India

Indian media: Maoist attack in Jharkhand

A policeman shows ammunition used in the Maoist attack
Image caption A policeman shows ammunition used in the Maoist attack

Media in India are highlighting security challenges in eastern Jharkhand state after Maoists rebels killed six police officers on Tuesday in one of "their most fierce strikes this year". The attack follows the deaths of 27 people, including top state politicians, in a separate Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh state in May.

The Hindustan Times says the rebels "laid a trap and ambushed" senior police official Amarjit Balihar after "closely following his movements for the past few days".

"The ambush by Maoists on 2 July in Jharkhand reflects the total ill-preparedness of the country against the insurgents. Like the avoidable monsoon tragedy in Uttarakhand, the all-weather Maoist threat afflicting the country will not be resolved anytime soon," senior security analyst Ashok K Mehta writes in The Pioneer.

Mr Mehta argues that the Maoists "will shortly migrate from rural to urban areas" if a co-ordinated approach is not taken to beef up security in the affected areas.

The Deccan Herald says the officials "were caught unaware in the dense forest area between Pakur and Dumka" districts of the state.

"It's extremely shocking. The incident has proved that no one is safe where Maoists are spreading their tentacles," The Times of India quotes a state police officer as saying.

Moving on to foreign affairs, India has rejected US whistleblower Edward Snowden's request for political asylum as the government saw "no reason" in doing that, The Hindu reports.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit China later this year in a bid to bolster bilateral ties which took a hit after a border stand-off in April, the Deccan Herald reports.

Mr Singh may also meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly annual session in New York, the NDTV website reports.

The proposed meeting comes in the backdrop of renewed optimism in bilateral ties after Mr Sharif won the general elections in Pakistan in May.

Banking competition

The Indian Express welcomes the Tata, Ambani and Birla business groups' bid to enter the country's banking sector.

The paper feels the increased number of applications to the Reserve Bank of India for opening more banks is "good news".

"The Indian banking sector, long strangled due to a lack of competition, public sector ownership and fears of foreign banks, has only been able to penetrate 50 per cent of households. That is, nearly half of India's population is unbanked," it adds.

And realising this problem, the state government in the eastern state of Orissa has decided to send banks, in the form of mobile vans, to tribal areas.

The paper feels the initiative will benefit the rural population of the sate as "commercial banks don't venture into remote areas because that is not viable as a business".

Staying with business, the Department of Telecom on Tuesday approved a 100% foreign direct investment in the sector - a move that is likely to come into effect after the union cabinet's ratification, The Economic Times reports.

In health news, India's Supreme Court has expressed serious concern over the sale of adulterated milk in the country and urged state governments to curb the practice, The Statesman reports.

And some people may soon be able to dine like a king as "one of the world's most spectacular dinner service sets", which belongs to the erstwhile Majaraja (king) Bhupinder Singh of Patiala in the Punjab, is to be auctioned this week in London, reports The Times of India.

The exquisite gold plated silver dinner set, dating back to 1921, is expected to fetch around £1-1.5m ($1.5-2.27m) at an auction to be conducted by the Christie's, the paper adds.

In sports, India suffered a humiliating 161-run defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the ongoing cricket tri-series in the West Indies, The Hindu reports.

Indian athletes, however, are hoping to put up a better show than the cricket team in the Asian Athletic Championships, which gets under way in the western city of Pune on Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reports.

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