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Only the high command can tell why I was removed: Amarinder

Ajay Shukla

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In an interview with ITV Network, former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said: “Why I was removed only the high command can tell. I have done everything for the party and Punjab. 90 percent of the promises made in the election manifesto have been fulfilled and the work was on to complete the remaining ones.”

In response to a question, the Captain said, “PPCC president Navjot Sidhu is a Dangerous Man. He was hugging the Pakistani general when our soldiers were being killed in Kashmir. I cannot forgive such a person. He is an incompetent person. Wherever he contests from, I will put a strong candidate against him to ensure his defeat.”

The Captain said, “I don’t want to waste time talking about Sidhu. When he was raising questions on the government by tweeting again and again, then I told Soniaji and she scolded him; so the tweets stopped for a few days, but after that the CLP meeting was called without informing me.”

In response to a question, the Captain said, “Nothing is ever permanent in politics. I have resigned five times. I have also been the Agriculture Minister in the Barnala government. For my future course of action, I will discuss with my supporters and decide in two to three weeks what to do. Right now, I can’t say much more about the future.”

Regarding the day of his resignation, the Captain said, “That day I got a call from Sonia Gandhi at around 10 in the morning, but I was somewhere else at that time, so could not attend that. On seeing the missed call, I called her back and said that the CLP meeting has been called by the AICC; if you had asked me, I would have called. That’s not right, I’ll resign. She said ok and I resigned.”

On the allegations of being close to the BJP or Modi, he said, “As the Chief Minister of Punjab, I meet not only the Prime Minister but also other Union Ministers regarding the government, the state. Punjab is a border state, due to which one has to talk to the Home Minister many times and also have to meet. There were 20 virtual meetings with the Prime Minister. I cannot abstain from the meeting saying that I am the Chief Minister of a Congress-ruled state.”

“I have to meet the Finance Minister because money is needed for the state; he has to bring it from there itself. To what extent is it fair to say that I have any relation with BJP or Modi? I have always been loyal to the Congress,” the Captain added.

Talking about new CM Charanjit Singh Channi, the Captain said that while Channi was intelligent and well-educated, he, unfortunately, has no experience in managing home affairs, which was critical for Punjab that shares a 600km border with Pakistan, with things getting more and more serious over the years. On Channi’s announcement of waiver of power bills, he said Channi must have discussed it with the former Finance Minister and they must have thought of something. “I hope they don’t bankrupt the state,” he added.

Captain Amarinder Singh further said that he would fight PPCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu’s elevation to Punjab chief ministership tooth and nail, saying that he was ready to make any sacrifice for this. He reiterated his intention to counter any move to make Sidhu the state’s CM face. Asserting that he will only leave politics on a high, the former Chief Minister said, “I was ready to leave after victory, but never after a loss.” He disclosed that he had offered his resignation to Sonia Gandhi three weeks earlier, but she had asked him to continue. “If she had just called me and asked me to step down, I would have,” he said, adding that “as a soldier, I know how to do my task and leave once I am called back.”

He said he had even told Sonia Gandhi that he was ready to hang his boots and allow someone else to take over as CM after leading the Congress to another sweeping win in Punjab. “But that did not happen, so I will fight,” he asserted. “I would not have taken MLAs on a flight to Goa or some place. That is not how I operate. I don’t do gimmicks, and the Gandhi siblings know that is not my way,” he said, adding, “Priyanka and Rahul (Gandhi siblings) are like my children…this should not have ended like this. I am hurt.” He said the Gandhi children were quite inexperienced and their advisors were clearly misguiding them.

Indicating that he was still keeping his political options open, the former Chief Minister said he was talking to his friends before deciding on his future course of action. “You can be old at 40 and young at 80,” he quipped, making it clear that he did not see his age as a hurdle. Referring to complaints that he was not taking arbitrary action against the Badals and Majithia in the sacrilege and drugs cases, the former Chief Minister said he believed in allowing the law to take its course. “But now these people who were complaining against me are in power, let them throw the Akalis leaders behind bars if they can!” he retorted.

Taking a jibe against Sidhu and others over allegations of not taking action against ministers involved in the mining mafia, he said: “Those very ministers are now with these leaders!” Ridiculing the way Punjab was being run from Delhi now, Captain Amarinder expressed shock at the way things were happening. Pointing out that as CM, he had called the shots and appointed his own ministers, as he knew the capability of each of them, he questioned how Congress leaders like Venugopal or Ajay Maken or Randeep Surjewala could decide who is good for which ministry.

