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BJP attacks UPA regime, hails ‘strong and able’ Modi

NEW DELHI: The 10-year UPA rule came under sharp attack in the BJP’s National Council meeting in New Delhi on Saturday, which unveiled the new government’s future plans and policy prescription in domestic and foreign affairs arena in a political resolution which hailed the “strong and able” leadership of Narendra Modi.

Leading the charge, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said “tax terrorism” and “policy paralysis” were the buzz words during the Congress regime and the Narendra Modi government’s challenge is to change that atmosphere.

“They were a liability on the economy of this country, when they were in power.They want to continue to be a liability even when they are in Opposition,” Jaitley said alleging that the opponents of the government are making all efforts to discredit it.

Lauding the 75-days functioning of the BJP Government, Jaitley, who presented the political resolution of the crucial meet, said while the BJP leadership humbly accepted the mandate, “the Congress is not able to digest its worst defeat“.

“Their scramble for the post of Leader of Opposition, their opposition to the Bills which they had presented during their tenure and disruption of Parliament shows their inability to accept the people’s verdict,” the resolution, which was passed without discussion due to “paucity of time,” said.

Attacking it on corruption issue, the senior BJP leader accused the Congress of carrying out “institutional subversion.“

He said that while the UPA government persistently refused to set up a SIT to unearth the black money, this was the first step the Modi government took immediately after taking over.

Jaitley also chose the occasion to hit back at the Congress for its allegation that the NDA government lacked “depth and seriousness” on foreign affairs issues and hailed the Prime Minister’s visit to the BRICS summit, Bhutan and Nepal as the one which marked strong international presence of India on the world map.

Crediting Modi’s “very important role” in the historic mandate to the BJP, the party resolution said that it reflected people’s pledge to “get rid of the 10-year-old rule of the non-performing and corruption riddled Congress-led UPA government." — PTIBack


















Those who lost polls still engaging in vote-bank politics: Modi

NEW DELHI: In a veiled attack on the Congress and SP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday accused them of continuing to practice vote-bank politics to divide society and asserted that disturbance of peace and harmony will not be tolerated.

“The BJP never accepts incidents (of violence) which are taking place in the country. Peace, unity and harmony are the pre-requisites for progress and there will be no compromise on this.

“Those who have suffered a massive defeat in the elections are still not able to desist from engaging in old vote-bank politics. They are engaged in disturbing the social fabric,” Modi said addressing the BJP’s National Council meeting here.

His attack on rivals without naming them comes against the backdrop of the BJP being accused of fanning communal violence in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who stormed the Well of the Lok Sabha to demand debate on rising communal violence, has said the violence in UP was “artificially and deliberately engineered”.

In this hour, Modi said, BJP workers will have to play a crucial role to ensure communal and national unity so that the nation moves forward.

“When the country makes progress, its 125 crore people make progress,” he said.

Talking about his government which was formed after BJP’s landslide victory, the Prime Minister said “different and tough yardsticks” are being applied to gauge its performance.

“Those who have not done anything for 60 years are asking for our account of 60 days,” he said attacking Congress yet again. — PTIBack
















BJP to start Haryana poll campaign from Mahendergarh

Chandigarh: With the dates for Assembly elections in Haryana likely to be announced soon, the BJP has announced that its election campaign will be launched with Vijay Sankalp Yatras from August 14.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah will flag off these yatras from Mahendergarh in south Haryana.

Haryana BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma said on Saturday that four yatras will be taken out across Haryana.

"This is the same venue from where Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi had addressed public rallies earlier," Sharma said.

Sharma will lead the yatra starting from Mahendragarh which will cover Rewari, Gurgaon, Mewat, Faridabad and Palwal, among others. This will cover 23 Assembly segments in 11 days. Union Ministers Rao Inderjeet Singh and Krishan Pal Gujjar will accompany him.

