As predicted by the exit polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), like a tidal wave swept the polls in western Maharashtra, emerging as the single-largest party in the four municipal corporations of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik and Solapur.Except the Solapur Municipal Corporation, where it narrowly missed total majority, the BJP scored landslide victories in the remaining three municipal corporations.The BJP also emerged victorious in all three civic bodies in the Vidarbha region, including the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, and also emerged as the largest party in zila parishad bodies in many districts of the region.The victory in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad effortlessly supplanted the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), definitively breaking the Pawar clan’s power bases in the district and ending its decade-long reign in the cash-rich Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC).A last-minute pact between the Congress and the NCP in the battle for PMC came a cropper, as the BJP juggernaut notched a record-best performance winning 98 of the 162 seats. In contrast, the NCP was routed with 40 seats. The Congress and the Sena secured 11 and 10 seats respectively.The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), managed just two seats.Winning strategyIn the cash-rich PCMC, where the voting figure touched a historic high of 67%, the saffron party’s strategy of awarding tickets to heavyweight defectors from opposing parties, especially the NCP, paid-off as the BJP secured an emphatic majority, winning 78 of the 128 seats.The NCP, after consecutive landslides in the PCMC in 2007 and 2012, was reduced to 35 seats from its previous tally of 83. The Congress failed to open its account, while the Shiv Sena and the MNS got nine and one.Likewise, the BJP ousted the beleaguered Congress from its traditional citadel in the Solapur Municipal Corporation (SMC), but narrowly missed absolute majority here. It secured 49 of the 102 seats with Shiv Sena, emerging second with 21 seats.Bitter infightingThe decimation of Congress in Nagpur and neighbouring Municipal Corporations and Zila Parishads could see the emergence of a new and young leadership in the party. However, it will be up against a powerful BJP which had made Nagpur and the Vidarbha area as its bastion since 2014.In Nagpur, the party won 108 out of total 151 seats, and the main Opposition, the Congress, was limited to 29 seats. Vikas Thakre, Nagpur district president of the Congress, was defeated by the BJP’s Dilip Dive from ward number 37 by 800 votes.The Bahujan Samaj Party won 10 seats, down from 12 seats it had won last time. The Shiv Sena secured two seats, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was limited to just one seat.The BJP carried out an organised campaign in Nagpur, with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari involved in the selection of candidates and campaigning.The NMC election had become a prestigious election for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as he hails from Nagpur. Mr. Fadnavis addressed a meetings in all six Assembly segments of the city and made sure that all six MLAs from Nagpur, MLCs and even Rajya Sabha MPs, actively participated in the campaign.The party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) headquarter is also based in the city. The BJP registered a majority despite denial of tickets to relatives of senior RSS functionaries and Bajrang Dal leaders.In Amravati, the BJP won 45 out of 87 seats in the civic body. The ruling Congress was restricted to 15 seats and the Shiv Sena won only seven seats. The BJP also managed to retain Akola Municipal Corporation by winning 48 out of 80 seats. The Congress won 13 seats, the Shiv Sena eight seats, and the NCP won five seats in the civic body.Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, which was expected to emerge as a kingmaker in Akola, secured only 3 seats.The BJP emerged as a winner in Chandrapur and Wardha zila parishads, and as the single largest party in Buldhana and Gadchiroli zila parishads. The Congress won in the Amaravati zila parishad polls, and the Shiv Sena emerged as the single largest party in Yavatmal zila parishad.
