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Tue, 05 March 2019
Bombs found at Heathrow, City airports, Waterloo station in London

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23:51   JeM ultras, held from Deoband, worked for recruiting terrorists: ATS
The two alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists arrested from Deoband in Saharanpur last month have confessed to recruiting several youths in their terror outfit, said ATS officials on Tuesday.

The duo, Kulgam resident Shahnawaz Teli and Aquib Ahmad Malik from Pulwama made this confession during their custodial interrogation by Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad sleuths, they said.

The two were remanded in judicial custody on Tuesday by an an anti-terror court here and sent to Lucknow jail at the end of their police custody, they said.

During investigation, the ATS found evidence of their links with several dreaded terrorists of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen, sources said.

During the probe, it was also revealed that a dreaded JeM terrorist often visited them in Deoband, the sources said.

Important information about their activities was found through data extraction of their Whatsapp group chat, the ATS sources said, adding the sleuths are examining the antecedents of some persons whose names cropped up as duo's contacts during probe.

The sources said the ATS would get in touch with the youths who had been contacted by the duo for recruitment as JeM terrorists and take further actions as per law.

When arrested, Teli and Malik, both in their early twenties, were residing in Deoband posing as students without taking admission.

ATS had been tipped off about them by an alert student after which they were put under surveillance and later arrested, sources said.

The two were found in possession of a .32 bore pistol with some live cartridges, besides several incriminating documents, including 'jehadi' chats, videos and photos, at the time of their arrest.  -- PTI
23:49   IAF in process of equipping Su-30MKI with Israeli SPICE-2000 bombs
The Indian Air Force is in the process of equipping its Su-30MKI with Israeli SPICE-2000 laser-guided bombs, as part of its effort to make the fighter jets more potent, official sources said.

Currently, the IAF's Mirage-2000 are equipped with the SPICE-2000 bombs and these aircraft were used in the pre-dawn strike on the biggest terror camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror outfit in Pakistan recently.

"The IAF is in the process of equipping Su-30MKI with Israeli SPICE-2000 bombs, to make the fighter jets more potent," official sources said.

The move comes amid heightened tensions in ties between India and Pakistan.

A fleet of Mirage 2000 deep-penetration fighter jets was chosen for the non-military, preemptive strike on February 26 on the camp of the JeM in Pakistan due to the combat aircraft's capabilities of hitting long-range targets with 'pin-point' accuracy and dropping a range of bombs and missiles including laser-guided ones, government sources had earlier said.

In a statement released on February 26, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that India struck the JeM's camp in Balakot and that a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated.

The air strike had escalated tensions between the two countries, with New Delhi saying its move was a 'non-military and preemptive strike'.

Meanwhile, government sources in New Delhi asserted on Tuesday that India will have 'all options' available in case there is another cross-border terror attack, while maintaining that the counter-terror strikes in Balakot were intended to demonstrate the 'capacity and will' to act against terror network in Pakistan.  -- PTI
23:18   Bombs found at Heathrow, City airports, Waterloo station in London
Britain's counter-terrorism police are investigating after three padded mailing bags with what appears to be small explosive devices inside were found in London.

Police said smaller bags inside the mailers enclosed the devices that 'appear capable of igniting an initially small fire when opened'.

Officials say the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command 'is treating the incidents as a linked series'.

One mailer was found near Heathrow Airport. A building was evacuated as a precaution after the package was opened and part of it burned.

Officials say the building is not at the airport and flights were not affected. There were no injuries.

Another mailer turned up near City Airport, and the third in the mail room at Waterloo Station.

The package at the rail station was not opened.  -- Agencies

IMAGE: Police officers including one wearing a forensic suit, are seen in a cordoned-off area at Waterloo station near to where a suspicious package was found, in London, on Tuesday. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters
23:04   Pak minister sacked over anti-Hindu remarks
Pakistan's Punjab province government on Tuesday sacked its Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan over his anti-Hindu remarks that invited intense criticism from senior party leaders and the minority community.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took serious notice of Chohan's 'anti-Hindu' remarks and directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to remove him forthwith, party sources said.

'PTI Punjab government has removed Fayyaz Chohan from the post of Punjab Information Minister following derogatory remarks about the Hindu community,' official twitter account of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf tweeted.

It further said: 'Bashing someone's faith should not be a part of any narrative. Tolerance is the first & foremost pillar on which #Pakistan was built.'

A spokesman for Punjab chief minister said Chohan submitted his resignation to the chief minister which was immediately accepted.

According to a senior government official, the chief minister had 'forgiven' Chohan after he publicly apologised for his remarks, but the prime minister directed Buzdar to immediately remove him from the ministry.

Chohan had come under severe criticism from senior members of his party, ministers and social media users with #SackFayazChohan trending on Twitter for his controversial remarks while addressing a gathering on February 24 in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.

Earlier in the day, Chohan apologised for his remarks following intense criticism.

"I was addressing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian armed forces and their media not the Hindu community in Pakistan," he said.

