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NEW DELHI: India will once again demand ‘complete de-escalation’ by China at troop face-off sites as well as along the entire frontier in eastern Ladakh, in accordance with the first in, first out’ principle, during the seventh round of military talks now slated for October 12.

But with China yet to show any real intent on the ground for de-escalation with a clear-cut de-induction timetable, India remains prepared with ‘high operational military readiness’ to deal with any contingency, said a senior defence official on Sunday.

The next two months are decidedly crucial because once the harsh winter fully sets in eastern Ladakh, it will willy-nilly bring to an end the ‘military campaigning season’ for either side to launch any full-scale operation in the high-altitude region.

“As of now, it’s difficult to predict how things will pan out. From December onwards, it will become very difficult for both sides to operate at those heights,” said another official.

“There will be vastly reduced operational efficiency. But our armed forces are geared to remain forward deployed throughout the winter, with operational logistics more or less in place now,” he added.

The October 12 military talks will be held in the backdrop of both sides agreeing not to further escalate tensions by sending additional soldiers to the frontlines during the sixth round on September 21.

The military dialogue, in which there was no breakthrough on the proposed de-escalation, was followed by another round of diplomatic talks. But China concurrently also upped the ante by once again bringing up its unilaterally defined line of actual control of 1959, which India has firmly rejected in the past.

During the seventh round of military talks, the Indian delegation will include Lt-Generals Harinder Singh and P G K Menon (who will take over from the former as the 14 Corps commander on October 14) as well as joint secretary (East Asia) Naveen Srivastava in the external affairs ministry.

The two armies, meanwhile, are keeping in regular contact at brigadier and battalion commander levels to avoid “misunderstandings and misjudgments” and prevent any accidental escalation after four incidents of warning shots being exchanged last month.

The PLA has been insisting Indian troops vacate the tactical heights they preemptively occupied on the ridge line stretching from Thakung on the south bank of Pangong Tso to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) on August 29-30.

But India has countered that it has to be “a whole of eastern Ladakh” de-escalation plan, including the “friction points” at Pangong Tso, Chushul and Gogra-Hotsprings as well as the heavy PLA build-up in the strategically-located Depsang-Daulat Beg Oldie sector, as reported by TOI earlier.

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

Daily news wrap: Cashback for not skipping EMIs, Trump casts ballot & more

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NEW DELHI: The finance ministry’s guidelines on the waiver of interest on loans up to Rs 2 crore where borrowers who didn’t opt for the moratorium will get an ex gratia payment or a cashback, US President Donald Trump casting his ballot in West Palm Beach, Florida are among the top stories of the day.

Here is a look at the top news stories from the day

1

Didn’t skip EMIs during lockdown? Get cashback from your bank: Government

The government on Friday spelt out the details of the waiver of interest on interest on loans up to Rs 2 crore where borrowers had taken moratorium during the lockdown and also made it clear that those who didn’t opt for it will get an ex gratia payment or a cashback.

The payment will be made to small businesses and individual borrowers with loans up to Rs 2 crore.

The finance ministry on Friday wrote to all RBI-regulated lenders, stating that the government has approved a “scheme for grant of ex gratia payment of the difference between simple interest for six months to borrowers in specified loan accounts” between March 1 and August 31, 2020. The lenders include banks, cooperative banks, housing finance companies and microfinance institutions.

2

Trump casts presidential ballot for himself

President Donald Trump cast an early ballot Saturday in the US election as he geared for another grueling day of campaigning.

Trump voted at a library serving as a polling center in Florida, where he has a home and to which he switched his residency from his native New York.

“I voted for a guy named Trump,” he said with a smile as he emerged.

Nearly 55 million Americans have now cast early votes as the coronavirus has made in-person voting more problematic.

3

IPL 2020: MS Dhoni vows changes after season of IPL ‘failures’

Three-time Indian Premier League champions Chennai Super Kings will be forced into major changes after a humiliating defeat to their arch-rivals Mumbai Indians, their veteran captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

Dhoni’s team suffered a crushing 10-wicket loss in Friday’s clash that is widely considered Indian cricket’s El Clasico drawing a huge TV audience.

“Whenever you’re not doing well, there can be a hundred reasons, but one of the main things you ask yourself is whether you’ve played to the potential you’ve got, no matter the conditions,” Dhoni said.

“And this year we haven’t. Cumulatively there have been batting failures.”

4

Kashmir off the table for future talks, India signals to Pakistan

This week India came down hard on Pakistan at the Commonwealth foreign ministers’ meeting, describing it as a “globally acknowledged promoter of state-sponsored terrorism” masquerading as a victim and dismissed Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s comments on Kashmir as a subject that was India’s “internal matter”.

The dismissive and undiplomatic brusque response has now become the template for Indian response to Pakistan’s repeated attempts to raise Kashmir, a position that has steadily solidified since the reorganisation of J&K in August last year.

While the commentary is not new, the clear signal to Islamabad is that it has no locus standi on Kashmir and is, in fact, in illegal occupation of PoK.

5

Govt extends due date for FY20 ITR filing by individuals till Dec 31

In a relief to taxpayers, the government on Saturday further extended the deadline for filing returns by individual taxpayers for FY 2019-20 by a month till December 31.

