UK faces food, fuel and drugs shortages in no-deal Brexit: Report

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LONDON: Britain will face shortages of fuel, food and medicine if it leaves the European Union without a transition deal, jamming ports and requiring a hard border in Ireland, official government documents leaked to the Sunday Times show.

The Times said the forecasts compiled by the Cabinet Office set out the most likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit rather than the worst case scenarios.Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it did not comment on leaked documents.

The newspaper said up to 85% of lorries using the main channel crossings “may not be ready” for French customs, meaning disruption at ports would potentially last up to three months before the flow of traffic improves.

The government also believes a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, will be likely as current plans to avoid widespread checks will prove unsustainable, the Times said.

“Compiled this month by the Cabinet Office under the codename Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier offers a rare glimpse into the covert planning being carried out by the government to avert a catastrophic collapse in the nation’s infrastructure,” the Times reported.

“The file, marked “official-sensitive” — requiring security clearance on a “need to know” basis — is remarkable because it gives the most comprehensive assessment of the UK’s readiness for a no-deal Brexit.”

Asked about the Yellowhammer documents, energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News: “I think there’s a lot of scaremongering around, and a lot of people are playing into ‘Project Fear’ … We’ve got to prepare for no deal.”

“We will be fully prepared to leave without a deal on the 31st of October.”

The United Kingdom is heading towards a constitutional crisis at home and a showdown with the EU as Johnson has repeatedly vowed to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 without a deal unless it agrees to renegotiate the Brexit divorce.

After more than three years of Brexit dominating EU affairs, the bloc has repeatedly refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement which includes an Irish border insurance policy that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, agreed in November.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said on Twitter he had signed a piece of legislation which set in stone the repeal of the 1972 European Communities act – the laws which made Britain a member of the organisation now known as the EU.

Though his move was largely procedural, in line with previously approved laws, Barclay said in a statement: “This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back (from Brexit).”

RECALL PARLIAMENT

A group of more than 100 lawmakers wrote to Johnson calling for an emergency recall of parliament to discuss the situation.

“We face a national emergency, and parliament must now be recalled in August and sit permanently until October 31 so that the voices of the people can be heard, and that there can be proper scrutiny of your government,” the letter said.

Johnson will this week tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Westminster parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one.

The prime minister is coming under pressure from politicians across the political spectrum to prevent a disorderly departure, with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn vowing this week to bring down Johnson’s government in early September to delay Brexit.

It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the British parliament to prevent a no-deal departure – likely to be the United Kingdom’s most significant move since World War Two.

Opponents of no deal say it would be a disaster for what was once one of the West’s most stable democracies. A disorderly divorce, they say, would hurt global growth, send shockwaves through financial markets and weaken London’s claim to be the world’s preeminent financial centre.

Brexit supporters say there may be short-term disruption from a no-deal exit but that the economy will thrive if cut free from what they cast as a doomed experiment in integration that has led to Europe falling behind China and the United States. (Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Gareth Jones) .

Source: Reuters

DGP reviews security situation in Jammu region

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NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh on Sunday reviewed the security situation in Jammu region and directed officers to maintain close contact with the public and keep constant vigil, especially in the border areas.

Singh visited Rajouri and Udhampur before chairing a high-level meeting here to review the security scenario and the prevailing law and order situation, a police spokesman said.

Divisional Commissioner of Jammu Sanjeev Verma, IGP Jammu Mukesh Singh, IG Armed Jammu Danesh Rana, IG BSF Narender Singh Jamwal, IG CRPF Subash Chander, DIG CRPF Neetu, DIG CISF S N Singh, DIG SSB M S Negi, Deputy Commissioner Jammu Sushma Chauhan and senior superintendents of police of various districts were present in the meeting.

The DGP emphasised upon them to remain in close contact with people to redress their grievances, the spokesman said, adding that he also directed the officers on the ground to act as per the requirements of the situation besides maintaining alertness in the border areas.

While complementing the collective efforts of his personnel and other security forces for excellent results, he stressed for enhanced synergy among the forces for better coordination.

The DGP appreciated the efforts of police, civil administration and central armed police forces in maintaining peace in the valley.

He also thanked the public for maintaining peace, the spokesman said.

Early in the morning, Singh visited border district of Rajouri and took a round of the town before taking a security review meeting.

The DGP later visited Udhampur district, where he was briefed by the jurisdictional officers about the security situation, the spokesman added.

