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40 more die in Uttar Pradesh cold wave; toll reaches 143

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Lucknow:Despite it being sunny, a cold wave continued in most parts of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. As many as 40 people were reported dead in the state in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 143 so far.

Early-morning fog disrupted normal life in the state capital and neighbouring areas.

A dozen trains were cancelled due to poor visibility which also led to delays.

 

Winter vacations of schools in the state capital have been extended by one more day on orders of the District Magistrate.

Three people have been killed since Tuesday in road accidents due to fog. Visibility in many areas dropped to 15-20 metres, the Met said.

A six-year-old boy Satyam who had gone to school in Barabanki died due to cold, parents alleged.

Despite government’s orders, the private school had not complied, prompting an inquiry into the matter.

Deaths have also been reported from Kanpur, Fatehpur, Kannauj, Pilibhit, Moradabad, Sambhal, Amroha, Rampur, Hamirpur, Azamgarh, Ghazipur and Ballia.

Government officials said they were providing warm blankets, clothing, lighting up bonfires and establishing night shelters. These arrangements, however, were falling short due to the unabated cold wave in the state.

The Regional Met Office has forecast cold wave conditions would continue for some more days. It was likely to become better only after Monday.

More than 700 stray animals, mostly cows and dogs, had died in the state capital, an official of the Lucknow Municipal Corporation said.

Meerut was the coldest in the state at 2.9 degrees Celsius. Lucknow recorded a temperature of 4.8. The Met said the intense cold wave was due to a western disturbance. IANS


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National

SC issues notice to Centre on MHA’s ‘snooping’ order, seeks reply within six weeks

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New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre and sought a response, within six weeks, on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the Ministry of Home Affairs’ notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system. The top court had earlier denied an early hearing in the case.

The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, seeks quashing of the government’s December 20 order which empowers the agencies to intercept any computer under the Information Technology (IT) Act. According to the notification, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies and failing to do will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.

The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner.

 

The government had come under fire for its order with the Opposition accusing the Centre of running a “police state”. The government, however, later clarified that “no new powers” had been conferred to the agencies and that the same rules were brought in by the UPA government in 2009.

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26/11 plotter Tahawwur Rana, in US jail, may be extradited: report

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Washington/New Delhi: There is a “strong possibility” of Tahawwur Hussain Rana – currently serving a 14-year jail term in the US for plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack – being extradited to India, an informed source said.

The Indian government, with “full cooperation” from the Trump administration, is currently working on completing the necessary paperwork to ensure the extradition of the Pakistani-Canadian national before his current jail term ends in December 2021. Rana was arrested in 2009 on the charges of plotting the 26/11 terror attack.

Some 166 people, including US nationals, were killed in the attack carried out by 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

 

In 2013, Rana was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. According to the US officials, he is set to be released in December 2021. “There is a strong possibility of extradition of Rana to India on completion of his jail term here. We (US and India) are working on this,” a source told PTI.

But the “challenge” is to complete the necessary paperwork during this period and overcome the cumbersome bureaucracy of the two countries and the independent judiciary, the source said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law and Justice and the US’ State Department and the Department of Justice, each of them has their own extradition procedure in place. And they are unwilling to cutdown or speed up their own process when it comes to extradition, it added.

Following a recent visit to the US by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, officials from both sides have agreed to cut down on the bureaucratic procedures so that all the necessary paperwork is ready before the current jail term of Rana ends in December 2021.

From now on, the NIA is expected to have direct communication with their US counterparts to cut short the timeframe and bureaucratic formalities.

In case, the US government in co-operation with the Indian government is unable to complete the necessary paperwork before that, officials in Washington said it would become very tough to ensure a smooth extradition of Rana once he is released from the jail in Chicago, where he is currently serving his sentence.

As per the existing US law, Rana, a Pakistan-born Canadian national, would most probably be deported to Canada if India and the US are unable to complete the cumbersome extradition process before his release.

However, people familiar with the matter told PTI, that there is a “desire” so there is an assurance from the highest level in the Trump administration that all necessary steps would be taken in a timely fashion to ensure extradition of Rana before his release.

According to the US officials, the extradition of Rana would help in cementing the relationship between the two countries, boost up the counter-terrorism cooperation and enhance America’s image among Indians.

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Talks of CPI(M)-Cong alliance for LS polls to be ‘initiated at state level’: Yechury

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Kolkata: Any talks of a CPI(M)-Congress adjustment for the parliamentary election have to be “initiated at the state level” as the political situation is different in various states, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said, virtually ruling out a nationwide tie-up between the two parties.

Yechury’s remarks came at a time a section of the state CPI(M) leadership was keen on an electoral understanding with the Congress to defeat the Trinamool Congress and the BJP in West Bengal.

“We had said the political situation is different in various states. So any sort of talks with the Congress have to be initiated at the state level,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a condolence meeting for former West Bengal industry minister and politburo member Nirupam Sen here on Sunday night.

 

He was replying to question on why the CPI(M) was not initiating talks with the Congress at the national level to put up an anti-BJP front.

Yechury said the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh was a “positive” development and that a “lot more is yet to happen”. The CPI(M) leader said he is looking forward to an anti-BJP secular and democratic front at the Centre in 2019 in a “post-poll scenario”. Majority of the state Congress leaders are in favour of an informal seat-sharing arrangements with the CPI(M) in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, senior state Congress leaders said.

Some of the top state Congress leaders have already begun “informal talks” with some CPI(M) leaders over the issue of seat adjustment.

However, the state Congress unit maintained that the final call on the decision of state-specific adjustments with the CPI(M) will be taken by party president Rahul Gandhi.

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