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Rajnath Singh Says China Tension To End Soon, Beijing Makes Angry Comment

NEW DELHI/BEIJING: Days after footage emerged of Indian and Chinese soldiers fighting at the border at Sikkim, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the confrontation will end soon. China offered no assurances, instead blaming India again for the altercation that has extended into its third month and for the clashes that erupted with soldiers from both sides throwing stones at each other.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that last Tuesday, Chinese border forces were carrying out "normal" patrols on the Chinese side of the Pangong Lake located in Ladakh in the western Himalayas.

"During this time they were obstructed by Indian border forces and the Indian side took fierce actions, colliding with the Chinese personnel and having contact with their bodies, injuring the Chinese border personnel," she told a daily news briefing. What India did went against the two countries' consensus to keep the peace on the border and it endangered the situation there, she added, stating, "China is extremely dissatisfied with this"

Indian military sources have disclosed that the clashes broke out after Chinese troops attempted an incursion. Some of the Chinese soldiers carried iron rods and stones, and troops on both sides suffered minor injuries, the sources have said.

"A deadlock is going on between India and China in Doklam. But I think a solution will come out soon. China will also take a positive step from its side," Mr Singh said as he addressed the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). "We want to maintain good relations with our neighbours. We don't want conflict, we want peace."

The ITBP guards India's 3,488-kilometre border with China along the northern Himalayan mountain range.

India and China have been dealing with their worst military tension in decades since Indian soldiers crossed the border at Sikkim to stop the Chinese from constructing a road on the remote Doklam plateau in the eastern Himalayas. China says it has every right to build a road on its territory, but Indian and Bhutan say the land belongs to the tiny Himalayan kingdom. Delhi has also said that it had warned that the road would be seen as a major provocation because it allows China access to the narrow sliver of land called the "Chicken's Neck" that links mainland India with northeastern states.

'No Security Abroad, What's He Hiding': Rajnath Singh's Jab At Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI: Union home minister Rajnath Singh today questioned what Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi "has to hide" for which he goes abroad without his securitymen, triggering a storm of protest from opposition leaders, some of whom accused the government of "spying". The minister's response came in Lok Sabha, where the Congress was trying to corner the government over the stone-throwing attack on Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Gujarat's Banaskantha last week.

Congress member Mallikarjun Kharge, who raised the issue, accused the Centre and the Gujarat government of failing to provide adequate security to Rahul Gandhi. For the state BJP workers, he had a further jab. "When Kashmir faces stone throwers we assume it is the terrorists, but it raises a question. Where did terrorists come from in Gujarat? Are the BJP workers of Gujarat trying to become terrorists and take his life?" he said.

The Union home minister, whose department handles special protection for VIPs, retorted with some data and a question. "In the last two years, Rahul Gandhi was out for 72 days on six foreign tours, but didn't take SPG cover," Mr Singh said. "We want to know what Rahul Gandhi is trying to hide by not taking SPG along on foreign tours."

Marginal decline in crimes against women, crimes against children up: Report

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday released the 63rd edition of ‘Crime in India' report for the year 2015, which showed a marginal decline in crimes against women, while crimes against children showed an increase.

The data in the report has been collected from 36 states and Union Territories and 53 mega cities (having population of more than 10 lakhs), according to officials.

According to the report, over 28 lakh cases under Indian Penal Code (IPC) were investigated in 2015. Out of over one crore IPC cases, more than 13 lakh cases were tried by the courts in 2015, showing conviction rate as 46.9 per cent under IPC crimes.

The report shows a 3.1 per cent decline in crime against women (from 3,37,922 cases in 2014 to 3,27,394 cases in 2015).

But it shows 5.3 per cent increase in crimes against children (from 89,423 in 2014 to 94,172 cases in 2015). Kidnapping and abduction constituted 44.5 per cent of total cases of crimes against children.

Also, there is an increase of 25.8 per cent in crimes related to human trafficking (6,877 cases in 2015 compared to 5,466 cases in 2014).

