In an unprecedented move, All Uttar Pradesh boats to be registered

In an unprecedented move, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has come out with a slew of measures to address boat accidents. It has decided that all boats in the state will be painted bright yellow and each one will have a number assigned to it.

Special guidelines for boatsmen have also been issued by the state government to check the increasing number of boat accidents in the state.

According to a circular issued by Relief Commissioner G.S. Priyadarshi, every boat will be painted yellow and will have a load line that cannot be crossed.

Information of boats and boatsmen will be registered at the panchayat and district level. The panchayat will also have the power to make surprise inspections of the boats and stop over-loading.

The circular said that all boatsmen were to be classified as skilled and semi-skilled, depending on their expertise in boat navigation.

Following their registration, the panchayat and the district will be informing them about bad weather through SMS. This information would also be given out through public address systems and designated flags.

Boats that carry animals would not be allowed to carry passengers alongside, only the owner of the livestock would be allowed to travel along.

The ghats along the rivers, where passengers embark and disembark from boats, will be suitably modelled to prevent accidents.

Every boat will have to carry safety devices like life jackets and first aid boxes and information about any accident will have to be given to the nearest police station.

The state government also plans to start a three month awareness campaign to make the boatsmen aware of the need for adopting these safety measures.

This was the first time that such an exercise was being undertaken by the state government to ensure safety while taking the water route.



Karnataka diverting more Mhadei water than allotted, will move SC: Goa CM

Accusing Karnataka of drawing more water than it was allotted by the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal in its award in 2018, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday told the state legislative assembly that his government would soon file a special leave petition before the Supreme Court in this regard.

“We are filing an SLP on Friday. We are not going to be quiet. They have diverted more water than what was allotted to them by the Mhadei Water Dispute Tribunal. Mhadei is close to my heart. I have been following it up even at the time I was MLA,” Sawant told the state assembly on Wednesday during the ongoing monsoon session.

Mhadei is also known as the Mandovi river and is the lifeline of the northern parts of the State. It originates in Karnataka and meets the Arabian Sea in Panaji in Goa, while briefly flowing through the territory of Maharashtra.

On August 14, the Tribunal which was hearing a dispute between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, for nearly two decades over sharing of water from the Mhadei river, in its award had allotted 13.42 TMC (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) from the Mhadei river basin to Karnataka. Maharashtra has been allotted 1.33 TMC.




No negative impact of move against Azhar; Pak US envoy

Pakistan Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan has said that there will be no negative repercussions of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s designation as it only “reinforces” Islamabad’s commitment with the international community to fight terrorism.

After a decade of resistance and four vetoes by China against the UN Security Council terrorism sanctions committee’s attempts to declare Pakistan-based Azhar an international terrorist, it finally reached a consensus on Wednesday on designating him and imposing sanctions that freeze his assets and ban travel.

Azhar’s JeM had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack in February which killed 40 CRPF personnel.

“I see no reason why this designation should have a negative impact on our relations with the US or China,” said Khan while talking to the media after addressing the World Affairs Council in Houston, Texas, on Thursday.

“It reinforces our commitment to fight terrorism.”

He also spoke about Pakistan’s role in “promoting” the US-Taliban talks in Doha. Islamabad, he claimed, helped in the formation of a powerful Taliban delegation for the talks, Dawn online reported on Saturday.

“Without this, there could not be a significant progress in the talks.”

The Ambassador added that while Pak­is­tan’s role was “important” in the peace dialogue, other regional actors “must also play their parts”.

Pakistan, Khan said, also supported Washington’s efforts for a broad-based intra-Afghan dialogue, which should include the Afghan government and the Taliban.


Entertainment India

Time to move on; Sonakshi on Shatrughan’s BJP exit

Actress Sonakshi Sinha, daughter of former Bharatiya Janta Party leader Shatrughan Sinha, supports her father’s decision to quit the ruling party and has said that it was time to move on.

She in fact feels that what he did was a bit too late.

Talking about her father’s decision to quit the BJP, the actress said: “It’s his decision and I feel if you are not happy the way things are taking place, then it’s necessary to bring the change and that’s what he did.

“I hope with his new association with the Congress, he will be able to do a lot more good and not feel suppressed.”

Sonakshi said her father enjoyed a lot of respect within the BJP and that even party stalwarts who had been with her father from early times had not been given the respect they deserved.

“So, it was time to move on. Actually he has done it bit too late. He should have done it a long back,” Sonakshi told the media at the Hindustan Times Most Stylish Awards 2019 on Friday here.

Shatrughan Sinha’s exit from the BJP came days after Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was declared the party’s candidate from Bihar’s Patna Sahib, which was Sinha’s constituency for 10 years.

