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Imran Khan's PTI marches ahead amid 'glitches' in Pakistan election

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan. (File photo: IANS)
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan. (File photo: IANS)
Massive delays in counting and allegations of rigging dominated the early hours of Thursday in Pakistan, where official poll results were still awaited even 15 hours after voting ended.
 
Preliminary results indicate Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has obtained a clear edge over other parties with 119 in their kitty as unofficial results continue to pour in.
 
Although PTI workers and supporters started celebrations before the final results, no statement -- or even a tweet -- has been issued by the party's leader and former cricketer Imran Khan himself on the victory. 
 
His spokesperson Naeemul Haque, however, tweeted that the PTI chief will "address the nation" at 2 p.m. "in celebration and recognition of the massive support received from the people of Pakistan in the 2018 elections which was a contest between the forces of good and evil".
 
In Punjab, with preliminary results from 50 per cent polling stations available with ECP, PML-N is currently holding its lead on 129 provincial seats but PTI is closing in with a lead on 122 seats.
 
Imran Khan's party is clearly steering ahead in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with a lead on 64 seats against Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which is currently leading on 12 seats, as per reports from 35 per cent polling stations in the province.
 
The preliminary results from 37 per cent polling stations in Sindh show PPP-P leading on 75 seats, followed by PTI on 22 seats.
 
In Balochistan, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is leading on 12 provincial seats, followed by Balochistan National Party (BNP) on nine seats, based on unofficial results from 35 per cent polling stations.
 
According to Geo News, Awami National Party leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour conceded defeat to PTI's Shaukat Ali, his competitor on Peshawar's NA-31 seat, saying: "The results indicate that Imran Khan is a favourite leader of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I am a democratic person and I admit the defeat."
 
Counting is still going on at the polling stations of different constituencies.
 
According to PTV news, Imran Khan has maintained a massive lead over PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former Prime Minister, in the crucial Islamabad constituency. 
 
The voter turnout was recorded at 50-55 per cent of the nearly 106 million-strong electorate, similar to the previous electoral contest in 2013.
 
Television visuals showed election workers sorting through massive piles of paper ballots at polling stations across the country.
 
PML-N rejects Pakistan general elections results: Shehbaz Sharif
 
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif at a mid-vote count press conference said his party rejects the poll results. 
 
In a tweet, he said the party had rejected the results "due to manifest and massive irregularities".
 
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said he had not received any official results from any constituency where he was contesting, despite it being past midnight. 
 
"My candidates (have been) complaining (that) polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country. Inexcusable and outrageous," he tweeted.
 
A delay has been reported in the transmission of election results due to the breaking down of the Election Commission of Pakistan's Results Transmission System (RTS), which is being run through a software powered by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
 
The Election Commission's secretary Babar Yaqoob flatly denied allegations of vote count manipulation.
 
Shortly before Sharif spoke, state television said that just one-fifth of the votes had been counted so far -- an unusually slow count that further fuelled suspicion of rigging.
 
Yaqoob said the vote-counting system, which was untested, had "crashed", adding: "There is definitely no conspiracy, no one wants to influence the results".
 
A single party will need to bag at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.
 
As many as 12,570 candidates were in the electoral fray for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the country's 11th general election.
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
 
 
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Early trends put PTI ahead of PML-N in Pakistan vote count

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As the counting of votes started in Pakistan on Wednesday at various polling stations, early leads showed Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf ahead of Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
 
According to the trends, the PTI was leading in 74 seats, PML-N in 54 and the Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stood at third position with 27 seats.
 
The voter turnout was recorded between 50 and 55 per cent of the nearly 106 million electorate, similar to the previous contest in 2013.
 
TV visuals showed election workers sorting through massive piles of paper ballots at polling stations across the country.
 
The contest seemed headed for a two-party battle between Khan's PTI and the incumbent PML-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose brother Shehbaz is leading its campaign.
 
As many as 12,570 candidates contested for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the country's 11th General Election.
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
 
 
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Polling ends in Pakistan, 37 killed in violence

 
Suicide bomber kils dozens as Pakistanis vote
 
 
At least 37 people were killed and several injured, most of them in a suicide bombing in Balochistan, on Wednesday as millions of voters thronged polling stations across the country to exercise their franchise in the 11th general election. Counting of votes has begun at certain polling stations after the voting ended.
 
The Balochistan bombing targeted the convoy of Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema near a polling station. It left 31 persons, including some policemen, dead. The senior police official escaped unhurt, Geo News reported.
 
Civil Hospital Quetta officials confirmed the casualties.
 
The area was crowded as people were making their way to vote at Tameer-e-Nau Model School. Polling was halted at the polling station, only to resume later.
 
While polling stations opened for voting at 8 a.m., enthusiastic citizens queued up outside their respective stations as early as 7 a.m. The PML-N had sent a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, seeking an extension in time by one hour. But the poll body refused.
 
Results for the 11th general elections are expected to trickle in immediately with the final outcome likely by Thursday morning or afternoon, according to election officials.
 
A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) worker was killed and two others injured as party activists clashed with Awami National Party (ANP) workers outside a polling station in Nawan Kali in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, according to Express News. 
 
Another person was killed in firing outside a Mirpurkhas polling station in Dighri area.
 
In a separate incident, one person was killed while five people were injured in a cracker blast outside a political camp in Larkana.
 
A mini-jeep taking voters to polling stations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa fell into a deep gorge, resulting in the death of four people.
 
