Showing posts with label news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

PM Narendra Modi speaks on Kashmir Violence in a high profile meeting with Cabinet members and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairing a high-level meeting to take stock of the on-going violence in Kashmir. The Prime Minister returned early this morning after concluding his four-nation Africa tour aimed at enhancing ties with the continent. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, meanwhile, has cancelled his visit to the United States in view of the on-going situation. He was to attend the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue.

The meeting is expected to be attended by senior members of the cabinet including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar among others. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is also likely to attend the meeting.

On Monday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh reached out to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah and discussed solutions to the on-going unrest.

Singh also held a meeting earlier in the day with senior officials of the Home Ministry and security agencies and directed them to take measures to ensure swift return of normalcy. An additional 800 CRPF personnel were rushed to Kashmir as reinforcements for the 1,200 CRPF personnel sent earlier to assist the state administration.

Strict restrictions continue to remain inposed across Kashmir valley. Militant commander Burhan Wani was killed in South Kashmir last week. Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi
NSA Ajit Doval, who was with Prime Minister Modi on his Africa trip, cut short his visit and returned to the national capital on Monday, confident that solutions to the unrest will be arrived at.

“If there are problems, there are solutions. We are quite confident and competent of finding solutions,” Doval told PTI.

He attended a meeting chaired by Singh and attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and MoS in the PMO Jitendra Singh.

The Valley is seeing protests after security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last week. The death toll has risen to 30, including the death of one police official.

Meanwhile, the CPM has asked the government to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the unrest.

“The administration should desist from using excessive force against the protesters… Those responsible for killing innocent unarmed protesters must be identified and punished,” the party said in a statement.

UN expresses concern

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir amid rising tensions in the valley following the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani last week.

Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that the UN Chief has noted with concern the situation unfolding in Kashmir.

Dujarric rejected remarks by a Pakistani journalist, saying “no one is denying that we are concerned about the situation in Kashmir. The fact that the Secretary General did not raise it as he did not raise many other critical situations around the world does not mean that he is brushing anything aside.”

Source IndianExpress
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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Curfew in Kashmir after the death of rebel leader Burhan Wani

An indefinite curfew has been imposed by the Indian government in Kashmir after the rebel commander Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian forces.Killing Burhan Wani has been said as an achievement for the Indian forces against those opposed to the Indian rule.

The residents of Kashmir area , which includes a number of towns and cities , are told to stay inside their homes by forces present in Kashmir.

Burhan Wani is the chief of operations of Indian Kashmir’s largest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen.He was killed in fighting on Friday after Indian troops, acting on a tip, cordoned a forested village in the Kokernag area, said police director general K Rajendra.

In his early 20s, Wani had become the face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years. He was a household name and his video clips and pictures were widely circulated among young people in Kashmir. Unlike the rebel leaders of the early 1990s, Wani did not cover his face in videos widely circulated on phones and the internet.

Insp Genl Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described the killing as the “biggest success against militants” in recent years. As news of his death spread, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in several places in Kashmir, denouncing his death and chanting slogans against Indian rule.

Indian officials, fearing more violent protests in the troubled region, suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a mountain cave which draws about half a million people each year. Officials also suspended mobile phone services in southern parts of Kashmir and blocked mobile internet in the rest of the region to prevent anti-India demonstrators from massing.

Shops, businesses, schools and government offices were shut following the security lockdown and a general strike called by anti-India separatists. Authorities also postponed school and college examinations and suspended rail services.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in entirety by both. On India’s side, separatist politicians and rebels reject India’s sovereignty over Kashmir and have been fighting for independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989. Separatist leaders asked people to march to southern Tral town for Wani’s funeral on Saturday.

Rajendra said Wani’s body was handed over to the family but warned that no one would be allowed to march to Tral. “Only locals would be allowed to participate in his funeral,” he said. However, hundreds of protesters came out in several neighbourhoods in southern Kashmir, chanting: “Go India! Go back,” and: “We want freedom.”

Most citizens in the mostly Muslim region have long resented the Indian presence, and support rebel demands for independent or merging with Pakistan. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over control of Kashmir, since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.