Sonakshi was asked whether her father was disappointed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for not being treated with respect.

Sinha, a vocal critic of the BJP since he was denied a cabinet post in 2014, has questioned the party over demonetization and denial of ticket to veteran leader L.K. Advani to contest the elections.

Sinha is expected to join the Congress on April 6.



Election Commission’s humane move, bans live animals in campaign

The Election Commission has imposed a blanket ban on the use or live demonstrations of animals during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, delighting animal lovers across the country.

In its Manual on the Model Code of Conduct, the EC has made it absolutely clear (on page 144 of chapter 22.5) that all animals, birds or reptiles of any type cannot be used while canvassing for votes by political parties or their candidates.

The manual states: “The EC has advised the political parties and candidates to refrain from using any animal for election campaign in any manner. Even a party, having reserved symbols depicting an animal should not make live demonstration of that animal in any election campaign of the party/any of its candidates.”

Several Indian animal rights groups like PETA India, environmentalists and naturalists have wholeheartedly lauded the EC decision.

“EC and PETA India agree that using animals in election campaigns is unnecessary, archaic and cruel,” said PETA CEO M. Valliyate.

He said political parties/candidates must stick to eye-catching and creative campaigns without subjecting the helpless animals to the frightening torture of frenetic crowds, loudspeakers and other campaign-related jamboree.

In the past, Valliyate said the PETA India had written to the EC, all State Election Commissions and political parties, expressing concern over how animals are forced into the middle of screaming crowds during election campaigns and poll rallies.

Even worse, these terrified animals were often beaten, whipped, kicked and terrorised while being paraded through streets and shoved into mobs of wildly shouting and pushing crowds, it pointed out.

The animals were compelled to carry heavy loads, much in excess of their physical capacity, denied sufficient food, water or rest and faced the prospects of severe injuries in the public mayhem.

Ganesh Nayak, Chairman of NGO Animals Matter To Me (AMTM) Mumbai, lauding the EC, told IANS: “Finally, we have become humane towards these silent creatures, who are tormented during the election gimmicks of us humans. The EC must strictly monitor implementation of its orders.”

The colourful Indian elections have seen many animals and birds being allotted as symbols by the election authorities for various national state or local elections.

Some of the popular animals include: elephants, tigers, deer, camels, cows, bulls, donkeys, parrots, peacocks, doves, hens, cats, dogs and snakes et al.

The candidates, and occasionally even political parties, go to weird lengths to get the voters to identify with the animals allotted as their poll symbols.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has an elephant as its symbol while the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) has a tiger as its mascot, with many major political parties worldwide having animals as their symbols, most notably the US Democratic Party’s donkey and the Republican Party’s elephant.

In India, there are post-Independence records of a candidate in West Bengal hiring an elephant (his poll symbol) to accompany him on the campaign trail; another who was allotted a tiger, rented a caged tiger and took it around his constituency!

In the 1950s, a candidate allotted a chicken symbol, took a live hen out on the campaign trail but an eagle swooped on it and gobbled it up — and the wannabe politician lost the polls.

Concurring with the EC, eivnornmentalist Bittu Sahgal said that using live animals “is not just cruelty but displays insensitivity”, particularly with young voters.

“Politicians must understand that values have changed and (by using live animals) they would probably lose votes,” Sahgal told IANS.

Following PETA India’s appeal in 2012, the EC had issued a directive to all political parties and candidates to refrain from using animals during election rallies.

Later, PETA India followed this up and several like Maharashtra, Assam, Mizoram, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have decreed that the use of live animals representing the allotted symbols of political parties/candidates would not be permitted in the election campaign.



China blocks move against Masood Azhar, India disappointed

The UN Sanctions Committee on Wednesday did not come to a decision on naming JeM chief Mohammed Masood Azhar a global terrorist due to China putting the proposal on hold. India expressed its disappointment at the outcome.

In a statement in New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry said this has prevented action by the international community against the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a proscribed and active terrorist organization which has claimed responsibility for last month’s Pulwama terror attack.

It was the fourth attempt for international action against the JeM founder, all of which have been blocked by China since 2009.

“The ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee (1267 Sanctions Committee), upon completion of the no-objection period on 13 March 2019, was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi under the UN Sanctions regime, on account of a member placing the proposal on hold. We are disappointed by this outcome,” the statement said, without naming China.

India expressed its gratitude for the efforts of the countries who moved the proposal and “the unprecedented number of all other Security Council members as well as non-members who joined as co-sponsors”.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee was moved by France, UK and the US on February 27 in wake of the horrendous terror attack in jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that left 40 security personnel dead.

“We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” the statement said.