The workers of the two parties clashed in Mardan as well. Several people have been injured in the firing incident. Following the clash. Police took control of the affected area.
 
Two people were injured in a firing incident in Dera Murad Jamali in Balochistan. 
 
In a separate incident, four people were injured in a blast outside a political camp in Larkana in Sindh province, the home of the Bhutto family.
 
Independent candidate Jibran Nasir said that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters attacked a facilitation camp he had set up in Chandio Village in Karachi.
 
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As many as 12,570 candidates are in the field for a total of 849 seats of the national and provincial assemblies in the general election. Nearly 106 million people are eligible to vote.
 
The battle is mainly between three parties: Shahbaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Imran Khan's PTI.
 
In an effort to increase voter participation, the Election Commission declared a public holiday on Wednesday.
 
Over four lakh security personnel have been deployed at polling stations across the country to maintain law and order and take action against harassment, after the nation witnessed one of the bloodiest campaigns, including the July 13 bombing that killed 150 people.
 
According to a poll official, 5,878 polling stations have been declared "highly sensitive" -- official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence -- in Sindh; 5,487 in Punjab and Islamabad; 3,874 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and 1,768 in Balochistan.
 
The elections are being held as emotions run high over a graft case that led to the imprisonment of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
 
Sharif's PML-N has condemned the legal cases against its members in order to force them to leave the party and the efforts to prevent the party from emerging victorious in the election as it had done in 2013 by getting an absolute majority.
 
These elections are the second in Pakistan's history in which a government was able to complete its term. Military dictators have ruled the country for half of the 71 years of its existence since its founding in 1947.
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
 
 
 
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Shared history of struggle against colonialism, development challenges link Africa with India: Modi

 
India turning into manufacturing hub: Modi
 
 
A shared history of struggle against colonialism, large Indian diaspora and common development challenges were all reasons for Africa  assuming importance for India, according to visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
Addressing the Indian community in Uganda at an event that was also attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Mr Modi said he felt a sense of belonging to the Indian community. Mr Museveni’s presence at the event showed his love for the people of India and the Indian community here, he said.
 
Referring to the centuries-old relationship between India and Uganda, he said the historical links between the two countries included the struggle against colonialism and the railway construction work in Uganda. Several Indians have played a key role in Uganda's politics as well, he added.
 
He complimented the community for retaining its sense of Indianness, as reflected in the cultural performances on this occasion.
 
He said today India was among the fastest growing economies in the world. It was now exporting cars and smartphones. Digital technology was becoming a means of empowerment for the people and the country was emerging as an important centre for Startups.
 
Speaking of the importance of Africa in India's foreign policy, he mentioned the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi in 2015. Several other high-level bilateral engagements had taken place in recent years between India and other African nations.
 
Among other initiatives were projects with lines of credit worth more than 3 billion dollars, scholarships and e-visa arrangements. About half of all member nations of the International Solar Alliance were from Africa, Mr Modi said.
 
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30 killed in bombing near polling station in Pakistan

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At least 30 persons were killed and several injured on Wednesday after a suicide bomber detonated himself near a polling station in Balochistan as millions of voters queued up across Pakistan to elect a new government.
 
The attack targeted the convoy of Deputy Inspector General Abdul Razzaq Cheema near the polling station on the Eastern Bypass. The senior police official remained unhurt. however, SHO Bhosa Mandi succumbed to his injuries, Geo News reported.
 
Civil Hospital Quetta officials confirmed the number of deaths.
 
The area was crowded as people were making their way to vote at Tameer-e-Nau Model School. Polling has come to a halt at the polling station after the blast.
 
IANS
 
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
 
 
 
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Voting begins for Pakistan general election

 
Voting begins for Pakistan's General Elections
 
 
Voters in large numbers started flocking outside polling stations across the country on Wednesday to cast their vote in Pakistan's 11th general election, according to DawnNewsTV.
 
The first vote was cast in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Charsadda.
 
While polling stations officially opened for voting at 8 a.m., enthusiastic citizens queued up outside their respective stations as early as 7 a.m.
 
The battle is set to come down to three parties: Shahbaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
 
July 25 has been declared a public holiday by the Election Commission of Pakistan, in an effort to increase voter participation.
 
A record number of 3,71,388 security personnel have been deployed at polling stations across the country to maintain law and order and take action against harassment, after the nation witnessed one of the bloodiest campaigning.
 
According to a poll official, 5,878 polling stations have been declared "highly sensitive" -- official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence -- in Sindh; 5,487 in Punjab and Islamabad; 3,874 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and 1,768 in Balochistan.
 
Polling stations will remain open for voting till 6 p.m.
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
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India, Uganda agree to strengthen economic, defence ties

India and Uganda on Tuesday agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in the areas of economy and defence as New Delhi extended two lines of credit to the East African nation following delegation-level talks co-chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala.

 
Modi gets ceremonial reception in Uganda
 
 
India and Uganda on Tuesday agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in the areas of economy and defence as New Delhi extended two lines of credit to the East African nation following delegation-level talks co-chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni here.
 
"India will always support Uganda's economic development and nation-building efforts," Modi said in a joint address to the media with Museveni following the talks.
 
"Training, capacity building, technology and infrastructure are among the areas of of aid from our side.
 
"In the future too, we will keep aiding Uganda according to its priorities," he said.
 
The Prime Minister also announced two lines of credit worth nearly $200 million for energy infrastructure, agriculture and dairy sectors.
 