Source Guardian 
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Monday, 18 January 2016

Bihar 's IT Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary under scrutiny as photos with snakes go viral

Photos of Bihar Education and IT Minister Ashok Kumar Choudhary holding snakes have gone viral on the internet, prompting the Grand Alliance partners to voice disapproval.

One photo shows Choudhary, also the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee chief, holding a snake at home. Another shows state Congress vice-president Subodh Kumar seeking his blessings.
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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Editorial : The Silence of the Dadri event

Since the past few days there have been a lot of talks regarding an event where a man was killed because he ate beef. The man belonged to the Muslim community. It really saddened me, as even in the 21st century, where the world science is in its prime, there are some people in my country who are fighting in the name of religion. Religion fights happen in many other nations but since I belong to India it is my duly responsibility to start the charity with home. Now let’s address the most debatable part of the issue, every person in the media or in the opposite political party wants Modi to speak about it. First of all, what do we want him to speak? That he condemn the death, he’ll give some benefits to the family of the victim and so on. Isn’t it obvious? 

Still despite so many issues going on, the most talked about one is the silence of the prime minister over a death of a common poor man. Ironically, if the man was killed for some other reason, will the media ask for prime minister’s words on it? Will then the other political leaders ask for the prime minister to go and meet the family? Now my point is, giving special emphasis to one communal event shows your communalism, not the person who is treating it like every other criminal event that happens is the country and is solved by the process as defined in the law. It is the people who are raising it real viruses of this disease not the prime minister who is silent.

 There are some decisions of the prime minster that intrigued me, about which I may write later, but this is something in which I completely support him. This is not just one time thing but has been happening since a BJP leader became the prime minister. We all know RSS is infamous as a religious oriented party but looks like the odds are turning against the people who are using this again and again to put them down and this time they made a mockery of a death of an innocent person and that too on a worldwide platform, i.e. social network. Sad to see world’s greatest democracy turning into a hypocrisy.

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Friday, 30 May 2014

Indian-Americans jointly win the Spelling Bee

Washington, May 30 (PTI) Two Indian-Americans - Sriram J Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe - today scripted history by becoming co-champions of the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee, after a thrilling final in which they almost exhausted the 25 designated words, the first tie since 1962.

This is the seventh consecutive year that Indian- Americans have retained the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which was watched live by millions of people in the US.
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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Chinese man smashes 7 newborn puppies to death, sparks anger -

A Chinese man has killed seven newborn puppies by smashing their heads to the ground while a young woman decapitated a kitten and posted the bloody pictures on the internet, sparking an outrage among netizens. An online post shows that a feeder, identified as Feng, at a dog shelter in China's eastern Zhejiang province killed seven newborn puppies in front of the mother dog. Photos showed the middle-aged man smashing the puppies one by one against a marble step while their mom, a ginger-haired dog, watched helplessly from a cage. The incident created revulsion among the netizens who denounced the horrific cruelty. Feng has been removed from his post, state-run China News Service reported. The mother dog is still at the shelter, but it will be put to sleep in a few days as it was abandoned by its owner. Most netizens said the shelter should have been a refuge for stray dogs, but it became more of a slaughter center. And some said as a shelter, it should treat dogs ethically and humanely. In another ghastly internet visual, Li Pingping, a former marketing consultant in Guangdong province beheaded a kitten in her bathroom on Friday, less than two weeks after she purchased it. Li posted the pictures of the dismembered cat that night on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter. As the photos went viral, netizens unleashed a flurry of comments decrying the brutal act, with many calling the woman "insane" and "out of her mind", the report said. Amid the flood of verbal attacks, the woman said she took her anger out on the cat because her family had been destroyed by her father's extramarital affair. She told people to "back off" and stop judging her, which fuelled even more online resentment. Li later deleted her posts. As pressure from the public mounted, Li also apologised in an open letter on Monday in which she said she abused the cat under the influence of alcohol and domestic misfortune, and that she has been living in fear and guilt over the past few days. The letter drew more than 60,000 comments by Tuesday. The incidents of animal brutality in recent weeks have shocked people in China. In April, around 100 stray dogs were buried alive in a pit near a garbage dump in Alxa Left Banner, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. In May 2013, dozens of stray cats were slaughtered in a residential district in Beijing, with the fur of the animals almost completely ripped off. Sun Daqiang, a professor of psychology at Beijing Normal University, said people abuse animals because they are unable to find a proper outlet for their suppressed emotions. He said they tend to vent their feelings by attacking things that appear to be weaker than humans, such as cats and dogs.
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Personal history questioned, renowned anti-sex slavery activist quits -

