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JeM chief was listed as a designated terrorist by UNSC1267 Committee

Pakistan has informed the global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that Masood Azhar, founder of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and his family are “missing”.

Azhar was listed as a designated terrorist by the United Nations Security Council 1267 Committee on May 1, 2019.

Pakistan has claimed that there were only 16 UN designated terrorists in Pakistan, of whom “seven are dead”.

Of the nine who are alive, seven had applied to the UN for exemption from financial and travel restrictions. They are Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, LeT financiers and members Haji Muhammad Ashraf, Zafar Iqbal, Hafiz Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, Yahya Mohammad Mujahid and Arif Qasmani, and al-Qaeda financier Abdul Rehman. The restrictions involve freezing of bank accounts.

Pakistan has said 5,500 bank accounts of individuals and members of groups listed by the UN committees were frozen but added that “these individuals were allowed to work for wages,” unless arrested in criminal cases. Pakistan has claimed that it had achieved 222 convictions of terrorist financiers but most were imprisoned for only a few days, a source said.

Under review

The FATF is now reviewing Pakistan’s case to see if it fulfils the global standards criteria to combat terror-financing. The FATF is chaired by China.

When Pakistan’s response to action initiated against UN designated terrorists was sought at a meeting last October, it “continued to state that Masood Azhar and his family were missing”, the source said.

Further, Islamabad could not explain why terror-financing investigations were not launched against Azhar, 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi or the Haqqani leadership, the source added.

The JeM had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 last year when 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a car bombing. Following this, a training camp run by the outfit at Balakot in Pakistan was hit by the Indian Air Force on February 26.

Bengal, Odisha and Assam account for about half the fatalities in man-elephant conflict, data show

Three States in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country — West Bengal, Odisha and Assam — account for about half of both human and elephant deaths in the overall human-elephant conflict in the country, according to the latest data provided by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Over the past five years, from 2014-15 to 2018-19, 2,361 human deaths were recorded in elephant attacks across the country, of which 1,132 (48%) fatalities were from these three States, as per the data tabled in the Rajya Sabha. West Bengal had the highest number of human casualties: 403, followed by Odisha with 397, Jharkhand with 349, and Assam with 332 deaths.

When it comes to unnatural deaths of elephants (mainly due to poaching, train accidents, electrocution and poisoning), the country recorded 510 deaths in the same period (2014-15 to 2018-19). Of these, 259 (53%) occurred in these three States alone. The figures were tabled in the Rajya Sabha on February 10, in response to a question by Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Majoj Kumar Jha.

Interestingly, these three States are home to just about 31% of the total population of all elephants in India. The last synchronised elephant survey in the country in 2017 had given a figure of 27,312 elephants, of which Assam had recorded 5,719 elephants, Odisha 1,976 and West Bengal 642.

Elephants electrocuted

Raman Sukumar, an elephant expert and ecologist from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, said that these States had been a “neglected region in terms of building up the knowledge base on elephant ecology”.

Among the reasons for unnatural deaths of elephants, electrocution is at the top of the list, accounting for 68% of elephant deaths in the country. Assam accounted for 66 electrocution deaths, followed by Odisha with 57 deaths and Bengal with 39 fatalities.

The second most common cause for unnatural deaths of elephants is train accidents. Between 2014-15 to 2018-19, 77 deaths were due to train accidents.

The data assumes significance when India is moving to include Asian Elephants in the list of species that merit heightened conservation at the 13th Conference of Parties on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals scheduled to be held at Gandhinagar later this month.

36 missions planned for next fiscal

The upcoming launches include RISATs, Oceansat-3 and Resourcesat-3/3S.

The country will send up an unusually large number of 10 earth observation (EO) satellites during 2020-21, according to the latest annual report of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for 2019-20. The plan includes new categories, such as the first Geo Imaging Satellite, GISAT-1.

In comparison, only three communication satellites and two navigation satellites are planned for the coming financial year starting April. The plan mentions 36 missions, which include both satellites and their launchers.

ISRO was recently given a budget of nearly ₹13,480 crore for the next fiscal.

The upcoming EO satellites include radar imaging satellites RISAT-2BR2, RISAT- 1A and 2A, Oceansat-3 and Resourcesat-3/3S.

In the ongoing fiscal, 17 missions are planned, six of which are due to be completed by March 31.

Buffalo soldier: Srinivas Gowda taking part in the Aikala-Bava kambala near Moodbidri in coastal Karnataka.

A feverish sprint with a pair of buffaloes in tow has catapulted Srinivas Gowda from tiny Ashwathpura in coastal Karnataka to national fame.

On February 1, Mr. Gowda, competing in a kambala event — a traditional race in which the jockey runs along with the buffaloes he is shepherding — covered 142.5 m in 13.62 seconds at the Aikala-Bava kambala near Moodbidri. Converting this into 100m sprint, sports buffs said the kambala runner had clocked 9.55 seconds, just a wee bit ahead of Jamaican Usain Bolt’s world record of 9.58 seconds!

Viral on Twitter

The news spread as fast as Mr. Gowda’s pulse-pounding run, and it soon went viral on Twitter.

Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra suggested that Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju could provide training facilities for the runner.

Responding to Mr. Mahindra and the Sports Minister’s congratulatory tweets, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said a suitable course would be devised for Mr. Gowda.

A native of Ashwathapura near Moodbidri, the 28-year-old has been a kambala jockey for more than a decade and trained at the Kambala Academy in Moodbidri in 2011. Founder and convener of the Academy K. Gunapala Kadamba told The Hindu that though his run was electrifying, Mr. Gowda’s feat cannot be compared to an Olympic record as these are diverse events held in varied conditions. While Olympic sprints are judged over seconds, kambala is yet to evolve such a practice.

Mr. Gowda is the jockey for three pairs of buffaloes that run in different categories. Creating the ‘record’ is a significant achievement as he would have run at least 22 times with three pairs of buffaloes through the course of the entire event, exhibiting sustained endurance.

A construction worker off season, Mr. Gowda said he starts training the buffaloes four weeks before the kambala season. Sources said jockeys like Mr. Gowda are paid ₹1 lakh-₹2 lakh by owners for a season to train the buffaloes, besides sharing cash prizes they win in kambalas.

For now, before SAI steps in with its offer of formal training, Mr. Gowda’s name is up there in the bright lights with the iconic Bolt, at least in the online space.

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