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Netanyahu in India on ‘historic’ visit; Modi breaks protocol, receives him at Delhi airport

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Jerusalem, Jan 14: Keen to strengthen bilateral relations “even more”, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday reached India on a six-day visit along with the largest business delegation that has ever accompanied an Israeli premier on an overseas tour.
“This evening I am leaving on an historic visit to India. I will meet with the Prime Minister, my friend Narendra Modi, with the Indian President and with many other leaders. We will sign very many agreements,” Netanyahu earlier in the day said in statement.
“We are strengthening ties between Israel and this important global power. This serves our security, economic, trade and tourism interests, as well as many other areas. This is a great blessing for the State of Israel,” he said.
“Indian Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine and I appreciate the fact that he will accompany me on extensive parts of my visit,” Netanyahu said just before leaving for New Delhi.
“On this visit I intend to strengthen bilateral relations even more. This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power,” he added.
Meanwhile, setting aside protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself received Netanyahu at the airport.
He welcomed Netanyahu with a hug upon his arrival.
The visit marks 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and takes place about six months after Modi’s trip to Israel, the first by an Indian prime minister to the Jewish state.
Netanyahu’s visit to India is only the second one by an Israeli prime minister and comes after a gap of 15 years.
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon visited India in 2003.
Netanyahu will be visiting Delhi, Agra, Gujarat and Mumbai and will be accompanied by Modi on extensive portions of his visit, a press statement said.
He will hold meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, apart from Modi.
Several MoUs, including in the field of oil and gas, renewable energy, amended protocol for airports, cyber security, and co-production of films and documentaries, will be signed between the two sides.
Israel’s Saare Tzedek hospital would be signing an agreement with the ministry of health and family welfare.
Informed sources here said that this relates to sharing of knowledge in the field of homoeopathy and Ayurveda that have been gaining popularity in Israel over the last few years.
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology would also be signing an agreement with the ministry of science and technology, sources here said.
Netanyahu is leading a high-profile delegation comprising 130 businessmen from 102 Israeli companies drawn from areas like agriculture, water, cyber security, health care and security, on his trip.
Israel will be investing USD 68.6 million to boost cooperation with India in areas like tourism, technology, agriculture and innovation over a period of four years, a senior official here said ahead of Netanyahu’s visit.
The commitment is in addition to the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund of USD 40 million over five years with equal contribution from both sides that has already been agreed between the two nations, Deputy Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Gilad Cohen, earlier told PTI.
Moshe Holtzberg, the toddler who survived the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack but lost his parents, will also join the trip with his grandparents and his brave Indian nanny, Sandra Samuels, who saved him.
Netanyahu had promised to take him along on his visit during an emotional meeting between the now 11-year-old boy and Modi in Jerusalem in July.
The Indian prime minister will be hosting a private dinner for Netanyahu today evening after his arrival in New Delhi. The Israeli leader would also meet Swaraj today.
The Israeli premier would be formally welcomed tomorrow morning at Rashtrapati Bhawan following which he would lay a wreath at Rajghat.
He would then participate in a dialogue at Hyderabad House which will also include a one-on-one discussion with Modi. A meeting with President Kovind is also scheduled for tomorrow.
Netanyahu, accompanied by his wife Sara, would be travelling to Agra to see the Taj Mahal on Tuesday and return to Delhi to participate in the Raisina Dialogue.
Modi would be accompanying Netanyahu to Gujarat on Wednesday where he will be welcomed in the same fashion as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was with a road show in Ahmedabad.
The road show is said to be an 8-kilometre drive from the airport to the Sabarmati Ashram. The two leaders will also be witnessing several innovative technologies in the field of water, agriculture and health at iCreate and visit a Centre of Excellence.
Netanyahu would arrive in Mumbai on Wednesday in the evening where he will meet the Indian Jewish community.
A packed schedule on Thursday for the Israeli premier in Mumbai would include a “power breakfast” with Indian business leaders, a business seminar, attending two memorial services for the victims of the 26/11 attack at the Taj hotel and Nariman House and finally a gala event with Bollywood actors.


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Over 84% candidates lose security deposit in JK