"I apologise if my remarks hurt the Hindu community in Pakistan," Chohan said.

"My remarks were in no way directed at Pakistan's Hindu community."

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government 'will not tolerate this nonsense', party leader Naeemul Haque, who is special assistant to prime minister on Political Affairs, said Monday night in response to Chohan's remarks.

'The derogatory and insulting remarks against the Hindu community by Fayyaz Chohan the Punjab Info Minister demand strict action. PTI govt will not tolerate this nonsense from a senior member of the govt or from anyone. Action will be taken after consulting the Chief Minister,' Haque tweeted.

Haque's tweet was followed by condemnation from Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar, the federal ministers of human rights and finance, respectively.

'Absolutely condemn this. No one has the right to attack anyone else's religion. Our Hindu citizens have given sacrifices for their country,' Mazari tweeted.

'Our PM's msg is always of tolerance & respect & we cannot condone any form of bigotry or spread of religious hatred,' she added.

Financer Minister Umar tweeted, 'Hindus of Pakistan are as much a part of the fabric of the nation as I am. Remember the flag of Pakistan is not just green...its not complete without the white which represents the minorities.'

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal also took to Twitter and said, "Pakistan proudly owns the white in the flag as much as the green, values contributions of the Hindu community and honours them as our own."

Several members of the Hindu community in Pakistan also took to Twitter to condemn the minister's remarks.

Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.

According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. However, according to the community, over 90 lakh Hindus are living in the country.

Majority of Pakistan's Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with their Muslim fellows. -- PTI
22:49   Modi lives for the camera: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi 'lives for the camera' and accused him of ignoring the problems of the sanitation staff in Prayagraj, where he washed their feet during the Kumbh Mela.

"Narendra Modi lives for the camera. Once the cameras were shut, the prime minister did not even hear the problems of the sanitation staff," Gandhi said in a Facebook post along with Modi's picture washing the feet of sanitation workers at the Kumbh Mela.

"He made it an event and then left for another event," the Gandhi scion said.

The Congress chief also tagged a news report saying that the sanitation staff went back to their routine job of cleaning after their moment of fame with Modi.

On February 24, Modi had taken a holy dip at the Sangam here and interacted with sanitation workers who ensured cleanliness at the mela which concluded on Monday.

The prime minister had  described them as 'real karm yogis' and washed their feet.  -- PTI
22:26   Pak violates ceasefire at two places along LoC
A soldier was injured on Tuesday as Pakistan again violated ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked mortar shelling and firing of small arms on forward posts and villages at two places along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

The unprovoked firing from across the border took place in Nowshera sector in Rajouri district and Krishna Ghati in Poonch district, prompting effective retaliation by the Indian Army, a defence spokesman said.

Official sources said a sepoy, guarding a forward post in Kalal area of Nowshera sector, suffered a bullet injury in the firing from across the border and was subsequently admitted to a hospital.

The defence spokesman said Pakistani troopers first targeted forward posts and villages in Nowshera around 11.30 am and the cross-border skirmishes continued for some time.

Pakistani army also initiated shelling with mortars and small arms in Krishna Ghati sector around 6pm,  the spokesman said.

He said the Indian Army retaliated strongly but the casualties on the Pakistani side could not be known immediately.

There has been a spurt in ceasefire violation by Pakistan after India's air strike at Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp in Balakot on February 26.  -- PTI
21:45   Pak bans Hafiz Saeed-led JuD under Anti-terrorism Act
JUST IN: Hafiz Saeed's Jamat-ud-Dawah and its subsidiary Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation banned under Anti Terrorism Act 1997 by Pakistan's Interior Ministry.

The action comes on a day 44 members of the banned terror outfits, including Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar's son and brother, were taken into 'preventive detention' in Pakistan amid mounting pressure from the global community on it to rein in the terror groups operating on its soil.  -- ANI/PTI
21:11   Pak team to visit India on March 14 to discuss Kartarpur agreement
Pakistan on Tuesday informed India that its delegation will visit New Delhi on March 14 to discuss a draft agreement on the Kartarpur corridor, a positive development that could help ease tensions between the two neighbours.

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal, who is also the Director General South Asia and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, invited India's acting High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia at the ministry of foreign affairs to convey the decision, according to a statement.

"The Pakistan delegation will visit New Delhi on 14 March 2019, followed by the return visit of the Indian delegation to Islamabad on 28 March 2019, to discuss the draft Agreement on Kartarpur Corridor," the statement said.

Faisal informed the Indian envoy that Pakistan's High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, will be returning to New Delhi after the completion of consultations in Islamabad.

He also conveyed that Pakistan was committed to continue weekly contact at the Military Operations Directorates level.

The positive development came as Pakistan launched a crackdown against banned outfits including Jaish-e-Mohammed.

JeM chief Masood Azhar's son Hammad Azhar and brother Mufti Abdur Rauf were among 44 members of the banned terror outfits detained by authorities in Pakistan on Tuesday, amid mounting pressure from the global community on Islamabad to rein in the terror groups operating on its soil.

