27 December 2017

27 Dec.ND: Malegaon blast: Stringent MCOCA charges against Sadhvi Pragya, Purohit dropped, to be tried under terror laws/ UP Govt withdrawing cases against CM Yogi, Union Minister/ Triple talaq bill in Lok Sabha tomorrow

27 Dec.2017: 08 Rabial Aakhir 1439:Vol:9, No:83
Malegaon blast: Stringent MCOCA charges against Sadhvi Pragya, Lt Col Purohit dropped, to be tried under terror laws; 3 other suspects discharged
NIA trial court dropped the stringent MCOCA charges against Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, and 6 other accused in the Malegaon blast case, according to several media reports. The court, however, denied to absolve Sadhvi of conspiracy charges.The accused will now 6 others will face trial under Section 18 (conspiracy) of UAPA and other sections of the IPC. Apart from Sadhvi and Purohit, the other accused who received partial relief in the case are Ramesh Upadhyay, Sameer Kulkarni, and Sudhakar Dwivedi. The court also discharged Pravin Takalki, Shyamlal Sahu and Shivnarayan Kalsangra from the blast case, whereas Rakesh Dhawde and Jagdish Mhatre will face trial only under the Arms Act. All the above accused filed pleas to be discharged from the case, which the court rejected. However, the court agreed that MCOCA charges should be dropped. The next hearing in the case will be held on 15 Jan."UAPA sections 17 (raising funds for a terrorist organisation or a terrorist attack), 20 (being part of a terrorist organisation) and 23 (aiding somebody who is part of a terrorist organisation) have been dropped against all accused," special NIA judge SD Tekale said.MCOCA is a stringent law in Maharashtra which can be invoked only after the police can prove that the gang is organised and committing crime for pecuniary gains. It is also mandatory that at least two separate charge sheets have been filed against the accused people in the last ten years to slap MCOCA charges. Under the MCOCA, an accused cannot obtain bail easily.Once these charges are invoked, the police is liable to get custody for the accused for a maximum of 30 days, as opposed to the 14-day limit under IPC.The accused is subject to a minimum of 5-year jail and a maximum of death sentence, if the charges are proven. Under MCOCA, the police also gets the leeway to file a charge sheet within 180 days, as opposed to the 60 to 90 day window under IPC. The law is essentially based on the premise that the accused will be considered guilty until proven innocent. However, in Malegaon blast case, all accused are already out on bail and NIA court said that all the previous bonds and sureties submitted by them will continue. firstpost
Malegaon Blast : Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya to Face Trial Under Anti-Terror Law, MCOCA Dropped
Yogi Govt  orders withdrawal of case Against yogi
New Delhi: Yogi Adityanath-led UP Govt has ordered the withdrawal of a 1995 case against the CM  himself for violating prohibitory orders. According to an Indian Express report, the state Govt  has written to the DM of Gorakhpur on Dec. 20, directing that an application be filed in order to withdraw the said case before the court.The case also involves Shiv Pratap Shukla, who is now the Minister of State for Finance, Sheetal Pandey, a BJP MLA from Sahajanwa and ten others, all of whom were booked for violating prohibitory orders.According to the daily, the withdrawal order came a day before the UP  Criminal Law (Composition of Offences and Abatement of Trials) (Amendment) Bill,2017 was tabled in the state assembly on Dec 21. Bill was passed the next day. CM Adityanath is himself a member of UP’s legislative council. Before the tabling of the Bill, the CM  reportedly addressed the assembly saying that that 20,000 “politically-motivated” cases had been filed against him across the state for his “dharna pradarshan (demonstrations)“, and that the amendment to the said law would close all the cases, according to an India Today report. The case against the now CM was lodged at the Pipiganj police station in the state’s Gorakhpur district on May 27, 1995, and had been pending in a local court. As per police station records, the case was filed under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) against Adityanath and 14 others for holding a meeting in Pipiganj town despite imposition of prohibitory orders by the district administration.The court had earlier directed issuing of non-bailable warrants against all those named for non-appearance in court. However, BD Mishra, prosecution officer in Gorakhpur, told Indian Express that though non-bailable warrants were ordered against the accused around two years ago, they had never been issued. Shukla, however, said that he “does not recall” the meeting. “The matter is 22 years old. I am not aware about any case or non-bailable warrant against me,” he said.UP Govt’s order stated that on the basis of an Oct.27 letter from the district magistrate and after having carefully examined the facts of the case, the state had decided to withdraw the case. According to Indian Express, the letter mentioned the names of Adityanath, Shukla, Pandey and ten others in the case.“I have received the state Govt  letter directing that a withdrawal application be filed in the court. The application sent by the state Govt has 13 names including Yogi. We will move the withdrawal application in the court after the winter vacation,” Mishra confirmed. The Wire had earlier reported on UP govt’s thinly-veiled attempts at protecting Adityanath in a separate case involving charges of inciting and leading widespread anti-Muslim violence in Gorakhpur and nearby districts a decade ago. The Wire
UP Govt  withdraws 22-yr-old case against Yogi
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/uttar-pradesh-Govt -withdraws-22-year-old-case-against-yogi-adityanath-1792750
UP Govt  also withdrawing cases against Union Minister, CM Yogi
http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/up-Govt -withdrawing-cases-against-yogi-union-minister-others-117122700818_1.html
Lucknow: UP  Govt  kicked up a political storm today with the process of withdrawal of 20,000 'political cases' being initiated, including eight against present CM  Yogi Adityanath. According to sources, Governor Ram Naik has okayed the withdrawal of "many cases" based on recommendations sent by the ruling BJP in the state.The cases included many against BJP leaders, a present Union Minister and the CM.As many as 8 cases against the monk-turned-politician are to be withdrawn, sources said.One of the cases to be withdrawn is against Union Minister of Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla.The state Govt  recommended the withdrawal of cases a day before it tabled an amendment Bill - UP  Law (Composition of Offences and Abetment of Trials) in the state assembly during the winter session on Dec. 21.Yogi faces many cases, including breach of prohibitory orders in 1995. In this matter even a non-bailable warrant was issued against him when he was Gorakhpur MP.A case is also against Union Minister Shukla, legislator Sheetal Pandey, BJP leaders Rakesh Singh, Sameer Singh, Narendra Singh, Vishwakarma Dwivedi, Vibhrat Chand Kaushik, Upendra Shukla, Shambhu Sharan Singh, Bhanu Pratap Singh and former state Minister Ramapati Ram Tripathi. CM  Adityanath had announced on the floor of the House, during the winter session that his Govt  would withdraw all such cases which were slapped by predecessor goverts against "political opponents and innocent people".IANS
Triple talaq bill in Lok Sabha tomorrow, AIMPLB writes letter to PM Modi, requesting to withdraw it
