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Politics after Amarnath attack, fate of Indian students in US: Top stories now

People in Mumbai protest against the Amarnath Yatra attack.

A political blame game broke out on Wednesday over this week’s militant attack on Amarnath pilgrims, even as government forces launched a hunt for Pakistani national Abu Ismail, the alleged mastermind of the assault. Using the hashtag #AmarnathTerrorAttack, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi unleashed a series of strongly worded tweets that accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of pursuing policies that had “created space for terrorists in Kashmir”. “Modi’s personal gain = India’s strategic loss + sacrifice of innocent Indian blood,” one of his tweets said. In response, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi asked the Congress vice president to read the history of his family, saying they were responsible for the problems in Kashmir.

Indians and other foreigners enrolled in US colleges and universities could be required to apply for permission to stay every year if the Donald Trump administration approves a move currently being considered by the department of homeland security. The proposal, first reported by The Washington Post, is linked to the administration’s overall plan to tighten national security. But it is still at a very preliminary stage and could take up to 18 months to be rolled out, if approved for implementation. An estimated 166,000 Indians were enrolled in US colleges in 2016.

The Centre is understood to have bestowed sweeping financial powers on the army to meet critical deficiencies in ammunition, spares and different types of armament following a security review conducted after last year’s Uri terror strike. Sources said that the financial powers conferred by the government would facilitate the emergency procurement of ammunition and spares worth an estimated ₹40,000 crore over the next few years, subject to availability of budgetary support. Buying ammunition and spares for in-service equipment is less complicated than making a purchase from scratch, army officers said.

A man responsible for the lynching of a police officer at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar last month was reportedly among three militants killed by security forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Wednesday. A police officer said the encounter occurred after security personnel launched a cordon-and-search operation in Redbug area on Tuesday evening, after receiving specific intelligence inputs on the presence of militants in the area. A police statement said Sajad Ahmed Gilkar played a key role in the lynching of DySP Mohammad Ayub Pandith in Nowhatta on June 23, besides a number of other terror-related incidents. He had recently joined the ranks of the Hizbul Mujahideen.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday and thanked him for backing Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the unanimous choice of 18 opposition parties for the August 5 vice-presidential polls. The Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi, too called Kumar on Tuesday, sources said. Speculation swirled after the phone call that the Congress was trying to broker peace between Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and partner Rashtriya Janata Dal, which is facing corruption allegations. The three parties are part of Bihar’s ruling alliance that defeated the BJP in the 2015 polls.

China began deploying troops to its first overseas naval base, at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, a major leap forward in the expansion of its foreign military presence. The military released information about ongoing live fire drills by Chinese warships in the Mediterranean Sea. The movement of Chinese ships carrying troops to Djibouti fuelled worries in India about the strategically located base becoming another of China’s “string of pearls” in the Indian Ocean region, including assets Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

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