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Latest Posts

16 Feb 2019

Modi govt spent Rs 3000cr on publicity in 5 years .... RTI query reveals big spending on electronic media, including social media platforms, television and radio

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Prem Singh)
PTI, TT, 15 February 2019, New Delhi: he Narendra Modi government has spent over Rs 2,374 crore on publicity in the electronic media and another Rs 670 crore on outdoor publicity in the past five years, according to an RTI reply by the Bureau of Outreach and Communication under the information and broadcasting ministry.

Giving a break-up of the expenditure on electronic media, including social media platforms, television and radio, the bureau said Rs 470.39 crore had been spent in 2014-15, Rs 541.99 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 613.78 crore in 2016-17. The amount was Rs 474.76 crore in 2017-18,and Rs 273.54 crore from April 2018 to December.

The RTI query had been made by bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

The expenditure had been done on All India Radio and other radio platforms, DD National, the Internet, production, SMS, theatres, TV and on miscellaneous heads, among others, the reply said.

The expenditure had been incurred on different types of advertisements in various categories such as employment notices, tenders, other notices and advertisements of schemes through the bureau on behalf of clients, ministries, departments and public sector undertakings, according to the reply.

A sum of nearly Rs 670 crore had been spent on outdoor publicity from 2014 to November 26, 2018, the bureau said, without specifying details of what constituted such canvassing.

Of this, Rs 81.27 crore was spent in 2014-15, Rs 118.51 crore in 2015-16, Rs 186.37 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 208.54 crore in 2017-18, the RTI reply said. A total of Rs 75.08 crore had been spent on outdoor publicity between April 2018 and November 26, it added.

Chaturvedi had sought details of the amounts spent on all advertisements related to publicity of the central government since June 1, 2014, including the amount spent in the print, electronic and social media.

In case of outdoor publicity, the Bureau of Outreach and Communication also gave details of expenditure since 2009-10. It said about Rs 19.85 crore had been spent in 2009-10, Rs 31.06 crore in 2010-11 and Rs 45.47 crore in 2011-12. Around Rs 51.42 crore was spent on outdoor publicity in 2012-13 and nearly Rs 74.35 crore in 2013-14, the RTI reply said.
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Advice to emulate Rajnath gesture of shouldering coffin ... BJP tells its ministers to participate in the last rites of CRPF jawans in their states

Rajnath Singh shoulders the coffin of a slain CRPF jawan during a wreath laying ceremony at the CRPF camp in Budgam on Friday.
Rajnath Singh shoulders the coffin of a slain CRPF jawan during a wreath laying ceremony at the CRPF camp in Budgam on Friday. (PTI)
J.P. Yadav, TT, 15 February 2019, New Delhi: Union home minister Rajnath Singh flew to Srinagar on Friday and joined others in carrying the coffin of one of the deceased CRPF soldiers.

The BJP leadership soon directed its chief ministers, central ministers and senior party leaders to emulate Rajnath’s gesture when the bodies of the Pulwama jawans arrive in their respective states.

“We have asked chief ministers, central and state ministers and other party leaders to participate in the last rites of soldiers and stand with the family members of those who have sacrificed themselves for the country,” a BJP leader said.

BJP managers are also planning protests against Pakistan. Members of the party’s youth and women’s wings have been asked to “provide leadership” to protests over the terror strike.

Party leaders asserted that there was intense anger among the people and it was the duty of grassroots workers to channel the rage to strengthen the country. The leaders said the terror strike would have a “big impact” on the general election and they would have to handle the situation carefully.

BJP leaders hoped that the government would live up to the “people’s expectations”.

“We are building up an atmosphere of a war-like situation, but can the country afford a war with Pakistan?” a leader asked. “If not, then what options do we have to prove to the people that the Narendra Modi government is different?” he added.

The leader pointed out that another “surgical strike”, while being difficult, might not be enough to meet the “heightened expectations of the people”.