Lucknow: Modi Govt is set to introduce in the Lok Sabha on Thursday a bill seeking to criminalise triple talaq, providing a legal framework to prosecute Muslim men calling off marriages using a custom. Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill is listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Dec.28, according to the list of business in the Lower House.All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB),which opposes the proposed law, has requested PM  Modi to withdraw the bill.The board’s president Maulana Rabey Hasani Nadwi wrote in a 4-page letter to the PM  that the bill was against Saria or Islamic law and infringes constitutional rights guaranteed to religious minorities.Should the Centre go ahead with the bill, the AIMPLB would oppose the move and make people aware that neither it nor other “true representatives” of Muslim women were consulted before preparing the legislation, the letter said.HT
Triple Talaq Bill: Highlights of AIMPLB letter to PM Modi
Showdown likely as opposition opposes penal provisions of talaq bill
New Delhi: In what could lead to a big political showdown, a large section of the opposition, including the Left, Congress, Trinamool and NCP is set to oppose the provision to criminalise triple talaq in a bill that seeks to give teeth to a Supreme Court ruling and is to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, seeks to criminalise instant triple triple talaq and sets out compensation for victims and has drawn the opposition of several Muslim organisations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Govt  is firm about tabling the bill though there is a strong possibility it will be sent to a parliamentary panel for examination.According to the list of business in LS, the bill is listed for introduction by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday.Parties of all hues —Congress, NCP, and CPM — have also asserted their opposition on various counts.While TMC has outrightly opposed the ban on instant talaq as well as the move to make it a cognizable offence, other parties like Congress, NCP and the Left have welcomed the SC ruling, but opposed the penal provisions of the proposed law. Congress has expressed its reservations about the same.
Union Minister Kumar appeals all parties to let Triple Talaq Bill to pass
New Delhi: Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar today asked all opposition parties to help pass the Triple Talaq Bill in Parliament on Wednesday."I appeal to all the opposition parties to help pass the bill on Triple Talaq in the Parliament unanimously," he said after arriving in Parliament. IANS
BJP issues whip on triple talaq legislation
 BJP is believed to have issued a 3-line whip to its MPs asking them to be present in the Lok Sabha on Thursday when the government plans to introduce the bill that criminalises the practice of triple talaq. In a bid to ensure that the introduction is smooth, the BJP is understood to have issued the whip so that any stiff opposition from members on the other side at the introduction stage could be thwarted. IANS
Bill on triple talaq unwarranted, politically motivated: CPI-M MP
Modi Govt’s move to bring a bill criminalising triple talaq (instant divorce in a single sitting) is unwarranted and politically motivated, CPI-M said. “When the Supreme Court has already banned the triple talaq, there is no need to bring such a law. If divorce has not happened in the first place, where does the need to criminalise the act arise?”CPI-M Lok Sabha MP Mohammed Salim told IANS.“As far as demanding a ban on the practice of triple talaq is concerned, we have been raising this issue when politicians like Narendra Modi had not even heard of the term triple talaq. But we recognise that divorce is a civil matter and there is no need to criminalise it,” he added.He said that the present bill is “arbitrary” and “politically motivated” as no stakeholders such as the Muslim community, women rights groups, civil society and Muslim scholars, had been consulted on the need and shape of such a legislation. “The Govt  has said that the practice of triple talaq is rampant even after the Supreme Court banning it. Does the Govt  have any empirical evidence to back this claim? Where is the data and who conducted the survey?” he said.IANS
Talaq bill unacceptable if against Quran, says Shaista Amber while  Women body urges govt to stall for now
Lucknow: A day ahead of the tabling of the triple talaq bill in Parliament, some Muslim women's organisations said on Wednesday that the proposed legislation would not be acceptable if not in consonance with the Quran or the Constitution."Nikaah (marriage) is a contract. Whosoever breaks it should be punished. However, if it (Bill) is not in the light of Quran and the Constitution, no Muslim woman will accept it," All India Muslim Women Personal Law board (AIMWPLB) head Shaista Amber told PTI. "I had sent a letter to the Law Commission requesting it to show the draft bill to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), AIMWPLB, Jamait Islami, Jamiat Ulma-e-Hind and organisations working for women who were given talaq. I got a reply that if needed, it will be discussed but that did not happen," she added.Holding the AIMPLB responsible for the present state of affairs, Amber said the board never bothered to take triple talaq seriously, and now it was too late.Muslim Women League's president Naish Hasan said that in the Family Court Act there is always a chance to save a family but the proposed bill does not give such a chance."Third party has also been given the right to complain in the bill. That is not fair," she said. Hasan added that the bill should be stalled for now and discussions should be held as a law in haste will complicate matters.We will protest if the bill is passed without any discussion, she said. Demanding withdrawal of the bill, AIMPLB had earlier said the proposed legislation was against the provisions of the Constitution and violated the rights of women.PTI
Talaq-e-biddat a malpractice, not crime: Women rights activists
Triple talaq bill: Activists, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan seek more talks before draft becomes law
New Delhi: With Govt  all set to introduce a bill to declare the practice of instant triple talaq a cognisable offence punishable, the views of women rights activists steering the debate around issue range from stiff opposition to criminalisation to the demand that punishment should not be cognisable.The common thread running through the debate, though, is an appeal that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, goes through further consultations not just in Parliament but also outside, bringing in the opinions of civil rights groups, women and the public at large. They also want the bill to be referred to a standing committee of Parliament for deeper scrutiny.Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which has been at the forefront of the fight against instant triple talaq and was one of the petitioners in the case in the Supreme Court, wants punishment for the husband but only if the woman files a complaint. "Instant talaq should be an offence but not a cognisable one," Zakia Soman from the BMMA said.On the other hand, there are groups like Bebaak Foundation who are opposed to criminalisation of the pronouncement. timesofindia
Activists pick holes in triple talaq Bill
Triple talaq bill is 'Reprehensive', will oppose: IUML
New Delhi:Indian Union Muslim League has alleged that the present move by the Union Govt  to introduce bill in the name of protecting Muslim women from divorce by pronouncing triple talaq, was an attempt to abolish the Muslim Personal Law and establish the Uniform Civil Code in the country.The party with a strong presence in Southern states, maintained that it will discuss the issue with other secular parties and oppose the proposed bill, to prevent 'harassment of men'. League's MPs PK Kunhalikkutty and ET Muhammed Basheer said the Govt is trying to take away the right of divorce from Muslim men by enforcing cognisable offences in the name of banning triple talaq. ''The draft bill states 'talaq,' and not 'triple talaq,' in any form-spoken, in writing or by electronic communication will be illegal and void and provides a jail term up to three years for husband. It means that if Muslim men want to get divorce, they will be arrested and harassed,'' said he.UNI