Journalist bodies condemn move to muzzle media

The Editors Guild of India on Thursday said it was perturbed by the reported threats that criminal action will be initiated against journalists or lawyers who use documents pertaining to Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

The Press Club of India, the Indian Women’s Press Corps and the Press Association also expressed “deep concern” on the development.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that petitions seeking an inquiry into the Rafale fighter jet deal were based on documents “stolen” from the Defence Ministry.

And the government would initiate “criminal proceedings” since the documents were related to sensitive military purchases and were covered by the Official Secrets Act, he said.

The Guild condemned the Attorney General’s remarks and said any attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against journalists would be reprehensible.

“Although the Attorney General later clarified that the investigation and contemplated action would not be initiated against journalists or lawyers who used these documents, the Guild is perturbed over such threats. These will intimidate the media in general and curb its freedom to report and comment on the Rafale deal in particular,” the Guild said in a statement.

It further said that asking journalists to disclose their sources was also reprehensible.

“The Guild denounces these threats and urges the government to refrain from initiating any action that might undermine the media’s freedom and independence,” the statement said.

A joint statement issued by Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and Press Association expressed “deep concern” at the statements made by Venugopal.

“The Attorney General’s statements made in open court suggesting that the publication of such reports and the documents imperiled national security and therefore should be deemed as criminal has the potential of sending out a chilling effect to one and all in the media,” said the statement.

The journalist bodies said that the fourth estate was bound by its dual responsibility of reporting what is in public interest as well as raising questions, irrespective of the government in power.

“It is deeply unfortunate that it is the discharge of this responsibility that is being sought to be stymied by top ranking officials of the government. We feel it is time that the Official Secrets Act as well as law on Defamation are re-examined given the potential of their misuse against the Fourth Estate,” the statement added.




Congress questions Modi’s move to personally receive Saudi Prince

The Congress on Wednesday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to personally receive Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who praised Pakistans “anti-terror” efforts and asked if it was Modis way of honouring the CRPF troopers killed by a suicide bomber in Kashmir.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala also asked if Modi will show courage to ask Saudi Arabia to undo their Joint Statement with Pakistan that has “virtually rejected” India’s demand for designating Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”.

“National interests versus Modiji’s ‘hugplomacy’ breaking protocol, grand welcome to those who pledged $20 billion to Pakistan and praised Pakistan’s ‘anti-terror’ efforts. Is it your way of remembering martyrs of Pulwama?” Surjewala said in a series of tweets.

Congress questions Modi's move to personally receive Saudi Prince



CBI to move SC after face-off with Kolkata policemen in investigation of chit fund scams

Following the face-off between CBI and Kolkata policemen outside city Police Commissioner’s official residence, the central agency said it would move the Supreme Court, alleging the investigation in ponzi scam cases were being hindered and investigation officers were harassed.

“We are in touch with legal advisors on this. It’s a Supreme Court ordered probe and every authority is supposed to follow the directions of the honourable court. We can move the Supreme Court on Monday,” said a senior agency official, requesting anonymity.

There was a high drama in front of Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s official residence on Loudon Street on Sunday as a group CBI officers approached the house, but they
were stopped by city police personnel, who also forcibly took the federal probe agency officers to a police station.

A senior Kolkata Police officer told reporters, “They told us that they were CBI officers and when asked to produce documents, they failed to submit these. They could not give us any satisfactory response,” he said.

Refuting the claim, a CBI official said the agency had all the requisite documents.

“No one is in detention. We were not given any cooperation and have all the documents. Our officers came for the operations and we were taken to a police station forcibly. We sought police protection which was denied. They did not accept any request. We are intending to submit an application but they were not ready to accept it,” said a CBI officer.

“They went there after completing all the legal requirements and they (city police) should have cooperated. Over last two years, we have been giving notices to police officers who were investigating in these (ponzi scheme) cases before the Supreme Court handed over the cases to us,” CBI Joint Director Pankaj Srivastava said.

He alleged that several primary evidences were missing, and either they were “destructed” or “contrived”.

“Several very primary evidences were missing and either they were destructed or contrived. So we wanted to question these people about where evidence has gone…for the last two years, the investigation in these were being interfered into and our officers were called to police stations for different cases and they were questioned and harassed. A lot of intimidation has been going on.”

He said the federal agency had moved Supreme Court in 2017 and in July 2018, the court said that the agency should cooperate with the CBI.

“Despite that, no cooperation came forward. So our officers went there (CP’s residence) to question him and they were stopped from entering the residences.

“On the order of the Supreme Court to investigate larger conspiracy involving in these cases, the agency has been investigating the case.

“We will move the Supreme Court,” he said.

Srivastava also said the agency offices in the city and his residence here was surrounded by state police forces and following which, Central Police Force was called on for the safety of documents.