The Statesman – Mandir will be built when Lord Rama wants it, PM Modi will not build it: Sibal

New Delhi, 7 December 2017. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday in a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Ram Mandir will be built “when Lord Rama wants it and Modi will not build the temple”.

“As far as Ram Mandir is concerned (Modiji), it will be built when Lord Ram wants it to be built,” said Sibal.

“We believe in the Lord, we don’t believe in you (Modiji). You are not going to build that temple..If you think that you are, then you are mistaken…

“It’s when God wants it. When Lord Ram wants it the temple will be built wherever, whenever. And that the court will decide,” Sibal added.

Sibal had in the apex court said that the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute should be heard after the 2019 general elections, which triggered a major political storm.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Congress and congratulated the Sunni Waqf Board for distancing itself from Sibal’s plea.

However, Sibal clarified that he did not represent the Sunni Waqf Board, but one of the individuals in the case.

“Our PM comments without knowing things sometimes. Amit Shah and the Prime Minister said I represented Sunni Waqf Board. I was never a Sunni Waqf Board lawyer. I can understand your President (Shah) saying such a thing because I don’t expect anything better from him.

“The PM did not check the fact that actually I never represented the Sunni Waqf Board in the Supreme Court and yet he thanked them. I request the PM to be a little more careful before making such public comments. It doesn’t behove the status of a Prime Minister.”


The Statesman – 114 rail accidents in north India since April 2010, kill 226

Lucknow-UP-India, 29 November 2017. A total of 114 train accidents in the Northern Railway network since April 2010 led to 226 deaths and injuries to 365 persons, an RTI reply has revealed.

In the reply, Northern Railway officials said an inquiry into 110 accidents had been completed while reports in the remaining cases were awaited, social activist Nutan Thakur, who filed the Right to Information query, told IANS on Wednesday.

The Railways suffered Rs 27.2 crore loss due to these accidents.

Of the 110 cases, no railway staff was found responsible for the accidents in 79 cases or around 72 per cent.

In other cases, 172 railway personnel were handed out punishment, including dismissal in 24 cases and compulsory retirement in four cases.

The Statesman – Saeed’s release order: Pakistan ‘hoodwinking’ global community

New Delhi, 23 November 2017. Mumbai terror attacks mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed’s release order by a Pakistani judicial body shows how Pakistan is “hoodwinking” the international community on the issue of terrorism, government sources said on Wednesday.

It is also reflective of Islamabad’s “duplicity” in tackling terrorism, they said and asked Pakistan to “walk the talk” on its assurances to the international community over dismantling terror infrastructure and not allowing its soil to be used for terror acts.

The sharp reaction came within hours of the Judicial Review Board of Punjab province comprising judges of the Lahore High Court ordering Saeed’s release on the expiry of his 30-day house arrest which is going to expire in a couple of days.

Saeed’s release may also coincide with the anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which at least 166 people were killed.

“The release order only shows that Pakistan provides free space to terrorists to indulge in acts against other countries. And in case of Saeed, a designated terrorist, it also shows how Pakistan is hoodwinking the international community on the issue of terrorism,” a source said.

Pakistan keeps giving assurances to the international community that it is making all efforts to tackle terrorism but it never implement its assurances in reality and this (Saeed) is one example, another source asserted.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah head, who carries a bounty of USD 10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January.

“The government is ordered to release JuD chief Hafiz Saeed if he is not wanted in any other case,” said the Pakistani board which was headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan.

Saeed may walk out free in a couple of days if the government does not detain him in any other case.

India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attacks case and also demanded trial of Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed was put under house arrest after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.

Ten LeT militants killed 166 people and wounded hundreds in Mumbai in November, 2008. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught.

Kasab was executed after a court found him guilty and handed down death sentence.

The Statesman – J-K interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma briefs Rajnath about dialogue

New Delhi, 15 November 2017. The Centre’s special representative for a sustainable dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma, who undertook a five-day visit to the state, briefed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday on the first round of talks he had with various sections of the society there last week.

Sharma made his presentation at a core group meeting, chaired by Rajnath Singh for a security review of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was attended by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra and top brass of Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, National Investigation Agency and para-military forces.