Jadhav case

The World Court will hear arguments at the Hague on Monday in a dispute between India and Pakistan about Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, the former Indian Navy commander sentenced to death by Islamabad for allegedly being a spy.

India had won an injunction from the World Court, formally known as the International Court of Justice. It ordered his execution stayed after India argued that Jadhav had been denied his right to diplomatic assistance under the 1963 Vienna Convention.

For four days next week, the two countries will argue their case in open court in The Hague. The court’s rulings are final and cannot be appealed, but the UN body has no mechanism to enforce its decisions, which major powers have ignored in the past. Additional reporting by Reuters
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Adil Ahmad Dar: murder machine from moderate school ... Ominous sign in Jaish-e-Mohammad's choice of a 19-year-old from a moderate Sufi strand

A tent has come up on the lawns of Adil Ahmad DarĂ¢€™s home at Gundhibagh in Pulwama to receive mourners.
A tent has come up on the lawns of Adil Ahmad Dar’s home at Gundhibagh in Pulwama to receive mourners. Picture by Muzaffar Raina
Muzaffar Raina, TT, 15 February 2019, Pulwama: The life of Adil Ahmad Dar, the suspected suicide bomber aged 19, is an ominous example of how indoctrination can turn moderates into killing machines, accounts by his relatives suggest.

Soon after the Pulwama bombing, the Jaish-e-Mohammad had claimed that Adil had carried out the attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel. If Adil indeed was the bomber, it adds an uncommon dimension to the recruitment and indoctrination of impressionable minds by the terror outfit.

His relatives and friends told The Telegraph at his home that Adil subscribed to the views of the Barelvi movement, a moderate Sufi strand, before he drifted over to Jaish.
Adil Ahmad Dar

The militants have traditionally drawn support from all sections of Kashmiri society but it is unusual that Jaish, which follows the Deobandi ideology, could find a recruit for an attack of such dimension from the Barelvi school that is not known to propagate jihadi ideology.

Barelvis encourage visits to shrines, in bitter opposition to the Ahl-i Hadeeth and Deobandi schools that consider such acts as forbidden.

Not that Adil’s family did not have any militants, in spite of the entire village following the Barelvi strand. Adil’s cousin Manzoor Ahmad was a Lashkar militant and was killed in 2016.

But few in Kashmir would have thought that the biggest ever attack in the three-decade-old militancy could be entrusted with someone brought up on the ideals of the Sufi movement.

Imtiyaz Ahmad Dar, a relative a few years older than Adil, said the teenager would wear his Barelvi ideology on his sleeves and would confront more radical men at times.

“He had a religious bent of mind but he was associated with the Barelvis. This village is, in fact, entirely Barelvi. Sometimes, he would lead prayers at our local mosque, more often he would recite Naat (praise for the Prophet),” Imtiyaz told this correspondent at Adil’s home.

Security forces had blocked the road leading to the village and an 8km detour had to be undertaken to reach the house in Gundhibagh village, around 10km from the attack site in Pulwama.

“We would go to mosques to listen to speeches by Barelvi scholars. Every year, we would go to the Chrar-e-Sharief shrine in the month of Ramazan and spend a night there. For some months, he even enrolled at a Barelvi Darul Uloom (seminary) near Anantnag to learn more about the movement.”

Chrar-e-Sharief is one of the most important Sufi shrines of the Valley, which was gutted in a prolonged gunfight between security forces and militants in 1995.

A friend of Adil, who declined to be named, said: “The Barelvis don’t talk much about jihad. After the 2016 agitation (triggered by the death of Hizb commander Burhan Wani), the killings and blindings (because of pellet shots) seem to have motivated him to pick up arms,” he said.

A complete shutdown was observed in Friday and hundreds participated in Adil’s funeral in absentia. Security forces personnel were deployed in strength and the roads were mostly free of traffic with only a few people walking.

Ghulam Hassan Dar, Adil’s father, said his son was a Class XII dropout and joined militancy in March last year. For some time, Adil worked at a bandsaw mill adjoining his house to support his family.