Source: Press Trust of India

Sharad Pawar calls leaders who quit NCP as ‘crows’

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NEW DELHI: Terming as “crows” the leaders who left the NCP and joined others, party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said fielding fresh faces in the upcoming Assembly polls was being considered by the party.

The opposition parties in Maharashtra, particularly the NCP, witnessed its MLAs and key leaders joining the BJP and Shiv Sena last month.

“We don’t need to worry about crows (kawale) any longer, instead focus on party workers (mawale) ahead of the assembly elections,” Pawar said here.

Three NCP legislators- Shivendrasinh Bhosale, Sandeep Naik and Vaibhav Pichad- had joined the BJP along with the party’s state women wing president Chitra Wagh last month.

Besides, NCP’s Mumbai unit president Sachin Ahir and Shahapur MLA Pandurang Barora had also joined the Shiv Sena last month.

“The party will consider fielding fresh faces in the upcoming polls. I would insist on giving chance to youth and women in the coming elections,” Pawar added.

The former Union minister said Nagpur has become a major hub of crime and criminal activities.

“Maharashtra chief minister also hails from the same place. We should raise our voice over the issue,” he added.

Source: Press Trust of India

Congress going through tough times: Mukul Wasnik

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NEW DELHI: Congress leader Mukul Wasnik on Sunday said that the party was going through “difficult times” but expressed confidence that together the workers will be able to handle the situation and meet new challenges.

The former Union Minister was speaking at South Delhi Congress Workers meet here to monitor the preparation for celebration of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 75th birth anniversary.

“The Congress is going through difficult times but I am sure the party workers will together face this challenge and emerge victorious,” Wasnik said.

He expressed hope that the party would perform well in the upcoming Delhi Assembly election.

Terming Rajiv Gandhi, who took over as the Prime Minister of India in the year 1984, as the ‘Pioneer of Digital India’, he said it was during his era that the seeds of Information Technology and Telecom revolution were sowed although, there was opposition at all levels.

He urged the Congress workers to come out in huge numbers and make the birth anniversary celebrations a grand success.

The programme was also addressed by Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee Working Presidents– Haroon Yusuf, Devender Yadav and Rajesh Lilothia.

Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a suicide bomb blast at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991 during an election campaign.

Source:Press Trust of India

AIIMS reschedules counselling dates for MBBS

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NEW DELHI: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Sunday rescheduled the counselling dates for MBBS programme from August 20 and 21 to August 26 and 27, hospital authorities said on Sunday, a day after a massive fire broke out on its premises.

Online registrations for the counselling started on Sunday and can be done till 5 pm on August 21, a notice issued by AIIMS read.

“Considering the large number of candidates and guardians participating in the open round of counselling for MBBS 2019 under the prevailing circumstances, it has been decided by the competent authority that for adequate arrangement and ensuring safety, the open round of counselling has been rescheduled from Aug 20 and Aug 21 to August 26 and 27,” according to the notice.

The fire started around 5 pm on Saturday from the Microbiology department and thick plumes of smoke billowed from the building, triggering panic and affecting the emergency services. According to officials, patients were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The fire engulfed several offices in the department of surgery, urology, dermatology, microbiology and ortho and lot of research data, samples and manuscripts were destroyed, a source said.

Source: Press Trust of India

CBI to probe phone tapping charges in Karnataka: CM

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NEW DELHI: Days after charges of phone tapping during the previous coalition government headed by JD(S) surfaced, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday said he will order a CBI probe into the allegations citing demands by several political parties RPT parties, including Congress.

While former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who headed the coalition government said he was ready for a probe by even an “international agency”, his alliance partner the Congress, however, seemed to be a divided house.

“On the telephone tapping issue. Several leaders, including Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, have said it should be probed and truth should come out, so I have decided to order a CBI probe. Tomorrow itself I will order the probe,” Yediyurappa told reporters here.

He also said it was the expectation of the people of the state that a detailed inquiry should be made and the culprits punished.

Yediyurappa’s announcement comes amid signs that the scandal was gaining political steam ever since disqualified JD(S) MLA A H Vishwanath, who served as JD(S) state president and turned rebel later, last week dropped the political bomb, accusing the H D Kumaraswamy government of tapping phones and spying on more than 300 people, including him.

Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, M Mallikarjuna Kharge and home minister in the alliance government M B Patil, had sought a probe while another key party leader and former minister D K Shivakumar has rejected the snooping charges and appeared to side with Kumaraswamy.

According to reports, phones of those close to Siddaramaiah, who was the then coalition coordination committee chief, too had come under the watch.

Several BJP leaders, including former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, have directly accused Kumaraswamy of being behind the episode to save his government which was then rocked by dissidence within.

The coalition government ultimately collapsed last month with Kumaraswamy losing the trust vote in the assembly.

Reacting to the Chief Minister announcing a CBI probe, Kumaraswamy, who has already denied the charges, said “Let them do any inquiry, whether it is a CBI inquiry or any other agency of international standard, or let them talk to Trump (US President Donald Trump) and get it inquired through some one from his side.”

He also hit out at the electronic media for its coverage on the issue, saying no one can do anything to him and alleged that their intention and attempts were to keep him away from people of the state.

Stating that he was not aware as to why his name was linked to the phone tapping case, he stressed, “If I was involved I would have panicked, I’m open…. There is not even an iota… to point fingers at me.”

The JD(S) leader also asked Yediyurappa to bring BJPs previous tenure in the government and also that of Siddaramaiah under the ambit of the CBI probe.

While Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah has welcomed the CBI probe, hoping that the BJP does not use the central investigating agency for “political vendetta,”Congress on its official Twitter handle has said that telephone tapping “was a bundle of lies” and a conspiracy for hate politics.

“I welcome the decision of @BSYBJP to hand over the phone tapping case to CBI.

But in the past @BJP4India has used CBI as its puppet to unleash its venomous political vendetta.

Hope @BJP4Karnataka leaders does not have similar intentions this time,” Siddaramaiah tweeted on Sunday following announcement of probe by the chief minister.

Asserting that allegations of ‘Operation Kamala’ being done in Karnataka are as serious as charges of phone tapping, he said in another tweet “I urge @BSYBJP to order CBI investigation into alleged Operation Kamala also.

I heard they acted on my advice in phone tapping case & I hope they act on this issue as well.”

However, the state Congress in a tweet termed phone tapping as “lies” and a conspiracy for hate politics.

Alleging that Yediyurappa was behaving like an “underground criminal” after becoming the chief minister in an “immoral” way by “Operation Kamala” through the backdoor, the party in a tweet said, “In Modi administration CBI was working as a frontal unit of the BJP.

Phone tapping was a (bundle of) lies and a conspiracy for hate politics.”

Hitting out at the Congress, senior BJP leader R Ashoka expressed surprise over differences of opinion on the phone tapping probe within the grand old party.

Pointing out that several Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, had demanded a probe, he said, “Before handing over the probe they demanded an inquiry… now they are blaming the chief minister, it is not right.”

“Without even knowing who was behind the tapping, they are accusing us of indulging in vendetta politics. None of us know who is behind it, it should come out through the probe,” Ashoka added.

Vishwanath too hit out at the Congress for its confusing stand on the CBI probe into the scandal and said the party was a divided house now, with several groups within.

Without naming Kumaraswamy, he once again alleged that the then Chief Minister should be aware of tapping as intelligence directly comes under him.

Lets see who are all involved,” he said.

Source: Press Trust of India

CBI books Ratul Puri in Rs 354-crore bank fraud case

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NEW DELHI: The CBI has booked Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri, the then former executive director of Moser Baer, and others in connection with a Rs-354 crore bank fraud case filed by Central Bank of India, officials said on Sunday.

Besides Ratul and the company, his father and Managing Director Deepak Puri, Directors Nita Puri (Ratul’s mother and Kamal Nath’s sister), Sanjay Jain and Vineet Sharma have also been booked by the agency for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption.

Ratul had resigned from the post of executive director in 2012, while his parents continue to be on the board, the bank said in a statement.

The agency has carried out searches at six locations including the residences and offices of the accused directors Sunday, they said.

The company is involved in the manufacture of optical storage media like compact discs, DVDs, solid state storage devices.

The case has been registered based on a complaint from Central Bank of India.

The company was taking loans from various banks since 2009 and went for debt restructuring a number of times, the bank has alleged in the complaint which is now part of the CBI FIR.

When it was unable to pay the debt, a forensic audit was done and the the account was declared as “fraud” by the Central Bank of India on April 20, 2019, it has alleged.

