Pulwama Suicide Bomber Adil Inspired By Taliban Victory Over US Withdrawal

The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan led to the declaration of victory by the Taliban. This inspired Adil Ahmed Dar from Pulwama to become a suicide bomber. Not much later after the traumatising attack, Telegram channels were blazing with two videos and one photo of a youth who held the responsibility. One of the videos was in Kashmiri and the other in Urdu had a ‘martyrdom’ message of Adil. The videos seem to have been shot in advance by Jaish, prior to the attacks. 

Claiming to be from Jaish-e—Mohammed, the youth identified himself as Adil Ahmed Dar alias Waqas Commander from Gandibagh, Kakapora area in Pulwama. Police sources confirmed Adil as the suspected suicide bomber who drove an explosive laden Scorpio and rammed it into a CRPF bus.

A fair-complexioned young man with a stubble and short hair, Adil, in both the videos, is seen holding an M4 carbine and a Browning pistol. An AK47 assault rifle is kept on his left and a sniper rifle with a night sight scope can be seen on the right. There are ten grenades and equal number of magazines. The videos have been shot with a Jaish-e-Mohammed banner in the backdrop. 

Police sources confirmed the claim made by Adil that he joined Jaish-e-Mohammad a year ago. “After waiting for an entire year, I got the chance to do what I joined the Jaish for,” he is heard saying in both the videos. 

“By the time this video reaches you, I will be enjoying in heaven… This is my last message for the people of Kashmir,” Adil is heard saying. He exhorted the Kashmiri youth to wage jihad against India and for Islam. “Jaish has kept the flame alive and stayed put in adverse circumstances.. Come, join the group and prepare for one last fight,” Adil says in a heavily accented boyish voice.

In the Kashmiri language video, it is Adil’s picture and voice over, repeating almost the same message except for a few variations. He asks his family, friends and relatives “to celebrate his martyrdom for Islam” the way they celebrate weddings. Adil also gives Kashmiri youth Islamic sermons, urging women to wear veil and boys not to fall in love. 

Interestingly, the video after every minute is interrupted by an American female automated voice warning, “created with free version, for non-commercial use” indicating Jaish’s access to high technology and social media machinery. A large number of social media accounts, based in Kashmir and Pakistan, became active soon after the attack, rejoicing Jaish’s daredevil act. 

Towards the end, in the Kashmiri video, Adil says that Muslims across the world need to be freed from foreign occupiers, by way of martyrdom. He underlines the success of jihad waged by Taliban, which he claims ensured the defeat of the US in Afghanistan. The freedom of Muslims in Kashmir, he said, can be attained only by “martyrdom”.

Zoya Akhtar Back Into Spotlight After Gully Boy, Talks About Working With Hrithtik Again

After her latest critically acclaimed movie Gully Boy, Zoya Akhtar is back into the spotlight. The movie was also premiered at the 69th Berlin Film Festival recently. 

Among other things, she is getting asked about the possibility of sequels of her films. She said, “I am not interested to just making my film sequels for money .I can think of making sequel to my certain film like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara’.”

Will she be getting back to the original set of actors? She said, “I am dying to work with Hritik Roshan. I am really keen to work with him again so planning to make a sequel to ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara’. However, I will start working on this project only when I get a good script. Katrina Kaif, Farhan Akhtar, Kalki Koechlin and Hrithik Roshan, all four guys are very special to me. I really share a good bonding with them so I can’t even think of making a sequel just for the sake of money.”

She added, “I started my career with the two boys Hrithik and Farhan, and I am looking forward to work with them soon .”

Jet Airways To Get An Emergency Loan Of Over ₹600 Crore From Partners And Lenders

Jet Airways To Get An Emergency Loan Of Over ₹600 Crore From Partners And Lenders overcome a cash crunch, said people known to the matter. 

Banks, led by State Bank of India, plan to provide the funds against shares pledged by founder and Chairman Naresh Goyal and partner Etihad Airways PJSC and backed by their guarantees, the people said, asking not to be identified before a public announcement. The disclosure is likely to be made after Jet Airways’ extraordinary shareholder meeting scheduled for Feb. 21, one of the people said.