“I saw him only once after he picked up the gun. I have no idea why he joined them (the militants),” Ghulam Hassan said.

Other residents of the village said Adil and his best friend Sameer together joined militancy last year. “Sameer was pursuing a post-graduation course. We never saw them discuss militancy and the entire village was surprised when they joined last year,” a resident said.

Police sources said Jaish was at the forefront of indoctrinating the local youths for fidayeen squads and they fear Adil’s example might be followed by others.
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'Something wrong if soldiers are being killed so easily in our state' .... Lapses on the part of multiple security agencies operating in J&K noted

The mortal remains of the CRPF jawans during a homage ceremony at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi on Friday. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attended the ceremony.
The mortal remains of the CRPF jawans during a homage ceremony at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi on Friday. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attended the ceremony. (PTI picture)
Piyush Srivastava and Imran Ahmed Siddiqui , TT, 16.02.19, New Delhi/Lucknow: he political establishment has displayed remarkable bipartisan unity in the wake of the worst terror attack in Kashmir but some questions have begun to rise from those most entitled to demand answers.
“I want to ask the government: should we wait for the news of the deaths of our children if we send them to join the forces?” Pyare Lal said in Unnao, breaking down and mourning his son Ajit Kumar, 35. “I had not heard of an attack of this magnitude after the Kargil War of 1999.”
Unnao is in Uttar Pradesh, the state that lost the highest number of CRPF jawans in the Pulwama attack. Two troopers from Bengal were among the dead. 
In Uttar Pradesh’s Chandauli district, Shilpi Yadav, the wife of Awadhesh Kumar Yadav who was among those killed, said: “There is something grossly wrong if our soldiers are being killed so easily in a state of our own country. It looks like our soldiers have been left at the mercy of the killers.” The couple have a three-year-old son.
BJP workers in the area were watching the tax-free film Uri, based on the 2016 surgical strikes, when news came in that Awadhesh had been killed.
Suresha Devi, the mother of Pradeep Kumar, 37, told reporters in Shamli district: “My son was a soldier, doing his job for the last 12 years. He was nobody’s enemy. The country appears incapable of protecting its sons.”
Pradeep’s father Jagdish Prasad said: “My son was a brave soldier. The government makes tall claims and (it) sacrificed our children.”
In New Delhi, senior officials blamed “glaring intelligence failure”, coupled with loopholes in implementing the standard operating procedure, sources said.
During a meeting of officials of the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing on Friday, some referred to lapses on the part of multiple security agencies operating in Jammu and Kashmir for failing to provide any “actionable intelligence”.
“There are so many unanswered questions which point to complete intelligence failure and breach of SOP,” a home ministry official told The Telegraph.
Sources said choppers were sought to ferry the personnel stuck in bad weather but permission was not granted. It is not clear whether the purported denial was linked to safety concerns as choppers can be risky in inclement weather. Besides, the number of troops was high.
One official said Jammu and Kashmir police had on February 8 issued an alert to the CRPF: “Before occupying your place of deployment please sanitise the area properly as there are inputs of use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Matter most urgent.”
The official added: “Such inputs are normal in Kashmir. What is astonishing is that security agencies did not act on it.”
Questions:
  • How did explosives weighing over 250kg make their way to the most protected highway in the country?
  • A terror attack of this magnitude requires months of planning. Has the intelligence network so completely broken down that it could issue only routine alerts that were ignored?
  • All civilian vehicles are supposed to be checked. How did a private vehicle driven by a teenage suicide bomber and carrying such a heavy payload infiltrate the CRPF convoy of 78 vehicles without raising any suspicion?
  • How could the terrorists know when and where to strike to wreak such devastation but the security agencies were in the dark?
  • Bad weather is being blamed for the accumulation of vehicles. But was that compelling enough reason to gather over 2,500 troops together and offer a high-risk target?
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Local man Adil was suicide bomber, Jaish-e-Mohammad claims ... Kakapora resident Adil Ahmad Dar was the 2nd suicide bomber in 19 years after Srinagar’s Afaq Shah

An ambulance carries injured CRPF jawans from the site of the attack.
An ambulance carries injured CRPF jawans from the site of the attack. (PTI)
Muzaffar Raina, TT, 15 February 2019, Srinagar: The deadliest attack on security forces in three decades of militancy in Kashmir has an ominous dimension: the rise of the local fidayeen, or suicide attacker, if the claim by the Jaish-e-Mohammad is true.