Haryana’s Excise and Taxation Department has allowed 43 liquor shops to resume business after relocating beyond a ‘motorable distance’ of 500 metres from the highway, in the wake of the Supreme Court ban.Dismissing news reports that the process of measuring the motorable distance of these outlets from the highway would be started again from Wednesday, Aruna Singh, Gurgaon Excise and Taxation Commissioner told PTI that officials have already carried out the process for all 289 bars and pubs in Gurgaon.Of them, 115 pubs were found falling within the motorable distance of 500 metres from national highway and have been temporarily closed, she said.‘Motorable distance’ refers to the actual distance traveled to the location as against making the measurement in a straight line from the highway .Ms. Singh said two committees have been formed by the district administration to enforce the apex court order which will also look into disputes that may arise with owners of the closed establishments.“The lands for installing liquor vends were to be chosen by the owners not by the department. Now we have ordered 43 liquor vends which were closed from March 31 to relocate beyond the motorable distance of 500 meters so they can resume business,” she added.The Supreme Court in its March 31 order had said that liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways would have to shut down from April 1. It, however, did not specify how the exercise of measuring the distance should be carried out.Several pubs and bars located in Cyber Hub, Sector 29 and premier hotels like the Leela, Trident, Oberoi and Westin have not been able to sell liquor because of proximity to the NH—8.Many hoteliers whose pubs have been closed have alleged that measuring techniques employed by the Haryana Excise and Taxation department are not reliable.They have demanded the district and town planner measure the motorable distance of their properties from the highway.Meanwhile, a delegation of hoteliers from Haryana headed by Manbeer Choudhary, President of Haryana Restaurants and Hotels Association on Tuesday met D S Dhesi, Haryana Chief Secretary to seek his intervention to resolve the issue.“We met chief secretary D S Dhesi to urge him to help us and give some relief to hoteliers whose pubs are located in Cyber Hub and Sector—29. We also urged him to restart the process of measuring the motorable distance of all hotels of Haryana including Gurgaon,” Choudhary told PTI, adding that they were assured of all possible help.“We have also planned to meet Union minister for Road Transport and Highway, Nitin Gadkari today,” he said.
A constable’s son from volatile south Kashmir and aspirants from far-off places like the Pir Panchal Valley were among 14 candidates from Jammu and Kashmir who cleared the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination on Wednesday.Suhail Qasim, 26, son of head constable Mohammad Qasim Mir, secured the 125th position. Mr. Qasim, a resident of Anantnag’s Bijbehara area, comes from a volatile district. “It was my first attempt. I am proud that I qualified,” said Mr. Qasim. Director General of Police (DGP) S.P. Vaid congratulated the family.Among the top 10Son of a bureaucrat, Bilal Mohiuddin Bhat, a resident of Handwara in north Kashmir, got the 10th rank. “I am so happy. I remember that I passed the prelims the day my daughter Maryam was born on September 19 in 2016,” said Mr. Bhat.Last year 12 candidates from the State cracked the exam.Remote locationsTwo candidates hail from far-off areas of the Pir Panchal Valley in Jammu region.One is Zaffar Iqbal, a resident of Jarran Wali Gali, Mendhar, Poonch, who secured the 39th rank. The other is Inayat Ali, a resident of Sabjian in Darhal, Rajouri, who took the 886th rank.A Srinagar girl, Bisma Qazi, described her feat as a “moment of pride.” “Finally, I have made my family happy,” said Ms. Qazi, a resident of Srinagar’s Rambagh area.Potential of youthCongratulating the candidates, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said their success “has vindicated my belief in the capabilities and potential of the youth.”“These young boys and girls achieved this, despite humble backgrounds and without any special support. Most candidates had similar backgrounds and one thing in common, a desire to do something extraordinary through hard work.”The other candidates selected were Bilal Mohiuddin from Kupwara, Zafar Iqbal from Poonch, Inayat from Darhal, Syed Fakhruddin, Inab Khaliq, Sahil Dhingra, Saqib Yousuf, Faisal Javed, Amir Bashir and Aditya Bhardwaj.
