A T E S T N E W S
Incursions cast shadow on Sino-Indian meet
Xi says China determined to settle row
NEW DELHI: With the continuing stand-off in Ladakh casting a shadow over the Sino-India talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday raised “serious concerns” over the repeated incidents along the border and sought an early settlement of the boundary question.
Meeting visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping against the backdrop of Chinese army and civilian incursions, the Prime Minister made it plain to him that the agreement between the two countries on maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border should be “strictly observed.”
After taking him on a guided tour of Ahmedabad’s landmarks on Wednesday, Modi sat with Xi for a summit meeting for nearly three hours — both restricted and
delegation-level talks — when it was decided that China would invest USD 20 billion in next five years.
But the discussions mainly appeared to have centred around the embarrassing border incidents that continued in the Chumar and Demchok sectors last night and this morning.
On Wednesday, Modi had raised the issue in Ahmedabad though the government had maintained that it was a “courtesy discussion.”
“I raised our serious concern over repeated incidents along the border. We agreed that peace and tranquillity in the border region constitutes an essential foundation for the mutual trust and confidence and for realising the full potential of our relationship.
“This is an important understanding, which should be strictly observed. While our border related agreements and Confidence Building Measures have worked well, I also suggested that clarification of Line of Actual Control would greatly contribute to our efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity and requested President Xi to resume the stalled process of clarifying the LAC. We should also seek an early settlement of the boundary question,”
Modi told the media in the presence of the Chinese President.
On his part, Xi sought to explain the border incidents saying, “since the border is yet to be demarcated, sometimes there might be certain incidents.”
But, he said, the two sides were fully capable of acting promptly to effectively manage the situation through various levels of border-related mechanisms, so that such incidents do not have a large impact on bilateral relations.
“China has the determination to work with India through friendly consultation to settle the boundary question at an early date,” Xi said.
After the talks on the second day of his three-day visit, 12 agreements were also signed on various issues, including setting up two Chinese industrial parks in India and investments in the Railways. — PTI
Nearly 1,000 Chinese soldiers enter India
NEW DELHI: Nearly 1,000 Chinese soldiers intruded into India in Ladakh's Chumur sector on Thursday, a day when Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a visit here.
According to army sources, nearly 1,000 Chinese soldiers moved inside the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region, and refused to go back.
The Indian Army has rushed three battalions to the LAC in the sector.
This comes a day after a flag meeting between the two countries.
Xi is on a three-day sojourn to India that began from Ahmedabad on Wednesday. — IANS
Xi open-minded and realistic: Dalai
MUMBAI: As he engaged in talks with Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping came in for praise from an unlikely
quarter — exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama ho described him as "open-minded" and "realistic".
The Dalai Lama also said good Sino-Indian relations based on mutual trust will benefit not just Asia but the whole world.
"Sino-Indian relations (build) on the basis of mutual trust are very important. Not only the whole of Asia, but the entire world can benefit from their (good) relations. Harmony can be brought by trust and not fear.
"I have faith in the new leadership. He (Xi) is open-minded and his way of working is quite realistic," the 79-year-old Buddhist monk said while addressing a gathering here to mark the 108th Foundation Day of Indian Merchants' Chamber and its ladies' wing.
He said Xi should take lessons from "strong" Indian democratic practices and the "one-ness" in diversity.
"India is a vast country with a huge population.
Different parts of the country speak different languages, yet there is a sense of one-ness among Indians. Democracy is practised strongly in the country and there is a free media.
The Chinese President should learn these values from Indians," he said.
On the contentious border issue, he said it should be resolved through understanding and not by use of force.
"Tibet's problem is also India's problem. Before 1950, there was not a single soldier on the northern border and it (the border) was peaceful. Sooner or later you have to solve the problem, not by force but by understanding. And understanding comes through talks," he said.
Reacting to the detention of Tibetans by police following their protest against Xi's visit, the Dalai Lama said," Tibetans are law abiding citizens. But the rest is upto the Government of India."