The former Chief Minister said the PPCC should just decide on party affairs. “I had a very good PPCC president. I took his advice, but he never told me how to run the government,” he added, saying that with the way Sidhu was virtually dictating the terms is a sad situation for Punjab. “If Sidhu behaves as the super CM, the party won’t function,” he said, adding that under Sidhu, it would be a big thing if the Congress managed to touch double digits in Punjab polls.

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LIFE SKILLS COLLABORATIVE LAUNCHED TO CHAMPION SKILLS FOR INDIA’S YOUTH

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Eighteen organisations have come together to announce the launch of the Life Skills Collaborative (LSC) with the aim to support government agencies and education institutions by building a life skills platform that can aid in the transformation of India’s learning ecosystem. In the first phase, the LSC will work in tandem with state governments across Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and Mizoram to bring contextual, social and cultural inputs to the development of life skills among the young people of India.

The Collaborative comprises organisations with diverse and global expertise in education, skill development, health and gender with a commitment to collaborate in deepening the understanding of life skills, designing learning tools that nurture life skills, and developing context-relevant assessments to measure progress, share learnings and inform system change India. The current collaborators include Breakthrough, Centre for Science of Student Learning, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Dream A Dream, Echidna Giving, Gnothi Seauton, ICRW, Kaivalya Education Foundation, Magic Bus, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Omidyar Network India, Porticus, Pratham, Quest Alliance, Room To Read, Sattva Consulting, Shantilal Muttha Foundation and The Teacher Foundation. Speaking about the launch, Vishal Talreja, an LSC Collaborator and Co-founder of Dream A Dream, said, “One in three children in India live in extreme poverty and have stunted and/or wasted growth. Children from vulnerable backgrounds are exposed to a combination of adverse experiences causing an irrefutable impact on their physical and mental health. Empathy-based transformative pedagogy, experiential learning, and mentoring can help young people immensely.”

The Life Skills Collaborative will focus on three core areas:

1. Voices, a nationwide engagement with youth, parents, and teachers to capture their voices and translate them to insights that can drive the integration of life skills within public education systems.

2. Glossary, a set of definitions that serves as the vocabulary to discuss life skills in India and establish the foundation for discussing and aligning on outcomes, designing assessments across community, practitioners, and government.

3. Assessments, will focus on creation, establishment, and dissemination of an assessment repository for adolescents, teachers, and the system. At the adolescent level, this will assess student’s capacities and strengths in the age groups 11-14 years and 15-18 years; at the teacher level, it will assess the ability of the teacher to foster life skills in an adolescent; at the system level, it will assess the readiness of the system to deliver life skills.

Rathish Balakrishnan, an LSC Collaborator and Co-founder and Managing Partner at Sattva Consulting, said, “Young people often struggle to access education and employment opportunities, limiting their engagement in society and stunting their potential to live a full life. Equipping them with life skills can change this immensely. While there is a lot of interest in life skills, there is a lack of a common vocabulary and effective assessments, which limits its potential. By building credible and system-ready public goods, the Life Skills Collaborative can accelerate the effective adoption of life skills across the ecosystem.”

In recent times, the need for developing stronger life skills has become more acute. Focusing on building life skills in the next generation is imperative in enabling them to handle different situations capably. In a country like India, where a vast majority of the population is young, life skill development enables young people to direct and manage their lives positively.

Geeta Goel, an LSC Collaborator and Country Director, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF, India), added, “The Life Skills Collaborative is an innovative attempt to solve a wicked problem – the development of life skills among the young people of India. To achieve this goal, it is essential to support organisations, institutions and government agencies in building a more inclusive learning environment suited towards promoting life skills.”

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RED FM launches World Cup campaign ‘Totka Chalao India Ko Jeetao’

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93.5 RED FM has kick-started its World Cup campaign ‘Totka Chalao, India ko Jeetao’. Capturing the passion and craze of fans, RED FM will celebrate the ‘totkas’ and will have RJs follow some of these tricks shared by listeners as part of the campaign.

