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Modi condemns Herat attack; closely monitoring the situation

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi today talked to Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat province and was assured that everything will be done to protect the Indian missions in Afghanistan.

Modi also spoke to India's Ambassador in Afghanistan Amar Sinha soon after the attack, condemned it and said that he was closely monitoring the situation.

He also lauded the role of security forces manning the Consulate in Herat for their valiant efforts in fighting and killing the terrorists who attacked it.

"President Karzai & I talked about Consulate attack in Herat. He assured me he will do everything to protect India's Missions in Afghanistan," Modi tweeted.

During their telephonic conversation, the Indian PM-designate also thanked Karzai for the efforts of the Indian and Afghanistan forces in thwarting the attack on the Indian Consulate.

"India salutes the efforts of India's security personnel & Afghan security forces for their valiant efforts to fight the terrorists in Herat." Modi also praised the "indominable spirit" of the consulate staff in Herat for maintaining a high morale.

"I salute the Consulate staff for their indomitable spirit & high morale throughout the difficult circumstances," he said.

"I condemn the attack on our consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Closely monitoring the situation. I have spoken to the Ambassador as well," he said.

Gunmen armed with heavy weapons including rocket propelled grenades launched a pre-dawn assault on the consulate during which all the four attackers were killed. All the diplomatic staff were safe.

Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha said there were nine Indians in the mission apart from local Afghans. PTI Back












Defamation case: Kejriwal's judicial custody extended till June 6

NEW DELHI: A court here on Friday extended the judicial custody of former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal till June 6 in a defamation case.

Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha extended Kejriwal's judicial custody by 14 more days after he refused to furnish a personal bond in the defamation case filed by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.

Kejriwal on Wednesday refused to pay the bail bond of Rs 10,000 and was sent to Tihar Central Jail.

The court said they were not going to change the earlier order and if Kejriwal wants he could challenge the order in a higher court.

The court also asked Kejriwal what was the issue in furnishing the bond as it is like an undertaking only.

"The court cannot follow different procedure for Kejriwal," said the court.

Kejriwal reiterated that he will not furnish a personal bond and requested the court to release him with an undertaking.

Gadkari's counsel and senior advocate Pinky Anand said 59 members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were released on personal bond on Thursday.

"Why is Kejriwal not doing so," Anand asked.

Prashant Bhushan, Kejriwal's counsel, said: "We will challenge the order in the higher court." — IANSBack













Vaiko opposes Rajapaksa's presence at Modi's swearing-in

NEW DELHI: MDMK chief Vaiko, an NDA ally, today opposed the invitation extended to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa for Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony and asked the Prime Minister-designate as well as BJP president Rajnath Singh to reconsider the decision.

The Tamil leader met Modi here in the presence of BJP leaders Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley.

"Rajapksa is the butcher of Tamils. Modi should reconsider the decision to invite him (for the swearing-in ceremony on May 26)," Vaiko told reporters after meeting Modi.

Asked what was Modi's response, Vaiko did not say anything, indicating that he got no assurance.

He had written a letter to Modi on this issue yesterday, expressing his sadness over the invitation being extended to Rajapaksa for the event.

He made an interesting allegation that it was Congress which wanted Rajapaksa to come to Delhi.

"Congress wants Rajapaksa to come to India so that they could blame BJP for the plight of Tamils. ...BJP leaders from Tamil Nadu are also very upset with the decision of Modi," he said and urged the BJP to ensure that the Tamils' interests are protected.

According to him, Jaitley said the concerns of Tamils is a national issue.

Ealier in the day, he met BJP president Rajnath Singh and demanded that the party should "avoid" the presence of Rajapaksa at Modi's swearing-in ceremony.

Vaiko said he had requested Singh to take up the issue with the Prime Minister-designate.

Recalling that no Sri Lankan Head of State was invited when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as Prime Minister, Vaiko pointed out that even Manmohan Singh had not invited the Sri Lankan President for his swearing-in ceremony.

"They did not dare to invite Mahinda Rajapaksa to the swearing-in ceremony in 2004 and 2009," he added.  — PTIBack















Sharif must attend Modi's swearing-in
ceremony: Pak Foreign Office 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office has recommended Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept India’s invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi on May 26 in New Delhi, saying it will be a “mistake” to let this opportunity go.

“The Foreign Office has made the recommendation and the decision will most likely be in favour,” a senior diplomat at the Foreign Office (FO) said.

“It will be a mistake to let this opportunity go. We need to see beyond today,” the official said while speaking to Dawn online.

