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PM Modi suggets coronavirus Fund for SAARC

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New Delhi, March 15: India on Sunday offered $10 million to set up a common voluntary emergency fund for the members of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested the creation of an emergency fund with “voluntary contributions” to counter the novel coronavirus in SAARC nations — India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Eight countries of SAARC held a web-summit to chalk out a joint strategy to contain the coronavirus outbreak that has hit the world.

Modi proposed in view of the WHO advisory to avoid public gatherings. The proposal was welcomed and accepted by other members of the SAARC – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

He briefed the members on the measures India took to prevent and contain the pandemic since the outbreak of COVID-19, which originated from Wuhan city in China.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Pakistan’s Minister of State for Health Zafar Mirza, spoke one after another, giving details about the steps each of them have taken in their respective countries to control the pandemic.

Nepal Prime Minister Oli joined the summit even as he had undergone a surgery recently.

Prime Minister Modi also offered rapid response medical teams, along with testing kits and other equipment for the SAARC members. “They will be on a standby, at your disposal if required,” Modi said, adding that India could also provide online training capsules for medical emergency teams to raise the capacity of emergency staff.

Additionally, the Prime Minister suggested that the SAARC members could create an integrated digital database of virus carriers and the people contacted besides using the pre-existing facilities like the SAARC disaster management. Modi also offered to set up a common research platform for the control of epidemics within South Asia for future. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) can coordinate such an exercise, he said.

Modi also suggested that all the members should jointly review the economic consequences of COVID-19 and insulate local trade and value chains from its impact.

The video-summit is significant because since 2016, SAARC has been mostly inactive. Prime Minister Modi had refused to attend the 2016 SAARC summit which was to be held in Islamabad, following the Uri terror attack perpetrated by Pakistani terrorists. After Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan also withdrew from the meet, the summit was called off.

SAARC summits are held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order. The last summit was held in 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

India

BKU leader accuses govt of acts to disrupt tractor rally

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Rakesh Tikait
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A day after the protesting farmers leaders on Delhi’s Singhu border caught a person who confessed to hatching a conspiracy to disrupt the proposed tractor rally on January 26, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait on Saturday alleged that the Centre and the administration are the ones behind such a “conspiracy”.

The farmer leader alleged that a conspiracy has been hatched to kill four of them and create disturbances during their tractor rally. The person was later handed over to the Haryana Police.

Tikait told IANS: “The man caught from the Singhu border’s protest site was a member of the gang. Only the central government and the administration can carry out such acts.”

“The government has been saying that the tractor rally on January 26 will be violent. How do they know that it will be violent?”

“1Our movement has been quite peaceful for the last two months,” the BKU leader added.

“The apprehended man was associated with a 10-member gang. We have handed him over to the police. Which agency will interrogate him is a matter to be seen,” he said.

Tikait said, “The same people were also part of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s programme. It has now been revealed that the government is behind all such acts.”

“Where there is a mob, violence has to be forcefully created and such an action is resorted to by the administration. These gangs have been imparted training, the same people are part of the mob and commit violence. “

“We have nearly 200 volunteers deployed at various borders of Delhi who are monitoring such suspicious people. We want a peaceful protest,” the BKU leader added.

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India

Terror hideout busted, ammunition recovered in J&K

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Indian Army Kashmir
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A large quantity of arms and ammunition was recovered after a terrorist hideout was busted by the security forces in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, officials said.

According to details, the security forces received specific input about the presence of a terrorist hideout in a forested area in Mandi.

A joint team of the Border Security Force, police and army carried out the operation.

The hideout was busted and a large quantum of arms and ammunition was recovered including one AK-47 rifle, three AK-magazines, 82 AK rounds, three Chinese pistols, five pistol magazines, 33 rounds of pistol ammunition, four hand grenades and one Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL).Searches were undergoing in the area.

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India, China to hold 9th round of talks to resolve border dispute

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Indian and Chinese militaries will hold a ninth round of talks aimed at resolving the border disputes in Eastern Ladakh after a deadlock prevailed since the last negotiations in November 2020, sources said.

The latest “Corps Commander level meet is likely to take place in the next few days, probably in a day or two”, the sources, adding contours of the dialogue were being worked out and some changes are expected.

A Ministry of External Affairs representative is likely to be part of the dialogue.

The eight round had taken place on November 6, 2020.

Though the talks ended in a deadlock, both countries agreed to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and also to take forward the discussions, push for the settlement of other outstanding issues, so as to jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

Earlier this month, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane had said that the force is ready for a long haul along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while hoping for an amicable solution in its nine-month-long conflict with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

“We are prepared to hold our ground where we are for as long as it takes to achieve our national goals and interest,” he had said.

On August 30, 2020, India had occupied critical mountain heights on the southern bank of the Pangong Lake like Rechin La, Rezang La, Mukpari, and Tabletop that were unmanned till now.

India has also made some deployments near Blacktop also after the Chinese tried to make a provocative military move.

Now, dominance at these 13 peaks allow India to dominate Spangur Gap under the Chinese control and also the Moldo garrison on the Chinese side.

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