Also, the due date of furnishing Income Tax Returns (ITRs) for taxpayers whose accounts require to be audited has been extended till January 31, 2021.

The government had earlier in May extended various due dates for filing ITRs for FY 2019-20 from July 31 to November 30, to give compliance relief to taxpayers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said, “The due date for furnishing of Income Tax Returns for the other taxpayers [for whom the due date (i.e. before the extension by the said notification) as per the Act was July 31, 2020] has been extended to December 31, 2020.”

6

We are not anti-national, says NC leader Farooq Abdullah

National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which is fighting for restoration of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is an anti-BJP and not an anti-national front.

He said the aim of the People’s Alliance is to ensure that the rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are restored.

The statement came after the members of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration met at PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti’s residence in Srinagar for the first time after its formation.

After the meeting, People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, who also attended the meet, said that Farooq Abdullah has been chosen as the president and Mehbooba Mufti as the vice-president of the recently-floated People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.

7

China illegally occupies Nepal’s land at many places, India’s intelligence agencies sound alert

China has illegally occupied Nepal’s land at several places spreading over seven bordering districts and Indian intelligence agencies have sounded an alert in New Delhi.

The agencies have flagged that Beijing is fast moving forward and further pushing Nepali boundaries by encroaching more and more landmass. “The actual scenario could be worse as the Nepali Communist Party (NCP) is trying to shield the expansionist agenda of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” an internal intelligence agency report pointed out.

The report also talked about the Survey Department of Nepal flagging China’s attempts to grab land before Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli which was ignored.

8

Covid-19: Mumbai has more deaths but fewer cases than Bengaluru and Delhi

Age combined with underlying comorbid conditions—diabetes, kidney disease, obesity and hypertension — have emerged as the biggest contributors to Covid-19 deaths in the metropolis. Over 85% of the deaths in Mumbai have occurred in age groups above 50 though they account for only 44% of positive cases.

Doctors say a higher share of co-morbidities combined with stress endemic to Mumbai’s population could be blamed for its higher death toll. Compared to Mumbai which has 2.48 lakh cases in all, Bengaluru urban has nearly 3.2 lakh cases.

However, it has about a third of Mumbai’s deaths and a fatality rate of 1.15%. Similarly, Delhi with 3.48 lakh cases has a little over 6,000 deaths.

9

Nitish refrains from speaking anything against Chirag or LJP

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday addressed a poll rally in LJP founder Ram Vilas Paswan’s native Alauli assembly seat but refrained from speaking anything either against the party or its president Chirag Paswan who has been attacking him regularly.

After dissociating his party from the ruling NDA in Bihar, Chirag has been hitting out at the chief minister almost on a daily basis in his election meetings as well as in the social media, but Kumar has chosen not to react to him.

Kumar maintained the same approach and avoided making any reference either about Chirag or his party at his rally in Alauli during the day.

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INDIA

Mehbooba Mufti disrespecting Indian flag; Article 370 won’t be restored: Prasad

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NEW DELHI: The BJP on Saturday accused PDP president Mehbooba Mufti of “disrespecting” the Indian flag and asserted that the revocation of Article 370 was done constitutionally and that it will not be restored.

Her comments that she will not hold the tricolour till the Kashmiri flag is restored is “downright denunciation” of the national flag’s sanctity, senior BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister had on Friday said that she was not interested in contesting elections or holding the tricolour, the national flag, till the constitutional changes enforced on August 5 last year were rolled back.

She said she would hold the tricolour only when the separate flag of the erstwhile state is restored.

Prasad asserted that Article 370, which gave the erstwhile state a special status and was revoked last year, will not be restored.

It was removed following a proper constitutional process and both Houses of Parliament approved it with overwhelming numbers, he said.

Revoking it was our commitment to the nation and people have appreciated it, he said.

In many ways, Mufti has shown serious disrespect to the very image of India which the tricolour represents, he added.

The minister also hit out at other opposition parties, saying they have maintained a stony silence at her remarks showing serious disrespect to the national flag, even as they criticise the saffron party at the “slightest of issues”.

“This is hypocrisy and double standard,” Prasad said.

He claimed that the revocation of the Article 370 has led to increased development in the union territory with the weaker sections of society, like SCs, STs, OBCs and women, enjoying the same rights that they do in the rest of the country.

People participated in local polls in Jammu and Kashmir with joy and happiness, he said.

“Some people and families who used to rule with impunity and without accountability are going to have problems,” he said.

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President Kovind greets citizens on eve of Dussehra

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NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday greeted citizens on the eve of Dussehra, saying may the festival protect all from the evil effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and bring prosperity to the countrymen.

This festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil, he said.

“The festival is celebrated throughout India in different forms. This festival strengthens the cultural unity of India and inspires us to live in harmony, following the path of virtue and shunning evil,” the President said.

Kovind said this festival is also associated with the life and values of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram.

“His life is a shining example of morality and righteousness,” he said.

May this festival of joy and happiness protect us from the evil effects of the ongoing pandemic and bring prosperity and affluence to the countrymen, Kovind said.

According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement, the president said, “On the auspicious occasion of Dussehra, I extend my warm greetings and best wishes to all the fellow citizens in India and abroad.”

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