April 21, 2019
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UN report on Kashmir not even fit for consideration by Rights Council: India

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United Nations, July 10: Reacting angrily to Pakistan’s reference to a UN report on Kashmir at the Security Council, India has said the “so-called” report reflects “clear bias” and was not even found fit to be considered by the members of the human rights body where it was submitted.

Pakistan raked up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at a UN session on Monday, the third time it did so in as many weeks.

India hit back, saying there had been yet another attempt by Pakistan to misuse the UN forum by referring to situations that are extraneous to the discussions.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi referred to the June 14 report on Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein during a Security Council debate on Children and Armed Conflict.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Tanmaya Lal, in a scathing reply, said the “so-called” report about the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir reflected the “clear bias of an official who was acting without any mandate whatsoever and relied on unverified sources of information”.

He said the report “was not even found fit to be considered by the membership of the forum where it was submitted”.

India had rejected the human rights report by Zeid Ra’ad, who had called for a commission of inquiry by the Human Rights Council to conduct an independent, international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.

With Pakistan repeatedly raking up the Kashmir issue at various UN sessions and platforms, Lal said such attempts distracted the discussions away from the issues at hand.

“Such deliberate self-serving attempts by Pakistan seek to obfuscate the reality of their own use of terror organisations to undermine state sovereignty…Such attempts have not succeeded in the past in any forum and will not do so now,” Lal said.

This was the third time in as many weeks that Pakistan raked up the Kashmir issue at the UN. India had strongly rebutted Pakistan’s reference to Kashmir at UN General Assembly debate on June 25, asserting that no amount of “empty rhetoric” by Islamabad will change the reality that Kashmir is an “inalienable” part of India.

Last week, India described Pakistan as a “hub of terrorism” in South Asia and beyond, saying “cynical” attempts by it to spread a false narrative about Kashmir had been unsuccessful after Pakistan made a reference to Kashmir.

Dr Drabu for making JK trade corridor to Central Asia

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DUBAI (UAE), OCT 31: JK’s Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu today called for making Jammu & Kashmir a transit and trade corridor for arching out to Central Asia.

“Given its geographical location, Jammu and Kashmir could become a nucleus towards forging a new economic alliance in the region between the South and the Central Asia,” Dr Drabu said while speaking at the concluding session of the India-UAE Partnership Summit (IUPS) here this afternoon.

Dr Drabu addressed the special session at the Summit on investment opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir titled “J&K: Investing in Peace, Prosperity and Development”.

He said India and Central Asia have shared a geo-cultural affinity and a long tradition of historical contacts that dates back to antiquity. “There is convergence of views on varied issues and interests between the Central  Asian Republics and India, including promoting economic, scientific and cultural cooperation in the region,” Dr Drabu said adding that given its historic links with Central Asia, J&K can become a surface transport passage for reviving traditional economic linkages in the region.

Referring to foreign direct investment opportunities in J&K, Dr Drabu said there is huge potential for investment in tourism, energy, education, healthcare, Information Technology and agriculture sectors including setting up of a Dry Port, Cold Chain, Education Zone for foreign universities and Special Economic Zones for handicrafts and Sports Goods including Cricket bats.

Dr Drabu said it was heartening to note that one of the biggest business groups of UAE, Emaar Group and Dubai Ports have expressed their willingness to explore the possibility of investing in J&K.

The two-day India-UAE Partnership Summit (IUPS) was jointly organized by the Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi, Consulate General of India, Dubai and UAE-based premium business body Business Leaders’ Forum (BLF) on 30/31 October.

Around 800 top businessmen, Ministers, officials, investors and academics from both India and UAE attended the summit with the objective of significantly enhancing investments from UAE to India. The summit focused on key areas of strategic partnership, investments-implementation and travel and tourism sector.

