Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC - 24th September 2023


National News

1. Kovind-led panel to seek views on holding simultaneous polls 

  • High-level committee, headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind, to examine the possibility of simultaneous elections, held its first meeting on Saturday and decided to invite national and regional political parties to submit their views and suggestions on the issue. 
  • The first meeting of the committee was to prepare an action plan and discuss holding consultations with stakeholders. Preparation of working papers and research on the subject for an in-depth discussion was also on the agenda of the meeting.
  • “Outlining the modalities of working of the committee, the committee decided to invite recognised national political parties, political parties having government in the States, political parties having their representatives in Parliament, other recognised state political parties for seeking suggestions/viewpoints on the issue of simultaneous elections in the country, the Law The ministry said in a statement. 
  • “In addition, the committee will also invite the Law Commission of India to make their suggestions/viewpoints on the issue 
  • First mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has argued that it will save thou- sands of crores by not holding elections every year and that development will continue unhindered by the model code of conduct coming into force frequently 

2. No basis for delay in implementing women’s quota Bill: Rahul Gandhi

  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said there was no justification for a delay in the implementation of the Women's Reservation Bill, for which the BJP government at the Centre is trying to find excuses such as the new Census and delimitation of constituencies. In the other The central government was not willing to conduct a caste census, he said. 
  • Mr. Gandhi said at a conference of Congress workers here on Saturday that his party wanted the women’s quota to be implemented “today itself”. He said the special session of Parliament was convened to change the name of India to Bharat, but when the BJP realized that there was With no public support for this, the government brought the Bill.
  • Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot with Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader Rahul Gandhi, State president Govind Singh Dotasra, and others during the foundation stone-laying ceremony at the new party office in Jaipur on Saturday, XASHOK GEHLOT can be implemented in Parliament and State Asrespond. Assembly today itself, but the BJP government wants to postpone it for 10 years,” Mr. Gandhi said. 
  • He said the Congress had raised some legitimate questions about the lack of a “quota within the quota for OBC women and the conditions for Census and delimitation, but the government was not willing 
  • “The Prime Minister talks about the OBCS 24 hours a day. If we want to give representation to the OBCs in proportion to their population, how can we do it without a caste census,” Mr. Gandhi said. He also demanded that the next Census be conducted with the identification of the caste census in Parliament, his voice suppressed. As many as 90 MGN Secretaries were currently running the Central government, but only three of them belonged to the blem OBCs, he said, citing it as evidence of the OBCS being sidelined. 
  • Alleging the existence of a relationship between Mr. Nar Gautam Adani and Mr. Modi, Mr. Gandhi asked party workers to raise the issue with BJP workers, who, he said, would run me away. when confronted with the subject. 
  • Mr. Gandhi, accompanied by party president Mallikarjun Kharge, earlier laid the foundation Stone for the new headquarters office of the Pradesh Congress Committee. 

3. NIA arrests one person from Bih Manipur with alleged links to Myanmar terror outfits 

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday secured custody for five days of a person arrested for his alleged involvement in a transnational conspiracy by Myanmar-based terror outfits to wage war against the Indian government by exploiting the current ethnic unrest in Manipur.
  • The accused, identified as Moirangthem Anand Singh, has been booked in a case registered suo Motu by the NIA on July 19.
  • The agency alleged that Myanmar-based leaders of insurgent groups and proscribed terrorists organizations were recruiting over-ground workers (OGW), cadres, and sympathizers to carry out attacks on security forces and opposing ethnic groups. “For this purpose, the aforementioned leadership is collecting arms, ammunition, and explosives by unlawful means, including plunder and pillage of government facilities and resources,” the agency said. 
  • Singh was arrested in Imphal on Friday, soon after a special NIA court granted him bail and four others. On September 16, they were arrested by Manipur Police while they were allegedly traveling in a vehicle in police camouflage, carrying sophisticated arms. The police alleged that Singh worked as an OGW for the People’s Liberation Army in Manipur.
  • The court, however, observed that the investigating officer could not show a strong prima facie case against all accused for the commission of alleged offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code. 
  • The arrests have led to protests in Manipur, demanding their release. Protesters claimed the the accused were village defense volunteers. 