India and Pakistan have agreed to open up a special border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur -- the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev -- to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district.

Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first Gurdwara, was established by Guru Nanak Dev in 1522, where he is said to have died.

The corridor will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.  -- PTI
21:03   Drone spotted over Naval station in Chennai, probe on: Police
A drone was sighted flying over a Naval station in Chennai following which an investigation has been launched, police said on Tuesday.

The Naval personnel found the drone flying over the INS Adyar campus, in the heart of the city, around 9 pm on Monday, police said.

The Navy on Tuesday filed a complaint with the police seeking an investigation into the incident.

"An investigation is on," the police said without divulging further information.

The incident comes at a time when key installations, including airports across the country, are on high alert following the recent Pulwama terror attack.

Two Pakistani drones had been shot down by the Indian Air Force in Rajasthan and Gujarat along the Indo-Pak border in the paste one week.  -- PTI
20:58   Su-30 shot down Pak AMRAAM missile: IAF gives details of Feb 27 events
Indian Air Force statement on February 27 violation of Indian air space by Pakistani jets:

'On Feb 27, 2019 morning, our Air Defence system was on full alert. Build up of Pakistan Air Force aircraft on their (Pakistan) side of Line of Control was noticed in time and additional aircraft were scrambled to tackle the adversary.

'In their attempt to attack our ground targets, PAF aircraft were engaged effectively.

'From the IAF, Mirage-2000, Su-30 and MiG-21 Bison aircraft were involved in engagement.

'PAF aircraft were forced to withdraw in a hurry, also evident from large missed distances of weapons dropped by them.

'During combat, use of F-16 by PAF and multiple launches of AMRAAM were conclusively observed.

'Prompt and correct tactical action by Su-30 aircraft, in response to AMRAAM launch, defeated the missile. Parts of missile fell in area East of Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir, injuring a civilian on ground.

'Detailed report in this regard has already been released by the IAF.

'All the Su-30 aircraft engaged in combat landed back safely.

'False claim by Pakistan of shooting down a Su-30, appears to be a cover up for loss of its own aircraft.'

Earlier, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval spoke to his American counterpart John Bolton on security situation in the region after Pulwama attack and Indias retaliation.

India has also shown proof of Pakistan using F-16s to attack Indian planes and target.

US defence attaches shown parts of AIM-120 missile.
20:19   Pak action could be a ploy to provide security to Azhar's kin: Officials
Indian security agencies were unmoved by reports of arrest of 44 members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, with officials saying the terrorists were not arrested under the anti-terrorism laws but have only been taken in 'preventive detention for investigation'.

Similar actions by the neighbouring country against leaders of the proscribed outfits in the past turned out to be farce as those who were taken into custody were let off soon on different pretexts.

The 44 members of the JeM, including its founder Masood Azhar's brother Mufti Abdul Raoof, were said to have been taken in 'preventive detention for investigation' and have not been arrested under Pakistan's anti-terrorism law, a security official said.

There is every possibility that the detention could also be an attempt by the Pakistan Army to provide security to these terrorists, given the 'fear psychosis' that has gripped Pakistan in the past few days following the Indian Air Force strike at Balakot, the official said.

The assessment of the security agencies came in view of the fact that founders of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba -- Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed respectively -- were detained several times in the past, mostly under laws that provide for detention for apprehension of 'breach of peace'.

Azhar and Saeed have never been prosecuted under the Pakistan's Anti Terrorism Act, 1997, another official said.

According to the reports received from Pakistan, the action against JeM came in order to implement the National Action Plan of Pakistan, amid mounting pressure from the global community on Islamabad to rein in the terror groups operating from its soil.

A high-level meeting was held in Pakistan's Ministry of Interior on Monday and it was attended by representatives of all provincial governments of that country.

"It was decided to speed up action against all proscribed organisations. In compliance, 44 under-observation members of the proscribed organisations, including Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar, have been taken in preventive detention for investigation.

"These actions will continue as per the decisions taken in the National Security Committee while reviewing the National Action Plan," an official quoted the order of the Pakistan government.

Pakistan's Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi said at a press conference in Islamabad that Raoof and Hamad Azhar are among 44 people arrested during the crackdown.

Afridi said a dossier shared by India with Pakistan last week also contained names of Raoof and Azhar.

The crackdown on banned groups came amid tensions with India following a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14 by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.

India handed over a dossier to Pakistan to take action against the JeM, as pressure mounted on Islamabad to take action against individual and organisation listed by the UN Security Council as terrorists.

The minister, however, said the action was not taken due to any pressure. He said action would be taken against all proscribed organisations under the National Action Plan.  -- PTI
20:13   Cross-LoC trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road resumes
The cross-Line of Control trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road resumed on Tuesday after it was suspended last week following an aerial engagement between the air forces of India and Pakistan.