Pakistan sends shoes of Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife for forensic test after ‘metallic object’ is found: Report
Islamabad:Pakistani authorities have sent the shoes worn by Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife for forensic examination to determine the nature of the suspected presence of a foreign object, a media report said Wednesday.The authorities were ascertaining whether the “metallic object” in the shoes was a camera or a recording chip, Pakistan Today quoted Foreign Office(FO) spokesperson Mohammad Faisal as saying. A separate report in Dawn reported that the FO confirmed a “metallic substance” had been detected in Jadhav’s wife’s shoes that were retained by security officials prior to the meeting with the Indian death row prisoner at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.Jadhav’s wife’s shoes were kept for inspection, while all other belongings, including jewellery, were returned, Faisal said, adding that she was given an alternative pair of shoes to wear after her shoes were removed.In a statement issued Tuesday night, the FO made no mention of the “metallic substance” and had said that there was “something” in the shoes.In the statement, Pakistan rejected as “baseless” India’s contentions that Jadhav’s wife and mother were harassed and claimed that his wife’s shoes were confiscated on security grounds as there was “something” in it.“There was something in the shoe. It is being investigated. We gave her a pair of replacement shoes. All her jewellery etc were returned after the meeting,” Faisal said.PTI
Kulbhushan wife’s shoes had metallic substance:Pakistan
No ‘Anti-National’ Posts, Criticism of Policies on Social Media, J&K Govt Tells Employees
Srinagar: For J&K Govt  employees, expressing political views or criticising policies and the functioning of the Govt on social media platforms can now lead to dismissal from service.This is one of several commandments issued by the ruling PDP-BJP coalition in the state to regulate the social media activities of its employees, which also gives sweeping powers to the Govt  to penalise an employee in case even their family indulges in any “subversive activity” on the internet. There are also instructions on how to “behave and exhibit reasonable and decent behaviour” and to avoid engaging in any activity which may be “prejudicial” to the state.16-page document titled ‘Social Media Usage Policy’ makes it amply clear to employees that they are not to engage in discussions by way of tweets, status updates or blog posts that are political or on “contentious issues that are violative” of applicable service conduct rules.“Employees must not post, share or promote any status or post that may be contentious or has potential to create governance or law and order issues or are seen to propagate anything which is anti-social, anti-national or illegal,” reads the policy, adding that employees shall not use their personal social media accounts for any political activity or for endorsing posts or tweets of any political figure.There are around 5 lakh employees working in different Govt  depts in the state. thewire
J-K govt should withdraw order on employees use of social media: CPI(M)
Jammu: A day after J&K Govt  barred its employees from airing political views on social media, the state unit of CPI(M) Wednesday demanded withdrawal of the “authoritarian notification” to avoid “unrest in the ranks of its employees”. The state Govt  yesterday barred its employees from using their social media accounts for any political activity by amending the conduct rules for them.“The order issued by the state Govt  imposing extensive restrictions on the use of social media by its employees, exposes the dictatorial and regressive mindset of the PDP-BJP coalition Govt ,” the CPI(M) said in a statement here. It further read that the order has “negative potential to alienate a substantial proportion of the masses”.PTI
Terror funding; NIA cancels summon to Geelani's son
Srinagar:NIA has cancelled summon to Syed Naseem Geelani, son of Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in connection with a terror funding case.Syed Naseem was summoned by the investigation agency to appear before it on Tuesday at New Delhi as a witness in the case.The son of the HC chairman, who had reached Delhi to appear before NIA, said he was informed that his summon has been cancelled. However, no reason for cancellation of the summon was given, he said, adding that he was already in the national capital.UNI
CPEC extension to Afghanistan not directed against India, dialogue shouldn’t be disturbed: China
China said its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not directed against India and warned that the project should not be influenced or disturbed by any third country, a day after Beijing offered to extend the $50 billion project to Afghanistan. A day after Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said China and Pakistan want Afghanistan to join the CPEC, Beijing said Kabul was willing to join the multi-billion dollar corridor, which cuts through Pakistan-administered Kashmir claimed by India.China offered to extend CPEC to Afghanistan as the three sides pledged to step-up counter-terrorism cooperation and not to allow any country, group or individual to use their soils for terrorism at the first trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan in Beijing. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the project extension was not directed at any third country and that it serves the common interests of the three counties.“Just as foreign minister Wang Yi said at the joint press conference, CPEC is not directed at the third party and we hope to bring benefit to the third party and the whole region,”Hua said without naming India while responding to a question on reports about NewDelhi’s concerns about CPEC.“Trilateral cooperation and dialogue is not directed at any country or any party and the dialogue and cooperation should not be influenced and disturbed,” Hua said. CPEC is a flagship project of China’s prestigious One Belt One Road and links its restive Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan province.The network of highways, railways, roads and special economic zones is opposed by India as it passes through a part of Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by India.“It is an economic cooperation programme and it should not be politicised and has nothing to do with territorial dispute,” she said adding that the project will bring the benefit to the third party and the whole region.“Afghanistan is a common neighbour of China and Pakistan. They have strong desire to develop the economy and improve livelihood. They are willing to integrate into the regional connectivity process and willing to integrate into CPEC,” she said.The three sides have agreed to promote connectivity under Belt and Road Initiative framework and follow the principle of starting from easy and smaller projects step by step to identify cooperation projects for common development, she said.During the trilateral meeting, a consensus was reached on eight-point plan to bring peace between Afghanistan and Pakistan.The consensus included a security mechanism to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation to fight all forms of terrorist organisations and terrorists, she added.HT
India, Afghanistan launch second air corridor linking Kabul and Mumbai
New Delhi: The second India-Afghanistan air cargo route linking Kabul to Mumbai was officially at the launched on Wednesday, with officials saying it is expected to boost the export of fresh fruits and medicinal plants from Afghanistan. The second route follows the success of Kabul-New Delhi air corridor that was inaugurated by President Ashraf Ghani in mid-June.Afghan officials told the media that 10,640 tons of fresh produce, fresh and dried fruits, medicinal plants and handicrafts worth more than $20 million had been exported to India since the launch of the first corridor.The second corridor was formally inaugurated by Afghan and Indian officials at the Hamid Karzai international airport in Kabul.HT
