QBullet: J&K to Transition Into 2 UTs; Angela Merkel Visits India
QBullet: Top headlines of the day on The Quint.
1. J&K to be Bifurcated Into Two UTs Today
Jammu and Kashmir braced on Wednesday for an uncertain transition from full statehood to two truncated union territories with many local Muslim residents and activists underlining the region’s deep resentment but some others expressing hope that decentralised power structures will stanch bloodshed in the violence-hit region.
In the capital Srinagar, only a trickle of cars was out on the otherwise deserted roads with shops shuttered on either side and human blockades in the old part of the city, where violent protests had broken out a day before against the visit by a group of European lawmakers. Among the political parties, only the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appeared hopeful of the transition while the Valley’s mainstream politicians termed the transition a betrayal of the constitutional promise.
(Source: Hindustan Times)
2. German Chancellor Angela Merkel Arrives on Two-Day Visit Today, 20 Pacts on Agenda
On a day Jammu and Kashmir loses its special status and stands bifurcated into two Union Territories, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be the first foreign leader to visit India after the government’s move on Jammu and Kashmir comes into force.
Merkel, who arrives on Thursday, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bilateral talks on Friday. Calling India an “anchor of stability” in South Asia, German envoy to India Walter J Lindner said India has a strategic weight and importance.
Asked by reporters if the Kashmir issue will be discussed, Lindner said on Wednesday: “The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have a very good relationship and you can trust that they can talk about any issue they want to put on the table.”
3. As City Stays in Grip of Smog, Air Quality Worsens to ‘Severe’
Delhi-NCR continued to choke in a shroud of toxic smog for the second day as air quality deteriorated further due to accumulation of pollutants in calm wind conditions, higher ingress of smoke from stubble burning and a low cloud cover on Wednesday.
The average AQI of the city at 4pm entered the “severe” zone for the first time this season, deteriorating from 400 (very poor) to 419 on Wednesday. Air quality in all neighbouring cities, apart from Gurgaon, was similarly “severe” with Ghaziabad recording the highest pollution levels in the country (AQI 478) for the second day running.
Even as toxins from Diwali firecrackers were yet to fully clear, the contribution from stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution touched a new season’s high of 35% on Wednesday, according to data from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). This means more than a third of the city’s air pollution came from outside sources. SAFAR said this share is likely to drop to 27% on Thursday.
(Source: The Times of India)
4. BJP, Sena to Form Govt Soon: Fadnavis
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena will soon form a government in the state as the mandate was for their alliance while dismissing rumours of an “alternate formulae” as “entertainment”.
The statement came a day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray cancelled a meeting with the BJP on the government formation soon after Fadnavis said that there was no agreement between the two parties on sharing the chief minister’s post for half the government’s five-year term. The move suggested worsening of the strained relationship between the two parties as neither side appeared to budge on the terms of cabinet formation a week after the assembly election.
“The mandate of voters of Maharashtra is for the mahayuti [the BJP-Sena alliance]. Hence, the mahayuti is going to form its government soon in the state,” Fadnavis told the newly-elected lawmakers of the BJP as he was on Wednesday re-elected as the leader of its legislature party.
5. 7-Fold Surge in Indians at Risk Due to Rising Sea Level
An alarming 36 million Indians may be at risk from flooding and inundation due to sea level rise by 2050, according to a new study published this week.
That projection is a sevenfold rise from a previous estimate of 5 million for the country, and the impact is likely to be concentrated in Mumbai, Kolkata, Odisha, coastal Gujarat, as well as Chennai and Kochi, the study shows.
According to the study, 300 million people globally live on land that will flood at least once a year by 2050 due to sea level rise — three times more than previous projections. Roughly 75% of those affected live in six countries: China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
6. Delhi and Riyadh Underline: Reject All Interference in Internal Affairs
In a marked departure from the one they issued in February this year, the joint statement by New Delhi and Riyadh Tuesday made no mention on the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan.
In the joint statement issued Tuesday after the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the two sides reiterated their “categorical rejection of all forms of interference in the internal affairs of countries”, and the need for the international community to fulfil its responsibilities towards “preventing any attacks on the sovereignty of States”.
While New Delhi views this as an oblique reference to Pakistan meddling in Kashmir, Saudis interpret this as Iran’s interference in their affairs.
7. ED Fails to Get Extension, Chidambaram Back in Tihar Till 13 November
A special court in Delhi Wednesday dismissed the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) plea seeking one more day’s custodial interrogation of former finance minister P Chidambaram and sent him to judicial custody in Tihar jail till November 13 in the INX Media money laundering case. The court observed that policy custody of 15 days is “not a ritualistic formality”.
The court said that sufficient time has been given for custodial interrogation of the accused. Special Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar observed that “so far as the evasive replies of the accused (Chidambaram) are concerned, the right against self incrimination is protected by the law”.
“Article 21 of the Constitution of India and section 161 (2) of the CrPC, confers such a right on an accused to maintain silence,” the judge said.
8. Malware Hits Kudankulam N-Plant PC
A malware was detected in a personal computer at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), under the department of atomic energy (DAE), on Wednesday said “identification of malware in NPCIL system is correct” but clarified that the malware “did not affect the critical system” of the facility.
NPCIL additional director (CP&CC) A K Neema, in a release, said “the matter (malware) was conveyed by Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in), when it was noticed by it on 4 September. The matter was then immediately investigated by DAE specialists”. He clarified the probe revealed the infected PC belonged to a user who was connected to the internet for administrative purposes. He said the “malware attack was isolated from the critical internal network and the networks are being continuously monitored”.
A day earlier, KKNPP training superintendent and information officer R Ramdoss had denied any cyber attack in the context of reports that the power plant’s domain controller-level access was compromised. He said the TN plant and other nuclear power plant control systems were “standalone” and not connected to any cyber networks outside or the internet. “Any cyber attack on the nuclear power plant control system is not possible,” he said in a statement.
9. FIR Against Pehlu Khan and Sons Quashed
The Rajasthan high court on Wednesday quashed the first information report (FIR) and charge sheet against Pehlu Khan and his two sons Irshad and Arif on charges of cattle smuggling, Khan’s lawyer Kapil Gupta said.
The FIR was lodged in April 2017 and the charge sheet, filed in December, 2018. Soon after the charge sheet was filed, the Rajasthan government filed an application in court asking the court not to take cognisance of it.
Still, a court took cognisance of it in May, provoking outrage from many quarters. Khan, a dairy farmer, was lynched two years ago.
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