4. PSU engineers who build equipment for ISRO await salary 

  • Nearly 3,000 employees of the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), including technicians and engineers who helped produce many pieces of equipment for the Indian Space Research Organisations, including the launch pad of Chandrayaan-3, are now forced to sell food and garments to make a living. These employees have not been paid for the past
  • 20 months. HEC, based in Ranchi, Jharkhand, is India’s oldest public sector unit that supplies equipment to all major steel plants. The firm has three divisions – the Heavy Machine Tools 
  • Plant, the Heavy Machine Building Plant (HMBP), and the Foundry Forge Plant-that jointly manufacture equipment. 
  • With salaries unpaid, many HEC employees have withdrawn much of their provident fund, with some even having to take loans to get by. Their children were pulled out of private schools and admitted to government schools because of the high fees.
  • Devendra Kumar, who has been working with HEC since 1993, is forced to sell readymade clothes, including gamchas (towels) and ladies' garments in Shalimar Bazaar near old Vidhan Sabha. Mr. Kumar, who still works at the HMBP, attends the office from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., following which he doubles as a salesman. 
  • ‘Difficult to survive’ “It is difficult to survive without a regular salary. I am unable to support the education of my three children who are pursuing degree courses in Ranchi. My eldest son wanted to study medicine, but we did not have money for his admission,” he says.
  • Ajay Mirdha, another HEC employee, sells momos at Argora Chowk. His entire family is involved in this business. His wife Manju Devi runs the stand in the morning, and son Priyanshu Mirdha handles it in the afternoons along with his sister Priyanka Kumari, a Class IX student. 
  • In December 2013, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ranchi to address an election rally in which he expressed his disappointment over the condition of the HEC. Ten years later, not much has changed as some employees say it is on the verge of shutting down. 
  • P.D. Mishra, general secretary of the HEC Officers Association, said the absence of a full-time chairman-cummanaging director has led to the delay in payment of salaries. Mr. Mishra said officials of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. Have been given additional charge of the HEC. 

5. Testimony’ video clipping of 9 A.K. Antony’s wife creates flutter in political circles 

  • A video clipping that shows Elizabeth Antony, wife of veteran Congress leader A.K. Antony, stating that she no longer harbors any political ill will towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has created a flutter in political circles.
  • The video, released by the Kreupasanam Marian Shrine, a Christian retreat center in Kerala, also shows Ms. Antony attributed the sudden rise of her son Anil Antony in the BJP to a ‘divine intervention’. She also credits St. Mary for the inclusion of her husband on the Congress Working Committee, besides his recovery from various ailments. According to her, Mr. Antony could overcome his initial shock and eventually accept the entry of his son in the BJP with composure due to divine blessings. 
  • As per her statement, her son was approached by the Prime Minister’s Office with an offer to join the BJP 
  • The Congress and the BJP leadership are yet to respond to Ms. Antony’s statement. “Mr. Antony is no way responsible for statements by his wife,” said Cheriyan Philip, a senior Congress leader and a close associate of Mr. Antony. 