The other key speakers at the Summit included Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Alphons Kannanthanam, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Tourism, Govt of India, Abdullah al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of State for Infrastructure Development, Navdeep Singh Suri, Ambassador of India to UAE, Dr Ahmed Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India, Abdulla Al Saleh, Undersecretary UAE Ministry of Economy, Sami Ahmad Dhaen Al Qamzi, Director General of the Department of Economic Development, Dubai, Dr Azad Moopen, President Business Leaders Forum Dubai, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited, Sultan bin Saeed al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Aisha Abdulla Miran, Assistant Secretary General, Strategy Management & Governance Sector, Executive Council of Dubai, Jamal Saif Al Jarwan,  UAEIIC Secretary General, Shaji ul Mulk, Partner & Head, Economics,

Regulatory & Policy Advisory, KPMG India,  Payal Koul Mirakhur, Vice President, Invest India, Satpal Ji Maharaj, Minister of Tourism, Govt of Uttrakhand, Kamal Puri, Chairman, Skyline University,  Sunil Sinha, Resident Director- Middle East & North, Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Gerald Lawless, CEO Jumeirah Group, Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, Director of Health Regulation, Medical Tourism Project Dubai, Sandeep Jajodia, President ASSOCHAM and KT Rama Rao, Minister for IT, Govt of Telangana.

Suicide bombers, gunmen kill 47 in attacks on Afghan forces

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GARDEZ, OCT 17: Two separate suicide and gun attacks on Government forces in Afghanistan left nearly 50 dead and more than 200 wounded, officials said today, the latest devastating assault on beleaguered security forces.

The Taliban claimed the most deadly of the two assaults, a coordinated attack on police in the southeast Afghan city of Gardez that left hospital officials calling for blood donations and desperate scenes as relatives queued for news of their loved ones after the hours-long gun battle.

A separate ambush blamed on the Taliban in the neighbouring province of Ghazni on Tuesday killed 15 security officials with 12 wounded on a bloody day for Government forces.

The assaults are a fresh blow as militants step up their offensives across Afghanistan, with security forces already beset by corruption, desertions and suffering shocking casualties over the past year.

“The hospital is overwhelmed and we call on people to donate blood,” said Shir Mohammad Karimi, Deputy Health Director in Gardez.

California fires: 36 people killed, 6k buildings destroyed

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NEW YORK: The ferocious fires in California state of US have claimed, so far, at least 36 lives and destroyed almost six thousand houses and structures.`

The CNN on Saturday reported that the reinforcements from other regions were helping firefighters contain more of the largest wildfires devastating Northern California, though strong winds expected over the weekend could challenge those gains, a fire chief said Friday.

Meanwhile, officials are making grim discoveries — victims burnt beyond recognition — as they search blackened ruins of some of the 5,700 homes and business that have been destroyed.

“Some of (the remains) are merely ashes and bones,” Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said at a Thursday evening news conference. “And we may never get truly confirmative identification on ashes.”

Thirty-six people have been killed since the wildfires began Sunday night, making this outbreak one of the deadliest in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

At least 20 dead, over 100 injured in shooting at music concert in Las Vegas

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Los Angeles, Oct 02: A gunman killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 100 others when he opened fire on fans at a US country music concert on the Las Vegas Strip, police said.

The gunman, who police said was a local resident, was killed after being “engaged” by officers who responded to report of multiple gunfire coming from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a hotel-casino next to the concert venue.

Revellers screamed and fled in panic as a steady stream of automatic gunfire rang out at the venue shortly after 10 pm local time, footage captured on smart phones showed.

“We have in excess of 100-plus injured and excess of 20- plus that have died at this point,” Las Vegas Metro Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told an early morning press conference.

“This is an ongoing investigation, but we are comfortable that the primary aggressor in this event is — has expired or passed away, and is no longer a threat.”

Thousands of fans were attending the concert next to the Mandalay Bay, which was part of a three-day country music festival known as Route 91.

Witnesses told how the gunman opened fire with an initial burst and then appeared to reload as he continued his spree.

“We heard (what) sounded like a glass breaking, so you looked around to see what’s going on and then heard a pop, pop, pop,” Monique Dekerf told CNN.

“You’d think for a moment okay we’re fine, there’s no more gunfire, then it starts again.”

Her sister Rachel said it sounded like “the shots were coming from the right side … it sounded like they were right beside us too … it was right there.”

Best-selling country singer Jason Aldean was on stage at the time of the shooting which came towards the end of the concert.

“We were watching the concert having a great time, then we heard what sounded like firecrackers,” witness Joe Pitz told the local Las Vegas Sun news outlet.

“I guess it was an automatic weapon going off but it literally sounded like firecrackers.

“Then soon enough there was commotion on the Mandalay Bay side of the stage. They were motioning for medics to come and safety people to come and Jason Aldean ran off the stage.

“Everybody in the vicinity went down. I don’t know if they were ducking or if they were but it was chaos.”

Another witness told local TV news station KLAS that he saw someone several stories high firing hundreds of shots into a crowd of people.

