Azerbaijan and Armenia clashed again on Wednesday, a day after nearly 100 soldiers were killed in the deadliest fighting between the ex-Soviet republics since 2020.
At least 49 Armenian and 50 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the clashes on Tuesday, with both Yerevan and Baku blaming each other for the violence, which prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for calm.
The clashes have raised fears of another major armed conflict in the former Soviet Union, while Russia’s military is involved in the Ukraine invasion.
A full-fledged conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan risks entangling powers such as Russia and Turkey, as well as destabilising an important corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas, just as the Ukraine conflict disrupts energy supplies.
The Armenian defence ministry accused Azerbaijan, which is backed politically and militarily by Turkey, of launching a new attack on Wednesday.
“The situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border remained tense,” it added, restating Armenia’s position that Azerbaijan launched attacks on its sovereign territory.
Azerbaijan accused Armenia, which is allied with Moscow and hosts a Russian military base, of firing mortars and artillery at its military units.
“Our positions are periodically being fired against at the moment,” Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said. “Our units are taking the necessary response measures.”
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KCR’s national ambition: Telangana Rashtra Samiti is now Bharat Rashtra Samiti
Telangana Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samiti President K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday launched the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), the new name of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), marking his first step toward becoming a national party ahead of the 2024 elections.
The launch took place at 1.19 p.m. on Wednesday. The plan was materialised at the State General Body meeting of ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and district-level coordinators among other leaders at the party headquarters Telangana Bhavan in Hyderabad.
K Chandrashekar Rao presided over the meeting. JD(S) leader and former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy along with 20 of his MLAs attended the launch event at the TRS headquarters.
The party also made necessary amendments to its constitution in the same meeting and sent the resolution and the amended party Constitution to the Election Commission of India (ECI) which was accepted by the Commission.
Later in a press statement, KCR clarified the broad aspects for launching a national party. In the statement, he said, “It is not a hasty decision to float a national party. India is a union of states. Comprehensive development is possible only if the states and the country develop together.”
KCR outlined the two areas of his priorities: Gender and caste discrimination. “Due to gender discrimination, women, who constitute half of the country’s population, are not taking part in the development. Dalits could not take part in the development of the country due to caste discrimination. Both women’s power and Dalit’s power have been weakened and the development is not taking place.”
KCR indicated that his national party will thrive for bringing the fundamental changes in the society. He said, “Radiant India needs to be made. India will grow better than America if the resources in the country used at optimum level. We still have a good time. We will expand across the country.” KCR has planned to travel the country in a bid to expand his party’s base and also try to unite a fragmented Opposition. Maharashtra would be the first state where KCR is planning to travel.
Earlier in May this year, KCR in his bid to unite the Opposition to take on the BJP at the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, held a meeting with former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda in Bengaluru where he discussed an alternative political outfit to the BJP.
‘Elections in J&K after voters’ list compilation’
In a major announcement, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that the elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir with “full transparency” as soon as the work of compiling the voters’ list is completed.
Shah said that manner in which delimitation has been done in the region, representatives of the people’s choice will be elected. “As soon as the work of compiling the voters’ list is completed, elections will be held in J&K with full transparency.
Earlier the delimitation was done in such a way that only the representatives from the three families would be elected, no matter what you do. The delimitation that Election Commission has done, your own representatives will win the elections and rule,” Shah said while addressing a rally in Baramulla on the last day of his three-day visit to J-K.
Assembly polls to elect the government in the Union Territory are due since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A on 5 August 2019. The Centre while abrogating the special status of the region, had said that the status of state will be given to Jammu and Kashmir at the appropriate time and the elections will be held after delimitation.
The orders of the Delimitation Commission were effective from 20 May with the Centre choosing the day for the move using powers of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
As per the final Delimitation Order, out of the 90 Assembly Constituencies (ACs) in Jammu and Kashmir, 43 will be part of the Jammu region and 47 for the Kashmir region keeping in view the provisions of Section 9(1)(a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 60(2)(b) of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
The Delimitation Commission was entrusted with the work of delimiting the Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of the 2011 Census and in accordance with the provisions of Part-V of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019) and the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002(33 of 2002).
No dialogue with Pakistan, instead will talk to youth of Jammu & Kashmir: Amit Shah
The Union Home Minister comes down heavily on Abdullah and Mufti families saying that they are laying a red carpet for Pakistani terrorists into India.
Lambasting the National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on their demands that the Centre should talk to Pakistan, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that he would prefer to talk to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir rather than talking to the neighbouring country.