The Dalai Lama flayed massacre by ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, saying it was "shocking" to see believers of Islam killing innocent people.
"A genuine practitioner of Islam will never indulge in bloodshed. Jihad is not about harming others. It is about killing one's negative emotions. It is shocking that the believers of Allah are mercilessly killing innocent people in Iraq," he said.
A Muslim should extend love to all creations of Allah and a genuine practitioner of the faith must be compassionate towards fellow human beings, he said.
Too much attachment towards your own faith is a biased mental attitude that causes anger and violence, he said.
Praising India's religious accord, he said, "India's real treasure is its 3,000-year-old religious harmony. The Shia community feels much safer in India than in Pakistan." He said there should be no discrimination between people on the basis of faith and that no God can help achieve peace of mind.
"We lay too much emphasis on secondary level of differences. Everyone should follow the religion of humanity.
Indians worship many Gods but these Gods will never provide peace of mind. Peace has to be developed within one's own self," he said.
Khalistani militant arrested from east UP
Chandigarh: Khalistani militant Rattandeep Singh has been arrested from the outskirts of Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where he was likely to target a top leader, Punjab Police said today.
In an operation conducted by a 19-member team of Punjab Police's State Special Operations Cell (SSOC) with a central agency Wednesday, Rattandeep Singh, a top operative of the Bhindranwale Tiger Force of Khalistan (BTFK), was nabbed from Gorakhpur, a police spokesman said.
He carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head.
Preliminary interrogation revealed that he had come to India to target a prominent leader who enjoys security from Punjab Police.
Police found him carrying a Pakistani passport and identity card in the name of Hussain Sheikh Zahid and some Pakistani and Indian currency.
Rattandeep was based in Pakistan since 1993. He had been coming to India to carry out terrorist strikes. He had recently re-entered the country to carry out a major strike, the spokesman said.
The militant was earlier a top operative of the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF). Later he joined Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and became its operational head.
In July this year, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan revived the BTFK. At that time Col Sahbaz Minhas of the ISI had joint meetings with Wadhawa Singh (BKI) and Rattandeep Singh to effect the new arrangement. The ISI picked up Rattandeep Singh to head the BTFK," the spokesman said.
Rattandeep Singh is wanted in several militant offences in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. - IANS
Civil Secretariat reopens after 11 days
SRINAGAR: After remaining closed for 11 days due to massive floods, Jammu and Kashmir's Civil Secretariat reopened on Thursday.
However, less than 10 per cent employees reported for work at the scheduled opening time at 9:30 am, the official in-charge of security at the Secretariat said.
The area around the secretariat including the main entrance is still submerged in nearly one feet of water. The ground floor of the secretariat is not functional due to water logging.
The offices in the upper storeys of the seven-storey building have been opened, the official said.
The state Cabinet, which had met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah last week, decided that the government shall start functioning from the Civil Secretariat, Srinagar, from September 18.
Over 200 people have been killed in the devastating floods in the state. -PTI
A desperate search for the dead in submerged city
SRINAGAR: Amidst the debris of what was once a three-storey house, snack-seller Jitendar Saha desperately searches for the body of his 20-year-old daughter.
The devastating floods that swept the city not only left Saha's daughter dead but also four other members of his family - wife, two daughters and a son.
In the past four days, Saha has cremated members of his family but the bodies of his wife and the elder daughter are still stuck under the rubble of the collapsed house in Jawahar Nagar locality of the city.
Saha's dream to see his daughter Priyanka, a second year BA student at Government College Srinagar make it big in life and end the penury of the family, was shattered with her death.
A resident of Bihar, Saha along with his family shifted to Srinagar in 2001 where he sold snacks outside a hospital to sustain his family and provide education to his children.
"I earned my livelihood by selling snacks in Srinagar. My elder daughter was a brilliant student, she wanted to become an officer to end our miseries," he said.
Recounting the day when the city was hit by the deluge, Saha said when the floodwater starting entering the house where he had stayed for several years in Jawahar Nagar locality, he took shelter at a nearby house not knowing his decision to move to another house would be catastrophic for the family.
