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Charred body of a married woman found in her house
Riyadh executes three Sri Lankans, an Egyptian
Hat-Trick National Level Award winning Bahrain based Non-Resident Kannadiga
CPIM protest against water problem in Jappinamogaru
Osama's son Hamza asks jihadists to attack US, allies
Same-sex marriage bill introduced to Australian Parliament
Intercaste couple goes missing: Hindu outfits demand investigation
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Morgan Freeman's granddaughter stabbed to death in Manhattan
First batch of Hajj pigrims departs from Mangaluru International airport

Ask mamma how much money Quattrocchi gave: Sushma asks Rahul

New Delhi: Raising her voice over the din and chorus in Parliament, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made a valiant attempt to defend her move to “surreptitiously” help controversial former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi by taking the fight directly to the door of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Claiming she had committed “no mistake” in facilitating travel papers for “fugitive” Mr Lalit Modi, she launched a strident and vitriolic attack on the Congress chief.

Looking at party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Mrs Gandhi’s son, Ms Swaraj lashed out, “He should go through the ‘black deeds’ and ask his mamma as to ‘how much money had been taken from Quattrocchi’ and ‘why did daddy (Rajiv Gandhi) get released the killer of 15,000 people (in Bhopal gas leak)’,” an apparent reference to Anderson.

Ms Swaraj’s remarks riled the Congress benches, and its members were up on their feet, shouting slogans. The much-awaited debate on the Lalit Modi issue was conducted amid shouting by both the Congress and the Treasury benches in the Lok Sabha. Finance minister Arun Jaitley ridiculed the Congress-led Opposition and dismissed all allegations.
  • Published in National

Swaraj assures help to Pakistani Hindus

New Delhi: The welfare of minorities in Pakistan, including Hindus, will be monitored closely and issues taken up at appropriate meetings, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said.

Swaraj also assured taking up with Pakistan the difficulties faced by Hindus there in getting their marriages registered.

These assurances was given by Swaraj to Rajya Sabha BJP MP from Punjab Avinash Rai Khanna, who wrote to her highlighting the problems being faced by the Hindus in the neighbouring country.

"I want to convey assurance of the Government that we will continue to monitor developments affecting the welfare of minorities in Pakistan and take up the issues at all appropriate meetings," the Minister said in her reply to Khanna.

She added the government was aware of reports of problems faced by members of minority communities, including Hindus, and had taken up the matter with Pakistan in the past.
The Pakistan government, she said, was fully cognizant of the situation and claimed to be looking after the welfare of all its citizens, particularly the minority community.

Khanna, in his letter, had highlighted the problems of Hindus in Pakistan and said they were facing difficulty in getting marriage certificates issued there.

"Many Hindus are facing problems in Pakistan as the authorities are not issuing marriage certificates to them there and their plight is bad," he said.
  • Published in National

Lalit Modi names 3 UPA ministers who also 'helped' him

New Delhi: The former chief of Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi, on Tuesday claimed he has a "family" relationship with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose husband and daughter had provided legal services "free of cost".      

Holidaying in the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro, Mr Modi said in an interview to India Today TV channel that Ms Raje had accompanied his wife to Portugal for her cancer treatment two years ago. Ms Raje became chief minister of Rajasthan for the second time in December 2013.

"Raje and Sushma supported me when my wife was sick," he said in the interview.  "My wife was being taken to Portugal by whom? By Mrs Vasundhara Raje. Nobody knows that, I am putting that on record now," Mr Modi said, adding she accompanied his wife Minal in 2012 and 2013.

About his relationship with Sushma Swaraj, he told the TV channel, "It was a family, a legal whatever you may call it. We were very close. But the point is not that...I am very close to a lot of politicians, not only Mrs Swaraj."

In that context, he said he was also helped by NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla. Mr Shukla said he had not talked to Mr Modi for three years while Pawar said he tried to convince the former IPL chief to return to India and face investigations.   

The comments of the tainted former IPL Commissioner came hours after his lawyers released documents that purportedly showed that Ms Raje had given a "Witness Statement" in August 2011 to British authorities supporting his case for immigration in Britain. Lalit Modi has made UK his base after leaving India, where he is under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate over the IPL betting racket.