He also announced a gift of a cancer therapy machine for the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala as a sign of friendship between the people of India and Uganda.
 
Stating that bilateral trade and investment is growing stronger, Modi said that both he and Museveni will meet CEOs of both countries here on Wednesday.
 
He said that it is a matter of great satisfaction that defence cooperation between the two countries is progressing well.
 
"We are ready to further strengthen our defence ties," he said.
 
The two sides signed four MoUs, including in the areas of defence cooperation and cultural exchange.
 
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The Prime Minister also said that India will continue to provide vehicles and ambulances for civilian and military use in Uganda.
 
Modi appreciated Museveni for the love he has shown to the Indian community in Uganda, where there are over 30,000 people of Indian origin.
 
On his part, Museveni said that the two sides emphasised on trade, investment and tourism during Tuesday's talks.
 
Inviting Indians to visit Uganda, he said that promoting tourism would go a long way in boosting bilateral trade.
 
In this connection, he sought permission for Ugandan Airlines to fly to Mumbai.
 
According to Museveni, one of Modi's suggestions during the talks was for Indian companies to invest in Uganda's healthcare sector.
 
Modi arrived here earlier on Tuesday from Rwanda on the second leg of his five-day, three-nation tour of Africa that will also take him to South Africa.
 
This is the first Prime Ministerial visit from India to Uganda in over 20 years.
 
For Modi, this is his second visit to this East African nation after his visit in 2007 as Gujarat Chief Minister.
 
IANS
 
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
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Pakistan set for elections amid uncertainty, terror attacks

 
Military looms large over divisive Pakistan election
 
 
Pakistan will vote on Wednesday to elect a new National Assembly and provincial assemblies following a chaotic and distasteful election campaign marred by terror attacks and unprecedented accusations of interference by the military.
 
With former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in jail over corruption charges along with his daughter and son-in-law, the main contestants will be his demoralized Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's PTI and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with scores of smaller parties also in the fray. 
 
Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which critics say has the covert backing of the military establishment, is said to enjoy a slight lead over its rivals and the flamboyant politician has threatened to upset the traditional political bigwigs.
 
Also contesting are Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's son Hafiz Talha Saeed and son-in-law Khalid Waleed. They are among 260 candidates fielded under the umbrella of 'Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek', which was registered with the Election Commission in 2011. 
 
The last democratically elected government completed its full term on May 31 but by then Pakistan was in turmoil, with Imran Khan launching a no-holds barred attack on Nawaz Sharif, who was forced to step down as Prime Minister by a court on corruption charges. 
 
On the last day of campaigning, Imran Khan addressed four rallies in the PML-N strongholds in Lahore while PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif concluded his party's campaign with a public meeting in Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab, the PML-N base. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addressed supporters in traditional bastion Sind before paying homage at the graves of his assassinated mother Benazir Bhutto and grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
 
Polling will begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and end at 6 p.m. Over 100 political parties are in the fray for 272 seats in the National Assembly.
 
Despite a wave of terror attacks, thousands packed election rallies even as candidates went from home to home seeking support. But mainstream television and social media played a powerful role in the campaign.
 
Over 200 people, including three candidates, were killed in terror attacks.
 
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In all, 3,459 candidates will contest 272 seats. Another 60 seats are reserved for women while 10 have been kept aside for religious minorities including Hindus. 
 
Around 1.6 million electoral staff will be on duty on polling day. Nearly half a million police personnel will be deployed, out of which 202,100 will be posted in Punjab and Islamabad and 100,500 in Sindh.
 
From Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, Nawaz Sharif -- who has fallen foul of the military -- asked Pakistanis to give "a historic verdict which may sweep away all those verdicts that have made Pakistan a graveyard of justice".
 
Imran Khan continued to be aggressive, telling huge rallies on Monday night that the Sharifs claims of development were "only in advertisements". He urged the people to change the fate of Pakistan.
 
Others making a strong pitch for a slice of power are the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) in Karachi and the Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. For the first time in Pakistan's history, tribal areas will vote after being merged with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
 
According to an Election Commission official, 5,878 polling stations have been declared "highly sensitive" -- official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence -- in Sindh, 5,487 in Punjab and Islamabad, 3,874 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and 1,768 in Balochistan.
 
In a special message, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan urged people to vote without fail. He promised a free and fair election. 
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
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India, Rwanda review bilateral ties, sign 8 MoUs

India and Rwanda reviewed their entire gamut of bilateral ties and signed eight agreements across different sectors during the course of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to the East African nation, the External Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday.

 
We will grow and help those with us also grow: Modi
 
 
India and Rwanda reviewed their entire gamut of bilateral ties and signed eight agreements across different sectors during the course of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to the East African nation, the External Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday.
 
"During the talks, both leaders reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and expressed satisfaction at the excellent relations between Rwanda and India in the overall context of Strategic Partnership," the ministry said in a statement following delegation-level talks chaired by Modi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali on Monday.
 
Ties between India and Rwanda were elevated to that of a Strategic Partnerhsip in January last year.
 
According to the statement, Modi highlighted the fact that Rwanda would house the first of the 18 new resident Indian missions to be opened in Africa in 2018 and this underlined the importance attached by India to its relations with Rwanda. 
 
Stating that India and Rwanda were looking forward to further elevate their ties, Modi, while addressing the media with Kagame following Monday's talks, said: "This (opening the new mission) will not only facilitate close communication among our governments, it will also help in consular, passport, visa and other facilities." 
 
