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MIDDAY NEWS

1400 Hrs

20th January, 2018

tHE HEADLINES:

  • Pakistani forces continue heavy mortar shelling along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir; An army jawan martyred and two civilians killed.
  • India urges UN Security Council to focus on eliminating terrorist safe havens in Pakistan.
  • Government says, no plans of bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart at Davos.
  • US government shuts down for the first time in five years after lawmakers failed to agree on a spending bill.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind to felicitate exceptional women achievers at Rashtrapati Bhawan today.
  • Telecom regulator TRAI recommends allowing mobile services during air travel.
  • And in Blind Cricket World Cup, final match between India and Pakistan underway at Sharjah.

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In Jammu and Kashmir, an Army jawan was martyred and two civilians including a minor boy were killed as Pakistani forces continued heavy mortar shelling along the International Border and Line of Control in Jammu region for the third consecutive day today. Over a dozen persons including two security personnel were injured in the firing. Heavy exchange of mortar shelling is still continuing along the entire international border in Jammu district. Quoting sources, our correspondent reports that BSF troops have been giving befitting reply to the shelling from across the border.

"Army jawan Sepoy Mandeep Singh succumbed to his injuries after he was hit by a sniper shot in Poonch sector and a boy and another person were killed in RS Pura sector. Two security forces jawans were martyred while as many civilians were killed and 35 injured in mortar shelling by Pakistani troops on civilian areas and BoPs in all the five bordering districts of Jammu region yesterday. A major chunk of the border population has been shifted to safer places in relief camps etc. Yogesh Sharma, AIR NEWS, Jammu."

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India has urged the UN Security Council to focus on eliminating terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and accused Islamabad of differentiating between good and bad terrorists. Indian Ambassador to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin was addressing the UN Security Council during a special ministerial meeting on Afghanistan. He said, support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough, the United Nations must focus on addressing the challenges posed by cross border terrorism emanating from safe havens and sanctuaries to our region and especially to Afghanistan.

"Terrorism and externally-induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan's peace, stability and prosperity. And, the growing arch of terrorist violence endangers our entire region. We must focus on addressing the challenges posed by cross-border terrorism emanating from safe havens and sanctuaries to our region and especially to Afghanistan."

Mr. Akbaruddin said, it is India's vision that Afghanistan regain its place and New Delhi remain committed to work closely with its regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

Mr. Akbaruddin said, it is with this in mind that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Afghanistan on December 24, 2015 to inaugurate the Parliament building, stopped over in Lahore, Pakistan. He said that unfortunately, these visits were followed by a heinous and barbaric terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase on January 1, 2016, perpetrated by the very same mindsets which attack the spirit of Afghanistan every day.

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The External Affairs Ministry has said, there is no plan of a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos next week. Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry Vijay Gokhale was responding to a query on whether Mr Modi would be meeting his Pakistani counterpart as Mr Abbasi would also be at the WEF on the same day. Mr Modi will address the plenary session of the World Economic Forum on the 23rd during his visit. Mr Gokhale said, the focus will be on the Prime Minister's vision about India's economy at the domestic as well as global level.    

"Our Finance Minister, Minister for Commerce and Industry, and also Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas will be a part of it. This interactive session is meant to understand current market developments and policy priorities for India, provide views and perspectives, identify opportunities for PPP."        

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The US government has begun a federal shutdown after the Senate failed to agree on a new budget. The bill to fund the government until 16 February did not receive the required 60 votes in the Senate, despite last minute bipartisan meetings. The House of Representatives voted 230-197 on Thursday night to extend funding until next month, but the measure failed to pass the Senate. Here is a desk report:

"The shutdown comes exactly a year after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the country. Democratic leaders demanded that the measure include protections for about 700,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation who arrived in US as children. However, the White House said in a statement that administration will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants. The effect of the shutdown would be felt most from Monday when the federal government employees would not be able to join for their work and be forced to stay at home without pay. But, essential services like national security, post, air traffic control, inpatient and emergency outpatient medical services, disaster assistance etc. will continue. Tripti Srivastava, news desk."

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today thanked Australia and other members of the Australia Group for export control and supporting India's entry in it. In a tweet, Mr Modi said, over the last two years, India’s membership of MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group reaffirms India's strong non-proliferation credentials also the commitment to global peace and security.

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The five-day Ramayana festival with the ASEAN nations will begin in Delhi today. Troupes from ASEAN countries will display the shared heritage also at Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Ayodhya and Kolkata. Cultural groups from the 10 member-nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will stage musicals and plays based on the epic at the festival celebrating the India-ASEAN dialogue. The festival seeks to highlight the common cultural heritage and India's friendship with ASEAN nations.

In a tweet today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, he is delighted to know that the Ramayana Festival, with participation of all ten ASEAN countries is beginning. He said, this festival celebrates India's deep civilizational and historical relations with the ASEAN region. Mr. Modi said, an important part of a series of events to commemorate 25 years of India-ASEAN relations, the Festival is a fitting prelude to the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on 25th January.

