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NEW DELHI: As a mark of respect to Cabinet Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who passed away on Thursday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday announced that the National Flag will be flown at half-mast on Friday in Delhi and Capitals of all States and UTs where it is regularly flown, and also on the day of the funeral at the place where the funeral will take place.

According to MHA, it has also been decided that State Funeral will be accorded to Paswan.

Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) founder Ram Vilas Paswan passed away at the age of 74 on Thursday. His Son Chirag Paswan broke the news on his Twitter handle. Paswan recently underwent heart surgery in Delhi. He has served as the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in central government.

Reactions from the political fraternity pouring condolences for Paswan and termed his demise as a great loss for Indian politics and country.Paswan who emphatically raised issues concerning the Dalits and voiced concerns of the common man.

Union Minister of State (MoS) for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said, “Ram Vilas Paswan ji had a big heart. He strengthened his Lok Janshakti Party and worked towards building a Dalit army in the country. A Dalit leader of our country has left us today, this is a great loss for our society. My deepest condolences to his family.”

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “I want to remember that in 1977 when the Lok Sabha elections were held after the Emergency, Ram Vilas Paswan ji won by more than 5 lakh votes. My humble tribute to him. The country lost one of its true sons.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that Paswan’s absence in Indian politics and Union Cabinet will always be felt.

“Modi government will be committed to fulfill his dream of the welfare of poor and development of Bihar. My condolences to his family and supporters. I pray for the peace of the departed soul,” he said.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “The demise of Ram Vilas Paswan ji is very sad news. He used to fight for all the Dalit and backward groups throughout his life. He was very active in the cabinet. He had great faith in Prime Minister Modi ji.”

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the Country lost one of its tallest leaders who always advocated for downtrodden, poor, SCs-STs.

“Whether he was in govt or in Opposition, he always represented poorest of poor. I pray to God to give peace to his soul and strength to his family.”

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda said, “We saw him as a firebrand leader, who used to worry about poor and the person at the bottom of the society. Regardless of his ministerial post in any govt, he always befriended all parties. May his soul rest in peace and God gives strength to his family.”

A nine-time member of Lok Sabha, Paswan remained a prominent leader in national politics for over four decades since he entered Lok Sabha from Bihar’s Hajipur in 1977 with a record margin. The victory also made it to the Guinness Book of Records.

The seventy-four-year-old leader was a sitting member of Rajya Sabha from Bihar and had been elected to the Upper House of Parliament in 2010 also.

Bihar Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a release stated that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has condoled the demise of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

“Kumar states that Paswan was a tall personality of Indian politics – sharp orator, popular leader, able administrator, a strong organiser with an affable personality. Kumar stated that it is a personal loss to him,” the release said.

Former Bihar Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Rabri Devi said, “May God provide peace to him and strength to his family. This is a loss for the entire politics in Bihar, people are sad. The entire RJD is sad that such a tall leader has left us. Our entire family is gloomy.”

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “Today, Chirag Paswan needed Ram Vilas Paswan ji the most when he passed away. Our deep condolences to his family, we are standing with them. I started my political career with Paswan ji, did many election campaigns as RJD and LJP were in an alliance in 2010.”

Meanwhile, Yoga Guru Ramdev mourned the death of Union Minister and the founder of Lok Janshakti Party Ram Vilas Paswan and said that he fought for the welfare of people.

“May his soul rest in peace. He fought for the welfare of the poor. I am deeply saddened by Ram Vilas Paswan ji’s untimely death. Had a two-decade-old relation with him. Spoke with his son Chirag Paswan. Prayed to God to give his family the strength to bear the loss,” Ramdev said.

Rajya Sabha member and Congress General Secretary Mallikarjun Kharge said, “I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear about the sudden demise of Ram Vilas Paswan ji. I convey my deepest and heartfelt condolences to his family on this loss. I have known Paswan ji for many years now and I consider this as a personal loss to me. ”

“This is also an irreparable loss not just to the people of Bihar but to the entire country. The poor, marginalised and the depressed classes would probably feel this loss more keenly especially during these times of great uncertainty.His contributions towards the upliftment of the depressed will always be remembered,” Kharge added.

Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis called LJP chief Chirag Paswan and paid their condolences over the demise of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

Born on July 5, 1946, near Khagaria, he completed a master’s and a law degree. He was selected as deputy superintendent of police but decided to pursue a career in politics.

Described as weathercock of Indian politics, RJD leader Lalu Prasad had described Paswan as “mausam vigyanik (weather scientist)” for his ability to correctly predict the political winds.

A parliamentarian with strong debating skills, Paswan did not believe in holding his punches during a political attack but his words did not violate the norms of parliamentary decency.

As Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Paswan took measures against overpricing and reducing the use of plastic in the packaging of water bottles.

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

Pakistan still a haven for terror, India says on FATF decision eve

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NEW DELHI: With the ongoing plenary of terror watchdog FATF likely to decide on Friday if Pakistan should remain in its grey list, India reiterated that Islamabad continued to provide safe haven to terrorist entities and individuals.

The government also said Pakistan had not yet taken any action against several terror entities and individuals, including those proscribed by UNSC like Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and Zakir-ur-Rahman Lakhvi. All indications are that Pakistan will remain in the grey list for not fulfilling all its commitments to check terror financing and money laundering.

As the MEA said in its statement, it’s understood that Pakistan has addressed only 21 action items so far out of the 27-point FATF Action Plan.

“Six important action items are yet to be addressed,” said spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding it was well known that Pakistan’s a haven for terrorists. All six remaining points are said to be related to terror financing.

The issue of Pakistan’s compliance is being looked at the virtual FATF plenary meeting that will get over on October 23. As the official said, Parisbased FATF makes public announcements of its decisions according to its rules and procedures after its Plenary meeting.

“FATF has well laid out standards and procedures for putting a country in its Black List and Grey List. After a country is put on a List, an action plan is given to it and the country concerned is expected to fully complete the action plan within the stipulated time. Those found wanting in implementing their obligations are held accountable and subjected to appropriate action,” he said.

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INDIA

LAC stand-off: India rejects China’s demand, but talks on

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NEW DELHI: As India and China maintain stable but confrontational positions in eastern Ladakh, the external affairs ministry on Thursday said that “the immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas”.

The two sides are reportedly engaged in high-level talks to resolve the stand-off. According to sources, China has been asking for a de-escalation of armoured and artillery units before disengagement. That is unacceptable to the Indian side because China has a much easier route to re-arm its troops, unlike India.

“India and China continue to have discussions through both diplomatic and military channels to peacefully resolve the issues along the LAC in India-China border areas. This is in keeping with the agreement reached between the two foreign ministers during their meeting in Moscow on September 10,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

Srivastava also referred to the last round of diplomatic parleys between India and China on September 30 and the seventh round of military talks on October 12.

“The two sides have reiterated their desire to maintain dialogue and communication through military and diplomatic channels, and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution for disengagement as early as possible,” he added.

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INDIA

Covid: Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka too say they’ll give free vaccine doses

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NEW DELHI: A Covid vaccine might still be some time away, but it’s already raining promises of free vaccination across states. Hours after BJP’s election manifesto for Bihar offered free coronavirus vaccination to all if the NDA retained office, at least two states — Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — vowed to vaccinate every citizen for free while a third — Madhya Pradesh — reserved its commitment for the poor.

Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami was first off the blocks, promising free vaccination for all as and when a mass-produced vaccine was made available.

DMK president M K Stalin promptly accused the CM of “trying to show off”, saying it was the responsibility of any government to safeguard people during a pandemic by making available critical vaccines free of cost.

“EPS did not have the heart to offer a dole of Rs 5,000 to the common people who lost their livelihood (during the lockdown)” he said. With bypolls to 28 MP seats just 11 days away, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan jumped onto the bandwagon late on Thursday and announced it would be free for the poor.

“BJP has said a very good thing in Bihar. And I am saying the same thing here. Let the corona vaccine come, every poor person in MP will be administered the vaccine for free,” he said at a poll rally in Gwalior. Around 9.30pm, he took to Twitter to reiterate the promise, inviting criticism from Congress.

In Karnataka, the vaccine would be free for everyone if and when commercially available, health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said. State health and family welfare minister K Sudhakar said the state was working with experts on a plan of action for distribution of the vaccine, including determining which vulnerable groups must be covered first.

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