As many as 70 trucks crossed the Kaman Post in Uri sector on the LoC as part of the barter trade between the divided parts of Kashmir which takes place four days in a week from Tuesday to Friday, an official said.

"Thirty-five trucks loaded with goods from Indian side went to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir while an equal number of trucks from the other side arrived at the Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre today (Tuesday)," he said.

The cross-LoC trade was suspended last Wednesday when Pakistani jets violated Indian airspace in Mendhar sector, a day after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Balakote area of Pakistan.

The Balakote air strike was carried out as a reprisal action for the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed on February 14.  -- PTI
19:14   Pak's claims on Indian submarine false propaganda: Navy
The Indian Navy on Tuesday dismissed as "false propaganda" Pakistan's claim that it had thwarted an attempt by an Indian submarine to enter the country's territorial waters.
 
In a statement, the Pakistan Navy claimed in Islamabad that it used specialised skills to ward off the Indian submarine from entering Pakistani waters.  
"We have witnessed Pakistan indulging in false propaganda and spread of misinformation. The Indian Navy does not take cognizance of such propaganda. Our deployments remain undeterred," the Indian Navy said.
In a brief statement, it said the Indian Navy remains deployed as necessary to protect national maritime interests.
 
The claim by Pakistan Navy came in the midst of latest flare-up between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
"The Pakistan Navy used its specialised skills to ward off the submarine, successfully keeping it from entering Pakistani waters," a spokesperson of Pakistan Navy said.
"The Indian submarine was not targeted keeping in view Pakistan's policy of peace," the official said, adding that India must learn from this incident and "move towards peace".
"The Pakistan Navy is always ready to guard its territorial waters and is capable of responding to any kind of aggression with full force," he said.
After the Pulwama attack, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.
The next day, Pakistan Air Force tried to target Indian military installation in Kashmir but was thwarted by the IAF which lost a MiG-21 while its pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured. He was handed over to India on Friday. -- PTI 
18:49   Pak SC bars private channels from airing Indian films, TV shows
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday barred private channels from airing Indian films and television shows, amid escalating tensions between the two countries following the Pulwama terror attack.
 
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmad, heard the case pertaining to the telecast of Indian material on Pakistani channels.
"The apex court has barred private channels from airing Indian material," state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned for an indefinite period.
The move came a week after Pakistan's Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said Pakistan film exhibitors association will be boycotting the Indian films following Indian air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last month.
Hussain also said that he has instructed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to crack down on "made-in-India advertisements".
The apex court last instated a ban on Indian material in October 2018. -- PTI  
18:15   Cong happy with AIADMK, DMDK alliance
Union minister Piyush Goyal has stated that he is happy about the meeting between Tamil Nadu deputy CM O Panneerselvam and DMDK's Vijaykanth, which he mediated.

 
BJP is believed to have assured Vijaykanth's wife Premalata about support from the party, but details are not immediately known about the extent of support. Since Goyal is directly dealing with AIADMK leaders many of the second line of leadership in party in Tamil Nadu have been kept out of the loop. 


A senior Congress leader in New Delhi who is an observer of state politics, said the party was happy with Vijaykanth's alliance with the AIADMK. 


The MDMK and the CPI(M) have sealed an alliance with the DMK. The Congress leader told us that the MDMK would have taken four seats of the Congress's share and the Congress would be left with just six seats. DMK has categorically told the Congress that it will contest 20 seats. 

There were reports that Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu wanted to to keep the DMDK out of alliance with DMK, which was has received Rahul Gandhi's nod. 

Both the BJP and the Congress are happy that DMK chief MK Stalin has been able to keep smaller parties like the VKC, MDMK and CPI happy.  

-- R Rajagopalan
17:50   Action against banned outfits not out of political pressure: Pak
Update: Pakistan on Tuesday arrested 44 members of banned outfits, including a brother of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, amid mounting pressure from the global community to rein in the terror groups operating on its soil and curb their financing. 


Mufti Abdur Rauf, brother of Azhar, and Hammad Azhar are among those arrested during the crackdown, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi said at a press conference. He said a dossier shared by India with Pakistan last week also contained names of Mufti Abdur Rauf and Hammad Azhar. He, however, said the action was not taken due to any pressure. The minister said the action would be taken against all the proscribed organisations.


The move came a day after Pakistan on Monday promulgated a law to streamline the procedure for the implementation of the UN sanctions against individuals and organisations. Interpreting the order, Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said it means that the government has taken over the control of assets and properties of all banned outfits operating in the country.
17:24   Pak arrests Masood Azhar's brother, key operatives: Reports
Pakistan media reports that the country has arrested Hammad Azhar, the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and the a key Jaish, operative Mufti Abdul, apart from 44 other operatives, Pakistan Interior minister Shaharyar Afridi said. 

ANI reports that recent interviews by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirms the Pakistan government is in touch with JeM Chief Masood Azhar and does not deny that Azhar is the chief of the Jaish-E-Mohammad. 