According to the report, a total of 73,26,099 offence cases (29,49,400 IPC cases and 43,76,699 Special and Local Laws cases) were reported in 2015, an increase of 1.3 per cent over 2014.

The National Crime Records Bureau publishes the report every year, and the practice is on since 1953. The report contains information on police recorded criminal cases during the year.

Rajnath Singh reviews security projects

New Delhi:  Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday reviewed the progress
of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) and National Emergency Response System (NERS), an official statement said.

"CCTNS is a 100 percent centrally funded project with an outlay of Rs 2000 crore. The project aims at providing pan India search on National Database of Crime and Criminal records and integrating all pillars of criminal justice system, namely police, courts, prisons, fingerprints, forensics and prosecution, for informed decision making," said a release issued here.

The minister assessed the status of the NERS project which aims at rolling out pan-India single emergency number - 112, for all kinds of emergencies and distress calls from across the country, it said.

The Home Minister was apprised that till date, 85 percent computerisation has been completed and 93 lakh FIRs have been registered using the CCTNS System.

Thirty-two states and Union Territories are sharing data with the National Data Centre (NDC).

According to the release, the Home Minister directed that concrete steps should be taken to overcome the challenges and expedite the implementation of the Project.

He also expressed satisfaction that the long pending issue of establishment of National Data Centre has been resolved.

Won't Count Bullets If Pakistan Fires First: Rajnath Singh After Pampore Attack

FATEHGARH, PUNJAB: Union minister Rajnath Singh came out strongly against Pakistan following Saturday's attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pampore, for which Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba has taken responsibility.


Eight para-military personnel were killed and 25 were injured in the attack, said to be the worst in the last 3 years.  

 

"We will make sure not to fire the first bullet, but even if one bullet is fired from their (Pakistan's) side, we shouldn't even think about keeping a count on the bullets that we'll fire," the home minister said at a function in Punjab, recalling his "standing orders" after the killing of five Indians by Pakistani Rangers in the border area one-and-a-half years ago.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said the Pampore attack was a mark of "frustration".

"Over the last one month, we had shot down 25 to 30 terrorists who had infiltrated to India from Pakistan," Mr Parrikar said. "Chances are slipping away from the hands of the terrorists. This incident is their attempt to keep themselves in the news."

While Lashkar founder Hafiz Sayeed -- who has a $10 million bounty on his head -- has a free run in Pakistan, reports said Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit had dismissed the Pampore attack yesterday.

"It's the month of Ramzaan, let's focus on this Iftaar party... The issue of Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed issue between India and Pakistan. We hope we will sit and discuss on the issue and find a solution," the High Commissioner had reportedly said.

Maritime terror major threat but Indian coasts secure: Rajnath

Mumbai: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that while maritime terror posed a major threat to India, the country's coastline is now more secure due to a slew of initiatives taken by the government.

"We are securing the Indian coastline by creating a chain of radars and automatic identification system (AIS) receivers. Consequent upon the implementation of these important initiatives, our coasts are far more secure now," Rajnath Singh said while chairing the second coastal security review meeting here.

He said the vulnerability of India's coasts was exposed in 1993 when explosives were smuggled from Raigad and later in 2008 when Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai to carry out their deadly attacks.

However, he assured, after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, many initiatives were taken to beef up coastal security, including security audit of all major and minor ports, to identify the vulnerable points.

Besides a chain of static sensors and AIS along the coast and radars operated by the Indian Coast Guard at 45 locations, another 38 more radars are planned to be installed to ensure a gapless surveillance of the entire 7,516-km coastline, he said.

The minister said while the Indian Navy is overall entrusted with maritime security, including coastal and offshore, the Indian Coast Guard is responsible for coastal security in territorial waters, including areas patrolled by coastal police comprising state marine police.

Addressing the meet, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis suggested the formation of a new 'Central Marine Police Force' to protect sea, coast, ports and vital institutions and a high-tech e-surveillance of all landing points and non-major ports.

Singh said the Centre would seriously consider suggestions received from the coastal states and UTs. 

