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SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: The Jammu & Kashmir administration late on Tuesday revoked the detention of former CM and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti after 14 months and eight days. However, it didn’t mention any reason for her release before the end of the three extra months for which it had been last extended on July 31 this year.

Mehbooba had been detained under the J&K Public Safety Act of 1978 on August 5 last year after the Centre nullified Articles 370 and 35-A of the Constitution and bifurcated J&K into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Her case was to come up in the Supreme Court on Oct 15. A reply had also been prepared, but it was decided that it was better to release her before the next hearing, sources in Delhi told TOI.

The UT home department order, effective immediately, said the “government hereby revokes the detention order of 5.2.2020 issued by the Srinagar district magistrate, which was last extended by the government for three months on July 31”. The order was signed by Shaleen Kabra, principal secretary to the J&K government. “Ms Mehbooba Mufti being released,” government spokesman Rohit Kansal said in a tweet.

The process to release Mehbooba Mufti appears to have its origins in J&K LG Manoj Sinha’s visit to New Delhi in the last week of September. “Obviously the long detention of Mufti came up for review during the LG’s meetings with the central government brass in Delhi, and it seems the overall opinion, particularly within the home ministry, favoured her release,” an officer of the J&K administration said in New Delhi.

It was only after the LG returned to Srinagar from Delhi that inputs were sought from various agencies — both Central agencies as well as the J&K administration and police — on whether the current ground situation in the UT was conductive for her release. Sources in the central intelligence agencies said the move to end her detention had been in the offing for at least a couple of months, with IB having favoured it, but a final decision was taken only after home minister Amit Shah had reviewed the matter with the LG after the end of his hospitalisation.

Mehbooba Mufti was being detained at her official residence, Fairview Bungalow, which had been declared a subsidiary jail. Mufti and Omar Abdullah were initially lodged at Hari Niwas Palace but Mufti was later shifted to a government hut at Chashme Shahi, and then to a VIP government house at Maulana Azad Road at the onset of winter last year before being moved to Fairview.

In August last year more than 40 mainstream leaders, including former CMs Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, and top politicians like Sajjad Gani Lone, were detained by the government under the J&K PSA to avoid any “incitement of violence” after the nullification of Article 370.

National Conference president and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah was the first to be released, in February this year, followed by his son Omar Abdullah after the government revoked the Public Safety Act applied against them. However, Mehbooba Mufti was not released and was instead shifted from VIP government accommodation at Maulana Azad Road to Gupkar Road.

Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were initially lodged in Hari Niwas Palace but Mufti was later shifted to a government hut at Chashme Shahi, and then to a VIP government house at Maulana Azad Road at the onset of winter last year.

Iltija Mufti, Mehbooba’s daughter tweeted: As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, I’d like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough times. I owe a debt of gratitude to you all. This is Iltija signing off. May Allah protect you.”

As Ms Mufti’s illegal detention finally comes to an end, Id like to thank everybody who supported me in these tough…

— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) 1602604532000

NC vice-president Omar Abdullah said in his tweet that he was “pleased to hear that @MehboobaMufti Sahiba has been released after more than a year in detention. Her continued detention was a travesty & was against the basic tenets of democracy. Welcome out Mehbooba.” Sajjad Lone, too, tweeted to say it was “great news” and that she had “been through a very tough time”.

I’m pleased to hear that @MehboobaMufti Sahiba has been released after more than a year in detention. Her continued…

— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) 1602605382000

Sources in Delhi said all agencies favoured Mehbooba’s release as they felt the conditions were right as law and order had improved vastly and “no adverse impact or trouble was expected following the ex-CM’s release from detention”. The absence of any law and order disturbance after Dr Abdullah and Omar Abdullah were released is also said to have added to the agencies’ confidence.

The end of Mehbooba’s detention is expected to help revive political activity in J&K, something that “political appointee” Sinha had aimed for when he took over as the new LG from ex-bureaucrat G C Murmu.

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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2+2 talks: India, US clinch defence pact on satellite data




NEW DELHI: India is set to sign a military agreement with the United States for sharing of sensitive satellite data, the defence ministry said on Monday, as New Delhi tries to narrow the gap with the powerful Chinese military.

