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Flood crisis deepens, China’s foreign minister blames India for Doklam standoff: Top stories to bring you up to date

A digest of important news stories in the last 24 hours.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 07:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Narendra Modi,Gujarat,Doklam standoff
Indian residents wade through flood waters in a low-lying area near the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad on July 25.(AFP Photo)

Death toll in Gujarat floods rise to 82, China’s foreign minister blames India for triggering the border standoff, here are the top news:

1- Flood crisis deepens in Gujarat, Rajasthan; PM Modi inspects home state, gives relief fund

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a Rs 500-crore relief package for flood-hit Gujarat after undertaking an aerial survey of the affected districts even as heavy rains continued to batter most parts of north India. The worsening floods killed another eight people in Gujarat, taking the toll to 82, as rescue teams stepped up efforts to save thousands of people marooned in submerged towns and villages. In neighbouring Rajasthan, six people, including a 10-year-old child, died in rain-related incidents since Sunday.

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2- Chinese foreign minister blames India for Doklam standoff

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has blamed India for triggering the standoff near the Sikkim border, calling on New Delhi to withdraw its border troops to resolve the crisis. Wang is the senior-most Chinese official so far to have commented on the impasse. A statement in Chinese issued by the foreign ministry quoted Wang as telling reporters in Thailand that Indian officials had “admitted” Chinese troops didn’t cross into Indian territory. This, he said, means Indian soldiers had entered Chinese territory. The “problem was very straightforward”, Wang told reporters, and that “even Indian officials publicly said that Chinese soldiers didn’t enter the Indian territory. In other words, Indian side admitted (crossing) into Chinese territory.”

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3- Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif accuses India of ‘harming’ Saarc by ‘casting shadows of bilateral issues’

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday accused India of harming the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) and undermining the spirit of the regional forum. Addressing a news conference with Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in Male, Sharif said “India caused harm to the Saarc by seeking postponement” of the grouping’s summit in Islamabad last year. This was not the first time that India harmed the forum as it “had done so on four occasions”, Sharif was quoted as saying. India “undermined and violated the spirit of the Saarc charter by casting shadows of bilateral issues and problems on a multilateral forum for regional cooperation”, he added.

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4- Mumbai building collapse: Death toll rises to 12, Shiv Sena leader booked

A dozen people, including two infants, were killed when a 35-year-old four-storey building collapsed on Tuesday in the Ghatkopar suburb of Mumbai, a tragedy that repeats almost every monsoon in India’s space-starved financial capital. The Siddhi Sai building at Damodar Park near Shreyas cinema in western Ghatkopar came apart and trapped more than 20 people. Shiv Sena leader Sunil Shitap, who owns the ground floor and allegedly made structural changes that weakened the building, was charged with culpable homicide and detained by police.

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5- Lalu Yadav prepares for life after Nitish, plans alternative pact with Maya and Manjhi

Amid uncertainties over the continuance of Bihar’s Grand Alliance government, embattled Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad has initiated moves to stitch together an alternative political platform with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM). Sources say Prasad’s initiatives at rearranging Bihar’s caste-based political calculus are seen as being aimed at pushing his alliance partner and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar on the backfoot. With possibilities of a snap midterm election not ruled out, Lalu Prasad has moved swiftly to bolster his political position over past few weeks.

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6- ED arrests Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah in terror financing case

Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah was arrested on Tuesday night from his Srinagar residence in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged terror financing. The move came a day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is investigating if funds from Pakistan were used to fuel last year’s unrest in the Kashmir Valley, arrested seven separatist leaders, including hardline Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Ahmed Shah. The Enforcement Directorate, which probes financial crimes, arrested Shah in a case that is over a decade old. Shah is expected to be brought to Delhi on Wednesday and produced in a court.

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7- Andhra couple vanishes after learning surrogate is carrying a girl child

A surrogate mother has complained to the Telangana health authorities that the biological parents of the baby disappeared midway through the pregnancy without paying her the promised money. The couple from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh apparently came to know from doctors that the baby growing in the rented womb is a girl. Lakshman, a construction worker of Kuntlur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad, said on Tuesday a woman approached his wife, 20-year-old Venkatamma, in November last year and convinced her to rent her womb for a childless couple. Venkatamma was promised Rs 3 lakh, to be paid after delivery.

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8- India’s concerns addressed? Sri Lanka says no military use of Chinese-built port

Sri Lanka’s cabinet cleared a revised agreement for its Chinese-built southern port of Hambantota on Tuesday, the government said, after terms of the first pact sparked widespread public anger in the island nation. Under the new deal the Sri Lankan government has sought to limit China’s role to running commercial operations at the port while it has oversight of broader security. Chinese control of Hambantota, which is part of its modern-day “Silk Route” across Asia and beyond, as well as a plan to acquire 15,000 acres (23 sq miles) to develop an industrial zone next door, had raised fears that it could also be used for Chinese naval vessels.

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9- Pak high commissioner to India Abdul Basit retires early

The Pakistan government has accepted the request of Abdul Basit, the country’s envoy to India, to resign from the foreign service after he was passed over for the post of foreign secretary earlier this year. Though Basit was to retire in April 2018, he recently sent his resignation letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sources said on Tuesday that Sharif had approved Basit’s request for premature retirement. Sohail Mahmood, currently Pakistan’s envoy to Turkey, has already been named the next high commissioner to India. Mahmood, a 55-year-old career diplomat, is expected to take up his responsibilities in New Delhi next month. Sources in Islamabad had earlier told Hindustan Times that Basit had been unhappy since Tehmina Janjua, who is junior to him, had been appointed foreign secretary in February.

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10- China police warn against illegal gatherings after rare Beijing protest

Police in the Chinese capital have warned against illegal gatherings after they shut down part of a major road when demonstrators gathered to stage a rare protest in Beijing, complaining the government was unfairly targeting a charity. While there are thousands of protests every year in China over everything from pollution to corruption, large protests are rare in heavily guarded and affluent Beijing, with the ruling Communist Party valuing stability above all else.

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11- Botswana confirms it will allow Dalai Lama’s visit despite Chinese opposition

Botswana on Tuesday confirmed it will allow the Dalai Lama to visit next month as “a foreign dignitary” in the face of China’s fierce opposition to the Tibetan spiritual leader. Beijing views the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist campaigning for Tibetan independence and consistently condemns foreign governments who welcome him. Botswana Foreign Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi told lawmakers that the visit was “purely private” but added that the Dalai Lama would be granted the status of a foreign dignitary. The Tibetan leader, who lives in exile in India, is due to speak at the three-day “Mind and Life Dialogue” conference in Botswana’s capital Gaborone on August 19.

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First Published: Jul 26, 2017 07:16 IST