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Amid Taliban talks, US special representative for Afghanistan reaches Delhi

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NEW DELHI: As the formal intra-Afghan negotiations, Taliban’s first ever direct talks with the

Kabul government

, commenced in Doha Monday, US special representative for Afghanistan

Zalmay Khalilzad

arrived in India to hold discussions on the peace process which is crucial for the US plans for withdrawal from the war-ravaged country by 2021.

India had on Saturday participated in the inauguration of the dialogue with foreign ministers

S Jaishankar

addressing the gathering virtually and MEA joint secretary J P Singh, who handles Afghanistan, travelling to Doha to physically attend the event. Despite its reservations about the US’ direct engagement of the Taliban, bypassing the elected government in Kabul, India had attended the US-Taliban peace deal in February this year too.

Khalilzad will call on

Jaishankar

on Tuesday and also hold discussions with foreign secretary

Harsh Shringla

on recent developments in Afghanistan.

The US envoy arrived in India from Pakistan where he had a meeting with Pakistan army chief Qamar Bajwa. According to Pakistan, Khalilzad “greatly” appreciated Pakistan’s role in the ongoing peace process and said that it could not have succeeded without Pakistan’s “sincere and unconditional support”.

While India, with its $3 billion development assistance commitment to Afghanistan, has been supportive of the peace talks in Doha, it remains concerned about Pakistan’s links with the Taliban. Some of these concerns will be outlined before Zalmay Khalilzad in the meetings on Tuesday. In his address Saturday, Jaishankar had said India’s expectation was that the Afghan soil will not be used for any anti-India activity.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Govt tells why it stopped listing farm suicide cause

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NEW DELHI: The government on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that the national data on causes of suicides in the farming sector had become “untenable” with several states and Union Territories reporting ‘nil’ suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers, and was therefore not published separately.

Reply to a query from Congress MP P L Punia seeking confirmation of and reasons for NCRB having done away with listing causes for farmers’ suicides in its annual report on ‘ Accidents and Suicides in India’, Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said: “As informed by National Crime Records Bureau, many states/ UTs had reported “nil” data on suicides by farmers/ cultivators and agricultural labourers, even while reporting suicides in other professions. Due to this limitation, data on causes of suicide in farming sector was untenable and not published separately”.

As per the NCRB report, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported ‘zero’ suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers in 2019. This was also the case in 2018, with West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh and Puducherry returning ‘nil’ suicides.

Overall, 10,281 suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers were reported countrywide last year, down from 10,349 in 2018. Of the 10,281 suicides, 5,957 were by farmers or cultivators and 4,324 by labourers. Maharashtra accounted for the highest share (38.2%) in suicides related to the farm sector in 2019, followed by Karnataka (19.4%), Andhra (10%), MP (5.3%) and Telangana/Chhattisgarh (4.9% each).

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INDIA

LS passes FCRA Bill; govt says it’s not against any religion

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NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act to make furnishing of Aadhaar numbers of office-bearers of any NGO mandatory for registration and also effect other changes.

Amid concerns raised by various opposition members about The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, junior home minister Nityanand Rai asserted that the bill is not against any religion or NGO. The proposed legislation will also not stop foreign contributions in any way, he noted.

The bill, which also seeks to bar public servants from receiving funds from abroad, was passed after a discussion in the Lower House even as many opposition parties raised objections to the bill. According to Rai, there was misuse of funds by way of transferring the money to other entities and the bill seeks to curb such things. “We will stop misuse of funds,” he stressed.

Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there is a political agenda in bringing the bill and claimed that things are being done to protect PM-CARES Fund. TMC’s Sougata Roy said the bill was to tighten all the organisations getting funds from abroad. When the SC has said that Aadhaar was not compulsory, then “why should you (government) make Aadhaar compulsory,” he asked.

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INDIA

‘385 Pakistanis among 409 to get citizenship’

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NEW DELHI: As many as 385 Pakistanis, six Bangladeshis, 5 US nationals and 3 Malaysians were among the 409 foreigners granted Indian citizenship until September 17 this year, the government told Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Among the countries whose nationals became Indian citizens in 2020 are Indonesia (2); and Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, UK, Tanzania, Iran and Switzerland (all one each). Junior home minister Nityanand Rai said a total 2,729 foreigners were granted Indian citizenship since 2017. Most of these were from Pakistan, with 2,120 Pakistani were granted Indian citizenship between 2017 and September 17 this year.

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