He said an in-principle approval had been accorded to set up a National Marine Police Training Institute in Gujarat and State Marine Police Training Centres in police training academies in all states and UTs.

For e-surveillance, the Maharashtra Chief Minister suggested that while the Centre could bear the capital expenditure, the states could foot the operational expenses.

Ge urged that under the universal service obligations, all GSM service providers should be asked to provide services till five-nautical miles from the coast to the sea.

The meeting also discussed expeditious implementation of various coastal security schemes, institutional set-up in states/UTs to review coastal security, constitution of state maritime boards, security of non-major pots, single-point mooring, coastal mapping and security of Indian islands.

Besides, issues like issuance and distribution of biometric identity cards and card readers to fisherfolk, colour coding of boats, monitoring of fish landing points and crossing of Internatinal Maritime Boundary Line by fishermen were discussed.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Lt. Gen. A.K. Singh (retd), the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry Revenue Minister M.O.H.F. Shahjahan, Karnataka Home Minister G. Parmeshwar, Gujarat Home Minister Rajni Patel, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, ISCS Secretary Naina Jayaseelan, Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (Border Management) Susheel Kumar, and Fadnavis.

Besides, top civil and police officials of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal and union territories of Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands attended the meeting.

Rajnath vs Mulayam: BJP's UP Plans Feature Home Minister In Key Role

NEW DELHI: Home Minister Rajnath Singh, one of the most prominent BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh, is likely to play a pivotal role in the party's campaign for assembly elections to be held in the state early next year.


Sources said the BJP plans to project Mr Singh as the main face of the party in the UP elections, as a seasoned politician and local leader to take on regional giants like Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati.

 

Mr Singh is likely to be given charge of the campaign committee in UP, the sources said, adding that the chief ministerial candidate, if at all the party will project one, will be decided later. Mr Singh, who has been chief minister of UP before, is not keen to essay that role again, sources said.

The party also has to get its caste equation right, crucial in UP politics. The projection of Mr Singh, who is a Rajput leader, could upset the party's Brahmin voters, it is feared, and so a balancing act may be called for later in its choice of chief minister.

A discussion on Mr Singh's role is likely on the sidelines of the BJP's national executive meeting in Allahabad this weekend, which will focus on the Uttar Pradesh elections, slotted as a must-win by the BJP. The party hopes to extend its sweep of the 2014 national election - it had won 71 of UP's 80 seats - to the assembly elections.

Rajnath Singh features prominently on posters that announce the national executive. He has been busy in UP already, addressing multiple rallies along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, as well as independently, like his public meeting in Mau today.

When PM Modi picked UP's Saharanpur for a rally to mark his government's two years in office, Rajnath Singh was there. While the Prime Minister listed his government's achievements, presenting a report card to the people, Mr Singh made a sharp political attack on the Samajwadi Party government in the state and asked UP's voters to bring back the BJP.

Kejriwal writes to Rajnath, takes on Modi

New Delhi: In a fresh salvo against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday urged Home Minister Rajnath Singh to name consultants hired by the Modi government since 2014.

In a hard-hitting response after the home ministry sought information about officials and consultants with the Delhi government, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader hoped similar facts were also being sought from other states. 

"You have sought to know the number of IAS posts now held by other officers. As per my knowledge, there won't be more than two or three such officers.

"I am confident that the central government would have also asked for this information from N. Chandrababu Naidu, Vasundhara Raje, Devendra Fadnavis and Shivraj Singh Chouhan as well," Kejriwal wrote in a letter.

The AAP leader said legal experts had told him the central government had no authority to seek this information from him.

Kejriwal remarked sarcastically that he was happy Modi was taking so much interest in the affairs of the Delhi government.

"The prime minister spends much of his time abroad. But when he is in India, much of his time is consumed on matters related to the Delhi government."

Kejriwal then sought information about the number of consultants hired by the Modi government in the last two years.

He asked Rajnath Singh to tell him how many officers not from the IAS held posts meant for IAS officers in Uttar Pradesh when he (Rajnath Singh) was its chief minister.