In the meeting, Sharma informed the Home Minister about the response that he got during his meetings with different sections of society, including political parties, student organisations, and social and religious groups in Jammu and Kashmir as well as those from the Jammu Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Jammu Bar Association, representatives of West Pakistan refugees and others.

The former spy chief also shared the major concerns voiced by those he had met during the visit.

Sources said Sharma also highlighted the role of the media and its impact on the narrative in Kashmir.

Sharma was tight-lipped when the media asked him about his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir and on the review meeting. He said he would go to Jammu and Kashmir soon to continue his mission of holding a sustained dialogue process.

An old Kashmir hand, Sharma, who had served in the state with the Intelligence Bureau from 1992-94 when militancy was at its peak, kickstarted his exercise in Srinagar by talking to representatives of about half-a-dozen apolitical organisations and others and later for two days in Jammu.

Sharma, who has the rank of Cabinet Secretary, called on former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and held discussions with him.

The Statesman – Pollution effect: All schools in Punjab to remain closed for three days

Chandigarh, 8 November 2017.  The Punjab government on Wednesday ordered closure of all government, private, aided and recognised schools throughout the state for three days owing to accidents taking place due to dense fog and inclement weather.

“The schools would remain shut from November 9 till 11th,” state Education Minister Aruna Chaudhary said in a statement.

Eight students were among the 10 people killed in an accident related to dense fog in Bathinda district on Wednesday.

In the past one week, most areas in Punjab and Haryana have witnessed dense to very dense fog due to the onset of winter and burning of paddy stubble.

This has led to accidents in both state, leading to several deaths and injuries to people.

The Statesman – Conclude 1984 riot witness’ polygraph test by month-end: Court

New Delhi, 1 November 2017. A court here on Wednesday directed that the lie detector test of arms dealer Abhishek Verma, a witness in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against Congress Leader Jagdish Tytler, should be concluded by the end of November.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Amit Arora’s direction comes after defence counsel gave consent to the appointment of noted advocate B S Joon as the commissioner to monitor Verma’s polygraph test.

The court slated the matter for December 15 for further hearing.

On October 24, Verma’s polygraph test was conducted in the FSL in Rohini here after which he moved an application alleging that the forensic lab was unfair and biased.

He sought that a detailed standard operating procedure for conducting polygraph test be filed by the FSL, Rohini in the court to bring on record complete transparency.

The court was hearing a Central Bureau of Investigation plea for permission to conduct the lie detector tests on Verma as well as Tytler, accused of leading a mob in Pul Bangash area in 1984 that led to the killing of three Sikhs.

The Congress leader has refused to undergo the test.

The agency’s move came after Verma’s accusation that Tytler influenced witness Surender Singh through money and a promise to send his son Narender Singh to Canada.

The CBI had earlier given a clean chit to Tytler in the case but reopened investigation following a December 4, 2015 court order in the wake of Verma’s allegation.

On the court’s direction, Verma had been provided round-the-clock security till his polygraphy test is conducted after he had told the court that he apprehended serious threat to his life as well as that of his wife and mother.

The Statesman – Film industry speaks up on national anthem issue

Mumbai, 25 October 2017. Don’t test anyone’s patriotism by making it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem, say film fraternity members who feel respect for the “Jana gana mana” should be natural.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to take a call on the playing of the national anthem in public places, including cinema halls.

The wording of a November 2016 order on the issue might be modified so that cinema halls “may”, instead of “shall”, — play the national anthem before the start of movies.

This sparked a debate, leading film fraternity members like Kamal Haasan, Javed Akhtar and Raj Nayak, to express their opinion.

Here’s what they had tweeted:

Javed Akhtar: Something is seriously wrong with those Indians who don’t get touched and don’t feel any reverence when they hear the national anthem. It really pains me that some people are trying to undermine the dignity of our national anthem.

Kamal Haasan: Singapore plays its national anthem every midnight. Likewise, do so on DD. Do not force or test my patriotism at various random places.

Arvind Swami: I will always stand up for our national anthem and sing along, which I do with great pride. Never understood why it was mandatory and cinema halls only.

Adnan Sami: Hey, it’s the national anthem; GET UP… PERIOD! Go argue about something else! ‘Where’ the national anthem should play is another matter; but whenever or wherever it is played, get up and respect it. From the heart, Not sleeve!