Somaly Mam, a file picture.
One of the world's best-known anti-sex slavery activists has resigned from her foundation after questions were raised about her shocking story of being sold into a brothel as a child. Somaly Mam, a glamorous and energetic Cambodian campaigner, boasts a string of celebrity supporters and has been named a CNN hero of the year, but recently she has been at the centre of controversy. Her decision to step down follows an investigation by the US-Cambodia, based law firm Goodwin Procter into her personal history, according to a statement released late Wednesday by her eponymous foundation, which did not reveal what the probe had uncovered. "While we are extremely saddened by this news, we remain grateful to Somaly's work over the past two decades and for helping to build a foundation that has served thousands of women and girls, and has raised critical awareness of the nearly 21 million individuals who are currently enslaved today," the statement said. Mam says she was sold into a brothel as a child by her "grandfather" and repeatedly raped and abused until, after seeing a friend killed in front of her, she escaped. "I was completely broken," she told AFP in an interview in 2012. But the English-language newspaper The Cambodia Daily and Newsweek magazine have reported what they say are inconsistencies in her account. The Newsweek story, titled "Somaly Mam: The Holy Saint (and Sinner) of Sex Trafficking", said its own interviews with the activist's childhood acquaintances, teachers and local officials contradicted important parts of her autobiography. The foundation said it had also severed links with another supposed victim of sex trafficking, Long Pros. Pros's family told Newsweek that she was never a victim of sex trafficking, despite her story that as a young sex slave she was tortured with electric wires and had an eye gouged out by an angry pimp. Another girl has confessed that her story was fabricated and carefully rehearsed for the cameras under Mam's instruction, the report said. Mam is no stranger to controversy. In 2011 she allowed a New York Times correspondent to "live-tweet" a brothel raid in Cambodia - a move slammed by other campaigners as a PR stunt. She also takes a controversially hardline stance that all sex workers are victims. Her foundation said that despite its "heartfelt disappointment" it would carry on but on a "revised course". "Our work changes lives and we remain dedicated to it," the statement said. There are more than 34,000 commercial sex workers in Cambodia, according to a 2009 government estimate. -
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Narendra Modi unveils broad policy priorities, asks ministers to set 100-day agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled his broad policy priorities on Thursday, instructing his ministers to prepare their respective agenda for the first 100 days in office and ensure their time-bound delivery. Modi told his cabinet to focus on efficient governance, delivery and implementation of projects and to work closely with states to ensure the collective progress of the country. He spelled out 10 broad policy priorities that included boosting infrastructure and investment, a stable policy ecosystem and a freer hand to the bureaucracy to implement plans. "The Prime Minister issued guidelines to the ministers … He asked the ministers to set a timetable for the first 100 days listing the priorities," parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after attending the cabinet meeting chaired by Modi. "State proposals should not be kept pending for long. There is a need to take the states along," Naidu said, reflecting a view that Modi as chief minister of Gujarat had frequently pushed for. Still, Thursday’s announcements appeared lacking in detail as to what the government would grasp first given the scale of the country’s economic problems, including high prices, poor public finances and a waning of interest among investors. Expectations from Modi remain sky high and his government must deliver fast on creating jobs and building infrastructure to justify his powerful mandate to reform the ailing economy.

But Naidu refused to clarify what the government’s top focus was.

"Containing inflation is an obvious priority for the government," he said. “All sectors are a priority (for the Prime Minister) and expectations are high,” Naidu said, adding that agriculture and women’s security were also focus areas.

