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Bookings open for Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Expr, to start Oct 5

The Vande Bharat Express will run on all days of the week except Tuesday, and will cut the travel time between Delhi and Katra to just 8 hours

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New Delhi, Sep 29 : Bringing cheer to people planning to visit the Vaishno Devi shrine near Jammu, Indian Railways have opened bookings for the high-speed Vande Bharat Express that will ply between Delhi and Katra from the coming October 5.

Bookings have opened on the IRCTC website www.irctc.co. for the indigenuosly built Train 18, which has been rechristended as Vande Bharat Express. It will be flagged off by Home Minister Amit Shah on October 3, and will be available for regular passengers from October 5.

The railways have not applied the dynamic pricing principle for its fares on the new train. The minimum fare for travelling between New Delhi to Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station in the chair car is Rs 1,630, while the fare for the executive chair car is priced at Rs 3,015.

The Vande Bharat Express will run on all days of the week except Tuesday, and will cut the travel time between Delhi and Katra to just 8 hours, as compared to 12-14 hours required earlier to cover the distance of 655 km. The

The train will depart from the New Delhi Railway Station at 6 a.m. and will reach Katra at 2 p.m. It will commence its return journey on the same day from Katra at 3 p.m. and reach New Delhi at 11 p.m.

Railway officials here pointed out that the train would be run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph on the Delhi-Katra route with three stops – Ambala, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi -before reaching Katra.

According to them, the decision to run the indigenously built high speed train between Delhi and Katra, the base for the trip to Vaishno Devi, was taken following the success of the Vande Bharat Express currently plying plying between New Delhi and Varanasi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the first Vande Bharat Express on February 15 this year.

The official said the route was identified by the Railway Board in order to capitalize on the high traffic volume on account of the Vaishno Devi temple pilgrims.

The Train 18 manufactures, Integral Coach Factory (ICF), have made changes to the existing design of the train.

“To avoid damage due to stray cattle, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover. And to guard the window shields against stone pelting, a special film on windows has been provided,” a railway official said.

More space has been provided to store meals for passengers. Besides the changes in the exterior and interior designs, the ICF has added a slew of modern features like adjustable seats, improved wash basins, automatic doors, WiFi and infotainment system, among others.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

India

‘Manmohan to attend Kartarpur opening as common pilgrim’

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Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Oct 20 : Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not attend the Kartarpur corridor inauguration on the invite of Pakistan next month, “but participate in the event as a common pilgrim”, sources said on Sunday.

A senior Congress leader, who did not want to be identified, said that Manmohan Singh will not be attending the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor on November 9 on Pakistan’s invite.

The development came a day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday claimed that the former Prime Minister has accepted his invitation to attend the scheduled opening next month of the gurdwara in Pakistan to Indian pilgrims to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

The party source said that there was “no question of the former Prime Minister going (for Pakistan’s event)”. “There is a huge difference between visiting Pakistan and going to the gurdwara through the corridor as a common pilgrim,” he said.

Manmohan Singh would be a part of Sikh Jatha delegation led by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. They will pay obeisance at the shrine and would return on the same day.

The Punjab Chief Minister has earlier also invited President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the event organised by the state government.

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Four terror camps hit in PoK, number of terrorists killed: Army Chief

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Gen Bipin Rawat

New Delhi, Oct 20 : Four terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) were hit and a number of terrorists killed in retaliatory artillery firing by India following the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, Army chief, General Bipin Rawat said.

“We had information that terror camps are operating in PoK in areas opposite Keran, Tangdhar and Nowgam sectors which we call the Leepa valley. These were targeted. At least 6-10 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the attack. A similar number of terrorists have also been killed.

“There is more information about terrorists killed which we will share later. We have confirmed information about more at least three terror camps have been destroyed in the attack. There have been damages to a fourth camp too,” Rawat told the media.

IANS had reported earlier during the day that four terror camps have been hit in PoK in the retaliatory firing by India.

Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to top army officials, including the army chief, on Sunday to take stock of the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers and a civilian were killed.

The Army identified the soldiers as Hawaldar Padam Bahadur Shrestha and Rifleman Gamil Kumar Shrestha. Both were killed by artillery firing by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Tangdhar sector on the intervening night of October 19 and 20.

“Rajnath Singh spoke to Gen Rawat and took stock of the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He enquired about the counter-attack launched by Indian security forces and the martyrdom of the two soldiers killed and the civilian casualty during the ceasefire violation,” a senior official told IANS.

Rawat said that the political leadership has been kept abreast of the developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The political leadership is always kept abreast about incidents of these nature. We have full backing of the political leadership in our action against countering terror in whichever manner we do,” he said.

Civilian areas in Ghundhishat village in Tangdhar were also hit by the Pakistan Army’s artillery firing on Saturday night. The deceased civilian has been identified as Mohammed Sadiq, 55. The three injured civilians have been identified as Mohammed Maqbool, 70, Mohammed Shafi, 50, and Yusuf Hamid, 22.

Army officials confirmed that calibrated escalation of area weapons was undertaken by the Indian side in which terrorist launch pads, Pakistani Army posts giving incidental protection to these launch pads and certain gun positions were hit.