"As the water continued to rise, we decided to move further up. Suddenly the current of the water increased and the house collapsed," he said. Saha somehow caught hold of a wooden plank, which helped him save his life, but the other members of his family including his wife, three daughters and a son were not as lucky.
He helplessly watched his entire family die in front of his eyes.
"I cried for help for the whole night. Never in my life I felt so helpless.I should have also died," he says.
With the help of locals, Saha has been able to recover the bodies of two of his daughters, a son and two other close relatives.
"Why am I alive?" asks Saha with tears rolling down his cheeks.
"God has been so cruel to me. My entire family is finished now. How can I tell my mother who stays back in Bihar that her entire clan is finished now," he says.
The local Sikh population in Srinagar has been helping Saha cremate his family members, as the recovered bodies are too decomposed to be transported to his native place for final rites.
Scottish referendum on independence commences
EDINBURGH: The Scottish independence referendum started on Thursday as polling stations opened for voting on the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?" From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., ballots for the choice of "Yes" or "No" would be cast at 32 polling stations across Scotland, Xinhua reported.
This is the first Scottish independence referendum in Britain's history and official figures showed that about 97 per cent of those eligible to vote in Scotland signed up to vote in the referendum, which is set to be the biggest poll in Scotland.
The results are expected to be announced early on Friday.
If a majority of Scots vote for independence, Scotland would become independent March 24, 2016 after a period of negotiations with the rest of Britain.
If the "No" campaign wins, British Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the Conservative, Labor Party Leader Ed Miliband and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, offered more powers for Scotland starting September 19 in a joint pledge published Tuesday.
In October 2012, Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, leader of the ruling Scottish National Party, signed the Edinburgh Agreement, allowing Scotland to hold an independence referendum in 2014.
It is also the third referendum for Scotland after the two previous ones held respectively in 1979 and 1997 on Scottish devolution.
The referendum in 1979 failed to gain the mandatory 40 percent of the electorate, while the latter succeeded with an overwhelming majority of voters backing devolution.
As a devolved legislature, the Scottish parliament was reconvened in 1999 with authorities over some limited areas of home affairs, and the parliament of Britain keeps "reserved" powers including the ability to amend the terms of reference of the Scottish parliament. –IANS
Scotland's referendum stirs Kashmiri
for vote on future
SRINAGAR: Kashmiri separatist leaders have seized on Scotland's referendum on independence to demand that India follow through on a promise to grant a similar vote in the disputed Himalayan region.
Scotland was voting on Thursday on whether to split away from the United Kingdom in a ballot moderate Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said was an example of how Kashmiris' demands for a say on their future could be solved peacefully.
"We hope India will also change its approach and realise the fact that people's rights can't be trampled upon," Farooq, the head Muslim priest on the Indian side of Kashmir, where a violent insurgency against New Delhi's rule raged through the 1990s and resentment still runs high, said on Wednesday.
"It is encouraging that in a peaceful manner people will be deciding their future."
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since a war after independence from Britain in 1947, and the two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the territory.
India has never carried out a promise made more than six decades ago to hold a plebiscite that would determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
It now considers the entire region of snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys an integral part of its territory and maintains a massive military presence in Jammu and Kashmir, its northernmost and only Muslim-majority state.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj blurted out her horror at the thought of New Delhi's former colonial master splitting apart, when questioned at a news conference last week.
"A break-up of the UK? God forbid," she said. "I don't think any such possibility exists at the moment." After a senior civil servant whispered in her ear, Swaraj corrected herself, commenting: "It is up to the people of Scotland to decide."
Hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani praised the United Kingdom for giving Scotland the vote, adding that London should now put pressure on India to grant Kashmiris a referendum.
"India should learn lessons from the UK and honour its commitment of granting right to self-determination to people of Kashmir," Geelani
said. — Agencies
CBI chief controversy: NGO refuses to
NEW DELHI: The NGO, CPIL,on Thursday declined to disclose the identity of the whistleblower who disclosed the alleged interference by CBI Director Ranjit Sinha in 2G investigation and prosecution and meeting the accused in the 2G and coal scam case.