The fund infusion would come as a lifeline for Jet Airways, Asia’s worst-performing airline stock, that has defaulted on interest payments, delayed salaries and grounded multiple aircraft in its struggle to stay afloat. Etihad, Goyal and SBI have been holding talks for weeks over a rescue deal for the carrier that hasn’t seen a profit for nine of the past 11 years in the face of cutthroat competition.

“That’s a good amount, I’d take that as a big positive,” said Mayur Milak, a Mumbai-based analyst at IndiaNivesh Securities Ltd. “Crude has also came down from $85 to $60 and operational metrics have become more favorable. Once you get the money, that definitely adds to the sustainability of operations.”

Representatives for SBI and Jet Airways didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Etihad declined to comment. Jet Airways’ shares, which has dropped 73 percent in the past year, gained 1.4 percent at 224.25 rupees in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Under one proposal, Etihad, which owns 24 percent of Jet Airways, will raise its stake to almost 44 percent by boosting capital at 150 rupees a share, the people said. Goyal’s stake would fall to about 22 percent from 51 percent, and lenders would end up with more than 15 percent after swapping a part of Jet’s loans to equity, the people said.

A final decision is pending as the plan needs the approval of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the market regulator, the people said.

Any agreement to avert a collapse of the Mumbai-based airline would help save 23,000 jobs and spare Prime Minister Narendra Modi the embarrassment of a failed business on his watch months before elections.

Jet Airways, which started operations more than two decades ago after India ended a state monopoly in aviation, has piled on debt as low-cost carriers lured fliers away with their cheaper, on-time, no-frills flights. With cost-conscious travelers, India has been a tough market for airlines. Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. collapsed earlier this decade while state-owned Air India has survived on repeated bailouts.

Jet Airways’s extraordinary general meeting later this month in Mumbai will seek shareholder approval to increase authorized share capital by issuing equity and preferred shares.

Delhi HC Demands Explaination From TRAI On New Tariff Guidelines

The Delhi High Court has taken into account the alterations made by the  Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in the new tariff guidelines, since February 1. 

The one change in particular which the Delhi High Court wants an explanation for is the extension of the deadline for the implementation of the new tariff to 31 March, despite the new tariffs becoming applicable on 1 February. Chief Justice Rajendra Menon has asked TRAI to file an affidavit within a week, to explain the reasons for extending the deadline of implementation of the new tariff plans to 31 March

The Delhi High Court was hearing the ongoing legal battle between Tata Sky along with Discovery Communications, Bharti Telemedia’s Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct and the regulator TRAI regarding the implementation of the new tariff regime for cable and DTH services. The case has now been adjourned till 23 February, at which time TRAI will also have to file its explanation about the constant changes in the implementation of the new guidelines. 

With the latest extension and the new guidelines, TRAI has somewhat complicated the situation by shifting the power to change subscription packages to the cable operators and DTH service providers, though it had claimed all along that the power of choice was in the hands of the consumers. Additionally, it is still not known how cable and DTH companies will be able to pay the broadcasters according to the new tariff regime which also dictates the price of each channel, when some of the subscribers would be paying old subscription prices and some are now paying the newly mandated rates. 

Earlier this week, the TRAI had extended the deadline for switching to the new channel pricing and subscription tariff regime—subscribers now have till 31 March to make the switch and will ideally not face disruption of services in the meantime. This is just the latest in multiple extensions that have already been extended, as the implementation of the new tariff regime still drags on.

This latest extension was announced just days after TRAI proclaimed that 65 million cable TV subscribers and 25 million subscribers, in total 90 million television subscribers in India, had made the switch to the new tariff plans already.

There is considerable ambiguity in TRAI’s latest statements though.

“In view of the larger public interest, the Authority directs all DPOs that those subscribers who do not exercise their options shall be migrated to a ‘Best Fit Plan’,” TRAI had said in an official statement, before adding, “The subscribers’ old plan shall continue till either subscriber exercise his/her option, or he/she is migrated to the ‘Best Fit Plan’.” The idea is to mandate that cable tv operators and direct to home (DTH) service providers (referred to as Distribution Platform Owners or DPOs) are free to switch users to what can be considered a ‘best fit’ plan from any of the new subscription packs as per the latest TRAI guidelines, to ensure that the services aren’t disrupted.