The suicide bomber who rammed his car into a bus that was part of a CRPF convoy at Lethpora village of Pulwama district was identified by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group as Adil Ahmad Dar. According to a statement issued by the Jaish, Adil is a resident of Kakapora village in Pulwama.

Although, according to police sources, around 200 local youths took up arms in Kashmir last year, Adil was among the few indoctrinated youths to have ended up as a fidayeen.

Adil, if the Jaish claim is confirmed, is only the second Kashmiri suicide bomber to detonate himself, the first being Srinagar’s Afaq Shah who had rammed his car into the army’s 15 Corps headquarters in the town in 2000.

Most fidayeen attacks in Kashmir have been carried out by Pakistani militants, who are better trained than the local recruits.

Last year, two local Jaish fidayeen, including 16-year-old Fardeen Khanday, had stormed a CRPF camp at Lethpora, killing four personnel, including an inspector. A jawan died of cardiac arrest during the attack.

Much in the manner of terrorists elsewhere, Adil, 21, had recorded a video on his “mission”. The 10-minute video was released by the Jaish after the attack.

“When you will watch this video I would be enjoying the paradise…. Oh Kashmiri people, salute to you that despite seeing lakhs of dead bodies, you did not lose heart,” a heavily armed Adil, who joined the Jaish last April, said in the clip.

Police sources said Adil had studied till Class X and used to work in a bandsaw mill before taking up arms.

He had not been involved in any big attack before Thursday’s carnage, the reason he had been listed as a “C-category militant” by police.

“I joined the Jaish fidayeen squad last year and it is time to fulfil my promise,” he said in the video.

Adil’s brother Arif Ahmad said the family had no information about his whereabouts after he left home last year.

Locals said Adil came from a lower middle class family and that his father is a salesman. Hundreds thronged his home after the news of his death spread.
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Army called out, curfew clamped in Jammu after violence ..... Kashmiris attacked, vehicles set on fire and reports of stones being thrown at anti-Pakistan rally

Vehicles set on fire in Jammu on Friday to protest the Pulwama terror attack.
Vehicles set on fire in Jammu on Friday to protest the Pulwama terror attack. (PTI)
Muzaffar Raina, TT, 15 February 2019, Srinagar: The army was called in and an indefinite curfew was clamped in parts of Jammu after mobs attacked members of a community and torched vehicles to protest the Pulwama terror attack.

Officials said more than a dozen people were injured and several vehicles set ablaze at multiple places in Jammu amid a shutdown against the militant attack.

The army carried out a flag march to force stone-throwing protesters off the streets.

Kashmiris living in Jammu, the state’s winter capital, said they were targeted at several places and some of their vehicles were torched, sparking panic. In some places, people of a particular community from other parts of Jammu were attacked

Many Kashmiris spend some time in Jammu every winter to escape the biting cold in the Valley. Many government employees from Kashmir move to Jammu with their families because of the biannual shift of the administration. Many Kashmiris have built houses in Jammu.

Videos surfaced showing vehicles being overturned and set on fire by protesters. The protesters claimed that some people had hurled stones at an anti-Pakistan rally in the Gandhi Nagar locality, which sparked violence.

Internet was shutdown in Jammu as a precautionary measure, officials said.

