Nation
War remains elusive, political war breaks out in Punjab over border evacuation
The apprehension of an India-Pakistan war may have receded but a full-fledged political war has broken out in Punjab over the central and state governments getting nearly 1,000 villages within 10-km of the international border evacuated following last week's surgical strikes by the Indian Army across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
Opposition parties and leaders in Punjab are blaming the Union Home Ministry and the state's Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Punjab for unnecessarily building up war hysteria and getting the villages evacuated. 
 
The ruling alliance, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, is being blamed for doing so to take advantage in assembly elections to be held in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh early next year.
 
Nearly 400,000 perople in the border areas have been asked to evacuate.
 
"There has been no movement bt the Pakistani Army. These days everything can be seen through satellites and technology. Even if a jeep moves, we can see that. The centre and the Punjab government have unnecessarily ordered the evacuation. Thousands of people are being harassed," Punjab Congress president and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.
 
Amarinder Singh, a former Indian Army officer who saw action in the 1965 war against Pakistan, being the ADC to Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, a decorated officer who led the swordarm Western Command and turned the tables against the advancing Pakistan Army, alleged that the BJP and Akali Dal built up war hysteria after the surgical strikes to take political advantage in the forthcoming assembly polls.
 
But Badal has a different take on the issue.
 
"Political leaders should shun politics in this peculiar situation. It is unfortunate that several political leaders were continuously politicking at this critical juncture when war clouds are hovering over the country. At this critical juncture, leaders must avoid politics for safeguarding the interests of the country in general and Punjab in particular," Badal said.
 
"The SAD-BJP government doesn't believe in doing politics over the issues concerning unity and integrity of the country. Even my visits to border villages was solely aimed at sharing the grief of their residents and instilling a sense of confidence amongst them. These visits were not even remotely concerned with politics. I am visiting border villages to be amongst the brave people of this region who are ever ready to make any sacrifice for their country but unfortunately my fellow friends do not see anything beyond politics," Badal pointed out.
 
Badal and the district authorities, at some places, have faced the ire of residents of border villages over the evacuation orders.
 
But leaders of the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the newly-formed Apna Punjab Party, are not ready to buy Badal's argument.
 
Several Congress leaders and legislators from border areas, representing various assembly segments from Ferozepur to Gurdaspur, have lashed out at the SAD-BJP alliance over "forcible evacuation of the residents from border villages against their will".
 
"The army continues to remain in peace positions on either side of the border. Captain Amarinder is speaking from his knowledge and experience, having participated in war in 1965 in the same areas," Congress legislators Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhry, Sukh Sarkaria and Parminder Singh Pinky said in a joint statement.
 
"While we reiterate our support for strong measures against Pakistan, including surgical strikes, for instigating and abetting terror activities in India, there was no need for evacuation of the border residents," the Congress leaders said, adding that there was no evacuation during the 1965, 1971, and 1999 Kargil Wars or even during Operation Parakaram (2001-02) -- when the Indian Army mobilised in the wake of the attack on parliament.
 
The Congress leaders pointed out that Badal had to face the public wrath in the border villages as the residents did not want to move out.
 
"Better ask your leader as how he was treated by the angry villagers in several villages as they do not want to move out. The BJP is trying to raise the war hysteria for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections," the statement said.
 
Reacting to Amarinder Singh, Punjab Education Minister and senior Akali leader Daljit Singh Cheema said his remarks were "aimed at creating mistrust between the Indian Army and the people of the country".
 
Seeking an "apology" from Amarinder Singh, Cheema said that such things should not come from a former army officer when the forces were engaged in dealing with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Indian GDP growth to remain robust at 7.6%: World Bank
Ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's first monetary policy review to be decided by a committee later on Tuesday, the World Bank has said India's GDP growth will remain robust at 7.6 per cent in 2016 and 7.7 per cent in 2017.
 
"In India, GDP growth will remain strong at 7.6 per cent in 2016 and 7.7 per cent in 2017, supported by expectations of a rebound in agriculture, civil service pay reforms supporting consumption, increasingly positive contributions from exports and a recovery of private investment in the medium term," the multilateral lender said in its latest report on South Asia Economic Focus released here on Monday.
 
"However, India faces the challenge of further accelerating the responsiveness of poverty reduction to growth, promoting inclusion, and extending gains to a broader range of human development outcomes related to health, nutrition, education and gender," the report said.
 
According to the World Bank, Indian economic growth remained robust, which is expected to support continued poverty reduction, as in the past.
 
"This year is expected to see some convergence in rural and urban economies, supported by stimulating policies, such as passage of GST (Goods and Services Tax) and civil pay revisions, along with good monsoon," the report said.
 
The central government has set the target of April 1, 2017, for implementing the GST for a thorough overhaul of the Indian indirect tax regime.
 
"Optimism on the growth front needs to be balanced with caution when translating to broad-based poverty reduction. Despite the recent success in poverty reduction, gains have been uneven, with greater progress in states and social groups that were already better-off," the report said.
 
"India faces the challenge of further accelerating the responsiveness of poverty reduction to growth, enforcing inclusion of presently excluded groups (such as, women and scheduled tribes), and extending gains to a broader range of human development outcomes related to health, nutrition, education and gender, where the country continues to rank poorly," it added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Three injured as Jhelum Express derails in Punjab
At least three persons were injured when 10 coaches of the Jhelum Express passenger train derailed in Ludhiana district of Punjab, police said on Tuesday.
 
The injured persons have been sent to Civil Hospital here, the Ministry of Railways said in a tweet.
 
The accident took place around 3.10 a.m. between Ludhiana and Phillaur town, 125 km from Chandigarh. The train had 24 coaches.
 
A major tragedy was averted as the train derailed before a bridge of the Sutlej river. The train was enroute to Pune from Jammu Tawi.
 
"11078 (Jhelum exp) derailed on approach to river Sutlej bridge Phillaur-Ladowal sec NR/FZR div. No casualty and only two minor injuries," the ministry said.
 
"Derailed coaches B5,S1,PC,S2,S3,S4,S5,S6,S7 and S8. Injured sent to Civil Hospital Ludhiana, three buses reached the site," it added.
 
Rail traffic between the Ludhiana-Jalandhar section was affected as both the tracks were blocked due to the derailment, a railway spokesman said.
 
"All passengers are safe. There is no casualty," he said.
 
"Some trains have been cancelled and diverted. The Northern Railways will provide a list of the affected trains. The accident took place in the area of Ferozepur division," the spokesman said.
 
The trains that have been cancelled are 14682 Jalandhar-New Delhi Intercity, 12460 Amritsar-New Delhi Intercity, 12054 Amritsar-Haridwar Janshatabdi and 12242 Amritsar-Chandigarh Superfast.
 
A senior railway official told IANS that the front portion of the train -- engine and eight coaches -- were moved to the next station after arranging for the onwards journey of all the passengers. 
 
The rear six unaffected coaches have been moved to Phillaur.
 
Rescue and relief teams reached the site immediately after the accident.
 
Passengers of the derailed train rescued the three injured persons, including a woman and a child, of whom one was critically injured.
 
The remaining passengers were transported to Ludhiana to enable them to board other trains to their respective destinations.
 
Railway authorities also began work to repair the damaged track and remove the derailed coaches to restore traffic on the section.
 
According to officials, it would take around five to six hours to complete the repair work.
 
The track connects all important cities in north India -- including Jalandhar, Amritsar and Jammu, with New Delhi.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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