08 January 2018

8 Jan ND: SC to revisit 2013 verdict on IPC’s Section 377, which criminalised homosexuality, refers matter to larger bench/ 'Saudi approves India’s plan to ferry Haj pilgrims via sea route'

08 Jan.2018: 19 Rabial Aakhir 1439:Vol:9, No:93
 SC to revisit 2013 verdict on IPC’s Section 377, which criminalised homosexuality, refers matter to larger bench
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will revisit its earlier verdict on Section 377 of the IPC which criminalised homosexuality. The matter will now be referred to a larger bench. A 3-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra on Monday said the apex court would reexamine the Constitutional validity of Section 377.“A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of fear. Choice can’t be allowed to cross boundaries of law but confines of law can’t trample or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under Art 21 of Constitution,” the bench observed.The court also issued a notice to the Centre seeking its response to a writ petition filed by 5 members of the LGBT community. The petitioners said they live in constant fear of police action because of their sexual preferences.Earlier in 2009, the Delhi HC decriminalised Section 377. However, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadaya in 2013 set aside the high court verdict.In August this year, the SC, in its landmark judgment on the privacy issue, said that “sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy”. It said that the “right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution”.A curative petition filed by Naz Foundation and others on Section 377 has been pending before a 5-judge Constitution Bench since 2014. indianexpress
New Haj policy panel head Afzal Amanullah suggests removing age bar on women travelling sans Mehram
New Delhi: The head of the committee that framed a new Haj policy has said the Govt  should allow women below 45 years of age to go on Haj without a “Mehram”.Afzal Amanullah said it had suggested to the Govt  that the age limit on women travelling without “Mehram” -- a term for a close male relative a woman cannot marry, such as her father, brother or son -- be removed.“If a male major can go alone for Haj, why not a woman,” Amanullah told PTI Bhasha. Till now, women pilgrims would be required to be accompanied by their husbands or ‘Mehrams’ during the annual pilgrimage. Amanullah, the former Consul General of India, Jeddah, said no restrictions on age and “Mehram” had been imposed by Saudi Arabia’s Govt  and the conditions had been set by India.However, Amanullah, a retired IAS officer, said the restriction regarding “Mehram” was imposed by the Indian Govt  and not Saudi Arabia.“Indian Govt  has now removed the restriction. I consider it a very important step,” said Amanullah, who was the convener of the committee on preparing the new Haj policy for 2018-2022. It was on the basis of the report submitted by this committee that the Govt  decided to do away with certain restrictions regarding “Mehram”.“I fail to understand why such a restriction was imposed by the Indian Govt  for so many years. When we contacted the Saudi administration in the course of preparing the draft of the new Haj policy, we came to know that there was no such restriction from them,” Amanullah said.HT
Women to go on Haj without male guardians: Naqvi
Saudi approves India’s plan to ferry Haj pilgrims via sea route: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
New Delhi:Saudi Arabia has given its nod to India’s plan to revive the option of ferrying Haj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said today. Naqvi made the comment after the signing of annual Haj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia in Mecca.“Saudi Arabia has given its nod to revive the option of sending pilgrims by sea route…Officials from both the countries will discuss all the necessary formalities and technicalities so that Haj pilgrimage through sea route can be started in the coming years,” Naqvi said according to the statement.Naqvi said that sending pilgrims through ships would help cut down travel expenses significantly and added that it would be a “revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision”. The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways existed earlier too, but was stopped from 1995.Naqvi also said that for the first time Muslim women from India will go to Haj without ‘Mehram’ (male companion). “Separate accommodation and transport have been arranged for these woman Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and woman Haj assistants will be deployed for their assistance,” he added.PTI
Signing of bilateral annual Haj 2018 agreement between India and Saudi Arabia
http://www.business-standard.com/article/Govt -press-release/signing-of-bilateral-annual-haj-2018-agreement-between-india-and-saudi-118010800645_1.html
 Uniform civil code an uphill task, best option is to make suitable religion-wise amendments in personal laws to end discrimination: law panel chief
New Delhi:As debate over criminalisation of triple talaq rages, Law Commission chairman Justice BS Chauhan has indicated that drafting of a uniform civil code will not be an easy task and suggested that the best option could be making suitable religion-wise amendments in personal laws to end gender discrimination.Law ministry had in July 2015 asked the Law Commission to examine the feasibility of a uniform civil code and submit a report.Emphasising that a personal law cannot be touched "beyond the extent permitted by the Constitution", Chauhan said "We have to be careful that whatever we suggest must be within the parameters of the constitutional laws. Even the Supreme Court has been observing in various cases that if you bring uniform civil code, it will provide for national consolidation and national integration. But the question is we must bring in a law acceptable to the people. Because enforcement of law depends upon its acceptability by the large number of people and the society as a whole."The remarks assume importance as it came at a recent function where the law panel chief received drafts of uniform code on marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship and custody and succession submitted by students of 11 law colleges as part of national competition on drafting a model UCC.Significantly, the contest was hosted by a minority institution, Mar Gregorios College of Law, Thiruvananthapuram, run by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI)."Our