This makes India's case to put Masood Azhar in UNSC 1267 sanctions list easier.  India says it will not be deterred in its war against terrorism. India says there is no offer of mediation from any country, India has told the world that this is not an India Pakistan issue, this is an issue of terrorism. 


On reports that Masood Azhar was unwell, India said that it takes such reports with a pinch of salt since there were earlier reports on Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden as well. 


"Our effort is to bring Masood Azhar to book. The last date of raising objections on the listing of Masood Azhar in the UNSC sanction list is 13th of March. India is in touch with all 15 member countries including China. India is cautiously optimistic," sources told ANI. 


India also said every member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation attended the plenary where EAM Sushma Swaraj was the guest of honour except Pakistan, so Pakistan stands isolated in what it calls its own backyard.  

15:57   Congress rules out alliance with AAP in Delhi
The Congress will not form an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in the national capital for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit told reporters on Tuesday.
  
"A unanimous decision has been taken that there will be no alliance in Delhi," Dikshit said.

The announcement by the former Delhi chief minister came following a meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
15:21   UNSC may list Masood Azhar this time: UKs Field
The UK expects a fresh move in the United Nations Security Council to have the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar placed on the UNSC's 1267 committee's ban list may go through this time, said Mark Field, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Read the report here 
15:07   Balakot airstrike not military action as no damage to civilians: Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday the Balakot airstrike, where the Indian Air Force targeted and destroyed a JeM camp in Pakistan last week, was "not a military action" as there was no damage to civilians. Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had not given any casualty figure in the airstrike and he had only given a statement, which was the government's "position", Sitharaman told reporters. 


Gokhale had last Tuesday said the non-military and pre-emptive strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot had killed "very large number" of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders. 


Sitharaman's remarks come amidst the Opposition seeking details of the death toll in the airstrike, even as the IAF, which carried out the attacks post the Pulwama suicide bombing, said on Monday the Centre would provide details on the casualty figures. 


The defence minister also declined to link the airstrike with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. On February 14, a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based JeM rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, killing 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. -- PTI
15:00   Pakistan claims Indian submarine enters its waters
Pakistan on Tuesday claimed to have detected an Indian submarine before it could enter its waters, according to media reports. 


"The Pakistan Navy used its specialised skills to ward off the submarine, successfully keeping it from entering Pakistani waters," various news channels said quoting a statement issued by the spokesperson of the country's Navy.


"Keeping the (Pakistan) government's initiative of peace in mind, the Indian submarine was not targetted by the Pakistan Navy," said the statement quoted by the media.


India was yet to respond to the Pakistani Navy's claim, which comes after a number of other allegations floated by the Pakistan government through its media ever since the Indian Air Force carried out an air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on February 26.


The last time that the two Navies engaged in a fight was during the 1971 war.


On February 27, the fighter jets of the two countries engaged in a dogfight in the skies of Jammu and Kashmir after Pakistani F-16 planes transgressed into the Indian air space. -- PTI
14:13  
Senior journalist Harinder Baweja tweets: Since our netas are speaking like Gabbar Singh, should we ask, "Kitne aadmi theh?"
14:12   Indian navy subs 200 km from Karachi?
India Today journalist Shiv Aroor tweets: Navy releases footage to local media claiming it has 'detected' @IndianNavy submarine INS Kalvari. No word from navy yet, but if video/coordinates are authentic, then Indian Navy likely 'wants' Pak to know that attack submarine/s are lurking 200 km from Karachi.
13:41   Parl attack terrorist Afzal Guru's son wants a passport
Afzal Guru's (who was executed in 2013 for his role in 2001 Parliament attack) son Ghalib Guru appeals for a passport: "I appeal that I should get a passport. I also have an Aadhaar card. If I get a passport, I can avail international medical scholarship." 
13:09   Amit Shah's 250 dead figure an estimate: VK Singh
The government's first reaction on the baffling lack of details in the air strike on Balakot, Pakistan. Union minister VK Singh responds to questions on BJP president Amit Shah's claim that 250 terrorists were killed in the air strike. 

There is no clarity on the casualties yet, with the Air Chief BS Dhanoa at a press briefing yesterday, that the Air Force was not in a position to count casualties. "We can't count how many people have died. It depends on how many people were there," the Air Chief said, and added that it was for the government to say how many were hit. 


VK Singh on Amit Shah's "More than 250 terrorists were killed" in airstrike claim, said the figure was based on people who were housed in the buildings which were hit. "It's an estimate. He is not saying this is a confirmed figure, he is saying this many might have died," Singh said.


Singh was ambigous When asked about what the casualty figure could be. "The figure is of the attack on Balakot (250 casualty).  The attack was only at one place, nowhere else. The target was selected carefully, away from residential areas to avoid civilian casualty."  