6. Cong. Irked at CPI lawmaker’s suggestion to not repeat Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad 

  • A suggestion made during internal discussions at the recent national executive meeting of its INDIA ally, the Communist Party of India (CPI), that senior leader Rahul Gandhi not seek reelection from the Wayanad Lok Sabha con- stituency in 2024 has annoyed the Congress, especially it’s Kerala unit. 
  • CPI Rajya Sabha MP P. Sandosh Kumar reported remarks from September 19 that Mr. Gandhi’s return to Wayanad could be taken as a sign of weakness given the changed political situation in the country from 2019 found few takers in the Congress. 
  • Congress general secretary (organization) K.C. Venugopal dismissed the suggestion saying it is the prerogative of the party’s central election committee to decide on candidature and “no one else needs to have an opinion on this”. State Congress chief K. Sudhakaran called the suggestion “unfair”, insisting that the Kerala unit wants Mr. Gandhi to contest again from Wayanad. 
  • The party credits Mr. Gandhi’s presence for doubling of its Lok Sabha tally from eight in the 2014 poll to 16 in 2019. His absence could adversely impact the electoral fortunes of many Congress candidates. 
  • Kerala’s unique political situation, with INDIA allies Congress and the Left parties engaged in a direct flight and the BJP’s pre- sence nominal, precludes the necessity of a seat-sharing pact in the State. 
  • Mr. Kumar, according to sources, had reasoned that Mr. Gandhi was no ordinary candidate and many look up to him, especially after the support he garnered during the 4,000- km-long Bharat Jodo Yatra, as the natural leader of the alliance. Instead of Wayanad, he should contest from one of the Hindi- speaking States and take the BJP head-on, he said.
  • The CPI MP refused to comment on his remarks at the party national executive but told The Hindu, “It is advisable that Mr. Gandhi not contest against the Left, which is an integral part of the new movement. 

7. BJP president J.P. Nadda to visit Bihar on October 5

  • BJP president J.P. Nadda is scheduled to visit Bihar on October 5 to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of Kailashpati Mishra, one of the founding members of the party and a towering BJP leader from Bihar, at Bapu Sabhagar in Patna. Ever since the ruling party, JD(U), had snapped its ties with the BJP in August 2022 to form mahagatbandhan (grand alliance) with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RID), Congress, the Left and other smaller parties, senior BJP leaders have been visiting the State regularly to pep up party leaders and workers for the upcoming poll. The BJP is also planning to organise several events across the State till November 3 to celebrate Mishra’s birth anniversary. 

8. 423 acres decluttered in Union government offices in two years

  • Central government office space of the size of 320 football fields has been cleared of clutter and junk in the past two years as part of two special drives, data show. Now, the Centre has decided to scale up efforts to reach a “saturation level” in all offices as part of its upcoming ‘Special Campaign 3.0’. 
  • According to data available with the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), around 90% of the flies across Union Ministries and attached offices are being generated in electronic mode. 
  • So far, two campaigns have been completed, and the third drive will take place from October 2 to 31. “The Special Campaign 3.0 seeks to institutionalize swachhata [cleanliness] and minimize pendency in government with a saturation approach. The previous two campaigns have enabled significant trans- formation of government offices with timely redres- sal of public grievances, digitisation of office spac- es, and archiving of office records,” V. Srinivas, Secre- tary, DARPG, said. From October 2021 to July 2023, a total of 184.66  Old computers, printers, desks, tables and other items were sold in the market and the government earned 595.57 crore.  M. PERIASAMY 
  • lakh square feet or 423 acres of space was freed up in Union government offices. Old computers, printers, desks, tables, cupboards, and vehicles, among other items, were pulled out and sold as scrap in the open market. The government earned *595.57 crore from the process. An official said that the Indian Army sold used trucks in the open market, earning *212 crore.
  • “There were a few important files, dating back to the British era, which were discovered during the cleanliness drive. One of the files pertained to Partition. The file was handed over to the NAI and they have preserved the record,” the official said. Data show that there has been a massive increase in the number of e-files generated in the past three years. In 2020, the total number of e-files generated across Ministries stood at 14.27 lakh, which increased to 31.90 lakh e-files till June 30, 2023. 
  • The number of MP references that were settled rose from 8,765 in October 2021 to 19,973 in July 2023.
  • In all, 37,781 MP references have been closed so far. Similarly, the number of public grievances that were settled in the past two years stood at 40,31,289. 

International News 

9. US. says it ‘wants to see accountability’ in Nijjar death case 

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” about allegations that India had a role in the death of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia and that it wanted to see accountability for the incident. 
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had told the country’s parliament on Monday that there were reasons to believe agents of the Government of India were involved in killing Nijjar in June. India has denied the allegations.
  • “It would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investi- gation,” Mr. Blinken told reporters in New York on Friday. “We want to see accountability and it’s impor- tant that the investigation runs its course and leads to that result.” 
  • World leaders and diplomats have gathered in the city for the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
  • The U.S. was not just consulting with the Canadians, but cooperating with them in the investigation, according to the Secretary. “I think the most productive thing that can happen now is to see this investigation move forward, be completed,” he said, adding that he hoped that “our Indian friends” would cooperate.. 