But the TRAI also said that “Subscribers will be free to change their ‘Best Fit Plan’ at any date and time on or before 31st March 2019 and DPOs shall convert their ‘Best Fit Plan’ into the desired pack (channel/Bouquet) within 72 hours from the time choice exercised by the Subscriber,” says TRAI in the official statement. Simply put, the DPOs, in this case your cable TV operator of DTH company still have the right to switch you to a best fit plan according to your current subscription, and you have the option to change this before the end of March at any point of time without the DPO holding you to a lock-in-period clause. The ‘best fit’ plan that you will be switched to shall be picked automatically, if you don’t register your choice manually, based on the new channel packages matching most if not all of the channels that you currently subscribe to and will have to be priced the same as or lower than your existing subscription plan. 

RBI Imposes ₹ 5 Crore Penalty On Four PSU Banks Over Violation Of Banking Norms

The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a penalty amounting to ₹ 5 crores of four Public Sector Banks (PSU) for violating various banking norms. The list includes SBI and Corporation Bank as well 

The monetary penalty on the banks has been imposed for non-compliance with various directions issued by RBI on monitoring of end use of funds, exchange of information with other banks, classification and reporting of frauds, and on restructuring of accounts, RBI said in a statement.

A penalty of Rs 2 crore has been imposed on Corporation Bank and Rs 1 crore each State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of Baroda and Union Bank of India.

The RBI, however, added the fines are based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the banks with their customers.

Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy On A Protest Outside L-G Kiren Bedi’s Residence

The wound up relations between Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi reached a high- point on Wednesday followed by the CM’s indefinite protest in front of the the LG’s residence, Raj Nivas. The current issue that began the tussle between the two was mandating helmets for two- wheeler riders in the Puducherry. 

The CM also claims that the L-G is interfering in the functioning of the government and stalled development in the state as several proposals are pending with her office. His dharna has been supported by Cabinet ministers, Congress and DMK MLAs, who are also participating in the sit-in.

On Wednesday evening, the L-G said the CM has created an “unlawful situation” and a “huge inconvenience for the public” with his dharna. The CM, in response, said he was holding a peaceful people’s movement against Bedi’s “continuous acts of high-handed dictatorship”.

Why is Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy protesting ? 

Narayanasamy, a Congress leader, has been protesting Kiran Bedi’s decision to mandate helmets for two-wheeler riders in the Union Territory from February 11. Calling it “a clear case of her going her way and causing harassment to the people”, he said he wants to implement the rule only after generating public awareness.

He also claims that 39 government schemes, including a free rice scheme, is pending with the Governor due to her “undemocratic acts and ways of functioning”. He had written to her regarding the same on February 7.

In a letter Wednesday, Narayanaswamy wrote: “I have been raising all these issues regularly either through letters or through the files. I would again reiterate that your various actions of commission and omissions have made the people of Puducherry suffer and caused untold miseries.”

How has Kiran Bedi responded ? 

Bedi, meanwhile, said that none of the issues raised is pending with her office. She wrote, “Instead of you waiting for my response to your letter (dated February 7) you have instead come to Raj Niwas demanding a reply in this unlawful manner. This method is unheard of from a person of your position.”

Bedi has invited Narayanasamy for talks at 10 am on February 21.

The role of the Governor

The standoff between the Chief Minister and Lieutenant Governor resonates with the situation in Delhi, where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and L-G Anil Baijal have often locked horns over governance. The Governor, who is appointed by the Centre to keep “checks and balances” in the state, takes over the administration when there is a threat to peace and tranquility. 

When the Constitution was being drafted, Sardar Patel had said that the Governor’s “special powers” would be limited to sending a report to the Union President when “a grave emergency arose, threatening menace to peace and tranquillity”.

The L-G is an “administrator” and is bound by the “aid and advice” of the Council of Ministers.

Congress “Nearly Said No” To Alliance: AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal

A day after a late- night opposition meeting with Congress President Rahul Gandhi,Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said that the Congress had “nearly said no” to an alliance with his Aam Aadmi Party. 

“We are very worried about the nation, so we are more keen (on an alliance). The Congress has almost said no to an alliance,” Arvind Kejriwal told reporters today.

The Delhi Chief Minister was at a meeting at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar’s home to prepare a united strategy for the national election due by May, which also featured Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi.

