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Parliament clears Arms Amendment Bill, 2019

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Arms Amendment Bill

New Delhi, Dec 10 : The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was cleared from Upper House on Tuesday after deliberation for two hours wherein most of the members supported the proposed legislation while making several suggestions. The Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said that the bill proposes stringent punishment for illegal weapons and ammunition traffickers.

“Though the Bill is small, it is very important,” said the minister adding that the proposed legislation would help government control proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country.

“Small families are living in apartments. It would not be possible to keep three guns for them to manage,” said the minister.

Talking about heritage guns, the minister said: “If you want to keep heritage gun, you can, but it should not have the capacity to fire. I want to bring to your notice that only one percent of people having gun licence hold three guns, a total of 6.2 percent people holding gun licences have two guns.”

The security forces this year, seized 438 illegal guns and 30,480 ammunition, said the minister adding that in coming years the government will add provision to give licence in form of smart card and will do away with the licence book. “We will have details of every bullet purchased and sold in coming years,” said Reddy.

“I have seen stone pelters beating security forces and running away with guns. I have also seen armed terrorists attacking police stations and stealing guns. So I am bringing the bill to ensure such terrorists should be put behind the bars,” said the minister adding that he urged every member to support the Bill.

However, BJP member Roopa Ganguly was unhappy with the government withdrawing provision of having three licence guns limiting it to two. She however welcomed the move.

N. Chandrasekaran of AIADMK, in his maiden speech in the House, said that he and his party support the bill. “The Bill defines organised crime syndicate. My suggestion is that central government should also keep track on arms manufacturer and sellers,” he said.

“I welcome the move to increase the licence renewal tenure. It will definitely reduce corruption as people used to face harassments for renewal,” said SP member Sukhram Singh Yadav adding that the weapons should be banned during marriage ceremony. “It is a great move by the government,” the member said. Supporting the Bill, the BJD member Prasanna Acharya said, “Gun should not be a symbol of aristocracy.”

BPF member Biswajit Daimary said: “Gun behaviour culture is very bad. Want to know what government’s policy is on arms fights carried out by the militants. For 30 years, these armed militants are blackmailing the government. What is the government doing on this?”

“These are people who were militants and are now members of Parliament. He came from gun culture. Please clarify. Has government anything to say over this?” said Daimary that in the northeast the militants openly carry sophisticated guns and government is dealing with them. That is not correct, he said.

Congress member Digvijaya Singh said: “I welcome giving privilege to sports persons. If you want to stop illegal weapons, go to Dimapur market (in Nagaland)… you have given more powers to police who plant country made pistols to frame innocent people.”

“Why can’t you extend the renewal for life time,” urged Singh recommending the Bill to be sent to select committee. “He has not deactivated heritage guns,” says Singh.

The minister further pointed out that the Act was amended 31 years ago. “Now there is a need to revisit the Act and make changes according to the challenges we are facing,” he said adding that there is spurt in illegal arms smuggling and it is a major concern.

RJD member Manoj Kumar Jha said that 2.8 percent crime is from licence guns and rest by illegal firing. “We welcome the Bill but the government must bring more stringent punishment for celebratory firing,” he said.

Introducing the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Upper House, Reddy said that the legislation proposes stringent punishment for illegal weapon and ammunition traffickers.

Before introduction of the Bill, the Congress member Madhusudan Mistry objected before the chair that the Bill was circulated at 12 noon and it is a matter of concern as they did not get enough time to go through it. He said, “it is becoming a trend that bills passed in the Lok Sabha are introduced in the Rajya Sabha without giving adequate time to the members to prepare for it.”

The Bill which seeks to amend the six-decade-old Arms Act, 1959 to effectively curb crimes committed by using illegal firearms, was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 9.

The Bill bans the manufacture, sale, use, transfer, conversion, testing or proofing of firearms without a license.

As per the amendment, even the punishment for offences under the act has been increased between seven years and life imprisonment, and a fine. Previously, the punishment for offences under the act was between three to seven years, along with a fine.

India

COVID-19: 48 including 28 cops test positive at Telangana Raj Bhavan

Ten staff and 10 family members who tested positive were admitted to Government Ayurveda Hospital for treatment.

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Telangana Raj Bhavan

Hyderabad, July 12 : As many as 48 people including 28 police personnel at Telangana Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the state governor, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ten members of Raj Bhavan staff and their 10 family members were among those found infected with the virus.

According to the governor”s press secretary, since few of the special police battalion personnel had tested positive in RT-PCR test, Rapid Antigen tests were conducted on Saturday and Sunday as a part of contact tracing with the help of Director Public Health.

“In all 395 tests were conducted out of which 347 were negative. Twenty eight police personnel were tested positive and they were sent to isolation immediately,” the official said.

Ten staff and 10 family members who tested positive were admitted to Government Ayurveda Hospital for treatment.

Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan led from the front by not only arranging the tests for the staff and police personnel but also volunteered herself for getting tested. She tested negative.

The governor appealed to the people in red zones or with the contact history to get themselves tested at the earliest to contain further spread. “Early diagnosis not only protects us but also protects others. One should not hesitate from getting tested and should motivate others to follow 4Ts – test, trace, treat and teach,” she said.