On Congress leader Digvijay Singh terming the Pulwama terrorist attack an accident, Singh, said, "With due respect, I would like to ask Digvijaya Singhki, was Rajiv Gandhi's assassination an accident or a terror incident?"
12:22   SAD MP joins Cong
MP Sher Singh Ghubaya from Ferozpur (Punjab) joins Indian National Congress. Sher Singh had resigned from Shiromani Akali Dal, yesterday.
12:13   'Abhinandan is a typically aggressive fighter pilot'
Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramanian (retd) has flown both the MiG-21 and Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft. The fighter pilot served the Indian Air Force for 36 years and is an erudite and scholarly voice on strategic affairs. 


The author of three books, Air Vice Marshal Subramanian is a visiting professor at Ashoka University and the Jindal School of International Affairs. 


He was formerly a visiting professor at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy and a visiting fellow at Harvard, Oxford and Northeastern Universities.


The pilot-scholar-commentator spoke to Rediff.com's Archana Masih about the impact of the IAF's daring missions last week. 

Read the first of a two-part interview. 


Image: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, March 2, 2019.
12:08   Extremists, aided & abetted by State seeking to destabilise India, behind Pulwama attack: Navy chief
The Pulwama attack was perpetrated by extremists and "aided by a State" that seeks to destabilise India, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Tuesday. Addressing a gathering of global experts from defence sector and diplomats at the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, in New Delhi, Lanba said the region had witnessed multiple forms of terrorism in recent years and few countries in this part of the world had been spared. 


The global nature that terrorism has acquired in the recent times has further enhanced the scope of this threat, he said. India, however, faces a "far more serious" version of terrorism, the Navy chief said. 


"We recently had the extremist attack in Jammu and Kashmir about three weeks ago. This violence was perpetrated by extremists aided and abetted by a State that seeks to destabilise India," the Navy chief said. 


"We also have reports of terrorists being trained to carry out operations in various modus operandi, including through the medium of the sea," he added. 


On February 14, a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a bus in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, killing 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel. -- PTI
12:04   Spice-2000 bombs used in Balakot will also be put in Sukhoi-30s
The Indian Air Force is equipping its Su-30MKI combat aircraft with the Israeli Spice-2000 bombs which were used by the force to carry out air strikes on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists training camp inside Pakistan.


Talking about the quick deployment of forces by the Air Force on the western frontier of Pakistan, top Indian Air Force sources told ANI that the force has been successful in doing so due to the exercise GaganShakti held last year where the service practiced to carry out high tempo operations on both the possible fronts.


At the moment, the only aircraft which is capable of delivering the bombs on enemy targets is the Mirage 2000. But now the Air Force is putting them on the Su-30s as well to further enhance their firepower, government sources told ANI.


India had acquired more than 200 of these bombs from Israel a few years back and the Su-30MKI has already carried out trials of launching the Spice-2000 on ground targets, they said.


"After a few more trials, the Su-30 fleet would be equipped with these bombs which rely on coordinates and satellite pictures of the target to home in and destroy the intended targets," the sources said.


Once the integration is successful, it would be a big force multiplier for the Air force as the only planes which can launch these bombs right now are the Mirage 2000s.


The IAF has only around three squadrons of these planes whereas the service has already inducted more than 250 of these aircraft and has planes of getting around 20 more by the end of next year.


The Air Force used the Spice-2000 bombs extensively during the air strikes on Pakistan on February 26 decimating the intended target in Balakote in Khyber Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan in form of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp.


The attacks were carried out by the Air force to avenge the Pulwama suicide terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed.


Image: Sukhoi-30
11:37   India downplays US decision to withdraw zero-tariff policy
India reacts to US decision to withdraw India's name from GSP program list. Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan says the government of India has to be conscious of and public welfare interests. "We have very deep routed ties with USA. All the issues in the trade domain are on the table for discussions. We will not compromise on affordability of medical devices.  Economic value of GSP benefits are very moderate. 

"Our effort was to balance the affordable prices of the medical devices without compromising on public welfare. USA to terminate GSP in 60 days. Our relations remain strong with USA and discussions will go on. Our assessment is that this will not have any significant impact on our 5.6 billion dollar exports to the US,"


President Donald Trump on Monday announced his decision to withdraw India from the list of countries enjoying the Generalised System of Preferences programme on goods exported to the US.


Trump said the decision was taken as India no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria. Under the GSP or zero-tariff policy measures, India enjoys tariff concession costing to USD 5.6 billion of exports to the US. India has been the world's largest beneficiary of the GSP scheme that has been in force since the 1970s. 


Image: No handouts: PM Modi with US president Donald Trump in the US in June 2017
11:28   Revenge may win you an election. But will it deter your enemy?
"The travesty of recent Indian strategic thought is it emerges not from our brains, but from whatever part of the anatomy that secretes the prickliest hormones," says Shekhar Gupta. Read the column here. 
11:12  
Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti tweets, "Little surprise that with General Elections around the corner,the josh of patriotism hasn't even spared the skies." Y'day,Air India issued a circular to all cabin crew&cockpit crew directing them to say' Jai Hind' aftr any announcement onboard."
10:39   Trump decides to withdraw Indias name from GSP program list
United States President Donald Trump on Monday announced his decision to withdraw India from the list of countries enjoying the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) program on goods exported to the US.