Anti-Pakistan rallies were taken out at several places, including Jewel Chowk, Gandhi Nagar, Talab Tillo, Bakshi Nagar and Satwari. Protesters set Pakistani flags on fire and burnt effigies of the neighbouring country’s leaders.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke to the media in Srinagar, said he had directed the administration to deal sternly with people trying to disturb communal harmony. Rajnath said the situation in Jammu was under control.
Firemen spray water to douse the flames on the vehicles that were set ablaze during a protest in Jammu on Friday.
Firemen spray water to douse the flames on the vehicles that were set ablaze during a protest in Jammu on Friday. (PTI)
The Jammu district magistrate said a curfew had been imposed in the city to maintain “law and order, public tranquility and to protect life and property of the general public”.

Divisional commissioner Sanjay Verma told PTI that additional forces had been deployed in sensitive areas.

The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry had called the shutdown in the city. It was supported by several organisations, including the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association.

Many of the protests, during which roads were also barricaded, were led by the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and the Dogra Front. Candlelight marches were taken out in Jammu city.

Jammu police chief M.K. Sinha took to social media to urge people to maintain calm. “Don’t play into the hands of anti-national elements. They want to disturb our societal harmony. Defeat their designs. Don’t get provoked,” he tweeted.

Kashmir’s pro-India leaders reacted angrily to the incidents of arson in Jammu. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said the reports of violence and arson were “deeply worrying”.

“Giving vent to anger by attacking innocent people because of their ethnicity or religion is no way to honour the sacrifices yesterday,” the National Conference leader said. “I hope political leaders and the civil society are able to ensure cooler heads prevail.”

PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the governor Satya Pal Malik administration could have prevented violence by beefing up security in minority-dominated areas.
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Car bomb was new tactic; CRPF's route-check SOP ..... under scanner Only once have insurgents earlier used this method in Kashmir

Soldiers stand by the wreckage of a bus after an explosion in Pampore on Thursday.
Soldiers stand by the wreckage of a bus after an explosion in Pampore on Thursday. 
Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, TT, 15 February 2019, New Delhi: Militants have “very rarely” used cars as the medium to launch suicide bombing attacks in Kashmir, many in the security establishment said after the CRPF massacre in Pulwama on Thursday that was reminiscent of war-zone ambushes in Afghanistan or Syria.

A Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide attacker rammed a car full of explosives into a bus that was part of a CRPF convoy of over 2,500 personnel travelling on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway.

“Attacks involving a suicide bomber ramming an explosives-laden car into another vehicle are usually seen in Afghanistan and Syria,” an Intelligence Bureau official said.

Security officials could recall only one instance of such car bombings in insurgency-wracked Kashmir — in 2000. Firing and IED blasts are the common modes of attack in the Valley.

Sources in the security establishment said that at a recent security meeting of the Union home ministry, the threat of car suicide attacks was discussed based on intelligence inputs.

“Intelligence reports have been pouring in for the past one year warning of such attacks. But there was no viable options available to combat such a threat,” said a security official, adding that extremely powerful explosives were used on Thursday.

The sources pointed to a “serious breach of security” as militants are suspected to have kept a close watch on the movement of the convoy. “It seems to be a well-planned attack and the casualties could have been more. The initial report points to a serious security breach,” said a Union home ministry official.

The official said the stretch on which the attack took place was “largely believed to have been sanitised of terror activities”.

“How is it possible that despite sanitisation the terrorists managed to carry out an attack of this magnitude? Only a detailed investigation will ascertain whether there was any violation of the standard operating procedure in sanitising the route,” the official said.

CRPF director-general R.R. Bhatnagar said 2,500 CRPF personnel were part of the convoy. He said the convoy had started from Jammu and was travelling to Srinagar.

“The bus that was attacked had 35-40 occupants. This is the worst attack the CRPF has seen in recent times. This kind of blast is rare in Kashmir and we will have to investigate if there was any violation of the SOP,” Bhatnagar said.

CRPF sources said so many personnel were being transported together because the Srinagar-Jammu Highway had been shut for the past two days owing to bad weather. Usually, around 1,000 personnel are part of a convoy, but Thursday’s group was 2,547-strong.