“…The MBIL has committed fraud and cheated the complainant bank thereby making a wrongful gain to themselves and a wrongful loss to the lender bank which is a custodian of public money,” the complaint to the CBI said.

Primary security of the bank consisting of stock of finished goods. semi finished goods and raw material have also been dishonestly and fraudulently removed by the company and its directors in order to prevent the distribution amongst the creditor banks to satisfy the debt, the bank has alleged.

“The funds granted by the banks have been misused and misappropriated by MBIL and its directors for their own personal use, MBIL and its Directors and promoters have also committed fraud in respect of reporting book debts, which were also one of the primary securities of the bank,” it said.

The bank claimed that the company and its directors forged and fabricated documents to induce Central Bank of India to release funds, it said.

“MBIL has cause unlawful loss to our bank to the tune of Rs 354.51 crore as on November 29, 2014 and interest thereon by getting unlawful gains,” the complaint said.

Source: Press Trust of India

Credit demand subdued, economy needs stimulus: SBI Chairman

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NEW DELHI :State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar on Sunday said credit demand remains subdued and there is a need for stimulus in the economy.

Though lack of credit demand exists in the economy, there is no supply-side constraint as the public sector banks are more or less well-capitalised, he said.

“Demand for credit in the economy is subdued. There is a need for stimulus in the economy”, Kumar told reporters here.

He was in the city to attend the multi-level consultation programme with the branch managers of SBI in the region.

“There is no supply-side constraint. More or less, the public sector banks are well capitalised and bank rates also moderated,” he said.

Kumar hoped that monsoon will have a positive impact.

Increased spending by the government and the upcoming festival season would boost demand, Kumar added.

Source: Press Trust of India

‘Congress has lost its way’: Ex-Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda supports BJP on Kashmir

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ROHTAK: Former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Sunday came down heavily on his own party leaders for not supporting the abrogation of Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“When the government does something right, I always support it. Many of my colleagues opposed the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370. They have lost their way. It is not the same Congress as it used to be,” said Hooda, while addressing ‘Parivartan Maha rally’ here.

Former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Sunday came down heavily on his own party leaders for not supporting the abrogation of Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“When the government does something right, I always support it. Many of my colleagues opposed the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370. They have lost their way. It is not the same Congress as it used to be,” said Hooda, while addressing ‘Parivartan Maha rally’ here.

Source: Press Trust of India

About 4,000 people arrested in Kashmir since August 5: Govt sources to AFP

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NEW DELHI: Thousands of people have been detained in Kashmir over fears of outbreaks of unrest after the BJP government stripped of the special status to the State two weeks ago, government sources told AFP.

A magistrate speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said at least 4,000 people were arrested and held under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.

“Most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity,” the magistrate said, adding that he had used a satellite phone allocated to him to collate the figures from colleagues across the State amid a communications blackout imposed by authorities.

Authorities have repeatedly declined to provide a tally of how many people have been taken into custody, apart from confirming more than 100 local politicians, activists and academics were detained in the first few days after the state was stripped of its semi-autonomous status.

They said the “few preventive detentions” were made to avoid a “breach of the peace” in a region that has fought an armed rebellion against Indian rule for three decades.

Jammu and Kashmir government spokesman Rohit Kansal said previously there was “no centralised figure” for the total number of people detained.

But AFP spoke to numerous government officials in Srinagar, including police and security personnel, who confirmed the sweeping arrests.

A police official who asked to remain anonymous told AFP “around 6,000 people were medically examined at a couple of places in Srinagar after they were detained”.

“They are first sent to the central jail in Srinagar and later flown out of here in military aircraft,” he added.

Another security official said “thousands are jailed” but that the figure did not include other residents whose detentions at police stations had not been recorded.

The revelations came as eight people were injured during weekend protests in Srinagar with authorities reimposing heavy restrictions to quell any unrest.

Authorities were gradually easing a massive movement and communications lockdown imposed two weeks ago.

But clashes in a dozen locations around Srinagar on Saturday saw restrictions brought back in some locations, the PTI news agency reported, citing unnamed officials.

Authorities have previously denied or played down reports of any violence and stressed that most of the Kashmir Valley has been peaceful.

State government spokesman Kansal told reporters late Saturday that eight people had been injured in the clashes but did not provide further details.

A senior government official told AFP earlier Sunday that more telephone exchanges would return to normal operations “by the evening”.

Schools in some areas would reopen on Monday, officials said.

Source: AFP