Kejriwal's letter came in response to a home ministry letter of May seeking details from the Delhi government about officers on deputation.

Kejriwal also asked Rajnath Singh to detail the steps taken by the central government to contain what he said was the deteriorating law and order situation in Delhi.

He said he was "worried" over rising incidents of crime in the capital.

"Day-by-day, incidents of rape are increasing. The law and order situation has been badly hit... There is jungle raj... As Chief Minister, I am worried.

"I request you to tell me what steps have been taken by the central government and the Lt. Governor to contain the situation."

He asked Rajnath Singh to dedicate at least an hour every day on issues related to law and order in Delhi -- till such time Delhi Police was made accountable to the elected government.

Earlier in the day, AAP leader Sanjay Singh accused Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung of "spying for the PMO" and alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wanted to destabilize the Delhi government.

Kejriwal also reiterated the claims made by Sanjay Singh.

"Shocking! LG snooping on CM (and) Ministers," Kejriwal tweeted.

The remarks by the AAP leaders came after a published report said that Jung had complained to Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to Modi, that a railway officer was found working with the Delhi government while on study leave from his department.

Because of the national capital's unique status, Delhi Police reports to the central government, not to the government headed by Kejriwal.

Kejriwal and his government have been feuding with the central government since taking power in February 2015 over issues of governance.

Kejriwal is pushing for full statehood for Delhi.

No threat from Islamic State: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said there is no threat to India from Islamic State (IS) as people of the Muslim community are against the IS.

"Along with the alertness of the security, the Muslims in India are against the IS. They cannot grow in India as Muslims won't allow them," Singh said in an interview to ETV.

Speaking about underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Singh said: "He would be nabbed and brought back to India."

"Dawood is an international terrorist and there is need to take the help of international agencies to nab him. All the relevant documents against Dawood have been given to Pakistan," the home minister said.

Singh claimed that in last two years the internal security of the nation has been strengthened and Terrorism, Naxalism and Maoism was controlled to a large extent. He said both official and non-official reports justify this.

On Pathankot attack, the minister said the security agencies have given right reply to the January 2 attack.

Singh also said Congress was gradually "losing people's faith".

"In coming days Congress will lose its political clout," the minister said.

When asked about the "surgery" needed in Congress, Singh said: "It is their internal matter", adding that there was a need for Congress to introspect.

More judges are being appointed: Rajnath

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said more judges were being appointed across the country.

The minister said this in the Rajya Sabha.

He said the government was serious on the issue and more judges were being appointed at different levels to strengthen the judicial system.

 

 

Forest fires in Uttarkhand under control: Rajnath

New Delhi: The government on Monday said forest fires in Uttarakhand were completely under control and no death was reported so far.

"The situation in Uttarakhand is completely under control. I can assure you that there is nothing to worry," Home Minister Rajnath Singh informed Lok Sabha.

Rajnath was responding after the matter was raised by Trinamool Congress member Saugat Ray during Zero Hour.

Some members from Uttarakhand, including former chief minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank also raised thier concerns.

Rajnath said that shortly after the matter came to his knowledge, a team of his ministry and fire department rushed to the site.

"Three teams of NDRF and three IAF MI-17 helicopters were also engaged to control the situation," he said.

He denied reports of deaths due to the fire, saying: "As far as reported deaths are concerned, local administration has not yet confirmed," he said.

The fires began 89 days ago and have so far destroyed nearly 3,000 acres of forest cover.

Rajnath speaks to Mehbooba over students leaving NIT

New Delhi:  Amid reports that some students from outside Jammu and Kashmir were proposing to leave the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday spoke to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and hoped that the state government will take "immediate action" in the matter.

"Spoke to J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti ji regarding situation in NIT, Srinagar. She has assured me to look into the issue and take immediate action," Rajnath Singh tweeted.

There were reports of scuffle between students and also between students and police, and a section of the media claimed that some students were "not feeling safe" inside the campus.

