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Protests to continue at Indian university after student leader’s arrest Thousands rally across India as students at Jawaharlal Nehru University strike over Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest on sedition charge

Thousands of students joined protests, effectively paralysing the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, after Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on Friday following a demonstration that authorities have called anti-Indian.

The demonstration was held to mark the anniversary of the 2013 execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri man convicted of an attack on India’s parliament that left 10 people dead and was blamed on a Pakistan-based Islamic extremist group.A student faction linked to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) filed a police complaint, and Kumar was arrested following allegations that anti-Indian slogans were used at the demonstration.Thousands of students and teachers from several universities and colleges across India held rallies over the weekend to protest against the arrest. In the southern city of Hyderabad demonstrators clashed with rightwing student activists.Student groups have called for a strike on the sprawling JNU campus in the south of Delhi and very few people attended classes on Monday.Supporters are planning new rallies at JNU and elsewhere. The reaction of authorities to the protests at JNU – which is well-known for its politically active student body – comes against a background of what critics say is rising intolerance in India since Narendra Modi’s BJP came to power in a landslide election 2014.

The government has repeatedly been accused of seeking to repress free speechand of encouraging extremist nationalists who systematically intimidate critics.Lawyers shout slogans against Jawaharlal Nehru University student union president Kanhaiya Kumar outside court Delhi

Lawyers shout slogans against Jawaharlal Nehru University student union president Kanhaiya Kumar outside court Delhi. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

On Thursday, the home minister, Rajnath Singh, tweeted: “If anyone shouts anti India slogan & challenges nation’s sovereignty & integrity while living in India, they will not be tolerated or spared.”Ugly scenes broke out outside a Delhi courtroom on Monday when Kumar was produced, as several dozen lawyers and BJP supporters attacked students and reporters.A visibly shaken correspondent from the Indian broadcaster NDTV reported that several journalists and students were beaten, and she was threatened with physical assault as she attempted to record the violence on her phone.The BJP supporters chanted slogans, calling the reporters and students “anti-nationals” and demanding that they leave India and go to Pakistan, the country’s Muslim-majority neighbour.Kumar was arrested after Delhi police, who are under Singh’s authority, entered the university and searched accommodation blocks. They also demanded audio and video recordings of the demonstration in support of Guru. The student leader, who has denied making any anti-India comments, was remanded in custody for a further two days.India’s human resource development minister, Smriti Irani, supported Kumar’s arrest, telling reporters: “The nation can never tolerate an insult to Mother India.”

Some political commenters said the arrest was an attempt by the government to silence dissent. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the head of the Centre for Policy Research, a leading Delhi-based thinktank, said the decision to detain Kumar represents an open declaration by government that it will not tolerate any dissent.“[The government] is using nationalism to crush constitutional patriotism, legal tyranny to crush dissent, political power to settle petty scores, and administrative power to destroy institutions … the government’s disproportionate response smacks of tyranny of the highest order,” Mehta wrote in an opinion piece over the weekend.

Academic staff at the university defended the institution’s reputation. “Isn’t it unfair to brand the university as anti-national which has stood as an epitome of academics and democratic culture? Why tarnish its image by calling it a home to anti-nationals?” they said in a statement.Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at the university’s Centre for Linguistics, said universities should be “a place of debate and dissent”. “Ideas should compete with ideas, force and violence cannot be used to suppress ideas. Arbitrary arrests should stop and our internal mechanism should deal with [any] situations,” Kidwai told the Indian Express newspaper.

Educational, cultural and academic institutions are fast emerging as a key battleground between a broadly secular left and Hindu nationalists.Any event linked to Pakistan or the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir is likely to attract the attention of rightwingers.

In October Indian police were deployed to protect the launch of a book by a former foreign minister of Pakistan in Mumbai after a hardline local organisation said it would disrupt the event. The threat came only weeks after a Muslim man suspected of eating beef was lynched by a mob on the outskirts of Delhi.

Afzal Guru’s hanging is a highly emotive subject in Kashmir, which was effectively split between Pakistan and India shortly after the two states gained their independence from Britain in 1947. Many people in the Muslim-majority region believe he was not given a fair trial. There are demands for his remains, which were buried within a Delhi jail compound, to be returned to his family for proper burial in Kashmir.More than 60,000 people are thought to have died in a bitter 27-year struggle between separatists and Islamic militants, some backed by Pakistan, and Indian state security forces in Kashmir. The region remains restive, though levels of violence are much lower now than during the peak of the brutal conflict about 15 years ago.