Ms Raje has said she was not aware of this document. "Of course I know the family. I have always known them...(But) I do not know what documents they are talking about," she told reporters in Jaipur.

Claiming that his relationship with Ms Raje goes back 30 years, Lalit Modi said, "She openly agreed to be (to be a witness), but unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already Chief Minister, so she did not come to become a witness. The statements she gave are all on records in the courts."

Mr Modi said he had done no wrong, has always gone by the book and paid all his dues.

"I know Swaraj Kaushal (Sushma's husband) for 20 years. He has been my advocate for 20 years...his daughter Bansuri had been my advocate for four years," he said, adding that their services had been provided "free of cost".

Ms Swaraj had found herself at the centre of a political storm after the UK-based Sunday Times reported a "leaked conversation" between influential Labour MP Keith Vaz and head of UK Visas and Immigration Sarah Rapson that cited Ms Swaraj to facilitate travel documents for Lalit Modi.  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have backed Ms Swaraj, saying whatever she had done was in good faith and bona fide.    

Asked about the Congress allegation that he had been holidaying in Ibiza three days after the surgery of his wife, Mr Modi said the family decided to celebrate because the "revolutionary treatment" received at the Portugal medical centre.

  • Published in National

Detective squad to probe Prabha stabbing case in Australia

Australia on Monday assured India that the perpetrators of the fatal knife attack on an Indian woman IT professional in a Sydney suburb will be brought to justice and a special detective squad has been assigned to probe the “brutal and cowardly” assault.

The assurance to probe the attack on 41-year-old Prabha Arun Kumar with utmost seriousness was given by New South Wales (NSW) Premier Mike Baird during a telephonic conversation with Sanjay Sudhir, Consul General of India in Sydney.

The NSW police have launched a probe following the stabbing of Prabha, who was on the phone with her husband in India, when the attack happened on Saturday in Westmead.

Mr. Sudhir, the victim’s husband Arun Kumar, and a representative of her employer Mindtree, an IT firm, had a meeting with the NSW police during which they were informed about a special detective squad being formed to probe the attack, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi.

The detective squad — Strike Force Marcoala — which comprises of police from Parramatta Local Area Command and State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad has been formed to investigate the death.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was pained to know about the murder and that she was in constant touch with India’s Consulate in Sydney which is providing all help.

“I am pained to know abt murder of Prabha Arun Kumar in Sydney. Our Consulate is in touch with her Company there and we promise all help,” she tweeted.

“I am in constant touch with our Consulate in Sydney. The Consulate is providing all help. I have just spoken to Mr. Arun Kumar, husband of the victim. He is satisfied with the assistance from the Consulate,” she said.

NSW Premier Baird condemned the assault and expressed confidence that the police will bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

“I was shocked and horrified to hear about the attack on Prabha Arun Kumar and my thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this devastating time. I was particularly saddened to hear about the attack, which took place on Saturday just hours after I had joined the Indian community to celebrate Holi, the ancient Hindu festival of colours at Parramatta,” Mr. Baird said.

“This was a brutal and cowardly attack on a member of the public that is now being investigated by a dedicated team of police officers and detectives. I have every confidence that Strike Force Marcoala will use every resource available to help bring the perpetrators of this horrific crime to justice,” he said.

Consul General of India in Sydney, Mr. Sudhir, said, “The investigation has just begun. What they have done is that they have engaged the most specialised agencies who carry out such investigations and that investigation is underway.”

“The sense I got from the investigation team is they are putting in their best. They are regarding this investigation as ‘a high-profile investigation’. So they are putting in as much specialisation as they have on this issue,” he told a TV channel.

“I have spoken to a lot of people, a lot a agencies and there is no evidence which I have seen which indicates any racial undertones to this attack. Prabha’s husband happened to be the last person she spoke to because as that time she was talking to him on mobile,” Mr. Sudhir said.

Prabha’s distraught husband Mr. Arun and her 9-year-old daughter had reached Australia from Bangalore to formally identify her body.

The Consul General said Mr. Arun had completed his statement to police.

“It was a very elaborate statement which went on for more than couple of hours. And what I noticed from both the investigating agency and Arun was that they are trying to help each other. Arun is trying to give whatever statement he can, as elaborate as possible, to give the investigation,” he said.