PANAJI: The Goa Police on Saturday arrested a 50-year-old man from Curchorem in South Goa for his alleged involvement in desecrating holy crosses in the last few days.South Goa Superintendent of Police Arvind Gawas told reporters that Francisco Pereira, a former convict, works as a taxi driver. He was caught on Saturday morning while he was allegedly about to desecrate another cross in Curchorem village.“After meticulous and painstaking efforts, the Goa Police have been able to solve the recent cases of desecration of religious places,” said Muktesh Chander, Director General of Police.The police have recorded a video confession of the accused, in which Mr. Pereira has said that he would break holy crosses in order to release “the spirits trapped in them”. He told the police that he has been vandalising crosses since 2003, and has been involved in around 150 desecration cases. A number of crosses, gravestones and an artefact outside a Hindu temple were desecrated in the State over the last few weeks.Talking to The Hindu, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar appreciated the efforts of the Goa Police.Mr. Gawas said Mr. Pereira was a “one-man-squad” with his “own ideology”. Probe demandedThe Council for Social Justice and Peace, a social wing affiliated with the Goa Church, has demanded a judicial probe into the cases, saying the vandalism is part of a larger nationwide conspiracy. Hindu right-wing organisation Hindu Janajagruti Sanstha said the police must investigate whether Mr. Pereira is in any way connected with the Believers, teaching “worship only one God and throw away the idols”. Chetan Rajhans, spokesperson of Sanatan Sanstha, said the government should take action against those disturbing communal harmony by making false allegations against the Sanstha and Sadhvi Saraswati.
Two men, including a freelance photo-journalist, arrested on Tuesday for alleged stone-pelting in Kashmir Valley and mobilising support against security personnel through the social media, were on Wednesday sent to 10-day National Investigating Agency (NIA) custody for interrogation.District Judge Poonam A. Bamba allowed the NIA to quiz Javed Ahmed Bhat from Kulgam and Kamran Yusuf from Pulwama till September 16 after the probe agency said they were required to be confronted with the other accused in the case, court sources said.During in-chamber proceedings, the NIA also said the two had to be taken to various places in relation to the ongoing investigation, the sources said.Continuing with its probe in the funding of terror and separatist activities in the Kashmir Valley, the NIA had on Tuesday arrested Bhat and Yusuf.Hurling stones at forcesAccording to the agency, they were involved in stone-pelting incidents besides organising groups of youths who would throw stones at security personnel involved in counter-insurgency operations.Yusuf, who had often been warned by the local police, was allegedly mobilising the youth and clicking their pictures for circulation in local and national newspapers, it had said.The two also circulated pictures and videos on social networking sites that sparked widespread rumours in the Valley, the officials alleged.The NIA has arrested seven people in the case of alleged funding of terror and subversive activities in the Kashmir Valley to fuel unrest there.The case was registered on issues of raising, receiving and collecting funds through various illegal means, including hawala channels, for funding such activities.
Three Army jawans were on Wednesday injured as Pakistani troops fired from automatic weapons and shelled mortars at forward posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.The Pakistani troops also violated the ceasefire in the Laam sector by briefly opening fire along the LoC, police officials said.The Indian Army is retaliating effectively and the firing is still on, a Defence spokesman said.“The Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars in the Poonch sector along the LoC,” the spokesman said.In the firing, three Army jawans suffered injuries. On Tuesday, an Army jawan was killed when Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Poonch.On October 2, two minors were killed and 12 civilians injured in cross-border shelling by Pakistan along the LoC in Poonch district.Pakistan’s chargeHowever, the Pakistani military on Wednesday alleged that Indian forces targeted civilians along the LoC and killed two children in a mortar attack that hit a house in the Rawalakot sector. A military spokesman said Pakistani troops engaged Indian posts, killing at least three Indian soldiers and injuring five.A brief statement by the military said the Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing along the LoC in Rawalakot and Chirikot sectors. “Unprovoked firing by India targeted locals in Kakuta, Chaffar, Serian and Narakot villages. Mortar rounds hit the house of a civilian, Sakhi Kayani, in Chaffar, whose two children were killed. Pakistan Army posts are effectively engaging Indian posts. Reports say three Indian soldiers are killed and five injured. The Indian posts suffered heavy damage. Intermittent firing continues,” the statement said.(With inputs from Mubashir Zaidi in Karachi)
In yet another case of medical apathy in the country, a man in Bihar capital Patna was forced to carry his 9-year-old daughter’s body on shoulder after being allegedly denied an ambulance by a government hospital. After hospital authorities refused to help him, the distraught man carried his daughter’s body on his shoulder for over 4 km. However, the authorities at the AIIMS hospital refuted the allegations. This is not the first incident when the relatives of a deceased were denied ambulance to carry the body.