Addressing a public meeting here, on the last day of his three-day visit to the Union Territory which would conclude today, Shah launched an unsparing attack on former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. He accused the ‘Gupkar alliance’ of “laying a red carpet” for Pakistani terrorists into the country.
Shah said, “Some people talk about Pakistan here. I want to tell them today, bring the statistics about the number of villages in PoK that have electricity. Electricity has reached every village in our Kashmir. Mufti and company, and Abdullah and sons ruled Kashmir for 70 years, but did not provide 1 lakh houses, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from 2014 till 2022, has given houses to 1 lakh people in J-K.”
“Those who ruled for 70 years here suggest me to talk to Pakistan. I have a clear view, I do not want to talk to Pakistan, I want to talk to the Gujjars, Paharis and Bakarwals in Baramulla. I want to talk to the youth of Kashmir. Think with open eyes and minds, those who spread terrorism, what good have they done to Kashmir?” he said adding that J-K has to join the race with other states which are moving ahead in the country.
“We do not have to follow the path shown by terrorists. I urge you to extend your support to us,” said the Home Minister.
Shah said that the “Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration model” (PAGD) had presented the youth of the region with stones, closed colleges and machine guns in their hands, whereas Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s model has brought them education.
“There are two models. One of PM Modi which gives employment, peace and brotherhood; and another is the Gupkar model which led to the Pulwama attack. PM Modi made a hospital in Pulwama at an expense of Rs 2,000 crore. The Gupkar model is laying the red carpet for the Pakistani terrorists into the country, whereas the Modi model is implementing an investment of Rs 56,000 crore on the ground giving employment to the youth. Gupkar model placed stones, closed colleges, and machine guns in the hands of the youth. Modi model has IIM, IIT, AIIMS, NIFT, and NEET for the youth. The youth wants education not stones in their hands,” he said.
Shah asked the former chief ministers about the amount that was brought into the region as an investment during their respective tenures.
Shah further accused the “three families” of J-K of being responsible for the killings of the residents of the region by terrorists.
“Has terrorism done any good to anybody in the world? Can the sympathisers of terrorism tell of any such incident? 42,000 people of J-K have been victims of terrorism from 1990 till today. Who is responsible for their deaths? The three families that ruled here were responsible. Terrorism is moving towards extinction,” he said.
Lauding PM Modi for bringing investment into J-K, Shah said that the region which was known to be a “terrorist hotspot” has now become a “tourism hotspot”.
“Earlier, this was a terrorist hotspot, now it’s a tourism hotspot. You (Farooq and Mehbooba) gave stones and guns in the hands of the youth, whereas PM Modi gave laptops and mobiles into their hands by bringing industries here,” Shah said.
India sends strong signals to Pakistan over terrorism amid Bajwa’s US visit
With the US hosting Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa amid speculation on revival of high-level security partnership between Washington and Islamabad, India wants the Biden administration to give a strong message to the visiting army chief on terrorism emanating from Pakistan’s soil. While keeping a close watch over the developments in Washington where Bajwa is meeting with the top US officials, New Delhi has delivered Washington a clear message about what it expects from the Biden administration vis-à-vis this visit.
“The US must tell the army chief in no uncertain terms that Pakistan’s action against terror outfits leaves a lot to be desired,” sources, who are working closely with the diplomats in Indian embassy to Washington, told The Daily Guardian. “The Biden administration is already aware of what India wants, for Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister have already apprised their US counterparts of their disappointment over the US’ evident soft corner for Pakistan despite the latter’s terror records,” sources said. “Now that the US government is hosting Bajwa for an almost week-long visit, the Biden administration officials will have sufficient opportunity and time to give him a strong message on terror issues,” says a diplomat.
Bajwa called on US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and National Security Advisor Jacob Suvllivan and discussed matters of mutual interests, a report says. What Indian diplomats are keen to know is whether the US officials discussed the issue of terrorism with the army chief or not, says an official. He will also be meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Indian diplomats are said to be in touch with their US counterparts to have an idea about what is going on there.
Amid Bajwa’s visit to Washington, the statements that came from Union Home Minister Amit Shah and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were of great significance. Addressing a rally at Baramulla, Amit Shah on Wednesday ruled out any talks with Pakistan while making clear that the Narendra Modi government would fully uproot terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Just a day ahead of this rally, Jaishankar said, “No other country practises terrorism in the manner in which Pakistan has done. You show me anywhere in the world what Pakistan has done for so many years against India. After the 26/11 Mumbai attack, it is important for us to be clear to ourselves that this kind of behaviour and action is unacceptable and there will be consequences.” He also said while India is considered “expert in IT” (Information Technology), the neighbouring country is known as an “expert in International Terrorism”.