Agreements in the area of trade, defence, dairy cooperation, agriculture, culture, leather and allied sectors and two lines of credit worth $200 million for expansion of the special economic zone and irrigation scheme were signed. 
 
"Prime Minister appreciated the effective utilisation of $400 million lines of credit extended to Rwanda in the last few years," the Ministry statement said. 
 
In his address, Modi appreciated the steps for peace that have been adopted in Rwanda following the mass genocide in that country in 1994.
 
Around 500,000 to one million people were killed in the mass genocide against the Tutsi people by the majority Hutu government of that time.
 
"For us, it is a matter pride that India is a trusted development partner of Rwanda," Modi said.
 
"We have been helping Rwanda in capacity building, infrastructure development and ICT," he said.
 
According to the statement, Modi complimented President Kagame for the important role played by him as African Union Chair in finalising the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement that has been signed by 44 countries as of March 21, 2018. 
 
"He expressed hope that his leadership will guide the African Union in furthering economic integration of the continent," it stated. 
 
"He indicated India's willingness to continue to strengthen relations with African Union." 
 
Following the talks, Modi also interacted with the Indian community in Rwanda and invited them to visit India for the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas to be held in January 2019. 
 
Members of the Indian community of neighbouring states had also travelled for this interaction with the Prime Minister.
 
On Tuesday, the second and concluding day of his visit, Modi visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial honouring the memory of the 1994 genocide victims and laid a wreath there.
 
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Thereafter, he visited the Rwera model village and gifted 200 diary cows to the villagers as part of the Rwandan government's Girinka programme for economic development.
 
Girinka was initiated by President Kagame in response to the alarmingly high rate of childhood malnutrition and as a way to accelerate poverty reduction and integrate livestock and crop farming. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, Modi appreciated the Girinka programme, and Kagame's initiative in this regard. 
 
According to the External Affairs Ministry, he said people in India too would be pleasantly surprised to see the cow being given such importance as a means of economic empowerment in villages, in faraway Rwanda. 
 
The Prime Minister also announced gifting of 100,000 books of the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) books, setting up of the Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Kigali which would provide training to youth of Rwanda for enhancing their skills in a variety of sectors, fully funded 25 slots for short-term training in the field of dairy production and processing, contribution of $10,000 each to the Kigali Genocide Memorial and the Imbuto Foundation run by the First Lady of Rwanda towards the education of the girl child.
 
Modi later addressed the India-Rwanda Business and called for boosting economic ties between the two countries.
 
"Our nations can do a lot together," he said. "There are several opportunities in rural development and small scale industries."
 
He said that though India is growing exponentially, "our mantra is 'sabka saath sabka vikas'".
 
"We will grow but we will also help those grow, who are with us," the Prime Minister said. "We will walk together." 
 
Modi reached Rwanda on Monday in the first leg of his five-day, three-nation tour of Africa that will also take him to Uganda and South Africa.
 
This was the first ever Prime Ministrial visit from India to Rwanda.
 
This is also Modi's second visit to mainland Africa after he visited Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in 2016.
 
IANS
 
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PM gifts cows at Rweru Model Village in Rwanda

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gifted 200 cows to villagers who do not yet own a cow, under the Rwandan Government's Girinka Programme.
 
The function to mark the handing over of cows was held at Rweru Model Village, in the presence of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Modi expressed appreciation for the Girinka Programme and President Kagame's initiative in this regard. He said people in India too would be pleasantly surprised to see the cow being given such importance as a means of economic empowerment in villages, in faraway Rwanda.
 
He spoke of the similarity in rural life in the two countries. He said that the Girinka Programme will help transform villages in Rwanda.
 
The word Girinka can be translated as ‘may you have a cow’ and describes a centuries-old cultural practice in Rwanda whereby a cow was given by one person to another, as a sign of respect and gratitude.
 
Girinka was initiated by President Paul Kagame in response to the alarmingly high rate of childhood malnutrition and as a way to accelerate poverty reduction and integrate livestock and crop farming. 
 
The program is based on the premise that providing a dairy cow to the poor transforms livelihoods, reconciles communities improving agricultural productivity through the use of manure as fertilizer which would lead to improving soil quality and reducing erosion through the planting of grasses and trees.
 
Since its introduction in 2006, hundreds of thousand people have received cows through the Girinka program. By June 2016, a total of 248,566 cows had been distributed to poor households.
 
The programme has contributed to an increase in agricultural production in Rwanda - especially milk production and products, reduced malnutrition and increased incomes. It is also aimed at promoting unity and reconciliation among Rwandans based on the cultural principle that if a cow is given from one person to another, it establishes trust and respect between the giver and beneficiary.
 
While this was not an original goal of Girinka, it has evolved to become a significant aspect. It also follows certain criteria in choosing of the beneficiaries. A Rwanda government official said they mainly look at those very poor vulnerable families that don’t own a cow but have land that can be used to grow grass for feeding the cows. The beneficiary should be in a position to construct an animal shed or willing to join others in the community to construct a communal cowshed.
 
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Death toll in suicide attack near Kabul airport climbs to 23

Afghan First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum (C) arrives at the Kabul international airport, Afghanistan, July 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Rahmat Alizadah/IANS)
Afghan First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum (C) arrives at the Kabul international airport, Afghanistan, July 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Rahmat Alizadah/IANS)
The death toll in a suicide attack near Kabul airport, that took place shortly after a plane carrying Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum had landed, climbed to 23 on Monday while the number of wounded rose to 107.
 
