The Statesman – Punjab Polls: High Court directs EC to ensure safety of EVMs

Shiv Rawal

Chandigarh, 9 February 2017. Taking up a petition moved by the Punjab unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Punjab and Haryana High Court here on Thursday directed the Election Commission (EC) to take all possible steps to ensure complete safety and security of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in February 4 polls for the state Assembly.

While disposing of the petition, the Division Bench headed by Justice Mahesh Grover directed that said that security of the EVMs is necessary to instill the confidence of the public and to enhance the credibility of election process so inherent to democracy.

The AAP had submitted that the petition has been necessitated on account of the “lackadaisical and casual approach” of the EC towards the EVMs used in the Punjab Assembly elections and in ensuring apposite protection and proper security arrangements for the safe custody of the EVMs.

It was submitted that the Punjab has been struck with peculiar circumstance in this election in as much as the polling was held on February 4 and he EVMS were transferred in the strong room the same day, however the counting will be held after more than a month on March 11.

It was further alleged in the petition that the EC and the chief electoral officer of Punjab have grossly failed in their duty to security the EVMs.

Through the petition, the AAP Punjab unit has sought that no unauthorized person (including the staff) be allowed in the middle perimeter of the Strong Rooms and in the outer perimeter, only persons with valid identity cards and authorization be allowed to enter.

Further it was sought that to make suitable arrangements for CCTV monitored any entry and exit from the outer perimeter inwards, which should be visible to candidates or their agents.

Suitable arrangements were also requested to enable candidates or their authorized representatives to be stationed within visible distance and straight vision from the seal of the inner perimeter.

http://www.thestatesman.com/india/punjab-polls-high-court-directs-ec-to-ensure-safety-of-evms-1486649009.html

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The Tribune – Why free flights for babas, leaders, CAG asks state

Vishav Bharti, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 9 February 2017. Free flights for “babas” and politicians in helicopters at the exchequer’s cost may cost dear to the Badal government, as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has written to the Department of Civil Aviation to explain the public interest behind the rides.

Sources said that following the scrutiny of the department’s records, the CAG has noticed that the department utilised the aircraft/helicopters for its VIPs, VVIPS and state-honoured guests from May 1, 2013, to January 31, 2016, without mentioning the purpose of the journey, whether it was in public interest or for personal use.

The CAG said expenditure on flights was Rs 26 crore in around three years, Rs 25 crore on hired helicopters and Rs 1 crore on the state-owned helicopter.

In its communication to the state’s Director, Civil Aviation, the CAG specified to the department that every journey by VVIPs and VIPs of the state government in the public transport should be in the public interest. It also said the utilisation of the aircraft shouldn’t be for personal purpose.

Earlier in its complaint, AAP’s RTI Cell, on which the CAG acted, had alleged that the purpose of flight in the bills as well as in the logbooks of the helicopters had been left blank.

The helicopter made 68 trips to take Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal to their native village Badal in Muktsar district and 43 trips to their farmhouse in Haryana’s Balasar village.

Besides the Badals and other members of their clan, the helicopters ferried national BJP leaders and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/why-free-flights-for-babas-leaders-cag-asks-state/362107.html

De Vooruit – Wintercircus – De Krook – Gent-Zuid

De Vooruit – Wintercircus – De Krook – Gent-Zuid
08 January 2016

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Kuiperskaai

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Kuiperskaai – De Krook

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Muinkschelde – De Vooruit and Chamber of Commerce

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Entry to public toilets

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Entry to public toilets

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Smoutebollen, or as they say in the Netherlands Oliebollen

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Pakistan Observer – India’s disenchantment with Modi

Sultan M Hali

10 February 2017.

Narendra Modi took oath of office as India’s 14th Prime Minister on 26 May 2014, thus he is more than half way through his term but unfortunately he has little to show for it. His much publicized election slogan “Achche Din” (Good days) and “India Shining” have come to naught and he is being criticized even by his own party stalwarts like BJP’s firebrand Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and many others.

Modi’s campaign of intolerance towards India’s minorities, targeting Muslims, Christians, Sikh and even low caste Hindus, the Dalits, has irked human rights activists internationally and at home.

Over a hundred irate writers, artistes, filmmakers, historians and scientists including some of India’s top nuclear physicists, space scientists and mathematicians expressed their anguish at the rise of Hindu extremism and Modi’s tacit approval of shunning secularism.

Indian intellectuals, artistes and scientists have returned their national awards and medals as a mark of remonstration against Modi’s divisive policies encouraging hate and prejudice. The chorus of Indian intellectuals protesting religious bigotry and communal violence and Modi’s comments asserting Hindu pride and superiority has prompted international academics and litterateurs to join the protest campaign.

Over a thousand renowned professors and teachers including Noam Chomsky have signed a petition addressed to Modi beseeching him to shun his tyrannical policies of oppression of minorities including the reign of terror in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Muslims have been especially targeted for sacrificing cows on the occasion of their religious festival Eid-ul-Azha. Hindus, comprising more than 80 percent of India’s population of 1.25 billion, consider cows to be sacred, and Modi’s government has also visibly promoted Hindu pride and practices, such as calling for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter.

There have been horrifying incidents of beating Muslims to death even on suspicion of partaking beef.

The policies of economic revival of India have failed to take off or achieve the desired results while some radical fiscal decisions have caused widespread pandemonium and riots. Eminent Indian lawyer, author and columnist, A. G. Noorani, in his scathing Op-Ed titled ‘The decline of Narendra Modi’ states that “Narendra Modi is not a strong leader. He is an incompetent one whom failures drove to dwell in a bubble.”

Writing in the cover story for the Frontline news magazine of 20 Jan 2017, the veteran author and legal luminary cites the 8 November 2016 decision of Modi to demonetize rupees 500 and 1,000 Indian currency notes without prior warning.

