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Amarinder sees bigger design of Pak Army in Kartarpur affair

Amarinder said in the interview that the demand for opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor was pending since partition as several holy Sikh shrines (Sri Nankana Sahib, Sri Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib) had gone to Pakistan.

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Amrinder Singh

Chandigarh, Dec 9 (IANS) Dubbing the whole affair initiated by Pakistan on the Kartarpur corridor as a “bigger conspiracy” hatched by the Pakistan Army, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said the hostile neighbour is trying to revive militancy in Punjab but it will not be allowed to succeed.

Citing that Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had “broken the news of opening the Kartarpur Corridor to Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their Prime Minister”, Amarinder said the whole affair smacked of a bigger conspiracy.

“The opening of the Kartarpur corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence). A bigger conspiracy seems to have been hatched by Pakistan Army against India. Pakistan is attempting to revive militancy in Punjab and thus everyone should be wary of all of its overtures, no matter how grand they appear to be,” Amarinder told a TV news channel.

“The Sidhu affair is being unnecessarily hyped and those raising it have clearly failed to see the ISI game plan, said Amarinder, lashing out at the Akalis for branding the Punjab Minister as stooge of the Pakistan Prime Minister,” the Chief Minister’s spokesperson said here on Sunday.

Dismissing the issue as “nothing more than a credit war”, Amarinder lambasted the Akalis and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central leadership “for indulging in unwarranted controversy over his (Chief Minister’s) relations with Sidhu in a bid to divert public attention from the core issue of Pakistan’s continued and deliberate perpetration of terror activities in Punjab with the ultimate aim of destabilising the border state”.

Amarinder said in the interview that the demand for opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor was pending since partition as several holy Sikh shrines (Sri Nankana Sahib, Sri Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib) had gone to Pakistan.

“Even former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue of opening the Kartarpur Corridor with Pakistan. I had myself raised this issue with my Pakistan Punjab counterpart Parvez Elahi and with then President Parvez Musharraf during my previous tenure as Chief Minister,” Amarinder pointed out.

The Chief Minister said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan “is undoubtedly making efforts to bring peace, tranquility and harmony with India”, but at the same time he should also prevail upon the top brass of Pakistani Army to ensure that killings of Indian soldiers at borders are stopped immediately.

Asked why he opted not to go to Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, Amarinder said he declined the invite because he could not think of going there while Indian soldiers and civilians were being killed by the Pakistan Army.

On the issue of Navjot Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony, the Chief Minister said he had told Sidhu that he had declined the invite by writing a letter to the Pakistan Minister for foreign affairs, and had also shared a copy of the same on the social media. Despite his advice against going to Pakistan, Sidhu went ahead due to his friendship with Imran Khan,” said the Chief Minister, adding that “this was not unreasonable”.

He said that he himself has many friends there, including former Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi.

“We had been meeting frequently during my previous tenure and Elahi had also been coming to meet me in Patiala,” Amarinder said.

Downplaying the controversy around his rumoured feud with Sidhu, Amarinder said Navjot Sidhu is a “likeable person” and he shares warm ties with even Sidhu’s parents when the cricketer-turned-minister’s father was president of Patiala district Congress unit and his (Amarinder’s) mother Mohinder Kaur was the Member of Parliament from Patiala.

The Chief Minister said that he and Sidhu “were not at loggerheads as reported by the media and he has absolutely no problems with Sidhu in running the government”.

Amarinder said that Sidhu always speaks in a forthright manner and his only problem is that “sometimes he shoots before he thinks”.

Responding to another question regarding Sidhu’s remarks that Rahul Gandhi is his captain, the Chief Minister said that this was hardly any issue to be raised as Sidhu has always treated him (Amarinder) as a “fatherly figure”.

Amarinder Singh warned Pakistan against carrying on its nefarious designs and urged it to desist from trying to foment trouble in Punjab.

“General Bajwa should understand that Punjab Police is fully geared up to take Pakistan head-on, if it continues to vitiate peaceful atmosphere of the state through terror. Bajwa is sadly mistaken in underestimating the unbounded capacities and capabilities of Punjab Police in facing any daunting challenge,” the Chief Minister said.