10. Thailand’s reformist party picks replacement leader

  • The Thai reformist political party which won the most seats at this year’s election appointed a temporary leader on Saturday, a week after blocked Prime ham- Minister challenger Pita Limjaroenrat resigned as party head. 
  • Thai voters disenchanted with a near-decade of rule by military-linked parties backed the Move Forward Party at the May poll. 
  • But there was a long political stalemate as conservatives thwarted Mr. Pita’s bid to secure the Prime Minister’s job and he was seen suspended as an MP.
  • The Move Forward now sits on the Opposition benches after Pheu Thai – the election runnersup formed a coalition government with some pro-military parties while property mogul Srettha Thavisin was endorsed as Prime Minis- ter. Under current rules, the Opposition leader must have a MP.
  • On Saturday, Chaithawat Tulathon, 44 who was previously the party’s secretary general was elected MFP leader.
  • “This is a temporary restructure. For legal reasons Pita Limjaroenrat can not perform the duty of opposition leader and be an MP in parliament at the mo- ment,” Mr. Chaithawat told reporters. 
  • “I am willing to step down once Pita resumes the position as an MP.” 
  • Mr. Chaithawat studied environmental engineering at university and has been involved in Thailand’s progressive political movement for more than five years, co-founding MFP’s predecessor party.
  • Mr. Pita will take on a chief adviser role for the party and vowed to travel the nation and meet with international stakeholders until he can resume as an MP in parliament. 
  • "I ask everyone who believes in Move Forward, continue believing in us,” he told reporters. 
  • Mr. Pita was suspended in July while waiting for the Constitutional Court’s ruling over his alleged ownership of shares in a now-defunct media company. 
  • MPs are prohibited from owning media shares, under the Thai constitution. 
  • The 43-year-old faced a barrage of political and legal challenges since the MFP’s shock success in the May election. 
  • He dropped out of the premiership race after his first bid faltered at the hands of the juntaappointed Senate, and his second chance was denied by parliamentarians. 

11. Prominent Uighur intellectuals disappear in Xi Jinping’s China 

  • There are so few of us left.” I)- ham Tohti reflected during a walk through the lush grounds of Beijing’s Minzu University, which specializes in the study of China’s ethnic minorities, during a conversation in 2013. 
  • Mr. Tohti, a Uighur economist and intellectual from China’s vast western Xinjiang region, had become among the few minority Uighur scholars with a wide following in Xinjiang, where independent voices had been gradually stifled, particularly after Han-Uighur riots in 2009. 
  • Mr. Tohti’s university lectures and writings focused on ethnic relations, Xinjiang’s economy and why, despite the region’s energy riches, unemployment was rife among Ham Tohti, left, and Rahile Dawut are bridges to the Uighur community. A young Uighur amid an influx of Han residents. 
  • Only a few months after that conversation, Mr. Tohti’s apartment that sits right outside the campus gate was raided, and he was taken away. He was put on trial and sentenced to life in prison in September 2014, charged with “separatism”. 
  • According to rights groups, more than 300 leading Uighur intellec- tuals have been jailed since Xi Jinping came to power in 2013. Many were swept up in the extraordinary mass interment of Uigh- urs between 2016 and 2018, when hundreds of thousands were sent to detention centers. The Chi- h nese government initially denied the camps, but la- ter claimed they were for “Vocational training”.
  • On Friday, the Dui Hua human rights foundation reported that Rahile Dawut, another prominent Uighur intellectual, who like Mr. Tohti had become D a rare independent chroni- cler of Uighur society, had been sentenced to life in C prison “for endangering la state security”. Ms. Dawut was detained in late 2017 and tried a year later.
  • A renowned anthropologist who studied folk traditions in Xinjiang, she had founded the Ethnic Minorities Research Centre at I Xinjiang University College of the Humanities in 2007. Like Mr. Tohti, as an academic at a prominent state-run university, she had worked with Communist Party administrators through the early 2000s. In Ms. Dawut’s case, she was even a Communist Party member and had worked on projects with the Ministry of Culture.For long, Beijing had, to some degree, valued as bridges to the Uighur com- munity independent voices like Mr. Tohti and Ms. Dawut, who had cham- pioned a Uighur identity within the framework of China’s ethnic autonomy laws which were passed in the 1980s and remain, on paper, guarantors of ethnic rights even if their enforcement has often failed them.
  • However, the shift under Mr. Xi has been so pronounced that even these voices have now been deemed as threats to the state. Friday’s news of Ms. Dawut’s sentence, observed by James Millward, professor at Georgetown University who researches Xinjiang, had clearly rebuffed the Chinese government’s “claim that its oppression in the Uighur region is about terrorism, job creation or poverty.” 