Trump said the decision was taken as India no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria.  


Under the GSP or zero-tariff policy measures, India enjoys tariff concession costing to USD 5.6 billion of exports to the US. India has been the world's largest beneficiary of the GSP scheme that has been in force since the 1970s. -- ANI


Dost dost na raha: US president Donald Trump, Melania Trump and PM Modi at the White House in June 2017.
10:29   BJP minister asks Sibal to go to Balakot to check body count
Hitting out at Congress leader Kapil Sibal for his remarks on the February 26 IAF strike, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Monday asked him to go to Balakot in Pakistan to check after the latter cited foreign media reports on "no losses" in the operation.


Amid the war of words between BJP and Congress on the air raid, Rathore tweeted, "You believe international media over own Intelligence agencies? You seem happy when media quoted by you says no losses in strike?...and sir, for us you went to London to find evidence against EVMs, will you please also go to Balakot to check?"


He was quoting a tweet of Sibal in which the Congress leader had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of politicising terror.


Sibal had tweeted, "Modiji, Is international media - New York Times, London based Jane's Information Group, Washington Post, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Reuters, reporting no proof of militant losses at Balakot pro-Pakistan? You are guilty of politicising terror?"


Locking horns after Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa's remarks on Monday on the air strike, BJP had charged Congress with politicising the issue while the Opposition party sought the source of statements being made by BJP leaders with regards to the number of casualties at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot.


Addressing the media, Dhanoa had said fighter pilots had hit the target given to them, adding that he could not give the number of casualties suffered as it is for the government to clarify.


Earlier on Sunday, BJP chief Amit Shah, while addressing a rally in Ahmedabad, had claimed that 250 terrorists were killed in the air strike.

-- ANI
10:16   Universal basic income is hardly a new idea
"The ideas of public works to employ the poor, and food rations (what we in India called the PDS or the public distribution system) can be traced to Johannes Ludovicus Vives around the same time: "Even those who have dissipated their fortunes in dissolute living -- through gaming, harlots, excessive luxury, gluttony and gambling -- should be given food, for no one should die of hunger. However, smaller rations and more irksome tasks should be assigned to them so that they may be an example to others... They must not die of hunger, but they must feel its pangs... Even to the old and the stupid, it should be possible to give a job they can learn in a few days, such as digging holes, getting water or carrying something on their shoulders... being busy and engrossed in their work, they will abstain from those wicked thoughts and actions in which they would engage if they were idle."

Read Ashok V Desai's column for the Telegraph. 
10:11   How war rhetoric is affecting children
Class VI girl Eepsha Aamon stopped talking to a classmate who told her that "Pakistanis are bad and Modi is right to attack them". Sociology undergraduate Lakshmi Padmakumar is tired of the daily marches outside her flat, near Delhi University's North Campus, with loudspeakers blaring: "Pakistan murdabad (death to Pakistan)!"


Both Eepsha and Lakshmi, born in the years after the Kargil conflict, were part of a human chain in front of the Jantar Mantar monuments, organised as an anti-war protest on Monday by a string of NGOs and trade unions.


Eepsha, from Father Agnel School in Noida, was accompanied by her mother Dithhi Bhattacharya, a trade union activist.   Read the report here. 
10:02   Indian man-Pakistani girl's wedding called off
A marriage between a Pakistani bride and an Indian groom here was called off after tensions mounted between the two countries following Pulwama attack which claimed lives of 40 CRPF personnel.


Mahendra Singh, the groom residing in Khejad Ka Paar village in the border district of Barmer had booked tickets to the Thar Express for Saturday and was supposed to tie the knot with Chagan Kanwar of Sinoi village in Amarkot district of Sindh province.


According to the railways, the train was not allowed to leave due to the suspension of its operation by Pakistan authorities in the wake of soaring tensions between the two nations. The train used to run between Pakistan's Lahore and India's Attari on Monday and Thursday.


Speaking to ANI, Mahendra Singh, said, "We faced a lot of issues in getting visas. I spoke to Gajendra Singh for getting the visas for Pakistan. It was only because of him that we were able to get visas for five people. We had made all preparations and distributed invitation cards to the relatives."
-- ANI


Image: A still from the film, Raazi, where Alia Bhatt played an Indian married to a Pakistani man. 
09:39   Delhi tops list of most polluted cities, says new report
The national capital has topped the list of the most polluted cities in the world in a recent study conducted by environment NGO Greenpeace India.
  
New Delhi was ranked first among 62 polluted cities in the report, Global Air Pollution 2018, a statement from the organisation said.

The report will officially be released on Tuesday. 

The report accompanies an extended online interactive display of the world's most polluted cities, allowing further exploration of air quality across different regions and subregions in 2018, it said.

"The real-time status of all included locations, together with many more, can also be explored through the IQAir AirVisual Air Quality Map, which brings together live air quality readings in one accessible place," the NGO said.

