L A T E S T      N E W S

Cap on subsidised LPG cylinders raised to 12 

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday raised the quota of subsidised LPG to 12 cylinders per household in a year from the present nine and also put on hold paying users the subsidy into bank accounts using Aadhaar platform.

Announcing the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily said raising the LPG quota will cost Rs 5,000 crore in additional subsidy annually.

Households will get one cylinder extra, on top of the quota of nine cylinders, in February and March and from April they will be entitled for 12 cylinders — one cylinder per month at subsidised rates, he said.

Moily also said the direct benefit transfer for LPG (DBTL) scheme, where consumers in as many as 289 districts in 18 States got the subsidy amount in their bank accounts so that they could buy cooking gas at market rate, has been put on hold.

Explaining the reasons behind the move to put on hold a scheme that was dubbed ‘game-changer’, he said there were complaints about implementation of the scheme and a committee has been formed to look into them.

“Pending the committee examining the issues, the Aadhaar-linked LPG subsidy transfer has been put on hold,” he said.

DBTL, under which consumers got Rs 435 advance money in their bank accounts so as to help them buy a LPG cylinder at market price, was this month extended to 105 districts, including Delhi and Mumbai.

Currently, a subsidised LPG cylinder costs Rs 414 while the market price comes to Rs 1,021. — PTIBack











Andhra Pradesh Assembly rejects Telangana Bill

Hyderabad: In an embarrassment to the Centre, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly today passed by voice vote a resolution moved by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy rejecting the AP Reorganisation Bill-2013 which entails creation of a separate Telangana state.

Capping an acrimonious debate and ending the pandemonium the House was stuck in for the past few days, Speaker Nadendla Manohar put the resolution to vote and announced that it was "passed".

The Assembly was immediately adjourned sine die.

"The House while rejecting the AP Reorganisation Bill, 2013, resolves to request the President not to recommend it for introduction in Parliament as the Bill seeks to bifurcate the state of Andhra Pradesh without any reason\basis and without arriving at a consensus, in utter disregard to the linguistic and cultural homogeneity and economic and administrative viability of both regions", the resolution said.

"The Bill also completely ignores the very basis of formation of State of Andhra Pradesh, the first linguistic state created in independent India", it said.

The Speaker said since the government resolution has been approved, he saw no reason to take up the private resolutions moved by other members on the same issue.

The Speaker said all views expressed by members on the Bill would be sent to the President along with the resolution.

The rejection of the Bill has come as an embarrassment to the Centre which has decided to table the Telangana Bill in the coming session of Parliament beginning February 5.

As the decision of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, either way, is not mandatory, the Central government will go ahead with its decision to create Telangana by tabling the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill in the ensuing Parliament session, official sources said.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has already declared the Central government's intention to table the Telangana Bill in the next session of Parliament.

the Parliament session commences on February 5 and is scheduled to end on February 21. This will be the last session of Parliament before the tenure of the UPA-II comes to an end.

Reddy's letter to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking extension of the deadline for discussing and returning the statehood Bill has been termed by Home Ministry officials as time-buying tactic of the Chief Minister. — PTIBack












Shutdown in Seemandhra hits normal life

Hyderabad: The day-long shutdown in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra regions of Andhra Pradesh Thursday to protest state’s bifurcation hit normal life.

Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in response to the shutdown called by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in all 13 districts of Seemandhra, as the two regions are together called.

Protestors took to streets in various districts and stopped buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) and private vehicles.

The TDP has called the strike on a day when the deadline for the state legislature to send its opinion on Telangana Bill is coming to an end.

Holding party flags and raising slogans of ‘Jai samaikyandhra’ or united Andhra, TDP activists staged sit-in outside APSRTC depots since early morning to stop buses from coming out. The protestors also staged road blockades, affecting the movement of vehicles.

The police arrested dozens of TDP workers at various places for blocking the traffic and for forcing closure of shops.

The shutdown hit life in Vijayawada, Guntur, Tirupati, Kurnool, Anantapur and other towns. There was not much of impact in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam.

Seemandhra legislators of TDP staged a sit-in at the statue of Ambedkar on the Assembly premises to support the shutdown. TDP leader D. Umamaheswara Rao claimed that the shutdown was total and people were voluntarily participating in it. He said this was a proof that people oppose division of the state.— IANSBack











Jayalalithaa to face trial for not filing I-T return: SC

NEW DELHI: In a setback to Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court on Thursday said she will face trial for not filing income-tax return for three years in her capacity as a partner of Shashi Enterprises which she jointly owned with her aide Sasikala.