12. No specific information shared by Canada: MEA

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Canada shared with India “many weeks ago” evidence that it may have been behind the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil and wants New Delhi to commit constructively with Ottawa to establish the facts in the “very serious matter
  • The External Affairs Ministry in Delhi said: “No specific information has been shared by Canada on this case, either then or before or after… I think we have made it very clear, we are willing to look at any Specific information.” 

13. NIA confiscates properties of Parti Khalistani terrorist Pannun 

  • The National Investigation Agency confiscated the properties of a “designated individual terrorist”. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, in Amritsar and Chandigarh. Pannun is the self-styled general counsel of the U.S.-based proscribed outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). He currently operates from Canada. • The action has been taken against Pannun following the confiscation orders passed by an NIA special court in Mohali. This is the first time that properties of an absconding accused of the NIA have been confiscated. 
  • He has been on the NIA’s radar since 2019, when the agency registered its first case alleging his major role in promoting and commissioning terror acts and activities, and spreading fear and terror in Punjab and elsewhere in the country through threats and intimidation tactics.
  • On February 3, 2021, non-bailable warrants of arrest were issued against Pannun by the NIA court and he was declared a “proclaimed offender” on November 29 last year.
  • According to the NIA, its probe has revealed that the SFJ was misusing cyberspace to radicalize gullible youth and investigate them to undertake terrorist activities. 
  • He was the main handler and the controller of the outfit, which was declared an unlawful associa- tion by the Home Ministry in a notification dated July 10, 2019.
  • Pannun was designated an “individual terrorist” on July 1, 2020. 
  • He has been accused of exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over social media to indulge in pro-Khalistan activities, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country. “In recent days, Pannun has been in the news for issuing blatant threats to the senior Indian diplomats and government functionaries in public forums. Pannun had also threatened the Canadian Hindus a few days, asking them to leave Canada and claiming that they had adopted a jingoistic approach’ by siding with India,” the NIA said.
  • The properties confiscated by the agency include 46 kanal (5.7 acres) of agricultural land at Khankot village in Amritsar and one- fourth of the share of a house in Chandigarh.
  • “These properties were jar, earlier attached following Car orders passed by the government in two different fre cases. The properties have now been confiscated on the court’s orders under Section 33(5) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention d Act…,” the agency said, adding that it was related to the case registered on April 5, 2020.
  • The case was originally registered on October 19, 2018 by the Sultanwind police in Amritsar (City) and later taken over by the NIA, which filed a chargesheet against 10 accused persons, including Pannun. 

