2019, February, Newsletter

Newsletter Issue Feb 26, 2019





India carried out pre-dawn strike on a terror camp across the Line of
Control, according to reports. The strike was carried out at around 3:30
Tuesday morning by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets.

The aircraft dropped 1,000 kg laser-guided bombs on a major terror camp
across the Line of Control, completely destroying it, news agency ANI
reported, quoting Air Force sources.

India’s operation comes two week after the terror attack in Pulwama in which
over 40 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed when
a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed exploded a car full of bombs next
to a security convoy.

Pakistan on Tuesday alleged that Indian Air Force aircraft crossed the Line
of Control and were forced to turn back after Pakistan Air Force scrambled
into action. Pakistan Army spokesperson, Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted
Tuesday morning alleging that more than one Indian Air Force jet ‘intruded’
into Pakistani territory from Muzaffarabad sector. Ghafoor said, “Facing
timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force, (IAF jets) released
payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or

One of the first from the Congress party to tweet out, Abhishek manu Singhvi
said: “Indian Air Force Strikes at Balakot don’t have official word yet but
the Helter skelter by Pakistan seems like something big has happened. The
IAF has gone beyond POK & into Pakistan near their capital while they were
busy counting alms received from Saudi & China.”


Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday dedicated the national War Memorial
at the iconic India gate complex in New Delhi to the fallen soldiers who
laid down their lives in teh several wars India has fought since
Indepemndence. In heart of New Delhi, the memorial is spread over an area of
about 40 acres.

The layout of the National War Memorial located behind the India Gate canopy
and across the National Stadium consists of four concentric circles,
radially outwards, namely the ‘Amar Chakra’ or Circle of Immortality,
‘Veerta Chakra or Circle of Bravery, ‘Tyag Chakra’ or Circle of Sacrifice
and ‘Rakshak Chakra’ or Circle of Protection.

The Veerta Chakra zone facing the 156.5-m obelisk is housed inside the
sunken area, and a flight of steps takes visitors down to it from the
surface level.

Its design draws inspiration from the ‘Chakravyuh’ formation and boasts of
four thematic concentric circles with a tall ceremonial obelisk at its
centre bearing the eternal flame.

It has the busts of 21 awardees of the Param Veer Chakra (PVC), country’s
highest wartime gallantry medal which dot the Param Yoddha Sthal built close
to the main memorial on the northern side of the India Gate’s C-Hexagon

There are 6 bronze murals located in the Veerta Chakra zone, depicting
famous battles fought by the armed forces. The battles depicted in bronze
relief works are — Battles of Gangasagar, Longewala, Tithwal, Rizangla, and
Operations Meghdoot and Trident.

Sixteen walls have been constructed in the Tyag Chakra for paying homage to
the 25,942 battle casualties. The names of soldiers who have made supreme
sacrifice have been inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets arranged
in a circular pattern.

The outermost circle called Rakshak Chakra comprises rows of more than 600
dense trees with each tree representing many soldiers who guard the
territorial integrity of the nation round-the-clock.

The Prime Minister attacked his political opponents while dedicating the
Memorial to the nation. He said: “They made the Army and national security a
mode of earning. Perhaps they could not find anything by remembering the
martyrs, so it was easy to forget them. From Bofors to helicopters, all the
probes reaching the same family speaks volumes. Now these people are using
all their strength to see that the Rafale aircraft does not come to India.
In the next few months when the country’s first Rafale will fly in India, it
will destroy all the conspiracies they hatched.”

“For several decades, there was a demand for a national war memorial. There
were a few efforts, once or twice, in the last few decades. But nothing
concrete happened. With your blessings, in the year 2014, we started the
process to construct the National War Memorial and it is to be inaugurated
even before the scheduled time,” Modi said.


Two former J&K Chief Ministers, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and National
Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah, Monday warned that any tinkering of
Article 35A would trigger political upheaval, with Mufti underlining that
“it would be difficult for those who raise the flag of this country to even
shoulder it” in the state.

Article 35A bars Indian citizens, other than those who are permanent
residents of Jammu and Kashmir, from seeking employment, settling in the
state, acquiring immovable properties or undertaking any trade or business
if the state makes any law to that effect and it cannot be challenged before
any court.

Five petitions challenging Article 35A are before the Supreme Court. The
Court is likely to hear these petitions this week

Omar Abdullah too said if the special constitutional character of the state
is fiddled with, the situation would be worse than Arunachal Pradesh. “If
you play with Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, the situation would turn
worse than Arunachal Pradesh. I am not threatening you. I am telling you the
truth. My duty is to warn you, rest is your choice,” he said.

Abdullah said he was told that the J&K government had taken over a city
hotel to turn it into the administrative headquarters fearing that the
“situation would turn out of control”.