Dostum, who had gone into self-exile to Turkey last year amid an investigation that his bodyguards allegedly tortured a political rival, was received on Sunday by dozens of supporters and local authorities at the international airport just minutes before the attack. He escaped unscathed.
 
"The death toll rose to 23 killed and 107 injured, including security forces and civilians," an official from the press office of the Ministry of Public Health told Efe on condition of anonymity.
 
He added that the ministry was still working out the details of the casualties to identify how many of them were civilians and how many were police officers.
 
Terror group Islamic State had claimed the attack and said it was targeted at the Vice-President and his supporters.
 
IANS
 
 
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Toronto shooting: 2 dead including shooter

 
Multiple victims reported in Toronto shooting
 
 
A gunman, who opened fire at a busy Toronto restaurant strip injuring at least 14 people including a young girl, has been shot dead, Canadian police said.
 
The young girl, who had received critical injuries in the attack in the Danforth and Logan avenues area, on Sunday night has succumbed, the BBC reported. 
 
The motive for the shooting is not clear yet, said police, who were appealing to witnesses for details.
 
Jeremy Cohn, a journalist with @globalnewsto, posted a footage from the scene, saying that "victims are spread across many blocks".
 
Jody Steinhauer told CBC News she was with her family in a restaurant in the area when she heard what sounded like 10 to 15 blasts of firecrackers. "We started to hear people scream out front," she said.
 
Some of the victims who were scattered across the ground for "many blocks", were treated at the scene, while others were taken to hospitals after the gunman dressed in black was seen firing his gun between 15 and 20 times.
 
The emergency services sent victims to trauma centres across the city just after the shooting started around 10 p.m. outside the restaurant on Danforth Avenue in Greektown, Toronto police Sergeant Glenn Russell told CNN.
 
Witnesses said they heard more than a dozen shots ring out from inside the busy restaurant. Paramedics confirmed to the media that the victims received "significant injuries" and one of them was a child.
 
Ten people were transported to various hospitals, including six to trauma hospitals, one to a paediatric trauma centre and one to another hospital, Toronto Paramedic Services told CNN partner CTV. 
 
Fire Services was assisting with efforts, Toronto Fire Captain Adrian Ratushniak told CNN.
 
The police said it has taken witnesses from the scene by bus to be interviewed at nearby police stations.
 
Details of the incident were still sketchy.
 
The scene of the attack is about 14.5km from Yonge Street, where a motorist went on a ramming rampage on April 23, which left 10 people dead and another 15 injured.
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
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Multiple people shot outside Toronto restaurant

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Multiple people in Canada have been shot outside a Toronto restaurant, police said.
 
A gunman has opened fire with witnesses saying victims could be seen scattered across the ground for "many blocks", News corp Australia reported. 
 
The victims have been sent to trauma centres across the city after the shooting started around 10 p.m. on Sunday outside the restaurant on Danforth Avenue in Greektown, Toronto police Sergeant Glenn Russell told CNN.
 
Witnesses said they heard more than a dozen shots ring out from inside the busy restaurant. A man dressed in black was seen in the street, firing a gun between 15 and 20 times, the police was told. 
 
Paramedics have confirmed to the media that the victims have "significant injuries" and one of them is a child, CNN said.
 
Eight people have been transported to various hospitals -- six to trauma hospitals, one to a paediatric trauma centre and one to another hospital, Toronto Paramedic Services told CNN partner CTV. 
 
Two more people were en route to another hospital -- taking the total to 10 patients so far, the Canadian station reported.
 
Fire Services is assisting with efforts, Toronto Fire Captain Adrian Ratushniak told CNN.
 
The police said it will give more details soon. The witnesses have been taken from the scene by bus to be interviewed at nearby police stations.
 
The scene of the attack is about 14.5km from Yonge Street, where a motorist went on a ramming rampage on April 23, which left 10 people dead and another 15 injured.
 
IANS
 
(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)
 
 
 
 
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21 Indian-origin persons sentenced in massive call centre fraud in US

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Twenty-one Indian-origin persons have been sentenced here to up to 20 years for their role in a massive India-based call centre scam which defrauded thousands of US residents of hundreds of millions of dollars, the Justice Department said.
 
The sentences which range from 4 years to 20 years were announced earlier this week, the department said in a press release on Friday.
 
"The stiff sentences imposed this week represent the culmination of the first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call center scam industry," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 
 
"This case represents one of the most significant victories to date in our continuing efforts to combat elder fraud and the victimization of the most vulnerable members of the US public. 
 
"The transnational criminal ring of fraudsters and money launderers who conspired to bilk older Americans, legal immigrants and many others out of their life savings, must recognize that all resources will be deployed to shut down these telefraud schemes, put those responsible in jail and bring a measure of justice to the victims," Sessions said.
 
According to various admissions made in connection with the defendants' guilty pleas, between 2012 and 2016, the defendants and their conspirators perpetrated a complex fraud and money laundering scheme in which individuals from call centres located in Ahmedabad frequently impersonated officials from the federal tax agency, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or US Citizenship and Immigration Services in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout the US. 
 
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Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, the accused targeted the US victims who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government.
 
Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Upon payment, the call centres would immediately turn to a network of "runners" based in the US to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.
 
For their services, the runners would earn a specific fee or a percentage of the funds. Runners also received victims' funds via wire transfers, which were retrieved under fake names and through the use of using false identification documents, direct bank deposits by victims or other gift cards that victims purchased. 
 
Three other conspirators were sentenced earlier this year for laundering proceeds for the conspiracy. 
 
