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The Congress Party lashed out at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government and termed the secret meeting of National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok as a “grand betrayal” of the Modi government and reflection of “flip-flops” over its Pakistan policy.

Congress Party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said, “The Congress Party has always stood for peaceful resolution through mutual cooperation and mutual talks, but this (NDA) government did not take us into confidence about the talks in Bangkok.”

“The talks with Pakistan have gone through a series of flip-flops and the current talks do not inspire much expectation. Further, it raises the question of whether these talks are being used as a diversion by the Modi government from pivotal issues such as the economic, political or agrarian crisis,” he added.

Congress leader and former union minister Manish Tewari said, “It’s a grand betrayal. It’s a betrayal of everything that this government has ostensibly, publicly espoused.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “When both India and Pakistan are talking, even then ceasefire violations are continuing along the border against India. My question is what India is going to achieve through these dialogues. Terrorism in India cannot take place without Pakistan’s support. Pakistan wants to finish off India.”

He further stated, “We will keep on being sweet with Pakistan, and on the contrary, they will (continue to) kill our soldiers. This cannot happen for long.

The reactions came a day after it was revealed that the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan had held a secret meeting in Bangkok on Sunday and discussed a range of issues, including peace and security, terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir.

According to media reports, the meeting was agreed upon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif when they met in Paris last week on the sidelines of COP-21, and Bangkok was chosen as the most convenient location for both sides to have the discussions.

A joint statement issued later said that the foreign secretaries of both countries accompanied the NSAs. The statement said the discussions “covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, other issues including tranquility over the Line of Control.”

The discussions reportedly lasted for over four hours and that all subjects having a security dimension, including Jammu and Kashmir, were raised and talked about.

“It was agreed to carry forward the constructive engagement,” the joint statement.

It is also being reported, but yet to be confirmed, that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is all set to travel to Pakistan on Tuesday for an Afghanistan-related conference.

NSA-level talks were scheduled earlier this year when the two Prime Ministers had met for a bilateral summit in Ufa, Russia, but that meeting fell through at the last minute after Pakistan insisted that it wanted to have talks with Kashmiri separatists in Delhi before going in for official delegation-level talks.

Both sides also disagreed about the agenda of the meeting, with Islamabad pushing for an “open agenda” and India maintaining the talks should be confined to terrorism.

Wefornews Bureau

India

Priyanka Gandhi sends homemade food for protesting Congress MPs

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sent food cooked in her kitchen for Congress MPs protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by his sister Priyanka at the protest site.

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Rahul Gandhi

Chennai: Most of the MPs and MLAs protesting at Jantar Mantar are from the Punjab unit of the Congress. When IANS spoke to Jasbir Singh Gill, Congress MP from Khadoor Sahib in Punjab, he said, “We met Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday and had a long chat. It seems that she wanted to appreciate the work we have done and for this reason she sent the food,” he said.

Priyanka sent paneer, rajma, rice, roti and gajrela for the protesting lawmakers. Jasbir Singh Gill also told IANS that most of the time they get food from local gurudwaras and sometimes from people’s homes. Congress lawmakers have been protesting against the three contentious farm laws for the last 52 days. Gill also said they would continue with the sit-in protests till the farm laws are withdrawn.

The farmers’ protest in Delhi has led to a standstill at the Singhu border where thousands of farmers continue to stay put. This is despite the Supreme Court announcing a four-member committee. This was the second public event attended by the Milan-returned Rahul Gandhi who first went to Tamil Nadu to attend the ‘Jallikattu’ event.

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Cities

Earthquake of magnitude 4.1 strikes Jammu and Kashmir

They said while the tremors caused panic among people, there were no reports of any loss of life or injury or damage to property.

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Earthquake Strong

Srinagar, Jan 16 : An earthquake of magnitude 4.1 hit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, but there was no report of any damage, officials said.

At 10:01 pm, the earthquake struck at a latitude of 33.03 degrees north and a longitude of 75.93 degrees east — 93 kms east of Katra, they added.

The depth of the earthquake was 10 kms, the officials said.

They said while the tremors caused panic among people, there were no reports of any loss of life or injury or damage to property.

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India

Agriculture laws akin to ‘death warrant’, says farmer leader

“If you want your rights, then reach Delhi on 26 January, she said, adding that the “black laws enacted by the Centre were a “death warrant for farmers”.

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Poonam Pandit

Shahjahanpur (UP), Jan 16 : Farmer leader Poonam Pandit here on Saturday described the agriculture laws enacted by the Centre as a death warrant and urged farmers to reach Delhi on January 26.

The farmer leader said this addressing a Kisan Mahapanchayat in the Banda area of Shahjahanpur, which according to police was held without permission and amid the imposition of prohibitory orders.

“If you want your rights, then reach Delhi on 26 January, she said, adding that the “black laws enacted by the Centre were a “death warrant for farmers”.

“The way in which farmers are being stopped, it appears that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is also anti-farmer,” she said.

To stop the mahapanchayat, the administration had approach farmer leaders.

On Saturday, personnel from the Provincial Armed Constabulary were deployed at the site earmarked for the event.

After this, farmers started gathering in an empty field behind the site. Farmer leader Poonam Pandit arrived on a bike and addressed the panchayat for about 25 minutes.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Puvya Navneet Nayak told PTI over the phone that “prohibitory orders were in place in the district and farmer organisations had written on their letter heads that the mahapanchayat has been cancelled.”

“It is not proper to have a mahapanchayat and no permission for this was taken from the administration,” he added.

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