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India will not hesitate in using its strength to defend itself: Rajnath Singh

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Seoul: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday stated that India has never been an aggressor in history but would not hesitate in using its strength to defend itself.

“India has never been an aggressor in its history nor will it ever be. But that does not mean that India would balk at using its strength to defend itself,” said Singh while addressing a special session of ‘Seoul Defence Dialogue’ in South Korea’s capital.

The Union Minister who arrived here on Wednesday with an aim to intensify defence and security ties also outlined that defence diplomacy is “a key pillar of India’s strategic toolkit.”

 

“In fact, defence diplomacy and maintaining a strong defence force are two sides of the same coin,” he added.

Advocating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘India’s Neighborhood First Policy’– which accords primacy to nations in India’s periphery– the Union Minister noted that a key feature of the approach is also its engagement with its neighbours in sub-regional groupings of Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), apart from a trilateral maritime cooperation with Sri Lanka and the Maldives to improve Maritime Domain Awareness.

He also gave new mantras to build an open and inclusive architecture in the Indo-Pacific region.

“If we work together on the basis of the five principles that have characterised Indian thought and policies for centuries – the principles of Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity), our success is assured,” the Defence Minister tweeted.

Singh also said that countries working in harmony among each other must provide the right of equal access to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air to all the nations.

“We advocate an open and inclusive architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN centrality and equal access to the global commons,” he added.

Singh further stated that he is being optimistic about the outcome as long as all concerned parties are committed to building peace together.

“I thank the Govt of the Republic of Korea for inviting me to address at the ‘Seoul Defense Dialogue’ which is a prestigious multilateral security dialogue, a forum that offers a sound platform for discussions of the pressing defence and security issues facing the world today,” he said.

Singh noted that India and South Korea have ancient cultural links between each other. Buddhism spread from India to East Asia and was introduced in Korea over 2000 years ago, he said.

The Minister said that the people of the two South Asian countries are linked through family ties that can be traced to the legendary Queen Heo Hwang-ok, who travelled all the way from Ayodhya to marry King Suro of Gaya in present-day Gimhae.

“These linkages form a strong underpinning for our contemporary ties,” he said.

The Defence Minister also laid a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul today.

Upon his arrival here yesterday, Singh met South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yon and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to bilateral ties.

The two leaders further noted with appreciation that South Korea’s ‘New Southern Policy’ and India’s ‘Act East Policy’ shared the same perspective and goals. The elevation of bilateral relations to a Special Strategic Partnership in 2015 has heralded a new era in India-Korea relations.

Prime Minister Lee expressed that the South Korean government’s desire for active cooperation with India in diplomatic as well as national security and defence policy arenas.

During yesterday’s meeting between the South Korean Prime Minister and Defence Minister sides also shared the view that the CEOs Forum will serve as a catalyst for greater industry-level cooperation. The two sides conveyed their good wishes to each other for their efforts in the Korean peninsula and Kashmir respectively.

Singh is also expected to hold talks with counterpart Jeong Kyeong-Doo, the Minister of National Defence.

The Defence Minister will also be attending a CEO’s Forum today followed by a Business-to-Government (B2G) meeting with the participation of members of the Defence Industry from both sides with an aim to encourage co-operation between defence Industry of India and the Republic of Korea.

India is developing strong military hardware cooperation with South Korea as the Indian Army has already inducted the K-9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers built in partnership with the Indian firm Larsen and Toubro.


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Declare birth anniversary of Hari Singh public holiday: Karan Singh to Guv

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Senior Congress leader Karan Singh on Friday urged Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik to declare his father Hari Singh”s birth anniversary next week as a public holiday, asserting that it was due to the state”s erstwhile ruler that it became a part of India.

Singh, the former Sadar-e-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, said that for many years there had been a strong demand to declare the birthday of Hari Singh as a public holiday.

“In fact, both my sons had a resolution to this effect passed in the legislative council some years ago, but so far no action has been taken. The birth anniversary is on Monday, September 23,” he said in a statement.

“Let us recall that it was due to Maharaja Hari Singh ji that Jammu and Kashmir state became a part of India when he signed the instrument of accession on October 26, 1947. Apart from that he was a progressive and a far-sighted ruler who instituted many social and economic reforms for the welfare of the people,” he said.

Singh said as far back as 1929, his father had declared all temples in the state open to Dalits.

“I urge the governor to declare this day as a public holiday,” he said

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Fresh restrictions in Kashmir in view of Friday prayers

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Fresh restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, officials said.

Normal life continued to remain affected across the valley for the 47th consecutive day with markets closed and public transport off the roads, the officials said.

Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in few areas of the valley to maintain law and order, the officials said.

They said the curbs have been imposed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas in downtown (interior city) and Anchar area of Soura police station in Srinagar.

The restrictions have also been imposed in Kupwara and Handwara police districts and the main towns of Ganderbal, Anantnag and Bijbehara, the officials added.

Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas in the rest of the valley, they said.

The officials said the curbs were a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of apprehensions that vested interests might exploit the large Friday prayer gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.

Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines – including Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta or Dargah Sharief in Hazratbal – in the valley for the past over a month now.

Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley.

Internet services have remained suspended across all platforms, they said. While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir, they added.

The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.

Most of the top-level and second rung mainstream politicians, including three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, continued to be in detention or under house arrest.

While NC president Farooq Abdullah was first placed under house arrest, he was on Tuesday booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).

His son Omar and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti were detained on the night of August 4 — hours before the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.

Most of the mainstream leaders, including former ministers and legislators, were also either detained or kept under house arrest, the officials said.

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Ignoring protests, Gates Foundation to give Narendra Modi global award

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New York: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be awarding the Global Gatekeepers Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his leadership in India’s achievement sanitation, the organisation has announced.

“Modi is receiving an award at the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the progress India is making in improving sanitation, as part of its drive toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” the Foundation said in a statement to IANS on Wednesday.

“Sanitation is a key factor in improving the health and well-being of millions of people, especially women and children,” it added.

Modi is being recognised by the foundation in New York on September 24 for the Swachh Bharat Mission of which the constructions of toilets is a key element.

A motley collection of Indian secularists, Pakistanis, activists and entertainers have opposed the award to Modi alleging he was responsible for human rights violations and for India rescinding the special status for Kashmir.

Some influential US media also published articles demanding that the Foundation cancel the award.

The publications include Foreign Policy magazine’s website, and Washington Post that is owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, which has disputes with the Indian government. The Post published an opinion article by two Indian-origin lawyers.

An organisation called S Asian Philanthropy published in the Medium a letter signed by people of Indian origin and others representing various foundations and NGOs.

National Public Radio reported that a dozen demonstrators with “Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All”, delivered a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle protesting the award for Modi.

The radio also said that three Nobel Peace Prize winners – Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman of Yemen and Mairead Maguire of Britain – had also sent the Gates a protest letter.

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