Defeat the new Peshwas– BJP, RSS and other “Hindutva” forces, appeals Rohith Vemula’s mother
Pune: To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, an event called ‘Elgaar Parishad’ will be inaugurated in Pune by Radikha Vemula, mother of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, whose suicide at University of Hyderabad in Jan. 2016 had stirred a nationwide uproar. The battle of Bhima Koregaon was fought on Jan. 1, 1818 between the East India Company’s forces and nearly 2000 soldiers of Peshwas.The company’s forces were made largely of soldiers from Dalit Mahar community.This war was meant to attain freedom from alleged caste hierarchy practised by the Peshwas, who were Brahmins.Radhika Vemula, in a pamphlet for the conference appeals for Dalit and tribal people to unite and defeat the “new Peshwas” — the BJP, the RSS and other “Hindutva” forces.The Conference at Shaniwar wada, is being opposed by the hindu outfit Pune Nagar Hindu Sabha, who called the programme as anti-national.The Conference organised at Shaniwar Wada will be inaugurated on Dec. 31. Shaniwar Wada was the headquarters of the Peshwas.The speakers at the event are expected to be Jignesh Mevani, Dalit activist-leader and newly elected MLA in Gujarat; Chhattisgarh tribal rights activist Soni Sori; JNU student leader Umar Khalid; Prashant Dontha of Ambedkar Students’ Association, Hyderabad; Vinay Ratan Singh, national president of the Bhim Army; Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B R Ambedkar; and Maulana Abdul Hamid Azhari, national secretary of All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).The event will be presided over by retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice P B Sawant.However, the descendant of the Peshwas, Udaysinh Peshwa and Akhil Bhartiya Brahman Mahasangh have asked Pune Police to deny permission for the Shaniwar Wada event.‘Despite any kind of opposition,’ the event will take place, said Datta Pol of Bhim Army.siasat.indian express
Rohith Vemula’s mother to launch event to take on ‘new Peshwas’
Muslim Students From Delhi’s Jamia University Thrown Out Of NCC Camp For Refusing To Shave Beard
10 Muslim students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University have alleged that they were barred from a NCC camp in Rohini after they refused to shave their beards.The students also alleged that their bags were thrown out of the gates on the sixth day of the camp, according to a report by the Indian Express.“The authorities said either shave your beard or leave”, said a student, as quoted by the newspaper. “Our bags were thrown out of the gate,” he added. According to a report by TOI, a student also alleged that they were warned of police action if they did not leave the camp.One of the students also said that they had been attending the camps with beard and it had never been a problem before.“This time also on the first day of our camp we had written an application saying our beards have a religious importance and we should be told if there is a problem. But suddenly on the sixth day of the camp, the authorities said either shave your beard or leave,” he said.A student said while the Indian Army only allowed Sikhs to wear turbans and sport beards, the NCC Act does not mention anything about beard. “We asked the commanding officer to mention the specific charge but he just said indiscipline,” he said. So, except one student, they refused to accept the notice.Students’ organizations later staged a protest in the Jamia campus.However, NCC officials maintained that they did not throw the students out. “We did not throw them out, we told them to shave as part of discipline of NCC. They said they have their religious beliefs. I told them it is their wish if they wanted to follow their religion… and if they’re not comfortable, they’re at liberty to move out… I have been in the Army for 26 years and that’s the discipline I understand that everyone has to shave, barring Sikh gentlemen,” said an official, as quoted by the Indian Express. outlookindia
Jamia students asked to quit NCC camp for sporting beard
Protests in Ajmer after Hindutva group targets Dargah
Ajmer: Hate speech has become quite routine for ‘fringe’ groups in Rajasthan. In the latest incident of hate speech, Shiv Sena Hindustan, a religious-turned-political outfit active in the state, targeted the famous Ajmer shrine and Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti with derogatory remarks, leading to tension in the city. The khadims (custodians) of Dargah Ajmer Sharif filed a complaint against the organisation on Dec. 22 and demanded an immediate ban on the group.The trigger was Shiv Sena Hindustan general secretary Lakhan Singh’s appeal to volunteers to initiate a campaign seeking Hindu support for demolishing the centuries-old shrine, claiming that a Hindu temple used to exist at the site of the dargah.The dargah is considered one of the most notable instances of syncretism in India with people of all faiths thronging to the shrine of ‘Gharib Nawaz’, patron saint of the poor.The Khuddam-e-Khwaja community and Chishty Foundation of Ajmer Dargah organised a protest march on Dec. 22; the Gaddi Nashin of Ajmer Sharif Dargah and chairman of the Chishty Foundation Syed Salman Chishty said that hundreds of khadims took to the streets and protested peacefully.Shiv Sena Hindustan was in the headlines recently when its members staged a violent protest near the Udaipur court premises in support of Shambhulal Regar, accused of Afrazul’s murder.Khadims of the dargah say that the shrine has been a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity for the last 800 years, and that this is the first time that any group has tried to mobilise Hindus against the dargah. thewire
Rs.1 crore reward for those who cut Union Minister Hegde’s tongue: karnataka's Dalit leader
Kalaburagi: Taking serious exceptions to Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde’s recent remarks referring to secularists and intellectuals and his calling for changing the Constitution, senior Dalit leader and former Zilla Panchayat member Gurushanth Pattedar announced ₹ 1 crore cash reward for those who slit the tongue of the minister.He was addressing a media conference at Patrika Bhavan here on Tuesday.“Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde’s remarks in a recent public meeting referring to secularists are not just objectionable but also amount to sedition. The country’s political system is based on the Constitution in which the objective of secularism is enshrined.“Mr. Hegde himself became a Minister in the very same political process that the Constitution mandated... With his remarks, Mr. Hegde has insulted the Constitution and the nation.“I hereby announce a cash reward of ₹ 1 crore for those who cut Hegde’s tongue within a month from now,” he said.Referring to Hegde’s call for changing the Constitution, Pattedar warned that any effort to change the Constitution would result in bloodshed across the country.Dalit leaders Marutirao Kamble, Sanjeev Male, Shivakumar Madri, Santosh Ankalagi, Suresh Hirapur and others were present. thehindu
Hindutvavadis want a ‘Hindu Pakistan’: Shashi Tharoor on Anantkumar Hedge’s remark
New Delhil:In a veiled reference to Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde’s remark on the Constitution, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said Hindutvavadis reject the idea that India is a territory and all they want is a “Hindu Rashtra: a Hindu Pakistan”.“Many have pointed out that the Constitution has been amended 100+times. Govt is fully entitled to propose amendements. It is the intent that matters. The Hindutvavadis reject the idea that our nation is a territory &all the people in it. They want HinduRashtra: a Hindu Pakistan,” Tharoor tweeted in response to a post made by Shekhar Gupta. indianexpress