Lombardo would not release the name of the gunman, but said he was a local man and issued an appeal for information about his companion.

“He has been identified, he is a local resident,” he said at the press conference.

Lombardo said he will not release at this time, but police are interested in his travelling companion.

“We have not located her at this time and we are interested in talking to her for follow-up,” Lombardo said.

“We are pretty confident there is no longer a threat other than we are attempting to locate the person of interest.

“It’s on ongoing investigation. Right now, we believe he is the sole aggressor at this point.”

A shocked Aldean told his fans via Instagram that he and his band was safe.

“Tonight has been beyond horrific,” the singer wrote.

“I still don’t know what to say … My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight.

“It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

Asiea Naqash represents JK at Mumbai Summit-2017

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MUMBAI, SEPT 21: Minister of State for Health and Medical Education, Housing and Urban Development, Asiea Naqash represented J&K at Real Estate and Infrastructure Investors’ Summit 2017 at Mumbai.
The summit is organized by Ministry of Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India to attract private equities and foreign investments from across the globe.
The conclave was also attended by Union Minister of Finance, Arun Jaitley, Chairman, NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Revenue, Union Ministry of Finance, Hasmukh Adhia, RBI, Governor, Urjit Patel, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, GoI, Anjuly Chib Dugal and other concerned officials.
The focus of the conclave was primarily on funding in Real Estate, Private Equity, Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT’s) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs).
Some of the key discussions at the summit focused on Affordable Housing Funding, Implications of RERA from an Investor’s point of View, GST in Real Estate Sector, etc.
Reforms implemented to attract more funds to real estate and infrastructure sector from across the globe, were also a part of discussion during this conclave.
Other issues and schemes which were deliberated upon included drug prevention, senior citizens schemes under Rashtriya Vayushri Yojna, and Post Matric scholarships, and Babu Jagjiwan Ram Chatrawas Yojna (hostel for boys and girls).
The summit was informed about promoting housing and real estate development which has contributed substantially in bringing the Real Estate Regulatory Bill, affordable Housing policy of Government of India and various other reforms in the real estate sector.
Discussing Senior Citizen Scheme under Rashtriya Vayushri Yojna in J&K, the Union Government selected two districts Srinagar and Udhampur for assessment and organizing camps in this regard.
The scheme aims to provide financial assistance to senior citizens belonging to BPL category and suffering from any form of age related disabilities/infirmities which covers locomotor disability artificial dentures (complete & partial) low vision, hearing impairment.
Global investment firms such as APG, GIC Singapore, Blackstone Group, Brookfield Group, CPPIB, Xander, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar National Bank, Bank of China, Bank of America, Country Garden, Vornado Realty Trust, Macquarie, Barclays, Ascendas, Mapletree, Morgan Stanley, International Financial Corporation (World Bank), Cohen & Steers (USA), Genkai Capital (Japan), KKR India etc were also present during the summit.

Swaraj meets counterparts from five nations

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New York, Sep 19: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has held meetings with her counterparts from five countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here to discuss bilateral cooperation and push for India’s development agenda.

Swaraj held talks with the foreign ministers of Tunisia, Bahrain, Latvia, the United Arab Emirates and Denmark.

“Broadly the focus was on bilateral cooperation,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters at a news conference here.

During the meeting with Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, Swaraj told him that she was looking forward to the next joint commission meeting between the two countries to be held in New Delhi on October 30-31.

“There are a lot of discussions on how to reinvigorate economic relationship. Sectors like pharma, textiles biotechnology, renewable energy and IT were identified for future cooperation,” Kumar said.

Swaraj, according to Kumar, felt that there was a huge potential for exporting Indian pharma products especially vaccines to Tunisia as the price of its drugs are very competitive.

In her meeting with the Denmark Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, discussion was held on when to hold the next meeting of the Joint Commission.

Denmark is also the partner country for the World Food India extravaganza, which is going to take place in the first week of November.

Swaraj also invited Danish participation for investment in India.

In her meeting with the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, the focus was on expanding trade relations.

“Latvian Foreign Minister announced that their prime minister will visit India for the World Food Summit later this year,” Kumar said, adding the two leaders also discussed the ways to enhance cooperation in the sectors like I-T, education and culture.

In her meeting with the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the two sides discussed measures to attract more foreign direct investment from the UAE into India.

The UAE is India s strategic partner. The bilateral trade between India and the UAE is worth USD 52.8 billion.

