Reactions flow as MEA strips Devyani Khobragade of diplomatic charge

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): Reactions flowed on Saturday after MEA stripped Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade of her duties as Director in the Development Partnership Division for making unauthorized statements in the media. Congress leader Manish Tewari accused the BJP government of double speak and not taking a decision in favour of Devyani as they supported her as Opposition during previous government. JD (U) leader Ali Anwar said that MEA should understand what problems Khobragade had to face in USA. Meanwhile, Security Expert Rajiv Dogra said that Devyani issue can be viewed from various angles, one of them being that USA government did not behave well with her. Khobragade has been placed under a ‘compulsory wait’. The vigilance case against her is underway on charges that she had failed to disclose that her husband is a US citizen and that she has got US passports for her two children. Dec 20, 2014

Post Peshawar attack, MHA issues guidelines to schools over security; politicos react

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): The Union Home Ministry has issued fresh guidelines to schools across the country over security measures, days after militants in Peshawar killed 132 innocent school children. The fresh Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for schools issued by the MHA has advisory such as concrete boundary walls with at least three to four gates and three telephone lines at the main gate. The SOP also says that telephone number of nearest police station and PCR van should be displayed prominently in schools. It also emphasized on giving importance to CCTV cameras and alarm system. Dec 20, 2014

Pakistan executes two convicted militants after lifting moratorium on the death penalty

Rawalpindi, Dec 20 (ANI): Pakistan hanged two militants as it began executing those on death row in the wake of the moratorium on the death penalty being lifted following the Peshawar school attack where more than 130 children lost their lives. The hanged militants had no links to the Taliban's assault in the city of Peshawar on Tuesday, but their executions came at a time when a shocked Pakistani society is piling pressure on the government to do more to stem escalating violence. Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after the attack and Mohammed Aqeel and Arshad Mehmood were the first prisoners reported hanged under the new arrangements. The announcement of their deaths came just hours after the UN human rights office appealed to Pakistan to refrain from resuming executions, saying this would not stop terrorism and might even feed a "cycle of revenge". Dec 20, 2014

Allahabad HC says conversion to Islam for marriage sake illegal, Politicos welcome

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): The Allahabad High Court has said that conversion of religion to Islam only for marriage sake is illegal. The decision was welcome by political leaders of Congress and BJP. Congress leader Rashid Alvi said that it was a good step taken by the Allahabad High Court as one should not use religion for benefit but have faith in it. Congress leader Manish Tewari said that the decision of High Court is good and should be followed by all. BJP leader Sambit Patra said that the decision of Court is sacrosanct and should be followed by everyone. Dec 20, 2014

BJP congratulates central govt on introduction of GST Bill in Parliament

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): BJP on Saturday welcomed the Central government’s step of introducing the GST Bill in Parliament. Party Spokesperson Sambit Patra said that it is a welcome as it will benefit both the centre and the states. He also congratulated the Central government, State governments and the people of the country for a uniform pattern of taxes all over the country to be implied if the bill gets passed. Dec 20, 2014

MHAs safety guidelines to schools necessary in wake of Peshawar attack: Security Experts

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): Security Experts on Saturday said that the safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to schools are necessary, in the wake of the Peshawar attack. According to reports, the MHA has issued fresh Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) advisory such as concrete boundary walls with at least three to four gates and three telephone lines at the main gate. The guideline also lays emphasize on the CCTV cameras and alarm system. Qamar Agha said that Pakistan is not acting against terrorist forces and that no place is safe including schools. Rajiv Dogra also said that said that the MHA’s guidelines are necessary as well as timely. Dec 20, 2014

India continues to shiver under intense cold

Bhopal/ Amritsar/ Kanpur, Dec 20 (ANI): As mercury levels continue to dip, people across north and central India are reeling under extreme cold. Bhopal city on Saturday was wrapped in thick fog. People complained there was no respite from the biting cold. In northern Amritsar city, temperatures were as low as 16 degrees Celsius Saturday morning (December 20), with the minimum forecast at 4 degrees. Many people were seen sipping cups of tea, around fires outside. Locals said the thick blanket of fog accompanying the cold was causing road accidents. Meanwhile, train services have been disrupted as well upsetting travel plans of many. The sudden dip in temperatures is said to have been caused by snowfall in the Himalayas and has adversely impacted the upper half of the country. Dec 20, 2014

BJP's Ravinder Raina attacked by PDP workers in Kashmir

Nowshera, Dec 20 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Nowshera constituency Ravinder Raina was allegedly attacked last night by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) workers. The BJP-PDP workers clash has reportedly left three BJP workers and two PDP workers injured. Following the incident, Raina was at first admitted to the Sub District Hospital of Nowshera. From there he was later referred to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu. Eye witness and Raina's driver said that the attackers were in large numbers and were shouting anti-BJP and pro- PDP slogans. BJP leaders of Jammu and Kashmir have reportedly condemned the attack and stated that the police will take legal action in this case. Dec 20, 2014

PM Modi urges for large voter turnout in Jharkhand, JandK

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): As the voting kick started on Saturday for the fourth phase of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the people to cast their vote in large numbers. "I urge all those voting in the 5th and final phase of J-K and Jharkhand Assembly polls to turnout in record numbers and vote," tweeted Prime Minister Modi. In Jammu and Kashmir, voting is taking place for 20 Assembly seats in border district of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri. Five ministers of Omar Abdullah government along with 213 other candidates, and a number of former MPs and MLAs are in the fray. In Jharkhand, polling is underway for 16 constituencies spread over 6 districts of Dumka, Godda, Sahebganj, Jamtara, Deoghar and Pakud in Santhal Pargana region. Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling. Dec 20, 2014

MEA strips Devyani Khobragade of her charge, puts her on 'compulsory wait'

New Delhi, Dec 20 (ANI): In yet another trouble for Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, the External Affairs Ministry has stripped her of her duties as Director in the Development Partnership Division of the MEA for making unauthorized statements in the media. She has been placed under a 'compulsory wait'. MEA Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that the action taken against Khobragade is related to an ongoing inquiry against her in a vigilance case. The vigilance case against Khobragade is underway on charges that she had failed to disclose that her husband is a US citizen and that she has got US passports for her two children. The government action means Khobragade remains in service but has no job for now. She could also face further administrative action. Dec 20, 2014