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New York, Aug 22 Defence and diplomatic officials from India and the US are to have two meetings this week aimed at strengthening strategic cooperation and building on the shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region, according to the State Department.

On Thursday, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells and Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Affairs Randall Schriver are to meet with their Indian counterparts at Monterey, California, for an Intersessional Meeting of the US-India 2+2 Dialogue of defence and foreign affairs officials.

“During the Intersessional, the two sides will discuss ways to advance cooperation on critical diplomatic and security priorities, including our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and review preparations for the next 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue,” the department said on Wednesday.

The first 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue of the foreign affairs and defence cabinet officials of the two countries took place in India last year with the participation of the late Sushma Swaraj, who was the External Affairs Minister, Nirmala Seetharaman, the then-Defence Minister, from the India side and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis representing the US.

The next dialogue at the cabinet-level is expected to take place in the US.

On Friday, the two US officials are to hold the fourth US-India Maritime Security Dialogue, with Indian officials. At the meeting, “the two sides will exchange views on maritime developments in the Indo-Pacific region and consider steps to further strengthen bilateral maritime security cooperation,” the department said.

The maritime dialogue was set up by the late Manohar Parrikar when he was the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and former Defence Secretary Ashton Carter to enhance strategic cooperation between the two countries. The first dialogue was held in India in 2016 as was the third.

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Fire at wholesale rice market in Kolkata

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Kolkata, A fire broke out at the wholesale rice market in north Kolkata’s Raja Bazar on Sunday. No casualty or injury was reported.

Smoke was seen billowing from a factory premises around 2.15 p.m. Eleven fire engines fought the blaze and controlled it in an hour.

“Chemicals stored in the factory helped fan the fire. Since the area is densely populated, fire-fighters faced problems in controlling the fire,” said West Bengal Fire Service Minister Sujit Bose.Cooling operation was on, Bose said.

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2 trapped in house collapse in Delhi

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New Delhi, At least two persons were feared trapped after a house collapsed in south Delhi’s C.R. Park area on Sunday, fire officials said.

“Five fire tenders have been rushed to the site,” said Delhi Fire Services Chief Atul Garg. The rescue and search operations were underway.

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India

Sedition case against 3 Kashmiri students in Karnataka

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Hubballi, Three Kashmiri students of a private engineering college in Karnataka’s Hubballi have been booked for sedition after they allegedly raised pro-Pakistan slogans, police said on Sunday.

“The three suspects are being questioned for raising pro-Pakistan and ‘Azadi’ slogans in their college hostel on Friday, which coincided with the first anniversary of Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir a year ago,” Hubballi Police Commissioner Ramaswamy Dileep told IANS.

Hubballi is about 410 kms northwest of Bengaluru. The trio, identified as Ameer, Basit and Talib from Kashmir’s Shopian district, were booked under section 124 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a complaint by the KLES Institute of Technology for attempting to disturb communal harmony by raising anti-national slogans,” said Dileep.

The section deals with offences against the state.The institute’s principal Basavraj Anami complained to the police that the first-year students got admission under the central government quota.

“The incident occurred when the college was holding a function to pay homage to the martyrs of the Pulwama attack on Friday. Instead of attending the event, they were in the hostel taking a video of them shouting pro-Pakistan slogans,” Dileep said quoting from the complaint.

The principal came to know about the incident on Saturday when the video went viral on social media after they uploaded its footage to their friends’ WhatsApp groups.

“Pending investigation, the college has suspended the three students from the institute after the principal viewed the video and questioned their act,” added Dileep.

Condemning the students for raising pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans, state Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar, who hails from Hubballi, said the government would not tolerate such anti-national activities by anyone.

Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Prahlad Joshi, who represents the adjacent Dharwad Lok Saba constituency, said stern action would be taken against the accused for raising such anti-national slogans.

“Students who avail government scholarships and raise slogans against the country are under the impression that they can get away by indulging in such anti-national activities. Stern action will be taken against them after investigation as such actions cannot be tolerated,” Joshi said here.

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