The depression over the Bay of Bengal gradually weakened and the intensity of rainfall reduced in Odisha on Saturday, but squally winds prevailed and the sea condition remained rough along the State’s coast.The depression moved north-northeastwards with a speed of 15 kmph and lay centred over the northwest Bay of Bengal 170 km east of Gopalpur and 120 km south-southwest of Paradip, the meteorological centre here said.The system is likely to move north-northeastwards along and off the Odisha coast towards West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh. It is very likely to maintain its intensity during the next 24 hours and weaken gradually into a well-marked low pressure, it said.Rain or thundershower is likely at many places in the coastal region and at one or two places in the interior districts in the next 24 hours, but the intensity was gradually receding, meteorological centre director Sarat Chandra Sahu said.Squally winds with a speed of 45-55 kmph and gusting up to 65 kmph are likely to prevail along and off the coast for the next 24 hours.As sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off the coast during the period, fishermen had been advised not to venture into the sea, the meteorological centre said.Many places in the southern, coastal and interior parts of the State received rainfall of varied intensity in the last two days that caused damage to standing paddy crop, harvested paddy and vegetables in several areas.
The Jammu and Kashmir police said on Friday that a Pune-born woman has been detained and questioned following intelligence reports of the presence of a woman bomber in the Valley ahead of Republic Day.Events marking the Republic Day across the State passed off peacefully amid heightened security.ADGP, Kashmir, Muneer Khan said the woman was arrested on Thursday evening.“Fortunately, after working on all the leads we were able to apprehend the suspect late on Thursday night. We are still verifying whether or not she is a suicide bomber,” said Mr. Khan. The authorities have approached the Maharashtra police “to establish her credentials”.“We are talking to our sister agencies. Only after proper investigation we will be able to come to any conclusion,” said Mr. Khan.Police sources said the woman was held from south Kashmir’s Awantipora area. She was with her mother when she was arrested. “Her associate was also taken into the custody,” said a police official.Intel alertThe arrest came two days after the State intelligence agencies issued an alert saying “there was a string input that an 18-year-old woman may detonate explosions inside or outside the venue of the Republic Day function in the State”.Following the alert, women pedestrians and drivers were frisked and questioned ahead of the Republic Day.Meanwhile, all Republic Day functions passed off peacefully in J&K.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Saturday slammed the Opposition parties for “misguiding” the farmers on Swaminathan Commission report, saying the BJP government had fulfilled most recommendations made by the panel.Addressing a gathering after inaugurating the third Agri Leadership Summit-2018 here, he accused his predecessor Bhupinder Singh Hooda of not implementing the recommendations of the commission report.“The Opposition is trying to misguide the farmers on the issue of Swaminathan Commission report even as the State government has fulfilled maximum recommendations in the report,” the Chief Minister said, adding, “Swaminathan himself is satisfied with the State government’s efforts towards implementing the recommendations of the report.”Expressing his government’s commitment towards the welfare of farmers in the State, he said, “The focus of the government has been on how to raise the income of farmers and their standard of living.”“Hooda was the chairman of the working group of Chief Ministers on agriculture production, but he did nothing for the implementation of the Swaminathan report despite being the Chief Minister up to 2014 and with the Congress also in power at the Centre,” Mr. Khattar said.Asking the progressive farmers to apprise small and marginal growers in their areas about the welfare schemes of the Centre and State governments, he said, “I want to appeal to the progressive farmers that they should make at least 10 small farmers in their areas aware about the government schemes which will help in raising their income. Each district has 50 to 200 progressive farmers and they earn Rs.1 lakh per month per acre.”Crop insuranceThe Chief Minister said keeping in view the risk factor in agriculture, the State government has taken several steps, including implementing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna and Bhavantar Bharpayi Yojna to cover the loss of crops.