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, May 24: As many as 67 candidates lost their security deposit while NOTA got more votes than 39 contestants in the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
There were 79 candidates in the fray for six Parliamentary constituencies of the state. The highest number of 24 candidates were contesting from Jammu Lok Sabha constituency followed by 18 in Anantnag, 12 each from Srinagar and Udhampur, and four from Ladakh.
Of the total candidates, 67 could not get the minimum required one-sixth (16.67 per cent) of the total polled votes to save their deposit. With the result over 84 percent contestants lost their security deposit of Rs 25,000. Among those who lost security deposit are the three BJP candidates from the valley.
In Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, 186832 votes were polled and minimum requirement to save the security deposit was 31138 votes. However, only two candidates, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, and PDP’s Aga Syed Mohsin secured more than one-sixth of total votes. Peoples Conference candidate Irfan Raza Ansari, who secured third spot, bagged 28773 votes but lost his security deposit.
Eighteen candidates were in the fray for the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency. Nearly 124896 votes were polled in the constituency and the minimum requirement to save the security deposit was 20816 votes. NC’s Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, Congress leader GA Mir and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti secured 32.17, 26.83, and 24.44 percent of votes respectively. Most of the candidates, who lost their security deposit, could not manage even 700 votes.
Nearly 455550 votes were polled in Baramulla constituency. NC’s Mohammad Akbar Lone, who emerged winner, bagged 133426 votes. Peoples Conference candidate Raja Aijaz and Independent candidate Engineer Rashid managed to save their security deposit by bagging 103193 and 102168 votes respectively. PDP’s Abdul Qayoom Wani polled 53530 votes while the minimum requirement to save the security deposit was 75925 votes.
From Ladakh, all four candidates managed to save their security deposit.
In Jammu Lok Sabha constituency, 1478795 votes were polled. Among the 24 candidates in fray, only BJP’s Jugal Kishore, and Congress’ Ram Bhalla managed to save security deposit by securing 858066 and 555191 votes respectively.
Of the 1181123 votes polled in Udhampur constituency, BJP candidate Jitendra Singh and Congress leader Vikramaditya bagged 724311 and 367059 votes respectively Rest of the candidates lost their security deposit.
Interestingly among the 67 candidates, who lost their security deposit, 39 managed less votes than none of the above (NOTA).
In Baramulla constituency, 8128 voters pressed the NOTA button. In fact NOTA got more votes than four candidates.
Srinagar constituency registered 1566 NOTA votes, which is higher than that of five candidates.
Nearly 737 voters pressed NOTA button in Anantnag, which is higher than the vote share of nine candidates.
In Udhampur constituency, 7568 voters pressed NOTA button, which is higher than that of seven candidates. Jammu parliamentary seat polled 2618 NOTA votes, which is more than 14 candidates.

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Accused in Central Jail incident identified, chargesheet to be completed soon

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, May 25: The accused in the April 4 incident of clashes inside the Central Jail Srinagar have been identified and booked and the chargesheet against the same will be filed soon, J&K has said.
The matter was discussed during the visit of DGP Police & Prisons J&K Dilbag Singh to the Central Jail on Saturday, who held a detailed security review meeting with the Jail Superintendent, officers, Zonal SP, DySP and concerned CRPF officers.
During the meeting, a police spokesperson said, the DGP impressed upon the officers to ensure that the security of the Central Jail is further augmented in view of the incident of the “rioting and violence” in leading to serious intervention and action against the culprits for causing damage to the jail buildings and other infrastructure.
“Progress on the case FIR No. 19/2019 registered at Police Station Rainawari in this regard was reviewed with the Zonal SP and DySP. It was reported that considerable progress has been made. Most of the accused persons have been identified and booked, shall be charge-sheeted soon,” the spokesperson said.
He added that part of the restoration works of the damaged areas has already been initiated and the remaining shall be taken up soon after the approval and grant of funds from the state authorities.
As reported by The Kashmir Monitor early this month, the authorities had shifted at least 60 inmates – and were planning to move many more – from Srinagar Central Jail to other jails of the state following the incident of clashes and protests within the facility in April.
In the intervening night of April 4 and 5, as many as 400 inmates were engaged in night-long clashes with the jail authorities after the latter tried to move them out of their barracks.
The facility was damaged even as tear-gas shells and pump-action pellet guns were used against the inmates. At least, two of them were grievously injured. The jail is located in a densely populated area of the city.
The administration alleged the inmates “attempted jailbreak” while the inmates said they protested against the alleged desecration of the religious scriptures by the jail staff, a claim that was totally negated by the Jail Superintendent.
A week later, the inmates went on a hunger strike and refused to meet any of the visitors including their kin.
Their demands then included withdrawal of FIR against them in connection with the protests and clashes and transfer of the Jail Superintendent.
A team comprising of the members of High Court Bar Association (HCBA) had also visited the Jail after Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Srinagar, had asked the jail authorities to permit and facilitate the visit.
The team filed their report to CJM on April 13.
The team, as per the HCBA statement, had found that the “inmates felt a conspiracy was being hatched against them and the state had adopted a hostile attitude towards them for their political ideology and thought.”
The Bar members had also found that after the incident, there was a communication breakdown between the inmates and the jail administration.

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Top militant ‘commander’ Zakir Musa killed in Tral

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Srinagar, May 23:  Kashmir Valley’s most wanted militant ‘commander’, Zakir Musa, who headed the Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH), was killed on Thursday by government forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Informed sources said the forces started a cordon and search operation in Dadsara village of Tral area following information about the presence of two militants there.

“The trapped militants were persuaded to surrender. Instead they hurled grenades and started a gunfight, triggering an encounter,” a source said.

 

One of the dead was identified as Zakir Musa.

As the news about the killing of top militant, widespread protests were being witnessed in different parts of the valley in reaction to the killing.

Zakir Musa, a close associate of Burhan Wani who was killed in 2017, was a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen who succeeded Burhan and later headed the Al Qaeda affiliate. He had taken to militancy in 2013.

Zakir Rashid Bhat, his real name, was an engineering student in Chandigarh who abandoned education and joined militancy.

He was born in Noorpora village of Tral area. His father, Abdul Rashid Bhat, is a senior engineer working for the Jammu and Kashmir government.

After Burhan Wani’s death, Zakir Musa threatened to behead Kashmiri separatist leaders of the Hurriyat Conference for calling Kashmir a political dispute instead of a religious struggle to establish an Islamic state.

Authorities have suspended mobile Internet services across Kashmir valley as a precautionary measure.

Authorities have ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the Kashmir Valley on Friday.

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