Witness the best of entertainment with ‘Nand Kishore Bairagi’ aka RJ Kisna taking a spin on the ‘totkas’ in his unique style. The campaign will also have Bauaa aka RJ Raunac calling up opponent teams as part of his prank calls series. Keeping the passion of the World Cup alive, RED FM will also launch the anthem, ‘Totka Wala Gana’ capturing the craze of cricket fans across the country. Speaking on the campaign, Nisha Narayanan, Director & COO, RED FM and Magic FM, said, “Cricket generates a kind of excitement that cuts across all sections of the society in India. Fans have been eagerly waiting for the mega tournament to start after the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to all sporting activities. Over the years, cricket has united fans and radio has been a crucial part in bringing them together. There’s no denying that luck and superstitions go hand in hand with a cricket fan and this year we are bringing some of those practices the fans have subconsciously picked up over the years and now cannot let go. Our campaign, ‘Totka Chalao, India ko Jeetao’ will highlight some of the crazy ‘totkas’ that cricket fans follow across the country. We hope that you will share your favourite ‘totkas’ with us and cheer for team India with RED FM.”

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MICHAEL KORS TO LAUNCH MK MY WAY IN-STORE POP-UPS THROUGHOUT INDIA

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Michael Kors has announced the launch of an exciting new pop-up store activation throughout India to celebrate MK My Way—the popular interactive experience that immerses customers in the luxe world of Michael Kors and lets them customise their Signature logo print handbags with their initials.

The MK My Way activation will take place in stores with a colourful pop-up kiosk. Equal parts elevated and high-energy, the pop-up’s countertop and facade are splashed with metallic hues and punctuated by oversized, graphic takes on the brand’s signature print. After selecting their Signature print handbag, customers have the chance to have their bags hand-painted by Bangalore-based artist and illustrator Srishti Guptaroy (@srillustrator) with either their English/Hindi initials or with one of four unique motifs designed specifically for Diwali.

As an extension of the in-store program, the motifs will also be made into gify stickers available for all Instagram users. Supplies are provided by Angelus Paints, a California paint company and world leader in luxury customisation. To celebrate the launch, the brand has also created a digital campaign starring Bollywood actress Janhvi Kapoor (@janhvikapoor).

The pop-up store activations will take place in several cities throughout India, including:

Jio World Drive in Mumbai (from 8 to 31 October)

DLF Emporio in Delhi (from 11 to 31 October)

UB City in Bangalore (from 23 to 30 October)

Tatacliq Luxury (online) (from 18 to 31 October)

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Civilian killings in J&K are not random, but part of deliberate plan: Defence expert

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Defence expert Dhruv Katoch, while raising concerns over the recent killing of civilians by terrorists in the valley, on Monday said that the killings in Jammu and Kashmir are a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani intelligence agency where they have made a detailed plan to create disturbance in India especially within the union territory.

Pointing out that these incidents are not “random”, Katoch said, “These are not isolated incidences. Everything is planned. They are targeting the poorer sections working there. The consolidated impact of the act is the cause of concern.” “It is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Pakistani intelligence agency where they have made a detailed plan to create disturbance in India especially within Jammu and Kashmir,” Katoch told ANI.

The defence expert said that it is important to hand this over to these incidents to National Investigation Agency (NIA) to determine the linkages within India, but more importantly to determine the linkages outside India.

Reacting to the ongoing counter-terrorist operation in J-K’s Poonch, he said, “We have already lost nine bravehearts and the operation is still on for nine days.”

He further said that the visit of Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane to forward areas along the Line of Control in Jammu is simply to convey his support to the troops.

Amid the heightened counter-terrorist operations in the Poonch-Rajouri sector, Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane is on a two-day visit to the Jammu region to review the overall security situation on the ground.

The Poonch sector has seen heightened military activities in the last fortnight as nine Army soldiers have lost their lives there and operations are still on in the 16 Corps area to neutralise the terrorists. After a lull of six months, terrorist activities have gone up in the hinterland and ceasefire violations attempts are also on the rise in the Jammu area.

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PAKISTAN PLAYING ‘DOUBLE GAME’ IN AFGHANISTAN, TERROR ACTIVITIES MAY AGGRAVATE: THINK TANK

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The fall of Kabul and the conversion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on 15 August this year has boosted the morale of terrorist outfits, as per an analysis by a Canada-based think tank.