CPIL, in its affidavit filed today, said its governing body in its meeting September 17 decided not to reveal the identity of the whistleblower who took off the lid on the alleged interference in 2G matters by the CBI Director.
The NGO said this in response to the September 15 order of the apex court in which the Supreme Court, citing its rules, had asked the NGO to disclose the identity of the whistleblower who gave it the information, on the basis of which the averments and allegations have been made against the CBI Director. — IANS
Golden Temple inspires US students to organise langar
WASHINGTON: Inspired by the "langar" of the Golden Temple, where they visited early this year, a group of US students are organising their free meal day at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Students of the University of Michigan who are back in Ann Arbor after their summer trip to the Golden Temple, where they spent part of their summer learning how to pull off a logistical miracle, feeding 60,000 people every day with a staff of volunteers, will be cooking chickpeas, chutney and salad in shifts with help from the community at Gurdwara Sahib.
"The food will be packaged by hand into a tortilla wrap and served on the Diag all day Friday, September 19. The group hopes to serve about 10,000 wraps. Any leftovers will be donated to a shelter," a media release said.
"American society needs spaces where rich and poor, people of all races and beliefs can come to share a common space. This university langar can provide that medium," said Jasprit Singh, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science who led the students' summer trip to India.
While at the Golden Temple in June, the 13 undergraduate students got up early every morning to do
"seva," or work.
They chopped and cooked vegetables, washed lentils, made bread, cleaned dishes and learned sustainable nourishment at the Golden Temple.
The India trip was part of the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Michigan.
Michael Jordan, director of Centre for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS), said that the Golden Temple program is a model of what GIEU does.
"By contributing their own time and having learned from their experience, the group is now bringing that tradition back to U-M," he said.
"This trip was about humility and inspiration," said Jessica Eller, a junior at the Ford School of Public Policy, was part of the group, adding that it has widened her perspective about who's a volunteer and who is a recipient.
"The person sitting next to me during the meal could be a millionaire from London one day and a beggar girl the next day. Everyone received the same service," she said.
Sarah Marshall, a junior studying environment and international studies, said she will discuss the love and compassion she received at the temple.
She chose to make rotis (Indian bread) as her seva and soon formed a community with the women there.
"I didn't speak the language, but I could see their eyes light up every morning when I came," she said.
"It was a comfort to see familiar faces every morning." Radha Patel, a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, said the experience really opened her eyes to what can be achieved by volunteer work.
"Community is very important in the Indian culture," she said. — PTI
Australian 'counter-terrorism' raids foil beheading plot:
SYDNEY: Australian police will allege that members of a group targeted in a sweeping
'counter-terrorism' operation on Thursday planned to behead a random member of the public after draping the victim in the flag of Islamic State militants, Australia media reported.
Without referring to specifics, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was at "serious risk from a terrorist attack".
He told reporters that the large-scale counter-terrorism raids in Sydney and Brisbane followed intelligence that Islamic militants were urging supporters to conduct "demonstration killings" in Australia.
Court documents to be revealed later on Thursday were expected to show the plan involved snatching someone in Sydney and executing them on camera, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and other Australian media said.
"The exhortations, quite direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country," Abbott told a media conference in the Northern Territory.
"So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have."
More than 800 police were involved in the pre-dawn raids, described as the largest in Australian history. At least 15 people had been detained, with one man charged with a serious "terrorism-related" offence, police told a news conference.
The raids came just days after Australia raised its national terror threat level to "high" for the first time, citing the likelihood of terrorist attacks by Australians radicalised in Iraq or Syria.
Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria released a video on Saturday that purported to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.
In footage consistent with the filmed executions of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, in the past month, they also threatened to kill another British hostage.
In 2013, British soldier Lee Rigby was hacked to death by two Muslim converts in London who claimed the attack was in retaliation for the killing of Muslims by British forces.
