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Visa-free year-long access for pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib

Pakistan agrees to proposal at Wagah meeting; India raises Khalistan issue

Fruitful exercise: The Indian delegation on the Wagah border near Amritsar on Sunday. PTIPTI

Pakistan on Sunday agreed to give year-long visa-free access for Indian pilgrims to the holy Gurdwara of Kartarpur Sahib.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the agreement was reached at the second formal meeting held at Wagah, at which India took up the presence of Khalistan supporters in Pakistani territory. “It was agreed to allow visa-free travel for the Indian passport-holders and OCI card-holders seven days a week. Throughout the year, 5,000 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara per day. The pilgrims will be allowed to travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot,” the statement said.

India proposed that the holy shrine be open to Indian citizens of all faiths. However, a message from the government of Pakistan reiterated that there will be provision for a permit system for the pilgrims travelling through the religious corridor.

India urged that at least 5,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit the Gurdwara and insisted that 10,000 more be allowed to visit on special occasions and festivals.

India also asked Pakistan to prevent Khalistan supporters from misusing this historic initiative.

“Concerns regarding individuals or organisations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims was shared. A dossier was handed over to the Pakistan side to highlight concerns in this regard,” said the statement, without naming the Khalistan supporters.

Karnataka coalition in jitters as Minister is back with rebels

Yeddyurappa demands vote of confidence today

CM H.D. Kumaraswamy and Minister for Energy D.K. Shivakumar coming out of a meeting in Bengaluru on Sunday. Special ArrangementSpecial Arrangement

Leaders of the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka were left jittery, with their efforts to salvage the situation suffering setbacks on Sunday as Congress MLA and Housing Minister N. Nagaraj flew to Mumbai to join the rebel camp, a day after the Congress had “convinced” him to stay back.

Hours later, 12 rebel MLAs from the ruling coalition camping in Mumbai held a press conference to declare that they would not retract their decision to resign, leaving the fate of the government in balance.

Soon after Mr. Nagaraj, who was seen being accompanied by former Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka in the airport, left Bengaluru for Mumbai, an upbeat BJP demanded that Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy move the confidence motion on Monday itself.

A confident BJP State president B.S. Yeddyurappa said the party would get an opportunity to serve the people of the State in the next two to three days. Mr. Yeddyurappa also said he would attend the business advisory committee meeting of the Assembly on Monday morning to demand that the trust vote be held immediately.

Embarrassed by Mr. Nagaraj’s ‘volte face’, the Congress quickly held out an olive branch to seven-time legislator Ramalinga Reddy.

Navjot Singh Sidhu quits Punjab Cabinet

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday announced his resignation from the Punjab Cabinet, amid an ongoing tussle with CM Amarinder Singh. Mr. Sidhu released a copy of his resignation letter on Twitter, which he said was submitted to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on June 10.

In the letter addressed to Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Sidhu did not assign any reason for his quitting the Cabinet. “I hereby resign as Minister from the Punjab Cabinet,” he wrote.

Railways may buy readymade trains from private players

In a policy shift, the Indian Railways is mulling the idea of buying readymade trains from private players instead of making them at production units.

As of now, three production units — the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli, and Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala — roll out rakes for the Railways.

At a high-level meeting of Union Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal and Minister of State of Railways Suresh C. Angadi and top officials and manufacturers of trains/coach components held in New Delhi recently, the idea of procuring Trainsets, Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) and Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (MEMU) from the industry was mooted, official sources said on Sunday.

It was concluded at the meeting that a considered view should be taken on procurement of complete train sets from trade instead of procurement of propulsion equipment and manufacture of car body and equipping the same in production units.

This would enable the Railways to procure the right global technology available.

Referring to a request from the industry, it was stated officially that the Railways should consider procuring complete rakes of EMU and MEMU as per past practice, by considering the requirement and capacity of production units.

2,000 rakes to roll out

It was revealed at the meeting that the Railways planned to roll out over 2,000 rakes, including 320 Vande Bharat Express- type of trains and 124 rakes for Kolkata Metro in the next three years.

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