The apex court Bench headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan directed the trial court to complete the trial within a period of four months.

Jayalalithaa along with Sasikala had set up Sashi Enterprises wherein neither the enterprise nor its both partners filed their income tax return for year 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1993-94.

Jayalalithaa had contended that since there was no income from the enterprise, therefore, there was no tax evasion and not filing the income tax return was not an offence.

However, an economic offences court in Chennai rejected their contention, holding that non-filing of ITR was an offence and they will face trial.

On appeal, the high court accepted the findings of the economic offences court and both Jayalalithaa and Sasikala will face trial.

The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to interfere with the high court order. — IANSBack










Cong MLA disrupts Kejriwal’s press meet, demands SIT probe into Batla encounter

NEW DELHI: A press conference by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was on Thursday disrupted by a Congress MLA demanding appointment of a Special Investigation Team to probe the 2008 Batla House encounter.

Asif Mohammed Khan, MLA from Okhla constituency, barged into the press conference at Delhi Secretariat and started shouting slogans against AAP after Kejriwal, in reply to a question, said that the Delhi Government would not form an SIT to investigate the encounter.

Kejriwal said a court has already given its verdict in the case and the government respected the judicial process.

“A court has already given its verdict in the case and we respect the court order. We are not appointing any SIT into the case,” the Delhi Chief Minister said.

Almost immediately after Kejriwal’s remark, Khan barged into the venue of the press conference and started shouting slogans. The Chief Minister’s security tried to stop Khan but he kept shouting.

The Delhi Government had on Wednesday decided on a probe by an SIT into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots here, two days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said some of the partymen were probably involved in the violence but were punished.

Khan said he will not extend support to the AAP government in any legislative business and does not care if the Congress takes disciplinary action against him.

Last year, a trial court had convicted suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist Shahzad Ahmed in the Batla House encounter case and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Earlier, speaking at the press conference, Kejriwal, whose government completed one month in power, said controversies surrounding the AAP dispensation never affected its functioning and asserted that his team did a good job in addressing various challenges facing the city.

The Chief Minister claimed his government has done far more work for the people in the first month than its predecessors and said rooting out corruption, ensuring security to women and enhancing water distribution network were among his top priorities.

“Your surveys have shown... it is clear people are happy with the performance,” he said, adding a number of key decisions have been taken to help the common man like providing 20 kilo litres of free water per month to each household besides providing power subsidy to a large section of consumers.

On his government’s decision for an investigation by a Special Investigation Team into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said a thorough probe was required as demanded by the Sikh community.

On corruption, Kejriwal said his government will come down hard on corrupt officials but at the same time will protect the honest officers. “We are considering ways to protect the honest officers,” he said without elaborating.

Kejriwal said the Delhi Janlokpal Bill will most probably come before his Cabinet on Friday and the Assembly is likely to meet in a fortnight for its passage.

“Our aim is to provide a corruption-free government.

(Fighting) Corruption is very important for us. I have visited various offices and people said now their work is getting done without bribing,” he said and referred to the anti-graft helpline launched earlier this month.

The Chief Minister noted that AAP government had taken the initiative to end the VIP culture in city.

The Kejriwal government’s one month saw several controversies, including over the CM’s choice of house, the chaos at his public hearing or Janata Darbar and the conduct of his Ministers especially Law Minister Somnath Bharti who raised hackles with his plan to call a meeting of High Court judges and later by leading a midnight raid against African nationals.

The Chief Minister said the ‘nursery helpline’ launched by the education department has also been “very helpful” to parents.

He said the government has mapped all its schools across the city to check their infrastructure requirement and follow-up action was being taken.

The Chief Minister asked agitating contractual employees, including DTC workers and guest teachers who have been sitting on dharna demanding regularisation of their services, to end their strike immediately.

He said the government was in the process of regularising their services and if they do not end their protest, the government would recruit new employees.

The government has already appointed a high-level committee to recommend policy guidelines to regularise services of contractual employees.

“If the striking employees don’t come back to work, we will not consider them for regularisation. We can’t afford to have 600 DTC buses off the roads,” Kejriwal said.

