ਮੁੱਖ ਖ਼ਬਰਾਂ 

Campaigning for civic polls

ends, all eyes on voters

Chandigarh, December 16- Campaigning for the high-stakes civic polls ended this evening, even as about 15,000 police personnel will be on duty, manning 914 polling stations across the state during voting on Sunday. The ruling Congress is making a bid to wrest control of three municipal corporations and 32 municipal councils and nagar panchayats from the SAD-BJP alliance.
Canvassing for the civil polls is generally handled by local MLAs and district presidents of various political parties. However, this time, a section of the leadership of the Congress, SAD and the BJP has been in the thick of things. These parties are contesting the polls on their own symbol in most places. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also in the fray, though it has not been able to field candidates in some of the 639 wards going to the polls.
Usually, the results of these elections go in favour of the ruling party. During its 10-year rule, the Akali-BJP alliance had called the shots in the civic polls amid allegations of manipulation, levelled by the Congress. Now, the latter is facing similar charges. Of the 639 wards, candidates have been unanimously elected in 90 — all won by the Congress.
For the first time, the State Election Commission has ordered videography of 103 hypersensitive wards in local bodies. In Patiala, videography will be done in all 60 wards of the Municipal Corporation.
Of the 15,000 cops deployed, 4,000 have been kept as the reserve force and 2,000 are on patrolling duty, to be rushed to any location in case of an untoward incident, said State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu. As many as 3,200 EVMs, manned by 6,000 people, will be used.


SC refuses to lift ban

on crackers’ sale in region

New Delhi, December 16- The Supreme Court today refused to stay a Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict banning bursting of firecrackers in the two states and Union Territory of Chandigarh. A Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri, which had banned firecrackers in Delhi-NCR during Diwali, posted the petition for hearing on January 5.
M/s Anil Enterprises and M/s RK Trading Company have challenged the October 13 order of the HC, which had taken suo motu cognisance of air pollution. The petition said the order was adversely affecting the livelihood of a large number of people, but the Bench was not inclined to grant interim relief.

Rahul Gandhi to take charge as Congress

chief from mother Sonia today

New Delhi, December 16- Rahul Gandhi is set to receive a formal certificate of being elected the Congress president unopposed from the party's central election authority at a function at the AICC headquarters on Saturday.
Sonia Gandhi, who became Congress president in 1998, steered the 132-year-old party for 19 years.
Sonia on Friday told the media that Rahul would takes over the reins of the party, and "her role was to retire”.
However, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala dismissed the speculation that she has quit public life, saying that she has retired as Congress president and not from politics.
Surjewala tweeted: "Would sincerely request friends in the media to not rely upon innuendos."
"Sonia Gandhi has retired as president of Indian National Congress and not from politics. Her blessings, wisdom and innate commitment to Congress ideology shall always be our guiding light," he said in another tweet.


Palestinian stabs Israeli in

Jerusalem, protests flare

Jerusalem, December 11- A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard at Jerusalem’s main bus station on Sunday, the police said, and violence flared near the US Embassy in Beirut over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
New protests flared in the Middle East and elsewhere today after four days of street protests in the Palestinian territories over the declaration, a move that has drawn global condemnation and sparked days of unrest in the Palestinian territories.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly warned of the consequences of Trump’s move, also lashed out Sunday by calling Israel a “terrorist state” and “state that kills children”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, visited Europe for his first trip abroad since Trump’s declaration, with talks planned with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
In Jerusalem, a security guard was in critical condition after a 24-year-old Palestinian man from the occupied West Bank stabbed him after approaching a metal detector at an entrance to the city’s central bus station. The alleged assailant was taken into custody.
In Beirut, meanwhile, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water canons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the US Embassy.
Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched US and Israeli flags and threw projectiles towards security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex.
Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the US to abandon its decision on Jerusalem and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.
Along Israel’s tense frontier with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military on Sunday destroyed what it described as a “significant” cross-border attack tunnel dug by the enclave’s dominant Islamist group, Hamas.
In the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Sunday, thousands protested outside the US embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”. — Agencies


US, South Korea, Japan start missile-tracking

drill amid North Korea crisis

Seoul, December 11- The US, South Korea and Japan started joint exercises on Monday to track missiles from North Korea, Seoul’s military said, following the nuclear-armed Pyongyang’s longest-range test launch to date.
The trilateral drill comes less than two weeks after Pyongyang test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and declared it had achieved nuclear statehood, escalating global alarm over its weapons push.
The two-day exercise—the sixth since June last year—kicked off in waters near the Korean peninsula and Japan, Seoul’s defence ministry said.
“During the drill, Aegis warships from each country will simulate detecting and tracking down potential ballistic missiles from the North and sharing information,” it said in a statement.
Two US ships are taking part, with one each from the two Asian countries.
Both South Korea and Japan have security alliances with the US, although their own relationship is marred by disputes over history and territory.
Washington and Seoul staged their biggest-ever joint air drill last week in a show of force against Pyongyang, which is subject to multiple sets of UN sanctions over its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes.
Tension flared anew in the flashpoint peninsula after the November 29 launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which the North claimed could deliver a “super-large heavy warhead” anywhere on the US mainland.
Many analysts suggest that the rocket is capable of reaching the US mainland but voiced scepticism that Pyongyang has mastered the advanced technology needed to allow the rocket to survive re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Last month’s launch was the first test of any kind since September 15, and quashed hopes that the North may have held back in order to open the door to a negotiated solution to the nuclear standoff.
The North’s leader Kim Jong-Un has traded threats of war and personal insults with US President Donald Trump, heightening fears of another war on the peninsula once devastated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The South condemned the launch and today imposed new unilateral sanctions on its neighbour.


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