The latest casualties were a teenage boy and a young woman killed during a demonstration that followed the death of a local militant in a gun battle with government forces in the south of Kashmir on Sunday, officials and eyewitnesses said.In the last 18 months there has been an increase in the number of local men – often teenagers joining militant groups in Kashmir, local officials say.

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Barack Obama Seeks Over One-Third Rise In US Cyber Security Funding

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Obama asked for $19 billion for cyber security across the US government, an increase of $5 billion over this year. (Reuters)
WASHINGTON:  President Barack Obama today sought a surge in funding to counter cyber security threats, as his top intelligence official warned Congress that computer attacks were among the most imminent security challenges facing the United States.

In his fiscal 2017 budget proposal, Obama asked for $19 billion for cyber security across the US government, an increase of $5 billion over this year

While the White House’s overall fiscal plan faces tough going in the Republican-controlled Congress, increased cyber security funding has won bipartisan support of lawmakers in the past.

The request comes as the Obama administration has struggled to address the growing risk posed by criminals and nation states in the digital world.

In Congress, Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, warned that cyber threats “could lead to widespread vulnerabilities in civilian infrastructures and U.S. government systems.”

The Obama initiative calls for a more than one-third increase from the $14 billion appropriated this year and would include $3.1 billion for technology modernization at various federal agencies.

Cyber threats are “among the most urgent dangers to America’s economic and national security,” Obama said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Tuesday.

The request for a cash infusion is the latest signal that the White House intends to make cyber security a priority in the last year of Obama’s presidency.

It follows a series of high-profile hacks against the government and companies like Sony Pictures and Target that were largely met with legislative inaction and administrative uncertainty on how best to address evolving cyber threats.

Those difficulties played out publicly last year when the Office of Personnel Management announced it had fallen victim to a hack that lifted sensitive information on roughly 22 million individuals from its databases.

The White House issued an executive order setting up a presidential commission on cyber security, which would make recommendations for strengthening defenses over the next decade. A new position of federal chief information security officer also would be established.

A government watchdog report last month concluded the government’s cyber defense system, known as Einstein, is ineffective at combating hackers.

Obama also signed another executive order creating a permanent Federal Privacy Council, which aims to connect privacy officials across the government to develop comprehensive guidelines for how personal data is collected and stored.

The president’s budget proposal also called for $62 million to expand efforts to attract and retain qualified cyber professionals working for the government.

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Aamir Khan to be the ambassador for Maharashtra’s ‘Jalyukta Shivar’; announcement today

Mumbai :

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Bollywood actor Aamir Khan is set to partner Maharashtra government for one of its flagship schemes- Jalyukt Shivaar, which is an ambitious Water conservation scheme of the BJP-led Government.

The announcement comes months after reports that the actor was chucked out of BJP-led government for his ‘intolerance’ remarks.

The official announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday when Khan will meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis at the government guesthouse.

According to sources, the project will see Khan proactively work with the government for its Jal Yukt Shivar scheme, which is also Fadnavis’ pet project. Reports also claimed that Khan was roped in for the dream project in May last year after he contributed Rs 11 lakh to the chief minister’s relief fund as donation to the scheme in 2015. 

The project will aim at making state villages drought free in five years through water conservation programmes.

Last month, BJP government had ended Aamir Khan contract as the brand ambassador for its Incredible India campaign after 10 years.

However, Twitterarti provided another option to the Maharashtra government. Social media called the government’s stand biased and hoped to see Nana Patekar as the face of the dream scheme. The posts went viral and the veteran actor trended on social media following the protests. Take a look at the tweets:

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Meet the man, a fraudster who owns 150 cars, 3,078 bank accounts, 700 acres land and much more

In what could be termed as the biggest revelation on an Indian businessman who has been named as a fraudster. As per an Economic Times report, Rose Valley Group’s CMD Gautam Kundu has a total of 700 acres land spread across 12 states, 23 hotels, 150-odd cars, including a dozen imported luxury vehicles, 900 branch offices and 3,078 bank accounts.

The businesses are spread across the nation; and include states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, MP, Tripura, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

The directorate, however, has started listing the properties and assets but investigators have alleged possibility of more possessions. They claim that the quantum of land Kundu owns could be over 1,000 acres.