Mehbooba Mufti took over as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

On April 3, Rajnath Singh had spoken to Governor N.N. Vohra and instructed the state government to ensure safety of students at the NIT where clashes erupted between two groups after the India-West Indies World T20 cricket match.

"Spoke to Governor Jammu and Kashmir and DGP (director general of police) regarding the situation in NIT Srinagar. I assure the students that they should not worry about their security," Rajnath Singh had said in a series of tweets.

"I have instructed the DGP Jammu and Kashmir to send a team of officers to NIT Srinagar to assure the students of their safety and security," he said.

Maoists trying to expand in northeast: Rajnath

Nongkrem (Meghalaya): Maoists are trying to establish their foothold in the northeastern states, union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Tuesday.

"We have got information that in some parts of the northeast, Maoists are trying expand their roots. We have to check this, and I believe you can demoralise their courage," Rajnath Singh said addressing Assam Rifles troopers on their 181st Raising Day celebrations here in Meghalaya.

"There is an attempt to destabilise the country, and I am proud of the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and police forces, the way they deal with ultras and extremists, discouraging them and able to nab them," he added.

Stating that insurgency has been a "problem" in the northeastern states, Rajnath Singh took a dig at the previous Congress governments for not giving priority to the development of the region.

"After independence, the northeast has not seen much development which should have happened. The region was not given priority. Without peace and security, no matter how much we try, the development of the region will not be possible," the BJP leader said.

Rajnath Singh said the Modi government was specially focussing on the region.

"Soon after Narendra Modi took over as prime minister, the union cabinet discussed about the northeast in the first meeting, and took some important decisions including the need to give enough emphasis and priority to the region," he recalled.

Stressing the importance of connectivity between India and the Southeast Asian countries via the northeast as a corridor, Rajnath Singh said this connectivity can boost the economy to a great extent.

Eulogizing Assam Rifles troopers for fighting against insurgents, the home minister said: "In the development of the northeast, Assam Rifles is instrumental in bringing down the insurgency problem in the region.

"The way you have tried to check this insurgency in this region, the result is that the insurgency has come down. I am happy that in the last 18 years, no one is able to check insurgency at this level."

Earlier, Rajnath Singh laid a wreath and paid homage to Assam Rifles martyrs, in the presence of Assam Rifles director general Lt. Gen. H.J.S. Sachdev and other officers of the paramilitary force.

"In these 181 long years, you (troopers) have faced several challenges but this force has lived up to the challenges. Your job was to make the country secure and your organisation has done its duty well.

"Since the day Assam Rifles was given responsibility of guarding the India-Myanmar border, that responsibility you have fulfilled and you have lived up to the expectation and proved yourselves," he said.

Rajnath Singh also announced that 2,500 constables would be promoted as head constables.

Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country, has the twin responsibility of guarding the treacherous India-Myanmar border and also conducting counter-insurgency operations in Manipur and Nagaland.

Assam Rifles has 46 battalions, 15 of which are deployed along the 1,643-km long unfenced India-Myanmar border.

The porous border with its rugged terrain is used by Indian insurgent groups to slip in and out of the country. Forest and animal products are also smuggled through this route in and out of India.

Don't see enemy property bill through religious prism: Rajnath

New Delhi: The issue of enemy property should not be seen through the prism of religion or community as it is a national issue, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.

Participating in the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, introduced in the house on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh said it was necessary to do away with certain ambiguities in the Enemy Property Act, 1968.

"It is not only for Pakistani nationals but also for those who go to China and take Chinese citizenship," he said.

The government had brought in the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance on January 7 this year to amend the existing law. 

"Ordinances have been brought by earlier governments as well to amend the 1968 act. Don't call it a BJP ordinance as a government is a government, no matter which party or parties are in power,” Rajnath Singh said, citing a similar ordinance brought in by the UPA government in 2010. 

The amendments introduced in the new bill include that once an enemy property is vested in the custodian, it would continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death, he said. 

The law of succession would also not apply to such property. 

