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... A white powder wrapped casually in a paper was found in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly last week shortly before the entire state legislature – including the Speaker, Chief Minister, cabinet ministers and all the MLAs – was to sit in the House for the ongoing budget session. On the very next day of the detection, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called an emergency security review meeting, following which he informed the House about the recovery. He revealed that the powder weighed around 150 grams and was found under a seat in the Assembly during routine checks before the session began. He went on to announce that the powder was found to be a powerful plastic explosive, PETN or Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate, after a forensic test. The lawmakers heard in stunned silence as Adityanath further declared that 500 grams of PETN was enough to blow up the entire Assembly building. ...Indian Express on July 19, 2017, 5:32 p.m.
...Source: Wikimedia commons For nearly 55 years, tourists, both Indian and foreign, have had to procure permission, ‘inner line permit’ to be specific, from the local administration for visiting Harsil town in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Even with the permit, foreigners were not allowed a night halt in the strategically sensitive town that is close to China border and houses Army units. These curbs, put in place immediately after the India-China 1962 War, have finally been waived, with the picturesque town now poised to be explored for tourism. The Union Home Ministry, in a welcome move, recently opened Harsil to both Indian and foreign tourists alike, scrapping the ‘permit system’ in entirety. The development follows relentless efforts of the people from Uttarkashi for years who wanted to increase the footfall of tourists to Harsil so as to improve their economic situation. At 8,600 feet, the Harsil valley is blessed with 100 small or big Himalayan peaks, dense forests of Deodar trees, breathtaking snow-clad mountains and lush apple orchards. ...Indian Express on July 15, 2017, 10:35 a.m.
...But this happened in Bijnor – one of the most communally sensitive districts of western Uttar Pradesh – which has been simmering since the 2013 riots in the region in which 60 people died. The elopement in Bijnor took place on June 5. Since then, the Hindu Jagran Manch, an offshoot of the RSS which is widely known to be running the Sangh Parivar’s “ghar wapasi” campaign – which persuades Hindu converts to Christians to return to the fold — has become even active in the area. They are now said to be egging on Hindu families to unite and fight for “the cause.” The Manch has even formed a ‘Beti Bachao Sangharsh Samiti’ to pursue the matter and run an “awareness” campaign under this banner so that other girls don’t take similar steps. Last week the Manch went one step further, by organizing a “mahapanchayat”. ...Indian Express on June 27, 2017, 2:49 p.m.
...Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav Exactly a decade ago, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Behenji Mayawati was the uncontested queen of Uttar Pradesh. But after three successive defeats – in the 2012 Assembly election, in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and in the recently-held elections a few months ago – the Dalit leader has been substantially cut to size. Now with the candidature of Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind as the BJP’s presidential candidate, her political troubles seem to have no end in sight. The four-time chief minister of UP was once known as a tough administrator. She remains her party’s lone office-bearer, hardly moving out of home both during elections or otherwise. Some say this is because she is totally confident of the state’s large Dalit population, as much as 21.1 per cent of UP’s 200 million people. Others believe she is taking them for granted, which is why she wasn’t able to win a single seat in the Lok Sabha and has been reduced to a mere 19 MLAs in the Yogi Adityanath-led Assembly. Certainly, the news that the BJP is at the gates and is attacking her Dalit base, is beginning to sink in. ...Indian Express on June 21, 2017, 2:31 p.m.