QBullet: India Mourns For Pulwama; Govt to Call All-Party Meet
Top news stories in a wrap.
1. India Unites in Mourning for CRPF Jawans Killed in Pulwama Terror Attack
Prime Minister Narendra Modi put Pakistan on notice on Friday to brace for a strong response to the terrorist strike that left at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers dead in Kashmir — an attack that escalated tensions between the two neighbours and united India in grief and anger.
Showing unity of purpose, Congress president Rahul Gandhi offered his party’s support to Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and security forces in the measures they take in the aftermath of Thursday’s attack on the Jammu-Srinagar highway by a suicide car bomber who belonged to the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group.
“If our neighbour, which has been isolated in the world, thinks that by carrying out such attacks, hatching such conspiracies, it would be successful in bringing instability in India, it is a big mistake on its part,” Modi said after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
2. Pulwama Attack: Top Indian Security Officials Suspect Masood Azhar’s Nephew to Be the Mastermind
Top Indian security and counter-intelligence officials said the mastermind behind the horrific terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama is suspected to be Mohammed Umair, the son of Athar Ibrahim, who is the elder brother of Jaish-e-Mohammad founder and chief Masood Azhar.
While the bomber, 22-year-old Adil Ahmad Dar, was killed, officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity added that the bomb-maker is currently in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK). They did not provide a name for the bomb-maker and said he goes by several — all believed to be covers.
Officials said that conditions of the blast area are hindering investigations.
3. Incontrovertible Evidence of Pakistan’s Involvement, Says Arun Jaitley
A day after the single-worst strike attack in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said there is “incontrovertible evidence” about Pakistan’s “direct” involvement in the attack that killed 40 paramilitary personnel.
Jaitley also said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh will call for an all-party meeting on Saturday, where the parties are likely to be briefed about Thursday’s attack, and the situation arising out of it.
The government on Friday decided to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan and sought “immediate and verifiable action” from Islamabad against Jaish-e-Mohammad, the perpetrator behind Pathankot (January 2016), Uri (September 2016), and now Pulwama terror attacks. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence.
4. 30 Karol Bagh Hotels to Be Shut over Fire Safety
The Delhi government on Friday suspended the fire certificates of 30 hotels in Karol Bagh for lacking adequate safety mechanisms, effectively shutting them down for at least 15 days, in the wake of a major fire at Aprit Palace hotel in the locality in which 17 people were killed.
The action, initiated by state home minister Satyendar Jain, will further strengthen the Delhi Fire Rules, 2009, amended to make the violations more explicit and the regulations more stringent, according to the minister, who added that the drive would be carried out across the city.
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (North MCD), which approves building plans and issues health trade licenses to such hotels in the area, blamed the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) on Friday for issuing no-objection certificates (NOCs) to the Arpit Palace hotel even though it did not meet fire-safety norms.
5. Bikaner Land Scam: ED Attaches Majority of Vadra’s Assets Worth Rs 4.62 Crore
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday attached majority of Robert Vadra’s assets -worth Rs. 4.62 crores - in the Bikaner land scam case. The ED attached Vadra’s Sky Light Hospitality (P) Ltd (Now LLP) and others in Kolayat (Bikaner) land scam case.
“The attached assets include movable assets amounting to Rs 18,59,500 pertaining to four individuals and one immovable property situated at 268, Sukhdev Vihar in New Delhi to the extent of Rs 4,43,36,550 owned by Robert Vadra’s company Ms Sky Light Hospitality (P) Ltd (now LLP),” PTI quoted ED as saying.
6. Arvind Kejriwal, Kirti Azad Settle Row with DDCA
The Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the cricketer-turned-MP Kirti Azad on Friday informed the Delhi High Court that the defamation case by the cricketing body — Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) — against them has been settled.
The DDCA also informed the court that it is withdrawing its Rs 5 crore defamation suit against the duo.
Both Kejriwal and suspended BJP MP Azad told the high court that they were withdrawing their allegedly defamatory statements against DDCA. Taking note of the submissions, the court disposed of DDCA’s defamation suit.
Kejriwal and Azad were accused of defamatory criticism of the functioning and finances of the cricketing body.
7. Inter-State Frictions Are Back in the Northeast
Inter-state frictions have resurfaced in the northeast after a show of unity by the region’s constituent states over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
On Thursday, less than 24 hours after the Centre’s failure in getting the Bill passed in Rajya Sabha triggered celebrations across the north-eastern States, several people, including women, were injured during a clash between the Assam police and people of Umwali village in Meghalaya.
The village is near Langpih, a disputed place on the Assam-Meghalaya border, about 40 km west of Guwahati. While Assam says the village is in the state’s Kamrup district, Meghalaya claims it falls in its West Khasi Hills district.
8. Vande Bharat: India’s Self-Propelled, Fastest Train Takes off
The inaugural trip of India’s first semi-high speed train, Vande Bharat Express, was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the New Delhi railway station on Friday.
The train, named ‘Train 18’ at the concept stage, is a plush 16-coach, air-conditioned, self-propelled train set and doesn’t have a locomotive.
The express will ply between Delhi and Varanasi, with halts at Kanpur and Allahabad. It will complete the 780-km journey in eight hours, slicing off 180 minutes from the current travel time of 11-and-a-half hours. This is India’s fastest train to date, capable of commercial speeds up to 160 km per hour. On the Delhi-Varanasi route, however, its top speed would be restricted to 130 km per hour.
9. India vs Australia ODI Squad: Dinesh Karthik Not Included; KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant Named
The national selectors have named the Indian squad to face Australia in the upcoming five match ODI series. Contrary to what was expected, Rohit Sharma has been named in the squad for the entire series with Virat Kohli returning following the rest. Kohli had sat out two ODIs against New Zealand and the three T20Is.
BCCI have named two separate squads for the five match series with separate one for the first two ODIs and another for the remaining three. The difference between the two squads sees Bhuvneshwar Kumar return for the last three ODIs with Sidharth Kaul getting a call up for the first two ODIs. Dinesh Karthik has not been included in the ODI squad with Rishabh Pant named in the squad after missing the New Zealand series.
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