He also said Parliament will sit from June 4 for the first time since the election to swear in new lawmakers and select a speaker of the house on June 6. Congress’ Kamal Nath would be the temporary speaker of Lok Sabha until then.

In signs that the Prime Minister’s Office would become the most important policy making centre, Modi told his ministers that he would, from time to time, directly interact with secretaries of various departments.
He also urged his cabinet to give ample work to the ministers of state (Mos).

“But an MoS is an MoS. Try to understand. A cabinet minister is responsible. They have to segregate work,” Naidu said.

“He cannot give total decision-making to an MoS. But certain work has to be given to the MoS so that they have the satisfaction of having some role.”

Modi’s 10-point agenda:
1. Building confidence in the bureaucracy

2. Welcoming innovative ideas and giving freedom to bureaucrats in their work

3. Education, health, water, energy and roads will be given priority

4. Transparency in the government. E-auction will be promoted

5. A system will be in place for inter-ministerial issues

6. A people-oriented system to be put in place in the government machinery

7. Addressing concerns related to the economy

8. Infrastructure and investment reforms

9. Implementing policy in a time-bound manner

10. Stability in government policy
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Sharif raised Kashmir issue during meeting with Modi: Aziz

Islamabad, May 28 (PTI) The Kashmir issue was raised by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his first meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, a top Pakistani advisor said today, discounting reports that the issue was sidelined during the talks.

All contentious issues were discussed during the 45-minute meeting between Sharif and Modi in New Delhi, said Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister's Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs.
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Row over Article 370 escalates

Srinagar/New Delhi, May 28 (PTI)
The row over Article 370 escalated today with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asking the Centre to make known the "stakeholders" it was talking to for repealing special status to Jammu and Kashmir and RSS saying no one should take any offence to a call for a debate.
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mukul Rohatgi appointed new Attorney General of India

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi will be the new Attorney General of India following change in government at the Centre.
Mukul Rohatagi
The eminent Supreme Court lawyer told PTI that he has been offered the office of the top law officer in the goverenment and he has given consent to it.
"I have given my consent but it has to be officially announced," he said.
Rohatgi, who will take over from G E Vahanvati as the 14th AG of the country, said, his top priority as Attorney General would be to "streamline litigations in the Supreme Court."
"I will see that the superior courts are not flooded with frivolous and petty litigations," he said, adding he would make all efforts to check that the government does not involve itself in inter-ministerial litigations.
"I will see and work out that the government department does not involve in litigations with each other," Rohatgi, who had also served as an Additional Solicitor General during previous NDA regime, said.


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Anti-World Cup protesters march on Brasilia stadium, face tear gas

A native Brazilian stands in front of the Mane Garrincha soccer stadium as police use tear gas to impede a group of Indians from approaching it during a demonstration in Brasilia, May 27, 2014.

(Reuters) - Police fired tear gas canisters to contain anti-World Cup demonstrators who tried to march to the Brasilia stadium where the soccer tournament's trophy was on public display on Tuesday.
The protest by more than 1,000 people snarled rush hour traffic in the Brazilian capital adjacent to the Mané Garrincha National Stadium, the most costly stadium built for the 32-nation sports event that begins in 16 days.
Adding to the tension, Indians in traditional tribal dress with bows drawn joined the protesters from the Homeless Worker's movement. The group says building stadiums to host the World Cup was too costly, caused real estate prices to soar and forced lower-income families out of their homes.
Brazil is rushing to finish stadiums and urban transport systems in time for the World Cup in a climate of growing civil disobedience by groups of Brazilians who seek to disrupt the event saying its cost was excessive for a developing nation.
The World Cup now serves as a backdrop to push for variety of causes, and bus drivers in Rio de Janeiro said on Tuesday they would start a 24-hour strike at midnight while professors marched down Sao Paulo's main thruway to demand a raise.
Local soccer fans lined up outside the Brasilia stadium to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy, which is touring the 12 cities hosting the games, but the protest march forced authorities to cancel the trophy display and close the stadium.
The Brasilia protest follows a peaceful march led by the same group in Sao Paulo last week. That protest of several thousand held up traffic in South America's business hub and spurred fears that more protests and even violence could disrupt the month-long World Cup when it starts on June 12.
A spokesman for the military police said Tuesday's protest started peacefully and that police were trying to contain the march with tear gas and walls of shield-bearing police. But if the demonstrators reached the stadium, they would have to intervene, the spokesman said.
Brasilia's stadium will cost 1.9 billion reais ($849.26 million) when the surrounding landscaping is finished after the World Cup, city auditors said in a report published last week, almost three times the price tag first budgeted.
Though they have not previously joined anti-World Cup protests, Indians have routinely protested in Brasilia against efforts to change the rules around how Indian reservations boundaries are determined. They invaded Congress while it was in session on several occasions last year.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has promised the Homeless Worker's movement that squatters who have gathered around some of the stadiums will receive low-cost government housing. But her government has warned that it will call in troops if necessary to prevent protests disrupting the soccer games.
Some 600,000 foreign soccer fans are expected to travel to Brazil for the World Cup.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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Pakistan woman stoned to death by family for marrying man she loved

