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Tax raid on media house attack on free press: Amnesty

Income Tax officials on Thursday carried out “surveys” at the residence and office premises of Bahl over alleged tax evasion.

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New Delhi, Oct 11 : Calling the income tax raids on a news portal office “a clampdown on free press”, Amnesty India on Thursday said the authorities are attempting to silence anyone expressing views critical of the government.

“The Income Tax Department’s search on Quintillion Media Private Ltd, which runs a news website ‘The Quint’, and the homes of its owners, Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapoor, indicates a clampdown on the free press,” Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty India, said in a statement.

“It raises disturbing questions on whether the news website is being targeted for speaking truth to power. It appears that the authorities are attempting to silence anyone expressing views that are critical of the government,” he said.

Income Tax officials on Thursday carried out “surveys” at the residence and office premises of Bahl over alleged tax evasion.

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Experts split on checking water flow to Pakistan

Hawks say a tough action must include short and long term steps, including the raising of the water storage capacity by building more dams and optimum use of water in the Indian side.

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) Amidst calls for acting tough in the wake of the terror attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama on Thursday, experts bat for “stopping” water to Pakistan from the west and east flowing rivers, like Indus and Beas. However, others doubt possibility of such an action.

Hawks say a tough action must include short and long term steps, including the raising of the water storage capacity by building more dams and optimum use of water in the Indian side.

At present, “more than the surplus” waters of these rivers are flowing into Pakistan, says M.S. Menon, a retired Water Resources Ministry top official, who had handled the Indus Water Treaty for long. He said tightening of the provisions on water release to Pakistan was possible.

“We have to develop capacity for consuming more water. For that, there should be more investment in storage dams to be constructed. There is a lot of water in Jhelum, Chenab and Indus that can be used very much domestically,” he said.

Under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 between India and Pakistan, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers — the Beas, the Ravi and Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 million acre feet (MAF) — was given to India. While control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean flow of 80 MAF — was given to Pakistan.

More controversial, however, were the provisions on how the waters were to be shared. Since Pakistan receives more water flow from India, the treaty allowed India to use western river waters for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses like navigation, floating of property and fish farming, while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects.

But another retired official, who as the Indus Commissioner in the ministry had handled the subject for nearly two decades, said stopping water to Pakistan was not possible. “I don’t think anything like that is possible. Water flows naturally. You can’t stop it,” he said adding there are international treaty obligations India has to implement.

The former official said this issue has been discussed in the past but people make such demands because of an emotional situation.

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Kashmiri students turned out of PG accommodations in Haryana after Pulwama attack

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Kashmiri students turned out of PG accommodations in Haryana after Pulwama attack

Chandigarh, Feb 16 Over 100 Kashmiri students, including girls, have been turned out of their paying guest (PG) accommodations in Mullana village in Haryana’s Ambala district, forcing them to seek refuge with the authorities of a private deemed university where they are studying.

The Kashmiri students of the Maharishi Markandeshwar (deemed to be university) in Mullana, around 75 km from here, are being accommodated in the institution’s hostels, sources said.

With sentiments riding high against terrorists from Kashmir and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, the Kashmiri students were ordered out of PG accommodations by respective landlords after the Mullana village sarpanch (headman) Naresh Kumar issued an ultimatum to PG owners to oust Kashmiri students.

With tension mounting in the village, the Haryana Police are keeping a close watch and have assured Kashmiri students about safety.

“We are talking to the Kashmiri students and assuring them. More force has been deployed in the village,” said Ambala district police chief Aastha Modi.

The village sarpanch on Friday issued an ultimatum to PG owners to oust Kashmiri students from accommodations within 24 hours. The ultimatum was issued after residents of the village took out a march against the Pulwama terror attack.

Most of the Kashmiri students were asked to leave on Saturday. “The ultimatum came all of a sudden. We were asked by our landlords to vacate accommodation. We are scared,” a second year student from South Kashmir told IANS.

Some of the Kashmiri students have reportedly moved with friends in nearby places like Ambala, Chandigarh and Rajpura, sources said.

The village sarpanch justified the ultimatum to Kashmiri students. “After the Pulwama attack, some Kashmiri students posted comments on social media celebrating the deadly strike. We have to be cautious about such elements,” Kumar said, adding the ultimatum was not for all Kashmiri students, but for three students who were behind the unwarranted posts.

Meanwhile, the district authorities claimed that the situation was under control. “Students have been shifted to the university hostel for safety. We have warned the village sarpanch,” said Ambala Deputy Commissioner Sharandeep Kaur Brar.

Though the authorities have asked students to return to respective PG accommodations, the students have chosen to remain inside the campus for around four days.

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Rajnath holds meeting with RAW chief, NSA, other security officials

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Rajnath Singh

New Delhi, Feb 16 Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday held a meeting with RAW chief A. K. Dhasmana, Additional Director IB Arvind Kumar, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and NSA Ajit Doval in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack that left 49 CRPF troopers dead.

What transpired between them was not immediately known or officially communicated, but sources in Home Ministry said that Singh took stock of the security situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of the terror attack by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

The meeting also come in the wake of outrage and anger among the people post the attack as the country expecting retaliation from the government.

From the US, China, Russia, Canada, Australia and the European Union to Afghanistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, various countries have come in support of India and expressed solidarity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Just a day after the Pulwama attack, India started the process of isolating Pakistan on the international stage with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale meeting at least two dozen envoys in the national capital.

It also withdrew the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status given to Pakistan. According to experts, India’s decision to withdraw the MFN status to Pakistan would adversely impact the neighbouring country’s economy.

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