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Macron brushes off question about Rafael deal; defers to Modi

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Emmanuel Macron

United Nations, Sep 26 (IANS) French President Emmanuel Macron brushed off questions about the controversial Rafael deal saying he was not in charge when the agreement to buy the fighter jets was made and that he would defer to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter.

“I was not in charge at that time but I know that we have very clear rules and this is a government-to-government discussion,” he said at a news conference here on Tuesday.

“I just want to refer to what Prime Minister Modi very clearly has said a few days ago and I (don’t) have any other comment,” he said.

He was replying to a question if France had been asked to use the Reliance group as the Indian partner for the Rafael deal made when Francois Hollande was the President. Macron clearly did not want to get involved in the controversy roiling Indian politics.

He said the Rafael deal was a part of a broader strategic relationship with India and was very important to him.

The Modi government has denied steering Dassault to Reliance, saying that was the French company’s decision.

As a part of the offset component of the deal to buy 36 Rafael costing about 7.87 billion Euros (or Rs 58,000 crore), the manufacturer Dassault was required to outsource to India about Rs 30,000 crore of business.

Dassault picked Reliance Defence for that requirement in the agreement.

The Congress and the opposition have accused the government of inflating the cost of the jets and steering the business to a private company, rather to the government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd,

“This contract is part of a broader framework which is a military and defence relationship between India and France. And this one is very important to me because this is a strategic coalition and not just an industrial relation,” he added.

“I would be very clear that it was a government-to-government discussion,” he emphasised.

Macron took office last year in May while Modi announced the deal during a visit to France in 2015 and it was finalised the following year.

The controversy began when Hollande told a French publication that India had proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the deal.

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Banks to recycle inward currency notes only after 48 hours on corona threat

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Rupee

New Delhi, April 2 : As the corona pandemic turns multifaceted, concerns are arising over the use of currency notes and banks have been advised not to recycle inward currencies and do so only after 48 hours.

As a per a circular issued to banks in Kerala, all member banks of the SLBC that the inward currencies at branches should not be recycled. The inward currencies are to be separately wrapped in packets with date and to be recycled only after 48 hours.

“We infer that currency notes are a probable threat for spread of coronavirus. Health Department has also opined that coronavirus could sustain on infected currency notes for about 12 hours.”

Canara Bank has issued a circular today to the SLBC member banks in Kerala.

The staff in the branches have been asked to take precautions including wearing masks, gloves, using sanitisers and ensuring social distancing.

Earlier, Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has made an appeal to people to wash their hands after touching or counting currency.

IBA had also asked customers to use online and mobile banking channels for making their transactions and avoid visiting bank branches.

“Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after physical banking/currency counting/AEPS (Aadhaar-enabled payments),” IBA had said in a public appeal.

Traders body, the Confederation of All India Traders had also flagged these concerns to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the possible spread of coronavirus through currency notes.

CAIT had said that usage of paper currency which is (the) most dreaded carrier for different viruses and infections due to rapid change of hands between unknown people and thus becomes a health hazard.

It cited the safety of polymer currency, mentioning 13 countries who have switched entirely to these notes, ditching paper variants, and more than 15 countries in line to do so.

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FIR lodged against Editor of The Wire for derogatory remarks against UP CM

The FIR says that the Editor of the Wire wrote a blog in which he spread rumours and enmity in society. The FIR has been registered in the name of the Editor of The Wire.

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Yogi Adityanth

New Delhi, April 1 : An FIR has been registered on Wednesday against the Editor of digital media outlet, The Wire, for a blog about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath which allegedly made derogatory remarks against the CM which spread hatred in the society.

The media advisor to UP Chief Minister, Mrityunjay Kumar, had earlier tweeted about the Wire blog responding to a tweet by the Editor of the Wire, Sidharth Vardarajan.

“Don’t try to spread lies. CM Yogi Adityanath has never said such a thing. Delete this immediately otherwise action will be taken on this and a defamation case will also be registered. Apart from running the website, you will have to seek donations for fighting the case also,” Kumar said.

He was responding to a tweet by Vardarajan in which the extract of the blog for which the FIR has been registered was enclosed.

The FIR was registered on Mondy by Nitish Kumar Shrivastav, the SHO of Kotwali Nagar in Ayodhya.

The FIR says that the Editor of the Wire wrote a blog in which he spread rumours and enmity in society. The FIR has been registered in the name of the Editor of The Wire.

“On the day the Tablighi Jamaat event was held, Yogi Adityanath insisted that a large fair planned for Ayodhya on the occasion of Ram Navami from March 25 to April 2 would proceed as usual while Acharya Paramhans said that Lord Ram would protect devotees from the coronavirus. One day after Modi announced the curfew like lockdown on March 24, Adityanath violated the official guidelines to take part in a religious ceremony in Ayodhya along with dozens of people,” he wrote in the blog.

The FIR said that at the time of the coronavirus pandemic when the entire country is under lockdown and Section 144 is imposed in the district, the Editor of The Wire was making derogatory remarks against the UP Chief Minister, which has led to great anger among the people.

This act is punishable under Section 188/505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code. It is directed that a FIR be registered on the directions of Nitish Kumar Shrivastav, SHO, Kotwali Nagar, Ayodhya, it stated.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, Varadarajan said that the FIR was politically motivated.

“I have come to know through social media that an FIR has been registered under Section 188 and 505(2) of the IPC against The Wire. A bare perusal of the FIR shows that it is politically motivated and the offences invoked are not even remotely made out. The registration of an FIR is a blatant attack on the freedom of the press,” he added.

He said the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh does not seem to have learnt anything despite the strictures passed against it by the Supreme Court in June 2019 when the court ordered the release of journalist Prashant Kanojia whom the state had illegally arrested. The right to liberty is a fundamental right and non-negotiable, the court had said.

“What the FIR says I have stated — that Chief Minister Adityanath attended a public religious event in Ayodhya on March 25 after the Prime Minister had announced a national lockdown — is a matter of record,” Varadarajan added.

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Markaz chief in self-quarantine; cooperating with agencies

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maulana-saad

New Delhi, April 1 : As law enforcement agencies are tightening their grip around Maulana Saad of the Markaz Nizamuddin he has released an audio for his followers saying he is in self-quarantine.

Maulana Saad in the audio says that “I am in self-quarantine in Delhi as advised by the doctors and appeal to all Jamaat wherever they are in the country to follow the directives of the law .”

He said that it is advised to remain indoors and adhere to the directives of the government and not to assemble anywhere.

He said that “the pandemic is due to sins of human being committed by them.”

His lawyer Fuzail Ahmed Ayyubi speaking to IANS said that “Maulana Saad has asked every person of Tablighi Jamat to approach the authorities of their respective districts and extend cooperation to them. In particular they should present themselves for medical examination for their safety as well for the safety of others. “

“Full cooperation is being extended to all the authorities,” he said.

The police officials till now have only sent some questions which are being replied Ayyubi said that all the people are with the police who have been quarantined or hospitalised police can ask anybody and “we have nothing to hide.”

Ayyubi said that media is not taking all the facts into account specially the statement issued by the Markaz.

Meanwhile the Markaz was evacuated on Wednesday.

After the evacuation Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said “After 36 hours of operation with the help of medical staff, DTC till 4 a.m. whole building has been emptied. A total of 2,361 persons were found out of which 617 have been admitted to the hospitals, and the rest of them have been quarantined.”

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