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In book on 2G case, Salman Khurshid defends Congress line

The book, Spectrum Politics, comes months after a Delhi court acquitted former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi and other accused of corruption and money laundering charges in the 2G spectrum allocation cases.

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salman khurshid

At a time when the BJP government’s relationship with the higher judiciary is strained and the Opposition has been trying to capitalise on it, a new book by former Law and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid gives an interesting insight into the previous UPA government’s engagement with the judiciary.

The book, Spectrum Politics, comes months after a Delhi court acquitted former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi and other accused of corruption and money laundering charges in the 2G spectrum allocation cases. The book is a forceful defence of the Congress’s argument that there was no wrongdoing in allocation of 2G licenses.

Khurshid recalls that on the night before the Supreme Court cancelled 122 spectrum licenses in 2012, “someone left a copy (of the judgment) at my gate in a sealed envelope.”

“I was shocked, to say the least, but there was little I could do in the middle of the night. Early next morning, I was scheduled for a trip to a southern state. I went through the business of the day, but asked for updates from Delhi. Some parts of the judgement as delivered in the court seemed different from the copy I had received. Upon my return to Delhi, I discovered that the judgement uploaded was different. I immediately brought the matter up with Chief Justice Kapadia who promised to have the entire matter examined. Although I did not hear anything further, I am given to understand that some action was taken against a clerk of the court registry,” he has written in the book published by Rupa Publications.

Khurshid has written that when the judgment came up for discussion in the cabinet meeting later, he “ventured to suggest that other judges of the court might be more sensitive to the government’s concerns.” Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister, told him “not to indulge in wishful thinking”, he has written.

“One could sense the obvious tension between wizened politicians and the judiciary. And yet this was the time that my relations with successive chief justices were excellent. Far from the NDA government’s indefinite procrastination of the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendations, I used to get the lists cleared right away,” he has written.

Talking about BJP’s slogan of Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas, Khurshid has written, “One wonders whether despite divisive politics of polarization of communities, the BJP feels that there is need for lip service to the India of yesteryears. In other words, BJP needs a bit of Congress to survive as indeed some people in the Congress might have begun to feel that the Congress needs a bit of the BJP to revive its fortunes.”

India

3-Day ‘Rail Roko’ Agitation Starts As Farm Bills Protest Intensifies; Trains Suspended

Railway authorities says, 14 pairs of special trains will remain suspended from September 24 till 26 amidst farmers protest in Punjab against farm bills.

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Farmers Protest

Farmers in Punjab on Thursday began their three-day ‘rail roko’ agitation to protest against the three farm bills while the Ferozepur Railway division suspended the operation of special trains due to the stir.

Railway authorities said 14 pairs of special trains will remain suspended from September 24 till 26. The decision has been taken keeping in mind the safety of passengers and protection of railway property from any damage, officials said.

Among the trains which will remain suspended are Golden Temple Mail (Amritsar-Mumbai Central), Jan Shatabdi Express (Haridwar-Amritsar), New Delhi-Jammu Tawi, Karambhoomi (Amritsar-New Jalpaiguri), Sachkhand Express (Nanded-Amritsar) and Shaheed Express (Amritsar-Jaynagar), officials said.

At present, routine passenger train service remains suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call for ‘rail roko’ agitation was given by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and later, different farmers’ outfits also extended their support.

Activists of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) squatted on rail tracks in Barnala and Sangrur on Thursday morning.

Farmers under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have decided to squat on rail tracks near Devidaspur village in Amritsar and Basti Tanka wala in Ferozepur.

The representatives of the committee said they were getting support from several sections including government employees and labourers.

Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee president Satnam Singh Pannu said that they have appealed to representatives of political parties, ministers, MPs and MLAs not to take part in the farmers’ agitation.

They vowed to gherao BJP leaders and socially boycott those who voted in favour of the farm bills.

As many as 31 farmers’ outfits have given a call for the complete shutdown of Punjab on September 25 to protest against the bills.

Farmers in Punjab have expressed apprehension that the bills would pave way for dismantling the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates.

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

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Delhi Riots: CPI Says Police ‘Trying To Frame’ Leaders Critical Of BJP

Raising doubts about the impartiality of the probe, the CPI said the investigation by the Delhi Police is a ‘conspiracy’ aimed at criminalising those who speak against human rights violations and injustice, rather than catching the real perpetrators of the violence.

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Sitaram Yechury

New Delhi: The CPI on Thursday accused the Delhi Police of “trying to frame” in the February riots cases political leaders and activists who are critical of the “anti-people policies” of the BJP-led government.

In a supplementary charge sheet filed recently by the Delhi Police in the February riot cases, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand have been named allegedly for “provoking and mobilising” anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters.

Some of those named have also been charged with — based on the statements of three students already arrested in the case — asking the protesters to go to “any extreme”, spreading “discontent” in the community by calling CAA and proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) anti-Muslim, and organising demonstrations to “malign the image of Government of India”.

“The Party deplores the role of Delhi Police in investigating the North-East Delhi riots targeting leaders and activists including CPI National Executive Member Annie Raja, also General Secretary, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW),” the CPI statement said.

“The peaceful and democratic protests against the CAA were a legitimate, constitutional expression of people’s dissent against the law and it was the effectiveness of the protests that shook the BJP which is now attempting to portray the protests as a conspiracy to cause riots in North-East Delhi,” it said.

The CPI said, “It is indeed shocking that the Delhi Police is trying to frame political leaders and activists who are critics of the anti-people policies and programs of the current regime.”

“The investigation by the Delhi Police itself is a conspiracy and is aimed at criminalising those who speak against human rights violations and injustice, rather than catching the real perpetrators of the violence,” it said.

CPI leader Annie Raja, leaders of other political parties including Salman Khurshid, Brinda Karat, Kavita Krishnan and activists including Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Bhardwaj, Yogendra Yadav, Harsh Mander, Rahul Roy, Apoorvanand and Saba Dewan have been named in the charge sheet citing disclosure statements of those arrested, CPI general secretary D Raja said.

“All these people extended solidarity with the peaceful protests led by Muslim women and now this is being twisted into a grand conspiracy,” the statement said.

“In contrast, the glaring absence in the charge sheets on the role of leaders associated with the BJP, who gave inflammatory speeches, is unmissable,” it said.

“The CPI along with other opposition parties had even given a memorandum to the President of India highlighting these concerns and had asked for the institution of an enquiry into this investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, headed by sitting/retired judge(s),” it added.

Earlier, the Delhi Police had said the names were part of the disclosure statement of the accused which were recorded “truthfully”.

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Will Urge Neighbouring States To Use Indigenous Technology To Manage Stubble, Says Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will meet Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to address the issue of stubble burning.

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Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said he would meet Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and request him to direct neighbouring states to implement a low-cost technology developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute to manage crop residue.

The technology, called Pusa Decomposer, involves a liquid formulation prepared using Pusa decomposer capsules, fermenting it over 8-10 days and then spraying the mixture on crop residue to ensure speedy bio-decomposition of the stubble. Capsules worth Rs. 20 can effectively deal with 4-5 tonnes of raw straw per acre.

“I will meet the Union environment minister in a day or two and request him to direct neighbouring states to implement this technology,” he told reporters during a visit to the institute.

Farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh set their fields on fire to quickly clear off the crop residue before cultivating wheat and potato every paddy harvesting season between October 15 and November 15. This practice is attributed to the alarming spike in pollution levels in Delhi-NCR during winters.

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