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Get Wired 15/8: Modi Won’t Commit to OROP, Pak-India Trade Charges, and more

Modi disappoints servicemen on OROP

modi august 15 PIBA day after 200 officers of the Delhi Police tried to strong-arm former servicemen protesting the delay in implementing ‘One Rank, One Pension’ at Jantar Mantar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech refused to commit to accepting the OROP demand any time soon. The August 14 police action against  protesting servicement  led to frantic calls being made to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (retd) V K Singh and Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi, following which the policemen left Jantar Mantar and allowed the ex-servicemen to continue their protests. Other protestors were, however, evicted from the site by force. In his address to the nation from the Red Fort, Modi would only say plans for implementing OROP were at the “final stage.”

Pakistan and India trade charges before talks

Nine days before scheduled talks between the two NSAs, India and Pakistan have traded charges on issues related to terrorism—the broad agenda for the August 23 meeting in New Delhi. On Friday, Indian diplomats were summoned to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry twice — first, regarding the lack of opposition by the National Investigation Agency to Swami Aseemanand receiving bail in the Samjhauta blasts case, and later over a death owing to cross-border firing in the Rawalkot sector. Earlier in the day, while greeting Pakistanis in Delhi on the occasion of their independence day, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit said, “The aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir could neither be ignored nor put on the back burner. No matter how much more time their legitimate struggle takes, Pakistan will never abandon the Kashmiris and their cause.” India responded to this statement by getting the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson to tweet, “The only struggle in J&K is against Pakistani sponsored terrorism. This will be the subject of the upcoming NSA-level talks.”

Title rights for forest dwellers in Gujarat

The Gujarat government has decided to give ownership rights to forest dwellers in the state. The announcement came at a function at Santrampur in the newly carved Mahisagar district where Chief Minister Anandiben Patel issued “order letters” of land ownership to around 800 tribal farmers. Parts of the forest area were allotted to these tribal farmers under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, but ownership of the land still vested with the government. According to the Act, forest dwellers are entitled to community ownership of shared resources like grazing fields, forests, or ponds falling under the forest area. “If the forest land is not given in the name of the tribals, it will make it difficult for them to avail bank loans and other benefits by using land as guarantee,” the Chief Minister said at a pre-Independence Day function.

Congress conditions for GST bill rejected

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rejected the conditions put forward by the Congress for supporting the landmark GST legislation yesterday. He said these conditions are an “after-thought” and were not a part of the Bill that the Congress had itself introduced. The GST reform will create a uniform indirect tax rate across the country by subsuming excise, service tax and other local levies. The move is estimated to boost India’s GDP by 1-2 per cent. The government wanted to introduce the new regime from April 1, 2016 but has been unable to pass the required legislation in Parliament because of Congress opposition. During the erstwhile Congress-led government of Manmohan Singh, the GST proposal was left hanging due to the BJP’s opposition

Over 25,000 farmers seek Presidential permission to hang themselves

Twenty-five thousand farmers signed a petition to President Pranab Mukherjee saying they will hang themselves on India’s Independence Day — Saturday, August 15 — if the government does not meet their demands. The farmers are from the rural district of Mathura and are protesting a bridge that the government constructed in 1998 and that submerged 700 acres of the farmers’ land. The farmers are seeking 80 crore rupees from the government in compensation. Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, a farmer’s coalition, is representing the group. In 2012, 13,754 farmers committed suicide, representing 11 percent of all suicides, the government reported. In 2015 so far, 1,300 farmers have committed suicide in the Maharashtra state alone.

ISIS leader allegedly raped several female hostages at his residence

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi allegedly forced himself on several female hostages held captive at a house in Syria. Among the women that had been sexually assaulted was American hostage Kyla Mueller. Mueller was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013 while leaving a Spanish Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Aleppo. ISIS demanded a 5 million dollar ransom for her release, but later killed her.

Increase in China blast death toll

The death toll from the Chinese port city of Tianjin rose to 85 as firefighters battled to extinguish the burning industrial waste. There were 21 dead firefighters among the dead, authorities said, and 721 people had been hospitalized, 25 of whom were in critical condition.

Herath causes Indian batting collapse in Galle

The Indian batting line up collapsed at the hands of Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath. The Indians were bowled out for a cheap 121 and lost the match by 63 runs despite having been given a very low target to chase.  Herath took 7/48 and Tharindu Kaushal took 3/47 as the Lankans razed the Indians in just 41.5 overs on Saturday and wrapped up the Test match in three-and-a-half days on a track, which gave some assistance to the slow bowlers.