14. Take action against 26/11 perpetrators: India at UNGA 

  • India has strongly responded to Pakistan after its caretaker leader raked up Kashmir in his address to the UN General Assembly, with New Delhi saying the “home and patron” to the largest number of proscribed terrorist entities in the world should take credible action against perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks instead of engaging in “technical sophistry”. 
  • First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Petal Gahlot exercised India’s Right of Reply in the UNGA after Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar raised the Kashmir issue in his ad- dress at the General Debate during the high-level 78th session of UNGA on Friday. “Pakistan has been the home and patron to the largest number of internationally proscribed terrorist entities and individuals in the world. Instead of engaging in technical sophistry, we call upon Pakistan to take credible and verifiable action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks, whose victims await justice even after 15 years,” Ms. Gahlot said. 
  • Mr. Nadda added, “In any case, this isn’t the first time Congress is anti-Parliament. They tried in 1975 and it failed miserably.” 

State News

15. Mobile Internet back in Manipur 

  • Over 140 days after mobile Internet was suspended in ethnic vio- lence-hit Manipur, the service was restored on Saturday.
  • An order by the State government said the number of violent incidents had gone down from the initial days, and “law and order has improved in the State”. 
  • The restoration of the services was announced by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh in Imphal. 
  • Broadband Internet services were res- tored with several conditions on July 25. Mobile data services were allowed on numbers approved by the government all this while.
  • The BJP-ruled State witnessed the longest-ever Internet shutdown this year after Jammu and Kashmir, which saw communication blockade for 552 days, after the removal of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. 
  • In the past, after public interest litigation petitions were filed, the High Court of Manipur had directed the State government to restore the services partially. 
  • A government official said Saturday’s order was in line with the gradual easing of curbs on the Internet as it was also affecting the economy. 
  • After the ban was lifted, several videos of violence pertaining to the first few days of strife flooded social media platforms. The official said they were keeping a watch on the activities on the Internet and such videos were not “unexpected”. 

16. Gujarat to provide relief for farmers hit by floods

  • Amid a raging controversy over the sudden release of water from the Narmada dam, which inundated the districts of Narmada, Bharuch, and parts of Vadodara on September 17-19, the Gujarat government on Saturday announced a special relief package for farmers hit by the floods, with standing crops destroyed, and property and houses damaged. 
  • The Opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party have accused the government of not following the manual for the process of releasing water from the dam. Both Opposition parties termed the floods a “man-made calamity”.

17. Skill development case: TDP chief moves SC challenging HC order refusing to quash FIRS against him 

  • Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu on Saturday moved the Supreme Court against an Andhra Pradesh High Court order refusing to quash the FIRS registered against him in the multi-crore skill development ‘scam’ case.
  • The special leave petition said the FIRS were “an orchestrated campaign of regime revenge to derail the largest Opposition in the State”. “The petitioner (Naidu) was suddenly named in the FIR regis- tered 21 months ago, ar rested in an illegal manner 
  • Development institutions by the Skill Development Corporation in collaboration with private firms. 
  • N. Chandrababu Naidu was deprived of his liberty, motivated only by political reasons. Even though there is no material against him, the petitioner is being made to suffer an illegal and motivated investigation in clear violation of his fundamental rights,” the petition added. 
  • The case involves all ChiefMinister. Alleged misappropriation in the establishment of skill
  • The TDP president’s lawyers had argued that the prosecution did not get the mandatory prior sanction under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act before instituting cri minal proceedings against Mr. Naidu.
  • The defense side contended that prior sanction from the Governor was required as the decision to undertake the project was part of the official duties of Mr. Naidu when he was 
  • The TDP leader was arrested on September 9. 

18. Jat reservation issue to dominate today’s ‘Mahasabha’ in Meerut 

  • Former MLA and president of the Uttar Pradesh All India jat Mahasabha Pratap Chaudhary on Saturday said a State-level confe- rence of the group, to be held in Meerut on Sunday, will highlight the issue of Jat reservation.
  • “The issue of Jat reservation is at the core of our meeting. It is a social gathering, where we will dis cuss issues related to our community with elders. Lakhs of people will participate,” Mr. Chaudhary said. 
  • Senior Jat leaders, including former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya- pal Malik and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, and leaders of various khaps are likely to participate in the conference. 
  • The social outfit has also invited activists from other States, including Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi. 
  • The Jat community is considered a dominant caste group across western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
  • It plays a key role in regional politics. In U.P., a sub-regional party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), having its presence in some pockets, including Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut, enjoys the community’s support. Since 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also made inroads within the caste group.