Nearly two months after a woman student of the Central University of Punjab was allegedly sexually harassed, the Bathinda police are yet to arrest the accused in the case.While the local police say it is investigating the matter and the accused would be arrested soon, the victim has now alleged that her family was being intimidated in her native village in Odisha.The victim and other students on the campus have urged the Prime Minister’s Office and the Union Human Resource Development Ministry to intervene in the matter to deliver speedy justice.“A woman posing as an official from the Intelligence Bureau visited my home in Odisha last month and told my parents that I was not attending classes regularly and that instead of focusing on my studies, I was doing politics in the university,” the victim said.“I’ll file a complaint with the local police to find out about the lady who posed as an IB official,” she said.The victim had alleged that she was harassed by the cook in the university mess on February 27 night. An FIR was registered at the Kotfatta police station in Bathinda on March 20 after the victim and the university administration approached the police. Soon after the incident, the cook was dismissed. However, the police are yet to trace him.The students have also been demanding that the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment should include their representatives. “It’s important that the committee has student representatives so that cases are dealt with urgently. It will add transparency to its working,” said Deb Kumar Barman, a student.Bathinda SSP Navin Singla told The Hindu that the police was making all efforts to nab the accused.“We have been conducting raids at all such locations where the accused could be hiding. We are in touch with his family and have persuaded them to get him to surrender,” Mr. Singla said.On the victim’s family being intimidated, Mr. Singla said: “We have not received any complaint…However, if the victim approaches us, we will investigate.”
A leopard has reportedly entered Gujarat’s Sachivalaya campus in Gandhinagar on Monday. A massive search operation has been launched to capture the feline.While it is unclear how the leopard sneaked into a guarded premises, footages obtained from CCTV cameras show the animal entering the Secretariat around 1 am.
NGOs in Meghalaya have resented the plea by a judge of the State’s High Court for granting citizenship to migrants from India’s neighbourhood without any questions asked or production of documents.Admitting a petition of an Army recruit denied domicile certificate by the Meghalaya government, Justice S.R. Sen had on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre to grant instantaneous citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.The Modi government had introduced the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 and provide citizenship to non-Muslim migrants believed to have been victims of religious persecution in these three countries. Several parties and organisations in the Northeast are against passage of the Bill in Parliament.The judge also included the Khasis, Jaintias and Garos among those he felt needed unconditional citizenship. A fraction of three principal matrilineal communities of Meghalaya inhabits adjoining areas of Bangladesh.The Khasi Students’ Union said the idea would be disastrous for the indigenous communities in the Northeast. “The KSU is not against any humanitarian venture by the country, but it feels that prior to the implementation of any international humanitarian act, the humanitarian perspective of the microscopic indigenous communities of Northeast India should be taken into account,” union’s general secretary Donald Thabah said.He said that even if 3 million of the 14 million Hindus in Bangladesh are granted instant citizenship, they would wipe out the 1 million ethnic Khasis of Meghalaya and other small indigenous groups of the Northeast.‘Flawed judgment’Thma U-Rangli Juki, a social NGO, too, said the Citizenship Bill and the Justrice Sen’s “flawed and controversial judgment” needed to be opposed. “The judgement sought to characterise India as a ‘Hindu country’ and outlined a narrow religious and ethnographic-centric view of Indian history, which goes against the fundamental, secular and federal character of the Indian republic,” the NGO’s Angela Rangad said.