PM Modi didn’t question Manmohan Singh, Hamid Ansari’s commitment to nation: Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi:After the first week of Parliament winter session was washed out over Opposition protests against PM Modi’s remarks during the Gujarat election campaign, the Congress and BJP ended their feud and reached a truce.Union Minister Arun Jaitley, speaking in the Rajya Sabha, clarified that the PM  “did not question, nor meant to question” the commitment of former PM Manmohan Singh and former vice president Hamid Ansari to the nation.“PM in his speeches didn’t question, nor did he mean to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or Former VP Hamid Ansari, any such perception is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India,” Jaitley said. Welcoming the statement by Jaitley, the Congress party has dissociated itself from Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “neech” remark against PM Modi.“Thank leader of the house for clarification on what has been issue of contention. I, on behalf of my party, say that we disassociate from any comments made by any member during elections that may have hurt PM’s dignity, also we don’t want any such thing to be said in future,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Indianexpress
Govt, Opposition end stalemate in Rajya Sabha over Modi's Manmohan remarks
Himachal: A look at the newly formed 12-member cabinet of CM Jai Ram Thakur
Shimla: BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur was sworn in as the new CM of Himachal Pradesh after the party registered an impressive win in the recently held assembly elections. The newly inducted cabinet has six new faces and 5 old hands, apart from Thakur at the helm. In 68-member House, size of the cabinet is only 12 ministers including CM. indianexpress
Sohrabuddin fake encounter trial: Plea in HC against gag order
Mumbai: 9  journalists, including a reporter from the Indian Express, approached the Bombay High Court Tuesday against the special CBI court order last month restraining the media from reporting on proceedings in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case.The writ petition challenging the Nov.29 order seeks for it to be set aside stating that it is “bad in law.”And that the trial court had failed to articulate what the “exceptional circumstances” were which had necessitated the passing of such an order.On Nov. 29, the defence advocates had filed a plea seeking a complete ban on reportage in the case citing apprehension of the security of witnesses, accused and lawyers.The court accepted the plea observing that publication of the proceedings may create a “security problem.”“Learned Trial Court ought to have considered that the said case involves an element of public interest, and our populace therefore has the right to know what transpires in the trial,” the petition states. So far, at least 10 hearings have taken place in the case since the ban.The petitioners are Naresh Fernandes of Scroll.in; Neeta Kolhatkar,The Free Press Journal; Rebecca Samervel of The Times of India; Sadaf Modak of The Indian Express; Sidharth Bhatia of The Wire; Sunil Baghel and Sharmeen Hakim, Mumbai Mirror; Sunil Kumar Singh of NDTV and Vidya Kumar, TV Today Network. The petition will come up for hearing on Jan. 12. indianexpress
National Register of Citizens draft: Assam Jamiat seeks more time to file claims
Guwahati: Assam State Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Tuesday demanded that the time given for receiving objections from people after publication of the draft updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) be extended from 60 days to 90 days.The Jamiat also requested people to maintain peace during the time of publication of part draft NRC. Jamiat general secretary Hafiz Bashir Ahmad Qasimi told the media here that people should not panic as only a part of the draft NRC will be published.The NRC office said here on Tuesday that the draft NRC will be published "on the expiry of midnight of Dec. 31". It also said people who cannot see their names in the first part of the draft NRC should not have any fears and apprehensions as their verification is under progress and will be completed soon.Qasimi said they had extended help to the NRC update process.The Jamiat demanded that the state Govt  publish the final draft of the NRC soon. The Govt  has not given any date for publication of the final NRC. telegraphindia
Freed after 105 days, Assam activist Akhil Gogoi says there is no democracy under BJP rule
Guwahati:Rights activist and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) president Akhil Gogoi, who was released from prison on Wednesday after 105 days of his arrest under NSA and other charges, alleged there was no democracy in the country under BJP rule and Assam CM  Sarbananda Sonowal was a puppet in the hands of Delhi-based leaders.“There is no democracy in this country since the BJP came to power. In Assam, it has been worse than what it used to be when Hiteswar Saikia or Prafulla Kumar Mahanta was in power. The Govt does not tolerate criticism and democratic protests,” Gogoi told the media immediately after he was released from the Goalpara District Jail on Wednesday. indianexpress
None has right to use Govt  land as burial ground:Delhi HC
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/none-has-right-to-use-Govt -land-as-burial-ground-says-delhi-hc-5001428/
New Delhi:No one has the right to indiscriminately use any open land, especially that belonging to the Govt , as a burial ground, the Delhi High Court has held.The ruling by a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar came on a PIL challenging a SDM’s order questioning use of a Govt  land in Uttam Nagar in west Delhi as a burial ground.The magistrate had issued notice to an Uttam Nagar-based NGO asking it how it came to be in possession of the Govt  land and how it was using it as a burial ground.The court noted that the petitioner NGO, Kabristan Intzamia Association, had started using the Govt  land on the basis of a statement made by an MLA and “no legal right is either pointed out or made out with respect to the subject land”.It held that the sub-divisional magistrate, Dwarka, passed the August 1, 2017 order, which was under challenge, after considering all the matters and there was “no illegality” in the decision.The bench also said that all the parties have to abide by the magistrate’s decision and directed the local authorities to take strict action for violation of the order.“No person has any right to use any open land, especially Govt  land, indiscriminately as a burial ground,” the court said and dismissed the NGO’s plea.PTI
Muslims let Sikhs use historic mosque premises for preparing, serving langar
Fatehgarh Sahib: In a goodwill gesture, Muslims in Fatehgarh Sahib have opened up the premises of historical Lal Masjid to the members of Sikh community to let them prepare and serve 'langar' (community kitchen) for Shahidi Jor Mela, a 3-day event which observes martyrdom of the younger Sahibzaadas of Guru Gobind Singh.The mosque belongs to the later Mughal period and is attributed to Saifuddin, the grandson of Shaikh Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi (1560-1623) also known as Mujaddid Alf Sani. The mosque was renovated by the Muslim community two years ago.Following permission from the mosque in-charge, villagers from Ranwan and Batho in the Khamano sub-division of the district set up langar there to serve the congregation."Muslim community has allowed using their land for preparing langar. We are preparing food and serving it to the visitors for the last three days. The basement of the mosque is also being used by us for storing food items. Gurdwaras of 2 villages have collectively organized the langar and villagers are taking turns to participate in the services of the community kitchen. We got permission from the in-charge of the mosque here as Muslims were happy to share their land for our religious event," said Charanjit Singh Channi of Ranwan village. "Shaikh Sirhindi had also played a key role in persecution and execution of fifth Sikh master Guru Arjun Dev Ji. However, when Banda Singh Bahadur took over the reins of Sirhind, he did not demolish the mosques. Similarly, Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and other Sikh chieftains established their rule by defeating the subordinates of Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Abdali but did not harm the mosques or other key places of the Muslims. The battles of Sikhs was not against the Muslims or Islam but was only with the rulers who were Mughals," said Paramvir Singh, professor at the dept of Encyclopaedia in Sikhism, Punjabi University, Patiala."We are glad to assist the Sikh community. They are allowed to use the land of the mosque for setting up the community kitchen. People from different religions don't have animosity among them but it's the rulers or politicians who want to keep them divided. In the past, battles of Sikhs were not against the Muslims but the then rulers," said, Khalifa Syed Mohammad Sadiq Raza, in-charge of Lal Masjid.TOI
