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Centre warns data commerce companies not to influence elections



New Delhi, May 10: The central government on Thursday warned online firms involved in the business of data commerce not to use collusive methods to influence elections in the country. 

Addressing at the 15th Asia Media Summit, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said “The data must be available but anonymous. All the online companies who are in the business of data privacy or data commerce must understand these nuances”.

“India cannot be the centre of date pilferage. We are strong believers in the freedom of elections and data commerce through collusive methods cannot be used to influence India’s elections,” he added.

Citing an example, Prasad said he had taken a company stand when the social media giant Facebook and data mining firm Cambridge Analytica’s data breach issue came into the limelight last month.

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of harvesting personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users illegally to influence elections in several countries.

Supporting the freedom of press and its prosperity in open society, the IT Minister raised questions on the journalism ethics and the accountability of media.

He stated freedom of press is an important factor in polity and that a free media can prosper only in an open society, but accountability of media is integral to society.

“The ethical journalism in my view is that it should be fair, true and should present both sides properly. Media of today in the garb of sensationalism, paid news, fake news, too much of unravelling insidious practices seem to duck larger issues,” the Minister asserted.

He said the Centre did not want to interfere but those who firmly believe in the freedom of media and insist upon their rights also need to understand that there was something like accountability also. “Ethical journalism flows from those abiding values.”

Speaking about the benefit of digitalisation, Prasad said we have got 1.20 billion Aadhaar cards, the “digital identity to supplement the physical identity.

“We opened over 300 million bank accounts for poor and linked it to Aadhaar. Now, we have started sending funds directly to the bank accounts of poor of various entitlement. And, we have saved Rs 83,000 crore, close to 10 billion dollars, which used to be pocketed by middlemen and fictitious elements”, he added.



Fresh snowfall, landslides shut Jammu-Srinagar highway



jammu srinagar highway
ANI File Photo

Jammu, Feb 21: Fresh snowfall in the Bannihal sector and multiple landslides in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector blocked the Jammu-Srinagar highway, prompting halt of all traffic on Thursday on the strategic route.

“Over a foot of fresh snow has accumulated on the highway in Bannihal sector. There have been multiple landslides triggered by heavy rain at places in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector, as well,” a traffic department official said.

It is raining heavily along the 300-km stretch at various places both in the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu division.

“No vehicular traffic will be allowed on the highway today. Snow and landslide clearance operation will be started immediately after the weather improves,” the Traffic Department said.

The official said stranded vehicles along the highway were all parked at safe places.

The highway is regarded as the jugular vein of the landlocked valley as all essential supplies are routed to Kashmir through this road. Each time the highway gets blocked, shortages of essential supplies hit the valley.

From February 6 to 12 the highway had remained shut causing acute crisis in the valley.


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Pulwama fallout: Security of 18 separatists, 155 politicians in J&K withdrawn



Jammu kashmir Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
The security cover of four senior separatist leaders -- Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone were already withdrawn on Monday. (Photo Credit- Reuters)

Jammu, Feb 21: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday withdrew security of 18 separatists and 155 political persons in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which over 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

An order issued by the Home Department late on Wednesday said security cover of separatists and some mainstream politicians was also being withdrawn/downgraded apart from those that were initially withdrawn on February 18.

As per the new order, the new list includes names from the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Some of them are Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, former IAS officer Shah Faesal and PDP leader Waheed Para.

“Over 1,000 personal security guards and 100 vehicles provided to the secured persons are being withdrawn,” officials said here.

The security cover of four senior separatist leaders — Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone were already withdrawn on Monday.

The decision to cut down heavily on separatist leaders’ cover was taken in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack when an explosive-packed SUV rammed into a bus of a Central Reserve Police Force convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway killing 40 paramilitary troopers on the spot in the worst-ever terror attack in the state since militancy struck there in 1989.


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Women, children used to ferry Pulwama explosive: Intelligence sources



CRPF troopers killed in suicide attack in Pulwama

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Women and children helped terrorists to ferry the deadly explosive RDX grade 5 (for military use) and ammonium nitrate from transit point Tral in Pulwama district in south Kashmir in carrying out a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14, intelligence sources told IANS.

More than 40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers were killed when a local suicide bomber, Aadil Dar, rammed his SUV into a bus carrying the troopers from Jammu to Srinagar.

The sources said the trigger for the explosive was manufactured locally and that ammonium nitrate was used as an oxidizer in the RDX explosive.

The attack took place on Jammu-Srinagar highway near Latoomode in Pulwama around 3.33 p.m. on February 14, stunning the over 2,500 troopers who were part of the convoy.

The military grade RDX was procured from across the border and the device was assembled around 10 km from the blast site, the sources said.

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