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I n a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has paved the way for “passive euthanasia” by allowing withdrawal of life sup- port to a patient if he slips into irreversible coma. The doctors treating such a patient will withdraw medical support pro- vided the patient has left behind a “living will” for pulling the “plug” in such situations. The Friday judgment of the five- judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will be in oper- ation till Parliament enacted a suitable law. While right to take one’s life is not recognised under the right to live enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, by this judgment the apex court has also said that in the absence of a “living will” by the patient, the family can request the hospitals treating him to constitute a medical board to determine on withdrawal of life support in case of irreversible coma. The judgment came on a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause and was argued by noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan. So far, pulling the plug on a terminally ill patient posed a grave moral and ethical dilem- ma to the family as also to the treating doctor and hospital who ran the risk of criminal prosecution for abetting mur- der. Realising this, the Bench said that the “living will” must be an informed consent by an adult while in a sound, healthy state of mind before a Judicial Magistrate of First Class and in the presence of two indepen- dent witnesses who will attest. The said instruction will unam- biguously indicate when med- ical treatment is to be with- drawn and even name a guardian or close relative who will execute the said “will” in the event the patient slips into coma or persistent vegetative state (PVS). A copy of the will shall be restored in the office of the Judicial Magistrate and the local municipality or panchayat. The decision, given by the Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, said, “The right to live with dignity (a component of right to life and liberty under Article 21) also includes the smoothening of the process of dying in case of a terminally ill patient or a per- son in PVS with no hope of recovery. A failure to recognise advance medical directives (or living will) may amount to non-facilitation of the right to smoothen the dying process and the right to live with dig- nity.” When the living will or medical directive is produced by the family to the treating doctor, the hospital shall con- stitute a Medical Board of three doctors of minimum 20 years standing to examine the patient and the feasibility of executing the “living will”. Their preliminary opinion will be forwarded to the District Collector who will constitute another Medical Board head- ed by Chief Medical Officer of the district and three other doc- tors. The Board will visit the patient and give its view on the opinion of the first medical board. If both the boards concur, the Collector will communicate the decision to the Judicial Magistrate, who will issue orders to execute the living will. However, in case of difference of opinion or rejection by the Medical Board on account of ambiguity in the advanced directive, the family or the hos- pital can approach the High Court that will expeditiously hear and decide the case. It will be open to the HC too to con- stitute a Medical Board of its own. A fter maintaining that it was not aware how Canada-based convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal had got a visa to enter India, in a bizarre twist of events the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday said Atwal was given a valid visa for entry to India and his entry was allowed keeping in line with Government’s reach-out policy towards misguided elements who have in the past har- boured anti-India sentiments. The MEA also added that Atwal had travelled to India thrice in the past one year. The dinner invitation to Atwal by the Canadian author- ities during the visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had caused a major uproar. When the controversy had first erupt- ed the MEA had said it was not aware how he was granted a visa. However, on Friday, MEA said India has nothing against him as of now to prohibit his entry. “This was not his first visit to India. He has visited India on earlier occasions since January 2017. The Government of India has a conscious policy of out- reach to the Indian diaspora, including misguided elements who in the past may have har- boured anti-India sentiments which they have since renounced. There are well established procedures for grant of visa to foreign travelers which have been followed in this case as well,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said while responding to queries on how Atwal got a visa. Atwal’s presence at the events of the Trudeau during his visit to India last month resulted in a lot of criticism by both Canadian and Indian media. As a result the Canadian High Commissioner to India, Nadir Patel, had to cancel the invitation issued to Atwal for the reception he had hosted in the honour of Trudeau. Atwal later said he was a friend of Trudeau and had voluntarily bowed out of the reception. Later, Trudeau’s office gave a new spin to Atwal’s presence by saying rogue elements in India had planted Atwal in his events to embarrass him. Prior to his conviction, Atwal was associat- ed with banned terrorist group —International Sikh Youth Federation . He was sentenced 20 years in prison for an attempt to assassinate Punjab Minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986. He had completed his 20 years of sen- tence in a Canadian prison for his act. Continued on Page 4 I n a freak accident, a 17-year- old boy accidentally pulled the trigger of a loaded pistol while taking selfie and fired at his 23-year-old cousin. The bullet pierced through his chest and he died on the spot. The incident took place in Southeast Delhi’s Sarita Vihar area on Thursday evening. According to the police, the deceased has been identified as Prashant Chauhan (23). He was working as a teacher on contractual basis. Police said that Prashant Chauhan, a native of Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh recently shift- ed to Delhi and started living in Shahdara after he got a job at a Government school. Since his maternal uncle lived in Sarita Vihar, Prashant often visited uncle’s house in Sarita Vihar. On Thursday evening, Prashant had to attend a distant relative’s wedding so he came to his maternal uncle’s house,” said a relative of Prashant. “We received information on Thursday at around 6.35 pm from the Apollo Hospital regarding a boy sustaining a gunshot injury,” Chinmoy Biswal, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Southeast district said. “On further enquiry, we found that a 17-year-old boy along with his uncle’s son Prashant was taking selfies with a loaded pistol at the minor’s residence in Sarita Vihar when the minor boy accidentally pulled the trigger. The pistol belonged to the minor’s father, Pramod Chauhan. At the time of the incident, the minor boy’s father was out at work. He is a prop- erty dealer,” added Biswal. Police said that on hearing the gunshot, family members rushed and took Prashant Chauhan to the Apollo Hospital where he was declared brought dead. The DCP said, “We have registered a case under relevant sections of the IPC and Arms Act.” We have apprehended the minor boy —17 years and three months old on Friday. We will also investigate the negli- gence on the part of the father and have seized the used pistol, the lead and the empty shell,” added Biswal. In 2017, there have been several instances where people were killed while taking selfies at the railway tracks. In October last year, a teenager last seen taking a selfie on rail- way tracks died after being run over by a train near the Welcome railway station in Northeast Delhi. Police suspect he was walking along the tracks with earphones on and did not hear the train coming. The victim, Arbaz, 18, studied at a Government school in the neighbourhood and had left home for tuition classes. His body was found next to the tracks on Monday afternoon. Cops found a pair of earphones next to the body. They suspect his mobile phone was stolen after the accident. GRP personnel said Arbaz was earlier seen stopping on the tracks to take a selfie. In 2016 in Ludhiana, a 15- year-old boy was killed while he accidentally pulled the trig- ger of his father’s revolver. The bullet stuck in the head of the minor boy who later suc- cumbed to injuries. F ormer Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti got interim protection from Delhi High Court from arrest by Enforcement Directorate till March 20, but the trial court extended his CBI custody by three more days in connection with the INX Media bribe case. In trial court, Karti’s lawyer Abhishek Singhvi on Friday accused the CBI of harassing his client and playing all sort of tricks to increase the dura- tion of his custody. I n move that will bring some relief to family or group whose travelling plan got changed, the Indian Railways has allowed passengers to transfer their confirmed tick- et to another person or family member. The Railways has released guidelines for transfer- ring a confirmed ticket. As per the guidelines, Chief Reservation Supervisor of important stations are autho- rised by Railway Administration to permit the change of name of a passenger having a seat or berth reserved in his name. However, the person would need to make a written request 24 hours prior the scheduled departure for transferring the confirmed ticket to another family member. Likewise, if the passenger is part of a marriage party then the confirmed ticket can be transferred to another person with a written request by an individual deemed to be the head of the group 24 hours before departure. T he Manohar Lal Khattar- led Haryana Government has proposed no fresh tax in its fourth Budget for 2018-19, while keeping its size at 1.15 lakh crore with focus on rais- ing expenditure in key sectors including agriculture, educa- tion, health, industry and skill development. The budget also proposed to reduce the rate of value added tax on sale of natural gas from 12.5 per cent to six per cent. Presenting the state budget fourth year in a row in the state assembly here, Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu on Friday said that the present government is seek- ing to turn Haryana as model state in terms of fiscal manage- ment. The Finance Minister tabled budget with total size of 1,15,198.29 crore, a jump of 12.6 per cent over the budget estimates of 1,02,329.35 crore during last fiscal, and 14.4 per cent over revised estimates of 1,00,739.38 crore of 2017-18. The budget outlay com- prises 26.1 per cent as capital expenditure of 30,012 crore, and 73.9 per cent as revenue expenditure of 85,187 crore, said Abhimanyu in his 96- minute budget speech. Among tax revenue, Capt. Abhimanyu proposed mobili- sation from GST, VAT, excise duty and stamp and registra- tion at 23,760 crore, 11,444 crore, 6,000 crore and 4,500 crore, respectively, in next fis- cal. The revenue deficit has been projected at 8,253.51 crore for 2018-19 as against revised estimates 8,226.17 crore for 2017-18 while the fis- cal deficit is (Details on P 3) Continued on Page 4 D isregarding warnings, President Donald Trump has signed two proclamations, slapping import duties on steel and aluminium, and held out the possibility of imposing a “reciprocal tax” on countries such as India and China “at some point”. Trump exempted US neighbours Canada and Mexico from his controversial tariffs order in the light of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He left open the possibility of exempt- ing some other countries that he did not immediately identi- fy except for Australia. The tar- iffs, signed on Thursday, will come into force in 15 days. Trump, who has been irked by India’s 50 per cent duty on America’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles, brought up the “reciprocal tax” issue after reading out a tweet from Tesla founder Elon Musk, who point- ed to China charging 25 per cent import duty on an American car as against the US charging just 2.5 per cent on a Chinese car. “So we send our car over there, pay 25 per cent. They send their car over here, 2.5 per cent ...It has to change,” Trump said, adding: “We’re going to be doing a reciprocal tax pro- gram at some point. If China is going to charge us 25 per cent or if India is going to charge us 75 per cent and we charge them nothing, if they’re at 50 or they’re at 75 or they’re at 25, we’re going to be at those same numbers.” “It’s called reciprocal, it’s a mirror tax. So they charge us 50, we charge them 50. Right now they’ll charge us 50, we charge them nothing,” he said with reference to Harleys sold in India and Indian motorcy- cles sold in US, adding: “Doesn’t work. So that’s called a reciprocal tax or mirror tax. We’re going to be doing a lot of that.” Trump sought to defend his tariffs push not only in terms of protecting American workers and industry, but also from the standpoint of nation- al security. “A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security. You don’t have steel, you don’t have a country,” he said. As for other countries looking for exemptions like Canada and Mexico, indica- tions are that the White House will give other nations an opportunity to justify why they should be spared. “If the same goals can be accomplished by other means, America will remain open to modifying or removing the tariffs for individual nations, as long as we can agree on a way to ensure that their products no longer threaten our security,” Trump said. In respect of Canada and Mexico, it has been pointed out that the exemptions are linked to ongoing negotiations to revamp NAFTA to make it “fair” to all three partners, the third being the US. “I have a feeling we’re going to make a deal on NAFTA,” Trump said. Trump issued the two proclamations, exercising his authority under Section 232 of US law that gives the President “the ability to address any threats to national security by restricting imports through tariffs”, the White House said. “President Trump is taking action to protect America’s critical steel and aluminum industries, which have been harmed by unfair trade prac- tices and global excess capaci- ty,” a White House release said, noting that the tariffs on steel and aluminum are anticipated to reduce imports to levels needed for the domestic indus- tries to achieve long-term via- bility. “As a result, these indus- tries will be able to re-open closed mills, sustain a skilled workforce, and maintain or increase production. The strengthening of our domestic steel and aluminum industries will reduce our reliance on for- eign producers,” it said. T he world-renowned Sufi duo, Wadali Brothers, sep- arated on Friday after the younger of the two — Ustad Pyare Lal Wadali — passed away on Friday morning at Amritsar at the age of 75. Not keeping well since past few months and hospitalised on February 26, Pyarelal breathed his last at Fortis Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest. The family will hold cremation at their ancestral village, Guru ki Wadali, where last respects will be paid to the celebrated singer. He is survived by his wife Surjit Kaur, two sons — Satpal Singh and Sandeep, and three daughters — Sheela Rani, Raj Rani and Soma Rani. Born into the fifth gener- ation of musicians, Pyarelal and Puran Chand Wadali became popular with their Sufi music and were spotted after per- forming at the Harballabh tem- ple in Jalandhar in 1975. They got their first break at the All India Radio (AIR) in 1972. Carrying on the legacy of famous saint poets such as Bulle Shah, Kabir, Amir Khusro and Surdas, the duo has writ- ten mesmerizing verses. Their soulful renditions of heer made them a legend among folk music lovers and they also sang bhajans, ghazal and kaafi- an. Pyarelal use to play the role of Lord Krishna in the village raasleela to earn money for his family in his early life, while his elder brother Puran Chand was a regular in akhara (wrestling ring). It was then Pyarelal started learning music from his elder brother Puran Chand, whom he considered his mentor or guru. Pyarelal and his brother never used to charge for teach- ing music. The two never indulged commercially and were very uncomfortable in using electronic gadgets in their music. Wadali Brothers are among the few traditional Sufi singers who dabbled effortlessly in Bollywood music, but always on their own terms. Their Bollywood work includes songs from movie Pinjar and the more recently, Rangrez in movie Tanu Weds Manu. They hit the limelight with their non-movie album song, Tu Mane Ya Na Mane Dildaara. Their version of Damadam Mast Kalandar was also appre- ciated.Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, SAD president Sukhbir Badal, among many others expressed their grief over his death. Capt Amarinder described his demise as a personal as well as a loss for the world of Sufi music. He described Pyare Lal Wadali as a trendsetter in Sufi singing, and “with his death, Continued on Page 4