Mohammad Iqbal sits next to his wife Farzana's body, who was killed by family members, in an ambulance outside of a morgue in Lahore May 27, 2014.

(Reuters) - A 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family outside one of Pakistan's top courts on Tuesday in a so-called "honor" killing for marrying the man she loved, police said.
Farzana Iqbal was waiting for the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore to open when a group of around dozen men began attacking her with bricks, said Umer Cheema, a senior police officer.
Her father, two brothers and former fiance were among the attackers, he said. Iqbal suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead in hospital, police said.
All the suspects except her father escaped. He admitted killing his daughter, Cheema said, and explained it was a matter of honor. Many Pakistani families think a woman marrying her own choice of man brings dishonor on the family.
Iqbal had been engaged to her cousin but married another man, Cheema said. Her family registered a kidnapping case against him but Iqbal had come to court to argue that she had married of her own free will, he said.
Around 1,000 Pakistani women are killed every year by their families in honor killings, according to Pakistani rights group the Aurat Foundation.
The true figure is probably many times higher since the Aurat Foundation only compiles figures from newspaper reports. The government does not compile national statistics.
Campaigners say few cases come to court, and those that do can take years to be heard. No one tracks how many cases are successfully prosecuted.
Even those that do result in a conviction may end with the killers walking free. Pakistani law allows a victim's family to forgive their killer.
But in honor killings, most of the time the women's killers are her family, said Wasim Wagha of the Aurat Foundation. The law allows them to nominate someone to do the murder, then forgive him.
"This is a huge flaw in the law," he said. "We are really struggling on this issue."
(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tendulkar names his football team ''Kerala Blasters''

Thiruvananthapuram, May 27 (PTI) The Kochi team for the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament, co-owned by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, has been named 'Kerala Blasters'.

The name was announced by state chief minister Oommen Chandy after his brief meeting with Tendulkar here Tuesday.

Tendulkar also accepted Chandy's request to be Goodwill Ambassador of the National Games, to be held in Kerala in January-February 2015 .
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Modi government constitutes SIT to unearth black money

New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) In the first decision after assuming office, the Narendra Modi government today constituted a special investigative team (SIT) to unearth black money.

The SIT will be headed by former Supreme Court judge M B Shah and will include Revenue Secretary, CBI and IB directors, Enforcement Directorate official, CBDT Chairman and RBI deputy governor. Former Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat will be the vice-chairman of the panel.
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Maneka allotted previous Coal Minister's office

New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) Animal rights activist and environmentalist Maneka Gandhi, who has been given the Women and Child Development portfolio, will assume charge of her office in Shastri Bhavan tomorrow.

She has been allotted an office on third floor which was occupied by the Coal minister in the previous UPA government.
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Acquisition of weapons systems to be speeded up: Jaitley

New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) The process of acquiring weapon systems for the armed forces has slowed down and needs to be accelerated while ensuring that there are no "avoidable controversies", Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

In his first meeting with the Defence Ministry officials after taking over, Jaitley also reviewed the security situation in and around the country and promised all possible support to the armed forces in the modernisation process.
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Malaysia, UK satellite firm release data on missing flight, say families

A policeman takes a nap beside a board written with messages for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 during a closed meeting held between Malaysian representatives and Chinese relatives of passengers on Flight MH370 at Lido Hotel in Beijing May 2, 2014.

