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PM Modi's Aircraft Won't Fly Over Pak For Regional Meet SCO In Bishkek

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aircraft won't fly over Pakistan on its way to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan for regional meet SCO that starts tomorrow, the foreign ministry said today. This is widely seen as a snub to Pakistan days after reports suggested its government had "decided in principle" to allow PM Modi's plane to fly over its airspace.

In response to questions on the route the Prime Minister would take, a foreign ministry spokesperson said: "The government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP Aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP Aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek."

Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 26 after Indian Air Force (IAF) planes bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. Since then, it has only opened two of 11 routes, both through southern Pakistan.

India had requested Pakistan to let PM Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace on its way to Bishkek for the two-day SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet.

Pakistan had decided to allow it, PTI reported on Monday, quoting an unnamed official as saying that the Imran Khan government had "approved in principle" the Indian government's request to let PM Modi's aircraft fly over the Pakistani airspace.

"The Indian government will be conveyed about the decision once the procedural formalities are completed. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will also be directed to notify the airmen subsequently," the official said. The official was also quoted as saying that Pakistan "was hopeful that India would respond to its offer for peace dialogue".

Foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar says no bilateral meeting has been arranged between PM Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, who will also attend the meet.

Pakistan had given special permission to Sushma Swaraj, who was foreign minister in the previous Modi government, to fly directly through the Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers'' meet in Bishkek on May 21.

Apart from two routes, Pakistan's airspace remains closed for commercial airliners.

The Indian Air Force announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions on the Indian airspace after the Balakot airstrike had been removed. However, it is unlikely to benefit any commercial airliners unless Pakistan reciprocates and opens its complete airspace.

International operations of Air India and IndiGo have been affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace.

Pakistan extended its partial airspace ban on eastern border with India until June 14.

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Wreckage Of Missing Air Force An-32 Plane Found In Arunachal Pradesh

The wreckage of an An-32 aircraft that went missing with 13 on board last week has been found in Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian Air Force has confirmed. The aircraft went missing on June 3.

The wreckage has been found in Payum Circle of Siang district. It was spotted by a Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force, at a height of around 12,000 feet.

"Efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants and establish survivors," the Air Force tweeted.

IAF's C-130J transport aircraft, Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, NAVY P8-I search aircraft and a fleet of IAF and Army helicopters had been searching for the aircraft. ISRO satellites and unmanned drones were also involved in the search operations.

Teams from the Army, Navy and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) troops, supported by night-time sensors, worked through the night. The Air Force said the search area had been expanded despite challenges posed by vegetation, inhospitable terrain and poor weather.

The plane was traveling from Jorhat in Assam to a remote military landing strip in Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh when it vanished from the radar around 1 pm.

The Air Force deployed two Mi-17s and an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the P8i - a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Tamil Nadu - for the search.

The search was difficult because of difficult terrain and bad weather. The spot where the plane had been flying was mountainous and heavily forested; landing and take-off at Mechuka are extremely difficult. Coupled with erratic weather, the region is among the most inhospitable for air transport.

The plane's Search and Rescue Beacon had not been in production for 14 years, and no signal had been detected. This distress signal was meant to have been picked up by a satellite belonging to Cospas-Sarsat, an international satellite-aided search and rescue facility.

The An-32 is a Soviet-designed twin engine turboprop transport aircraft used extensively by the Indian Air Force for over four decades. Since it joined the IAF fleet, the rugged planes used to ferry people and air-drop supplies have undergone several rounds of upgrades.

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Congress slams BJP for declaring Kargil war veteran as foreigner

The Congress on Thursday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over a tribunal in Assam declaring a Kargil war veteran a foreigner, saying it shows the "high-handedness and flawed manner" in which the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise is being implemented in the northeastern state.

Mohammad Sanaullah, a resident of Kolohikash village in Kamrup district, was declared a foreigner by the Foreigners Tribunal, Kamrup.

"Shocking!! BJP Govt has labelled the 'Foreigner' tag to a Kargil War Hero! It is an insult to the sacrifice of our brave Armed Forces. This speaks volumes about the high handedness and flawed manner in which the NRC exercise is being implemented in Assam," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

The draft Assam NRC was published on July 30, 2018, in which the names of 2.89 crore of the 3.29 crore people were included. The names of 40,70,707 people did not figure in the list. Of these, 37,59,630 names have been rejected and the remaining 2,48,077 are on hold.

A case was registered in 2008 after Sanaullah's name was listed as a 'D' (doubtful) voter in the voters list, according to Additional Superintendent of Police (Kamrup) Sanjib Saikia.

Sanaullah's family said it would appeal to the Gauhati High Court against the tribunal's verdict.

 

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Arun Jaitley opts out due to poor health, requests Modi not to assign any role in new govt

Arun Jaitley has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he will "not be part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government" because of his health. The former finance minister also tweeted a copy of his letter to PM Modi, a day before his oath ceremony on Thursday.

"I am writing to you to formally request you that I should be allowed a reasonable time for myself, my treatment and my health and therefore, not be a part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government," Mr Jaitley wrote.

Mr Jaitley, 66, said he had faced "some serious health challenges" in the last 18 months.

He said after the national election campaign, when PM Modi was leaving for the Kedarnath shrine, he had "orally informed you that even though I was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to me during the campaign, I would in future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health."

The senior BJP leader signed off by saying he would "obviously" have a lot of time to take up any work "informally" to support the government or the party.

Mr Jaitley, who is one of the top three leaders in the BJP and the government, after PM Modi and party president Amit Shah, was not seen at the celebrations at BJP headquarters on Thursday night. Both PM Modi and Mr Shah gave victory speeches at the event.

He has not been seen in public for at least two weeks but has been publishing blogs and messages on social media.

Amid rumours about his health over the past few days, Mr Jaitley had appeared in several photos of his meetings with officials and others.

Mr Jaitley, a lawyer-turned politician, has always been among the BJP's chief troubleshooters. In the past five years, he has steered major economic legislation and has also defended controversial policies for the government.

PM Modi had given Mr Jaitley charge of three ministries when he first took office in 2014 - finance, defence and information and broadcasting.

Was Arun Jaitley a good Finance Minister?

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Mamata Banerjee decides not to attend PM's oath-taking ceremony, cites BJP's Bengal murder charge

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided not to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the new Council of Ministers on May 30. Mamata had agreed to attend the oath-taking ceremony, but backed out after being irked by Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) claims that its workers have been murdered in political violence in the Bengal.

"It was my plan to accept the 'Constitutional Invitation' and attend the oath-taking ceremony. However in the last one hour, I am seeing media reports that the BJP are claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal," Mamata wrote in a tweet directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mamata said that the alleged political murders might have happened "due to personal enmity, family quarrels and other disputes; nothing related to politics".

"So, I am sorry, Narendra Modi Ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony. The ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party which uses it as an opportunity to score political points. Please excuse me," Mamata wrote in her tweet.

Meanwhile, the BJP has expressed its displeasure over Mamata's change of plans. "Bengal was the only state where violence was reported during the Lok Sabha elections and Mamata Banerjee is trying to hide this," West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh told India Today.

The seven phases of 2019 Lok Sabha election saw violent clashes between the supporters of BJP and Mamata's Trinamool Congress. Several deaths from both factions were reported during the course of the bitterly fought polls. At the end of it, BJP managed to make serious inroads into the state, winning 18 out of 34 Lok Sabha seats, where TMC managed to bag 22 seats in the state.

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