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  • In a landmark judgment, theSupreme Court has paved theway for passive euthanasia byallowing withdrawal of life sup-port to a patient if he slips intoirreversible coma. The doctorstreating such a patient willwithdraw medical support pro-vided the patient has left behinda living will for pulling theplug in such situations. TheFriday judgment of the five-judge Constitution Bench of theSupreme Court will be in oper-ation till Parliament enacted asuitable law.

    While right to take oneslife is not recognised under theright to live enshrined inArticle 21 of the Constitution,by this judgment the apexcourt has also said that in theabsence of a living will by thepatient, the family can requestthe hospitals treating him toconstitute a medical board todetermine on withdrawal of lifesupport in case of irreversiblecoma.

    The judgment came on aPIL filed by NGO CommonCause and was argued by notedlawyer Prashant Bhushan.

    So far, pulling the plug ona terminally ill patient posed agrave moral and ethical dilem-ma to the family as also to the

    treating doctor and hospitalwho ran the risk of criminalprosecution for abetting mur-der.

    Realising this, the Benchsaid that the living will mustbe an informed consent by anadult while in a sound, healthystate of mind before a JudicialMagistrate of First Class and inthe presence of two indepen-dent witnesses who will attest.The said instruction will unam-biguously indicate when med-ical treatment is to be with-drawn and even name aguardian or close relative whowill execute the said will in

    the event the patient slips intocoma or persistent vegetativestate (PVS). A copy of the will shall be restored in theoffice of the Judicial Magistrateand the local municipality orpanchayat.

    The decision, given by theBench of Chief Justice DipakMisra, Justices AK Sikri, AMKhanwilkar, DY Chandrachudand Ashok Bhushan, said, Theright to live with dignity (acomponent of right to life andliberty under Article 21) alsoincludes the smoothening ofthe process of dying in case ofa terminally ill patient or a per-

    son in PVS with no hope ofrecovery. A failure to recogniseadvance medical directives (orliving will) may amount tonon-facilitation of the right tosmoothen the dying processand the right to live with dig-nity.

    When the living will ormedical directive is producedby the family to the treatingdoctor, the hospital shall con-stitute a Medical Board ofthree doctors of minimum 20years standing to examine thepatient and the feasibility ofexecuting the living will.Their preliminary opinion will

    be forwarded to the DistrictCollector who will constituteanother Medical Board head-ed by Chief Medical Officer ofthe district and three other doc-tors. The Board will visit thepatient and give its view on theopinion of the first medicalboard.

    If both the boards concur,the Collector will communicatethe decision to the JudicialMagistrate, who will issueorders to execute the living will.However, in case of differenceof opinion or rejection by theMedical Board on account ofambiguity in the advanced

    directive, the family or the hos-pital can approach the HighCourt that will expeditiouslyhear and decide the case. It willbe open to the HC too to con-stitute a Medical Board of itsown.

    After maintaining that itwas not aware howCanada-based convictedKhalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwalhad got a visa to enter India, ina bizarre twist of events theMinistry of External Affairs(MEA) on Friday said Atwalwas given a valid visa for entryto India and his entry wasallowed keeping in line withGovernments reach-out policytowards misguided elementswho have in the past har-boured anti-India sentiments.The MEA also added thatAtwal had travelled to Indiathrice in the past one year.

    The dinner invitation toAtwal by the Canadian author-ities during the visit of PrimeMinister Justin Trudeau hadcaused a major uproar. Whenthe controversy had first erupt-ed the MEA had said it was notaware how he was granted a visa.However, on Friday, MEA saidIndia has nothing against him asof now to prohibit his entry.

    This was not his first visitto India. He has visited India onearlier occasions since January2017. The Government of Indiahas a conscious policy of out-reach to the Indian diaspora,including misguided elementswho in the past may have har-boured anti-India sentiments

    which they have sincerenounced. There are wellestablished procedures for grantof visa to foreign travelerswhich have been followed inthis case as well, MEAspokesperson Raveesh Kumarsaid while responding toqueries on how Atwal got a visa.

    Atwals presence at theevents of the Trudeau duringhis visit to India last monthresulted in a lot of criticism byboth Canadian and Indianmedia. As a result the CanadianHigh Commissioner to India,Nadir Patel, had to cancel theinvitation issued to Atwal forthe reception he had hosted inthe honour of Trudeau. Atwallater said he was a friend ofTrudeau and had voluntarilybowed out of the reception.Later, Trudeaus office gave anew spin to Atwals presence bysaying rogue elements in Indiahad planted Atwal in his eventsto embarrass him. Prior to hisconviction, Atwal was associat-ed with banned terrorist groupInternational Sikh YouthFederation . He was sentenced20 years in prison for anattempt to assassinate PunjabMinister Malkiat Singh Sidhuin Vancouver in 1986. He hadcompleted his 20 years of sen-tence in a Canadian prison forhis act.

    Continued on Page 4

    In a freak accident, a 17-year-old boy accidentally pulledthe trigger of a loaded pistolwhile taking selfie and fired athis 23-year-old cousin. Thebullet pierced through his chestand he died on the spot. Theincident took place inSoutheast Delhis Sarita Vihararea on Thursday evening.According to the police, thedeceased has been identified asPrashant Chauhan (23). Hewas working as a teacher oncontractual basis.

    Police said that PrashantChauhan, a native of Baghpatin Uttar Pradesh recently shift-ed to Delhi and started livingin Shahdara after he got a jobat a Government school.

    Since his maternal uncle

    lived in Sarita Vihar, Prashantoften visited uncles house inSarita Vihar. On Thursdayevening, Prashant had to attenda distant relatives wedding sohe came to his maternal uncleshouse, said a relative ofPrashant.

    We received informationon Thursday at around 6.35 pmfrom the Apollo Hospitalregarding a boy sustaining agunshot injury, ChinmoyBiswal, the DeputyCommissioner of Police(DCP), Southeast district said.

    On further enquiry, wefound that a 17-year-old boyalong with his uncles sonPrashant was taking selfieswith a loaded pistol at theminors residence in SaritaVihar when the minor boyaccidentally pulled the trigger.

    The pistol belonged to theminors father, PramodChauhan. At the time of theincident, the minor boys fatherwas out at work. He is a prop-erty dealer, added Biswal.

    Police said that on hearingthe gunshot, family members

    rushed and took PrashantChauhan to the ApolloHospital where he was declaredbrought dead. The DCP said,We have registered a caseunder relevant sections of theIPC and Arms Act.

    We have apprehended theminor boy 17 years andthree months old on Friday. Wewill also investigate the negli-gence on the part of the fatherand have seized the used pistol,the lead and the empty shell,added Biswal.

    In 2017, there have beenseveral instances where peoplewere killed while taking selfiesat the railway tracks. InOctober last year, a teenagerlast seen taking a selfie on rail-way tracks died after being runover by a train near theWelcome railway station in

    Northeast Delhi. Police suspecthe was walking along the trackswith earphones on and did nothear the train coming.

    The victim, Arbaz, 18,studied at a Governmentschool in the neighbourhoodand had left home for tuitionclasses. His body was foundnext to the tracks on Mondayafternoon. Cops found a pair ofearphones next to the body.They suspect his mobile phonewas stolen after the accident.GRP personnel said Arbaz wasearlier seen stopping on thetracks to take a selfie.

    In 2016 in Ludhiana, a 15-year-old boy was killed whilehe accidentally pulled the trig-ger of his fathers revolver. Thebullet stuck in the head of theminor boy who later suc-cumbed to injuries.

    Former Finance Minister PChidambarams son Kartigot interim protection fromDelhi High Court from arrestby Enforcement Directorate tillMarch 20, but the trial courtextended his CBI custody bythree more days in connectionwith the INX Media bribe case.

    In trial court, Kartis lawyerAbhishek Singhvi on Fridayaccused the CBI of harassinghis client and playing all sortof tricks to increase the dura-tion of his custody.

    In move that will bring somerelief to family or groupwhose travelling plan gotchanged, the Indian Railwayshas allowed passengers totransfer their confirmed tick-et to another person or familymember. The Railways hasreleased guidelines for transfer-ring a confirmed ticket.

    As per the guidelines, ChiefReservation Supervisor ofimportant stations are autho-rised by RailwayAdministration to permit the

    change of name of a passengerhaving a seat or berth reservedin his name.

    However, the person wouldneed to make a written request24 hours prior the scheduleddeparture for transferring theconfirmed ticket to anotherfamily member.

    Likewise, if the passengeris part of a marriage party thenthe confirmed ticket can betransferred to another personwith a written request by anindividual deemed to be thehead of the group 24 hoursbefore departure.

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    The Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana Governmenthas proposed no fresh tax in itsfourth Budget for 2018-19,while keeping its size at 1.15lakh crore with focus on rais-ing expenditure in key sectorsincluding agriculture, educa-tion, health, industry and skilldevelopment.

    The budget also proposedto reduce the rate of valueadded tax on sale of natural gasfrom 12.5 per cent to six percent.

    Presenting the state budgetfourth year in a row in the stateassembly here, HaryanaFinance Minister CaptainAbhimanyu on Friday said thatthe present government is seek-ing to turn Haryana as modelstate in terms of fiscal manage-ment.