(Reuters) - Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation and British satellite firm Inmarsat on Tuesday released the data used to determine the path of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, following mounting calls from passengers' relatives for greater transparency.
Relatives of passengers on the missing flight said they had received the data report compiled by Inmarsat and Malaysian officials and they published it on their Facebook page.
The data communications log comprises 14 pieces of data from seven "handshakes," or pairs of numbers, between the aircraft and the satellite, Inmarsat said last week. One number is time information, the other is frequency.
The Boeing 777 with 239 passengers and crew disappeared on March 8 during a scheduled service between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and is believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean, off western Australia.
(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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Battle at Donetsk airport; new Ukraine leader says no talks with 'terrorists'

A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires its cannons against rebels at the main terminal building of Donetsk international airport May 26, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

(Reuters) - Ukraine launched air strikes and a paratrooper assault against pro-Russian rebels who seized an airport on Monday, as its newly elected leader rejected any talks with "terrorists" and said a robust military campaign in the east should be able to put down a separatist revolt in "a matter of hours".
Ukrainians rallied overwhelmingly in Sunday's election behind Petro Poroshenko, a political veteran and billionaire owner of chocolate factories, hoping the burly 48-year-old can rescue the nation from the brink of bankruptcy, civil war and dismemberment by its former Soviet masters in the Kremlin.
Monday's rapid military response to separatists who seized the airport in Donetsk was a defiant answer to Moscow, which said it was ready for dialogue with Poroshenko but demanded he first scale back the armed forces' campaign in the east.
Even as the fighting was getting under way, Poroshenko held a news conference in Kiev where he said the government's military offensive needed to be "quicker and more effective".
"The anti-terrorist operation should not last two or three months. It should last for a matter of hours," he said.
As for the rebel fighters: "They want to preserve a bandit state which is held in place by force of arms," he said. "These are simply bandits. Nobody in any civilized state will hold negotiations with terrorists."
Gunfire and explosions could be heard as a warplane flew over Donetsk's Sergei Prokofiev International Airport, hours after truckloads of armed rebel fighters arrived and seized a terminal. Thick black smoke rose from within the perimeter.
The government said its jets had strafed the area with warning shots and then struck a location where rebels were concentrated, scattering the fighters before paratroops were flown in to face them.
Eight hours after it began, fighting was continuing after nightfall and had spread to residential neighborhoods nearby.
"Fighting continues in the airport, with the use of planes and helicopters," said separatist leader Denis Pushilin. "It's a full-blown military standoff. I have no information on casualties. Our groups have destroyed one helicopter of the enemy."
At one point, three Ukrainian Mi-24 helicopter gunships fired rockets and cannon at the concrete and glass terminal. More plumes of black smoke shot up into the air as the helicopters fired at targets on the runway. The gunships threw out decoy flares as fighters shot at them from the ground.
The airport serves a city of 1 million people that the rebels have proclaimed capital of an independent "people's republic", and where they succeeded in blocking all voting in Sunday's election.
Their attempt to seize the airport may have been intended to prevent Poroshenko from travelling there: he has said his first trip in office would be to visit the restive east.
Russia's foreign ministry urged Kiev to halt what it called "military operations against its own people" and said it wanted the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to investigate clashes with pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk.
Pushilin called for "any available help from the Russian people".
Preliminary results, with 80 percent of the vote counted, gave Poroshenko 54.1 percent of the vote - towering over a field of 21 candidates with enough support to avert a run-off. His closest challenger, former premier Yulia Tymoshenko, had just 13.1 percent and made clear she would concede.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Sarajevo he was glad no run-off would be required and that people would have to respect the new president's legitimacy. He also acknowledged Poroshenko had his work cut out to heal Ukraine's regional divide.
"The doors are open to him, but there is no political paradise awaiting," he said. "He will have to bridge a gap between the country's east and west, and I sincerely hope that he will be able to do so."