19. Chargesheet filed in Pragati Maidan tunnel robbery case 

  • A 1,417-page chargesheet naming 11 accused was filed on Saturday before the Patiala House Court in connection with the robbery that took place at Pragati Maidan tunnel.
  • An officer said the hearing in the case has been fixed for October 3.
  • As per the chargesheet, on June 24, four men on two motorcycles waylaid a cab as it was passing through the Pragati Maidan tunnel and stole a bag of cash at gunpoint from a delivery agent working with a private firm and his associate. Following an investigation, 11 men were arrested while a juvenile was apprehended. 
  • Two motorcycles, a car, ₹25.08 lakh in cash, two pistols and three live cartridges were among the items recovered. 

20. Tamil Nadu, Kerala to join hands to count endangered Nilgiri tahr 

  • After launching Project Nilgiri Tahr last year for the conservation of the State animal, Tamil Nadu is now working on a standardized protocol to count the endangered population of southern India's only mountain ungulate. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department will also propose to its Kerala counterpart to conduct a synchronized census, as the animal is only found in select habitats in the two States. 
  • For the first time, drones may be used in the census, as the Nilgiri tahr prefers montane grasslands, with steep and rocky terrains at an altitude between 300 meters and 2,600 meters above sea level. There are believed to be a little over 100 of the animals living in highly fragmented habitats in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, ranging between the Nilgiris in the north and the Kanniyakumari hills in the south, according to a 2015 study by WWF-India.
  • The Tamil Nadu Forest Department is proposing two censuses: one in November, after the southwest monsoon, and the other in March or April, after the calving season. If Kerala agrees to the proposal, the second census is likely to be a synchronized count. Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary of the State's Environment, Cli- mate Change and Forest Department, said this would be the first compre- hensive, exclusive census for the State animal.. 
  • Experts felt the bounded count and double-observer survey methods could be priority models. Camera traps could also be used in difficult terrains.
  • "The Project Nilgiri Tahr team, during field visits, experimented with drones to observe tahr groups. Contrary to our perception, they were not disturbed by the drone flown around 100 meters above them," said S. Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests and Field Director of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve 
  • Besides anthropogenic pressures, Nilgiri tahr habitats face threats from invasive plants such as wattles, pines, and eucalyptus in the grasslands. 
  • A component of the Project Nilgiri Tahrs aims to study the possible causes of the lumpy skin disease that has been observed in the animal, and suggest a remedy for it. 

21. Union govt. out to dilute MGNREGS: Kerala Minister

  • Five months into the finan cial year 2023-24, Kerala has only 6.5% of funds allotted by the Centre for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gua- rantee Scheme 90 (MGNREGS) left, Kerala Mi- nister for Local Self-Government M.B. Rajesh told The Hindu. This is a problem that repeats each year because of the progressive budget cuts by the Union government, Mr. Rajesh said, accusing the Narendra Modi government of diluting the spirit of the program. 
  • He was in town to lodge a protest with Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh and seek more funds for the State. "The Centre should at least give to us funds equivalent to what we spent in the previous financial year," he said. 
  • Person days reduced In 2021-22, Kerala got funds for 10.5 crore person days (person days is defined as the total number of work days by a person registered under the scheme in a financial year). In 2022-23, this was reduced to 9.61 crore per- son days and in the ongoing financial year, it has been further cut down to only six crore person days.
  • "Each year, within a few months into the financial year, owing to the high demand, we spend a significant chunk of our funds and are left pleading with the Centre to meet the gap," he added. The problem, he stated, lies in the Centre's approach, he said. 
  • He criticized the government's attempt to curtail the scheme for States like Kerala that report low cases of "extreme poverty." 