“We will compete with each other as well,” said Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress president’s comment after the meeting had indicated that his party was ready to go it alone in both West Bengal and Delhi, where his party is a rival to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP.

Mamata Banerjee announced that the opposition parties had decided on a pre-poll alliance to take on PM Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP. On the question of an alliance in Bengal and Delhi, she said it has “not been decided yet”.

But sources said there were discussions on a possible alliance between Mr Kejriwal’s party and the Congress in Delhi. Opposition leaders reportedly noted that the lack of an alliance in Delhi could harm the unity agenda, sources said.

Delhi has seven Lok Sabha seats, all of which were won by the BJP in the 2014 national elections. But in the subsequent assembly election, Mr Kejriwal’s party had won big. AAP swept the 2015 elections, while the Congress scored a duck.

The Congress-AAP dynamics had been skewed from the beginning, with Mr Kejriwal’s party being an offshoot of the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare that had targeted the Congress government in Delhi led by Sheila Dikshit.

Still, the two parties had entered a partnership in 2013, which ended with Mr Kejriwal’s 49-day tenure as Chief Minister.

The parties, which have been at loggerheads since, had to re-calibrate their stance after persuasion from opposition leaders — Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, DMK chief MK Stalin and CPM’s Sitaram Yechury. Co-opted into the united opposition, Mr Kejriwal even shared stage with Rahul Gandhi.

Citizenship Bill Lapses In Rajya Sabha, Conrad Sangma Praised For Constant Support

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is set to lapse in the Rajya Sabha as the government failed to table it on the final day of the Budget Session. 

It was since Wednesday morning that the state was witnessing bands and protests against the Centre’s bid to pass the bill. As the Parliament session reached towards the end, protesters cooled down and welcomed the fate. 

They were happy that the controversial bill technically lapsed with the ruling BJP government ending its term shortly. Bills passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha lapse.

The Citizenship Bill provided for according Indian citizenship to non-muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It violated the Assam Accord, according to which all illegal immigrants who have come after 1971, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported.

The opposition had been opposing provisions of the two bills in Rajya Sabha where the government lacks numbers.

As the heated agitations in the Northeastern states opposing the Bill finally calmed down, the state especially thanked Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma for standing with the people of the region.

Criticism came the way of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was once titled ‘Jatiya Nayak’ (Hero of the community) for his strong stand against illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh.

While Sonowal faced brickbats for supporting the bill, neighbouring state’s Sangma emerged as the strong leader from the region and the new ‘face of northeast’.

Political experts said Conrad replicated his father and former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, PA Sangma’s legacy. Sangma, who breathed last in 2016, had served as the Speaker from 1996 to 1998 and chief minister of Meghalaya from 1988 to 1990.

“Conrad has emerged as the new age politician of the region. From uniting the regional parties of the northeastern states and creating a unanimous voice amongst the NE leaders against the Bill, he has set an example of leading the people from the front. He has truly accomplished himself as a national leader from the region like his father,” said senior advocate and political analyst Hafiz Rashid Choudhury.

Following the split between the ruling BJP and its ally in the state government- the regional party of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) – over their differences and passing of the Bill in Lok Sabha in January; Conrad immediately jumped into action and started uniting the regional camps.

He convened a meeting in the city where he managed to pull support of at least 11 regional parties of NE states. Participating in the meeting, his counterpart in Mizoram, Zoramthanga, and several other parties from Nagland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam announced they would launch a united effort against the Bill.

Under Conrad’s leadership, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance cabinet comprising two BJP ministers had passed a resolution opposing the Bill too.

Thanking his initiative and bold steps, AGP president Atul Bora said, “Special thanks to Conrad Sangma who has managed to unite all the regional forces and we all have managed to defeat BJP’s communal politics.”

Bora and other AGP leaders, including former Assam chief minister and AGP leader Prafulla Mahanta, were also camping in Delhi and busy communicating with all non-BJP MPs and party leaders requesting them to oppose the Bill if placed in the RS.

Mahanta added, “It’s a victory for the people of the region and we like to thank Sangma and Zoramthanga for standing with the people of the region and show their brave support.”

Echoing similar tunes, influential student group of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjee said Sangma’s bold position despite being a part of the BJP-led NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) was highly significant.

“He has managed to gather support from all corners, groups and political spheres of the region and we want him to continue to fight for the region’s welfare.”