Australian police on Monday released the CCTV footage of Prabha walking from the Parramatta train station just before she was fatally stabbed and appealed to people for information to crack the baffling case.

Police said the emergency services responded to reports of a seriously injured woman on a public walkway between Argyle Street, Parramatta, and Amos Street, Westmead, at around 9:30 p.m. (local time) on Saturday.

Ambulance Paramedics treated the woman at the scene before transporting her to Westmead Hospital, where she died at about 12:45 a.m. on Sunday.

Confirming her identity, the police statement said, it was believed that Prabha got off a train at Parramatta Railway Station about 9 p.m., before walking along Argyle Street and turning left onto the walkway. Police believe she was attacked while on the walkway.

She sustained a number of injuries, which it is believed were inflicted by a sharp-edged weapon.

“We are hoping this will jog the memory of anyone who was in the vicinity of Argyle Street, Park Parade or Amos Street that evening, and encourage them to come forward and speak with police,” Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Michael Willing, said.

Police said there was nothing to suggest that Prabha’s murder was racially motivated.

“Could this be a random attack? Well, yes it could. It could be a whole range of scenarios... and we are considering all of them,” Mr. Willing said.

Prabha had reportedly been working a double shift the day of her death.
  • Published in National

India, Sri Lanka mull resuming ferry services

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday discussed with her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera the possibility of resuming ferry services between the two countries.

However, the Foreign Ministers did not discuss the fisheries issue. “Not a word about it,” Sri Lankan Foreign Minister told The Hindu soon after his meeting with Ms. Swaraj, but officials said the subject was likely to be discussed at her lunch meeting with Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

In addition to discussing agreements to be inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit, the leaders discussed the possible resumption of ferry services in detail. India and Sri Lanka are very keen to resume the services at the earliest, Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry spokesman A.M.J. Sadiq told reporters after the bilateral meeting between the Ministers Friday morning.

The service between Colombo and Tuticorin was operational in 2011 but had to be suspended as it was not found to be commercially viable. The ferry service between Rameswaram and Thalaimannar came to a halt in the 1980s, during the war. “The piers at both sides have to be repaired before resumption of the service,” he said.

Political developments

Mr. Samaraweera briefed the Indian delegeation on the political developments and the newly formed government’s progress on its 100 day programme, officials said. He also outlined the electoral reforms being considered by the government.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister emphasised the new government’s commitment to addressing the Tamil question, pointing to President Maithripala Sirisena’s winning mandate that included a substantial share of minority votes. Mr. Samaraweera said the new government would meet the aspirations of the minority communities. “He [the Minister] said the new government owed it to the minority communities,” Mr. Sadiq said.

Minister Swaraj arrived on Thursday on a two-day visit and called on President Sirisena. Following her meeting with the Prime Minister, Ms. Swaraj is scheduled to meet senior leaders of various political parties representing the Tamil and Muslim minorities.
  • Published in World

Sushma Swaraj says welfare of expatriates is priority

Abu Dhabi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said welfare of Indian nationals residing abroad, particularly in the Gulf countries, is one of the top most priorities of her government. "We believe that the overseas Indians must be a part of the growth story of the nation," she said in an interactive session with the Indian diaspora here Tuesday. November 10-12 is her first visit to the UAE as external affairs minister. She said that her government in collaboration with the state governments has been proactively devising ways and means to address the concerns of the Indians living abroad.

"We have also been engaged with the UAE government in continuous dialogue on various matters concerning our community here," she said. "We have a Memorandum of Understanding on Manpower signed between the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in India and Ministry of Labour in UAE." Sushma Swaraj said the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has undertaken a number of measures to ensure the welfare of Indian community in UAE -- through the institution of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), setting up of Indian Workers Resource Centre(IWRC) and online information system regarding transportation of mortal remains.

Since the inception of the ICWF, more than 6,000 Indians have benefitted directly from it, she noted. "IWRC has attended to more than 65,000 telephone calls, conducted 200 awareness camps and provided more than 4,500 free counselling sessions since its establishment in November 2010," she told the Indian diaspora. "Recently, our embassy in Abu Dhabi brought out an advance copy of 'Guidelines for Indians' in limited numbers which I hope will prove quite beneficial for the Indians in UAE. More numbers of this booklet will be printed in English, Hindi and other regional languages."


  • Published in Saudi Arabia
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