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‘269 dead in Tamil Nadu floods, Chennai turned into island’

(Source: ADGPI - Indian Army)

New Delhi: The heaviest rains in Tamil Nadu in over a century and floods have left 269 people dead, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, describing the situation as “alarming”.

The minister also told the Lok Sabha that 54 people had been killed in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and two in Puducherry.

“There are no two opinions that the situation in Tamil Nadu is alarming. It is not an exaggeration to say that Chennai has turned into an island,” Singh said.

He said all highways leading to Chennai were closed.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the flood destruction must be declared a national disaster, and requested Rs 5,000 crore as immediate aid to the state.

Responding to Jayalalithaa’s request, Modi announced the release of Rs 1,000 crore from the NDRF.

Chennai, the Home Minister said, had received torrential rains, and the meteorological department had forecast more rains in the next two-three days.

Singh said 30 teams of the National Disaster Response Force and seven columns of the army were engaged in relief and rescue work. The navy had also deployed boats and divers.

He said the central government would provide all necessary assistance sought by the Tamil Nadu government.

Singh said he spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as well as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Puducherry Chief Minister A N Rangasamy.

Referring to Odisha, he said more money would be released in the wake of Cyclone Phailin which hit the state in 2013.

He said the centre would take necessary steps on West Bengal’s demand for central assistance in the wake of the heavy rains in the last monsoon.

Sudip Bandopadhyay of Trinamool Congress said the central team decided on assistance without consulting the chief minister.

He said West Bengal had suffered both drought and floods. Expressing unhappiness over the minister’s reply, Trinamool Congress members staged a walk out.

Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal said the minister had not given a concrete reply over the state’s demands in the wake of cyclone Phalin during which nearly 10 lakh people were evacuated to safer places.

Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai, an MP from the AIADMK, said the central government should accept all the demands of the Tamil Nadu chief minister relating to the flood situation.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the central government should call a meeting of Niti Aayog and increase the amount of assistance to the states.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav suggested creating a separate department to deal with natural disasters.

Rajnath Singh said: “The central government has been providing maximum assistance to states and will continue to do so.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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Won’t mind crossing border to protect Kashmir: Rajnath

On the issue of terrorism, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting global consensus and managed to bring the international community on board

Mr. Singh mentioned the Indian brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in India and mentioned strict action against Pakistan terror aids to India in his Kashmir speech
Rajnath Singh went harsh on Pakistan in his Kashmir speech
  • Union minister Rajnath Singh said that Kashmir is India’s
  • He said he’ll cross borders if he has to
  • He also praised Indian army for their services towards the nation

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no power in the world can take Kashmir away from India and if need be forced can cross the border to protect the country’s territorial integrity.

“Kashmir is, was and will be ours always. No one can take it from us,” Rajnath Singh said, addressing the CNN News18 Rising India Summit.

Rajnath praises indian army for its services.

He praised the Indian Army for its valour to secure the country and warned Pakistan, saying “we not only secure India within but can also cross the border to protect the country, if needed. No one should take it otherwise.”

He said India wanted good ties with Pakistan, provided it stopped aiding terrorists.

“Now the US is condemning Pakistan. I don’t know what happened to Pakistan. We want good relations with Pakistan but it has refused to accept our offer of friendship.

“Pakistan is giving legitimacy to UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed who is establishing a political party there and wants to contest in elections.”

The Minister said the government was keen on finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem and was open to speak to anyone.

To resolve the Kashmir issue, Rajnath Singh said, the government-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, is moving forward and has invited people from all sections for talks.

Kashmir is ours and ours only, says Rajnath.

He said Kashmir’s children were like his own and would not allow anyone brainwash them into radicalisation.

“I want to tell those who are trying to teach jihad to innocent Kashmiri youths that they should first learn the real concept of jihad in Islam.”

The Minister said he had personally asked Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ignore cases filed against the first-time stone-pelters.

Earlier in 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir government withdrew cases registered against 9,730 people involved in stone-pelting incidents, including first-time offenders.

Also Read: A look into the mind of a brainwashed Kashmiri suicide bomber

“We have forgiven first-time stone-pelters. They might have been influenced by others. They are young. We need to give them a second chance,” he said.

The Home Minister said the government never differentiated between the children in Kashmir and those in the other parts of the country.

On the issue of terrorism, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has succeeded in getting global consensus and managed to bring the international community on board. Rajnath Singh also highlighted the government’s efforts in dealing with Maoists.

Anything to protect Kashmir: Home minister, Rajnath.

“The battle against Naxals can’t be won through bullets. We are taking several developmental initiatives in this direction. We are trying to reach those areas which have remained unreachable since independence.

“Naxalism was a huge problem for India but in the last four years we have now achieved major success in that space.”