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They were about to launch ‘Chalo Atmakuru’ to protest attacks on party workers

Under house arrest: Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu with supporters at his residence at Undavalli, near Vijayawada, on Wednesday. SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTSPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Amid high drama, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu and his son Nara Lokesh were placed under preventive detention at their residence at Undavalli, near here, on Wednesday.

The police detained them to foil their plan to take out a ‘Chalo Atmakuru’ rally to protest against alleged attacks on TDP workers and sympathisers by YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) members. The police locked the main gate of his residence from outside as he tried to leave for Atmakuru, a village in the Palnadu region of Guntur district, earlier known for political factionalism.

Mr. Naidu alleged that 125 people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes, the Scheduled Castes and minority communities were targeted by YSRCP workers, forcing them to leave Atmakuru.

Cars blocked

Tension prevailed at his residence as the police neither allowed his convoy to move out of the house, nor that of Mr. Lokesh, who tried to leave in another vehicle.

Mr. Lokesh was also detained and sent back into the house as TDP leaders and workers, who had gathered at the spot, chanted slogans against the government and the police.

Several TDP leaders and workers were either detained in their houses or taken into preventive custody in Vijayawada and Guntur when they “tried to violate prohibitory orders by coming on to the roads”.

Condemning the “police high-handedness”, Mr. Naidu said: “Today is a black day in the history of Andhra Pradesh. This government is violating human rights and the fundamental rights of the people. We are forced to stage a protest as the government failed to act against YSRCP cadre who are attacking TDP workers and supporters in villages. Atmakuru village stands out as a symbol of these attacks.”

‘Victims of attacks’

Mr. Naidu said he had planned to go to Atmakuru on Wednesday to drop these villagers back at their homes and infuse confidence in them. All these “victims of YSRCP attacks” were given shelter in a rehabilitation camp run by the TDP in Guntur town for over a week. Yet the government and the police did not take any step to restore peace in their village, he claimed.

The police on Wednesday did not allow TDP workers to even supply food to them in the camp, he alleged. “This rally is to express solidarity with them and we will take it out whenever the police allow us to do so.” Speaking to reporters outside his residence, Mr. Naidu said: “I am warning this government, you cannot control us by arresting us. You cannot play this kind of politics.”

Worried about escalation in tensions

Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres remains concerned about any escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and appeals to both sides to deal with it through dialogue, his spokesperson said.

Mr. Guterres met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 summit last month in Biarritz, France, and has spoken to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

On Monday, Mr. Guterres met Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, at her request, to discuss the Kashmir issue.

Mr. Dujarric was asked whether Mr. Guterres planned to mediate between India and Pakistan during the UN General Assembly session, scheduled for later this month, which would be attended by Mr. Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan. “You know, our position on mediation, as a matter of principle, has always remained the same.”

His comments came as India and Pakistan clashed at the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The UN chief has maintained that his good offices are available for mediation if both sides ask for it. But India has ruled out any third-party mediation, arguing that the issue is an internal matter.

And, as was said by the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently, the situation in Kashmir could be resolved only with the full respect for human rights, Mr. Dujarric said.

Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian High Commissioner following the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

Nitin Gadkari. PTIPTI

Defending the steep fines under the new Motor Vehicles Act, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said the government’s intention is not to garner revenue but to make people follow rules in order to reduce the number of accidents.

His statement comes a day after BJP-ruled Gujarat slashed penalties for traffic violations. In some cases, the fines have been brought down to as low as ₹1,000 from ₹10,000.

While Parliament in July passed the more stringent Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, some States, including those ruled by the BJP, have opposed the high penalties proposed under the Bill.

Stating that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill falls under the concurrent list, giving the Central and State governments the right to make laws, Mr. Gadkari said, “The government’s intention is not to fine people to earn more revenue... I have said this many times that in India 5 lakh accidents take place, 1.5 lakh people lose their lives..., which is the highest in the world.”

He said while there are many reasons for it, including “road engineering, licence-related issues and some related to automotive manufacturing, the important thing is that there is no respect or fear of the law. Is fine more important than people’s lives? If you don’t break the law, you will not get fined”.

From next year, international students in the United Kingdom — including Indians — will be able to stay on after graduation for a period of two years to work or look for work using a new post-study work visa.

Announcing the new graduate immigration route on Wednesday, the British government said the move would help to attract “the best and the brightest” to the U.K. and expand opportunities for international students to build successful careers within the country. Graduates may apply without leaving the U.K.

It could also help to increase the number of Indian students heading to the U.K., which dropped drastically after a similar visa was withdrawn in 2012.

The new visa is open to international students who hold valid student visas and have successfully completed a course at undergraduate level or above at a British institution of higher education which has a track record of compliance with the U.K. Home Office’s immigration rules.

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