"The yatras will focus on corruption and favouritism in government jobs, the way Hooda government is looting farmers in the name of land acquisition, regional bias in development, no uniform development of state, atrocities committed on backward classes especially the SC women, deficient water-power, bad shape of roads, rise in un-employment to anti-people policies of the Hooda government," Sharma said.

BJP Kisan Morcha president Om Prakash Dhankar will lead the yatra starting from Bhiwani, BJP legislative group leader Anil Vij will lead the rally from Kalka and BJP national spokesman Abhimanyu will lead the rally from Sirsa.

BJP sources said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also likely to address a rally in Haryana this month.

Elections to the 90-member Assembly are likely to be held before October 27, the date on which term of the present Assembly gets over. — IANSBack


















Iraq's federal, Kurdish forces ready for US-backed counter-offensive

ARBIL: Iraq's federal and Kurdish forces Saturday prepared their bid to reclaim lost ground as US jets pounded jihadist positions to pave the way and also dropped aid to stranded civilians.

President Barack Obama's decision to send warplanes back to Iraq, three years after pulling the last US troops out of the country, marked a potential turning point in the two-month-old conflict.

After a first day of US air raids on Islamic State (IS) fighters who had moved within striking distance of Kurdistan, a top official in the autonomous region said the time had come for a fightback.

"Following the US strikes, the peshmerga will first regroup, second redeploy in areas they retreated from and third help the displaced return to their homes," Fuad Hussein told reporters Friday in the Kurdish capital Arbil.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd who has boycotted cabinet meetings for weeks as relations soured with Baghdad, said that failing to arm the Kurdish peshmerga forces had been a costly mistake.

He said the American air strikes had stopped the rot on the ground and allowed the federal and Kurdish authorities to unite behind the common cause of defeating the IS jihadists.

"The Iraqi army and the peshmerga are fighting side-by-side in the same trenches now," he said.

Iraq's military chief of staff, Babaker Zebari, told AFP on Friday that US advisers, peshmerga and federal top brass were "selecting targets" together.

The first US bombings struck IS positions and at least one convoy of vehicles carrying militants west of Arbil.

A White House spokesman said Friday the strikes would be "very limited in scope", but Babaker Zebari said he thought US air support would extend to other areas.

He said the intervention would allow joint action to reclaim large tracts of land lost to the Sunni extremists since they launched their devastating offensive on June 9, exactly two months ago.

The Pentagon also said late Friday that cargo planes escorted by combat jets made a second air drop of food and water to "thousands of Iraqi citizens" threatened by the jihadists on Mount Sinjar.

Obama justified the strikes on Thursday by the threat to US personnel in Kurdistan and the need to avert a genocide against Sinjar's Yazidi community.

Thousands of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority following an ancient faith rooted in Zoroastrianism, fled their homes a week ago when militants attacked the town of Sinjar.

Many of them have since been stranded in the nearby mountain range, with no food and water in searing temperatures.

Several thousand have made their own way to Turkey or Syria after walking for days, while others have been evacuated by Kurdish fighters from both those countries.

But aid groups and rescued Yazidis say a larger number remain trapped and in dire need of assistance.

"They suffer from dehydration, sunstroke and some of them are seriously traumatised," International Rescue Committee acting country director Suzanna Tkalec told AFP of some 4,000 survivors to whom her organisation is providing emergency care in Syria.

She said the latest string of IS attacks in northern Iraq had triggered an influx of 200,000 displaced people into the western Dohuk province of Kurdistan.

The scale of the displacement over the past two months has put huge pressure on the autonomous region of around five million people.

On Thursday alone, up to 100,000 Iraqi Christians fled their homes in the Nineveh plains, west of the main jihadist hub of Mosul.

Chaldean Catholic leaders said the largest Christian town in the country, Qaraqosh, had been emptied of its inhabitants in a matter of hours.

While it remains how long and how much deeper into Iraq US warplanes will remain active, analysts have said the intervention had the potential to turn the tide on jihadist expansion.

"The air strikes could certainly soften up some of the IS positions and make it easier for counter-offensives on the ground by the Kurdish peshmerga," John Drake of the AKE Group security company said.