Two days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi asked chief ministers of
Congress-governed states to file a review petition in Supreme Court against
the top court’s order seeking eviction of people from tribal and
forest-dwelling communities, whose claim for forest land have been rejected,
the BJP has swung into action.

On Monday, BJP president Amit Shah spoke to CMs of all BJP-governed states
and directed them to file a review petition.

In successive tweets on Monday, Shah stated, “I have spoken to all CMs of
BJP ruled states in the situation arising out of Supreme Court’s order on
eviction of Tribals living in Forest Areas. The states will be soon filing
review petition and care will be taken to safeguard the rights of our
tribals and prevent eviction.. I would also urge them (forest-dwellers) not
to fall in the trap of rumours from usual suspects.”

On February 13, the apex court asked chief secretaries of the states
concerned to file affidavits stating whether people against whom rejection
orders were passed have been evicted, and if not, to state the reasons. On
February 20, the court ordered 21 states to inform it on action taken over
the eviction.




US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un hold a second summit
this week with no real expectation of a final deal on ridding the North of
nuclear weapons but hope raised on Monday for an official peace on the
peninsula at long last.

The two leaders are due to meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, on
Wednesday and Thursday, eight months after their historic summit in
Singapore, the first between a sitting US President and a North Korean

There they pledged to work toward the complete denuclearisation of the
Korean peninsula, but their vague agreement has produced few results.

On the eve of his departure for Vietnam, Trump said he believed he saw eye
to eye with Kim and that they had developed “a very, very good
relationship”. But he appeared to play down any hope of a major
breakthrough, saying he would be happy as long as North Korea maintained its
pause on weapons testing. “I’m not in a rush. I don’t want to rush anybody,”
Trump said. “I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re


The top US envoy for peace in Afghanistan met a senior Taliban leader in
Qatar on Monday as the two sides resumed talks to end 17 years of war
despite the insurgents’ continued refusal to deal with the Kabul government.

Zalmay Khalilzad, named last year to lead the US peace effort, met Mullah
Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban and the movement’s
political chief, for the first time in Doha. Talks were expected to run for
four days.

Sources said it was not clear whether Baradar would attend all meetings,
which diplomats in Kabul said were expected to focus on clinching a
ceasefire before the onset of spring prompts an escalation of fighting, as
in previous years.




Announcing a major breakthrough in the Pulwama terror attack in which 40
CRPF personnel were killed, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said
that it had identified the owner of the vehicle that was used by the
attacker who has been claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed to be its recruit Adil
Ahmed Dar.

The NIA said Monday that the Maruti Eeco car was last sold on February 4,
just 10 days before the attack, to one Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara
in Anantnag, who is now absconding and is suspected to have joined Jaish.

The 22-year-old, sources said, has been associated with militant groups in
the Valley for the past two years. Investigators are trying to ascertain
when did he come in contact with JeM and Dar.

NIA investigators identified the vehicle used for the blast with the support
of forensic and automobile experts. The official said that the agency is
learnt to have also traced the source of funds for buying the vehicle. “We
have some details on logistics which is being verified,” said an NIA

In a recent social media post, Sajjad can be seen holding guns claiming to
be part of the JeM suicide squad. The post also mentions the name of Afzal
Guru who was hanged in 2013 after being convicted for his role in 2001
Parliament attack said to be the handiwork of JeM.

NIA sources said the car was bought on February 4 for the attack and had
been driven from Anantnag to Pulwama where it was packed with an IED. “It is
suspected that Dar and Sajjad Bhat knew each other. Both have been claimed
by JeM to be their operatives. Both are of the same age group as well,” a
senior NIA officer said.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Monday that two Western security
officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, “said that an experienced
bomb maker from Pakistan most likely travelled across the border and built
an unusually powerful bomb for the young Kashmiri to detonate.”


Slamming “Kashmir apologists” in academia and the intellectual sphere, Union
Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh on Monday said there is “no place
for anti-India intellectualism”, which has, in recent times, “become a
favourite pastime for some failed scholars and academics, who feel tempted
to use Kashmir as a convenient subject to seek intellectual pretensions”.

Even a democracy such as the US does not allow such intellectual views that
“tend to wreck the nation”, Singh said, speaking during an interactive
session at Government Degree College in Udhampur, J&K.

He said, “Mediocre (scholars) who are unable to earn recognition as
intellectuals or writers through the mainstream have found a convenient
option of delivering an anti-India lecture to appear different from others,
or to write a book on Kashmir and seek overnight recognition.” Such
“so-called intellectuals”, he said, are guilty of promoting violent
terrorism by “spreading intellectual terrorism”.

Coming down heavily on “Kashmir apologists”, whether in academics or in
politics, Singh exhorted researchers to go through statements made by these
academics and intellectuals after the Pulwama attack. He said all such
statements are vague, generalised and generic, without naming Hurriyat or
separatists or Pakistan, or calling a terrorist a terrorist.