Sources told TDG that these statements from the top Indian ministers must have served the purpose as a blunt message to the American government amid its efforts to ramp up ties with Pakistan. The Pak Army chief being hosted by the Biden administration lends credence to Washington ignoring Islamabad’s poor record in tackling terrorism, says an official. In another significant development that has come amid Bajwa’s visit to US, Union Home Ministry has designated 10 members of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and other proscribed outfits as terrorists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Most of these designated terrorists are presently based in Pakistan, and they have been involved in gruesome killings of innocent civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. Several evidences have recently emerged to establish Pakistan’s army’s connivance with terrorists who were arrested in the valley over the past few weeks. Sources said that the Home Ministry’s move to designate these Pakistan-based individuals as terrorists could not have come at a more appropriate time than this, as Pakistan’s army chief is in Washington and all eyes are on the US to see if the government in Washington even seeks explanation from him on fight against terror. This may be part of India’s strategy to ramp up pressure on the US government to call out Pakistan over terrorism.
32 dead, 18 injured in Pauri Garhwal bus accident
Thirty-two people were killed and eighteen injured in the Pauri Garhwal bus accident, informed State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) on Wednesday.
SDRF spokesperson said, “In the bus accident in Rikhnikhal, Dhumakote, a total of 32 are dead while 18 people have been injured.” Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami announced financial assistance to the kin of the deceased in the Uttarkashi and Pauri Garhwal tragedies.
“An amount of Rs 2 lakh for deaths, Rs 1 lakh for serious injuries, and Rs 50,000 for normal injuries will be given to all those affected by these two tragedies,” the official informed. Condoling the kin of the deceased, Dhami said that the state government stands with the families.
Earlier on Tuesday, a bus carrying a wedding procession of 50 people fell into a gorge near Simdi village in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal district. “A wedding procession had left in a bus from here, Laldhang; an accident occurred. Information is being taken from the family members. A rescue operation is still underway by Pauri Police and SDRF at the spot,” said Haridwar SP City Swatantra Kumar Singh.
At Dussehra rally, Uddhav takes dig at Eknath: ‘This time Ravan is different’
Dussehra rallies on Wedensday turned to be open battle grounds for Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thakeray and Eknath Shinde. Both the warring groups made political statements from their respective rallies, deviating from the rituals and religious fervour.
From the traditional Shivaji Park Dussehra rally, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took a dig at his bete noire the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, sayng that “different Ravana will burn this time.”
“What will happen to Shiv Sena? Seeing the crowd here, the question now is, what will happen to the traitors? All have gathered together. Like every year, this time too Ravana will burn. But this time Ravana is different,” he told the crowd at Shivaji Park.
On the other hand, Shinde who was holding a parallel rally at the MMRDA grounds, a short way off from Thackeray’s home, Matoshree. For the first time since the Shiv Sena’s inception 56 years ago, two Dussehra rallies are being held in Mumbai by the rival factions.
Shinde, who toppled the Thackeray-led coalition government few months ago, shared a Hindi couplet by famous Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan that said whosoever is his heir will be his son and not the other way round. The reference of ‘heir’ was an indirect dig at Sena supremo and his son Aaditya Thackeray.
“My son, being my son will not be my heir, whoever will be my heir will be my son,” read Bachchan’s couplet posted by Shinde loosely translated from Hindi. Slamming Thackeray, Shinde said that if Balasaheb Thackeray had been alive, Narayan Rane would have become the CM.
“He (Uddhav Thackeray) didn’t feel ashamed of taking the Oath of CM. If Balasaheb Thackeray had been alive he would not have become CM, Balasaheb would have made Narayan Rane CM”, CM added.
Balasaheb Thackeray’s son Jaidev Thackeray came to show his support and shared the stage with Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde during the Dussehra rally at Mumbai’s BKC ground on Wednesday. Extending support to CM Shinde, Jaidev Thackeray said, “Don’t leave Eknath Shinde alone. He is working for farmers and commoners”.
Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and leaders from his faction attended the Shiv Sena Dussehra rally on MMRDA ground.
Shinde paid tribute to Balasaheb Thackeray. ‘Shashtr pooja’ (worship of arms) was performed for the 51 feet sword for which a Mahant was called from Ayodhya in UP.
Shinde lambasted his former party leader Uddhav Thackeray over the alliance with Congress and called him a traitor. “Balasaheb Thackeray made an alliance with BJP. You did gaddari, we are not gaddar. You have committed a sin… go apologise to Balasaheb samadhi at Shivaji park”.
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