Vivek Agnihotri: If I remember correctly, in the 1970s and even in the 1980s, national anthem played at the end of the movie and everyone stood without questioning it. Today, we question everything even if it’s not disputable.

Ananth Mahadevan: The 60s: All stood respectfully for the national anthem played after the movie. No discussion. Today: everything has to be an issue!

Raj Nayak: Before this order, I used to find people willingly standing up for the national anthem and singing happily. Making it mandatory ruined it.

Raghu Ram: I stand up for the national anthem because I give it the love and respect that it is due. Not because some government forces me to.

The Statesman – RSS leader’s killing: Punjab is still under ‘jungle raj’, says Khaira

Chandigarh, 18 October 2017. A day after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Ravinder Gosain was killed by unidentified gunmen in Ludhiana, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday said the law and order in Punjab is no better than the 10 years of “jungle-raj” perpetrated by the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bhartiya Janata Party ( SAD-BJP).

He accused the Amarinder Singh government of pursuing the legacy of Badals by politicising the Punjab police for personal whims and fancies.

After visiting the the house of slain RSS leader at Ludhiana, leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira said, there have been repeated incidents of political murders during the last six months but the police is acting as a mute spectator.

Khaira said Congress ministers and legislator have started getting their henchmen posted to plum field postings, who in turn are taking their orders from their political bosses rather than their superior police officers.

Severely condemning the killing of Gosai and failure of the police to nab his killers, Khaira said it was not a first case of political murder in Punjab. He said couple of months back Sultan Masih a pastor was killed similarly by motorcycle assailants.

He recounted the brutal murders of Mata Chand Kaur of Bhaini Sahib, Jagdish Gagneja another RSS leader of Jalandhar, the murderous attack on Sant Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwala, but he said the police has completely failed to crack any of these crime.

He also criticised Amarinder for failing to ensure justice to the two innocent Sikh youth killed in the Bargari police firing, a promise he had made to the people while in opposition.

Khaira said it was sad to note that two years have passed since the killing, but no justice has been rendered to the families of those youth.

He said the tall claims of industrial investment being made by the Chief Minister Amarinder have fallen flat, as no business house would invest in a state like Punjab, where prominent people are being murdered, gang wars and incidents of bank robberies are happening daily.

Khaira urged the CM to pull up his socks and direct the police to solve cases of political murders as top priority and in future prevent such killings. He also urged him to depoliticise the police and allow it to function without interference from politicians.

The Statesman – Aung San Suu Kyi calls for speedy rehabilitation measures in Rakhine

Yangon, 12 October 2017.

Myanmar’s de factor leader Aung San Suu Kyi has called for speeding up measures for humanitarian aid, rehabilitation, resettlement and development in the conflict-torn Rakhine state.

Citing Myanmar News Agency, Xinhua reported on Thursday that at a coordination meeting held at the National Reconciliation and Peace Center in Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday, Suu Kyi laid down the priorities for the government for effective implementation of the measures.

The move came one day after the government organised a trip of ambassadors of five neighbouring countries to conflicted areas of Rakhine state, led by Minister for the Office of the State Counselor U Kyaw Tint Swe.

Rakhine State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu also said the government is pushing for the implementation of the tasks of rehabilitation in three areas, compilation of list, food supply for refugees and improvement of communication and transport.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army launched fresh attacks on police outposts in Rakhine on August 25, displacing residents from a number of areas in Maungdaw district.

The Statesman – Rape accused ex-Akali leader sent to police remand till 9 October

New Delhi, 4 October 2017. Former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) minister Sucha Singh Langah was sent to police custody till 9 October on Wednesday.

Sucha Singh Langah was booked, 26 September, after a widow lodged a complaint that the Akali leader had raped her on several occasions and had threatened her not to disclose the matter to anybody.

Langah has been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 376 (rape), 384 (extortion), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code at the Gurdaspur City police station.

He had surrendered before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Mohit Bansal in Gurdaspur town in north Punjab on Monday.

“The victim filed an affidavit and gave a pen drive with a video recording to support her accusation”, SSP Harcharan Singh Bhullar said.

Langah is the president of the Gurdaspur district unit of the SAD. The by-election for the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency will be held on October 11.