22. Assam CM’s wife files 10-cr. Suit against Gaurav Gogoi 

  • Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, the wife of Assam Chief- Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, has filed a 10- crore defamation suit against Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi for “false” allegations of irregularities in a food processing project. Senior advocate Devajit Saikia, her counsel, said that the case had been filed at the Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division) of Kamrup Metropolitan on Friday and it will be moved on September 26. Mr. Saikia said that the process to seek subsidy under the project had not been initiated at all and for which, a show-cause notice was slapped on his client’s firm. Controversy erupted after a report came out alleging nearly 17 acres of agricultural land was reclassified as industrial land 

Miscellaneous News 

23. Kaobal Gali-Mushkoh Valley opens up for tourists 

  • The high-altitude passes of the Gurez valley in north Kashmir, out of bounds to civilians, was once prone to frequent shelling from Pakistan. Now, it is all set to connect with the Mushkoh valley, in Kargil's Drass Sector, Ladakh, the site of the war in 1999. The 130- km road has been opened up for tourists. Kaobal Gali, the highest pass at a height of 4,166.9 meters in Gurez, connects the two valleys. 
  • As the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan continues for the 43rd month, people are hopeful that with prevailing peace will come commerce tourism. from Bilal Lone, 38, is a herder of zumba yak (smaller than other yaks) from the Gurez valley's Buduaar village. He is upbeat about tourists playing on one of the traditional routes connecting the Kashmir valley with Ladakh this year, both made Union Territories after Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was dissolved, revoking Jammu and Kashmir's special status. 
  • Mr. Lone, also a 'panch' (one of five elected representatives) from Angaikot village, was 14 years old when his family fled the Tulail valley, adjoining Mushkoh, for several months as shells from Pakistan pounded his village 
  • The Gurez valley, with about 38,000 residents, is already setting a record by hosting 50,000 tourists this year so far. "This is a huge leap, as the highest number of tourists that ever visited Gurez in a year, prior to 2020, was 5,000," Owais Ahmad, Deputy Commissioner, Bandipora, said. 
  • The administration sees huge tourist potential in opening the Gurez-Drass road to tourists. 
  • "The road connecting the two valleys is being maintained under Beacon (by the Border Roads Organisation) and at present is a fair-weather road. From Abdulin onwards (near Khao Bali Gali), the stretch can be traveled on only by 4x4 vehicles. We recently organized a 4x4 car ally on the route," Mr. Ahnad said.
  • Farah Zaidi, co-founder of Kashmir Off Road which or- ganises overland expeditions in the area, said the road offers a rare range of meadows and passes. "Anyone who loves adventure, thrill, and a landscape that is unique would love to take this route," said Ms. Zaidi.
  • The Gurez valley is one of few habitations in Kashmir where villages with only log houses exist, with no intervention of urban concrete materials. It is also home to ibex, musk deer and marmots. The meadows of Mushkoh offer boisterous wild tulip flowers and views of breath- taking glaciers. The valley is also home to the endangered Himalayan yew. 

24. Phone theft syndicate busted, 3 held 

  • A syndicate involved in stealing Cover 2,200 mobile phones from Delhi and selling them in Ban- gladesh has been busted, leading to the recovery of 112 phones and three arrests, the police said on Saturday. 
  • Among the accused, Akhil Ahmad and Nawab Sharif used to run a phone repair shop in south-east Delhi’s Jaitpur, while Sabir Sardar ran a similar shop in West Bengal’s Bongaon. Said DCP (South East) Rajesh Deo. A senior officer said the racket was busted during an operation by the Anti-Narcotics Squad of the South East district police against mobile thieves and snatchers. 
  • He added that Akhil and Nawab, both 25, were caught on Septem- ber 19, following a tip-off that they would come to a place under the Jaipur police station’s jurisdiction to deal in stolen phones.
  • They stole phones from unsuspecting citizens across Delhi and funneled them to Bangla- desh through West Bengal, the DCP said. 
  • Another officer said the accused used to steal only Android phones as they could not crack the security system iPhones. 
  • The two accused had sent hundreds of stolen phones to Kolkata, many of which were sent to the shop run by Sardar with another person. From there, these phones reached Bangladesh for sale. Following Akhil and The two revealed durNawab’s inputs, Sardar was later arrested.

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