A road-opening party had been deployed and the convoy had armoured counter-terror vehicles, officials said.

The bus also had bullet marks, suggesting that there had been other terrorists who fired at the convoy from hiding as the lone militant rammed his explosives-packed car into the target.

The home ministry termed it a “possible suicide attack”, but there was no confirmation on the manner in which it was executed. CRPF inspector-general (operations) in Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hassan, described it as a “vehicle-bound attack” and said Jammu and Kashmir police had started a probe.

The scene of the incident is not very far from the Commando Training Centre at Lethpora, which was stormed by Jaish terrorists on December 31, 2017, killing five CRPF personnel, PTI reported.

The Srinagar-Jammu Highway has been witness to several terror attacks on the security forces. The CRPF bore the brunt of an attack at Pampore, less than 7km from Lethpora, in June 2016, losing eight jawans while 22 others suffered injuries.
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15 Feb 2019

Morcha protests manhandling of GTA officials, artists in Delhi

SNS, Darjeeling: The Youth Front of the Binoy Tamang faction of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha today pasted posters against leaders of the Gorkha Sanyukta Sangarsha Samity (GSSS), an apolitical Gorkha organisation, alleging that they manhandled some Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) officials and artists in Delhi yesterday.
The Youth Front maintained that these artists and officials were misbehaved with after a function held to lay the foundation stone of a Gorkha Welfare Centre at Saket. An FIR has also been filed in Darjeeling against GSSS leaders like Anjani Sharma and Darpan Tamang for allegedly using abusive language and beating up artists who were minors.
"Yesterday, after the programme ended at Saket in New Delhi, around 15-20 people from the apolitical body, GSSS, staged a demonstration and manhandled some artists who performed in the program. We condemn all this. It they have problems, they can be sorted out through discussions. Moreover, the Gorkha Welfare Centre is being built for the people of the Hills, especially students who go therefor entrance exams, and health patients who go there for medical treatment," the Front general secretary, Arun Chettri, said.
"If they really think about the people here, then they should have held demonstrations against Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia and Tribal Minister Jual Oram, as the Budget Session of parliament ended yesterday and not a word on the Gorkhas was uttered there. There is democracy and peace in the hills right now, and it should not be disturbed by such incidents," he said.
On the other hand, members of the Tamang camp's Nari Morcha had also gone to gherao the house of Anjali Sharma in the Dhirdham area here today, but they returned after they found that the house was locked and there were no family members.
"The incident that took place in Delhi yesterday will have a bad affect in Darjeeling where there is peace. If anything happens here, Anjali Sharma and Binita Lepcha will be responsible for it. We had come here not to fight with anyone, but only to leave this message and make them understand this."' said Nari Morcha leader Radha Subba.
Posters, meanwhile, came up at Chowk Baazar with slogans like  " Will Gorkhaland be got by manhandling GTA INCA officials and artists?' and 'demonstrations should be held in front of SS Ahluwalia's house.'

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Man held with leopard skin

Man held with leopard skinMP | Darjeeling: A leopard was trapped and killed at a tea garden here on Thursday.
A man identified as Asish Chettri was arrested in this connection and the leopard skin was recovered from his possession.
It is alleged Chettri was trying to smuggle the animal skin to Bhutan. "We had got a tip-off from our sources. Posing as a Bhutanese customer we made a plan to buy the skin. We had offered him more than three lakhs rupees for it. We were waiting for him on the national highway near Odlabari in the Mal Block of the Jalpaiguri district. Chettri arrived on a motorbike along with another youth. The other youth got suspicious and fled from the spot. We arrested Chettri and the seized the leopard skin," said Sanjay Dutta, Range Officer, Belakoba Range.
Asish Chettri had studied at a renowned school in Darjeeling. His father Pradip Chettri is a police officer and posted in Siliguri.
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As spring arrives in city, thousands down with flu

