QBullet: EC Seeks FIR Over EVM Hack Claim; 3 Militants Dead in J&K

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Image used for representational purposes only.

1. EC Fumes, Sibal Faces Heat Over EVM Hack Claim

The Election Commission of India (ECI) approached the Delhi Police on Tuesday, 22 January, over an event in London where a man identifying himself as a cyber expert said voting machines used in India were being rigged, an allegation that triggered a spat between political parties. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cornered the Opposition Congress, which sought to deflect accusations that it had a role in the event after its senior leader Kapil Sibal was seen attending it.

Syed Shuja had on Monday said he was a former staffer of Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), a Hyderabad-based company that makes crucial components for Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) used in the country, and that he was aware of ways how these could be compromised. Shuja also said that votes in several elections beginning with the 2014 Lok Sabha polls had been rigged in favour of the BJP.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

2. Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: Northeast Heat Makes Centre Warm Up to State OK

File photo of protests over the Citizenship Bill in Assam.
File photo of protests over the Citizenship Bill in Assam.
(Source: PTI)

With opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill showing no signs of abating in the Northeast, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sought to allay fears Tuesday and said foreigners would not be granted Indian citizenship without the consent of state governments concerned.

The MHA also said that a proposal to “provide incentives to those people who want to settle anywhere in India, except the North East” is currently under consideration.

Home Ministry spokesperson Ashok Prasad said, “The mistaken perception in the Northeast about the Bill is creating insecurities. The Bill doesn’t give automatic citizenship to anybody. It brings a certain category of people from particular specified areas into the consideration zone with certain eased conditions. No one will become a
citizen overnight.”

3. IPS Officer’s Brother Among Three Militants Killed in J&K Firefight

Image used for representation only.
Image used for representation only.
(Photo Courtesy: Muneeb-ul-Islam)

The brother of an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was among three militants killed in a gun battle with security forces at Heff Shirmal in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.

Four photojournalists, covering protests by local residents while the gunbattle was on, sustained injuries when securitymen fired pellets to break up the protest. Six securitymen and a civilian were also injured in the clashes.

Among the three militants killed was Shams-ul-Haq Mengnoo, a Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery student, who went missing last May and later joined the militant ranks. Shams is the younger brother of an IPS officer posted in the North-East. Police said that the three militants killed were affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen.

4. Police Arrest 61 Rohingya in Assam, Tripura Over a Week

File image of Rohingya refugees. 
File image of Rohingya refugees. 
(Photo: AP)

A second batch of Rohingya refugees attempting to flee to Bangladesh was detained by police in Assam on Monday as activists said India’s plans to send them back to Myanmar has spread fears among the asylum-seekers.

Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, fled what has been called by the United Nations a genocide and an estimated 17,000 of them are in India.

A first group of 31 was detected this month when they were stuck on the no man’s land between the Indian and the Bangladeshi border in Tripura on 18 January. On Tuesday, border guards handed them over to the police, after which the women and children were given bail while the men were kept in custody.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

5. Sena MPs Mount Pressure on Uddhav to Tie Up With BJP

 File image of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and PM Narendra Modi.
File image of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and PM Narendra Modi.
(Photo: PTI)

As the Shiv Sena gears up to commemorate Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary on Wednesday, pressure is mounting on Sena president Uddhav Thackeray from party MPs to ink a poll pact with BJP for the Lok Sabha elections.

A sizeable section of the Sena’s 18 MPs is pushing for an alliance, and so are at least four Sena ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis government in the state, sources said.

However, according to a TV18 report, Rajya Sabha MP and Saamna editor Sanjay Raut has ruled out an alliance and predicted a hung House in the general election. He, however, added that in such a scenario, if Nitin Gadkari emerges as the PM face, the Sena will support him. “The BJP is only thinking about itself. So we are also thinking about only ourselves,” the TV report quoted Raut as saying.

6. Centrally Funded Univs to Add up to 3 Lakh Seats for 10% Quota

Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.
(Photo: The Quint)

The new 10 percent quota for the economically weak will significantly increase admissions to higher education, adding up to three lakh seats in centrally funded institutions – including elite ones like IITs, IIMs and NITs – in two phases over 2019-20 and 2010-21.

The government has also written to states to implement the quota for “poor among forwards” in state-run institutions which essentially also means an increase of 25 percent of seats.

By 2021, the number of seats in IITs will increase by over 5,100 while in IIMs it will be around 800. Large universities like Delhi University will add over 16,000 seats while others like Visva Bharati and JNU will have on offer around 822 and 346 more seats, respectively.

7. Modi Targets Congress in Poll Pitch to Overseas Indians

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday used the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the biennial event that brings together the Indian diaspora from all over the world, to target the Congress for failing to tackle corruption during the years it was in power, and contrasted it with his government’s track record in combating graft.

Modi, who has been targeted in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections by the Congress and other Opposition parties for alleged wrongdoing in the Rs 59,000 crore Rafale fighter jets deal, said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government “has changed the way the country was being governed in the last four-and-a-half years”.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

8. Kartarpur Corridor Talks: India Proposes Two Dates for Pakistan Delegation Visit

File image of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.
File image of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.
(Photo Courtesy: discoversikhism.com)

A day after Pakistan shared a draft agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor and invited India to “urgently” send a delegation to “negotiate and finalise” the proposal, New Delhi has proposed two sets of dates for a team from Islamabad to visit and firm up the “modalities.”

The government has proposed “26 February and 7 March 2019”, for the Pakistan delegation to discuss and “finalise the modalities so that the Indian pilgrims can visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor at the earliest”, a Ministry of External Affairs statement said.

“Pursuant to the decision taken by the Government of India on 22 November 2018 to expeditiously realise the long pending proposal to establish Kartarpur Corridor, India has today shared the coordinates of the zero point (crossing point) of the corridor along the International Border with Pakistan,” the MEA statement said.

9. Ease Norms for SC/STs to Be Judges: Top Court

A view of the Supreme Court building in New Delhi. 
A view of the Supreme Court building in New Delhi. 
(Photo: Reuters)

A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi expressed concern on Tuesday over the Kerala high court not finding a single candidate from the reserved category crossing the threshold of minimum percentage of marks for appointment as judicial officers in trial courts.

The HC informed the SC that for the preliminary examination it had fixed 35 percent as qualifying marks and 40 percent for the main examination. Only three candidates qualified for the interview and none were found suitable for the post of judicial officer, it said. Over 2,700 candidates had competed for 45 posts of judicial officer and only 31 general category candidates could be selected, it added.

The bench of CJI Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna said that in such situations, HCs should relax the minimum percentage of marks, maybe from 35 percent to 30 percent depending on the situation at hand.

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