday once again to clear the issues. In Bihar, where Congress is part of the ‘Mahagatbandhan’, the six constituents – RJD, Sharad Yadav’s Jan Loktantrik Party, Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Party and the Left parties have not been able to reach an amicable seat arrangement. The Congress has been demanding that they should have equal share of seats with the RJD. The RJD however have overtly and covertly sending out messages that the Congress should be generous towards its regional parties. It will be the first CWC meeting after Priyanka Gandhi was formally inducted in the Congress’s highest decision-making body after she was appointed general secretary in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.According to sources, Gujarat has been chosen as the venue for the meeting to kickstart Congress’s campaign for Lok Sabha polls. This will be the second meeting of the CWC outside New Delhi. The last meeting was in Wardha, Maharashtra, at Sevagram Ashram to mark the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
CPI(M) candidate Amiya Kumar Handique, 65, received only 2.05% of the votes in the 2016 by-election to the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency. Pradan Baruah of the BJP won the bypoll after Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had vacated the seat.The CPI(M) has fielded Mr. Handique again, hoping the Leftist past of the constituency — its eastern half in particular — would catch up with the Rightist present. This half comprising Dhemaji district is almost always the worst hit by annual floods in Assam.Former ULFA bastionThe rest of the constituency is divided among Lakhimpur district, “island” district Majuli, and a part of Tinsukia district that houses Jerai Chokolibhoria, the village of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom’s military chief Paresh Baruah as well as the outfit’s general secretary Anup Chetia.Much of the areas under Lakhimpur constituency sustained the Maoism-inspired ULFA for a long time. The constituency was also responsible for its slide, beginning with the killing of rural development activist Sanjoy Ghose in Majuli in July 1997. The outfit still enjoyed local support until it set off a bomb in Dhemaji town and killed 13 people, including 10 schoolchildren, during the Independence Day function in 2004.The initial resistance to the ULFA, though, was from the United Reservation Movement Council of Assam in the late 1980s. Backed by the CPI(ML), it was led by Ranoj Pegu, a doctor who later formed the Ganashakti party before becoming a BJP legislator two years ago.Several other leaders with a communist past joined the BJP over the last three years.“Communication problems and farm losses due to floods were the main reasons why communism flourished in these parts,” said Manoj Pegu, a tea planter whose shopping complex in Dhemaji town is named after his son Lenin.The BJP has been showcasing two bridges — the 9.76 km Dhola-Sadiya, India’s longest, and the 4.94 km Bogibeel, India’s longest rail-road bridge — completed during “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure” as an example of connecting remote, backward parts of the constituency to the country’s development grid. The two bridges are located within the constituency.Claims, counter-claims“Much of these projects were completed during the Congress tenure,” Anil Borgohain, Lakhimpur’s Congress candidate said, accusing the BJP and its right-wing affiliates of intimidating and attacking him and party workers during the campaign that ended on Tuesday.The BJP’s sitting MP is confident of retaining his seat because of the party’s focus on improved communication. “We have also been addressing the issue of floods,” said Mr. Pradan Baruah.But at Dighiri Chapori, barely 10 km east of Dhemaji town, the likes of 49-year-old farmer Jarman Doley know it would take a lot more than promises to undo the damage done by the Jiadhol, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. Sand deposited by the river over the years has buried paddy fields and houses in six villages in the area. The sand-induced barrenness led to Dighiri Chapori and several other patches in the district.“About 100 of some 240 families have built new chang-ghars (houses on stilts) that are 20-25 ft above the original level. This happened in the last three years. The BJP has promised the rest of us more houses as well as roads,” he said.The other candidates — 11 apart from the BJP’s — too have assured a solution to their perennial problem. They include Hem Kanta Miri of Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) and Arup Kalita of CPI, underlining the Left Front’s bid to regain lost ground.