He also said surgical strikes could take out some command centres and disrupt the Islamic State's chain of command.

The latest IS gains saw militants take over Mosul dam, the country's largest, vast swathes of land both east and west of their Iraq headquarters and further abolish the border with the Syrian half of the "caliphate" it proclaimed in late June. — AFPBack




















Sharif regrets Pakistan’s bad relations with India

Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday regretted that Pakistan was having bad relations with key neighbour India and said it was time the two had good relations.

Addressing the National Security Conference in Islamabad, which was attended by ministers, Chief Ministers, political leaders of all major parties, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and other senior civil and military officials including ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, Sharif noted with dissatisfaction that his country was not having good ties with neighbours.

The Prime Minister mentioned India by saying that it is time for having good relations with it.

He hoped that the planned meeting of the Foreign Secretaries will help move the ties forward.

Sharif also said Pakistan wants to improve ties with Afghanistan and hoped that the new leadership in that country will cooperate with him.

The Pakistani leader also criticised moderate cleric Tahir-ul Qadri who has been challenging the government with a wave of protests resulting in clashes with the police in Punjab.

Sharif offered olive branch to former cricketer Imran Khan, the chief of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf, saying that the government was ready to settle the issue of rigging allegations by recounting the ballots in some constituencies.

Khan has given a call for a mammoth rally on August 14 in Islamabad to protest against the alleged rigging of last year polls which brought Sharif to power.

The Prime Minister also said that economic outlook of the county was changing and promised to tackle the crippling energy crisis and terrorism in the country.

Later, the military leadership briefed the political leaders about the operation in restive North Waziristan tribal region which was launched on June 15 to eliminate militants from the area. — PTIBack
















Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

JAMMU: Pakistani troops have targeted Indian forward posts with small arms and automatic weapons along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Indian forces to retaliate.

“Pakistani troops opened unprovoked firing from small arms and automatic weapons at our forward posts in Bhimbher Gali sub-sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir around 2230 hours yesterday,” PRO Defence Lt Col Manish Mehta said on Saturday.

The Indian Army troops took positions and responded with equal calibre weapons to Pakistan’s firing which resulted in intermittent exchanges of fire, he said.

“There was no loss of life or damage to property in the firing on this side of LoC,” Lt Col Mehta said.

It was second ceasefire violation by Pakistan this month.

The ceasefire violation and firing by Pakistan comes barely hours after handing over of captured 30-year-old BSF constable Satyasheel Yadav to Border Security Force officials by commanders of the Pakistan Rangers on Friday at the zero line at Octerio border out post (BoP) along the International Border in R.S. Pura sector of Jammu district.

On August 6, 2014, Yadav, along with seven other personnel, was on a routine motorboat patrol on the Chenab when its engine suddenly failed and the boat was caught in the main current of the Chenab and started drifting downstream towards Pakistan.

While six personnel managed to swim to safety and another one was saved by a rescue boat, Yadav got drifted in the strong current and subsequently landed 400 metres away in Sialkot sector of Pakistan.

At the flag meeting between Battalion Commandants of BSF and Pakistan Rangers at Octerio BoP in R.S. Pura sector of Jammu district, both sides made a commitment to uphold peace and tranquillity on the border and extend all cooperation to each other in dealing with emergent incidents in a proactive and positive manner.

On August 5, Pakistani troops had targeted Indian forward posts with small arms and automatic weapons along the LoC in Sher Shakti forward belt of Poonch district.

General Officer Commanding of Nagrota-based 16 Corps, Lt Gen K.H. Singh had recently said that the Indian Army has been directed to give a befitting reply to Pakistani troops over ceasefire violations, firing and infiltration attempts from across the border.

Eight ceasefire violations by Pakistan were witnessed in July. In June, it violated the ceasefire five times along the LoC and IB in Jammu region. There were 19 incidents of ceasefire violation along the LoC in April-May. — PTIBack



















Another Sikh man, mother attacked in New York

NEW YORK: Just days after a Sikh man was hit and dragged by a truck, another Sikh man and his mother were attacked here by a group of teenagers who called them 'Osama Bin Laden' in an apparent hate crime, sparking fresh outrage among the community members.