As spring arrives in city, thousands down with fluMP | Kolkata: With the arrival of spring, resulting in frequent change in weather conditions, thousands of Kolkatans are down with a spate of viral diseases.
"During the spring, with the transition from winter to summer, it becomes difficult for the body to adapt to such fluctuating weather conditions. An ounce of precaution can reduce the possibility of multiple diseases such as pneumonia, common cold, measles, diarrhea, and pox," said physician Swapan Biswas.
On Thursday, the minimum temperature in the city remained at 17 degrees Celsius, while the maximum temperature was two degrees more than the average at 30 degrees Celsius.
The maximum humidity remained at 89 percent, while the minimum humidity came down to 33 percent with no rainfall in sight.
While on Wednesday, Kolkata witnessed a normal maximum temperature of 29.2 degrees Celsius and minimum temperature remained 2 degrees below the normal temperature at 15.6 degrees Celsius. Biswas said such diseases are a common occurrence among children and old people as they are highly susceptible to spring sickness.
"During this season, it is important to maintain the room temperature as well as avoid coming in contact with direct sunlight. At night, it is advisable to keep a blanket at our disposal and also to wear warm clothes. It is important to drink at least three to four litres of water every day and to consume fruits which are rich in Vitamin C after lunch. These fruits can also be substituted with vitamin tablets."
He further said: "To avoid falling ill due to diarrhea which is a common occurrence among children during this season, it is recommended to maintain a proper food hygiene by avoiding stale food and also using a hand wash".
Although the state of West Bengal which has remained dry for quite some time, it will witness a spurt of rainfall at the end of this week. Moloy Bose, an official of the Regional Meteorological department in Alipore said, "Rainfall activity is likely to make an appearance around February 16 in the districts of Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, West Midnapore, Jhargram and other districts of North Bengal. Moreover, the city of Kolkata is likely to see light rains on February 16 and 17",
He said: "The rainfall will last from February 16 to February 18 and although, it may recede from Gangetic Bengal, it will rain in districts of North Bengal."
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BJP betrayed hill people, say parties... BJP's performance is zero- hill political parties

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT,  15 February 2019, Darjeeling: "A zero", "big minus" and "betrayal" -- this is how different hill political parties described the BJP's performance on demands pertaining to Darjeeling in the past 10 years.

Till the 16th Lok Sabha sat for the last day on Wednesday, many had been hoping against hope that a bill to grant Scheduled Tribe status to 11 Gorkha communities would be passed by Parliament.

With no progress on creation of Gorkhaland despite repeated assurances by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the hill parties feel the saffron camp has taken Darjeeling people for a ride. In 2009, Jaswant Singh of the BJP had won from Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat backed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. In 2014, the BJP fielded S.S. Ahluwalia who also won with a huge majority by banking on Gorkha votes.

Morcha president Binay Tamang and Jana Andolan Party chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri on Thursday termed the BJP's performance in the past 10 years as "betrayal" of Gorkhas.

Govind Chhetri, the spokesman for the CPRM, described the performance as "a zero", while Pratap Khati of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League called it a "big minus".

The hill parties listed following assurances the BJP had given in the past 10 years for the hill people and failed to deliver on.

Sympathetic consideration of the longstanding demand of Gorkhas, which was interpreted as a favourable opinion on creation of Gorkhaland Granting of tribal status to 11 Gorkha communities Formation of a committee to examine the demand of the statehood Creation of a separate ministry for tea industry Establishment of a central university in Darjeeling A BJP leader had even said once that Independence Day would be celebrated in "Gorkhaland" the following year, while Modi described Gorkhas' "dream" as his.

Tamang said on Thursday: "The hopes and aspirations reposed by the Gorkhas in the BJP were over with the end of the interim budget session yesterday. The hope raised by the Prime Minister with his slogan that `Gorkhas dream is my dream' has also ended. They have only betrayed us.".

