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Minister says nobody’s land will be taken away; communication services will be restored in 20-25 days

Fruitful meeting: A group of sarpanches emerging from a meeting with Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTIPTI

For the first time since the August 5 decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Tuesday that “only government land would be used to establish industries, hospitals and educational institutions”.

He told a delegation from Jammu and Kashmir, comprising sarpanches (village heads) and members of civil society groups, that “nobody’s land would be taken away”.

The village heads, who were elected last year, demanded security, with some of them from south Kashmir still living in hotels in Srinagar under police protection as they have not been able to go back to their villages.

Participating in the debate in the Rajya Sabha on August 5, Mr. Shah had said no industry could be set up and tourism could not develop in the State because of restrictions on land purchase due to Articles 370 and 35A. Mr. Shah had moved two Bills to revoke the special status under Article 370 and bifurcate the State into Union Territories. After the revocation of special status, residents from the Kashmir Valley and Jammu have expressed concerns and demanded protection of their land, culture and traditions.

Mr. Shah also assured the delegation that communication services, including Internet, would be restored in the Valley in the next 20-25 days. He promised to begin recruitment for government jobs at the earliest, and said the government would ensure merit-based recruitment of at least five aspirants from each village. He reiterated that the statehood would be restored as soon as the situation warranted and asked the representatives not to believe any rumours.

Mr. Shah met three different groups of representatives, the first such meeting after the Article 370 was diluted. The participants were selected by the office of Baseer Khan, the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, and flown to Delhi on Tuesday morning.

Nisar Ahmad Bhat, a sarpanch from Pulwama, said he had been living with his family in Srinagar after he won the elections last year. “The Home Minister told us that the situation is tense so they will not open the phone lines soon. We asked for protection, we are under threat...we go to our village clandestinely,” he added.

Sensex sees massive fall of 769 points

On Tuesday, while equities saw their worst single-day fall since October last year, the Indian rupee registered its biggest single-day fall in over a month to close at its lowest level since November as weak domestic economic data, coupled with concerns over the U.S.-China trade tensions, made investors jittery.

The 30-share Sensex lost a massive 769.88 points or 2.06% to close at 36,562.91, with stocks like HDFC, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Reliance Industries (RIL) and Axis Bank contributing the maximum to the benchmark’s losses.

This was the highest single-day loss for the benchmark since October 11, 2018 when it had lost 2.19%.

The broader Nifty ended the day at 10,797.90, down 225.35 points or 2.04%. The India VIX index, which is looked upon as a measure of near-term volatility, rose nearly 11% to close above the 18-mark at 18.06, though it is still much lower than its 52-week high of nearly 30.18.

Weak economic growth also impacted the rupee, which crashed 1.4% or 99 paisa — the biggest single-day fall in about a month — against the dollar on Tuesday.

The weakness in the Chinese currency amid trade tensions between the United States and China added to the currency’s woes.

“The sharp fall in the Q1 GDP growth to 5% and the weak core sector growth are the key factors that have caused a fall in the markets as it opened after a long weekend,” said Joseph Thomas, Head-Research, Emkay Wealth Management.

“The continuing negative global cues, the raging tariff war between the U.S. and China, and the likely sluggishness in the economic fortunes of economies around the world have also been behind the rout in the markets here as well as elsewhere,” he added.

Identities erased in Bengal flood, fire

Two disasters — one caused by water and the other by fire — in adjoining West Bengal districts six years apart may have kept several women out of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) released on August 31.

Jalpaiguri, the district headquarters, had in 1968 experienced a disastrous flood. And in 1974, a fire razed much of the District Magistrate’s office in Cooch Behar, the headquarters of the district of the same name.

Surviving flood

Runa Saraswati survived the Jalpaiguri flood to be married into one of Guwahati’s oldest Bengali families. Now 68, she feels she probably lived this long for her identity as an Indian to be “erased” by a deluge of a political kind with judicial sanction — the NRC.

The Saraswatis were among five Bengali families that had come to Guwahati from undivided Bengal in 1800s. Decades later, the Saraswatis became the first to export Assam’s indigenous silks. Their documents dating back to more than a century made them confident of being included in the NRC. All members were in, except for Ms. Saraswati.

“We should get to know the cause of her rejection from the NRC authority in a few days, but there is a possibility that the West Bengal authorities could not verify her documents when they were sent from Assam for vetting,” her son Rudip Saraswati told The Hindu.

“Mother said the flood of 1968 destroyed Jalpaiguri town and many lost their documents. Most importantly, the records room in the District Magistrate’s office was completely damaged. Whatever is the cause, she has broken down psychologically,” he said.

The 65-year-old Madhabi* Bose, married into a middle-class family in Guwahati’s Kalapahar area, too has been left out for a similar reason. She is from Cooch Behar, from where many documents of people born before 1974, the year the DM’s office caught fire, could not be verified.

(Name changed

on request)

It is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world

Cutting edge: The latest generation of the Apache will be part of the 125 Helicopter Unit at Pathankot.Special Arrangement Special Arrangement

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday inducted eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters into service at the Pathankot Air Force Station. The U.S.-made Apache is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world.

To replace Mi-35 fleet

“Apache attack helicopters are being purchased to replace the Mi-35 fleet. Alongside the capability to shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunition, it has modern Electronic Warfare capabilities to provide versatility to helicopters in a network-centric aerial warfare,” IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said at the ceremony. These helicopters had been modified to suit the exacting standards demanded by the IAF, and the delivery schedule was on time. “Today, with the induction of the Apache AH-64E, the IAF has upgraded its inventory to the latest generation of attack helicopters,” he said.

The Apaches will be part of the 125 Helicopter Unit at Pathankot. “The Apaches arrived at the Air Force Station, Hindon, in July this year, in batches of four, over two days, and were then transported to the Air Force Station, Pathankot, to await their formal induction,” the manufacturer Boeing said.

Gurugram traffic police impound vehicle as man fails to produce papers, pay penalty

A Delhi resident was on Monday fined ₹23,000 by the traffic police under the amended Motor Vehicles Act for riding a two-wheeler without a licence, insurance papers, registrati-on certificate, pollution control certificate and helmet.

The offender, Dinesh Madan, a resident of Geeta Colony, claimed that his two-wheeler was worth around ₹15,000. His vehicle was impounded as he was unable to pay the fine on the spot.

Penalty for traffic violations under different heads has gone up several fold following the amendment to the law with effect from September 1.

Mr. Madan, who runs a newspaper advertisement agency in Gurugram, claimed that he was on his way to District and Sessions Court for work when he took off his helmet just a few metres before negotiating a turn on the service lane to the court. “A traffic policeman standing in the corner flagged me down for not wearing the helmet. I called a friend who is an advocate but before he could reach, the policeman asked me for the documents and issued the challan for the violations,” said Mr. Madan.

He claimed that he had all the documents at home but the policeman allowed him only “10 minutes” to get the papers, which was not possible. Mr. Madan said he arranged a photo of the registration certificate on his WhatsApp, but not before the challan was issued.

Digital copy allowed

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic, Himanshu Garg said it was mandatory to carry original vehicle documents, but carrying them in digital form in DigiLocker was also valid as per the law.

“Not carrying the documents and not having them at all are two different offences with different penalties, although the penalty for the former is far less. In the present case, if the offender produces the original documents, the fine amount would be accordingly reduced,” said Mr. Garg.

Amit, a resident of Jacobpura in Gurugram, was fined ₹24,000 at the same spot and for similar violations as Mr. Madan on Tuesday. On Monday, Mohammad Mustakil, an autorickshaw driver, was fined ₹32,500 for seven violations, including driving without a high security registration number plate.

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