According to Noorani, Modi hugely personalised demonetisation but the gamble failed, and the slide downwards has begun, exposing that “The Emperor has no clothes on him.”

Modi’s problem is that he is still caught in the web of his fanatic past which helped propel him to fame. He continues to be a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is infamous for its anti-Muslim activities both before the partition of India and after it.

Its radical leaders did not refrain from assassinating India’s founding father Mahatma Gandhi, because he had opposed the massacre of Muslim refugees heading from India to Pakistan. Modi is subservient to Mohan Madhukar Bhagwat, the current RSS chief. During the 2014 election campaign, Modi had reached out to his parent organization RSS for support.

After being declared successful, RSS demanded its pound of flesh and sought high positions in the government for its operatives as well Modi enforcing extremist Hindutva policies. It may be recalled that the RSS was banned once during British rule and then thrice by the post-independence Indian government, first in 1948 after assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, then during the emergency (1975-77); and for a third time after demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.

Narendra Modi confessed on the floor of Bangladesh Parliament on June 06, 2015 that he had fought alongside Mukti Bahini guerrillas, trained by India for the secession of East Pakistan and “liberation of Bangladesh” in 1971. Modi was the Chief Minister of the Indian Province of Gujarat, where under his watch, militant Hindus mercilessly slaughtered over 2000 Muslims in 2002.

Reportedly, state police and law enforcing agencies either stood watching amusedly or aided and abetted raiding Hindu marauders, who raped, looted and murdered Muslim women, children, youth and elders.

Modi has taken Hindu chauvinism to new levels. Sensible Indian scientists as well as historians have stated that they are increasingly alarmed by their government’s attempts to rewrite Indian history by distorting facts about a glorious Hindu past.

Last year’s national science conference, an annual gathering of the country’s top brains, devoted an entire session to discussing ancient Indian technology with claims that jumbo airplanes and organ transplants were common in India thousands of years ago. Some went to extent of claiming Hindu elephant god Ganesh proved that ancients had mastered plastic surgery.

According to Modi’s goverment’s diktat, even the history of the 1965 Pak-India war has been rewritten to prove that India won that war. In the above quoted article, A G Noorani has quoted Modi’s speech of November 8, announcing the demonetization of Indian currency. Modi uttered phrase ‘black money’ 18 times in this speech.

He mentioned ‘fake currency’ or ‘counterfeit’ five times in same speech. “It was unambiguously clear from PM’s speech that primary motivation for the sudden withdrawal of nearly 86 per cent of the country’s currency was the evil of black money….”

The scheme backfired terribly and was not thought through since neither were new currency notes available in banks or ATM machines nor the provision made to entertain long queues attempting to exchange the revoked currency notes.

Hundreds of people died in ensuing riots and scuffles with bank personnel. To make matters worse, Modi has announced the advent of a cashless economy featuring only plastic money or transactions through cell phones. The beginning of Modi’s downfall is near if only he can read the writing on the wall.

The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.

Email
sm_hali@yahoo.com

http://pakobserver.net/indias-disenchantment-with-modi/

The Hindu – IEDs kill more commoners than VIPs: NSG

Data show 55% of these devices are set off in public places; in 2016, only 7% of the attacks were targeted at VIPs

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 9 February 2017. Who are the primary targets of terrorists? VIPs? Security forces? Or ordinary people?

A detailed data analysis carried out by the National Security Guard, a counter-terror and counter-hijack force, show it is the unarmed civilians who often fall victim to IED (improvised explosive device) blasts set off by terrorists across India. The VIPs are the least targeted.

Between 2012 and 2016, anywhere between 49% and 72% of the attacks annually have been targeted at ordinary civilians. In contrast, attacks targeting VIPs were in the range of 1% to 7%.

Minor number

In 2016, only 7% of the IED attacks were targeted at the VIPs. In comparison, 55% of all IED explosions across India in 2016 were targeted at public places. The remaining 37% were against security forces.

The Union government provides security to more than 300 VIPs. While the Special Protection Group provides security to the Prime Minister, the former Prime Ministers and their close family members, the NSG commandos guard those like Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The Centre justifies VIP security in the name of “security threats”, which are assessments made primarily through the Intelligence Bureau. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is a recent addition to the list of VIPs protected by the NSG.

The NSG report said that three VIPs each were targeted in Northeast India and areas affected by Left-wing extremism, one in Jammu and Kashmir and remaining 16 in the rest of India.

In all, 337 bomb-related incidents were reported in the country, the highest in five years.

The States affected by Left-wing extremism contributed the most number of IED blasts at 159, followed by the north-eastern States at 59 and Jammu and Kashmir at 31.

“In 2016, the most preferred targets of Maoists, insurgents and terrorists were public and security forces. Overall, there was an increase in incidents when specifically security forces were the target,” the report said.

In 2016, the number of IED blasts rose from six to 33 in Kerala and from 12 to 32 in Tamil Nadu. Chhattisgarh saw an increase from 39 to 60.

The report was shared with mediapersons on Thursday at an international seminar organised by the bomb data centre of the NSG.

The report said Jammu and Kashmir saw an increase in number of blasts after the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the security forces.

Type of explosives

“High-grade explosives were used in 83% of all IED incidents. Considerable quantities of low explosives, especially petrol bombs, also saw an increase. From none in 2015 to 12 in 2016,” the report said. The security forces remained the prime target in J&K.

Director-General, NSG, Sudhir Pratap Singh said the force had been organising seminars on counter-terrorism for the past 16 years and this year, representatives from 12 countries attended the conference.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/IEDs-kill-more-commoners-than-VIPs-NSG/article17279074.ece