Twenty-two of the accused were held jointly and severally liable for restitution of $8,970,396 payable to identified victims of their crimes. Additionally, the court entered individual preliminary orders of forfeiture against the defendants for assets that were seized in the case, and money judgments totalling over $72,942,300.
 
The indictment in the case also charged 32 India-based conspirators and five India-based call centres with general conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. These defendants are yet to be arraigned in the case.
 
IANS
 
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8 dead in tourist boat capsize in US

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At least eight persons have died and over 10 injured in a tourist boat accident in the US state of Missouri, said an official.
 
According to Southern Stone County Fire Protection spokesman Eric Nielsen, the incident occurred on Thursday on the Table Rock Lake near Branson, CNN reported.
 
There were more than 20 people onboard when it capsized, Nielsen said. "We did have a severe thunderstorm, not sure if that is the contributing factor," he added. "There is a lot of storm debris."
 
A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, the parent company of Ride the Ducks Branson, said the company is in contact with their employees at the scene.
 
Suzanne Smagala-Potts said the company had acquired the vessel involved in the incident not long ago, the CNN report added. There were other boats on the lake that returned to the dock safely.
 
Divers representing various agencies were on scene to assist with the investigation and recovery. 
 
At least six patients were treated at CoxHealth Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell said. She, however, did not comment on the nature of the victims' injuries.
 
The rescue operation is still on.
 
IANS
 
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India, US to hold 2+2 Dialogue on September 6

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The United States announced on Thursday that the inaugural US-India "2+2" Dialogue would be held in New Delhi on September 6.
 
"Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis look forward to meeting with their Indian counterparts, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman, to discuss strengthening strategic, security, and defense cooperation as the United States and India jointly address challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond," Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement here.
 
The Dialogue was originally scheduled to be held in Washington on July 6 but the US said on June 28 that the meeting had been postponed for "unavoidable reasons".
 
The new dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington D.C. on June 25-26, 2017. 
 
The two sides are expected to share perspectives on strengthening their strategic and security ties and exchange views on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest at the meeting.
 
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Facebook to remove posts that spur violence

Accused of helping to spur violence in countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India, Facebook has said it will begin removing misinformation that leads to violence and physical harm.
 
Currently, Facebook bans content that directly calls for violence but the new policy will cover fake news that has the potential to stir up physical harm, CNET reported late on Wednesday.
 
"There are certain forms of misinformation that have contributed to physical harm, and we are making a policy change which will enable us to take that type of content down," Facebook said in a statement.
 
"We will begin implementing the policy during the coming months," it added.
 
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is facing the flak in India for allowing the circulation of large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours and provocation that has led to growing instances of lynching of innocent people.
 
In June, Facebook removed content that alleged Muslims in Sri Lanka were poisoning food given and sold to Buddhists.
 
A coalition of activists from eight countries, including India and Myanmar, in May called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation.
 
In a statement, the coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook's role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.
 
Besides India and Myanmar, the other countries that the activists represented were Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, Syria and Ethiopia.
 
The demands raised by the group bore significance as Facebook came under fire for its failure to stop the deluge of hate-filled posts against the disenfranchised Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.
 
Sri Lanka temporarily shut down Facebook earlier in 2018 after hate speech spread on the company's apps resulted in mob violence.
 
According to The Verge, Facebook will review posts that are inaccurate or misleading, and are created or shared with the intent of causing violence or physical harm.
 
The posts will be reviewed in partnership with firms in the particular country including threat intelligence agencies.
 
"Partners are asked to verify that the posts in question are false and could contribute to imminent violence or harm," Facebook said.
 
IANS
 
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Rescued boys from Thai cave make public appearance

 
Thai boys make first public appearance since cave rescue
 
 
Twelve boys and their soccer coach who were last week rescued from a flooded cave in northern Thailand after becoming trapped spoke to the media for the first time on Wednesday.
 
Members of the Wild Boars soccer team were discharged from hospital earlier in the day in Chiang Rai, where they had been recovering and receiving medical and psychological support after they were rescued from the cave in an ordeal that lasted over two weeks and gripped the world's attention.
 
The boys, all of whom are aged between 13 and 17, appeared healthy and in fine spirits as they faced the media for the first time since their rescue, Efe news reported.
 
They were joined during the briefing by the Thai Navy SEAL divers who had helped with the rescue effort and who had stayed with them after they had been found.
 
At the press conference, during which pre-vetted questions that were approved by a psychologist and asked through a moderator, the coach, 25 year-old Ekapol "Ake" Chantawong, described in detail how the team had become trapped inside the cave by a flash flood which blocked their exit.
 
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Coach Ake described how the water levels rose dramatically in less than an hour stranding them on a ledge and how they attempted to dig their way out. "At least we were trying to do something," he said. 
 
Ake also denied reports that some of the boys were unable to swim their way to freedom. "We can all swim. Some stronger than others, but we could all swim," he said, adding that the rising floodwaters had made any escape impossible.
 
Some of the boys said they never lost hope of being able to escape the cave. "I told them (his teammates) to believe, to stay strong," one of them said.
 
The group also spoke of their gratitude towards the rescue workers and of the bond they developed with the Thai Navy SEALs who stayed with them after they had been located.
 
"I feel like they are my dads," one boy said, while another said: "I'm glad that he kept us busy and found something for us to do."
 
The team entered Tham Luang cave located in the northern province of Chiang Rai during an excursion on June 23 after completing a soccer training session, when a sudden storm flooded the exit.
 