Rajya Sabha members, including Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien and Congress’ Rajeev Gowda, on Friday assured the transgender community that they will not let the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill pass in the Upper House in its present form and ensure that it is sent to the select committee for modifications.Calling the Bill a dangerous piece of legislation that ignores the issues raised by them, members of the transgender community on Friday staged a protest against it at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.Mr. Gowda said a “massive injustice” is being perpetuated through the Bill. “We saw that without much discussion, the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill, which claims to protect the rights of the transgender community, is actually doing the exact opposite,” he said. “When it comes to Rajya Sabha, there is a whole group of us gathered across party lines who will send it to select committee. That will give us a chance to sit with it, to work on improving it and to counter all the negativity infused by the government into the Bill,” he said. DMK Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi Siva said the Bill is “absurd”. “The government does not even have an idea as to what is a transgender. Going through a medical test to prove that you are a transgender is an insult rather than a right given through the Bill,” he said. Derek O’Brien promised that the Bill will not get passed in Rajya Sabha. “My message is that don’t worry, TMC is the third-largest party in Rajya Sabha and 47 MPs from the party promise that the Bill will not be passed in Rajya Sabha,” Mr. O’Brien said. CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem also promised the party would not let it pass in its current form.
A new draft of industrial policy being prepared in Rajasthan after the recent change of government has laid emphasis on investments and employment generation, while ensuring the participation of all stakeholders. A series of dialogues has been initiated to get the opinion of different industrial sectors.In the first dialogue with representatives of food processing and textile industries held here on Tuesday, key inputs were obtained in the areas such as research and development, export promotion, land conversion and construction of dedicated corridors.State Industries Commissioner Krishna Kant Pathak said the draft would be finalised after the study of similar policies in other States and presented before the stakeholders.‘Resolving issues’“The direct dialogues with the industries will help resolve their issues and facilitate the incorporation of provisions which will speed up Rajasthan’s industrial development.” he said.Industry representatives attending the dialogue, organised at Udyog Bhawan here, raised the issues of giving the status of industry to warehouses, removal of ban on export of mustard oil, abolition of mandi tax, review of fixed power tariff, availability of natural gas and the loss caused by lack of conversion of fabric into apparel.
After 32 years, the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which gives sweeping powers to security forces, was partially removed from three of nine districts of Arunachal Pradesh but would remain in force in the areas bordering Myanmar, officials said here.The State, which was formed on February 20, 1987, had inherited the controversial AFSPA enacted by Parliament in 1958 and applied to the entire State of Assam and the Union Territory of Manipur. After Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland came into being, the Act was appropriately adapted to apply to these states as well.The Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy committee had recommended scrapping of the AFSPA from the State. Under the Act, the security forces can arrest anyone or carry out searches in any premises. The Ministry of Home Affairs said in a notification that the four police station areas in Arunachal Pradesh, which were declared “disturbed areas” under the AFSPA, are no longer under the purview of the special law from Sunday.The police station areas from where the AFSPA has been withdrawn are Balemu and Bhalukpong police stations in West Kameng district, Seijosa police station in East Kameng district and Balijan police station in Papumpare district.However, according to the notification, the AFSPA will continue to be enforced in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts and areas under the jurisdiction of Namsai and Mahadevpur police stations in Namsai district, Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district and Sunpura in Lohit district for six more months till September 30.A Home Ministry official said the “disturbed area” tag was withdrawn from the four police station areas due to the improvement of law and order situation there and it will continue in other areas in view of continuing activities of banned insurgent groups of the Northeast.The notification said the Union Home Ministry took the decision exercising its powers conferred under section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. A review of the law and order situation in Arunachal Pradesh’s six districts was undertaken before the March 31 deadline for the validity of the “disturbed area” designation under the AFSPA. In March last year, the AFSPA was removed completely from Meghalaya following improvement in security situation. The AFSPA is imposed in areas where armed forces are required to operate in aid to civil authorities. For the AFSPA to become valid, an area, however, needs to be declared disturbed either by the Central or the state government under the section 3 of the 1958 Act. Some parts of Arunachal Pradesh has the presence of banned militant outfits such as NSCN, ULFA and NDFB, another official said.
Mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir reacted sharply on Friday to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s description of Article 35A as “constitutionally vulnerable” and “an impediment to the economic development of J&K”.“J&K’s special status guaranteed under Article 35A of the constitution has been under threat from the BJP. J&K’s not the only State in the country that has special status and identity,” former chief minister and vice-president of the National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah said in Srinagar.‘Others enjoy protection’“North East, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar or Lakshadweep have special status and their own identity under the same Indian Constitution. Why is it always that J&K has to face the onslaught of these right wing parties?” Mr Abdullah said.“To some extent Pakistan was responsible for the militancy in Kashmir but Central government and the State also created such situation that paved way for militancy here,” he added.Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senior leader Naeem Akhtar accused the BJP of “trying to convert constitutional relationship between J&K and the Union into an occupation”.Room for investment“It is unfortunate the Sangh Parivar has fielded lawyers to oppose the Supreme Court orders, which have upheld Art.35A not once but twice in the past. Mr Jaitley should know J&K has ample room for investment by non-state subjects. The industrial activity in Jammu is run by non-state subject investors,” said Mr. Akhtar.CPI (M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the Finance Minister’s assertion “reveals the intentions of the saffron party towards J&K’s special status”.“State subject law was passed by the Maharaja in 1927 and it was incorporated in the Constitution through negotiations and carried forward. As such, Article 35A flows inevitably from Article 370 of the Indian Constitution,” he said.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday filed her nomination from Rae Bareli with her son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Vadra Gandhi by her side. After a brief roadshow, the Congress leader went to the Collectorate to file her papers with a large number of Congress supporters carrying party flags and banners cheering her all along the route.Offers ‘puja’ Before starting the road show, she offered ‘puja’ at the Congress office where her son-in-law Robert Vadra and grandson Rehan were also present. The former Congress president is aiming for a fifth victory from the parliamentary constituency, in a straight contest against Dinesh Pratap Singh, who recently joined the BJP after quitting her party. Polling in Rae Bareli will be held in the fifth phase on May 6.
Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate’s version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States’ part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER.But the fate of the U.S. ITER effort is hardly sealed. Appropriators in the House of Representatives released their version of the proposed DOE budget on 18 June and not only supported continued U.S. participation in ITER, but also proposed giving the project $225 million next year. The House total is $75 million more than what the White House had requested. Moreover, the Senate bill that would fund DOE—the so-called energy and water bill—hangs in limbo, thanks to the political battle over the Obama administration’s plan to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to set new limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, especially those that burn coal.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The Senate move should come as no surprise, as key members have been critical of ITER’s massive cost overruns and mounting delays. When the United States signed on in 2006 to build 9% of ITER’s parts and subsystems, the U.S. effort was expected to cost $1.1 billion and ITER was expected to start its key energy-producing runs in 2013. In April, DOE officials estimated that the cost of the U.S. share of the construction had risen to $3.9 billion and that those key runs would not start until 2033. And last month, the Government Accountability Office found that, thanks to the lack of a credible schedule for the project as a whole, even those estimates are not reliable. Given the situation, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA), the chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, warned at a 9 April subcommittee hearing that the U.S. program could be in jeopardy. “This may be an opportunity to experience the power of the purse,” she said.As the subcommittee followed through on that threat, even a senator from a state directly involved in the U.S. ITER project spoke in favor of ending it. U.S. ITER has its headquarters at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Nevertheless, at a 17 June subcommittee meeting on the budget bill covering DOE, Senator Lamar Alexander (R–TN), the ranking member on the Energy and Water Subcommittee, said that ITER hasn’t shown the progress it should. “We’ve withdrawn funding for the program,” he said, and “that saves taxpayers $75 million this year, and at least $3.9 billion, and potentially $6.5 billion, over the life of the project.”To kill ITER, Senate appropriators will have to persuade the White House and their counterparts in the House to go along. That may be a tough sell, as the report that accompanies the House version of the energy and water bill says that ITER “remains the most practical U.S. investment in the fusion energy sciences.” However, the House bill warns that lawmakers will have to reconsider that position if the international ITER organization does not implement a raft of management reforms specified last year by an external review panel.Before negotiations between the Senate and House can begin, Senate appropriators must first get their version of the energy and water bill out of committee. The bill has been stalled by political wrangling over a proposed amendment by Senator Mitch McConnell (R–KY) which would eliminate funding for enforcing new EPA climate regulations unless the secretary of energy certified that they would not cost jobs or raise the price of electricity. Avoiding a politically tricky vote on the amendment, Democratic senators scotched a 19 June hearing and vote on the bill by the full Appropriations Committee.