Poroshenko's most urgent task is finding a modus vivendi with the giant neighbor that has seemed poised to carve Ukraine up since mass protests in Kiev toppled a pro-Russian president in February.
Sorting out a dispute over the supply of Russian gas to Ukraine will also be high on the agenda.
Poroshenko said Moscow's "argument about legitimacy has disappeared" as he had also topped the polls among those who were able to cast ballots in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
"I hope Russia will support efforts to tackle the situation in the east," Poroshenko said. He said he planned to meet Russian officials in the first half of June.
But he showed no sign of heeding Moscow's demand that he call off the operation against rebels in the east.
"Protecting people is one of the functions of the state," he said, promising to invest more in the army. "The Ukrainian soldier should no longer be naked, barefoot and hungry."
So far, Ukraine's military forces have had little success against rebels who have declared independent "people's republics" in two provinces of the eastern industrial heartland where about 20 people have been killed in recent days.
Ukrainian officials say they have held back from using full force in part to avoid provoking an invasion from tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the frontier. Questions have also been raised about Ukrainian forces' training, equipment and loyalties.
Monday's fighting began after a Reuters photographer saw three truckloads bring dozens of armed men to the airport.
"The rebels are in the terminal. The rest of the airport is controlled by the Ukrainian national guard," airport spokesman Dmitry Kosinov told Reuters before gunfire broke out.
The Ukrainian joint forces security operation in the region said a deadline for the rebels to surrender expired and two Sukhoi Su-25 jets carried out strafing runs, firing warning shots. A MiG-29 jet later carried out another air strike.
The militants then spread out across the territory of the airport, whose state-of-the-art main terminal was built for the 2012 European soccer championships held in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who last month described eastern Ukraine as "New Russia", has made more accommodating noises in recent days. He promised at the weekend that Moscow would respect the will of Ukrainians, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated that promise on Monday in saying Russia was ready for dialogue with Poroshenko.
Western countries put little faith in Putin's promises, saying he has repeatedly announced he would pull troops from the frontier without doing so. They dismiss Russia's denials it has aided the rebels, whose Donetsk force is led by a mustachioed Muscovite the EU says is a Russian military intelligence agent.
But Poroshenko's victory could ease pressure for extending sanctions against Russia when EU government leaders meet in Brussels on Tuesday evening.
"We are not going to go forward on this for the moment," one senior EU diplomat told reporters on Monday.
Even though separatists ensured that millions of Ukrainians were unable to vote in the eastern regions, Poroshenko's sweeping margin of victory gives him a firm mandate that makes it harder for Moscow to dismiss him as illegitimate, as it did in the case of the interim leaders he will replace.
Many Ukrainians clearly rallied behind the frontrunner as a way to demonstrate national unity, three months after a pro-Russian president was ousted in a popular revolt and Moscow responded by seizing the Crimea peninsula, massing troops on the frontier and expressing sympathy with armed separatists.
A veteran survivor of Ukraine's feuding political class, Poroshenko has served in cabinets led by figures from both sides of Ukraine's pro- and anti-Russian divide, giving him a reputation as a pragmatist who can bridge differences. That could shield him from the accusations of strident nationalism Moscow aimed at the interim leaders.
He threw his weight and money behind the revolt that brought down his Moscow-backed predecessor in February and campaigned on a platform of strengthening ties with Europe.
Yet it remains unclear how the tycoon can turn firmly westward as long as Russia, Ukraine's major market and vital energy supplier, seems determined to maintain a hold over the second most populous ex-Soviet republic.
"He has taken a heavy burden on his shoulders," said Larisa, a schoolteacher who was among crowds watching the results on Independence Square, where pro-Western "EuroMaidan" protests ended in bloodshed in February that prompted President Viktor Yanukovich to flee to Russia. "I just want all of this to be over. I think that's what everybody wants."
(Additional reporting by Richard Balmforth, Natalia Zinets, Pavel Polityuk, Gareth Jones, Alastair Macdonald and Anna Dabrowska in Kiev and Sabina Zawadzki, Gabriela Baczynska and Lina Kushch in Donetsk, and Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Will Waterman)
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Monday, 26 May 2014