A parliamentary panel yesterday asked Twitter to ensure that the upcoming LS
polls are not influenced by foreign entities and to address issues like
political bias on a real-time basis after which the messaging platform
agreed to appoint a nodal officer to work closely with the Election

While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey skipped appearance before the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Information Technology, its vice-president and head of
global policy Colin Crowell was allowed to represent the micro-blogging site
at the meeting. This followed a personal letter written by Dorsey to the
panel head and BJP leader Anurag Thakur who read out its contents.

The panel reportedly asked Twitter to ensure that Indian elections are not
undermined and influenced by foreign entities. Thakur, they said, stressed
that Twitter must work on real-time basis to address issues.

WhatsApp and Instagram have been summoned for an appearance on March 6.


Making an entry into the airport business, Adani Enterprises won bids for
operating five of six airports that were put up for privatisation by the
government late last year.

The financial bids for five airports were opened Monday and the Adani group
emerged with the winning bid for Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur,
Thiruvananthapuram and Mangalore airports. While the bidding process for
Guwahati was also conducted, the bid could not be opened as the Guwahati
High Court granted a stay against the privatisation process.

The government had invited bids from private players to operate these
airports for 50 years on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. The
Airports Authority of India (AAI) adopted the per-passenger fee model this
time, which is a modification of the revenue-sharing model that was used
earlier in the privatisation of airports such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore
and Hyderabad.

The airports business in India is dominated by two private sector players
GMR and GVK so Adani’s entry is seen as fostering competition. The new
per-passenger fee model, under which airport operators need to pay fixed
charges per passenger on monthly basis to AAI, is being seen as an
improvement over the revenue-share model used so far, since it offers
sufficient incentives for the operator.

There were 26 bids from a total of nine companies for these five profitable
airports, which handled a total of around 3 crore passengers last year.
Adani Enterprises bid was significantly higher than the next set of bids in
the tendering process for these five airports, which included: GMR Airports;
National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Zurich Airport
International; PNC Infratech; Autostrade Indian Infrastructure Development
Pvt Ltd; AMP Capital; I-Investment Ltd; Kerala State Industrial Development
Corporation Ltd (KSIDC); and Cochin International Airport.


Millions of passengers can now access live feed of how their meals are being
cooked and packed at railway kitchens on an online dashboard, which was
launched by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday.

The portal, Rail Drishti Dashboard, will also have information about
movement of trains, freight and passenger earnings, stations and tickets.
The website is user friendly and people can closely observe the condition of
various facilities and lodge complaints, Goyal said.

“The portal will give information about trains, stations, tickets sold and
enable the public to watch live feed from IRCTC kitchens across the
country,” he said.


“Period. End of Sentence”, an India-set film on the taboos around
menstruation, won an Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject category at the
91st Academy Awards ceremony.

The film, backed by Indian producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, is
about women in India fighting against the deeply-rooted stigma around
menstruation and delving upon the work of real life ‘Pad Man’ Arunachalam

The 26-minute film, currently streaming on Netflix, follows girls and women
in Hapur outside Delhi and their experience with the installation of a pad
machine in their village.

Directed by award-winning Iranian-American filmmaker Rayka Zehtabchi, the
film is created by The Pad Project, an organisation established by an
inspired group of students at Oakwood School in Los Angeles and their
teacher Melissa Berton.

In a surprise win, Peter Farrelly’s biographical comedy-drama ‘Green Book’
received the Best Picture honour at the 91st Academy Awards, upstaging award
season favourite ‘Roma’.

Alfonso Cuaron, however won the Best Director award for ‘Roma’

Rami Malek won the Best Actor trophy for his performance in ‘Bohemian
Rhapsody’, while British actor Olivia Colman upstaged Glenn Close to win the
Best Actress award for her role in Yorgos Lanthimos-directed ‘The

Marvel Studios produced ‘Black Panther’ became the first superhero film to
Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.


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Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which
we can perform without thinking about them. – Alfred North Whitehead


A guy was driving when a policeman pulled him over. He rolled down his
window and said to the officer, “Is there a problem, Officer?” “No problem
at all. I just observed your safe driving and am pleased to award you a $100
Safe Driver Award. Congratulations. What do you think you’re going to do
with the money?”

He thought for a minute and said, “Well, I guess I’ll go get that drivers’

The lady sitting in the passenger seat said to the policeman, “Oh, don’t pay
attention to him – he’s a smartass when he’s drunk and stoned.”

The guy from the back seat said, “I TOLD you guys we wouldn’t get far in a
stolen car!”

At that moment, there was a knock from the trunk and a muffled voice said,
“Are we over the border yet?”

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