Tamang's criticism was on expected lines as he has aligned with the Trinamul Congress. But even the CPRM, ABGL and the JAP were critical of the BJP.

SS Ahluwalia "The Prime Minister himself raised our hopes. But none of the demands was fulfilled," said Harka. "Ministers used to tell us way back in 2015 that the tribal bill was in the Prime Minister's office for his signature," he added. Khati, which is heading one faction of the ABGL, said: "The BJP now has no ground to seek votes in the hills." According to CPRM leader Chhetri, the people of the hills will decide on the BJP's performance in the coming elections. Harka and Khati were both of the opinion that the BJP's failure to meet the expectations was a clear indication that national parties would not show sympathy for the hills.
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UN BODY MEET THIS MONTH TO FINALISE CONSERVATION PLAN Unesco steam for toy train revamp

BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, 14 February 2019, Siliguri: Unesco will meet stakeholders and railway officials later this month to finalise a conservation plan for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).

An agreement for preparing the Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan (CCMP) was signed in January 2017 between the railway ministry and Unesco for the century-old hill network.

The railways are paying Unesco Rs 4.2 crore for the plan.

"The representatives of Unesco will invite stakeholders like representatives of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, tour operators, residents and transporters along with stakeholders to apprise them about the plan and progress of BON VOYAGE the work taken up by Unesco," said C.P. Gupta, the divisional railway manager of the Katihar division of Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) under which the DHR functions.

The DRM also announced more facilities for DHR by March this year. "We have already introduced two air-condi- tioned coaches and two vista-dome coaches for toy train. Four more AC coaches and two more vistadome coaches will be added in the toy train services by March this year. Also, one dining coach is operational in the evening ride from Siliguri and another such coach will be added next month," Gupta said.

The vista-dome coaches are railway compartments having large glass windows and glass ceilings. These coaches provide a wider view. The railways plan to introduce similar coaches in some of the trains which pass through the Dooars.

Gupta said initiatives had been taken to make all steam locos of DHR operational by mid-2019. "There are 13 steam locos, of which eight are operational now.".
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SC plea over House seats for Limbus & Tamangs

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, 14 February 2019,  Gangtok: The Sikkim Limboo Tamang Tribal Joint Action Committee has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking reservation of five seats in the Sikkim Assembly for the two communities who were granted Scheduled tribe status in 2003, but are yet to get their quota as mandated by the Constitution.

Adeep Tamang, the JAC spokesman, said the committee was left with no choice other than to take legal recourse since they were continuing to be denied justice ever after more than 15 years of their being granted the tribal status.

"We had filed the petition in the Supreme Court on January 15, and on February 11, the court accepted our petition and has sent notices to various parties named in the petition," he said.

Simultaneously, the committee has also written to the president of India, the prime minister and the state governor on the issue. "Since the elections are only a few months away, and reserving seats for us through constitutional amendment is unlikely to happen in such a short time, we have demanded that seats be reserved for us through a presidential ordinance," said Tamang.

This is not the first time that the apex court has been approached on the issue.

In 2006, Hari Ram Pradhan, the former president of the BJP's Sikkim unit, had also filed a petition in the court. After a 10-year long legal battle, the Supreme Court in its ruling in January 2016 had directed the Union home ministry to find a permanent solution to the problem within four months.

However, even after more than three years of the verdict, the quota continues to remain elusive to the tribal communities, who constitute anywhere between 15 to 20 per cent of the state's population of about 6.50 lakh people.

Article 332 of the constitution provides for reservation of seats in the state Assemblies for the SCs and STs "(in) the same proportion to the total number of seats in the Assembly as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or part of the State, as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved bears to the total population of the State".

All political parties in the state, including the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), support the demand of the Limbus and Tamangs.

The state government has also suggested to the Centre to increase the number of Assembly seats from the present 32 to 40 and reserve five seats from the increased number for the two communities.

"We don't care from where and how you give us, but five seats must be reserved for us on the basis of our population," the JAC spokesman asserted
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