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Govt removes SPG cover of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi



Rahul Sonia Priyanka

New Delhi, Nov 8 : The Special Protection Group (SPG) cover given to Gandhis, including Congress Interim President Sonia and her children, has been withdrawn and they will now get ‘Z plus’ security provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), officials said on Friday.

The SPG security will be withdrawn from the New Delhi residences of Sonia, her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after the CRPF takes over the responsibility, a Home Ministry official said.

Sources said the government’s decision has been conveyed to the Gandhi family, but the people close to the family said they have not been informed. The decision is set to become a huge political flashpoint, with Congress leaders perceiving the move as “downgrading” of the security of the Gandhis, who have been enjoying the SPG cover since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991.

The decision to withdraw SPG security, the country’s highest grade of protection, was taken after a review involving the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of Home Affairs with inputs from various intelligence agencies, officials said.

In the wake of the latest decision, the top security cover will now be given only to the Prime Minister.

The ‘Z plus’ security means the Gandhis will be guarded by around 100 CRPF personnel. According to procedures laid down by the SPG Act, 1988, Gandhis’ SPG security cover was renewed annually after a review of threats faced by them.

The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

Parliament passed the SPG Act in 1988, dedicating the group to protecting the Prime Minister. At the time, the Act did not include former Prime Ministers.

When V.P. Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. In 2003, the Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to “a period of one year from the date on which the former prime minister ceased to hold office” and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government.

In August, the Centre had also withdrawn SPG protection given to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur and they were accorded ‘Z plus’ security of CRPF.


Pan India NRC to exclude more Muslims: Badruddin Ajmal




Badruddin Ajmal

Guwahati, Nov 21 : A day after Union Home minister Amit Shah announced that pan India National Register of Citizens (NRC) will include Assam as well, Chief of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) Badruddin Ajmal said that the ruling party is unable to digest that a large number of Muslims have made it to the final NRC.

Ajmal, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Dhubri constituency, said this on Thursday while talking to newsmen and added that the BJP is unhappy as large numbers of Bengali Hindus, Koch Rajbonshi and Buddhist people were excluded from NRC due to non acceptance of refugee certificate issued prior to 1971.

The final NRC published on August 31 this year had left 19,06,657 people outside the citizens’ registry, triggering large scale unhappiness.

The BJP government in Assam has welcomed the Union Minister’s announcement about a pan India NRC and said that the BJP as well as the Assam government has not accepted the final NRC published on August 31.

“BJP is not happy as large numbers of Muslims in Assam could make it to the NRC with all their relevant documents relating to their citizenship,” Ajmal said terming the latest announcement as a political move to exclude more Muslims from the proposed NRC.

“Otherwise what could be the reasons for NRC again after spending about Rs 1,600 Crore for the exercise and engaging over 50,000 government employees in the exercise,” he said.

The LOk Sabha MP further said that many people even died while standing in queues for NRC hearings and many committed suicides after not finding names in the draft NRC.

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Kashmir region returning to normalcy, Centre tells Supreme Court




Lockdown in Kashmir
Indian security forces patrol a deserted street during restrictions after the Indian government scrapped special status for Kashmir, in Srinagar August 7, 2019.

New Delhi, Nov 21 : A day after Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in the Parliament on Kashmir, the Centre, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, gave the Supreme Court a detailed account of “normalcy” returning to Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Valley.

The Solicitor General, in a counter to petitions challenging the restrictions imposed on Kashmir after revocation of Article 370, said these petitions have outlived their relevance as the erstwhile state is returning to normalcy.

“The region is under diktats is a serious allegation levelled by petitioners… post August 5, rights have been conferred on citizens and not taken away,” he said. He insisted the narrative suggesting the entire seven million population is under the shadow of doubt, in the backdrop of these restrictions, is a false notion pedalled by a minority.

Elaborating on the nature of terrorism, Mehta, supporting the restrictions imposed on the access to internet in the region, said: “We are victim of cross border terrorism, who infiltrate digitally and not only physically.”

Mehta presented the latest data, on the situation of Kashmir as on November 18, before a bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana. “Orders under section 144 CrPC have been removed from all 195 police stations. There has been a decrease in incidents of stone pelting, 190 incidents reported after August 5 as compared to 802 in 2018. And, all 20,411 schools are open. Nearly 99 per cent students appeared in senior secondary examination,” he told the court.

The Solicitor General added all hospitals and medical centres are open in the Valley. Large volumes of fuel have been consumed which indicate vehicular movement in the region. “The government purchased apples through NAFED at a cost of Rs 38 crore. Out of 59,76,359 mobile phones, 20,05,293 post-paid mobile phones (voice) are functioning. But, restrictions continue on pre-paid, as identities can be forged to get a connection,” he added.

The government has facilitated 280 e-terminals for access to internet in 11 districts, and arrangements have been made in tourist spots. The Centre insisted that newspapers are being published, banking services are functional, nearly all shops and markets are open in the Valley, government offices are functional, and public transport is also functioning.

The SG told the petitioner, who is the editor of a newspaper, deliberately chose not to publish newspaper from Kashmir. “The narrative everything is blocked and journalists do not do anything is not true,” he contended.

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Supreme Court to hear PIL seeking deportation of illegal immigrants

In his plea, Upadhyaya has supported the Centre’s stand to screen and deport 40,000 illegal Rohingya Muslim, who have sought shelter India, to Myanmar.




Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Nov 21 : The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a plea seeking identification and deportation of all illegal immigrants from the country, including of Bangladeshi nationals and Rohingyas.

BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay made the plea before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, stating that the matter is very crucial and the court should hear it.

“The illegal Rohingya and Bangladeshi immigrants are actually taking away the bread and butter of many citizens in the country” Upadhyay submitted before the bench.

After his brief submission, the court listed for hearing after four weeks.

“List it for hearing after four weeks,” said the bench, which also included Justices Surya Kant and Sanjiv Khanna.

The plea said that a large influx of illegal migrants, particularly from Myanmar and Bangladesh, is a matter of concern, which has threatened the demographic structure of bordering districts. The illegal migration has also seriously impaired security and national integration, and they can be viewed as a potential threat.

In his plea, Upadhyaya has supported the Centre’s stand to screen and deport 40,000 illegal Rohingya Muslim, who have sought shelter India, to Myanmar.

The plea seeks directions to Centre and state governments to identify, detain and deport all illegal immigrants and infiltrators.

The plea alleged that large-scale movement of immigrants from Myanmar into the country is a nexus involving agents and touts who facilitate Rohingyas’ entry.

The points of illegal entry into India are through Benapole-Haridaspur and Hilli (West Bengal), Sonamora (Tripura), Kolkata and Guwahati which has created a very serious situation, the plea submitted.

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