Delhi's Jama Masjid is crumbling little by little due to ill-maintainence:India Today
Jewel of old Delhi, the 361-year-old Jama Masjid is in a state of decay. Its main dome has developed cracks through which water is seeping in resulting into threat to the entire structure.17the century mosque built during the Mughal era was constructed by emperor Shahjahan when he moved his capital from Agra to Shahjahanabad or old Delhi."Lack of repairs has led to cracks in the main dome over the main prayer chamber and also the 2 adjoining domes, worst fears may come true if urgent restoration is not undertaken," said Tariq Bukhari, General Secretary of Advisory Committee of Jama Masjid."Archeological Survey of India (ASI) teams have visited the mosque to take stock of the situation but we are yet to hear from them about when they will start repairs," he added. Last year, Chief custodian of the mosque, Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari had also red flagged the decay and written a letter to the PM  appealing for urgent help.
ICICI Officials Accused of Tricking Hundreds Into Buying Insurance Instead of FD Schemes: thewire
Jaipur: The Rajasthan police’s special operations group (SOG) is investigating multiple ICICI bank and ICICI Prudential officials for allegedly duping hundreds of unsuspecting consumers into buying insurance policies whose premiums they could barely afford.When Sohandas, a 75-year-old farmer from Udaipur, sold the only piece of land he owned, he hoped the money would help him and his 65-year-old wife with financial security during old age. After building a small house, he deposited the rest of his money (Rs 7,50,000) in a fixed deposit at ICICI bank’s Udaipur branch.“Nine months later, I started receiving calls from Mumbai asking me to deposit another Rs 7,50,000, failing which I’d lose my original deposit. When I showed the bank documents to a lawyer, I was told it was an insurance policy, which required me to deposit the same amount every year”.“I don’t know what to do now,” he said. “Both my wife and I are too old to find labour jobs. We have medical bills of Rs 5-7,000 every month. We don’t have 7.5 lakh rupees to deposit every year”.Sohandas, however, is not alone. There are hundreds like him – a labourer who was relieved of the insurance money she received upon her husband’s death; a Govt employee whose gratuity melted away; a poor farmer whose agricultural loan was appropriated. The victims include farmers, labourers and senior citizens from rural areas of southern Rajasthan, including beneficiaries of central Govt schemes like Kisan Credit Card and MGNREGA, all of who were duped by officials from ICICI bank into buying insurance policies with huge recurring annual premiums, the police says.Tulsiram And Pyaribai Regar (right), who were customers of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. Credit: Special Arrangement.In a preliminary probe, the special operations group (SOG) of the Rajasthan police established the existence of this  fraud following a complaint by a whistleblower, Nitin Balchandani, an ex-employee of ICICI Prudential.thewire
Error in Aadhaar card in MP: 80% residents in Neemuch villages have same birth date
Neemuch: More than 5,000 people in 5 villages of Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district have the same date of birth on their Aadhaar cards — Jan. 1 — due to a glitch which has cut them out of the Govt ’s welfare schemes linked to the unique identification number.Around 80% of the people in Palsoda, Devpura, Fatah Nagar, Jetpuria and Bhopalganj villages — having an approximate population of 7,000 — have the same date of birth on the cards, according to some villagers and the village head (sarpanch) of Palsoda, under which all the villages come.Puran Singh Rajput, a resident of Palsoda village, complained that since their dates of birth are different on other documents and the Aadhaar card, they are being denied provisions and benefits under the Govt ’s welfare schemes as these are linked to the Aadhaar card.The glitch is created automatically by the system if no date of birth is filed in the Aadhaar application form. Rajput blamed the agency entrusted with their registration for not doing the same. hindustantimes
Today's Google Doodle remembers Mirza Ghalib on his 220th birthday
New Delhi: Search engine Google on Wednesday celebrated one of Urdu literature's most iconic poets, Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, popularly known as Ghalib. Mirza Ghalib, who would have turned 220 this year, is shown standing on a balcony of a building of his era, with a pen and paper, and the sun and a mosque in his background.Born in 1797, poet, one of the most popular and influential ones in Urdu and Persian language, wrote at a time when Mughal empire was entering its last quarter and the British were taking over in India.IANS
Hezbollah, Hamas to coordinate against Trump’s Jerusalem decision: The Daily Star report
Beirut: Anti-Israeli groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, are setting up a joint body to coordinate against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on political, military and security levels, a security source told The Daily Star Tuesday. Forming the “coordination room” comes after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said that the Iran-backed “axis of resistance” would now focus on confronting Israel as the war in Syria edges toward its end. The move would bring Hamas closer to Iran after years of tension due to the Palestinian movement’s backing of rebel groups in Syria.The command would gather representatives from Hezbollah, Hamas and five other armed groups active in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as the powerful Shiite paramilitary group Al-Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq, the Lebanon-based source said.Fatah’s armed wing, however, will not be included in this coalition.“There could be an official announcement soon from the axis of resistance that it is coming together to confront Israel and Trump’s decision,” the source, which is close to the groups, said.In his traditional Christmas address, Pope Francis Monday called for peace in Jerusalem and highlighted the plight of children scarred by conflict. dailystar
Hezbollah, Hamas forming ‘joint body’ against US policy shift on Quds:Press TV
Ismail Haniya warns against US 'deal of the century'