He advised Bajwa “not to compare Punjab with the 1970s and 1980s when its police force was a meager 16000-17000”.

“The force now is well equipped with high tech weapons and ammunition, along with professionally committed commando battalions and the Punjab Armed Force, to effectively tackle any challenging task,” the Chief Minister asserted.

Reiterating his government’s commitment to break the backbone of terrorism, Amarinder said that no one would be allowed to push Punjab back into the black days of terrorism.

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Supreme Court allows Mumbai dance bars to reopen with restrictions

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Mumbai dance bars
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Mumbai, Jan 17: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed dance bars to reopen in Mumbai but imposed regulations such as barring CCTV surveillance.

It said there was no need for CCTV surveillance inside dance bars as it violates privacy.

The apex court said that the performers could be tipped, but showering of cash and coins will not be allowed inside the bars.

The court added that Maharashtra cannot ban dance bars by taking recourse to regulating them, noting that since 2005 no licence has been issued.

“Since 2005 till date, no licence has been issued. There may be regulation but that does not amount to total prohibition,” said a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Sikri said that there could be no segregation of dance stage and that of drinking and eating space as it struck down the provision for “mandatory” installing of CCTV cameras in the dance bars holding that it violates privacy.

The court upheld the definition of obscenity given in the State law saying that it was not vague.

Holding that those visiting the dance bar could give tips, the court said no to the showering of money during dance performances.

The court held as “unreasonable” the provision that says that a dance bar should be one kilometre away from religious places, hospitals and educational institutions.

However, it left it to the state legislature to take a call on the issue.

Striking down the provision that said that the owner of the dance bar should have a “good character” and no “criminal antecedents”, the court said: “There is no precise definition of what amounts to good character and criminal antecedents.”

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Cold, foggy Thursday morning in Delhi

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Delhi cold morning fog
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New Delhi, Jan 17: Delhiites on Thursday woke up to a cold, foggy morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 4.2 degrees Celsius. N

“Shallow to moderate fog enveloped the city in the morning, with the visibility at 8.30 a.m. recorded at 400 metres at Safdarjung,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told news agency IANS.

The sky will remain clear with haze thereafter, he said, adding that the humidity was recorded at 100 per cent in the morning.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality of the national capital was recorded in ‘very poor’ category with the air quality index being at 346.

On Wednesday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 21.3 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.

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TRS leaders meet Jagan to discuss proposed Federal Front

The TRS chief has already held talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal (United) leader and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader M.K. Stalin.

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KT Rama Rao Jagan Mohan Reddy

Hyderabad, Jan 16 : Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Working President K.T. Rama Rao met YSR Congress Party President Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy here on Wednesday to discuss the proposed Federal Front.

Rama Rao, who is the son of Telangana Chief Minister and TRS President K. Chandrashekhar Rao, also known as KCR, along with three other leaders of the party met Jaganmohan Reddy, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.

The TRS leaders drove to Jaganmohan Reddy’s Lotus Pond residence around 1 p.m. The leaders of the two parties are expected to brief the media after the meeting.

Earlier, KTR, as Rama Rao is popularly known, tweeted that on the direction of KCR he would be meeting Jaganmohan Reddy to discuss modalities on working together to strengthen a federal alternative to the National Democratic Alliance and the United Progressive Alliance.

This is the first direct talks between the leaders of the two parties since KCR floated the idea of the Federal Front in 2018.

The TRS chief has already held talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal (United) leader and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader M.K. Stalin.

After taking over as the Chief Minister for a second term following the TRS’ victory in December’s elections, KCR intensified his efforts to cobble together the Federal Front.

The TRS leaders are also likely to discuss with Jaganmohan Reddy the possibility of their working together in Andhra Pradesh to defeat the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the ensuing elections in the neighbouring state.

KCR in December dropped hints to this effect with a remark that he will “return the gift” to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu. He was referring to Naidu campaigning extensively in the Telangana elections.

The Congress-led Grand Alliance comprising the TDP and two other parties suffered a crushing defeat in the Telangana polls.

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