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Manish Tewari’s troop march claim triggers controversy

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Army Haryana

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari has raked up the 2012 troop movement controversy, saying a media report about army units moving towards Delhi without notifying the then UPA government was “unfortunate but true” even as his own party distanced itself from his claims while former Army Chief V K Singh rubbished the remarks.

As Tewari’s remarks opened a can of worms, Singh dismissed the claims and called the Congress leader jobless even as the BJP questioned the timing of the remarks and demanded a statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the matter.

Replying to a question at a book release function here yesterday, Tewari had said, “At that point of time I used to serve in the Standing Committee on Defence. And it’s unfortunate but the story was true. Story was correct.”

Tewari, who was Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting in UPA government between October 2012 and May 2014, said, “I am not getting into an argument. All I am saying is that to the best of my knowledge that story was correct”.

The Congress leader was asked about media coverage of issues pertaining to defence forces as in the case of the Indian Express report on April 4, 2012, titled “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt.”

Reacting to his remark, former Army chief and Union Minister Singh said, Tewari should be told to read his book which talks about the issue.

“He should be told to read my book, which reveals all (about the issue),” he said.

Singh, who had in 2012 dismissed the report, said, “He (Tewari) has no work these days.”

The Congress on its part distanced itself fom Tewari’s claims.

“We on behalf of Congress very clearly and categorically want to deny this report,” party spokesperson P C Chacko said.

Another party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there is no truth in the report. “I am again clarifying there is absolutely no truth in it (claims about troop movement in 2012), he said.

“My colleague was neither a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security, nor any relevant decision making body,” Singhvi said, adding some troop movements are necessary, inbuilt and inevitable part of the defence mechanism.

“It was inappropriate, unnecessary and completely wrong to suggest that there was any truth in those allegations when made,” he said.

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Fire at Delhi’s ITO building, no casualties

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A fire broke out at the Institution of Engineers building at ITO on Friday here. No injuries were reported, and the blaze has been brought under control, the Fire Department said.

The fire started from a meter board of the building. “We received a call around 8.30 a.m. about a fire in the meter board at the Institution of Engineers building at ITO. A total of 12 fire tenders were rushed to the site. The fire was on the second floor of the building,” said Atul Garg, Director Delhi Fire Service.

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India

Maha Congress to agitate for Arnab’s arrest

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Arnab Goswami

Terming the recent revelations of WhatsApp chats of two media personalities Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta as “extremely serious and violative of the Official Secret Act, 1923” the Maharashtra Congress on Thursday announced state-wide protests on Friday (Jan. 22) demanding their arrest and prosecution.

State party President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that the chats between the Republic TV Editor and the ex-BARC head had some serious revelations related to national security and pertaining to the retaliatory surgical strike by India in Balakot, Pakistan.

“How did Goswami get the information on the air-strikes of Feb. 23, 2019, three days before the action was taken? Who is the ‘Big Name’ in the government that he refers to? With whom did Goswami share such sensitive information that is violative of the OSA, 1923,” Thorat demanded.

The Congress leader pointed out that the WhatsApp chats indicate how Goswami enjoys very close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and other ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party government, many ministers or high-ranking officials have helped him out by flouting rules, and the Pulwama attack pointed to vested interests of some big functionary.

“The chats mention that ‘he will win elections’ on the issue – so did the BJP use the martyrs’ sacrifice only to win polls? What is the connivance between Goswami and the BJP which is dangerous not only for the press freedom, but also the country’s security and democracy,” Thorat pointed out.

Claiming that Goswami is not ‘the only culprit’, the Congress chief alleged that many Central ministers have violated their oath to help the Republic TV chief earn commercial gains, and action must be taken against all those who were party to the entire episode.

Referring to the ongoing TRP manipulations scam and Republic TV illegally using Doordarshan’s satellite frequencies causing huge losses to Prasar Bharati, Thorat said even after DD lodged a complaint, the then Information & Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore failed to take cognizance of the matter and set it aside.

“This shows that Goswami enjoys great support from within the BJP government is it the reason he has been spared of action despite misappropriation of public funds,” Thorat asked.

Last week, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had said that the state government will seek legal opinion to examine how it could proceed against the Republic TV head in the matter which concerned national security.

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India

Australian envoy calls on Punjab, Haryana CMs

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Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh, Jan 21 (IANS) Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell on Thursday called on Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana here to explore cooperation in agriculture, water and education.

“Valuable insights from Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar-ji on his key priorities for Haryana and opportunities for greater Australia-Haryana cooperation in agribusiness, water and education,” O’Farrell said in a tweet.

He said he met officials of key universities in Punjab and Haryana to explore ways to strengthen education partnerships between institutions in Australia and north India as India’s new National Education Policy is being implemented.

On his meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he tweeted: “Thank you Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-ji for a great discussion on how we can revitalise our economies post COVID-19, and further deepen our cooperation in agriculture, water and education.”

The envoy said he also enjoyed conversation about Amarinder Singh’s grandfather Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s and father Maharaja Yadavinder Singh’s contribution to the Indian cricket — one played several first-class cricket matches for India and the other played a Test match in 1934.

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