The group, in the past few years, has gained a wealth of Rs 15,400 crore- six times higher than what the redundant Saradha group collected from people in Bengal, Bihar and Odisha.

The investigating agency, ED which is now looking into the complaints against the group, has accessed the software and bank data of the company. The bank details of the firm revealed that the group returned only Rs 900 crore to its investors on maturity. Yogesh Gupta, special director, ED, east confirmed to ET that it has filed a charge sheet in the matter.

The list of Kundu’s property, prepared by the investigating company claims that Kundu owns 15 acres in Assam, 10 acres in Madhya Pradesh, 110 acres in Tripura and around 100 acres in West Bengal. Also, it says that he invested in East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Burdwan, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri , Howrah, Bankura, North and South 24 Paraganas districts.

In East Midnapore alone, he has 12 plots. The group had also claimed to have bought property in Kolkata, Port Blair, North Lakhimpur, Ranchi, Durgapur, Siliguri, Mondarmani, Lataguri, Falakata, Midnapore, Tarapith, Old Digha, Silchar, Haridwar, Goa, Gaya, Jaipur and New Delhi.

Not just this, but some 23-odd hotels across the country, which includes luxury properties in Jaipur, Jalpaiguri, East Midnapore, Siliguri and Kolkata, were also listed. It has seven premium residencies at the northern fringes of Kolkata; a 6,000 square feet villa in Ranchi and a gold and diamond jewellery mall. The group has 900 branches spread over West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, Punjab, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh.

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JNU student union president held on sedition charges after ‘anti-India’ slogans were raised during Afzal Guru commemoration

Kankaiya Kumar, the president of the JNU students’
union, was arrested, charged with sedition and conspiracy, and sent to police custody for three days. The Delhi police might question the vice-chancellor in connection with the Afzal Guru commemoration row that hit the varsity when a group of left-leaning students organised a meet where pro-Kashmir and anti-India slogans were raised. The police arrested Kumar, after a case of sedition was registered following complaints
by BJP MP Maheish Girri and the right-wing students’
body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

 

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Ration card-digitisation complete, will ensure leak-proof PDS

The Centre has completed the process of digitisation of ration cards, which will help make the Public Distribution System (PDS) leak-proof, an official said on Friday.

The move will help track allocation of subsidised food grain to the beneficiaries, the union ministry for food and public distribution said in a release here.

“Almost 100 percent ration cards have been digitised. Over 42 percent of these are linked with Aadhaar cards to keep an electronic record of allocation of food grain to the beneficiaries through more than 77,000 ration shops,” union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said in the release.

“Over 54 crore people are being benefitted by Rs.2 per kg wheat and Rs.3 per kg rice after the implementation of the Food Security Act in 27 states. It has helped make PDS transparent,” Paswan said.

Paswan said all 36 states and union territories in the country had a system of online redress of PDS grievances and toll-free number for beneficiaries. He said huge paddy procurement has been made during the ongoing Kharif season.

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Modi to open Make in India Week in Mumbai on Saturday

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday inaugurate the Make in India Week 2016 being organised to give further momentum to the initiative, which has seen the country trump the US and China by attracting FDI worth $31 billion in the first half of 2015.

The prime ministers of Finland, Lithuania and Sweden will be among the top dignitaries from across the world who will be attending the Make in India Week being held from February 13 to 18, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement in the national capital.

Billed as the biggest promotional effort so far in the country of the government’s Make in India initiative, over 1,000 companies are expected to showcase their achievements at the event, which is themed “Innovation, Design and Sustainability”.
Around 70 countries will participate in the event, to be held at the Bandra-Kurla Complex here. Among these, Australia is sending delegation of 30 government and business leaders representing a range of expertise in multiple sectors.The event will also have various states and sectors making a pitch for investments through specially organised seminars.

During the event, America’s Time magazine will for the first time give away their Time India Awards selected under the three separate categories of innovation, entrepreneurship and intelligent manufacturing.

US-based Forbes magazine in their latest annual list of the best countries for doing business in 2015 has ranked India 97th out of 144 nations, behind Kazakhstan and Ghana, scoring poorly on categories like trade and monetary freedom and tackling challenges like corruption and violence.

Forbes said that while the country is developing into an open-market economy, traces of its “past autarkic policies” remain.

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Labour Party conference: Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper reveals plan for new ‘identity theft’ criminal offence

A new criminal offence of identity theft would be created by Labour in an effort to combat the dramatic rise in online fraud, shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper will announce today.