The deal will be signed during the top-level 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper arrived in New Delhi earlier today for talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Live updates: India-US 2+2 dialogue

The high-level visit comes at a time when India is locked in a serious military standoff with China along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

The landmark defence pact, known as Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation, or BECA, will allow India access to topographical, nautical and aeronautical data for better accuracy of weapons like missiles and drones.

It would also allow the United States to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on US-supplied aircraft to India, an Indian defence source said.

US companies have sold India more than $21 billion of weapons since 2007 and Washington has been urging the Indian government to sign agreements allowing for sharing of sensitive information and encrypted communications for better use of the high-end military equipment.

“The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) will be signed during the visit,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Rajnath Singh and his US counterpart Mark Esper held talks on various defence and security issues ahead of 2+2 dialogue between both the countries scheduled on Tuesday.

The India-US talks on military issues here on Monday were “fruitful” and aimed at further deepening defence cooperation between two largest democracies in the world, Rajnath said after his meeting.

In its statement, the defence ministry said Singh and Esper reviewed bilateral defence cooperation spanning military-to-military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing and defence trade.

The ministry said the two ministers also called for continuation of existing defence dialogue mechanisms during the pandemic, at all levels, particularly the Military Cooperation Group (MCG).

They also discussed requirements of expanding deployments of liaison officers in each other’s facilities.

Apart from strengthening military-to-military cooperation and boosting partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, the issue of expeditious supply of contracted weapon systems by the US to India figured prominently in the deliberations.

The sources said, while deliberating on regional security challenges, the two sides briefly touched upon India’s border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

The India-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years. In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

The two countries inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provide for deeper cooperation.

The two countries signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.

According to the US government, India maintains the largest fleet of C-17 and P-8 aircraft outside of the US, and as of 2020, Washington has authorised more than $20 billion in defence sales to India.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Availability of graveyards, cremation grounds should be as per community population: Sakshi Maharaj




UNNAO(UP): In yet another statement that may stoke a controversy, BJP‘s Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj has said the availability of graveyards and cremation grounds should be in proportion to the population of communities living in an area.

Addressing a nukkad meeting for his party‘s candidate for the Bagarmau assembly bypolls, Sakshi Maharaj said, “If there is only one Muslim in a village, the graveyard is very big. You people, on the other hand, cremate your dead on the side of a farm or Gangaji. Is this not unfair?”

“Graveyards and cremation grounds should be as per population,” The Unnao MP said.

There should not be any test of “our patience and decency”, he added.

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Hathras case: SC to deliver verdict on Tuesday on pleas seeking court-monitored probe




NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce its judgment on Tuesday on a batch of pleas which have sought a court-monitored probe into the Hathras case, in which a Dalit girl was allegedly brutally raped and died of injuries, and transfer of trial to Delhi.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice A S Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian had on October 15 reserved its verdict on a public interest litigation (PIL) and several intervention pleas of activists and lawyers who have argued that a fair trial was not possible in Uttar Pradesh as the probe has allegedly been botched up.

The lawyer, appearing for the victim’s family, had told the apex court that trial in the case be shifted out of Uttar Pradesh to a court in the national capital after completion of investigation.

A 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14. She died on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital during treatment.

The victim was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on September 30. Her family alleged they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites. Local police officers, however, said the cremation was carried out “as per the wishes of the family”

During the hearing in the apex court, activist-lawyer Indira Jaising had also raised apprehension of not having a fair trial in the case in Uttar Pradesh.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had referred to the affidavit filed in the apex court by the Uttar Pradesh government which gave details about the security and protection provided to the victim’s family and witnesses in the case.

The state government, which has already transferred the case to the CBI and has given consent to monitoring by the apex court, had filed the affidavit after the top court sought details on witness protection and on whether the victim’s family has chosen a lawyer.

Referring to the compliance affidavit, Mehta said that victim’s family has informed that they have engaged lawyer and they have also requested that government advocate should also pursue the case on their behalf.

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