    The Finance Ministertabled budget with total size of

    1,15,198.29 crore, a jump of12.6 per cent over the budgetestimates of 1,02,329.35 croreduring last fiscal, and 14.4 percent over revised estimates of1,00,739.38 crore of 2017-18.

    The budget outlay com-prises 26.1 per cent as capitalexpenditure of 30,012 crore,and 73.9 per cent as revenueexpenditure of 85,187 crore,said Abhimanyu in his 96-minute budget speech.

    Among tax revenue, Capt.Abhimanyu proposed mobili-sation from GST, VAT, exciseduty and stamp and registra-tion at 23,760 crore, 11,444crore, 6,000 crore and 4,500crore, respectively, in next fis-cal. The revenue deficit hasbeen projected at 8,253.51crore for 2018-19 as againstrevised estimates 8,226.17crore for 2017-18 while the fis-cal deficit is

    (Details on P 3)Continued on Page 4

    "%-;

    Disregarding warnings,President Donald Trumphas signed two proclamations,slapping import duties on steeland aluminium, and held outthe possibility of imposing areciprocal tax on countriessuch as India and China atsome point.

    Trump exempted USneighbours Canada andMexico from his controversialtariffs order in the light of talksto renegotiate the NorthAmerican Free TradeAgreement (NAFTA). He leftopen the possibility of exempt-ing some other countries thathe did not immediately identi-fy except for Australia. The tar-iffs, signed on Thursday, willcome into force in 15 days.

    Trump, who has beenirked by Indias 50 per cent dutyon Americas Harley-Davidsonmotorcycles, brought up thereciprocal tax issue afterreading out a tweet from Teslafounder Elon Musk, who point-ed to China charging 25 percent import duty on anAmerican car as against the UScharging just 2.5 per cent on aChinese car.

    So we send our car overthere, pay 25 per cent. Theysend their car over here, 2.5 percent ...It has to change, Trumpsaid, adding: Were going to bedoing a reciprocal tax pro-gram at some point. If China isgoing to charge us 25 per cent

    or if India is going to charge us75 per cent and we charge themnothing, if theyre at 50 ortheyre at 75 or theyre at 25,were going to be at those samenumbers.

    Its called reciprocal, its amirror tax. So they charge us50, we charge them 50. Rightnow theyll charge us 50, wecharge them nothing, he saidwith reference to Harleys soldin India and Indian motorcy-cles sold in US, adding:Doesnt work. So thats calleda reciprocal tax or mirror tax.Were going to be doing a lot ofthat.

    Trump sought to defendhis tariffs push not only interms of protecting Americanworkers and industry, but alsofrom the standpoint of nation-al security. A strong steel andaluminum industry are vital toour national security. You donthave steel, you dont have acountry, he said.

    As for other countrieslooking for exemptions like

    Canada and Mexico, indica-tions are that the White

    House will give other nationsan opportunity to justify why

    they should be spared.If the same goals can be

    accomplished by other means,America will remain open to

    modifying or removing thetariffs for individual nations, aslong as we can agree on a wayto ensure that their products nolonger threaten our security,Trump said.

    In respect of Canada andMexico, it has been pointed outthat the exemptions are linkedto ongoing negotiations torevamp NAFTA to make itfair to all three partners, thethird being the US. I have afeeling were going to make adeal on NAFTA, Trump said.

    Trump issued the twoproclamations, exercising hisauthority under Section 232 ofUS law that gives the Presidentthe ability to address anythreats to national security byrestricting imports throughtariffs, the White House said.

    President Trump is takingaction to protect Americascritical steel and aluminumindustries, which have beenharmed by unfair trade prac-tices and global excess capaci-ty, a White House release said,noting that the tariffs on steeland aluminum are anticipatedto reduce imports to levelsneeded for the domestic indus-tries to achieve long-term via-bility.

    As a result, these indus-tries will be able to re-openclosed mills, sustain a skilledworkforce, and maintain orincrease production. Thestrengthening of our domesticsteel and aluminum industrieswill reduce our reliance on for-eign producers, it said.

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    The world-renowned Sufiduo, Wadali Brothers, sep-arated on Friday after theyounger of the two UstadPyare Lal Wadali passedaway on Friday morning atAmritsar at the age of 75.

    Not keeping well since pastfew months and hospitalised onFebruary 26, Pyarelal breathedhis last at Fortis Hospital aftersuffering a cardiac arrest. Thefamily will hold cremation attheir ancestral village, Guru kiWadali, where last respectswill be paid to the celebratedsinger.

    He is survived by his wifeSurjit Kaur, two sons SatpalSingh and Sandeep, and three

    daughters Sheela Rani, RajRani and Soma Rani.

    Born into the fifth gener-ation of musicians, Pyarelal andPuran Chand Wadali becamepopular with their Sufi musicand were spotted after per-forming at the Harballabh tem-ple in Jalandhar in 1975. Theygot their first break at the AllIndia Radio (AIR) in 1972.

    Carrying on the legacy offamous saint poets such asBulle Shah, Kabir, Amir Khusroand Surdas, the duo has writ-ten mesmerizing verses. Theirsoulful renditions of heer madethem a legend among folkmusic lovers and they alsosang bhajans, ghazal and kaafi-an. Pyarelal use to play the roleof Lord Krishna in the village

    raasleela to earn money for hisfamily in his early life, while hiselder brother Puran Chandwas a regular in akhara(wrestling ring). It was thenPyarelal started learning musicfrom his elder brother PuranChand, whom he consideredhis mentor or guru.

    Pyarelal and his brothernever used to charge for teach-ing music. The two neverindulged commercially andwere very uncomfortable inusing electronic gadgets intheir music.

    Wadali Brothers are amongthe few traditional Sufi singerswho dabbled effortlessly inBollywood music, but alwayson their own terms. TheirBollywood work includes songs

    from movie Pinjar and themore recently, Rangrez inmovie Tanu Weds Manu.

    They hit the limelight withtheir non-movie album song,Tu Mane Ya Na Mane Dildaara.Their version of DamadamMast Kalandar was also appre-ciated.Punjab Chief MinisterCapt Amarinder Singh,Tourism and Cultural AffairsMinister Navjot Singh Sidhu,SAD president Sukhbir Badal,among many others expressedtheir grief over his death.

    Capt Amarinder describedhis demise as a personal as wellas a loss for the world of Sufimusic. He described Pyare LalWadali as a trendsetter in Sufisinging, and with his death,

    Continued on Page 4

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    In his maiden Budget, HimachalPradesh Chief Minister Jai RamThakur on Friday projected a rev-enue deficit Budget of 41,440crore for the next financial yeareven as the focus will be onstrengthening the agriculture andhorticulture sectors by promisingto double the income of farmers by2022.

    Thakur, who also holds theFinance portfolio, announcedlaunching of 28 schemes withemphasis on education, women'sempowerment, job creation andtourism.

    The total Budget expenditureestimated for 2018-19 is 41,440crore, of which the estimatedexpenditure on salaries is 11,263crore and pensions 5,893 crore.

    The estimated interest pay-ments would be 4,260 crore and

    loan payments are expected to be3,184 crore, apart from 448crore on other loans and 2,741crore on maintenance, said Thakurin his maiden Budget speech inHindi which lasted over two-and-half hours.

    As per the Budget estimates,the total revenue receipts are esti-mated at 30,400 crore and thetotal revenue expenditure is esti-mated to be 33,568 crore with arevenue deficit of 3,168 crore.

    The expected receipts in cap-ital account of the Government are6,540 crore, apart from 1,225crore in public account, includingprovident fund. The capital expen-diture, including loan repayments,is estimated to be 7,872 crore. Thefiscal deficit for 2018-19 is likely tobe 7,821 crore.

    The Chief Minister alsoannounced a book donationscheme for Government schools.

    "The students spend a lot ofmoney on purchase of new textbooks. At the same time the stu-dents once pass a class throw thebooks. Now I propose that in allGovernment schools, the dayimmediately after the completion

    of the exams will be marked asBook Donation Day," he said.

    That day students will handover the books they don't need,helping the students reduce theirexpense on purchase of books.

    Reducing the load of schoolbags, Thakur said the Governmentwould declare one day everymonth as bag-free day in allschools and that will be fullydevoted to co-curricular activities.To redress grievances at doorsteps,the Chief Minister announcedthat all ministers would regularlyorganise 'Jan Manch', or publicforums, in remote areas of everydistrict to solve the problems of thepeople.

    He announced levy of a cess of1 per bottle of liquor to meet theoperational expenditure of anambulance service.

    This will fetch around 8 croreper annum. In the hill State, whichis also facing the impact of climatechange, a Climate ChangeAdaptation Demonstration Projectin two districts under the ClimateChange Adaptation programmewould be launched.

    A Climate ChangeVulnerability Assessment will alsobe carried out, covering 7,000 vil-lages in 1,200 panchayats in theBeas river basin in Kullu, Mandi,Hamirpur and Kangra districts.

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    Israel has evinced keen interest inmutual cooperation with Haryana inthe fields of education, innovation,policing, irrigation and dairy farmingbesides further strengthening the col-laboration in various ongoing agricul-ture and horticulture projects.

    Ambassador of Israel, DanielCarmon who called on Haryana ChiefMinister, Manohar Lal here invited himto visit Israel to attend Agritech-2018scheduled to be held from May 8 to 108 to view the latest technology beingadopted by Israel.

    While referring to the Centre ofexcellence set up in Haryana, the ChiefMinister said that he has recently inau-gurated the countrys first IntegratedBee-keeping Development Centre setup under Indo-Israel project inKurukshetra.

    He said that an outlet has been setup at the centre where honey and otherhorticulture products are being direct-ly sold to the consumers.

    Apart from this, directions havebeen issued to sell these products on allthe outlets of Haryana Fresh.

    Daniel Carmon said that four cen-tres of excellence have been set up inHaryana under the Indo-Israel projectand work is underway for the setting upof fifth such centre.

    He expressed satisfaction with the

    cooperation from Haryana and hopedthat this would go a long way in open-ing more such centre in the State.

    While appreciating the Centre ofExcellence in Gharaunda, Karnal, hesaid that the Centre enjoys visit fromother countries and they want thesame centre in their countries.

    The Israel Ambassador requestedthe State Government to encourage thepeople of Haryana to join MASHAVcourses in Israel Universities as there islot of demand in the State for thesecourses.

    These are short term courses andentire expenditure would be borne bythe University except the travel fare, headded. Besides, he also invited the stu-dents from Haryana under theAcademic Scholarship scheme.

    During the meeting, Agricultureand Farmers Welfare Minister, OPDhankar invited Daniel Carmon toattend the 3rd Agri Leadership Summitto be held in Rohtak. He said that lastyear also, a delegation of Israel had par-ticipated in the summit.

    Principal Secretary, Agriculture andFarmers Welfare Abhilaksh Likhi saidthat the State Government is also con-templating to open post harvest man-agement centres in the State.

    He said that a delegation ofArchitect students of Israel visited theHaryana Vidhan Sabha here to watchthe proceedings of the house.

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    Jhajjar district in Haryana hasrecorded the sex ratio at birth at920 in December 2017 as compared

    to 825 at the time of launch of theBeti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign bythe Prime Minister Narendra Modiin 2015.