Katheria made no hate speech, India most secular: Rajnath

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday denied in the Rajya Sabha that his ministerial colleague Ram Shankar Katheria made an inflammatory speech in Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and stressed India is the most secular country in the world.

"I heard Katheria's speech and I made others hear it. We all agreed there is nothing inflammatory in the speech," Rajnath Singh said while responding to a calling attention motion on alleged inflammatory speeches by union ministers and elected representatives in violation of the Constitution and the oath of office.

He also told the Rajya Sabha that India is the most secular country in the world despite its diversity and the fact that people of all faiths live here. "If there is any secular country in the world, it is India," the home minister said.

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Ram Shankar Katheria courted controversy after he allegedly delivered a hate speech during a condolence function held in Agra for a murdered Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader on February 28.

"India is the only country in the world where people of all faiths live," the home minister said, adding that "not only this, all major sects of all religions, including Islam and Christianity, are found here, which is not the case with any other country".

The government faced a tough time in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday as opposition members raised the issue of what they called "hate and inflammatory" speeches by BJP MPs and legislators in different parts of the country.

While D. Raja of the Communist Party of India asked Rajnath Singh why the government had not taken action against Katheria and others, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati said she would have sent Katheria behind bars had she been in power in Uttar Pradesh.

Responding to members' concern, Rajnath Singh pointed out that law and order was a state subject, and suggested that if anybody indulged in such practices he or she should be controlled and dealt with by the state governments concerned.

The minister also refused to subscribe to the anti-Muslim views vis-a-vis terrorism. 

"Terrorism has no colour or religion whatsoever," Rajnath Singh asserted and added that the patriotism of Indian Muslims cannot be questioned.

"How can you say that an Indian Muslim is not a nationalist," he asked when challenged that his party members were making all sorts of anti-Muslim statements.

The minister called upon all political parties to join hands in protecting India's unity and integrity.

"A single political party cannot protect the country's unity and integrity. We all will have to make collective efforts for that," he added.

He said that every Indian has to ensure that India remains "the biggest secular country of the world".

Rajnath Singh said that communal harmony "should not be measured in terms of political gain or loss".

"It should only be measured in terms of justice and humanity."

 

 

No government interference in police action in JNU row: Rajnath

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday denied the charges that government was interfering in police functioning over the JNU row while assuring the house that no innocent student will be harassed into the matter.

"We don't consider JNU as a centre of anti-nationals and there was no interference of the government in police functioning. Police is working in an impartial manner," Singh said in the Lok Sabha while replying to a debate on the situation arising out of recent incidents in institutions of Higher education with reference to JNU and Hyderabad University.

"We will not allow any student to be harassed," he added.

The home minister, however, also said freedom of speech and expression is not unbridled and anybody who breaches the limit will not be spared.

"In his life as student if someone opposes atrocities, it is freedom of speech and expression and no one should have objection to it but if anyone breaches the limit, he will not be spared," Singh said.

Singh said sedition case against Jawaharlal Nehru Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar was not a topic of debate in parliament and will be decided by court only.

He also condemned the violence in Patiala House Court in Delhi during hearing of sedition case against Kanhaiya Kumar, stating those indulged in violence in the court would not be spared.

Singh also justified his earlier statement in connection with the event organised at JNU campus on February 9 in which anti-India slogans were raised.

"What I had said in the matter was based on facts," he said.

Irani slams Congress, Rajnath says no innocent to be harassed

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesay assured Lok Sabha that no innocent student will be harassed in JNU row even as HRD minister Smriti Irani slammed Congress, which has accused Centre of seeking to crush opposing point of view.

Irani sought to take the battle over the central government actions concerning central varsities to the Congress, as the Lok Sabha witnessed a surcharged debate on the recent incidents in central universities with Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia accusing the Narendra Modi government of intolerance over the past 20 months of its rule. 

The BJP's and government's point of view was articulated by MP Anurag Thakur and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu besides Irani and Rajnath Singh. 

The Congress staged a walk out during Irani's speech. 

The suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University figured prominently in the Rajya Sabha also with the house witnessing repeated adjournments and verbal clash between Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Irani. 

Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that the government had not intervened in the row concerning the Jawaharlal Nehru University and police had acted following alleged raising of anti-national slogans at an event on the campus on February 9 to mark the anniversaries of executions of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. 

The minister said there could be a debate whether sedition charge should have been applied to JNU students union leader Kanhaiya Kumar and the issue will be decided by the court. 

"I want to assure the house that no innocent will be harassed," he said. 

Referring to the violence in the Patiala House court ahead of court proceedings concerning Kanhaiya Kumar, he said the guilty will not be spared. 

Earlier, Irani made an emotional speech, stating she was taking opposition's allegations against her concerning the JNU and Hyderabad University personally. 

"No one can raise a finger against me on this issue. I am taking it personally," she said.

Strongly refuting allegations that letters by her ministry to Hyderabad university had pressurised Vemula, she cited examples of how her ministry follows up on issues raised by elected representatives. 

She also refuted allegations of any bias in the working of the government. "My name is Smriti Irani. I challenge you to tell me my caste," she said. 

Irani said that the unfortunate suicide was being used for political ends. "Have you ever seen Rahul Gandhi go to one spot twice. Never. But in this, he saw political opportunity," Irani said. 

Earlier, initiating the discussion, the Congress leader Jyotiradiya Scindia hit out at the central government, saying: "Inside parliament, the ministers of this government take oath of constitution and outside they crush it. Using government machinery they are crushing the voices of those who oppose the ideology of RSS." 

"They targeted Kanhaiya Kumar just because he was opposed to the ideology of RSS and had defeated an ABVP candidate in JNU election," he added.

"What we have seen in the last two years is an atmosphere of intolerance in the country. There is every possible attempt to crush opposing viewpoint," Scindia said.

He said party had been demanding action against Irani and Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya over the suicide of Vemula.

Thakur accused Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi of standing with anti-nationals and said the Congress would have to decide "whether you are with those who attacked our parliament or those who protect it? You will have to decide whether you are with ideology of Gandhiji or Maoists."

"Your leader goes and sympathises with those who were celebrating Afzal Guru as a martyr," he alleged. 

Thakur began by invoking the sacrifices of Captain Pawan Kumar, an alumni of JNU, who died in a gun battle with terrorists. 

"For them (Congress), it is family first, party next and nation last. But for us, it is nation first, party next and self last," he alleged.

Naidu, in his speech, also hit out at the Congress, saying no one was terming JNU as anti-national. He said it was duty of entire parliament to speak with one voice against those who had raised anti-national slogans. 

Rajnath appeals for peace, order in Haryana

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday asked the people of Haryana to maintain peace and order in the state.

"I appeal to my brothers and sisters of Haryana to maintain peace and order in the state," he tweeted.

The appeal came after the Haryana government called in the army to contain the volatile situation in the state due to the ongoing Jat agitation for quota in jobs and educational institutions.

 

 

Final talks begin for new Indian civil aviation policy

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday chaired a high-profile meeting to discuss the proposed aviation policy, amid hectic lobbying by domestic carriers for a level-playing field vis a vis foreign players, and demands for continuing the norms to fly overseas.

The specifics of the discussions, however, were not immediately available, even as Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who was also present at the meeting, declined comment to reporters on the margins of a seminar that he attended later, organised by PHD Chamber.

One of the most contested proposals, purportedly in the draft policy, is to discontinue what are called the 5/20 norms, that permit only those passenger carriers that have been in operation for five years and have a fleet of 20 aircraft to fly abroad. 

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), among other associations, had demanded that the matter regarding effective control of domestic carriers be settled first before the government decides to change or alter the 5/20 international flying norms.

Among the seven main scheduled airlines in the country, only four meet the requirements -- Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo. The three others -- GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia India -- are not eligible under the present norms.

At the same time, several aviation research institutions such as the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, have described the 5/20 rule as being damaging, discriminatory and anti-competition, besides preventing carriers from optimal fleet utilisation and expansion.