Their whereabouts were not known for nine days until they were found four kilometres from the entrance on July 2. They were rescued in batches of two from July 8-10.
 
Former Thai Navy SEAL Samarn Kunan, who lost his life during the operation, was hailed a hero.
 
IANS
 
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Indian teenager among 3 killed in US plane collision

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An Indian teenager has been killed along with two other persons after two small planes collided mid-air in the US state of Florida, authorities have said.
 
Nisha Sejwal, 19, was killed in the accident on Tuesday along with Jorge Sanchez, 22, and Ralph Knight, 72, the Federal Aviation Administration said. 
 
The police said they were trying to trace the whereabouts of a possible fourth passenger after both planes belonging to the Dean International flight school crashed mid-air.
 
The search and rescue effort that were suspended due to low visibility late on Tuesday, would resume on Wednesday, an officer said.
 
The police established the identity of Sejwal from her social media page, while Sanchez was found to be a resident from the area.
 
The debris of the crashed planes was located in a region only accessible by airboats. Photos circulating online showed the wreckage resting on top of a swampy terrain covered by long grass.
 
Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez told the media that the flight school has a history of more than two dozen incidents and accidents between 2007 and 2017.
 
IANS
 
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Three dead in mid-air collision between two small planes in US

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Three persons have died after two small planes collided mid-air in the US state of Florida, authorities have said.
 
The accident took place on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The whereabouts of a possible fourth passenger are still unknown, Xinhua news agency reported.
 
The victims were yet to be identified, but the planes were believed to be piloted by flight instructors.
 
Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez told the media that both planes belonged to Dean International, a flight school that has a history of more than two dozen incidents and accidents in the last decade.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Missing Indian found dead in Abu Dhabi

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An Indian expatriate, who had been missing here for a week, was found dead, police said.
 
Jabar K.P., who hailed from Kannur district of Kerala, was working in a bank here. He was staying in Abu Dhabi for nine years and went missing last week, the Khaleej Times reported on Tuesday.
 
His body was found on the outskirts of Mussafah industrial area, his brother Muneer said on Monday. The cause of death was unknown. The body was earlier kept in a mortuary as "unidentified". 
 
Muneer said he got to know about his brother's death through social workers and community groups. 
 
"... I don't know about the day when the body was found, but the location is Mussafah. Nor do I know the reason behind my brother's death. He never had problem with anyone," said Muneer.
 
Jabar K.P. is survived by his wife and two children. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
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Suspect in killing of Indian student in US shot dead

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A man who was a suspect in the killing of an Indian student in Kansas City has been shot dead by police after he shot and wounded three officers on Sunday, according to media reports.
 
The man, who had been under surveillance in connection with the fatal shooting of Sharath Koppu on July 6 at a restaurant, was killed during an exchange of fire with police on Sunday, the Kansas City Star newspaper reported.
 
Koppu, 25, a student from Telengana, was shot dead at the restaurant during what appeared to be a robbery.
 
He had come to the US in January and was doing his master's in computer science at University of Missouri-Kansas City.
 
Police had been on the lookout for the suspect, who has not been identified, at several locations and he "popped up" at a motel, the newspaper quoted city police chief Rick Smith as saying.
 
When two undercover police went to the motel, the suspect shot and wounded them before fleeing with another person, police said.
 
When they tracked him down to a house in the area, he shot another officer. When the man came out of the house, there was more exchange of gunfire and he was killed, the newspaper reported.
 
As many as 50 gun shots were heard during the confrontation, the Star reported.
 
The three injured officers are expected to survive.
 
The man's accomplice was captured by police, who said they found weapons in his car.
 
The Star reported that police would not confirm if the suspect was the man seen in restaurant surveillance video taken before the shooting, which was circulated by police.
 
IANS
 
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Boeing, Jet Airways announce order for an additional 75 737 Max 8 airplanes

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Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Indian private sector carrier Jet Airways today confirmed that the latter had placed an order for an additional 75 737 Max 8 airplanes during a signing ceremony at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.
 
The order, valued at $8.8 billion at current list prices, was previously posted as unidentified on Boeing's Orders and Deliveries website, a press release from Boeing said.
 
"This order for an additional 75 Max airplanes helps the Indian carrier expand its network to meet surging demand in the fastest-growing aviation market in the world," it said.
 
"Our latest order for 75 additional Boeing 737 Max aircraft reflects our long standing association with Boeing and reposes our faith in the aircraft they manufacture," said Naresh Goyal, Chairman of Jet Airways. "The Max will allow us to offer guests a superior and well differentiated experience using a modern, reliable and fuel efficient fleet. The order also emphasizes Jet Airways' commitment to the growth and potential of the Indian aviation market."
 
In June, the Mumbai-based carrier took delivery of its first Max, a new and improved 737 that delivers a double-digit improvement in fuel efficiency and improved passenger comfort. These new airplanes arrive into an Indian aviation market that continues to grow at significant rates. According to industry data, domestic air traffic in India has grown about 20 percent in each of the past four years.
 
"We are honored to extend our deep partnership with Jet Airways as they modernize their fleet with the most capable single-aisle airplanes," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister. "This is a testament to the market-leading economics and reliability of the 737 MAX. I am confident that these new airplanes will support Jet Airways' domestic and international expansion."
 
The release noted that Jet Airways is India's second-largest airline with a fleet of nearly 120 airplanes serving more than 60 destinations in 15 countries across Asia, Europe and North America.
 
