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Even in troubled times, nothing can take away beauty of Kashmir: Rohit Bal






Mumbai, Jan 31: The silver lining in the dark cloud of insurgency, conflict and militarisation in Kashmir lies in its beauty, says veteran designer Rohit Bal who paid a fitting tribute to his birthplace with a fashion show, where he let a group of Kashmiri women take the spotlight.

Born in Kashmir himself, Bal has, over the years, ensured he remains connected to his roots and spread its beauty around the world with his internationally popular creations.

It’s a paradox — that while a lot of filmmakers capture the violence in the state nowadays, Bal’s creative interpretation of Kashmir has always revolved around the elements that make Kashmir the nature’s paradise it is.”It’s a simple explanation. I come from Kashmir. I am a Kashmiri, I know what’s happening in the state. I grew up in a free Kashmir and unfortunately now it’s a warzone.


“But what I am trying to do here is to let people know that no matter how troubled the times might be there, there is still beauty and that beauty can never be taken away from Kashmir. No matter what you do there, no matter how hard anyone tries, the beauty of Kashmir will, Inshallah, always be there because it can never be taken away,” Bal told IANS in an interview.

He says the beauty is akin to “a silver lining in a black cloud, a ray of hope, and a light in the thunderstorm”.”I want people to know that Kashmir may be wartorn, but the beauty of Kashmir will always be a part of a Kashmiri’s life… By showing this beauty, I want people to understand that there’s always a ray of hope,” said the desiger, who showcased a line called ‘Guldastah’ at the Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2019 here on Wednesday.

For the show, the ramp was strewn with dry Chinar leaves, and shikaras laden with colourful flowers added a touch of Kashmir.

A playlist of Kashmiri songs, which were followed by lilting Bollywood melodies, gave the dreamy show a perfect backdrop.

But the showstoppers — about eight women from Kashmir who were trained by the Usha Silai team and then worked on Bal’s collection in the freezing winter — won the audience’s heart.

In an emotional gesture, Bal let them take the centrestage, the spotlight and the joy of a standing ovation whole-heartedly.
This initiative, he said, is a step ahead for him.

“Nothing can give me more satisfaction than doing this. In fact, after doing this, I am feeling I am going to do so much more and I am confident about giving back to these people.

“I want to try to make them earn much more than they do. I am going to make sure my association with Usha Silai is a long one so I can reach out to more people as possible,” Bal told IANS.

He is proud of the “incredible talent” in what he calls “my Valley”.

The designer says he goes to Kashmir often.”I just don’t go there in winter… I am not a winter person. But it’s just an hour away from Delhi, and anytime I find myself some free time, like a long weekend and I feel I want to feel lighter, I head there.

“Sometimes I go for a few days, sometimes I go for a longer time. It rejuvenates me. But it also makes me very sad… I won’t say it’s all happiness. It is depressing, but like I said, the beauty… In the calamity, the beauty is there to soothe your mind.”



Goel is new RAW chief, Arvind Kumar appointed IB head




New Delhi, Jun 26:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday appointed Samant Goel as the next chief of India’s external spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) and Arvind Kumar as the Director, Intelligence Bureau.

Both are Indian Police Service officers of 1984 batch with Goel belonging to Punjab cadre and Kumar, to Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Goel heads operations for the external intelligence agency.


Meanwhile Arvinda Kumar is the Director, Intelligence Bureau.

PM Modi, as chairman of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, also cleared the empanelment of 1986 batch IPS officer in the rank of Director General.

Both are Indian Police Service officers of 1984 batch with Goel belonging to Punjab cadre and Kumar, to Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Goel heads operations for the external intelligence agency.

Goel according to a report has handled Punjab militancy at its peak in the 1990s and is a Pakistan expert. A mild-mannered police officer, Samant Goel has impeccable integrity, said a senior R&AW officer.

Arvind Kumar has been closely involved in tackling left-wing extremism at the Intelligence Bureau. The special director-rank officer is also the intelligence agency’s Kashmir expert and has been closely involved in formulating and executing the Centre’s approach on militancy in the valley.

Kumar, who started out his career in the police service from Assam, had moved to the intelligence bureau early in his career after a stint as superintendent of police of Sonitpur, one of the state’s largest districts. He never went back to Assam police and continued to work at the Centre, mostly at the intelligence agency.

Samant Goel, in contrast, spent a considerable part of his career in Punjab where he was posted to oversee security, intelligence and the border range.

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Pompeo meets PM Modi, discusses key strategic issues

Press Trust of India



New Delhi, Jun 26: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and discussed various aspects of the bilateral relationship to strengthen the India-US strategic partnership.

Pompeo, who arrived here on Tuesday night, will hold detailed discussions with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in the afternoon and have a working lunch with him.

“Working together to further deepen our strategic partnership. Secretary Pompeo called on PM Narendra Modi to exchange views on various aspects of Indo-US relationship. PM will meet President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 Osaka Summit,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted along with pictures of the meeting.


Ahead of the strategically-important India-US talks, diplomatic sources on Tuesday said India met the US waiver criteria for procuring the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia, and asserted that New Delhi could not “wish away” its defence ties with Moscow.

Besides India’s missile defence system deal with Russia, terrorism, H-1B visas, trade and the situation arising out of US sanctions on buying oil from Iran, are likely to be discussed on Wednesday during the talks between Jaishankar and Pompeo.

Pompeo’s talks here will be the first high-level interaction between the two countries after return of the Modi government to power last month.

Pompeo’s visit comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, later this week

 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday said that India and the US should stand together in the defence of religious freedom rights for all and asserted that the world is worse off when they are compromised.

“India is the birthplace of four major world religions. Let’s stand up together in defence of religious freedom for all, let us speak out in favour of those rights, for whenever we do compromise those rights, the world is worse off,” Pompeo was quoted as saying .

Pompeo’s remarks come in the backdrop of a recently-released US State Department report on ‘International Religious Freedom’ that said mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, are continuing in India.

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AGH militant killed in Tral gunfight: Police




Srinagar, Jun 26: A militant of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind was killed in an encounter with government forces at Branpatri forest area of Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday.

A joint team of army, SOG and CRPF laid a siege at Branpatri, forest area of Tral in Awantipora today morning.

A police spokesman said that the cordon was laid following credible inputs. As the joint team launched searches, the militants opened fire leading to an encounter, the spokesman said.


During the course of gunfight, one militant was killed and his body along with arms and ammunition was recovered. The officer identified the slain as Shabir Ahmad Malik of Nagbal Tral.

As per the police records, he was initially affiliated with proscribed LeT outfit and later on was part of Zakir Musa group, the spokesman said.

“Shabir, as per police records, was wanted by law for his complicity in several terror crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities,” he said.

“He was part of groups responsible for planning and executing militant attacks in the area. Several militant cases were registered against him including case FIR No. 43/15 of Police Station Trikuta Nagar pertaining to the planning and making preparations for carrying out terror attacks in Jammu,” the spokesman said.

Pertinently with the efforts of Police and security forces, it was a clean operation. No collateral damage happened during the encounter, the spokesman said.

After conducting all legal medico formalities, the body of the slain was handed over to his family for last rites, an official said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended the funeral of the slain at his native place. He was later buried amid pro-freedom slogans.

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