    Now, the target has been set toreach sex ratio at birth to atleast 950by December 2018, said DeputyCommissioner Jhajjar, Sonal Goelbefore the President, Ram NathKovind during Nari Shakti Puraskarat Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi.

    The President appreciated the ini-tiative of Jhajjar district in improvingthe SRB and urged to target to makethe ratio equal. As per latest SRS, thesex ratio at birth is 914 for year 2017in the State. Goel informed thataccording to census 2011, Jhajjardistict reported a child sex ratio of 774compared with the national averageof 914 and the State average of 830.The sex ratio at birth was 825 inJhajjar, one of the lowest in country

    in the year 2015. She said that multipronged strategy and multiple tar-geted interventions of enforcement aswell as community engagement wereadopted at behavioural change. Aspart of enforcement drives, 28 raidshave been conducted under PCPNDT Act 1994 including inter- dis-trict and inter-State raids. Registrationof pregnancy in first trimester is tar-geted by district administration; closeto 90 per cent has been achieved, oneof the highest than state average.Under Community engagement,social rituals and customs related tocelebration of birth of male child arebeing promoted to celebrate the birthof girl child like Kuan Pujan, Kalashyatra, etc; targeted interventions arebeing made in panchayats with lowsex ratio at birth; local championshave been identified, BBBP fair etcbeing organize. For promoting edu-cation of girls; initiatives are beingtaken under Saksham Haryana forenhancing learning competency lev-els, she said. Apart from the deliver-ables Government initiatives, Jhajjaradministration has been collaborat-ing with other NGOs and civil soci-ety bodies to create a greater impacttowards women empowerment in theregion. Participation of girls in sportsis also encouraged, Goel said. Asmall booklet Mhari laado high-lighting the activities under BBBP andrelated schemes was presented to thePresident.

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    The BJP-led HaryanaGovernment on Friday pre-sented a 1.15 lakh croreBudget for fiscal year 2018-19with no proposal of any freshtaxes and reducing the valueadded tax on natural gas from12.5 percent to 6 percent in thestate.

    With an eye to the 2019Lok Sabha election, the fourthBudget of the Manohar LalKhattar Government present-ed in the Assembly by FinanceMinister Capt. Abhimanyu laidemphasis on agriculture andallied activities, education,employment, industries andconstruction of Sutlej YamunaLink (SYL) canal.

    The Budget speech of theFinance Minister also gave adetailed account of achieve-ments of the HaryanaGovernment in last three anda half years.

    Pegging the fiscal deficit foryear 2018-19 at 19399.34crore, the Finance Ministerpresented a budget of 1,15,198.29 crore, an increaseof 12.6 per cent over the swaranjayanti year budget of 1.02lakh crore for fiscal 2017-18.The Budget outlay com-prised of 26.1 per cent as cap-ital expenditure of 30,012crore and 73.9 per cent as rev-enue expenditure of 85,187crore for next fiscal.

    Capt. Abhimanyu said thatthe budget 2018-19 is aligned

    with the sustainable develop-ment goals (SDGs) Vision 2030document. Out of the totalBudget, amount of 44,911.16crore has been allocated toschemes which lead to theattainment of 15 SDGs in duecourse of time, the Ministersaid.

    With three cardinal prin-cipals namely leaving no onebehind, reaching the furthestfirst, integrated approach anduniversality in mind, theMinister said that theGovernment is working to pre-pare a three-year action planand a seven-year strategy planto implement the SDGs inHaryana.

    During his Budget speech,Capt Abhimanyu also took adig at previous Congress gov-ernment reciting a couplet,Kuch to phool khilaye humne,aur kuch phool khilane hai,Mushkil yeh hai baag mein abtak, kaante kai purane hai.

    Among new initiatives forintegrated financial manage-ment, the Finance Ministerannounced raising 1000 crorein 2018-19 from monetizationof 24109 Government proper-ties identified by AssetManagement cell, operational-ization of Haryana StateFinancial Services Limited inthe first quarter of next fiscal,restructuring of its StateSubordinate Accounts Servicesand Audit cadre.

    Apart from this, the gov-ernment has decided that alldepartments and public sector

    undertakings, includingautonomous bodies, would beallowed to operate only one ortwo major bank accounts with

    effect from April, 2018. This inter alia, means that

    all the remaining bankaccounts would have to be

    consolidated into one or twoaccounts for efficient utilisationof funds, the Finance Ministeradded.

    Elaborating about financialsituation, he said that the esti-mated revenue receipt for theyear 2018-19 is 76933.02crore, of which tax receipt is 58,431.74 crore.

    Fiscal deficit has remainedwithin the stipulated limit of 3percent of GSDP prescribed bythe Fourteenth FinanceCommission for the states.Fiscal deficit is likely to be 2.82percent (with UDAY) of GSDPin next fiscal year, he said.

    On burgeoning debt liabil-ity which is projected at 1.61lakh crore for the next financialyear, Capt Abhimanyu said thedebt to GSDP ratio hasremained within the prescribedlimit of 25 percent. In 2018-19,it is estimated at 23.44 percentwith UDAY.

    Following prudent fiscalmanagement policies duringthe last three years, the BJPgovernment has been able tokeep all fiscal parameters,except the revenue deficit,within the limits prescribed.Even in the case of revenuedeficit, the Government hasbeen able to reverse the increas-ing trend, he claimed.

    The revenue deficit is pro-jected at 8253.51 crore for fis-cal 2018-19.

    He further said that duringthe current year 2017-18, as peradvance estimates, the GSDP ofHaryana is expected to achievegrowth of eight per cent, asagainst 6.6 per cent recorded atthe national level.

    Elaborating about sector-wise allocation of funds, the

    Finance Minister said thatabout 12.22 per cent of the totalbudget has been allocated toagriculture and allied, irrigationand rural electrification sub-sidy, 12.96 per cent for educa-tion, 7.46 per cent for socialwelfare, 4.14 per cent for healthand family welfare and 23.01per cent has been allocated forrepayment of debt.

    For Sutlej Yamuna Link

    (SYL) canal, the StateGovernment has allocated 100 crore.

    Capt Abhimanyu alsoassured the House that if 1,000 crore is required for SYLconstruction, the Governmentwill provide the same.

    The Finance Minister con-cluded his budget speech withpoetry, Kashti chalane walonne jab haar kar di patwar

    hamein, lehar-lehar toofan mileaur mauj-mauj majhdhaarhamein, phir bhi dikhaya haihamanein aur phir yeh dikhadenge, sabko, in halaat meinaata hai daria karna paarhamein.

    The poetry which was anapparent attack on previousCongress Government elicitedloud applause from the treasurybenches.

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    Giving priority to generationof employment in the state,the Haryana Government hasincreased the outlay for the SkillDevelopment and IndustrialTraining Department in 2018-19to 657.94 crore, which is 43.43per cent more than 458.71crore provided in 2017-18.

    Presenting his Budget pro-posals in the State Assembly,Capt Abhimanyu said on thepattern of Pradhan MantriKaushal Vikas Yojana for skilldevelopment of the youth,Haryana Skill DevelopmentMission has been launchedwith the target to impart train-ing to 1.15 lakh youth during2018-19.

    He said that theGovernment plans to establish20 Government industrial train-ing institutes and upgrade 22ITIs into model ITIs in next fis-cal year.

    Referring to Saksham YuvaYojana, he informed the Housethat till end-February 2018,29,123 post-graduates and19,947 graduates were approvedfor registration under thescheme.

    Out of them, in February,2018, total 10,106 (post-gradu-ate) and 4,877 (graduate)Saksham Yuva have beendeployed for honorary work indifferent departments.

    Apart from this, appren-ticeship has been introduced inall Government and state pub-lic sector undertakings and it ishoped that the state will be ableto engage 15,000 apprentices ingovernment / semi Governmentestablishments by June 2018, he

    added.For the agriculture and

    allied activities, theGovernment proposed anincrease of 51.22 percent inthe outlay for agriculture andallied activities from 2709.69crore at revised estimates2017-18 to 4097.46 crorefor 2018-19.

    This included 1838.49 crfor agriculture, 913.43 cr foranimal husbandry, 834.91cr for horticulture, 427.17 crfor forests and 83.46 cr forfisheries.

    For education sector, theState Government has allo-cated 13,978.22 crore for2018-19 against the revisedbudget provision in 2017-18of 12,606.08 crore, showingan increase of 10.9 per cent.

    Since it is the quality ofeducation that matters, theGovernment is focussing onproviding employable and qual-ity education to our youth tomake them patriotic, healthy,skilled, and a national asset, saidthe Finance Minister.

    Getting guided by the dic-tum that development of theState is incomplete withoutdevelopment of rural areas, theFinance Minister said that theGovernment has proposed anoutlay of 4301.88 crore for2018-19 for rural and commu-nity development and panchay-ats, which represents an increaseof 24.65 per cent over ,451.19crore in 2017-18.

    In Civil Aviation, alloca-tion of 201.27 crore is made in2018-19, which is 610 percentincrease over the revised esti-mates 2017-18 outlay of 28.35crore.

    Considering the crucial roleindustry plays in giving growtha leg-up, strengthening infra-structure and generating jobopportunities, Capt Abhimanyusaid that the Government hasmore than doubled the outlay forIndustries and Minerals in hisBudget for 2018-19.

    An outlay of 399.86 cr forIndustries, Mines & Minerals,which is 111.44 percent higherthan revised estimates 2017-18of 189.11 cr is proposed.

    With infrastructure, espe-cially roads and rail links, play-ing a crucial role in givinggrowth, development and indus-trialization a decisive push, theGovernment has proposed anoutlay of 3,169.70 crore forPublic Works (Building andRoads) Department in 2018-19,as compared to 3,084.89 crore

    (RE 2017-18), said he.For Women and Child

    Development, an outlay of1,385.73 crore, 10.8 per centhigher than 1,250.61 crore in

    RE 2017-18, has been ear-marked. With the efforts of thepresent Government and suc-cessful implementation of BetiBachao Beti Padhao pro-

    gramme, sex ratio (at birth) hasimproved significantly, reachingthe level of 914 in 2017 as com-pared to only 830 in 2011,added the Finance Minister.

    Haryana Chief MinisterManohar Lal said theBudget presented by theFinance Minister will fur-ther propel growth, make itinclusive, push employ-ment, and turn farminginto a more remunerativeproposition.

    The emphasis on eco-nomic services and skilling,reflected in higher outlays,will not only help generatejobs but also boost employ-ability of the youth. Theeffort made to combine fis-cal prudence with saga-cious use of resources tooptimize their effect is laud-able.

    Former Chief MinisterBhupinder Singh Hooda:The debt burden of last yearwas Rs 141,792 crores,which has increased to1.61 lakh crores. It will bevery difficult to bear theburden of debt, because23.01 percent of the con-solidated fund will go intodebt repayment. Even aftertaking such a big loan,there is no mention ofworking on any major pro-ject in the Budget.

    Haryana leader ofopposition and INLDssenior leader AbhayChautala:

    The budget presentedby the Finance Minister iscompletely directionlessand disappointing. TheGovernment has disap-pointed all the sections of

    society. In the budget, theamount spent for salariesand pension, education,public health, electricity,transport and rural devel-opment has been reduced.It reflects that theGovernment has no inten-tion to develop the state.