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President Ram Nath Kovind will felicitate exceptional women achievers who are the first to set a milestone in their respective fields at Rashtrapati Bhawan today. Our correspondent reports that the women being felicitated are those who have been the first in any field like the first woman judge, first woman porter, first woman to head a missile project, first para-trooper and first Olympian.

"Keeping up with the solemn spirit of empowered women, the Ministry conceptualised 'First Ladies' to honour the women who rose through barriers, standards and oppressive notions to excel in the fields which were thought to be beyond them. A list of 227 women was compiled through various sources, including Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Sports, Limca Book of Records, press clippings and the internet. An esteemed panel of judges finalised the names of these extraordinary women, who busted stereotypes and broke the glass ceiling to become the number one. ANUPAM MISHRA, AIR NEWS, DELHI."

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today launched 'Bharat Ke Veer' anthem and a short film on India’s bravehearts. Speaking on the occasion in New Delhi, Mr. Singh appealed to the people to contribute in Bharat Ke Veer initiative and support the families of martyred soldier. He said, the people of this country have pledged their support to the initiative in large numbers.

Bharat Ke Veer is a fund to support the families of those Indian soldiers belonging to the eight Central Armed Police Forces, who lost their lives protecting the nation from terrorists and other anti- social elements.

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A dawn-to-dusk hartal called by BJP has begun in Kannur district in Kerala to protest against the murder of an RSS activist at Nedumpoyil near Peravoor by an unidentified gang on Friday. 24 years old Shyamaprasad, a native of Chittariparambu, was attacked by a masked gang when he was riding his bike. He was rushed to a hospital in Thalassery, but succumbed to injuries on the way. The  police have taken four people into custody and seized a vehicle as part of the probe into the murder.

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A Nashik court has awarded death sentence to six people in the 2013 Sonai honour killing case in which three Dalit youths were killed in Ahmednagar district. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters in Nashik that the court also slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 on each of the convicts. According to police, the killings were prompted by an intercaste love affair.

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In Assam, a moderate tremor jolted many parts of the state this morning at 6:44 am. The magnitude of the tremor was recorded 5.2 at Richter scale and the epicentre was Kokrajhar in Lower Assam. No casualty or damages have been reported as of now.

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, TRAI has recommended allowing mobile and Internet services for passengers during air travel in the country through both satellite and terrestrial network. In its recommendation, the authority said, Internet and Mobile Communication on Aircraft service should be permitted as In-Flight Connectivity in the Indian airspace. The Department of Telecom had sought views of the TRAI in August last year over the proposal to introduce voice, data and video services over Indian airspace for domestic, international and overflying flights.

TRAI said, for mobile services, there should be flexibility to In-Flight Connectivity service providers in terms of use of technology and frequencies inside the aircraft cabin that should be consistent with international standards. The authority also recommended that the operation of Mobile Communication on Aircraft services should be permitted with minimum height restriction of three thousand metres in Indian airspace for its compatibility with terrestrial mobile networks. The regulator said, Internet services through Wi-Fi on-board should be made available when electronic devices are permitted to be used only in-flight or airplane mode.

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Turkey has intensified its shelling of a Kurdish militia in northern Syria yesterday, ahead of a threatened ground offensive aimed at driving them out of the area. Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said, the shelling was the de-facto start of a planned invasion of Afrin. The bombardment took place after days of threats from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to crush the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin in response to growing Kurdish strength across a wide stretch of north Syria. Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denied reports that Russia is withdrawing its forces from the area.

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In Cricket, Pakistan were 291 for 7 in 38 overs against India in the Final of the World Cup for the Blind at Sharjah, UAE, when reports last came in. Defending champions India had won the toss and elected to field.

In the semi-finals, India had defeated Bangladesh, while Pakistan beat Sri Lanka. India are unbeaten in the tournament, so far and are being seen as favourites to retain the title.

<><><> 

India beat hosts New Zealand, 3-1 in the final round robin match of the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Hockey Tournament, at Blake Park in Tauranga today. India sailed to victory with the structured defence and clinical attack by the young brigade of Harmanpreet Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh. Dilpreet scored two goals. India will play the final tomorrow against Belgium, who beat Japan 4-1. India suffered a 0-2 loss against Belgium in their previous match.

<><><> 

In Tennis, Leander Paes and Purav Raja today stormed into the Men's Doubles pre-quarterfinals of the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the season, at Melbourne. The unseeded Indian pair defeated the fifth-placed British-Brazilian team of Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, 7-6, 5-7, 7-6. Paes and Raja have now joined Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan, who with their team-mates have already made it to the Round-of-16.

In the Singles, Romania's world number one Simona Halep, sixth seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova and 17th placed American Madison Keys were among those who progressed to the pre-quarterfinals.

<><><> 

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani has said that building toilets for girls, transfer of subsidies into bank accounts of the poor through Direct Benefit Transfer and the surgical strike across the LoC are examples of Rashtra-niti and not Rajniti. Mrs Irani was addressing the 8th Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad organised by MIT World Peace University in Pune yesterday.

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