“It was felt that at this point of time it was below potential. Cooperation in energy sector, civil aviation especially in the capacity building and best practices was discussed,” Kumar said.

In the last bilateral engagement of the day, Swaraj met her Bahrain counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.

There is an existing mechanism of the Joint Commission which is at the Foreign Ministry level, Kumar said adding that the two leaders discussed how to hold this meeting at the earliest.

“Some discussion also took place on the regional issue especially situation in the Gulf,” Kumar said.

India, Canada locked 1-1 after Ramkumar win and Yuki defeat

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Edmonton, Sep 16: Ramkumar Ramanathan fetched the crucial win but Yuki Bhambri made the day memorable even in defeat as India and Canada shared the honours on day one of the Davis Cup World Group Play-off tie, here.

Yuki turned the match on its head after being down by two sets and a match point in the third set but eventually lost 6-7(2) 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 1-6 to world No.51 Denis Shapovalov — an audacious performance in a three hours and 52 minutes battle.

It happened after 22-year-old Ramkumar, ranked 154th, tamed the debutant 5-7 7-6(4) 7-5 7-5 in the first singles, which was also a marathon match lasting three hours and 16 minutes.

“Boys played with a lot of heart…the plan was to fight regardless of the score and Ram swung a losing battle and Yuki almost did too,” Indian captain Mahesh Bhupathi told.

“The pressure remains on them. If we fight like this anything is possible.”

This defeat would rankle Yuki for sometime as Shapovalov had started feeling the heat following the Indian’s perseverance.

The left-handed Shapovalov unleashed his power-packed game from the beginning and Yuki was mostly left to defend but after taking the third set from the home favourite, it was the Indian who dictated the terms.

An early break in the fifth set again shifted the momentum in Shapovalov’s favour. The Canadian found his mojo after breaking Yuki in the third and broke him again in the sixth game to take a 5-1 cushion and clinched the issue with a crushing forehand winner.

Yuki proved that his recent win over world number 22 Gael Monfils was no fluke and he give a good fight to the world’s top players.

The 18-year-old Shapovalov, who recently beat the likes of Rafael Nadal, Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Juan Martin Del Potro, was playing his first ever five-set match and all credit to Yuki for making his life tough.

The Delhi youngster played with a lot of maturity and showed he has toughened up mentally as he hardly showed nerves despite trailing by two sets.

The games were short as the two players served even, it was Yuki who had to work harder for the points.

Playing smartly, Yuki made his serve to jump from the court by employing more of his shoulder to create extra bounce and it helped him hold serve throughout the match.

Yuki also changed his tactics intelligently in the match, trying to restrict Shapovalov’s fierce forehand by feeding him more on the backhand but still the Canadian created some breathtaking service return winners.

After pocketing the opening set, Shapovalov shifted gears without fuss in the second set tie-breaker as he raced to a commanding 5-1 lead and sealed a 2-0 lead courtesy a barrage of winners that rained through his forehand.

The missile-like serves and equally fearsome returns continued to lash Yuki.

The Indian was broken in the first game of the must-win third set but broke immediately when Shapovalov double faulted at deuce and sent a forehand long. It was Yuki’s first break of the match as he tried to make a fight out of it.

The Indian also targetted a few winners down the line on both the flanks by moving Shapovalov on the court. The battle grew in intensity and Yuki was eating into Shapovalov’s energy with his dogged approach.

After another trade of break the set was stretched to a tie-breaker in which Yuki saved a match point at 5-6 and eventually kept himself alive by winning it.

As the match grew, Shapovalov started to feel the nerves as Yuki started to return much better, growing in confidence.

The Indian broke early in the fourth set and forced a decider but unforced errors at crucial juncture pulled him down.

Earlier, a dogged Ramkumar Ramanathan battled past a fighting Schnur to remain unbeaten in the Davis Cup in the 2017 season, having won all five matches he has played.

A powerful serve was the most potent weapon for Ramkumar but lack of pace in his strokes often made him vulnerable, of which Schnur took advantage many a times in the contest.

Ramkumar wriggled out of crunch situations with his gritty serving and saved as many as 15 of the 18 breakpoints which indeed titled the energy-sapping match in his favour.

More often than not, the Indian served wide and deep to the left of the Schnur, making the returns difficult, which helped him open the court for easy winners.

Schnur, on the other hand, packed a lot of power in his ground strokes and was very impressive with his swift movement and court coverage.