    Haryana CLP leaderKiran Choudhry:

    The budget for 2018-19, presented by the CaptAbhimanyu lacks vision,fails to give the economydirection, and has badly letdown the people of theState, especially the farmers.

    No concrete steps hadbeen proposed to pull thefarm sector out of themorass of financial distressit has sunk into, better thelot of farmers, and make theState dismount the 1.6lakh-crore mound of debtwhich is pushing Haryanaon the slippery road tobankruptcy.

    Haryana Congresschief Ashok Tanwar:

    The way misleadingfacts were presented in thebudget, it seems that theBJP Government has againtried to betray the generalpublic. The budget lacksany kind of reduction intaxes on petrol and diesel-LPG, lacks education andhealth policies.

    The Governmentseems to be non-seriousabout the development ofthe State.

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    To bring transparency inthe Food SafetyDepartment, Punjab Healthand Family Welfare MinisterBrahm Mohindra on Fridaylaunched an online inspectionand sampling system to expe-dite the procedure of foodsampling and testing.

    It is essential that foodsafety inspections are con-ducted diligently and reportsmade available to all stake-holders in short span of timewith quick response provision,said Mohindra during thelaunch.

    Also present were all des-ignated officers (Food Safety),assistant commissioners (food),and senior officers of Food andDrug Administration andHealth and Family Welfare,

    on the occasion. At the same time,

    Mohindra ordered the foodsafety officials to clear backlogof licenses or registration by

    March 31, 2018. Food businesses have a

    legal and moral obligation toensure that they are not con-tributing to the statistics of foodborne illness and other dis-eases.

    At the same time, the foodsafety team must be equippedwell to address to such issuesconcerning the food securitywhich directly protect thehealthy life of states popula-tion, he said.

    Mohindra was apprisedthat the Punjab Governmenthas made it mandatory for allthe designated Officers (FoodSafety), AssistantCommissioners (food) to useonline inspection and foodsampling system in theirrespective districts to expeditethe procedure of sampling andtesting.

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    Asenior BJP leader SwaranSalaria, who had unsuc-cessfully contested GurdaspurLok Sabha by-poll in 2017, hasfiled a criminal defamationcase against Punjab CabinetMinisters Navjot Singh Sidhuand Manpreet Badal. Sendinglegal notices to Sidhu andManpreet, Salaria has sought100 crore each as damagesalleging that he lost by-elec-tions because of false allega-tions levelled against him.

    The case will come up fornext hearing on April 20. Sidhuand Manpreet have beenbooked under section 500 and501 of the Indian Penal Code(IPC). Salaria said that thetwo Congress leaders had givenan opportunity to apologize,

    but they did not do it. He hasasked Sidhu and Manpreet toprove their innocence.

    Gurdaspur parliamentaryseat fall vacant after the thensitting BJP MP and yester-years superstar Vinod Khannadied, and by-election was heldon October 11, last year. Salarialost to Punjab Congress presi-dent Sunil Jakhar.

    In the run up to elections,Salaria was accused of raping aformer air-hostess on the pre-text of marriage.

    Even as Salaria had allalong been denying the allega-tions, his rivals exploit theissue. Salaria now claimed thatit was due to this false cam-paign by the Congress leaders,especially Sidhu and Manpreet,that he lost the elections and hisimage suffered a major hit.

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  • President Mohammad Abdul Hamidwill be representing Bangladesh atthe International Solar AllianceFounding Conference in New Delhifrom March 10 to 12, 2018. Beforecoming to Delhi, he will be visiting Assamand Meghalaya to relive memories of the 1971war where he had fought as a brave freedomfighter. These visits are most befitting asBangladesh-India bilateral cooperation hadbegun in the battlefields of 1971.

    Emotional bonds, stemming from theinvaluable contributions of the Governmentand the people of India during BangladeshsWar of Liberation, led by our Father of Nation,Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, remain a dominantfactor in the countrys political, cultural andsocial wave. Crucially, as a gesture fromBangladesh in recognising the supreme sac-rifices made by 1,661 Indian martyrs for theliberation of Bangladesh, a specialSommanona programme was jointly organ-ised by the Government of India andBangladesh during Prime Minister SheikhHasinas last visit to India. The programmewas unique in the sense that never in the his-tory of the world has a country recognisedthe contribution of another country by hon-ouring the martyrs at their motherland.

    A stable, strong and friendly neighbour-hood is a necessity for any country, big orsmall, and especially in our region where sev-eral armed terrorist groups are eager to exploitdifferences between the two countries to fur-ther their objectives. It is natural to have bilat-eral problems with ones neighbours, moreso, for India and Bangladesh which share hugeland and maritime boundaries, use commonrivers and rail and road and river networks.However, it is heartening that the earlier mis-trust and tensions between Bangladesh andIndia have been largely cleared. As closeneighbours, both countries should take noteof each others sensitivities and vulnerabili-ties and demonstrate a greater political willto establish mutually cooperative ties.

    Since assumption of power for the sec-ond time in 2009, Prime Minister SheikhHasina has consistently tried to improvemutual trust and cooperation and she hasbrought a change in our mindset in our bilat-eral ties. There is now a greater recognitionon both sides that the destinies of our twoneighbouring countries are inescapablyintertwined and we must grow together. Ourstability and prosperity are inextricablylinked with each other.

    Happily, on the other hand, PrimeMinister Narendra Modi, after assumptionof office little over three years ago, had alsoexpressed his keen desire to promote all-round bilateral cooperation. His historic visitto Bangladesh in June 2015 has taken our tiesto newer heights. Sixty eight years after thePartition of 1947, and 41 years after the con-clusion of the Indira-Mujib Border Accordof 1974, the Land Boundary Agreement

    (LBA) between the two countries was con-cluded and ratified. Modi had demonstrat-ed how a long-standing complex bilateralissue could be resolved unanimously throughconsultation, compassion and consensus-building. The successful conclusion of theLBA also signalled fulfilment of the vision ofSheikh Mujibur Rahman who had taken theinitiative after Bangladeshs independence.

    During the last summit-level meetings,our two Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina andNarendra Modi have taken our bilateral tiesto a new level which is well beyond the strate-gic partnership. The 11 agreements and 24Memorandum of Understandings (MoU)signed during the visit virtually encompassevery important sector in our bilateral coop-eration namely security, trade, connectivity,energy, civil nuclear agreement, defenceand introduction of new bus and train ser-vices etc. In addition to the two earlier Lineof Credits (LoCs), India also extended a freshLoC to Bangladesh during the visit to the tuneof five billion dollar which also includes $500million for defence purchase.

    Bangladesh will utilise this credit for theprojects that it needs on a priority basis. Lik-ewise, it will utilise the defence credit on thepurchase of the items it requires. Private se-ctors also made their valuable inputs whenthey signed MoUs for the investment to thetune of $13 billion primarily in the energy sec-tor. Security issue had bedevilled Indo-Bangladesh ties in the past. Hasina, sinceassumption of power, has firmly controlledthe situation and did not allow any terroristactivities, or any terrorist group to useBangladeshs soil to launch an attack againstIndia or any neighbouring country. Sincethen, security cooperation has been the highpoint of our relations. It is the principled and

    unequivocal position of Bangladesh to not tol-erate terrorism in any form and to not allowits soil to be used against the interest of anycountry, particularly India, and has strength-ened the confidence of both sides.

    Cooperation in the energy sector is thehallmark of our renewed engagements andHamids visit will mark the beginning of ourcooperation in the solar energy sector. inrecent years, there has been a positivemomentum in cooperation between the twocountries in the power sector and achieve-ments so far have been highly encouraging.Currently, India has been supplying 660 MWof power through the Bheramara-Bahrampurand Tripura-Comilla inter-connection.

    Both countries have also started coop-eration on renewable energy and nuclearpower. India will be providing Bangladeshtechnical assistance for the construction ofthe 2,400 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plantin Pabna. Another coal-based plant namelyMaitree Super Thermal Power Project of1,320 MW at Rampal, Bagerhat of Bangladeshby Bangladesh-India Friendship Power PlantCompany (Pvt) Ltd is also progressing well.

    In the private sector, major Indian con-glomerate like Adani and Reliance Groupsconcluded the agreement on supply of elec-tricity. Several other projects in the power sec-tor have been included in the new LoC of $4.5billion which was announced during the visitof Hasina to India in April 2017. Agreementsworth $13 billion of Indian investment werealso signed during the visit, which is in thepower and energy sectors of Bangladesh,nearly nine billion dollar.

    (The writer is the High Commissioner ofBangladesh to India)

    (To be continued; the second part of thisarticle will appear on Sunday)

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    The Democratic Republic of theCongo (DR Congo) is at thepoint of no return as it is stuck inbloody battle among Governmentforces, rebels and Opposition groups.

    The local media apprehends ifthe volatile situation is not containedsooner, Congo may slip into majorchaos leading to more deaths andmajor refugee crisis.

    But before discussing thehumanitarian crisis, it is importantto understand the root cause of thecrisis. Congo watchers hold currentPresident Joseph Kabila Kabangesolely responsible for the politicalstalemate by simply refusing to con-duct election in the country sinceNovember 2016, when his secondfive-year term came to an end.

    Kabilas lust for power has trig-gered the ongoing civil war which inthe past year forced nearly 1.7 mil-lion people to flee the nation for safeshelters in neighbouring countries.

    Though no exact account of dis-placed people is available, rough esti-mate is that about 5,500 people areleaving their homeland each day.

    The inter-communal fightingthat is coming up in the north east-ern Ituri region has forced around44,000 Congolese to flee to the bor-dering Uganda since the beginningof this year. But then the journey toUganda is no cakewalk. Reports sayfleeing residents are going throughharrowing experience as they areforced to use rickety boats andcanoes to cross dangerous waters ofLake Albert. Moreover, the journeyto the new country is tiring as it takesup to 10 hours to reach Uganda.

    All told, the ongoing crisis hascaught the attention of internation-al humanitarian agencies and mostimportantly the UN.

    By the last week of February, theUN declared that Congo is facing ahumanitarian disaster of extraor-dinary proportions as mass violenceand record displacement are fastengulfing the south east part of thecountry. A spokesperson of theUNHRC highlighted that entrenchedinter-communal clashes among eth-nic groups in Tanganyika provincetriggering spiraling displacementand human rights abuses.Moreover, fierce clashes between theCongolese armed forces and the mili-tias have continued since the end ofJanuary, while new armed groupsthreaten to wreak havoc in theprovince, it said. This current surgein ethnic violence is disturbing forCongo as the country had witnessedsuch tragedies in the past also.

    What causes more concern is

    that the capital city of Kinshasa hasbecome the hub of protest againstPresident Kabila. Led by the CatholicChurch, the protesters have beendemanding Kabila to step downand make way for early election inthe country.

    But all the demand and regularprotests have fallen on deaf ears ofKabila, who after finishing his five-year term has completed another twoyears in office in violation of theConstitution of Congo (as amendedin 2006).

    The Opposition has accusedKabila holding power illegally of making lame excuse to delay theelection since November 2016. And,with the death of the countrystallest Opposition leader EtienneTshisekedi, Kabila is able to wedgedivision among the rest of the lead-ers with his armed might.

    The weakened Opposition,known as Rassemblement, is fastlosing its grip over restless popula-tion. Its main demand of forming atransitional Government withoutKabila at the end of 2017 has notyielded any positive results.