The report measures the air quality in terms of PM2.5 data as aggregated through the IQAir AirVisual platform in 2018, it said. 

-- PTI
09:29   Second man seems to be free of AIDS virus after transplant
Researchers say a London man appears to be free of the AIDS virus after a stem cell transplant. 
  
It's the second such success including "Berlin patient" Timothy Ray Brown.

Such transplants are dangerous and have failed in other patients. 

The new findings were published online Monday by the journal Nature.

The London patient has not been identified. 

He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. He developed cancer and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.

His doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV.

The transplant changed the London patient's immune system, giving him the donor's HIV resistance.
08:44   Encounter breaks out between terrorists and security forces in Tral
Encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces in Tral of south Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Local sources said that exchange of fire continued for about one hour and the house in which terrorist were hiding has been blasted.

Security forces cordoned the area on Monday evening around 8 pm, after which a contact was established between the terrorists and security forces around 4:30 am on Tuesday.

Government officials had the information of two terrorists being trapped in Tral and that they were hiding in a house.

More reinforcement was rushed to the spot.

Presently firing has stopped and search operation is going in the area.
08:06   Trump says he plans to end India's preferential trade treatment
Arguing that India had failed to assure America that it would provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors, US President Donald Trump on Monday informed the US Congress about his intent to terminate the designation of India and Turkey as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences programme.

In a letter to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Trump said he was determined that New Delhi had "not assured" the United States that it would "provide equitable and reasonable access" to the markets of India.

"I will continue to assess whether the Government of India is providing equitable and reasonable access to its markets, in accordance with the GSP eligibility criteria," Trump said in his letter, a copy of which was released to the press.

In a separate letter, Trump also informed the Congress of his intent to terminate the GSP beneficiary designation of Turkey. This was primarily because the economy of Turkey had improved a lot in the last four-and-a-half decades, he said.

Trump's letter to Pelosi could be seen as a major setback in India-US bilateral relationship, in particular in the arena of trade and economy.

In a separate statement, the US Trade Representative said India's termination from GSP followed its failure to provide the US with assurances that it would provide equitable and reasonable access to its markets in numerous sectors.

Under the United States GSP programme, certain products can enter the US duty-free if the beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria established by Congress.

The GSP criteria include, among others, respecting arbitral awards in favour of US citizens or corporations, combatting child labour, respecting internationally recognised worker rights, providing adequate and effective intellectual property protection and providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access.

-- PTI
00:17   Political slugfest breaks out over data theft charge
A political row broke out over alleged data theft of Andhra Pradesh voters by an IT firm in Hyderabad with the ruling Telugu Desam Party on Monday alleging a cyber conspiracy and seeking transfer of the case registered by the Telangana police to the neighbouring state.

As Telangana police citing preliminary probe claimed the IT company got 'illegal' access to details of voters, TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu alleged it was part of a conspiracy to help opposition YSR Congress headed by Jaganmohan Reddy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and KCR (Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao were helping Jaganmohan Reddy in executing this 'cyber conspiracy', he alleged in his teleconference with TDP leaders.

"It is atrocious to steal our data and give it to our rivals," he said.

Naidu alleged, "The Bihari gang led by (political strategist and JD-U leader) Prashant Kishore is giving such evil advise to the YSRC."

The YSRC, however, questioned how confidential data related to the state government went into private hands.

"Why is Chandrababu so scared of the investigation? The data theft is part of a plan to remove names of those against the government from the electors list," YSRC leader and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Buggana Rajendranath Reddy alleged.

The case against the firm was registered on Saturday on a complaint from a data analyst alleging that TDP cadre were using certain mobile phone and tab-based applications especially 'Seva Mitra' app for 'advancing their party's electoral prospects'.

It drew protests from Andhra Pradesh ministers and TDP legislators on Sunday with IT Minister N Lokesh in a tweet alleging that Telangana police was harassing the IT firms that have been hired to curate information whose complete rights were held by the TDP.

Hitting back, Telangana Rashtra Samiti working president K T Rama Rao on Monday asked why the TDP was afraid of a probe if it had not done anything wrong.

Naidu should be 'ashamed of' his party's criticism of the Telangana government, Rao said and dared him to face the probe.

"If you have not done the theft, Chandrababu Naidu ji...why should you fear?" he asked.

"It is the TDP which committed the wrong. The (AP) government which is supposed to keep personal data a secret, gives that data to a party, how should it be seen," he told reporters in Hyderabad.

Rama Rao, son of Telangana CM, also alleged the TDP tried to defame the TRS government on social media through 'a paid campaign'.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar told reporters in Hyderabad that police have issued a notice to the Amazon Web Services, with which the database was said to have been stored, seeking the data.

'Prima facie, the investigation has revealed' that the company got access of personal information and sensitive dataof individuals related to Aadhaar, electoral roll, government schemes and voters information of various political parties 'which can be misused for illegal purposes like alleged deletion of voters', he said.  -- PTI

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