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QBullet: Cong to Move Privilege Motion Over Rafale Deal & More

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1. Cong to Move Privilege Motion Over Rafale Deal, BJP Hits Back

Keeping up the pressure on the government on what it claims are irregularities in India’s acquisition of Rafale fighter jets from France, the Congress is likely to move a privilege notice against PM Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday for allegedly misleading the Lok Sabha, party leaders said.

In response, the government, which has maintained that the deal is above board, but specific details sought by the Congress can’t be disclosed because of a secrecy agreement with the French, criticised the Congress for undermining the sanctity of the privilege motion and strongly defended the contract saying the 2016 deal under the NDA cost ₹66 crore less per aircraft than a deal proposed by the UPA government in 2011.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

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2. Pushed by SC, Centre Forms GoM, Secretary Panel to Frame Law Against Lynching

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

Six days after the Supreme Court denounced the “sweeping” incidents of lynching as “an affront to the rule of law” and called for a law to deal with such “horrendous acts of mobocracy”, the government Monday informed Lok Sabha that it had created a Group of Ministers (GoM) under Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and a high-level committee under Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to “deliberate” and “make recommendations” for a separate penal provision on incidents of mob violence.

The committee led by Gauba will submit its recommendations to the GoM in four weeks. The GoM, which includes External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, will examine these recommendations and submit its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

3. 45 Days, 29 States: Amit Shah to Finish 2019 Poll Recce This Week

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BJP chief Amit Shah. 
(Photo: IANS)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah has completed the first round of preparations for the 2019 elections in 28 of the 29 states over the last 40 days, instructing party organisational units to begin their ground campaign by 1 August, said a top party leader familiar with the matter.

With a visit to Himachal Pradesh this weekend, he will complete his nationwide tour for the fourth time since taking charge of the party, the leader added.

“In each state, Shah has met a newly constituted Lok Sabha preparation committee to discuss the political situation. He has met close to 4,000 Vidhan Sabha assembly constituency in-charges across the country. He has met Dalit leaders from the party, and he has interacted with social media team members in each state,” said Anil Baluni, the party’s chief spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

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4. Alwar Lynching Victim’s Friend Said Assailants Claimed to be MLA’s Men: Police

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

Aslam Khan, who escaped the lynching in Alwar on Friday when Rakbar alias Akbar was killed on suspicion of being a cow smuggler, has told police that the men who attacked them claimed the support of an “MLA” and that they “could not be harmed”.

In a statement to the Alwar police on Sunday night, before the investigation was transferred to the Jaipur range, Khan said: “Keh rahe the ke MLA sahib hamare saath hain. Hamara koi kuch nahi bigad sakta hai. (They were saying that the MLA is with them and that no one can harm them).” Police also said Aslam heard them taking each other’s names — Dharmendra, Paramjeet, Naresh, Suresh and Vijay.

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5. Wrong Message Sent by Giving NGT Job to Judge Who Diluted SC/ST Law: Ram Vilas Paswan

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File photo of Ram Vilas Paswan. 
(Photo: ANI)

Dalit leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan Monday said several Dalit MPs of the NDA have “expressed concern” over the “wrong message” sent by the appointment of Justice AK Goel as National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairman, saying he is “the judge who ruled against” the SC/ST Act.

Paswan’s son and Lok Sabha member Chirag Paswan said as leader of the LJP, he would ask the government to remove Justice Goel from the post.

Several SC/ST organisations, Chirag Paswan said, have threatened a stir on 9 August on the SC/ST Act issue. He said the government should table a Bill in Parliament to bring back the Act in its original form, or should conclude the session on 7 August, so that an Ordinance could be issued on 8 August and a major protest prevented on 9 August.

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6. Bihar Cops Dig for Rape Victim’s Body

Bihar’s Muzaffarpur police on Monday excavated the small campus of a short-stay home for girls (Balika Gruha) located along the Sahu Road locality of the town looking for the remains of a girl who is alleged to have been murdered and buried there by officials in charge of the home.

A special Prevention of Children against Sexual Offences act (POCSO) court gave the police permission for the excavation.

No remains were found. Muzaffarpur SSP Harpreet Kaur said that the entire exercise was done under the supervision of executive magistrate Sheela Kumari. “We found nothing in the exercise to substantiate murder and burial of a minor. We are conducting a thorough investigation.” Kaur added that the soil excavated will be sent to a forensic laboratory for scientific investigation.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

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7. Iran Pips Saudi as India’s Number 2 Oil Source; US Curbs Put Delhi in a Fix

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Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. 
(Photo: IANS)

Iran displaced Saudi Arabia as India’s second-largest oil supplier in the first quarter of the current fiscal, regaining a position it lost seven years ago, as state-run refiners scrambled to take advantage of Tehran’s attractive financial terms before the US sanctions covering the oil industry come into force in November.

Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday told Parliament that state-run refiners imported more oil from Iran in the April-June period than Saudi Arabia, which has now been relegated to third position. Iraq remains India’s top oil supplier. The development could deepen the dilemma for New Delhi as it faces the prospect of having to reduce — or completely stop — oil imports from Iran if it fails to get a waiver. But industry sources said there’s enough time to wind down Iranian oil flow and tap other sources — if the need arises — by the sanctions deadline.

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8. SC Protects Right to Protest, Allows Stirs at Jantar Mantar

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A protest at Jantar Mantar. 
(Photo: PTI)

Delhi got its “protest” site at Jantar Mantar back on Monday, with a bonus of Boat Club, as the Supreme Court struck down a ban on demonstrations at the historic observatory imposed last year by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The court restored the two venues, close to the seat of power in central Delhi, for protesters and said people had a fundamental right to demonstrate peacefully. Their displacement to Ramlila Maidan had proved a non-starter and robbed protests, including sit-ins, of a historic venue like Jantar Mantar.

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9. 26/11 Convict Headley in ICU After Attack in US Jail: Report

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David Headley.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

David Coleman Headley, serving 35 years in a Chicago jail for his role in plotting the 26/11 terror attacks, is reportedly fighting for life in an ICU after being attacked by two prison inmates, India Today reported on Monday.

The report said Headley was attacked on 8 July as he was a “double agent” who had worked both for Pakistan and Islamist terror organisations. Ujjawal Nikam, special public prosecutor in the 26/11 trial, said, “We have not received information on any such attack on Headley.”

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