Current Affairs

Morning Brief: India-Russia To Kick Off Military Drill; Rs 133 Crore Ayodhya Facelift Plan; Sharifs Indicted

Tanks participate in an earlier India-Russia joint military drill at the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan around 900 kilometres from Ahmedabad. (SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GettyImages) 

Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.

India-Russia To Kick Off ‘Indra’ Military Drill: India and Russia will kick off 'Indra' a 10-day military exercise today (20 October) that will see, for the first time, all the three services – the Army, the Air Force and the Navy – taking part. The exercise will be conducted at the 249th Combined Army Range Sergiyevisky and in the Sea of Japan near Vladivostok. In its previous nine editions, Indra has been conducted as a single-service exercise alternately between India and Russia. This year, all three Indian and Russian military services will take part in the annual exercise. The Indian contingent comprises 350 personnel from the Army, 80 from the Air Force, two IL-76 aircraft and one Frigate and Corvette each from the Navy. Russia will be represented by approximately 1,000 troops of the 5th Army, marines and ships of its Pacific Fleet and aircraft from Eastern Military District.

Modi Celebrates Diwali In Kashmir, Calls Jawans His Family: Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated Diwali with Indian Army and Border Security Force personnel near the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir’s Gurez sector on Thursday. In his address, the Prime Minister said that like everyone else, he too wished to spend Diwali with his family, and had visited the jawans whom he considers “his family”. The Prime Minister’s visit also comes in the wake of continuous offensive by security forces against militants of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba amid violent street protests and attacks on security personnel in the border state. Appreciating their sacrifice amid harsh conditions, Modi said he gets new energy when he spends time with the soldiers. This is the fourth successive Diwali that Prime Minister Modi has celebrated with troopers on the border and LoC.

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Don’t Brand All Interfaith Marriages As ‘Love Jihad’: Court: The Kerala High Court said on Thursday that all interfaith marriages should not be portrayed as 'love jihad' or 'ghar wapsi' and doing so could jeopardise the religious harmony of the state. It also ordered police to raid and close down centres run by religious fundamentalists to convert or reconvert those falling in love with people from other religions. A division bench passed this order while upholding the marriage of a Hindu girl, Sruthi of Kannur, with Anees Hameed, Kannur, and allowed her to go with him. Sruthi, who got married to Anees under provisions of the Special Marriage Act, told the court that she would remain a Hindu and Anees, a Muslim. The court said it was appalled to notice the recent trend in Kerala to sensationalise every case of inter-religious marriage as either 'love jihad' or 'ghar wapsi'.

Rs 133 Crore Ayodhya Facelift Planned: Armed with a Rs 133 crore package, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is planning to embark on a drive to give a major facelift to Ayodhya. The plan is to develop ghats in Ayodhya and provide the temple town with much needed amenities. Ram Katha Gallery and Park, Queen Heo Memorial, Ram Ki Paidi and Lakshman Kila Ghat all figure in plans for Ayodhya’s transformation. Apart from these historical and religious places, the state government has also laid out an elaborate plan “Ayodhya street rejuvenation – main road and footpath”. Under this plan, the government plans to spend Rs 8 core on eight development activities, including landscaping at public places, public toilets, drainage, streetlights, sign boards and sandstone benches among others.

Kashmir Now Needs Political Initiative, Says Top Police Official: Kashmir now needs a “political initiative” and the central government should take steps to prevent “jobless” youth from being “influenced by a lot of unwanted and dangerous stuff”, State Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid has said. The latest security campaign in Jammu and Kashmir has led to the killing of at least 160 militants, he said and added that “there is a problem in the political narrative in Kashmir”. Vaid said the Centre should take steps focused on youth in Kashmir. “The youth are jobless. He will offer namaaz and then his mobile is his madrassa. He spends a lot of time on social media where he gets influenced by a lot of unwanted and dangerous stuff. We need to have schemes and programmes to engage youth… to earn livelihoods.”

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The Dangers Of Accessing Public Internet Networks: Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) has warned that browsing internet using public wireless computer network at railway stations and airports may leave users vulnerable to cyber attacks. The nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents in India has rated the vulnerability quotient of public Wi-Fi in the country at 'high'. "Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities allows an attacker to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails etc," CERT-in said. The Indian agency has suggested that users avoid public Wi-Fi at all costs and instead use VPN (virtual private network) and wired networks. The note follows an international research that highlighted the vulnerability in WPA or WPA2 encryption that is most commonly used to connect to wireless networks.

Anti-Graft Court Indicts Sharif And Family Members: A Pakistani court indicted ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges spiraling from the Panama Papers leak, in a case that could ultimately see the former leader jailed. A Sharif representative entered a not guilty plea for the sacked premier, who is currently in London with his wife Kalsum as she undergoes cancer treatment. The court also indicted his daughter Maryam and her husband in the corruption case filed by the National Accountability Bureau, which relates to the family’s luxury London properties. Sharif, who last appeared before the anti-corruption court on 2 October, has faced similar challenges in the past. In 1993 he was sacked from his first term as premier for corruption, while in 1999 he was sentenced to life in prison after his second term in office ended with a military putsch.

Pakistan Extends Detention Of Hafiz Saeed For A Month: Pakistan on Thursday extended the detention of 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed for a month. Saeed, who heads terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and has a $10 million US bounty on his head, has been under house arrest since January following a crackdown on the outfit by Pakistan. The detention was extended by a three-member review board of Lahore High Court headed by Judge Yawar Ali. Saeeds aides – Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain may walk out free on the expiry of their 25 September detention order if they are not detained in any other case. Despite the bounty against him, Saeed led a high-profile public life in Pakistan until his arrest, regularly delivering anti-India speeches.

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