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Saudi Arabia’s nod to Haj pilgrimage via sea route from India

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Haj by Sea

The Indian government’s proposal to send Haj pilgrims through the sea route has got the green signal from the Saudi Arabian government, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Monday.

The discussion on reviving the sea route came up during the signing of the annual bilateral Haj agreement for 2018 between India and Saudi Arabia in the presence of Naqvi and Saudi Minister for Haj and Umrah Mohammad Saleh bin Taher in Mecca on Sunday.

Naqvi said officials from both the countries will discuss all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through the sea route can commence in the coming years.

“Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses significantly. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision,” Naqvi said.

The ferrying of Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterway was stopped in 1995.

The Minister said that another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah in just three to four days.

The old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.

Naqvi said that last year he had discussed the option to revive sea route for Haj pilgrimage with Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.

He said that Haj 2018 has been made fully digital.

On the issue of Indian Muslim women going to Haj for the first time without mehram (male guardian), the Minister said that separate accommodation and transport has been arranged for these women.

Also, female Haj Assistants will be deployed for their help.

More than 1,300 women have applied to go for Haj without mehram and all of these women will be exempted from the lucky draw. These women would be travelling in groups of four or more women, according to the new Haj policy of India.

So far, around 3.59 lakh applications have been received for Haj 2018, against the quota of around 1.70 lakh pilgrims.

“For the first time, we have given option to Haj pilgrims to opt for another embarkation point. This will ensure that there is no financial burden on Haj pilgrims even after removal of Haj subsidy. This decision has received overwhelming response,” Naqvi said.

India

Chief Justice Dipak Misra likely to meet four rebel SC judges Today

The sources said the Chief Justice took the initiative of meeting the four judges on January 16 as they were not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting of all judges held the previous day.

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Dipak Mishra

Chief Justice Dipak Misra is likely to meet the four rebel judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — on Thursday to resolve issues relating to the allocation of cases and the functioning of the court.

The meeting that was expected to take place on Wednesday did not materialise as Justice Chelameswar did not attend the court because of his indisposition. He is expected to attend the court on Thursday.

An uneasy truce was reached on Tuesday after the CJI reached out to the four dissenting judges to resolve a rift with them over the allocation of cases in the Supreme Court.

Recusal of Justice Arun Mishra from hearing the matter of Judge Loya’s death is seen by some as an indication of thaw between the CJI and the warring judges who had raised the issue of important cases being listed before judges who are relatively junior to them in terms of years spent in the top court.

During the Tuesday meeting, the sources had said, Justice Misra and the rebel judges had discussed all the outstanding issues, point of contentions and differences.

The sources said the Chief Justice took the initiative of meeting the four judges on January 16 as they were not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting of all judges held the previous day.

On January 15 a misplaced impression was generated that all the issues were resolved after Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had said that the events since January 12 were a “storm in a tea cup” and that “everything is settled”.

An informal full court meeting of all the judges took place on Monday when they came to the Judges’ lounge for the customary morning tea before the start of the court.

The country’s top court was hit by unprecedented crisis, after the four senior most judges at a press conference last week expressed their unhappiness about the functioning of the court and how cases were being allocated arbitrarily.

They complained that “administration of Supreme Court is not in order and there have been things less than desirable that have happened in the court”.

The judges also released a letter they had written to the Chief Justice questioning how he was arbitrarily deciding which bench should decide which case and though he is the “master of the roster” that did not make him a “superior authority”.

“The Chief Justice is only the first amongst equals – nothing more or nothing less,” the letter said.

Efforts by sitting judges and advocate bodies to mediate a solution to the crisis have not succeeded.

The Bar Council of India had even set up a seven-member delegation and met Justice Misra and 14 other judges on Sunday. The Supreme Court Bar Association also met the Chief Justice and other judges.

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Don’t see serious trouble, but forces ready for any exigency: Army chief on Doklam

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New Delhi, Jan 17 : The Army does not visualise any “serious trouble” post-Doklam episode as the border forces of India and China are holding regular exchange and the earlier “bonhomie” has returned, but the forces are prepared for any exigency, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday

Rawat also insisted that the PLA soldiers were not in the same numbers in the North Dolam (Doklam) area as they were at the time of the (India-China military) stand-off

“They have carried out some infrastructure development, most of it is temporary in nature. But while their troops may have returned and the infrastructure remains, it is any body’s guess whether they would come back there, or it is because of the winter they could not take their equipment away,” Rawat said

He was responding to a question on Facebook Live, posted by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of the organisers of the multi-lateral ‘Raisina Dialogue’

“But then we are also there. In case they come (back), we will face them,” Rawat added

The Army chief’s remarks come in the wake of media reports about China carrying out some infrastructure development in the disputed region

He said the mechanism in place to defuse the tensions between the two countries are working very well

“After the Dolam incident…we have started our border personnel meeting. We are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communications between the commanders at the ground level is on and the bonhomie has returned which was prior to the Doklam (incident),” he said

The Army chief added, “We don’t visualise serious trouble but then one has to be prepared for it.”

Indian and Chinese troops had been locked in a stand-off for over two months last year in the Doklam area near Sikkim before “disengaging” on August 28

There was also an incident of road building by Chinese civilians at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh, but that was resolved last week.

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India-China have returned to pre-Doklam bonhomie, says Army chief

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New Delhi, Jan 17: The India-China “bonhomie” before the Doklam standoff has returned, Army chief Bipin Rawat said, but added that one should be “prepared for anything”.

In a Facebook Live session during the ongoing Raisina Dialogue organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), he said: “I think the bonhomie (between India and China) has returned to what it was prior to the Dolam (Doklam standoff). I don’t visualise very serious trouble, but then one has to be prepared for anything.”

Gen Rawat said troops were still there in the northern part of the plateau, which is a part of Chinese territory.

“As far as Doklam is concerned PLA soldiers are there in a part of the area, although not in numbers that we saw them in initially. They have carried out some infrastructure development which is mostly temporary in nature.

“While troops (PLA) may have returned and infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there or is it because of the winters that they could not take their equipment, but we are also there, so in case they come, we will face them,” he said.

Rawat however added that the mechanisms established between India and China are working “very well”.

“But mechanisms that we have of defusing tensions between our two countries are working very well and after Doklam, we’ve started our Border Personnel Meeting, we are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communication between commanders at ground level is on,” he said.

At the annual pres conference of India Army recently, the Army chief had said focus should shift to the northern border with China, adding that while China had emerged as a “powerful nation”, India was not a weak nation.

He said road construction had been on in Doklam since 2000, but the Chinese soldiers had come close to Tosa Nala — which divides north and south Doklam — with a large number of manpower and equipment in June last year, just before the India-China standoff started.

IANS

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