On women’s security, he said a committee has been formed to suggest measures to enhance women security. He said the government was working on setting up a women security force but clarified that it would not be a parallel police force.

He said enhancing water distribution network in the city was one of his major priority.

Kejriwal said the third party power meter testing will be carried out across the city.

He said 58 night shelters were being set up to provide shelters to homeless people. Back








1984 riots: Sikhs protest against Rahul 

NEW DELHI: Several Sikh groups today staged a protest outside the Congress headquarters at 24, Akbar Road and demanded that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi reveal the names of party members who were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

In a recent interview to a TV news channel, Gandhi had said that "some Congress men were probably involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and they have been punished for it".

The protesters shouted anti-Congress slogans and held up black flags and placards, one of which read, "CBI should question Rahul Gandhi for Congress involvement in 1984 riots".

"We want justice. We want to know who were those people who were involved in the riots," said one of the protesters.

Asked about Delhi Government's decision to set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the riots cases, he said, "We have been demanding an SIT for the past 25 years. If Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is really with us, we welcome him, but if he is doing politics, we would like to request him not to do so".

The 200-odd demonstrators marched towards the Congress headquarters and managed to break the first barricade. They were stopped, however, at the second barricade by the police. Many of them were detained and taken to Tughlaq Road police station from where they were later released.

In the interview, Gandhi had insisted that the Congress government in 1984 "was not aiding and abetting the riots" but had tried to stop the violence.

Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar are facing allegations of involvement in the riots which occurred in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination on October 31, 1984.

So far, the Delhi Police and CBI have held probes into the riots. — PTIBack











Fixed 2-year tenure for IAS, IPS, IFoS officers 

NEW DELHI: Officers of the three premier services — IAS, IPS and IFoS — will now spend a minimum of two years in each posting, according to new rules aimed at checking political interference.

However, transfers and postings before two years will be done by a Civil Services Board to be constituted by states under the new rules circulated by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Central government.

A cadre officer, appointed to any cadre post, shall hold the office for at least two years unless he or she is promoted, retired or sent on deputation outside the state or for training exceeding two months, the rules said.

“The Centre or the state government... may transfer a cadre officer before the minimum specified period on the recommendation of the Civil Services Board,” the rules said.

States have now been mandated to constitute a Civil Services Board, which is to be headed by the Chief Secretary.

However, the competent authority may reject the recommendation of the Civil Services Board by recording the reasons for the same.

For transfer and postings of Indian Administrative Service officers, the board will have the senior-most Additional Chief Secretary or Chairman, Board of Revenue or Financial Commissioner, or an officer of equivalent rank and status as Member, and Principal Secretary or Secretary of the Department of Personnel in the state government, as Member Secretary.

For the posting and transfer of Indian Police Service officers, the board will have two more members — Principal Secretary or Secretary, Home, and the Director General of Police.

For Indian Forest Service officers as well, the board is to have two additional members — Principal Secretary or Secretary, Forest, and the state’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest.

“All appointments of cadre officers shall be made on the recommendation of the civil services board,” state the rules, which were notified by the DoPT on Tuesday. — PTIBack 








Indian-origin woman banker arrested in UK anti-terror raid

LONDON: An Indian-origin woman banker has been arrested in Britain as part of an ongoing anti-terrorism operation in London.

Kuntal Patel, who works at Barclays Bank in Canary Wharf, has reportedly been under arrest since Sunday after her home in east London was raided by the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command.

She is the daughter of magistrate Meena Patel, who sits on the bench at Thames Magistrates' Court in east London.

"A 36-year-old woman (B) arrested on January 26 on suspicion of an offence under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 remains in custody at an east London police station...We are not able to discuss further at this stage," a Met Police statement said.

"Inquiries are ongoing as part of an intelligence-led pre-planned operation," it added.

Ron Manley, a local councillor who has known the Patels for more than 20 years, described them as an "upstanding family".

"Meena is a magistrate and used to work for a local authority, Kuntal works in the City and her younger daughter Poonam is a pharmacist. They are a Hindu family and I've known the two girls since they were at primary school. They have always been very polite, very nice girls," he told 'The Daily Telegraph'.