Narendra Modi sworn in as 15th prime minister, calls for 'strong and inclusive India'

Source- HT
India crowned Narendra Modi its prime minister on Monday at a glittering event attended by leaders from neighbouring countries, top politicians and holy men, and replete with symbolism and grandeur.
Narendra Modi being sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India. (ANI photo)

Modi, 63, was sworn in by President Pranab Mukherjee ten days after leading the National Democratic Alliance to a landslide win in the world's biggest election.
Dressed in a white full sleeve kurta, a beige Nehru jacket and a white pajama, Modi arrived at Rashtrapati Bhawan for the event at 6pm to a roar incongruous to the solemnity of the occasion but underlining the rockstar status that he has achieved over the past few months.
Apart from Modi, a total of 44 ministers were also sworn in.

Modi, a former RSS pracharak who sold tea at a railway station as a young boy, showed no signs of emotion or nerves as he read out the oath of secrecy and signed the register, though there appeared to be genuine warmth in the greetings he exchanged with the president.
"I, Narendra Damodardas Modi, do swear in the name of God that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established."
The audience of about 5,000 was packed into the magnificent forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan, and included Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif - sitting next to outgoing PM Manmohan Singh - Afghan president Hamid Karzai, Nepal PM Sushil Koirala, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former presidents Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil and former PM Deve Gowda.
In a statement on the website of the prime minister's office, which was under transformation from 5pm onwards and went live after Modi was sworn in, the new PM said, "As we devote ourselves to take India's development journey to newer heights, we seek your support, blessings and active participation."
"Together we will script a glorious future for India," added the 63-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

"Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development," the statement said.

Altogether 24 cabinet ministers were sworn in and the list comprised BJP bigwigs such as Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Delhi chief Harsh Vardhan as well as former Union minister Maneka Gandhi.

There were also 10 ministers of state with independent charge including former army chief Gen VK Singh and BJP MPs Santosh Gangwar, Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal.
Also, the list of 11 ministers of state included Upendra Kushwaha, Kiran Rijiju and Sanjeev Kumar.
The youngest minister in the Modi government will be 38-year-old Smriti Irani, who once served at a McDonald's outlet, and the oldest, 74-year old Najma Heptulla, who is the only Muslim in the group.
Ahead of the oath-taking ceremony, Modi had indicated he would not like to have a large cabinet, and that the focus would be on consolidation of portfolios.
Although their exact portfolios were not announced, Sushma Swaraj is expected to become the foreign minister and Arun Jaitley is tipped to be the finance minister.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, blamed by some for the party's disastrous showing in the polls, found a place only in the second row at the event.
BJP patriarch LK Advani, effectively sidelined by Modi during the campaign, was seated among the foreign dignitaries.
The celebrity roster included actors Salman Khan and Dharmendra and cricketer Sunil Gavaskar. Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar had a front-row view.
Two of India's richest men, the Ambani brothers, were both in attendance, as were other tycoons Shashi Ruia and Gautam Adani.
White, so beloved of Indian politicians, was the dominant colour, but was interrupted by considerable doses of saffron, the colour of Hindutva.

Modi's mother, 92-year-old Hiraben, was unwell and couldn't make the trip, but watched on television from Gandhinagar.
In an interview shortly before Modi's inauguration, Pakistan PM Sharif said Modi's arrival in power represented "a great opportunity" for the nuclear-armed rivals to forge a new era in the troubled relationship between the two countries.
"Pakistan wants good relations with India and I am going to New Delhi with a message of peace," Sharif was quoted as saying by the PTI before he left Pakistan.
Modi and Sharif will have a "short, courtesy" meeting on Tuesday morning and are expected to steer clear of any acrimonious issues leaving long-standing disputes to be tackled in later formal bilateral talks. The Pakistan PM is accompanied by wife Kulsoom Nawaz and son Hussain Nawaz.
Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa also attended the ceremony. Rajapaksa, a nationalistic leader, was among the first leaders to reach out to Modi after election victory. But after an invitation was extended to him, Tamil Nadu erupted in protest.
(with agency inputs)
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