A debate among scientists over climate change and conflict has turned ugly. At issue is the question of whether the hotter temperatures and chaotic weather produced by climate change are causing higher rates of violence. A new analysis refutes earlier research that found a link, and the two lead researchers are exchanging some pointed remarks.Last year, a team of U.S. researchers reported a robust connection between climate and violence in Science. But in a critique published online yesterday in Climatic Change, a team of mostly European researchers dismissed the connection as “inconclusive.” The Science authors are hitting back, claiming that the critics are fudging the statistics and even manipulating their figures. The new analysis “is entirely based on surprisingly bold misrepresentations of our article, the literature, basic statistics, and their own findings,” says Solomon Hsiang, the lead author of the Science paper and an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.Numerous past studies have found a correlation between heat waves and violence, manifesting as conflicts between individuals and between groups. Demonstrating a direct connection between climate change and violence on a global scale, however, is tricky. It requires a meta-analysis of hundreds of already published studies that have slightly different techniques and measurement scales. Hsiang’s team performed just such a meta-analysis and grabbed headlines with their findings that a changing climate appeared to be amping up conflict.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The Science paper was met with some skepticism, however, and some of those skeptics have been building their case. The Climatic Change critique is authored by Halvard Buhaug, an economist at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and co-signed by 25 of his colleagues. The problem, Buhaug wrote in an e-mail to ScienceInsider, is that the meta-analysis “blends all sorts of actors at all sorts of spatial and temporal scales. … [They] draw sweeping conclusions that, supposedly, are robust and apply across scales and types of violent conflict. Of course that doesn’t make sense. But it works if you seek attention.” He also accuses Hsiang’s team of “severe bias in sample selection” and says that his analysis of the same data did not support the climate-conflict link.Why critique the research now? The study “appears to have had some influence on policy thinking,” Buhaug wrote, citing a recent U.S. Department of Defense road map on addressing climate change in military planning and another report by the CNA Corporation on climate change and security. Such official statements “reinforce the impression that the climate-conflict link is considered uncontroversial in policy circles,” Buhaug wrote. “As scientists and experts on this issue, we see it as our duty to provide a more balanced message.”Hsiang in standing by his analysis. In a detailed, blow-by-blow blog post responding to the new paper, Hsiang charges Buhaug with basic mathematical errors that undermine his conclusion. In an e-mail to ScienceInsider, Hsiang also accuses Buhaug’s group of “doctoring the display of their figures.” (The evidence of that alleged doctoring is laid out in Hsiang’s blog post.)The spat has other researchers exasperated. “What is frustrating is that they can’t work together,” says Andrew Solow, a statistician at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, who is associated with neither side. “Why can’t they get together and thrash these issues out? Even if they don’t come to an agreement, they could explore alternative modeling choices and their implications.”Solow adds that he is “not a big fan” of meta-analysis, in part because the technique sparks disputes like these. Rather than directly addressing the scientific question of whether climate change is causing an increase in conflict, he says, “this disagreement is over the degree to which studies of the climate-conflict link agree [with each other].”