The government is, however, yet to take a final decision on the invitation received on Wednesday.

Modi has invited the leaders of member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the ceremony.

The invitation for Sharif has sparked a debate in the country on whether it should be accepted or not, particularly in view of strains in bilateral ties and non-acceptance of Pakistani invitation by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past, the report said.

Prime Minister Sharif had phoned Modi to congratulate him on his party’s election victory and invited him to visit Pakistan after assuming office.

Though the BJP’s victory in elections was cautiously received in Pakistan because of the party’s extremist views and hardline position on issues concerning Pakistan, the government’s official position has been that it will “comprehensively and meaningfully” engage with the Modi government.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Ahmed Shah has also asked Sharif to accept the invitation in the larger interest of the people of the two countries.

Talking to reporters in his Parliament House chamber, Shah said such a gesture would help improve the situation in the region and the people in both countries would heave a sigh of relief.

“Better relations between India and Pakistan are in the interest of the poor people in both the countries,” he said, adding that it was time that the two countries worked for development of their nations instead of solely focusing on contentious issues.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam told reporters at the weekly briefing on Thursday that “whether the Prime Minister would attend or not will be decided some time today”.

She said Pakistan’s expectation from the meeting, if it takes place, would be that it led to resumption of the dialogue process that would be “meaningful and constructive; a dialogue with a view to resolving the outstanding disputes between our two countries so that this region can have durable peace.

“We expect this dialogue to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible”. — PTIBack














Pak Sikhs protest desecration of holy book

ISLAMABAD: Dozens of angry Sikhs stormed Pakistan's Parliament complex here today in protest against several instances of alleged desecration of their holy book over the past few years.

A police official said that according to initial investigation, the Sikhs entered the Red Zone along with the workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of Imran Khan who every Friday holds a sit-in in front of the Election Commission for alleged rigging in the last year's elections.

After setting foot in the high security area of the Capital, the Sikhs reached the gate of the Parliament building and held a brief sit-in, before breaking into the sprawling complex.

The police were taken by surprise as the Sikhs waved banners and raised slogans inside Parliament.

The angry protesters said their religious books were being insulted and demanded a law similar to the one for blasphemy, which prescribes stringent punishments for insulting Quran, to punish the perpetrators.

They claimed that their religious sanctity had been violated as many as seven times during the last few years. The most recent incident being the desecration of Guru Grant Sahib, the central religious text of Sikhism, in Mirpur Mathelo, in Sindh province, the Express Tribune reported.

Pakistan is home to about 20,000 Sikhs.

A seven-member team of parliamentarians led by Zafar Ali Shah of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, including three minority lawmakers, held talks with the protesters and convinced them to leave the premises.

"They have listened to us and they have dispersed peacefully; and we are thankful to them," Shah told media after the incident.

The government also set up a 13-member committee to address their grievances.

It was for the first time that protesters entered Parliament.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed took notice of the incident and summoned Inspector General of Police, Islamabad.

He said the incident shows inefficiency on part of the police. — PTIBack













Black money: SC tells Centre to form SIT within a week 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today granted one week's more time to the Centre to set up a Special Investigating Team (SIT) under its former judge M.B. Shah to monitor all black money cases as per its direction.

A Vacation Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and A.K. Sikri granted time as the deadline fixed by the apex court for constituting the SIT expired yesterday.

The Bench also directed that all documents relating to black money must be kept in the safe custody of a secretary-level officer of the Revenue Department after the petitioner senior advocate Ram Jethmalani alleged that some of the "vital" documents were destroyed in a fire at Shastri Bhawan.

Solicitor General Mohan Prasaran, however, refuted Jethmalani's claim, saying all documents are kept at North Block and not at Shastri Bhavan.

The apex court had on May 1 directed the Centre to handover within three days all documents and information collected by it in its probe in the cases of alleged stashing of black money in LST bank in Liechtenstein, Germany, to Jethmalani and others who raised the issue before it.

It had directed the Centre to issue notification regarding their appointment of SIT within three weeks.

It had appointed its retired judges M.B. Shah as the Chairman and Arijit Pasayat as the Vice-Chairman of the SIT for providing guidance and direction in the investigation of all cases of black money in the country and abroad.

Justice Shah, who was earlier appointed as Vice-Chairman by a July 4, 2011 order, will take place of former apex court judge B.P. Jeevan Reddy, who expressed his inability to continue as Chairman due to personal reasons. — PTIBack




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