At the meeting of the group of ministers, those present included Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Road Transport Minister Nitin Ghadkari, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.

On Wednesday, top executives of Indian aviation met Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh and said the government must not discriminate against domestic carriers, when the new policy is unveiled.

Those who met the minister included Aditya Ghosh of Indigo, Narayan Hariharan of Jet Airways, Ajay Singh of SpiceJet and Jeh Wadia of GoAir.

"No other country in the world allows substantial ownership and effective control of its airlines to be taken over by foreign airlines. India has permitted some airlines to operate, despite being effectively controlled by their foreign parent," the organisation's memorandum said.

The memorandum of the FAI, which claims to represent 90 percent of the Indian airline industry, also expressed reservations about the proposal to auction bilateral rights. No country allows auction of its sovereign rights to others, it said.

JNU protesters got support from Hafiz Saeed, says Rajnath

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said the demonstration on the JNU campus to mark the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru received "support" from Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed. His remark sparked a political uproar with opposition leaders asking him to furnish evidence.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury posted a series of tweets to question Rajnath Singh on his remark.

"The Union Home Minister has made a very serious allegation about terrorists 'backing' JNU protests. We hope that he has concrete proof," Yechury wrote.

"When we met the Home Minister yesterday (Saturday), he never mentioned Hafiz Saeed to us but only harped on the slogans being raised at the protests.

"This seems to be a case of shifting goalposts with the sole design of tarnishing JNU.

"Considering the gravity of the charge made by no less than the Union Home Minister, we would like him to share the evidence with the country.

"We are concerned as we've seen this earlier with the Home Minister where he deleted his twitter updates about Pathankot attack terrorists," Yechury said.

Rajnath Singh on Sunday told reporters here that what happened at Jawaharlal Nehru University had the support of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and it was very unfortunate.

"What happened in JNU also got support from Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed. The nation must also accept the reality," he said.

While Rajnath Singh did not give any reference for his comment, a tweet recently surfaced from the Twitter handle @HafeezSaeedJUD with the hashtag #PakStandWithJNU that asked Pakistanis to trend the hashtag #SupportJNU for "pro-Pakistani JNUites brothers".

The Twitter handle, however, was not a verified one and it appeared that the tweet was later deleted.

A home ministry spokesperson later said the minister's remarks were based on inputs from various agencies.

"The home minister made his statement based on inputs from agencies," the spokesperson said.

Saeed is wanted in India for the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said Rajnath Singh should share evidence about his remarks concerning Saeed.

"That #HafizSaeed supported the #JNU protests is a very serious charge to level against the students. The evidence must be shared with all.

"The Home Minister must go public with the evidence collected that enabled him to level this charge against the #JNU students #HafizSaeed

"Cracking down on students & using #HafizSaeed to justify the crack down is a new low, even for this NDA government. #JNUCrackdown

"This is the same BJP that Mehbooba Mufti is negotiating with. No wonder she's completely silent & hasn't said a word about the #JNUCrackdown," Abdullah wrote.

Rajnath Singh, in his interaction with the media, also appealed to political parties to unite in opposing incidents where anti-national slogans are raised.

"I want to appeal to all parties, whenever there is an incident where anti-national slogans are raised, we must oppose it with one voice. There should not be attempts to get political gains from such incidents," he said.

On Saturday, the Congress, CPI-M, CPI and JD-U protested against the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar on sedition charges.

Rajnath Singh said anti-national activities would not be tolerated, but added that he had given instructions that the "innocent must be protected".

"Whoever raises anti-national slogans and questions the unity of India will not be spared. I have given the necessary instructions, I have also instructed that those who are innocent should not be harassed," he said.

On the night of February 9, some students organised a meet at JNU to mourn the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front co-founder Maqbool Bhat. Anti-India slogans were allegedly raised at the gathering.

Delhi Police registered a sedition case on Thursday and arrested Kanhaiya Kumar. He was sent to three days police custody on Friday although he denied raising the slogans.

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