Police said the raids were focused in western Sydney and the Queensland city of Brisbane. Around half of Australia's population of roughly 500,000 Muslims lives in Sydney, with the majority in the western suburbs where the raids occurred.
New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said he had ordered an increased police presence onto the streets in the wake of the raids to prevent "troublemakers" taking advantage of heightened tensions.
Australia, which is due to host the Group of 20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane in mid-November, is concerned over the number of its citizens believed to be fighting overseas with Islamist militant groups.
Treasurer Joe Hockey insisted that the necessary precautions had been put in place for the G20 Leaders Summit, and dismissed concerns the raids could disrupt a meeting of the group's finance ministers set for this weekend in the city of Cairns.
"Well, of course everyone needs to make sure that with an increased threat level associated with potential terrorist attacks in Australia, we have all the necessary precautions taken for both the G20 here in Cairns and also in Brisbane, but I am very confident that all bases are covered," he said.
Up to 160 Australians have either been involved in the fighting in the Middle East or actively supporting it, officials said. At least 20 are believed to have returned to Australia and pose a national security risk, the head of the country's spy agency said when raising the threat level last week.
Abbott, highlighting the risk of homegrown militants returning from the Middle East, pledged on Sunday to send a 600-strong force as well as strike aircraft to join a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Australia had been at the "medium" alert level since a four-tier system was introduced in 2003. A "high" alert level is used when officials believe an attack is likely, while a "severe" level means they believe an attack is imminent or has occurred. -Agencies
EC asks media to avoid provocative reports
New Delhi: Ahead of assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, the Election Commission has reminded the media of Press Council of India guidelines to avoid reports which promote feelings of enmity.
The EC's move comes against the backdrop of cases of hate speeches made during campaign for assembly bypolls in Uttar Pradesh recently.
The poll body has also reminded the media of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act which prohibit "displaying any election matter by means, inter alia, of television or similar apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency." The poll watchdog said election campaign along communal or caste lines is banned under the election rules. "Hence, the press should eschew reports, which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the ground of religion, race, caste, community or language," an EC statement said referring to one of the PCI guidelines.
The EC also reminded that there is a prohibition on conduct of exit poll and dissemination of their results during the period from the hour fixed for commencement of polls and half hour after the time fixed for close of poll.
The statement said 'election matter' has been defined as any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election. Violation of the provision is punishable with imprisonment upto a period of two years, or with fine or both. PTI
US lawmakers disappointed over FIBA decision on Sikh players
WASHINGTON: Two leading US lawmakers have expressed disappointment over the decision of FIBA to continue with its policy to ban players from wearing headgears in international matches, even though it allowed them to sport religious headgear as part of a "trial period" for two years.
"We are deeply disappointed with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). It shouldn't take two years to make what should be a simple decision to eliminate a discriminatory practice," Congressman Joe Crowley and Ami Bera said in a joint statement.
The two Democratic lawmakers said there is no evidence that turbans or religious headgear pose a threat to players, and it's time for FIBA to do what the rest of the sporting world is doing and let Sikhs play.
"Rest assured, we will continue to closely monitor FIBA's continued actions to ensure they ultimately make the right decision," they said after FIBA announced its governing board's decision.
In the announcement, FIBA also said it will wait until 2016 to make a permanent decision about religious accommodations.
Crowley is Co-Chair of the India Caucus in the US House of Representatives while
Bera is the only Indian-American in the House of Representatives.
Last month, both led dozens of Members of Congress in a letter to FIBA's president urging the board to update its policies to stop requiring Sikhs to remove their turbans during basketball games.
The letter followed an outcry over an incident involving two Sikh players who were told by referees that they must remove their turbans if they were to play in FIBA's Asia Cup.
The players, who have always played in turbans, were told that they were in violation of one of FIBA's official rules, which states, "Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players."
However, other sports leagues, such as Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), allow athletes wearing turbans to participate.
The incident involving the two Sikh players has led many to speak out against the FIBA's policy, and sparked a social media campaign using the hashtag #LetSikhsPlay. -PTI