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has said that the US had offered the Palestinian Authority a Jerusalem suburb, Abu Dis, as an alternative to East Jerusalem for capital of a future Palestinian state.Speaking at a meeting with Palestinian clan leaders in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, Haniya labelled Donald Trump's recent decision, to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a ploy to demolish the Palestinian cause in line with the so-called deal of the century."US is still offering deals and continues to be on the side of the PA one way or another, in order to give them a capital or entity in the Abu Dis area, away from Jerusalem, with a bridge linking to al-Aqsa Mosque allowing for the freedom of prayer," he said.Haniya said certain regional forces are seeking to divide the West Bank into three sections, in addition to creating a political entity in the Gaza Strip with its own controlling powers. aljazeera
Jerusalem’s Islamic-Christian Council calls for building Palestinian army
Jerusalem is the Palestinian people’s eternal homeland and capital, the member of Islamic-Christian Council in Jerusalem, Father Manuel Mosallam, has stressed.Speaking at a national conference held by the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza Strip, Mosallam said that “the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital of has made the world collapse.”“Where are the international legitimacy, UN Security Council resolutions and the Oslo Accord,” he wondered, denouncing the “US has trampled on all these resolutions and international covenants” On the 2-state solution, Mosallam noted that “this project was over long time ago.” “Palestinians have no faith in anyone. They only trust in their weapons, resistance, and their blood,” he said.“Palestinian people are the decision makers,” the Palestinian official pointed out, stressing “the only solution is the resistance and civil disobedience.”“Al Aqsa is part of our Islamic faith,” Mosallam reiterated.He called on the Muslim countries to provide what he described as the Palestinians with the weapons that “would help them liberate Al-Aqsa.”MEMO
Fatah calls on Arabs to boycott countries who move their embassies to Jerusalem
Fatah has called on Arab states to boycott countries which move their embassies to Jerusalem, the New Khaleej reported. This call came two days after the Guatemalan president announcement that his country’s plans to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.In a statement, Fatah spokesman Jamal Nazzal called on Arab and Muslim states to make the countries who change their stance on Jerusalem lose “the benefit of their relations with the Arabs and Muslims.”“What is requested is to make those who downplay our civilised position and political rights pay a high price,” Nazzal said in his statement, adding that “we must deal with Jerusalem as an issue of honour.”He also warned of the “temptations” offered or “pressures” put on certain countries to make them change their policies regarding Jerusalem. Middleeastmonitor
Iran assembly recognizes Jerusalem as Palestine capital
Iranian lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill recognizing Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital.According to Iran’s government-run ICANA news agency, 207 out of 290 lawmakers voted in favor of the legislation.Addressing the assembly on Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani described the bill’s timing as “important”.“It comes in response to the recent U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in hopes of dealing a blow to Muslims,” he said. Anadolu Agency
Israeli court releases jailed teen al-Juneidi on bail
RAMALLAH, Palestine;An Israeli military court on Wednesday decided to release 16-year-old Palestinian Fawzi al-Juneidi on bail, according to a legal source.  The court set al-Juneidi’s bail at 10,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $2,860) after prosecutors withdrew an appeal against the teenager’s release, lawyer Arwa Hilehel told Anadolu Agency.Al-Juneidi was arrested on Dec. 7 in the West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) after being dragged on the ground and blindfolded by heavily-armed Israeli soldiers.A photo of the blindfolded youth has since become a symbol of ongoing Palestinian protests sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Anadolu Agency
Saudi prevents Israeli players from chess tournament
Israel demanded financial compensation from the International Chess Federation after several of their players were denied visas by Saudi Arabia to take part in an international tournament held in Riyadh.7 Israeli chess players had applied for a visa to participate in the world tournament from 26-30 Dec. –first international chess competition organised by Saudi Arabia.According to the rules of the International Federation (FIDE), a country cannot deprive players, regardless of their nationality, from participating in such a competition. But Saudi Arabia refused to grant visas to players from Iran, Qatar and Israel.On Monday, the International Federation reversed the decision of the visa refusals and managed to “obtain visas for players from Qatar and Iran” however failed to obtain visas for the Israeli players.“Kingdom has authorised the participation of all citizens, except for a certain country with which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations and for which it maintains this policy,” the spokeswoman of the Saudi Embassy in the US, Fatima Baechen, confirmed.In response, the Israeli Chess Federation demanded financial compensation from FIDE for the seven players “who have suffered professional and financial harm” in this case. middleeastmonitor
25 Bahrain groups demand delegation that visited Israel be prosecuted
Some 25 Bahraini organisations including political associations, civil society groups and various intellectual and political trends have come together to condemn a visit by what they called a “suspicious” delegation to Israel.In a joint statement, the organisations demanded delegates be prosecuted for abandoning the Bahraini national consensus which rejects normalisation with Israel.“Palestinian issue is the central issue of the Arab and Islamic nation and Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine,” they said in a statement.“The occupation is oppressive and should be resisted. US stands by the occupation against the Palestinian people and is no longer a mediator of the peace process,” it added. Bahraini associations affirmed their rejection of all forms of normalisation of relations with Israel. It called on all Arab countries to stop all relations with Israel. middleeastmonitor
'Devastating': Israeli tear gas' effect on Palestinians
Aida refugee camp, occupied West Bank - A Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank may be the most exposed place to tear gas in the world, according to the author of a new study.Human Rights Centre of University of California at Berkeley recently reported that Israel's security forces have carried out a "widespread", "frequent" and "indiscriminate" use of tear gas against Palestinian refugees in Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem.The report - said to be the first to analyse the effects of tear gas in the West Bank - found that 100 % of the more than 200 Palestinian residents surveyed in Aida camp were exposed to tear gas over the past year. Report, No Safe Space: Health Consequences of Tear Gas Exposure Among Palestine Refugees, collected testimonies last summer in Aida and the nearby Dheisheh refugee camp."We found that the constant and unpredictable use of tear gas in Palestine refugee camps has a devastating effect on the mental and physical health of residents," said the report's co-author, Dr Rohini Haar, a researcher at UC Berkeley centre and a doctor with Physicians for Human Rights.The effects, Haar told Al Jazeera, are especially harmful on "the most vulnerable, including pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people already in ill health". Report surveyed 236 residents of Aida, all of whom said they were exposed to tear gas in the last year.Of that,84%  of people said they were exposed while in their homes.As its name implies, tear gas is intended to cause a person's eyes to water and skin to burn.Residents also told report's authors that Israeli army's use of tear gas was "primarily unprovoked".