The Sikh man, a physician scientist, said in a statement that he and his mother were attacked in a Queens neighbourhood on the night of August 7.

He said that in accordance with Sikh religious beliefs, both he and his mother wear turbans and maintain uncut hair.

They were confronted by about 10 teenagers who called them "Osama bin Laden and told us to go back to your country." The teenagers also used derogatory language against the man's mother and made fun of her facial hair.

The Sikh man told them to stop, but the teenagers surrounded him and punched him in the face and neck. They also tried to throw a bottle at the Sikh man and then fled.

The man, who chose to remain anonymous, said he tried to pursue them but could not as he was in a lot of pain. He then called the police and was treated at a hospital.

"I want the New York Police Department to investigate this attack as a hate crime and arrest the people who attacked me before they hurt someone else. I want witnesses to come forward and contact the police immediately," the man said, adding that his mother was visiting him from India.

"She thought that Americans respect religious freedom and that the police and the government here do everything in their power to prevent violence and arrest criminals. I don't want her to lose faith that justice will be done," he said.

Rights group Sikh Coalition called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to work with the community to end violence and discrimination against Sikhs.

"Enough is enough," it said, urging witnesses to call federal authorities giving any information they may have on the 10 teenagers. The group included a white male, three females while the rest were black men.

"We're tired of being targeted again and again by bigots, but Sikh Americans are not afraid and are not going to let a small group of narrow-minded individuals get us down," Rajdeep Singh, Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition, said.

"We look forward to working with the New York City government, including the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio, to arrest the attackers, stop hate crimes in New York City, and make all of our communities safe," Singh said.

Sikh Coalition said it has requested the intervention of NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force.

The attack occurred just days after 29-year-old Sandeep Singh was brutally injured when he was hit and dragged nearly 30 feet on a public street in Queens by a pick-up truck following an argument with the truck's driver who called him a "terrorist" who should "go back to your country."

Members of the Sikh community and civil rights groups had gathered in Queens earlier this week for a support rally organised by Sikh Coalition calling for justice for Singh and that the attack be investigated as a hate crime. — PTIBack












Indian-origin man killed in New Zealand

Melbourne: A 35-year-old Indian-origin man in New Zealand has been stabbed to death and two persons, including a woman, have been charged with his murder.

The incident took place in Auckland on Thursday when Devinder Singh and his wife stopped to eat a takeaway meal on their way back home from work.

His body was found in the car outside the Events Centre in the city just 25 minutes later. It is believed he died of stab wounds, the police said.

The developments follow the release of CCTV footage as the police sought public help to identify a mystery vehicle seen leaving the area around the time of the murder.

A 28-year-old man and a woman, aged 31, have been arrested for the murder. They briefly appeared in Manukau District Court today and were jointly charged with Singh's murder.

Justice of the Peace Graham suppressed both names and remanded them in custody until an Auckland High Court appearance on Wednesday.

"It is evident that at the time Singh was murdered, a large number of vehicles, including a number of buses, passed the vehicle," Detective Inspector Dave Lynch was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

"Singh's got a lot of wounds, so there's definitely an indication of a violent struggle that's occurred in and around the vehicle." Singh's family say he had no enemies and believe his killing is a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"The police are still appealing for witnesses and we ask that anyone who drove down Norman Spencer Drive between 7.20 pm and 7.45 pm on Thursday night that might have seen Singh's car parked outside the Manukau Events Centre please come forward to police," he said.

The police were also yet to recover the murder weapon, believed to be a knife. But they were satisfied that robbery was not the motive.

"We are well aware that the investigation has attracted intense interest within the Indian community and we ask that people stay patient and allow police time to work through an investigation and fact-finding process." 

The couple had a 10-year-old son, who was living with relatives in India. — PTIBack




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