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Sushma slams terror, raises concerns over connectivity projects at China meet

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Beijing :India termed terrorism as a challenge to “life, peace and basic human rights” on Tuesday, barely three days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan.

“There are a number of challenges being faced by the world today, the foremost being the threat of global terrorism and the imminent need to build a strong security architecture to combat it. Terrorism is an enemy of basic human rights: of life, peace and prosperity,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) foreign ministers’ meet in Beijing.

Swaraj also spoke out against entities that aid terrorism, but stopped short of naming any country. “We strongly believe that our fight against terrorism should not only seek to eliminate terrorists but also identify and take strong measures against states that encourage, support and finance terrorism or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups,” she added.

 

Swaraj was speaking at the SCO foreign ministers’ meet in Beijing for the first time after India and Pakistan became full members of the China and Russia-led bloc. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his Pakistani counterpart, Khawaja Asif, were among the dignitaries present.

She also pressed for an urgent resolution to establish the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism proposed by India over two decades ago in the United Nations. “We are determined to consistently strengthen cooperation within the SCO framework for comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security,” Swaraj added.

Swaraj brought up the issue of “connectivity” projects within SCO countries during the course of her address.

Although she did not explicitly mention the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), she indicated some concerns that India has over what could be considered as a unilateral connectivity project launched by China. “Connectivity with SCO countries is India’s priority. We want connectivity to pave the way for cooperation and trust between our societies.

For this, respect for sovereignty is essential. Inclusivity, transparency and sustainability are imperative,” she said.

India has refused to be a part of the BRI due to sovereignty concerns. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of the flagship projects of the initiative, passes through PoK.

Swaraj went on to list a number of international connectivity projects that India was a part of, including the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Chabahar Port Development, the Ashgabat Agreement, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Highway Project and the Bangladesh-Butan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Initiative.

The minister reiterated New Delhi’s stand on globalisation, and its role in international trade. “India is committed to working with the SCO to strengthen our economic and investment ties. We believe that economic globalisation should be more open, inclusive, equitable and balanced for mutual benefits. Protectionism in all forms should be rejected, and efforts must be made to discipline measures that constitute barriers to trade,” she said.


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Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs

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Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.

“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.

This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.

 

According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.

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Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara

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Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.

The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.

“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.

 
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Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.

With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.

 

Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.

However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.

The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.

The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.

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