Israel behind 'Christian exodus' from Palestine
Beit Jala: Israeli occupation of Palestine is the main factor behind the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the region, according to a new study.The research carried out by Dar al-Kalima University in the occupied-West Bank town of Beit Jala, concluded that only small percentage of Christians had left Palestine because of concerns over Muslim religious conservatism. Researchers interviewed more than a thousand people, roughly half of whom were Christian and half Muslim on their outlook on life and if negative, the causes of their pessimism. "Pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians," study said. These conditions have put Palestinian Christians in "a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves,"it added.Bernard Sabella, a member of Palestinian Legislative council and one of the authors of the study, said: "It is not the fear of disappearance Palestinian Christians fear the most, rather losing their space in society".He stressed that the conflict with Israel and the lack of political solution to the occupation of Palestinian territories served as the main causes for the reduction in the number of Palestinian Christians.In Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Christianity, Palestinian Christians are rapidly disappearing under the current political and economic conditions."Palestinian identity needs to be highlighted and emphasised," Sabella added.The study also found that 50 % of interviewed Christians and 54 % of Muslims were optimistic that their situation will eventually improved and attributed their optimism to the belief that God is on their side. Aljazeera
Saudi King Salman, Turkey PM discuss Jerusalem status at talks
Riyadh: Saudi King Salman and Turkey's premier on Wednesday discussed boosting ties and the status of Jerusalem, in a first high-level meeting since the US controversially recognised the city as Israel's capital. Firm US ally Riyadh and NATO member Ankara have both slammed President Donald Trump's Dec. 6 decision to upend decades of careful policy by Washington.But the Saudis only sent a low-level representative to a conference of Muslim nations on the issue hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, amid signs of strains in their relations. Saudi SPA agency said King Salman received PM  Binali Yildirim in Riyadh and discussed "means of boosting bilateral ties and developments in the region," without providing details.Yildirim's office in Ankara said the status of Jerusalem and supporting the Palestinians were discussed at the meeting.AFP 
'Civilians killed' in Saudi raids in Yemen's Taiz
At least 20 people are reported to have been killed and dozens more wounded in a series of Saudi-led air raids on a market in southwestern Yemen.Sources told Al Jazeera that Tuesday's coalition raids struck Souk al-Shahra, a popular market in a Houthi rebels-held area of Taiz province, about 200km southwest of the capital, Sanaa.At least 13 civilians were killed and another 17 injured, one source said, adding that at least 10 rebel fighters were also among the fatalities.Another source said that body parts were thrown hundreds of metres from the blast sites.Al Masirah, a TV network run by the Houthi leadership, put the number of casualties at more than 50, adding they could still rise further. aljazeera
Syria: Evacuation of critically ill from Eastern Ghouta
Aid agencies are evacuating critically ill Syrians from Eastern Ghouta, a region home to around 400,000 people that has been under Govt  siege since 2013. Children comprise around half of the population in one of the last rebel strongholds in the country, where medical supplies and food have been in short supply.International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Syrian Red Crescent, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) are among the organisations involved in the evacuation. Robert Mardini, ICRC regional director, wrote on Twitter that he was "encouraged to see the beginning of a lifesaving operation". ICRC posted photos to the social media site showing ambulances and aid workers on site.SAMS said evacuations had begun for at least 29 people in critical condition. Four were taken to medical care in Damascus on Wednesday. The remainder would be escorted out over the coming days.Medicine is being rationed, and people are dying of complications due to the limited availability of simple procedures like dialysis.Eastern Ghouta was supposed to be one of the "de-escalation zones" brokered a year ago by Iran, Russia and Turkey, but people there do not trust the agreements, and their greatest fear now is not having a place in their country.Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said the evacuation of the 29 critically ill is a "welcome move, but is not enough". "It's just a small fraction of those who need urgent medical care," she said. Last month, the UN called for at least 500 people in need of urgent medical attention to be allowed to leave the besieged region. UN reports and Al Jazeera interviews in Eastern Ghouta confirmed reports that residents are drinking large amounts of water to suppress hunger, with food intake reduced to one meal a day.Assad Govt  has allowed in some aid, but the UN says its current level of assistance covers just about 10 % of the besieged population of Eastern Ghouta.People in Eastern Ghouta are eating boiled corn, cabbage and cauliflower because of a lack of cooking fuel, cooking oil and other basic essentials. aljazeera
UN adopts resolution slamming Myanmar crackdown in Rohingya, defies opposition from China, Russia
UN General Assembly on Sunday urged Myanmar to end a military campaign against Muslim Rohingya and called for the appointment of a U.N. special envoy, despite opposition from China, Russia and some regional countries.A resolution put forward by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was adopted by a vote of 122 to 10 with 24 abstentions.China, Russia, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam joined Myanmar in voting against the measure as did Belarus, Syria and Zimbabwe.The resolution calls on the Govt  to allow access for aid workers, ensure the return of all refugees and grant full citizenship rights to the Rohingya.It requests that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoint a special envoy to Myanmar.The measure was adopted by the assembly after its budget committee gave the green light to funds for the new position of U.N. special envoy to Myanmar.AFP-JIJI
We Shouldn’t Expect Released ‘Secret Detainees’ in Bangladesh to Talk About What Happened:DAVID BERGMAN, journalist, runs Bangladesh Politico and Bangladesh War Crimes blogs

How does Adityanath withdrawing criminal case against himself not count as ‘jungle raj’?Rohan Venkataramakrishnan
With 2G verdict, Congress may claim a moral victory but it cannot get back what it lost:Kapil Sibal
Secularism: Why Nehru dropped and Indira inserted the S-word in the Constitution:Adrija Roychowdhury
Message from Gujarat elections: The Muslim is more alone than ever before:Abdul Khaliq
'Musharraf was my assassin, Benazir told me':Hamid Mir
Bangladesh disappearances 'a matter of grave concern': Faisal Mahmud
10 Israeli conditions for ‘peace’ with Saudi: Study published by Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies in Israel, Mordechai Kedar

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:17 PM)


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