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Delhi-Varanasi Chair Car journey by Train 18 to cost Rs 1,760

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Train 18

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) For travelling between New Delhi and Varanasi by Train 18 — rechristened as Vande Bharat Express — which is scheduled to make its maiden run on February 15 — the passengers will have to shell out 30-40 per cent higher fare than they do for Shatabdi Express, Railway Ministry officials said on Monday.

A New Delhi-Varanasi journey by the indigenously built high-speed train would cost Rs 3,310 and Rs 1,760 for Executive Class (EC) and Chair Car (CC), respectively, inclusive of taxes.

A Railway Ministry official said: “The passengers travelling in the CC from New Delhi to Varanasi, covering a distance of 776 km, will have to shell out Rs 1,760, while for the same distance in the EC, they will have to pay Rs 3,310, including the catering charges.”

The official, however, said that on the train’s return journey, fare from Varanasi to New Delhi for the CC will be Rs 1,700 and the EC ticket would cost Rs 3,260.

He said that CC fares are about 1.4 times the base price of Shatabdi Express trains covering the same distance, while the fares of EC are 1.3 times that of the base fare for First Class air-conditioned seating.

The fares for Delhi-Kanpur journey by Vande Bharat Express has been fixed at Rs 1,090 for CC and Rs 2,105 for EC, and between Delhi and Prayagraj, they would be Rs 1,395 and Rs 2,750, respectively.

He said that between Kanpur and Prayagraj, the fares for CC would be Rs 595 and for EC Rs 1,170.

A journey between Kanpur and Varanasi in CC would cost Rs 1,020 and in EC Rs 1,815.

Passengers travelling from New Delhi to Varanasi in EC would be charged Rs 399 for morning tea, breakfast and lunch, while those opting for CC would need to pay Rs 344 for the same.

Similarly, the passengers travelling from New Delhi to Kanpur and Prayagraj will have to pay Rs 155 and Rs 122 for EC and CC, respectively.

From Varanasi to New Delhi, the passengers would be charged Rs 349 and Rs 288 in the EC and CC, respectively. They will be served evening tea with snacks and dinner.

The official also said that no concession and child fare shall be allowed in this train. “Only full fare adult tickets shall be issued,” he said, adding that the passes of the Members of Parliament and MLAs, other coupons, military/ para-military warrants etc., having full reimbursable fare shall be allowed.

The much-awaited indigenously built engineless Vande Bharat Express will make its commercial debut on February 15 between New Delhi and Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to the railway officials, Modi will flag off the the new train at 10 a.m on February 15 from New Delhi Railway Station.

Train 18 recently became India’s fastest train, hitting a speed of over 180 kmph during a trial run.

It would soon start replacing the Shatabdi Express trains and run between Delhi and Varanasi.

India

‘Rapist’ Kerala priest gets 60 years in jail

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Law

Kannur (Kerala) Feb 16: A 51-year-old Kerala Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery on Saturday was sentenced to 60 years in jail in three different cases of rape and abuse of minor girls.

Thalassery Judge P.N. Vinod also fined the priest from the Mananthavady diocese in Wayanad district Rs 3 lakh after it was established that he had raped and impregnated a minor girl in 2016.

He was tried under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

IANS

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Kashmir insurgency: Need to win hearts and minds

From Syria to Afghanistan/Pakistan to Kashmir, the jehadi mindset is primed among the youth by the mythical Islamic Caliphate’s war against the kafirs (infidels).

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One of the most disturbing aspects of the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama was that the suicide bomber was a local, Adil Ahmad Dar, who lived in a village near the Jammu-Srinagar highway where the attack took place.

Although indoctrinated as a fidayeen by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, Dar’s act as a jehadi underlines the vulnerability of impressionable Kashmiri youths to insidious anti-India propaganda by Pakistani terror groups nurtured by the Deep State comprising the country’s army and an espionage agency.

In this particular instance, Dar was apparently “inspired” to kill himself by the Taliban’s “victory” signified by American withdrawal from Afghanistan. If anything, the tragedy emphasises the inter-linked international dimensions of Islamic terrorism.

From Syria to Afghanistan/Pakistan to Kashmir, the jehadi mindset is primed among the youth by the mythical Islamic Caliphate’s war against the kafirs (infidels).