Sources said that at least 35 Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militants were killed in retaliatory artillery firing. Army sources said at least four terror launch pads in the Neelam Valley of PoK opposite the Tangdhar sector. They also said that at least four to five Pakistani soldiers were killed in the retaliatory firing.

The developments in Jammu and Kashmir come a day before Rajnath Singh and Rawat are slated to visit Ladakh for opening a strategic bridge near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China along the newly-constructed all-weather motorable Leh-Karakoram road.

Till October 10 this year, Pakistan has violated ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir for 2,310 times. As per the Army, 147 terrorists have been killed till October 10 in various operations in the hinterland and the LoC.

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‘Balakot tree strike’ shattered myths about Indian armed forces : Report

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Mirage 2000 Fighter Jet

Islamabad, Oct 21 (IANS) Pakistan’s shooting down on February 27 this year of an Indian Air Force jet, after the cross-border Balakot air strike by India, “shattered many myths regarding the Indian armed forces and the false aura they had created in the past 20 years”, a Pakistani newspaper article has written, terming Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was taken captive, as “Abhi none done”.

An opinion piece in the Express Tribune, titled “Bhadauria: IAF needs pilots, not coconuts”, referring to new Indian IAF chief RK Bhadauria, says that Indian air force pilots though “sharp, wily and hardworking” have a “complex about Pakistan”.

The authors say the “complex” during the current government in India is “more pronounced due to the Sanghi rule in India”.

“RSS Bhakts and neo-Nazis have turned every ministry and department into the Sangh Parivar (family). Professionalism is taking a back seat and the Modi cult is the ultimate recipe to fix everything bad in India, whether it’s the downturn in economy, crash of Indian rupee, loss of millions of jobs or the Balakot tree strike; “Modi Hai to Mumkin Hai” (with Modi it is possible).”

It is dismissive of the February 26 Balakot air strike by India, terming it a “Balakot tree strike, which killed a brave Pakistani crow and injured 10 trees”. It says the Indian political used the Balakot incident to start a “blitz of lies and deceits, and as aceAbhi none done” was “undone” by the PAF and was escorted across the Wagha border in shame, this charade of lies and deceit became a shameless cover-up”.

It says “former IAF chief Dhanoa was forced to become the face of this cover-up”. “Despite all the twists and fake stories telling the brave intrusion of Abhinandan and shooting down of a PAF F-16, the international experts on air warfare did not buy the Indian charade of lies and Dhanoa had to do a catwalk with Abhinandan till the last day to keep up the IAF’s morale”.

It says Bhadauria, “like a true Rajput, did acknowledge part of the truth that the IAF air defence system had shot down their own helicopter right at the Srinagar Air Base and that a military court would sort out those responsible.

“Our advice would be to put ex-chief Dhanoa into a lie detecting test and maybe Bhadauria will have to court-martial a lot of the top brass of the IAF for covering up this blatant lie. Unfortunately, the Modi-Amit-Doval circus won’t allow that, as accountability of the military would mean accountability of the political decision makers who wanted to take advantage of the clouds to hide their radar signature.”

It says the Indian military’s PR media campaign after February 27 shows a “deliberate attempt on giving more space to the IAF. This campaign has four major facets.

“The facade of bravado and fakery to cover up the faux pas of the Balakot incident; project IAF’s technological and numerical superiority by advertising the latest procurements on an almost daily basis; conveying to the PAF that India has taken a head lead over Pakistan in acquiring modern hardware; and lastly, showing political pooja paat as essential element of military power and use of nimboo narial and laddus (lemon, coconuts and sweets) to justify the Shastra Pooja,” it says referring to Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who had performed a “Shastra Pooja” in France while taking the first Rafale jet.

It says the IAF’s “Balakot tree strike” and the Pakistan Air Force’s “aggressive response sent some very strong strategic signals across the globe”.

“Pakistan conveyed to the world that it can display a sure footed response based on political intent and was ready to climb the escalation ladder in a nuclear overhang, when it comes to territorial integrity and honour of the nation. The PAF proved that Indian technological and numerical superiority was a myth and the PAF could dominate the skies over South Asia by displaying superiority over the IAF in technical, technological, training and operational domains. The PAF also displayed unwavering faith in Allah Almighty and the cause of Pakistan.”

“Pakistan also re-established nuclear deterrence by a quick and bold conventional response, the mere fact that Indian politico military leadership did not venture across the LoC or the international border after 27th February proves that India chickened out in this brinkmanship,” it says.

“When Modi said that he wished Rafale was there on February 27th, it was a slap on the face of the largest air force in the region. This statement by Modi points out that the IAF was unfit for war without new inductions. Should Dhanoa and his team be made accountable for this admission?”

“While we congratulate Mrs Asha Bhadauria on becoming the Chief Parton of AFWWA (Air Force Wives Welfare Association), there is a need to control AFWAA Sazi (Fake news in Urdu) in IAF. The new IAF chief should try enroll some real pilots: Coconuts won’t work in war,” it says.

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