QBullet: PM Modi Inks Strategic Pact With Saudi, 6 Killed in J&K
Top headlines of the day.
1. PM Modi Inks Strategic Pact to Deepen Ties With Saudi Arabia
India and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday launched a Strategic Partnership Council to guide their ties in areas ranging from trade to energy security, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a new conflict resolution mechanism in an increasingly multipolar world.
PM Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed the agreement for the Strategic Partnership Council following their delegation-level talks that capped the Prime Minister’s day-long visit to the kingdom. The council was first mooted during the crown prince’s visit to India in February.
The council, to be chaired by the Indian premier and the Saudi crown prince, will monitor and guide the strategic partnership and projects taken up by the two sides. The body will have two mechanisms – one under the foreign ministers of the two sides to oversee political and diplomatic relations, and another under the commerce ministers to guide trade and energy ties. Both mechanisms will report to the Indian PM and the Saudi crown prince.
2. 6 Labourers Killed in J&K on Day of EU Group’s Visit
Militants gunned down six migrant labourers on Tuesday, 29 October in Jammu & Kashmir’s (J&K) Kulgam district, the fifth attack in two weeks in which people from outside the state have been targeted. The incident came on a day a group of 23 European lawmakers met senior army and administration officials in the Valley, stoking violent protests in several parts of the region.
State police said three or four unidentified gunmen forced their way into a house in Kulgam’s Katrasoo village, dragged out the labourers, and shot them dead. All the victims were from Murshidabad district in West Bengal. Police said a high alert had been sounded in the area.
In the past two weeks, militants have killed four truck drivers, a trader from Punjab, and a migrant labourer from Rajasthan. The total number of victims from outside the state in this period now stands at 12.
3. Season’s First Smog in City, Calm Winds Turn Air Toxic
Two days after Diwali, toxic smog enveloped Delhi-NCR as pollutants from firecrackers, local sources and farm fires were trapped due to low wind speeds, turning the region into a gas chamber — an apocalyptic setting seen in Delhi post-Diwali since 2016. The smog is unlikely to clear till Friday as winds are calm and pollution load from farm fires high.
Although Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index (AQI) according to CPCB’s daily bulletin was recorded at 400 (very poor) – just one point below the ‘severe’ mark. By evening however, Delhi’s AQI had touched the ‘severe’ category with a reading of 414 recorded at 7pm.
Met officials say a number of factors are combining to trap pollutants close to the land surface. Calm winds and cloudy skies owing to Cyclone Kyarr in the Arabian Sea are likely to continue for the next two days. Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD, said a significant change is only expected around 2 or 3 November, when wind speeds pick up.
4. Delhi Govt’s Free Bus Rides for Women: Student to Domestic Help, Pink Tickets Find Many Takers
An otherwise gray October day was brightened up by a few lakh streaks of pink Tuesday, with the Delhi government rolling out its free rides scheme, a move that obviated the need for women to pay fares in public buses. The city of two crore, which includes over 80 lakh women, largely embraced the decision, which had a smooth implementation owing to significantly less passenger volume on account of Bhai Dooj — a restricted holiday in government offices.
On board five such DTC buses, connecting different parts of Delhi-NCR, The Indian Express found working women, housewives and students welcoming the decision with equal enthusiasm. The scheme will cover all 5,589 public buses in the city.
5. Maharashtra: Fadnavis Says No 50-50 Pact, Shiv Sena Cancels Govt Formation Talks
Talks on government formation in Maharashtra failed to take off Tuesday after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis rejected Shiv Sena’s claims that the two partners had a pre-poll understanding on a 50-50 formula of sharing power and rotating the post of the CM if returned to power. The Sena hit back, calling off talks scheduled Tuesday and circulating an old video clip to remind Fadnavis and the BJP that they are “going back on their word”.
Speaking to reporters at his residence ‘Varsha’, Fadnavis said: “The Shiv Sena was not promised the CM’s post for two-and-a-half years when the alliance was formalised before the Lok Sabha polls.”
The BJP-led alliance, he said, will provide a “stable and efficient” government for the next five years, and it will be led by him. BJP MLAs will be meeting in Mumbai Wednesday to elect the leader of the BJP legislature party.
6. Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde to Take Charge as Next CJI on 18 November
President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday appointed Supreme Court judge Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI). Justice Bobde will officially take charge as the next CJI from 18 November, a day after the incumbent CJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi is set to complete his tenure.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred by clause(2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from 18th November, 2019,” the notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice states.
Justice Bobde will be the 47th CJI, and will have a tenure of almost one-and-a-half-years, with his term set to end on 23 April 2021. He is the second judge from Maharashtra’s Nagpur region to be appointed CJI after Mohammad Hidayatullah (1968-1970).
7. In Bitter End to 80-Hr Rescue, Sujith Found Dead in Borewell
After an 80-hour operation involving about 800 personnel, rescuers on Tuesday retrieved the partially decomposed body of a two-year-old child who fell into a borewell in a Tamil Nadu village, bringing to a tragic end an incident followed on TV screens across the country by people concerned over the toddler’s safety.
The news of the child’s death prompted the Madras high court to pull up the government over the poor implementation of civic safety rules, and ask if it needed a corpse to enforce guidelines.
Sujith Wilson’s body was pulled out more than three days after he fell into the abandoned borewell while playing near his house at Nadukattupatti village in Tiruchirappalli district on Friday.
8. India Among 13 Nations Cited by Watchdog for Journos’ Killings
Over 200 killings of journalists remain unsolved in 13 countries, including India, said a media watchdog group, and cited them for enabling “impunity” for the crimes.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the countries on its list were home to the majority of journalist killings over the past 10 years.
The countries “represent a mix of conflict-ridden regions and more stable countries where criminal groups, politicians, government officials, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative reporting.”
9. Low-Key Inaugural Planned for UTs of J&K and Ladakh
The Centre has decided against holding extravagant functions on October 31 when the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir takes effect, in line with the 5 August announcement ending the special status of the state under Article 370 and its bifurcation into two new Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The administration has ordered government officers and employees to continue holding their posts in the respective Union Territories. The order, issued by J-K’s General Administration Department, became necessary because the government is still to take a call on the distribution of its human resource to the two UTs.
The government has also issued an order asking officers to put up pictures of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who wanted J&K’s complete integration with India, in all key offices of the two UTs.
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