Unlike West Asia and even in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, Indian democracy provides a safeguard against a Messianic struggle, which is why an overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims, including those in Kashmir, remain committed to the democratic system.

As much is evident from the recent panchayat and municipal elections in the state even if the polling percentages in the Valley were low.

However, it is undeniable that a section of Muslims in the valley continue to remain alienated notwithstanding the government’s attempts to reach out to them via the negotiations carried out by the Centre’s representative, Dineshwar Sharma.

But if his efforts have failed to defuse the situation, the reason perhaps is the government’s reluctance to implement some of the recommendations to improve the conditions made by the Dileep Padgaonkar Committee.

These included reducing the army’s visibility, addressing human rights violations, reviewing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and lifting the Disturbed Areas Act.

In essence, what these initiatives were expected to do was to reach out to the hearts and minds of the ordinary people whose commitment to the Indian state cannot be doubted as the continuing relevance of the mainstream parties like the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party show.

What is required to defang the terrorists and wean away the misguided youth from their self-destructive path is a gesture which will have a major impact.

One of them is to consider freezing the AFSPA (former Congress minister P. Chidambaram wanted it to be scrapped altogether) and to give a cast-iron guarantee that neither Article 370 nor Article 35A will be touched. The former confers a special status on Kashmir and the latter relates to citizenship rights.

It is only such “big ticket” reforms which can end the sense of alienation among the youths who are cynically exploited by Pakistan’s Deep State.

An outreach of this nature will confirm that the government does not regard Kashmir merely as a law and order problem, where all that is needed is a harsh crackdown on the malcontents.

Arguably, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not find it easy to change its longstanding stance favouring dispensing with Article 370. But it has to be remembered that Atal Behari Vajpayee did put Article 370 in cold storage in 1996 along with his party’s demand for building a Ram temple and introducing a uniform civil code when he was looking for allies to form a government.

Vajpayee had also called for looking at the Kashmir issue within the parameters of insaniyat (humanity) rather than of the Constitution.

Such broadmindedness is the need of the hour to dissuade deluded young men like Dar from the path of nihilism. Otherwise, more and more of such brainwashed youths will leave their kith and kin to court untimely death.

Equally, scores of security personnel will be in danger of losing their lives because official policies have failed to assure the discontented people of a state with a distinct cultural ambience that they are the nation’s cherished citizens.

It is only when the Kashmiris are visibly mollified that Pakistan’s “isolation”, which the Centre is currently seeking, will be complete, for a fully integrated Kashmir will negate Pakistan’s hope of avenging its Bangladesh defeat and recovering the “K” in the country’s name.

India has dealt with rebellious outbreaks in different parts of the country from the Northeast to the Maoist belts in central and western areas with a fair amount of success. There is no reason why it cannot achieve the same in Kashmir with a patient understanding of the grievances affecting the state, especially when it has national-level leaders like Farooq and Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti with their political and administrative experience.

True, the jehadi factor makes it difficult for a government to adopt a sane attitude because of the irrational pseudo-religious fervour of the militants. But an overt demonstration of being sensitive can enable the government to enlist the overall support of Kashmiri society and enable the elders to rein in the rebels.

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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Stand with Govt and Security forces to fight against terrorism: Congress

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CRPF troopers killed in suicide attack in Pulwama

New Delhi, Feb 16: The Congress on Saturday vowed to support the government for the unity and security of the country to fight against terrorism.

“We stand with the govt for unity and security of the nation and security forces. Be it Kashmir or any other part of the nation, Congress party gives its full support to the govt in the fight against terrorism”, he told media after all-party meeting in the national capital.

“We had requested the Home Minister to request the PM on our behalf to ask Presidents of all national & regional parties for a meeting. This was supported by other parties too. The entire nation is in mourning today, is angry”, he added.

The Congress leader further stated “I had also said that barring war, for the first time since 1947 such large number of security personnel have been killed in an attack. We stand with our security forces – Army, CRPF, local police. The entire nation is standing with them”.

“We strongly condemn the dastardly terror act of 14th February at Pulwama in J&K in which lives of 40 brave jawans of CRPF were lost”, during the meeting called by the Centre, a resolution was passed.

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