In view of “strong ties” between the Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), violence is expected to increase in the “pro-democracy” countries and even in Pakistan, according to the think tank, international think tank based in Canada, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS). In recent developments in the South-Asian region, particularly in Pakistan, 52 people died in 35 terror attacks in August indicating the growing instability in the region, according to the international think tank based in Canada, IFFRAS.

The killing of seven Pakistani soldiers by the TTP in Waziristan in September followed by the killing of the Pakistan Army’s Captain in the district bordering Afghanistan are the latest instances of the rising violence in the region including Pakistan.

According to IFFRAS, the role of Pakistan is being studied by the experts and they have been “suspicious” about Pakistan’s “double games”.

The Taliban after capturing power has assured no propagation of terror activities on Afghan soil.

“However, the Taliban has the reputation of saying one thing and then doing quite the opposite,” IFFRAS quoted a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Aqil Shah as saying.

More than 6,000 terrorists had made their hideout in Afghanistan till 2020 even in the presence of the US military, IFFRAS reported citing a report by the United Nations.

“The total number of Pakistani foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, posing a threat to both countries, is estimated at between 6,000 and 6,500, most of them with TTP,” the international think tank quoted the report as saying.

According to a rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Pakistani military and civil societies have garnished their relations with the Taliban for smuggling and terror training to counter India’s rising influence in South Asia, according to IFFRAS.

With the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan, Pakistan is staring at the problem of aggravation of Islamic radicalisation on its soil, furthering its image as a terror state.

“The government will be under greater pressure to make the state more sharia-compliant if Taliban next door is doing that,” IFFRAS quoted a researcher at the University of London, Ayesha Siddiqa as saying.

As pressure mounts on the Imran Khan government in Pakistan to recognise the Taliban government, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI) called for a revolution to “pull down” the government, according to the IFFRAS.

Following such calls for revolution, the terror outfits in Pakistan may get a boost which may lead to “bloodshed”, according to the think tank.

“With the Taliban taking over, anti-Pakistan terrorist groups will be emboldened, but it doesn’t end there. There could be an emergence of a new war of narratives in the country, which will transform ongoing debates about state and society and the role that religion plays,” IFFRAS quoted the director of the Pakistani Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad, Muhammad Amir Rana.

Former US National Security Advisor, Lt Gen HR McMaster called Pakistan an enemy nation and said that the country uses “Jihadist terrorists” as an arm of their foreign policy.

“We have to stop pretending that Pakistan is a partner. Pakistan has been acting as an enemy nation against us by organising, training and equipping these forces and by continuing to use jihadist terrorist organisations as an arm of their foreign policy,” reported IFFRAS quoting Lt Gen HR McMaster.

The total number of Pakistani foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, posing a threat to both countries, is estimated at between 6,000 and 6,500, most of them with TTP.

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PUNJAB POLICE FOIL A MAJOR WEAPON AND DRUGS SMUGGLING BID VIA INDO-PAK BORDER

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In an intelligence led operation, Punjab Police have recovered huge arms and ammunition besides heroin during a search operation from near border fencing on Indo-Pak Border in district Tarn Taran. The operation was jointly conducted by Border Security Force (BSF) and Counter Intelligence Amritsar in the area of BOP Mianwali Hithaar, Khemkarn sector.

Sharing these details, officiating DGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota said that the Police have received a secret information that some Pak border operatives have concealed a huge consignment of arms and heroin, following which Counter Intelligence Amritsar was sent to the spot and a search operation was planned with the BSF authorities.

He said that during the combing operation, the teams have recovered 22 pistols ( most of them .30 bore Star mark) along with 44 magazines and 100 live rounds besides a packet of heroin (weighing 934 grams) packed in a black coloured kit bag concealed in a paddy field.

During the preliminary investigations, it has come to light that as ‘conceal and clear’ has been the most practised modus operandi of Pak smugglers, this consignment was placed by them in Indian territory across the fence and it was supposed to be retrieved by their Indian associates, said DGP.

The DGP said that a case dated 19.10.2021 under sections 511 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), sections 21, 28, 29 of the NDPS Act, section 25 of the Arms Act and section 14-Finance Act at Police Station SSOC Amritsar has been registered. Efforts are being made to ascertain the identity of the Pak end as well as their Indian links who were to pick this consignment, he added.

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