    Kabila continues to comfortablydivert peoples attention as incidentslike widespread insurgencies, massiveprison breaks and atrocities by secu-

    rity force concern residents morethan the rulers mis-governance.

    As the Kabila Government los-ing its grip on power, it intends to useheavy handed tactics and disregardthe rule of law while invoking theunrest to further delay the presi-dential election. These lead to morediscontent and chaos in the countryto the discomfort to its neighbour-ing countries, like Angola.

    What ails Congo today is notentirely a different saga from mostof the African countries. Most ofthese nations were ruthlessly ruledby European colonial powers till theend of the Second World War. Whenit comes to Congo, it was underBelgian rule till 1960, when the coun-try became independent. Its new anddemocratically elected PrimeMinister Patrice Lumumba was inoffice barely for two and a halfmonths when he was ousted in acoup by Mobutu Sese Seko, who thenorchestrated Lumumbas murderwith the blessings of CIA agents, asmedia reports claim. And after-wards, the misrule and corruption inCongo, which was then known asZaire, continued till 1997 for morethan three decades till he was over-thrown by senior Kabila.

    In the last 17 years of his rule,

    Kabila has presided over a decrepitstate, delivering nothing to his coun-trymen. There has been completedecay in every institution startingfrom Parliament to those at grass-roots. These institutions are servingthemselves, mostly the ruling eliteand very specifically the extendedfamily and relatives of Kabila.

    More than 77 per cent of thepeople of Congo live on less than$1.90 per day, which as per the stan-dards of the World Bank can becalled as extreme poverty. Majorparts of the country are eitherungoverned or governed sporadicallyby the rebels and militias for theirown benefit. These militias are vyingfor both territory and resources,independent of the control ofKinshasa. Thus an archaic system ofadministration runs in almost onethird of its provinces wherein its pop-ulace see a dark future with peoplefleeing the resource-rich country.

    As record shows, in the past twoyears, the number of displaced peo-ple has more than doubled to near-ly four million. Its an alarming andthe international community mustturn its eye on this country and findan immediate solution.

    Today, 10 out of 26 provinces ofCongo are in the grip of armed con-

    flict. In rural areas, violence hasreached its peak. More than 70 rebelgroups fighting with the Governmentarmed forces. By now the UN pre-dicts that an army offensive launchedlast month against the Islamic mili-tias near the border with Ugandamight drive away another 37,00,00from their homes. This might leadto huge crisis in Central Africa. Hopethis does not push Congo to its har-rowing days of the war between 1998and 2003.

    Kabila has taken the help of,what the Congolese people say,Glissement, meaning slippage aseries of smart administrativemanoeuvres to prolong his mis-rule. He is under extreme pressure,with the rise of violence and econ-omy slipping into the point of noreturn. But somehow, he has beenable to manage his cronies, sup-porters and most importantly thearmed forces. What has emboldenedKabila is absence of formidableOpposition which can force him togo out of the political space. He hasreadily subverted the December2016 Saint Sylvester Agreement thatset out a path towards democraticelection by 2017 in the country. Andhis Election Commission now sayselections may be possible only in late

    2018. It is likely that elections maybe further postponed. The SylvesterAgreement clearly says Kabila shouldleave power and make way for elec-tions. He is losing legitimacy fasteras unlike Mobutu, he does not havea cult figure in Congo. And he isdetached from the common people.Thus his unpopularity is now help-ing the Opposition to organise peo-ple against him.

    Congo being at the heart ofAfrica, from all corners, its man-agement truly affects the health of thecontinent. At mid-40s, Kabila is, infact, too young to retire hiscountry leaders such as Mobutoruled for 32 years, before his fatherLaurent Kabila took over the presi-dency in 1997. If harnessed, Congocould feed the whole of Africa.Underneath its soil lie rich reservoirsof diamond, gold, cobalt, copper, zincand tin which could easily transformnot only the fate of Congo, but alsothe entire continent. Its wide rainforests can be of great use for thedevelopment of the nation, but todaythe forests are either left unused orunder the control of ragtag militias.

    Finally, what Kabila has, ofcourse, learnt not only from his pre-decessors but also from other Africantyrants is that to stay alive is to stayin power as long as possible.

    Once a new ruler comes, Kabilais surely going to end up in prison.Also if he continues in power, hisfamily assets will always remainsafe and if Kabila goes into exile, hemay lose hundreds of millions of dol-lars of both movable and unmovableproperty across the country. Apartfrom bringing a bloody end to hisregime, he may face criminal pros-ecution for his alleged role in theslaughter of tens of thousands ofHutu refugees near a town calledTingi Tingi.

    Weighing all these options,Kabila may continue to hold on topower and may amend theConstitution to remove the two-termrestriction for the office of thePresident. But then what can Africawitness is nothing but a vile scram-ble for loot in Congo, leading intokilling of innocent civilians andrushing of refugees to neighbouringUganda, Tanzania, Angola andZambia. Hence, the internationalcommunity must act swiftly to bringan end of Kabila regime and make asmooth transfer of power to a demo-cratically elected Government atthe earliest.

    (The writer is an expert on international affairs)

    ;)9Indias first Prime Minister JawaharlalNehru called a university a temple of learn-ing. Unfortunately, a university establishedin his name is no more a temple of learningand has fallen prey to Left politics. Strikesand lockdowns by Left-wing students covertly under the aegis of Left-leaningteachers association against the manda-tory 75 per cent attendance have defiled aca-demic atmosphere at Jawaharlal NehruUniversity (JNU). The protests have leftmany stupefied as all other universities including Banaras Hindu University,Hyderabad University and Delhi University have successfully implemented themandatory 75 per cent attendance for post-graduate as well as research courses. Themoot point is why Left-wing students of JNUare defying the rule?

    Ironically, this year NAAC praised JNUand accredited it with an A++, the highestrating. Therefore, it is expected the best uni-versity should prove its mettle. Besides,known for its academic credibility andexcellence, JNU has been receiving the suf-ficient grants and facilities from theUniversity Grants Commission (UGC), astatutory body under the Union HumanResource Development Ministry. Most ofJNU teachers enjoy cushy academic benefits.Many of them have been to foreign trips ontaxpayers money.

    It is utter nonsense that a handful ofextreme Left brigades are holding the JNUcampus to ransom and not allowing smoothacademic discourse on the campus. Thereare many apolitical students who have noissue with the mandatory attendance; all theywant is classes in peaceful ambience. TheLeft faction has been trying to propagate newnarrative falsely projecting that the JNUadministration is working against the inter-est of the student community by bringing inthe mandatory attendance provision.

    There are fundamental questions whichneed to be addressed in the context of therecent unrest in JNU. Is the protest againstmandatory attendance a students movementor an ideological food poisoning? Second,does JNU impart lesser academic lessons andfocus more on how generate a mob of anar-chists? Third, is there an end to this menace?

    There has been deliberate attempt by theLeft-wing student unions to malign the

    image of JNU as if the Modi Government iswilfully targeting the university. The protestis reflection of the utter frustration of theLeft-wing politics. The Left dominanceover the intellectual establishment has itsroots in the systematic ethnic cleansing ofall non-Left thinkers since the 1950s.

    In the political sphere, Left parties haveresorted to incessant violence to grind theiraxe. While West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura

    for long showcased Communist ideology andits politics, JNU became the ideological hub to provide sophisticated justification to things that went horribly wrong in these States.

    Leftists are known to be the most intol-erant. There are many instances when theLeft-wing student union did not allow otherideologies to be heard and spoken on thecampus. Arvind Gupta, Deputy National

    Security Adviser, was not allowed in JNUrecently. In 1997, BJP veteran LK Advani wasbarred from the university campus. Indeed,the separatists and ultra-Leftists are speak-ing the same language in certain other cam-puses. The radicals on JNU campus demandbeef in messes and worship Mahishashur.Ideas of Ambedkar and Gandhi are com-pletely misrepresented by theses Leftist stu-dent union, as both of the leaders fought for

    the cultural identity of India. It is importantto see why it has been happening on JNUcampus. It is not only the students of a par-ticular ideology, but a large number of JNUteachers are involved in this subversive nar-rative. They are desperate and frustrated withthe current BJP Government at the Centre.The desperation is not merely ideological buttheir social and economic predominance areat risk. Over the period of time, they havecarved a safe haven for their academic lux-ury. Ever since its inception in 1969, the uni-versity has been a breeding ground for theLeftists. The process of turning institutionsof higher education into Marxist fiefdom had started under the tutelage of thenEducation Minister S Nurul Hasan and JNUfell in that trap.

    Commenting on the recent unrest inJNU, Professor Makarand Paranjape, fromthe School of Language, Literature andCulture Studies, rightly concludes, Nowherein the world do a small band of disruptivestudents force the whole university to shutdown, crashing its teaching & academicschedule.

    There has been deliberate attempt todiminish stature of JNU Vice Chancellor ProfJagdish Kumar, who is an outstandingteacher and scholar. However, a group ofteachers from different schools and back-ground rallied behind the VC whose polite-ness and humility are acknowledged by all.They supported the administrations decisionfor 75 per cent compulsory attendance.They have gathered courage to stand againstJNUTA and the JNUSU, who are mislead-ing the common students.

    Fortunately the Left grip is weakening.Other ideologies are gaining strength. Thatis why Left leaders are desperate. Their lastconstituency is JNU, which is also getting outof their hand. Left-wing newspapers accusedthe JNU administration of irregularities inrecent recruitment. Series of concocted sto-ries were written to showcase that quality isgoing down.

    There is need to cleanse the bad prac-tices and retain the quality of outstandingresearch at the august house of learning.

    (The writer is Head of the Department ofPolitical Science, Central University ofHaryana)

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    London: British police request-ed military assistance in inves-tigating a nerve agent attack ona former Russian double agentas speculation mounted todayabout how London couldrespond if a state actor were toblame.

    Police extended the cordonaround the modest suburbanhome of Sergei Skripal inSalisbury, the quiet city insouthwestern England wherehe and his daughter Yulia werefound slumped on a bench onSunday.

    The pair remain uncon-

    scious in a critical but stablecondition, while Nick Bailey,one of the first police officerson the scene, is now sitting upand talking after initially beingadmitted to intensive care.

    With police also hurt in theattack, pressure is intensifying onPrime Minister Theresa May tofind and punish the culprits.

    The involvement of aBritish citizen, especially apoliceman, requires the imme-diate and strong involvement ofthe British authorities,

    Chatham House analystMathieu Boulegue told AFP.

    Kabul: A suicide bomber blewhimself up in a Shia area ofKabul on Friday, killing at leastnine people, officials said, asmilitants dial up pressure onthe war-weary Afghan capital.

    The third suicide attack inthe city in a fortnight comes asthe Taliban face growing pres-sure to take up the AfghanGovernments recent offer ofpeace talks to end a more than16-year insurgency that hasclaimed thousands of lives.

    There was no immediateclaim of responsibility for theblast, which happened near ahigh-profile gathering to markthe 23rd anniversary of thedeath of Abdul Ali Mazari a prominent former leader ofthe mainly Shia Hazara ethniccommunity who was killed bythe Taliban.

    The event was attendedby some of the countrys toppoliticians, including ChiefExecutive Abdullah Abdullahand his deputy Mohammad

    Mohaqiq, a senior Hazara fig-ure. The Sunni Islamic Stategroup typically targets Shiiteswho it regards as apostates.