The son of Foreign Office diplomat Nicholas Sutcliffe, James, was also arrested as part of the operation earlier but has been released without charge triggering claims that counter-terror officials may have raided the wrong house. But the search operation at the Patel home remains ongoing. — PTIBack











TMC to go it alone in Lok Sabha polls: Mamata 

KOLKATA: Kick-starting her party's Lok Sabha campaign from a mammoth rally here, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee today said her party would go it alone in the polls and renewed her call for a federal front.

The West Bengal Chief Minister also said that the Trinamool Congress was the only alternative for the country.

"Our fight is against BJP, our fight is against Congress, our fight is against CPI(M). Our fight is also against corruption," she said at the rally which saw lakhs of people converging at the sprawling Brigade Parade Ground.

"We do not want a government which encourages riots.

Bengal will show the way to India in the coming days," she said.

She called for defeating her arch rival CPI(M) and also the Congress hands down.

Claiming the Trinamool Congress was the only alternative, she said, "BJP is not an alternative to the Congress. Congress is not an alternative to BJP. We also don't want a monarchy.

She said, "A federal front should be formed. We want a change (in government) in Delhi. We are giving a call from Bengal for change." — PTIBack










Bangladesh arms haul case: Ex-ministers, ULFA leader
get death penalty

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi court on Thursday handed down death penalty to 14 persons, including the Jamaat-e-Islami chief and a top leader of India's separatist outfit ULFA, in the country's biggest ever weapons haul case, nearly 10 years after the seizure took place.

"The Metropolitan Special Tribunal-1 has handed down death penalty to 14," the private Samoy TV said soon after Judge SM Mojibur Rahman delivered the verdict in the crowded courtroom amid tight security.

United Liberation Front of Assam's (ULFA) military wing chief Paresh Barua was sentenced to death in absentia in the sensational 10-truck arms haul case.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief and former minister Matiur Rahman Nizami and ex-junior minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar in the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led rightwing government were also sentenced to death.

Only two of the convicts, Barua and former Additional Secretary Nurul Amin, were tried in absentia.

The two former generals who were given death penalty are the then DG of the apex National Security Intelligence (NSI) ex-brigadier general Abdur Rahim and former Director of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence ex-Major General Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury who later became the NSI chief.

All the accused were tried under the Arms Act for illegal possession of firearms and the Special Powers Act, 1974, for weapon smuggling. Security and law enforcement agencies enforced a tight vigil as the court in south-eastern port city of Chittagong delivered the verdict.

The verdict comes nearly a decade after the "accidental" seizure of 10-truck loads of weapons destined to the ULFA hideouts in north-eastern India through Bangladesh territory.

Around 1,500 boxes containing submachine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, submachine carbines, Chinese pistols, rocket launchers, 27,000 grenades and 11.41 million bullets were seized from 10 trucks on the early hours of April 2, 2004. — PTI










Sri Lankan Navy arrests 38 TN fishermen

Rameswaram/Colombo: Thirty-eight Tamil Nadu fishermen were on Thursday arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary line, three days after fishermen representatives of India and Sri Lanka met to discuss the vexed fishing issue.

The fishermen along with their five boats have been taken by the Lankan Navy to the Kangesanthurai Port, officials said.

The officials said the fishermen were fishing using “Irattai Madippu” fishing nets which had been banned by both countries as they destroyed the marine ecology.

In Colombo, Sri Lankan Naval spokesman Kosala Warnakualsuriya said the fishermen were arrested off the islet of Delft in the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Having spotted them inside Sri Lankan waters, they had been warned to leave and the failure to do so forced the arrest, the Navy said.

The arrest came hours after External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid held extensive talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris on key bilateral issues, including fishermen.

The meeting, which came close on the heels of a visit by Sri Lankan Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development Minister Rajitha Senaratne here, assessed “positively” the recent meeting in Chennai between the fishermen associations as a first step in the right direction and agreed to consider the proposals put forward by the fishermen associations.

Sri Lankan fishing community leaders said the Indians had agreed to stop bottom trawling and needed a grace period of one month before it could be halted.

Fishermen representatives had met at Chennai on Monday to resolve the vexed issue of traditional fishing rights in Palk Straits, but both sides were tight-lipped on what transpired in the closed-door meet held in the presence of government representatives from the two countries.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had said the talks would be based on a five point agenda which would include stressing the traditional fishing rights of Tamil fishermen in the Palk Straits, ending the assault on them and confiscation of their boats.— PTIBack




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