Despite global warming, the fringe of sea ice around Antarctica is expanding slightly, in contrast to the marked decline of sea ice in the Arctic. Scientists have blamed this curious fact on various forces, from shifting winds to smaller waves, but a new study suggests a more mundane culprit: an error in the way the satellite data have been processed. The miscalculation, the authors say, might be making the sea ice increase appear larger than it is.Sea ice cover—ice that’s floating free on the ocean surface, rather than on land—has been observed by satellites since the late 1970s. Satellite sensors use different frequencies and polarizations to distinguish ice from water, and scientists have developed several algorithms to then process the data, remove weather effects, account for ponds of melted water on the ice, and the like. Data based on one of the most commonly used algorithms, dubbed Bootstrap, were used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fourth (2007) and Fifth (2013) assessment reports.The two reports both commented on the enigma of overall sea ice expansion around Antarctica, despite warming atmospheres and ocean waters. Complicating the story is the observation that the expansion varies regionally and seasonally—it’s not actually expanding everywhere, and in some places it’s clearly retreating. Scientists have attributed this pattern to other effects of climate change—changes in the prevailing wind patterns that generally push the ice northward or in the size of ocean waves, which may shrink and allow the ice to expand or grow and herd it back toward the coast.Even more puzzling was that the expansion seemed to be picking up speed. The 2013 report noted a significant increase in the expansion rate compared with the 2007 report, which “really jumped out at me,” says Ian Eisenman, a climate dynamicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. Within the climate science community, he says, that apparent change in the trend of how fast the ice was expanding was instead attributed to, basically, having more years of data between 2007 and 2013.When Eisenman and his colleagues dug a little deeper, they realized that the two reports relied on two different versions of the Bootstrap data processing algorithm. Satellites come and go, and sensors improve all the time. So, to ensure continuity within a data set whenever a satellite changeover occurs, the data from an outgoing satellite and a new satellite are calibrated. Such a changeover happened in 1992, when a new satellite sensor was launched. Then, around 2007, Bootstrap got an update, in part to help account for ongoing sensor improvements. “There were a lot of changes from version one to version two,” Eisenman says. Several decades of data were recalculated with the new Bootstrap version.And that’s the rub: The same data from 1979 through 2004, plotted by the two versions of Bootstrap, reveal two distinct trends. Version one (as reported in IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report) suggests the ice is expanding by about 5.6 x 103 km2 per year. Version two shows the ice expanding more than twice as fast over that time period, at about 14.1 x 103 km2 per year. (IPCC’s Fifth Assessment reports an increase of 16.5 x 103 km2 per year for 1979 through 2012.)“That implies inaccuracy in one of those versions—although which one isn’t clear,” Eisenman says. If the correct version of the Bootstrap algorithm is version one, then it follows that the sea ice isn’t increasing nearly as much as we thought, his team reports today in The Cryosphere.Well, maybe. Climate scientist Josefino Comiso of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the scientist who worked on the Bootstrap calibration. He says that the revised Bootstrap two is the accurate one, and that the trend depicted in IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report is correct. “Why not believe the one that has been corrected?” Comiso asks.Among climate scientists, there seems to be little dispute that Eisenman and his co-authors have identified a very real discrepancy in the satellite algorithms. “It’s an excellent piece of scientific vigilance,” says Paul Holland, a climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, U.K. But what’s less clear, Holland says, is how much the discrepancy matters in terms of what’s really going on in Antarctica. Regardless of which trend is used, the data end up telling the same story: Antarctic sea ice is expanding, despite the warming climate.And that overall increase isn’t even the most interesting thing, Holland adds. Yes, the sea ice is increasing on a continent-wide scale—but that overall slight increase is actually just the sum of stronger increases and decreases at different places ringing the continent—which the new study also reproduces, he points out. “To me, the interesting thing is what’s causing that spatial pattern.”As for which version of Bootstrap is more accurate, Eisenman and his colleagues are continuing to investigate. Whichever it turns out to be, he says, the study highlights the need for “a more thorough documentation” of satellite data calibration methods, particularly with the growing interest in the sea ice cover at both poles. “There’s a real need for it now that these data sets are getting so much attention.”
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