    The death toll has gone upto nine, deputy interior min-istry spokesman Nasrat Rahimitold AFP, adding 18 otherswere wounded.

    Among the dead were twopolicemen, he said. The restwere civilians.

    Officials said the attackerwas on foot.

    Afghan officials gave awide range of figures for thenumber of casualties: a securi-ty source told AFP 13 peoplewere killed and more than 30wounded.

    But Kabul police chiefMohammad Daud Amin toldTolo News that five peoplewere killed and 22 otherswounded.

    Amin said the bomber det-onated his explosive device ata checkpoint after being iden-tified by police. AFP

    Islamabad: Pakistan ForeignMinister Khawaja Asif onFriday said that the situation onthe Line of Control andWorking Boundary with Indiahas been rapidly deterioratingsince 2017.

    Responding to a query inthe National Assembly, thelower house of parliament, healleged India has committedmore than 400 ceasefire viola-tions along the LoC and theWorking Boundary since

    January in which 18 civilianshave been killed.

    Heavy weapons, includingmortars are frequently beingused by the Indian forces on thecivilian population on thePakistani side of the LoC andthe Working Boundary, hesaid.

    Asif said the LoC violationswere an attempt to divert theattention from the deteriorat-ing humanitarian situation inthe Valley. PTI

    Islamabad: Mumbai terrorattack mastermind HafizSaeeds political ambitions havereceived a boost after a topPakistani court ordered theelection commission to hear hispartys case for registrationahead of this years election.

    The Islamabad High Court(IHC) on Thursday set aside adecision by the Election

    Commission of Pakistan (ECP)to reject the application ofJamaat-ud-Dawahs politicalfront Milli Muslim League(MML) for registration as apolitical party.

    The order came days aftera Pakistani court extended astay against the possible arrestof the JuD chief till April 4.

    Justice Aamer Farooq sent

    the case back to the ECP ask-ing it to proceed further on theapplication by giving the partyan opportunity of hearing,Dawn newspaper reported.

    The MML through its pres-ident Saifullah Khalidapproached the IHC and madethe ECP and the interior sec-retary respondents in the matter. PTI

    Colombo: Sri Lankan troops onFriday guarded mosques andfacilitated Friday prayers asauthorities stepped up securityin the violence-hit Muslimneighbourhoods in Kandy dis-trict after four days of riots thathave left at least two people dead.

    Several homes, businessesand mosques in the hilly Kandydistrict have been damaged inanti-Muslim riots, since Monday.The violence erupted after thedeath of a Buddhist Sinhaleseman last week. To rein in com-munal violence, a state of emer-gency has been imposed byPresident Maithripala SirisenasGovernment.

    Muslim-owned businessesin the island nation remainedshut in protest, but some shopsin the Muslim neighbourhoodopened on Friday. PTI

    "%-;

    In an extraordinary develop-ment after months of sabre-rattling and trading of personalinsults, US President DonaldTrump and North Koreas reclu-sive dictator Kim Jong Un are setto hold a face-to-face meetingby May over Pyongyangs con-troversial nuclear and missileprogrammes.

    Much to everyones sur-prise, it was Kim who extendedthe invitation through SouthKorean officials on Thursday,pledging to refrain from furthernuclear tests. And Trump read-ily agreed for the meeting at atime and place still to be deter-mined.

    Great progress being made

    but sanctions will remain until anagreement is reached. Meetingbeing planned! Trump tweeted,after South Koreas NationalSecurity Advisor Chung Eui-Yong conveyed the invitation toTrump.

    Kims invitation is beingviewed as a big diplomatic vic-tory for Trumps muscular pushagainst North Korea by intensi-fying the sanctions regime thatis thought to have virtually crip-pled Pyongyang lately -- and a farcry from the time Trump calledKim a little rocket man andthreatened to totally destroyNorth Korea, and Kim hit back,calling Trump a dotard and alunatic and threatening tobomb Washington.

    Trump, in his tweet, notedthat Kim had spoken aboutdenuclearization with the SouthKorean representatives. Notjust a freeze, he noted, adding:Also, no missile testing by North

    Korea during this period oftime.

    President Trump greatlyappreciates the nice words of theSouth Korean delegation andPresident Moon, the WhiteHouse said in a statement, not-ing: He will accept the invitationto meet with Kim Jong Un at aplace and time to be deter-mined. We look forward to thedenuclearization of North Korea.In the meantime, all sanctionsand maximum pressure mustremain.

    Chung, the South KoreanNSA, delivered a statementoutside the White House WestWing, saying: President Trumpsaid he would meet Kim JongUn by May. In Seoul, the pres-idential Blue House clarifiedthat the meeting would occurby the end of May. Chung didnot say where the meetingwould be held.

    I explained to President

    Trump that his leadership andhis maximum pressure policy,together with international sol-idarity, brought us to this junc-ture. I expressed (SouthKorean) President Moon Jae-ins personal gratitude forPresident Trumps leadership,Chung said.

    Stating that Kim had voicedhis commitment to denu-clearization at his meeting withSouth Korean officials, Chungsaid the North Korean leaderalso pledged that his countrywould refrain from any furthernuclear or missile tests.

    He (Kim) expressed hiseagerness to meet PresidentTrump as soon as possible,Chung said. As for the USs jointmilitary exercises with SouthKorea, he said Kim under-stands that these routine exer-cises must continue.

    Chung said South Korea,along with the US, Japan, and

    many partners around the world,remain fully and resolutely com-mitted to the complete denu-clearization of the KoreanPeninsula, adding: Along withPresident Trump, we are opti-mistic about continuing a diplo-matic process to test the possi-bility of a peaceful resolution.

    Reflecting on the develop-ments, a senior administrationofficial said: Part of that message(conveyed by the South Koreanofficial) was a commitment todenuclearize. It also was a com-mitment to refrain from testingnuclear weapons or missiles.

    Questioned on the negotia-tions, the US official said: Look,at this point were not even talk-ing about negotiations, right?What were talking about is aninvitation by the leader of NorthKorea to meet face to face withthe President of the UnitedStates. The President has accept-ed that invitation.

    ""%3%

    Over 1,000 people have beenkilled and 4,800 othersinjured in Syrias rebel-heldarea of Eastern Ghouta in justtwo weeks, MSF or DoctorsWithout Borders announcedon Friday.

    The group said the num-bers, dating from the start ofthe renewed SyrianGovernment assault onFebruary 18 until March 4,were an underestimate anddo not include the data of allMSF-supported medical facil-ities or facilities not supportedby it, reports CNN.

    MSFs toll was last updat-ed on Sunday. Monitoringgroups have reported scoreskilled daily this week asactivists reported apocalypticscenes in the streets of EasternGhouta, on the outskirts of cap-

    ital Damascus.Fifteen out of 20 MSF-

    supported facilities have beenshelled or bombed in the con-tinuing government offensive,according to the NGO.

    MSF urgently repeats itscall for an immediate ceasefireto be implemented and formedical supplies to be allowedinto the besieged area to treatthe sick and wounded, CNNquoted the organisation as saying.

    Reports of malnourish-ment were also rampant andmany of Eastern Ghoutas res-idents were living in poorlyequipped basements for somerespite from nearly incessantshelling.

    On Wednesday alone, 90people were killed in strikesacross Eastern Ghouta, accord-ing to the Syrian AmericanMedical Society.

    "%-;

    Asigned vintage photo ofMahatma Gandhi, walkingalongside Madan MohanMalaviya, was auctioned for$41,806 in the United States.

    Signed in fountain pen,M K Gandhi, the rare photowas taken after the secondsession of Indias Round TableConference in London inSeptember 1931, according toBoston-based RR Auction.

    As the delegate acting onbehalf of the Indian NationalCongress, Gandhi attendedthe second session of theBritish-organised round tableconference, a three-part con-ference series held in Londonfrom 1930 to 1932, with theaim of discussing the ongoingconstitutional reforms inIndia, a media release said.

    Malaviya, who had for-merly been president of theCongress and played a sig-nificant role in the Gandhi-led non-cooperation move-ment, joined him as a repre-sentative advocating for afree India.

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    For a generation raised on AgathaChristie and Conan Doyle, MaxwellPereira presents Indian readers witha real-life whodunnit, straight from theheart of the capital city, declared veter-an journalist Rajdeep Sardesai whileintroducing The Tandoor Murder. Thebook chronicles Naina Sahnis grue-some murder at the hands of her hus-band, Sushil Sharma, early in July 1995.A Congress youth leader and MLA,Sharma was primed for a meteoric risein the political sphere. Had I not mur-dered her I would have been a unionminister today, lamented Sharma to acolleague of Sardesais back when theUPA government was still in power.Suspecting his wife of infidelity, Sharmashot her with a revolver while enraged.This became pretext for the politician'sdefence of his act as a crime of passion.In an attempt to cover his tracks, Sahnisbody was chopped up by Sharma and setablaze in a tandoor at Baghiya restaurant giving the case its notorious title.

    Most readers first encounteredPereiras writing at a Times of India col-umn called The Middle, published lit-erally in the middle of the newspaper.Witty, ironical, irreverent, Pereira wasa skilled writer. The spark he showed inhis Middles has became a flame in thisbook, remarks Sardesai. Having sampledthe book beforehand, the journalistexpresses incredulity at the attention todetail present in the chronicle. Uponinquiry, Pereira disclosed the secretbehind the vivid details preserved in hisbook, despite being published 22 yearsafter. As it turns out, reveals Sardesai,the book was written at the time of themurders itself! Fresh from the eyes ofPereira, the investigating officer, theTandoor Murder is a real page turner.Sushil Sharma was sentenced to lifeimprisonment by the Supreme Court inOctober 2013, commuted from the deathsentences passed by lower courts.Previously unpublished in interest of fairtrial, Pereiras gripping chronicle was readout loud in Sardesais resounding voiceto the audience gathered at the booklaunch.

    Before exiting the stage, Sardesaiobserved how the Tandoor case was dis-tinct when viewed from the lens of 2018.Sharma was a relatively powerful politi-cian, photographed with even morepowerful politicians. Yet, Sushil Sharmawas viewed as a criminal, not a politician.In todays age, this would inevitably havebecome a Congress versus BJP tussle,noted Sardesai to a round of laughterfrom the gathering. Private news tele-vision had just emerged then, growingslowly, continued Sardesai, countingthe news channels present in 1995 on hisfingertips, This put the Tandoor Murderbefore the breaking news era. Themedia didnt broadcast the lurid detailsof Naina and Sushils lives to the public.Thus, one could say the Tandoor Murderoccurred in an age of innocence. No onehas written about the Tandoor case insuch vivid detail hitherto, and nor was itpossible for anyone else to produce sucha work. Sardesai sealed the stamp on thenovelty of Pereiras book, concluding,Pereiras is a book for the age of thebreaking news era about a story from thepre-breaking news age.

    Sardesais enthralling introductionwas followed by a panel discussion, fea-turing Pereira in conversation with jour-nalists Rini Simon Khanna and SunetraChoudhury. Early on, Choudhury high-lighted, The media was very much a partof the Tandoor case. Pereiras respons-es corroborated this instantly :Influenced by tabloid media, the foren-sic specialist in-charge ruled out the pos-sibility of firearms being used on Sahnisbody. This created yet another hurdle forus in establishing Sharmas culpability

    representative of the problems faced byIndian policemen. On that note, Pereiraadded, Theres a great lesson to all inves-tigative officers in this book: how impor-tant the links are. It appears the police inIndia are often content to merely havetraced the origins of a crime after due inves-tigation. Pereiras remarks pointed out thatfrequent negligence in duly documentingall the links and evidence caused a lot ofsolved cases to see culprits walking scot-free once the matter reached criminalcourts.