But the 202-ranked Canadian was hit by a crisis of confidence when Ramkumar won the second set and pulled away with the third. Schnur looked down and out, trailing by two sets to one, and down by a break in the fourth set but found energy to fight when Ramkumar dropped serve immediately.

The fourth set was littered with breaks but eventually Ramkumar sealed the match with a backhand winner, again well set up with a quality service.

Schnur, to his credit fought well even in fourth set but Ramkumar’s experience helped him clinch the issue.


Need to learn formula of safe, clean travel from Japan: Sena

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Mumbai, Sep 15: The Shiv Sena today questioned the feasibility of the bullet train project at a time when there is a “marathon among trains to get derailed” and called for learning the formula of safe and clean travel from Japan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe yesterday launched India’s first bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, which would cover the distance of over 500 km in less than three hours.

However, the Sena expressed apprehensions over the viability of such a project at a time when the country has witnessed a number of rail accidents in the recent past.

“Nobody has any doubt that this is the most shameful period of negligence on the part of Indian Railways. Nowadays, hardly any day passes without a train getting derailed. It seems as if there is a competition among trains to get derailed,” the Sena quipped in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

“Even the railway’s most famous train Rajdhani Express hasn’t been left behind. It derailed near the national capital. Isn’t it serious that a train derails on the most secured rail section of the country?” asked Sena, which is the ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Maharashtra.

Japan is running bullet trains since 1964 at a speed of 500-600 kms per hour. The speed is not important but what has to be seen is that there has never been any rail accident at such high speeds, it said.

“It is important to know that a bullet train in Japan is cleaned within 7 minutes and even a minute of delay throughout the train journey comes under scrutiny. Compared to Japan, trains crawl here and despite a marathon among trains to get derailed, no accountability is fixed,” it said.

“Why can we not learn from Japan the art of ensuring 100 per cent security in rail travel? Can we not learn their formula of a safe and clean travel? The nation would have been happier if India would have learnt from Japan the technique of safe rail travel,” the Sena said.

The passengers would have felt a lot more secure had the government learnt lessons from Japan in running the railways, it further said.

The Sena had yesterday slammed the bullet train project, saying it was not a dream of the common man but that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It also sought to know if the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed train project really fits into the needs of the country.

Notably, a coach of Jammu Tawi-New Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed yesterday at the New Delhi Railway station in the national capital, but no one was injured in the mishap.

On September 7, seven coaches of the Jabalpur-bound Shaktipunj Express derailed in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh.

On the same day, the engine and power car of the Ranchi-Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed near Minto Bridge in Delhi, injuring a person. Also, two wagons of a goods train derailed at Khandala in Maharashtra on the same day.

Prior to it, nearly 100 passengers were wounded when 10 coaches of Kaifiyat Express train derailed after crashing into a dumper which strayed on to the tracks in UP’s Auraiya district on August 23.

Besides, the Utkal Express derailed in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district, killing 22 people and injuring 156, on August 19




Nirmal inks pact with Godrej Properties for township project

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Mumbai, Sep 14:  Realty player Nirmal today said it has entered into a development management agreement with Godrej Properties to develop an integrated township in the neighbouring Thane district.

The project, spread across 14 acres with saleable area of 2.1 million sqft, is expected to be launched later this year and generate revenue to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore over the next five years, the company said in a statement issued here.

The company’s strategic arm Nirmal Ventures has raised Rs 450 crore from Edelweiss for the project, while the land parcel is jointly owned by Nirmal and Videocon.

“This newly launched vertical Nirmal Ventures aims at bringing world-class developments to the MMR region through unique partnerships. This partnership is special to us considering the incredible brand of Godrej Properties,” Nirmal Chairman and Managing Director Dharmesh Jain said.

This is Nirmal Ventures’ second big partnership after it roped in L&T Realty to jointly develop an integrated residential project at Mulund in Mumbai.

“Through these two associations, we have raised over Rs 1,000 crore. This strategic infusion of capital has proved to be a guiding force for the real estate industry during challenging times for a promising outcome,” he said

Commenting on the deal, Godrej Properties Executive Chairman Pirojsha Godrej said, “The addition of this new project in Thane, a key micro-market of Mumbai, strengthens our development portfolio in the area and fits well with our strategy of deepening our presence in key markets across India’s leading cities.”

Property consultant JLL India structured the transaction, the release said.

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