"The 737 Max family achieves superior fuel efficiency and range through the latest CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, and other improvements. The jet also features the signature Boeing Sky Interior and large flight deck displays.
 
"The 737 Max is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 4,600 orders from over 100 customers worldwide," the release added.
 
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India, Bangladesh discuss security-related issues at Home Minister-level talks

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India and Bangladesh discussed all security-related matters of interest to them, including counter-terrorism, at the 6th meeeting of their Home Minister-level talks co-chaired by Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Bangladesh counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan here today.
 
The meeting also discussed capacity building and increased cooperation between security agencies, border management, countering illegal activities like fake currency, drug and human trafficking and consular issues, an official press release said.
 
The Home Ministers noted the significant progress made in the bilateral relationship between the two countries under the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Both sides reiterated their commitment to further strengthen the bilateral relationship on the basis of friendship, trust and understanding for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.
 
The two Ministers also witnessed the signing of the Revised Travel Arrangement 2018 (RTA 2018) amending the earlier RTA 2013 for further liberalizing the visa regime between the two countries, including enhanced duration for employment and student visas.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr Rajnath Singh paid homage to Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by laying a wreath at Bangabandhu Museum in Dhanmondi, Dhaka. He also offered prayers at the Dhakeshwari temple.
 
The Union Home Minister has since returned to New Delhi after concluding his three-day visit to Bangladesh. 
 
“I am deeply touched by the warmth and hospitality of the people of Bangladesh. Bharat-Bangladesh Moitree Chirojeebi Hok (India-Bangladesh Friendship Live Forever),” he said in a tweet before leaving Dhaka.
 
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Rajnath holds talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

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Visiting Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh today held talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and said much has been achieved by the two countries working together to counter terrorism and radicalization.
 
During the visit, Mr Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Bangladesh-India Friendship Building at Bangladesh Police Academy (BPA). He also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation signed between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad and BPA, Sardah, Rajshahi.
 
The meeting took place in a cordial and friendly atmosphere in the presence of senior officials from both sides. The Home Minister conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sheikh Hasina. He also complimented her for the excellent growth rate of 7.78% registered by Bangladesh’s economy last year.
 
The two leaders noted that much has been achieved by India and Bangladesh by working together to counter the menace of terrorism and radicalization. They agreed that all countries in the region afflicted by this menace should pro-actively join hands to effectively tackle it. The Home Minister also thanked the Prime Minister for the cooperation extended by Bangladesh in addressing India’s security concerns.
 
They discussed the influx of displaced persons from the Rakhine State of Myanmar over the past year. The Home Minister conveyed that India was committed to helping in the safe, speedy and sustainable return of these persons to their homes.
 
In this context, India was working on a project to construct prefabricated housing in Rakhine State so as to meet the needs of the displaced persons. India will also continue to provide relief material and supplies to help Government of Bangladesh deal with the needs of those in the relief camps.
 
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During his visit to Rajshahi in western Bangladesh, Mr Rajnath Singh and the Home Minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Khan jointly inaugurated the Bangladesh-India Friendship Building at the Bangladesh Police Academy, Sardah, the foundation stone of which was laid in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina.
 
This is a development cooperation project between India and Bangladesh. The newly inaugurated facility incorporates state-of-the-art Forensic Laboratories, Mock Crime Scenes, Mock Police Station, IT Centre with computer labs etc.
 
A Memorandum of Cooperation was also signed between Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad and the Bangladesh Police Academy, Sardah, Rajshahi to establish mutual cooperation in the sphere of training, management and exchange of trainers and trainees between two Police Academies.
 
The Memorandum of Cooperation was signed by D R Doley Barman, Director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad and  Md. Nazibur Rahman, Addl (IGP), Principal, Bangladesh Police Academy. This will add yet another dimension to the capacity building programmes being organized in India for Bangladesh officials, an official press release said.
 
IANS adds:
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh also inaugurated the world's largest state-of-the-art visa centre, equipped with a range of modern facilities, which promises  shorter waiting times for applicants.
 
"Inaugurated the state of the art Indian Visa Application Centre at Dhaka. With the opening of this centre the processing of visa applications will be simplified," he tweeted after the inauguration. 
 
The integrated centre at Jamuna Future Park (JFP) was inaugurated jointly by Rajnath Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, reports bdnews24.
 
Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who was also present, told the media that "this is the largest Indian visa centre in the world and possibly the largest anywhere". The new centre will replace the existing centres in Motijheel and Uttara from July 15. 
 
The remaining two centres in Dhaka -- at Gulshan and Mirpur Road -- will also be shifted to this centre, located in a spacious 18,500 square feet commercial area, by August 31.
 
The existing e-token (appointment) system for submission of visa applications will also be withdrawn from July 15.
 
Bangladeshis constitute one of the largest numbers of visitors from a single country to India, the report said. Last year the country issued 1.4 million visas to Bangladeshi nationals. 
 
India has 12 visa centres in Bangladesh, the highest number it has in any country, the report said.
 
India issues five-year multiple entry visas for freedom fighters, senior citizens and businessmen.
 
Rajnath Singh will co-chair the 6th India-Bangladesh home minister-level talks on Sunday along with his Bangladeshi counterpart in which issues tied to security, border management, cooperation in countering illegal activities and travel arrangements are expected to be discussed. 
 
His three-day visit is taking place in the context of the Home-Minister level talks held on a regular basis between India and Bangladesh. The last such talks were held in New Delhi in July 2016.
 
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