The AASU along with members of North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) and 30 other groups also opposed the Bill and staged numerous demonstrations across the state.

Thanking Conrad, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi announced that his organisation is going to felicitate him for his contribution. “He (Conrad) has proved himself to be a true leader of the people. He deserves all the applauds,” Gogoi said.

Reacting to the praising, Conrad humbly replied that it was not an individual effort.

“It’s teamwork where people from the region across political barriers, ethnicity, religion and all other differences who unanimously came together and demanded justice for the region. I want to thank every single one who has supported the anti-Bill movement.”

When asked whether he would like to form any political platform that includes other regional camps of the NE states, Sangma chose his words carefully. “The basic motto of coming together of all the regional parties was to strengthen our protests against the Bill. There was no political agenda or planning in forming any group so far.”

Sources, however, said that possibility of setting up a joint platform of regional parties ahead of the general elections can’t be ruled out.

The Meghalaya CM had earlier threatened to break his party’s alliance with NEDA and BJP if the Centre pushes the Bill. He, too, camped in Delhi since Sunday to hold meetings with different political parties to appeal to them to oppose the bill in Rajya Sabha.

He said, “It’s not about politics always. When it comes to the rights of the indigenous people then no politics can be more important than it. The movement against the Bill has brought the people of the region closer and our bonding has become stronger than ever before.”

“I believe that the message of the unity amongst the people of the region and the power of a united movement is delivered to the Centre. It is indeed a great and an emotional moment for all the citizens of the northeast, apart from the country,” he added.

While thanking Conrad, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi came down heavily on Sarbananda Sonowal. “Conrad and Zoramthanga have proved themselves as brave leaders whereas our own Chief Minister has proved himself as a spineless and coward leader who has surrendered before the Centre avoiding the interest of his own people shamelessly,” he said.

In Rajiv Bhawan, Congress’s headquarter in the city, sweets were distributed and crackers were burst to celebrate the occasion. Debabrata Saikia, the leader of opposition, said the Congress has yet again foiled an attempt by communal forces to convert secular India into fundamentalist India.

“Congress honours the sentiments of the people of Assam and North-East as a whole and evolved such effective floor coordination with non-BJP parties that the Modi government was unable to muster the courage to table the Bill in the RS on the last day of the Budget Session of Parliament.”

However, for Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma it was highly unfortunate for the state that the Bill could not become a reality. Sarma reiterated, “Without the Bill, the political powers of lower and middle Assam districts would be highly vulnerable.”

Mayawati Makes A Jibe On Congress, Compares With BJP

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Chief Mayawati made a jibe on the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday over the latest incident of accused in cow slaughter being charged under the National Security Act. Mayawati’s BSP is the ruling ally in the state. Comparing the Congress government with that of BJP in Uttar Pradesh, she questioned, What’s the difference?” 

Mayawati’s significantly sharper attack on the Congress comes in the middle of alliance moves between various parties who want to team up and take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the national election due by May.

“The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh like BJP slapped atrocious NSA (National Security Act) against Muslims for cow slaughter. Now the UP BJP government booked 14 Aligarh Muslim University students under notorious sedition charges. Both are example of state terror and condemnable. People should decide what is difference between the Congress and BJP government,” Mayawati said.

The BSP chief and former UP chief minister was referring to the arrest of three persons in Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh government under the National Security Act (NSA).As for the Aligarh incident, sedition charges against 14 students for raising anti-India slogans during an alleged assault on BJP workers has sparked outrage among opposition parties and also on social media.

Mayawati reluctantly extended her party’s support in December to help the Congress touch majority after polls in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP lost power after three terms. However, since then ties have been tumbling downhill. Last month, Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav announced their alliance in Uttar Pradesh for the national election, leaving Congress out of the equation.

While announcing the gathbandhan (alliance) to the media, Mayawati had said that she didn’t see any “benefit in any tie-up with the Congress as its votes are not transferable”.

Though Mayawati made her view clear, Akhilesh Yadav said little against the Congress at that press conference. Reports suggest that the Congress has reached out to Akhilesh Yadav for a tacit understanding on seats. Mayawati, the senior partner in the BSP-Samajwadi alliance, is said to be aware of these reports and is seen to have sent out a clear message with her comments today.