She will also call for tougher sentences for gangs behind cyber-crime, which last year claimed more than 12 million victims in Britain. Ms Cooper will tell the Labour conference: “The problem is escalating by the day. The police don’t have the skills, the equipment or the structures to cope.”

She will argue that the law has failed to keep pace with the rapid switch by fraudsters to online crime, leading to confusion over which charge to bring against culprits. Labour would fill the gap by drawing up an offence of identity theft, Ms Cooper will promise.

She will accuse Theresa May, the Home Secretary, of complacency over the issue and urge the Government to instruct the Sentencing Council to review the sentencing guidelines for e-crime. Her intervention follows a Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report which raised fears that sentences for identity theft were too lenient. It pointed to the 18-month and seven-month prison sentences handed to two hackers who cost Paypal more than £3.5m, suggesting they would have been jailed for longer if they had physically robbed a bank.

Ms Cooper will commit Labour to establishing an industry-backed body to combat online fraud. It would be modelled on the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which monitors the net for images of child sex abuse.

Peter Neyroud, a former Chief Constable who is a member of the IWF board, has been appointed by Labour to draw up plans for the watchdog.

Ms Cooper will say: “We live our lives online now, but criminals know that too. It’s a big risk for business – online trade should be a big area for economic growth – and it’s a big cost for all of us. When the credit card companies and banks write off so much fraud we all lose out from higher charges.”

She will say: “Families are already facing pressure and they will have to pay an ever higher price. It’s time the Government moved into the 21st Century and started to act.”

Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary, will today condemn the Government’s “reckless” plans to hand much of the work of the National Probation Service to private companies. He will claim that public safety will be put at risk by the move.

Mr Khan will say Labour’s priority would be to stop victims being treated like criminals, citing the example of the 13-year-old sex abuse victim described by a judge as “predatory”.

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IT specialists urged to help police

IT specialists should consider becoming police volunteers to help stop criminals trying to fleece Britons of hundreds of millions of pounds online, the Security Minister is to suggest.

James Brokenshire will say the Government wants experts with specialist skills not traditionally found in law enforcement to volunteer with the new National Crime Agency (NCA).

His speech comes after a police chief said forces should consider recruiting more unpaid special constables to help them cope with the Government’s budget cuts.

More than 46,000 reports of cyber crime were reported to the Action Fraud centre last year, amounting to attempts to defraud the public of £292 million, Mr Brokenshire is due to say.

“And we know that this is only a fraction of all crimes committed,” he will say, adding that it was “very difficult to give an accurate figure to the cost of cyber crime to the UK economy”.

Speaking to the Payments Council seminar on e-crime in central London, he will go on: “I would like to encourage you to think about secondment opportunities to the future National Crime Agency including in the National Cyber Crime Unit.

“The Government is also drawing up plans for ‘NCA Specials’ – enabling people with specialist skills and expertise not traditionally found in law enforcement to contribute some of their time to help protect the public.

“That might include, for example, people with up-to-date IT skills to support the NCA’s cyber crime capability.

“Through this means, we can share skills and knowledge on how we deal with cyber crime.”

His speech comes after Thames Valley Police chief constable Sara Thornton said forces will have to rely more on special constables and volunteers in the wake of Government budget cuts.

Forces will need to rethink the way they work with communities and whether community policing should be left solely to professional police officers and key staff, the vice-president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) added.

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Government emails targeted by cyber-gangs

Hundreds of government emails across dozens of departments were targeted by cyber-terrorists last year, according to a new report.

The Intelligence and Security Committee’s (ISC) annual report, said around 200 email accounts were attacked by cyber criminals across 30 different government departments. The report also revealed ‘key’ Ministry of Defence (MoD) data was stolen as part of a cyber-espionage attack.

There is growing concern within government at the rise of cyber-attacks, with ministers last year investing an additional £210m into its National Cyber Security Programme. It is understood many attacks originate in China and Russia, although Brazil and Iran are also thought to have sophisticated networks of criminals operating in this area.

The report stated the threat from cyber-attacks was at its ‘highest level ever’ and that it was expected to ‘rise further still.’

Cyber-attacks are often inflicted by perpetrators in different countries to where the crimes are committed, making it difficult for arrests and prosecutions to take place.

The report said the government departments were often attacked via industry supply chains, who hold government data on their own systems.

In its annual report to parliament, the ISC said the attacks

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