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Assam flood situation worsens; 13 lakh affected, toll at 44

In all, at least 8.03 lakh domestic animals and over 4.24 lakh poultry were affected due to the current wave of floods.

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Assam Flood

Guwahati, July 12 : The flood situation in Assam worsened further on Sunday with two more persons losing their lives in the deluge in Nagaon district, taking the death toll to 44 in the state, while the situation deteriorated across 24 of the 33 districts, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said.

The flood waters have submerged 2,015 villages affecting 13 lakh people and 82,546 hectares of crop area across the state.

The district administrations have set up 224 relief camps and distribution centres in 16 districts, where 21,071 people have taken shelter, the ASDMA officials said.

Besides several other rivers, the mighty Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark in Dibrugarh, Neamatighat in Jorhat, Tezpur in Sonitpur and Dhubri town, an ASDMA bulletin said.

The ASDMA officials said that in the current wave of floods over the past four weeks, at least 27 persons have died in Morigaon, Tinsukia, Dhubri, Nagaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts, taking the state’s death toll to 44, while 26 people have been killed in separate landslides since May 22.

Though the 24 of the state’s 33 districts are affected by the floods, the worst affected 16 districts are Dhemaji, Udalguri, Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Chirang, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Dibrugarh,West Karbi Anglong and Tinsukia.

Embankments, roads, bridges, culverts and other infrastructure have been damaged at various places in 18 districts, the ASDMA officials said adding that around 810 houses were fully or partially damaged due to the floods.

In all, at least 8.03 lakh domestic animals and over 4.24 lakh poultry were affected due to the current wave of floods.

The National Disaster Response Force, Assam State Disaster Response Force personnel, along with the local administration, are continuously working to rescue the affected people and render relief services, including distribution of relief material to the marooned villagers.

Meanwhile, with several rivers in many northeastern states are in spate due to constant monsoon rain, huge low-lying areas in the other states wof the region were inundated on Sunday even as the Meteorological Department forecast more downpours in the next couple of days.

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India

India needs ‘a Manmohan Singh’: Sharad Pawar

He felt that instead of hitting back, the Centre should exert global pressure on China through diplomatic channels and negotiations and resolve pending issues like the Galwan valley clash.

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sharad pawar

Mumbai, July 12 : Given the current financial crisis, India needs an economic expert like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said here on Sunday.

Pawar recalled how he was a Union minister when Singh was the Finance Minister and the country was passing through a financial crisis in the early 1990s.

“However, it was Manmohan Singh who gave the country a new direction and pulled the country out of the economic problems. For this I give full credit to Manmohan Singh, and also (then Prime Minister) P.V. Narasimha Rao. Today, the country needs him (Singh). I feel Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saheb should take the initiative to seek help of economists. I am confident the country will support him,” said Pawar.

The NCP chief urged Modi to confabulate with knowledgeable people from different parties, take the help of whosoever possible or feasible, take everybody along, as in the Prime Minister’s current set-up, “there are some persons who have no such experience.”

Pawar’s comments came in the second instalment of his marathon interview with ”Saamana” and ”Dopahar Ka Saamna” Group Executive Editor and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Asked whether he had discussed the current scenario with the current Finance Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman), Pawar, 79, replied in the negative.

“No. I never met her even once, nor had any discussions with her. At times of financial crisis confronting such a big country with a huge population there are many challenges, and a dialogue with others (parties) is necessary, but that”s not happening now,” the NCP supremo said.

In this context he pointed out he had observed persons like Pranab Mukherji, P. Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh spending hours with experts and leaders of other political parties, seeking their suggestions as India is a huge country with diverse viewpoints.

“I don’t know if something similar is happening now. If its being done, there has to be some outcome of that, which is not visible,” Pawar said, implying that a political dialogue at the national level seems to be missing.

Dwelling on questions pertaining to security vis-a-vis India’s neighbours, Pawar said that “when we think of the enemy, the first name that crops up is Pakistan.”

“But we should not worry about Pakistan. In the long-term, it is China that is detrimental to India’s interests, it is 10 times more powerful than us militarily, it has systematically created all this after years of planning, vision and programmes besides economic strength to act against us. China is the real worry and poses a bigger threat to India,” Pawar asserted.

Recounting his meeting as Defence Minister with the Chinese Premier at a private sea resort in that country, Pawar said at the time (over 25 years ago), China was only concerned about giving a challenge to the USA and Japan.

“When I asked him what China’s policy vis-a-vis its neighbours, he said they were not thinking of them, maybe after around 25 years. Today, that danger has arisen, China is economically strong. Now, its target is India. Modi became friends with President Xi Jinping, hugged and shook hands, sat on a swing, gave gifts. An impression was conveyed that we have achieved something big with this camaraderie. But problems between two countries cannot be solved in such a manner, now we realise that,” Pawar pointed out.

On the tendency of the BJP government to blame Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi for all problems related to China and Pakistan, Pawar said we must also consider the situation whereby all our neighbours like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are now siding with China. “These sullied relations are the contribution of the present times”.

He felt that instead of hitting back, the Centre should exert global pressure on China through diplomatic channels and negotiations and resolve pending issues like the Galwan valley clash.

Pawar also touched upon various other issues pertaining to the lockdown and how Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government has fared well in the first half and is working hard.

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