    Choudhury went on to ask, SushilSharma has behaved really well during hisinternment, lobbying now for release after22 years. Would you support it? With this,discussion had reached an inevitable junc-ture. As is often the case in Indian polity,the definition of life imprisonment Sharmas sentence is not taken on face

    value by many. The Criminal ProcedureCode provides for state governments toremit life sentences to a shorter duration,a minimum of 14 years. In the face of ris-ing maintenance costs, many state gov-ernments exploited this feature to remitall life imprisonments under their ambitin this manner. Such widespread mal-practice had, in earlier years, given riseto the misconception that all life sen-tences are a duration of 14 years. Suchmisuse of the provision has, to somedegree, abated. However, it remains acontinued practice to reduce life sen-tences on a case-to-case basis. Its a tra-dition in Tihar jail [where Sharma liesimprisoned] to not detain an inmate formore than 25 years, mentioned Pereira.Sunetra interviewed Sharma while writingBehind Bars: Prison Tales of Indias MostFamous. In this context, she expressed sym-pathy towards the pleas of a man who hasspent over two decades imprisoned. Alas,the panel conceded that no conclusion couldbe reached on the matter until the courtsgive their verdict on Sharmas appeal.

    The outcomes of this case were two-pronged. For her part, Choudhury prudent-ly observed that Naina Sahni was often vil-ified in the media outcry that ensued afterthe murder. Vilification of the woman vic-tim remains a consistent aspect of crimescommitted in India till date, said an exas-perated Choudhury while recounting sim-ilar instances. Adding to Choudhury,Pereira exclaimed, One neednt even goas far as murder. Every time a rape is dis-cussed on television news, one or theother party unfailingly finds faults in thevictim. Pereira went on to elaborate onthe other major outcome,Criminalisation of politics, whichbecame a feature of this case, has notchanged. In 2018, nearly half the cabi-net and over a hundred MPs have crim-inal records. Thusly expressed, the out-comes mentioned serve to render theTandoor case into a lynchpin of featureswhich have gone on to characterisecrime in India. We are complacent, saidPereira wistfully, nobody cares aboutcrime until it comes knocking on their door.

    Angelina Jolie first portrayed LaraCroft in 2001 film Lara Croft:Tomb Raider. It was directed bySimon West. Now, 15 years later, theconcept was picked up again by aNorwegian director, Roar Uthaug, bestknown for Fritt Vilt (2006), Flukt(2012), and The Wave (2015). Hehopes Alicia Vikander will be a muchdifferent Lara Croft.

    What was your overall vision forthe film and the character of LaraCroft?

    Were doing a gritty and authen-tic take on Tomb Raider and creatinga Lara who is a badass but is also vul-nerable and imperfect. That makes hervery relatable to the audience.

    As a gamer and fan of the TombRaider game, I really enjoyed direct-ing the film, and it was a real pleasureworking with Alicia Vikander. At thesame time, Im also very humbled bythe responsibility of creating a newversion of such an iconic character.

    What qualities does Alicia bring tothe reinvention of the characterthat the two of you created togeth-er?

    Alicia Vikander is special anddedicated to her craft. She has workedincredibly hard on all her physicaltraining and preparation with thestunt team. As an actress, Alicia hasunique presence and authenticitywhich give her scenes a grounded feel-ing and an emotional connectionthat were not used to experiencing ina movie like this. Of course, we havethe big scope, scale and action onedexpect, but theres an engaging char-acter Alicias Lara at the filmscore.

    How do you create the balancebetween the intimate character workand the vast scale of the production?

    The spectacle doesnt work if youdont care about the character. So, firstyou must create a character that theaudience will root for. And, when youhave that, the audience becomesengaged. They can easily experienceeverything thats happening to thatcharacter.

    Where is Lara Croft when wemeet her in the film?

    When we meet Lara, shes a bikecourier in East London, trying tomake ends meet. Her father, RichardCroft, had disappeared seven years agowhich has taken Lara to an emotion-al troll. Shes been pushing that partof her life away, not wanting to be apart of the Croft legacy because thatwould mean accepting that hes gone.To stop a downward spiral, she beginsto pull at the threads of what has hap-pened to him. Lara discovers that

    there was a lot more to Richard thanwhat she knew, which propels her onher journey.

    What does Dominic West bring tothe character of Lara's father,Richard Croft? Same question forDaniel Wu as Lu Ren, and WaltonGoggins as Mathias.

    Dominic brings a warmth to thecharacter, who is torn between whathe feels he must do and the love forhis daughter. Dominic portrays thatin a very emotional and charmingway.

    Daniel created this strong butdown-and-out Hong Kong fisher-man who captains a rusty boat.When the audience meets Lu Ren, heseems a kind of carefree, but afterone get to know him, they will findthat theres a lot more to him thanwhat was initially expected.

    Walton is fun, energetic andbrings the set alive. He has a greatpresence in front of the camera whichwell fits him in the space of danger-ous villain.We discussed creating thisvillain character that is not a tradition-al bad guy with a scheme to destroythe world. Mathias is a man on a mis-sion and he is the hero of his ownstory. He has layers which Waltonbrought to the character. He can bevery intimidating on screen but oncontrary hes super fun off-screen.

    Did you have a favorite or mem-orable moment during filming?

    There is a sequence where Larais hurled down the river and landsin a Japanese World War II bomber.We shot the part of that sequence ina whitewater rafting facility outsideLondon. I remember holding mybreath as Alicia whose hands wereliterally tied, was going down thoserapids. Her dedication really paid offin that scene, and in so many otherstoo.

    What do you hope for audienceexperience when they see TombRaider in the cinema?

    This is a standalone movie andan origin story about Lara Croft. Wemade it for everyone so one doesntneed to know the game to enjoy it.Audiences will love the large-scaleaction which unfolds in an authen-tic way. Theres a powerful human-ity at the heart of the film. Havingsaid that, fans of the game willenjoy seeing some special Eastereggs that we have placed through-out the film.

    Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who performed atthe Arab Music Institute here, said there are many cul-tural and musical similarities between India and Egypt.

    The event, which was a part of the Mega cultural fes-tival India by the Nile, was attended by many musicenthusiasts from Egypt. Ambassador of India SanjayBhattacharyya and other dignitaries were also present atthe concert.

    I feel at home in Cairo. Music of Egypt and India havemany similarities. There is a historical connection betweenArabic music, Egyptian music and Indian music. We haveso much in common, he said.

    The sarod maestro, who had earlier performedin Egypt in 1978 and in the 1990.

    Music does not belong to any religionlike flowers, air, water, fragrance andcolours. But every religion needsmusic to express your emotions andfeelings. Music is a precious gift ofGod.

    With sarod, I dont dealwith language becausethrough sound I can-not manipulate. If Imout of tune, youllknow. Other typesof music are basedon language andtexts.

    Through lan-guage you canalways manipulate.

    And unfortunately language is ruling the world, Khan added.The veteran musician said he is worried about world

    peace.The 21st century should have been very peaceful and

    full of harmony. I think it is the worst time in the historyof music. Because today people are killing each other onaccount of religion.

    My father who is my guru he taught me the way of life.He told me that all of us have a common god and we are of

    common race. We have racial problems. I wish the priest ofevery religion should give this message, that we have a com-

    mon God and we have a common race... humanity, headded.Khan will next perform at Syed Darwish

    Theatre tomorrow.5

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    An artist who creatively holds the tagsof an actor, thespian and now a politi-cian under his belt, discuss about thenotable relevance of theatre. Though the actorwasnt well aware of the Theatre Olympics butbelieves that its a great platform to showcasethe art of different nationalities coming fromdifferent theatre artists. Being a part of the playKishan v/s Kanhaiya, Rawal stressed on therelevance of his character. My character wasof a guy who do believe in God but not in therituals that are carried to buttering ourdesires.

    However, the well-experienced artistdoesnt leave a stone unturned to portray theirskills with perfection. We had and have beenworking so hard that the final output comesso naturally in front. Also, I think its not aboutjust perfection but about our job to simplifythe act which can express itself in an expres-sive form.

    Elaborating on one of his statementswhich emphasise on his love for theatre, hesaid, Theatre has been my first love. Throughit, I have learned the art of acting and this jour-ney has been a meaningful both as an actorand a human being. Theatre has todaycarved a niche for itself in the field of actingbut yet there is a lot more which goes into it.Elaborating on the same, the actor who is alsoan avid director asserted, Theatre encompassmany things collectively at the same time.From writing, acting, production to consis-tently improvising own skills with every act.This is also the very essence of every theatreartist. As an actor, I try injecting my life expe-riences into any genre I perform to alwayskeep it appealing to real lives of the audience.A fresh approach to every act is what I alwaysensure to add to my work.

    Besides different genre he has performed,Rawal asserted on reading and learning as thekey guide for evolving the skills of acting. I

    always try keeping myself engaged in read-ing because thats how I keep a check on theouter surroundings and accordingly embibethe emotions into my performances. Theactor who is known for his perfect one-lin-ers and comic timings, Rawal believes that,Its not something which comes within, butwith experiences and building command overwords. I dont consider it as a special aspectof my work but it's something that every actormust be good at. If I talk about the essence

    of acting, timings play a pivotal role in it.However comparing the acting deliver

    in films with a theatre acting, the artistasserted, Theatre acting in itself is a diffi-cult art. Once the curtain is up, the artist ison his own and has no other opportunity forre-take unlike Bollywood acting. It caters toinstant approval and rejection from the audi-ence, and further added, Ideally a film isdirectors medium whereas a theatre is anactors-medium.

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    Manchester United boss JoseMourinho has the tough task ofkeeping Liverpool's Mohamed Salahquiet as Jurgen Klopp's entertainersroll into town at the weekend withsecond place in the Premier Leaguethe prize on offer.

    With Pep Guardiola's ManchesterCity virtually assured of the title,northwest rivals United and Liverpool the two most successful clubs in theEnglish game are left fighting forthe scraps.

    United's impressive fightback from2-0 down on Monday to beat CrystalPalace 3-2 maintained their slendertwo-point lead over Liverpool in thebattle for the runners-up spot behindrunaway leaders City.

    Nemanja Matic bailed outMourinho's men with a stunningstoppage-time strike in London butanother three points papered over thecracks in the latest in a series ofunconvincing performances fromUnited.

    "We have to be honest, we have toplay better," Matic admitted once theeuphoria of his first United goal dieddown.

    "We have to do more if we want towin as Liverpool is a team with greatquality."

    The onus will be on Mourinho to

    take the game to the visitors at OldTrafford on Saturday but thePortuguese manager, criticisedfor keeping his array ofattackers firmly on theleash, is unlikely torisk throwing cau-tion to thewind.

    Liverpool had scored 20 goals intheir previous seven games before amuch-changed side drew 0-0 withPorto in midweek, a result that sealeda place in the Champions Leaguequarter-finals for the first time in nineyears.

    With January signing Virgil vanDijk settling in well at the back andLoris Karius impressing in goal, thepieces are falling into place for Klopp'steam, who have lost just o