March 21, 2019

NATO chief says outside attempts to influence elections 'unacceptable'

Delhi/India/Politics/World by

US President-elect Donald Trump. | (Photo | AP)

BRUSSELS:  NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that outside attempts to manipulate national elections cannot be tolerated, amid uproar over claims Russian interference helped Donald Trump win the US presidency.

“Any attempt to intervene in, to influence national elections from outside is unacceptable,” Stoltenberg said when asked about allegations of Russian cyber attacks and hacking during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

Trump has consistently berated US intelligence agencies over their claim Russian President Vladimir Putin personally approved a cyber offensive to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, the president-elect, who took a much softer line on Russia than Clinton, conceded Moscow may have meddled but he bluntly rejected any suggestion his aides colluded with the Kremlin to win the vote.

Russia has rejected the charges.

Stoltenberg insisted the danger was real, adding that the US-led military alliance was “concerned” about cyber security and had seen reports about such attacks against “many NATO allies”.

“That is why NATO has focused on cyber defence… cyber security is top of our agenda,” he said after a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English at NATO HQ in Brussels.

He recalled that NATO leaders at their Warsaw summit in July had made cyber security an “operational domain,” putting it on a par with its responsibility to provide traditional military capabilities on land, sea and in the air.

They also endorsed plans for a special response unit to help any ally under threat for a cyber attack against both military, and increasingly today, civilian infrastructure which is so dependent on computer networks.

Kharagpur fears Telugu mafia gang-wars are back

Delhi/India/Politics by

A file picture of a godown in Gole Bazaar area of Kharagpur that was burnt down during the communal violence that rocked the town in October. 

KHARAGPUR: The air in the bustling industrial town of Kharagpur in West Bengal is calm. Residents say it’s the calm before a storm. The gunning down of Telugu ‘don’ A Srinivas Naidu alias Srinu Naidu at a Trinamool Congress party office on Wednesday has rekindled fears among the town’s residents of intensified gang-war that has hounded them for decades.

In a bid to control the railway scrapyard generated from one of India’s largest railway workshops in Kharagpur, rival factions of the Telugu mafia have shed a lot of blood on the town’s streets, some in broad daylight. The town elected state BJP President Dileep Ghosh in April 2016 Assembly elections and witnessed its first-ever communal violence in October.

Though not linked directly with the mafia, bigger names such as Srinu Naidu and his godfather turned bête noire Basab Rambabu were kept in preventive detention during that period. On the other hand, the municipality is controlled by the Trinamool Congress. Srinu’s wife A Pooja Naidu is a Trinamool councillor and ironically in her Ward number 18, her husband was shot dead. The TMC has demanded a probe into the role of Dileep Ghosh into the murder. However, many fingers of the town’s residents point at Srinu Naidu’s rival Rambabu, who was attacked allegedly by Srinu’s men in
2011. “Though initially it may seem a political murder as it happened inside a Trinamool party office, old rivalries will be taken into account during investigation,” a senior police official told

Basab Rambabu, the biggest name in the Telugu mafia of Kharagpur carefully knit a godfather-like image among the more than 2 lakh Telugus of the town, but many are now vexed with the blood-spilling as it is they who are the major sufferers of this political-mafia hotch-potch. “The young, educated and unemployed Telugu boys of Kharagpur are most affected by the gang-war between factions of the Telugu mafia. They are the foot-soldiers, ready to sacrifice their lives for their leaders,” V Mohan Rao of Malancha area said.

Rambabu was arrested in 2001 from Hyderabad in connection with double murders of CPI leaders and brothers Manas and Narayan Choubey but was released on bail from Midnapore Jail after serving few years of the sentence. However, the don came under attack in 2011 allegedly by the men of Srinu Naidu, who had extended his control over the scrapyard during Rambabu’s absence. The scrapyard mafia emerged over buying the scrap en masse during auction and selling it to auxiliary industrial units of the town.

Vexed with gang-war and communal violence, the town’s residents fear peace days are light years away. “Earlier, Telugus had come in search of a living from Uttar Andhra (northern coastal AP). Now, no educated Telugu wants his son or daughter to live here. Many work in IT firms of Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The peace of the city has been lost,” said V Venkat of Nimpura area. 

France for 'decisive action' against LeT, JeM

Delhi/India/Politics by

NEW DELHI:  France today pressed for “decisive action” against Pakistan-based terror groups like LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen which are “targeting” India and vowed to work with New Delhi to get terrorist Masood Azhar proscribed by the UN Security Council.

Without naming China which has blocked a proposal at the UNSC to sanction JeM chief Azhar, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “The international community’s determination to combat terrorism must be the same everywhere, regardless of the threat.”

On the cross-LoC surgical strikes carried out by India in September last year after an attack on Uri army camp, Ayrault said a country has a “right to defend itself” in the wake of such threats. “France has very firmly condemned the terrorist attacks against India, including the recent one in Uri, and reiterated its full solidarity with India in its combat against terrorism,” the French Minister, who was on a visit here, told PTI in an interview.

Clearly referring to Pakistan without naming it, he emphasised that all countries should fight effectively against terrorism “originating from their territory or territories under their control”. “We particularly want to see decisive action taken, in keeping with international law, against terrorist groups targeting India, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen,” he said.

The French Minister, who was on a four-day visit to India primarily to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, was asked about his views on the surgical strikes carried out by Indian Army in September last to target terror camps based across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “Nothing can justify terrorism, which must be fought everywhere with equal determination.

When a country is faced with a terrorist threat of this nature, it has the right to defend itself,” he replied. With regard to China blocking sanctioning of Azhar, he said, “We regret that, despite our joint efforts and wide support from the Committee, unanimity could not be reached.”

He noted that Jaish-e-Mohammad is already included in the Committee’s list of terrorist organisations and “therefore, there are very strong arguments in favour of listing its chief, as India has requested”. That’s why France not only supported but also co-sponsored this request, he said.

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