whole attempt is we want to bring uniformity keeping the diversity in view. If we cannot being uniformity... if we cannot bring in a composite form of uniform civil code we must try to remove the discrimination. There can be uniformity in plurality. Law may be different according to different religion but we must try our best to bring gender justice and remove discrimination".Explaining his point that it was difficult to enforce a law which is not acceptable to the public, Chauhan said the best example was the Child Marriage Restraint Act."We first brought it in 1929. Replaced it with another act in 2016 and we thought child marriage has been prohibited but even today 46% of our children get married before they attain majority. Why is it so? Because people have not accepted this kind of act", he said.The term civil code is used to cover the entire body of laws governing rights relating to property, marriage, divorce, maintenance, adoption and inheritance.At present there are different laws governing these aspects for different communities in India.Laws governing inheritance or divorce among Hindus are different from those pertaining to Muslims of Christians and so on.The law panel chief said the most difficult problem towards unification of personal laws arose in tribal areas and North-East states due to various customs and practices. "In one North East community, entire property is inherited by the youngest daughter in the family. After her marriage, her husband settles at her home. He also becomes the husband of the girl's mother. This practice is called Nokuram. The son-in-law steps into the shoe of his father-in-law for all purposes and not only property. Now this cannot be touched under UCC as the unique custom has the protection of the constitution," said Justice Chauhan. indiatoday
Change public opinion on Sharia law: Muslim board to community leaders
Mumbai: As the Central Govt  seeks to penalise Muslim men practising instant triple talaq — divorcing by uttering the word ‘talaq’ thrice at one go — All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) wants community leaders to try and change the public perception of Sharia law as being detrimental to women. At a consultative meeting in the city to discuss triple talaq bill on Sunday, the board asked the community leaders to “open communication channels” to change opinion on issues related to Muslim personal law. The board believes, the move will help in dissuading the Govt  from seeking to pass the bill in its current form.“Govt ’s objective in introducing the bill is polarisation, not empowering Muslim women. Don’t make this a Hindu-Muslim issue,” said Maulana Khalilur Rahman Sajjad Naumani, a member of AIMPLB. The board is also hoping to make instant triple talaq obsolete by preventing Muslim men from practising it. “A massive campaign is needed against instant triple talaq,” said Maulana Naumani. Members of the board also pushed for resolving matrimonial disputes through mediation, instead of approaching courts and police. They advocated establishing and making use of counselling centres, helplines and darul qazas (Sharia courts) to resolve civil matters among Muslims.The community leaders said that the triple talaq bill has many ambiguities that need to be removed. “In many cases, it’s the women who want immediate end of a marriage through triple talaq,” said Mubin Solkar, a city-based lawyer. He also said that penalising husbands for triple talaq will jeopardise marriage.HT
Bihar deputy CM Sushil Modi pitches for law to end polygamy among Muslims
Patna: Pitching for reforms in marriage laws of Muslim community in the country, deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi (SuMo) on Sunday appealed to PM Narendra Modi to also bring new bills and make law for the abolition of polygamy and 'nikah halala' in the Muslim society for greater gender parity."I appeal to PM Modi to bring bills that become law to finally abolish the practice of polygamy and 'nikah halala' from the Muslim society," SuMo said, adding the "progressive sections among the Muslims should come forward in support of the reforms in their marriage laws to end polygamy and 'nikah halala'."SuMo said country's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru had called the changes he had brought in the Hindu marriage code through the Hindu Marriage Act as his greatest achievement. Nehru had also said the time was not ripe then for reforming the marriage laws of Muslims, SuMo said, adding:"The time is ripe for bringing out these changes."SuMo came hard on the Congress on Shah Bano case, saying: "My personal view is that late PM Gandhi committed a sin by making constitutional amendment to overturn the SC order for alimony to Muslim women. This he did under the influence of Muslim clerics."TOI
SC posts beef ban related petitions for final hearing in Feb 3rd week
The Supreme Court today posted a batch of petitions related to beef ban in Maharashtra for final hearing from third week of Feb. Petitions and cross petitions challenge the ban on cow slaughter, Bombay High Court order allowing possession and consumption of beef brought into Maharashtra from outside, and the plea by Maharashtra Govt  seeking revival of a provision of law that made it an offence to carry or keep beef at home in the state. The bench will also decide on the plea of senior advocate Indira Jaising for referring the entire matter to a constitution bench. Jaising represents 30 individuals from Maharashtra led by activist Swatija Paranjpe who have demanded lifting of ban on beef and “decriminalisation of food habits”. She challenges the May 6, 2016 order of the Bombay High Court which upheld the ban on cow slaughter in the state under the amended Maharashtra Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2015. During the last hearing a lawyer in another petitioin said the offence of possessing beef involved the right to privacy and referred to the judgment of a 9-judge bench yesterday. The bench agreed that aspect may also have to be looked into when the matter is taken up for hearing. Justifying a 9-judge bench, Jaising said earlier an SC seven judge bench led by the CJI R C Lahoti had imposed complete ban on slaughtering of even unproductive bovine. The case was State of Gujarat Vs Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab. livelaw
Meat traders' strike against cow vigilantes enters 3rd day in Goa
The strike by Goa meat traders protesting against alleged harassment by cow vigilante groups has entered the third day on Monday. Meat traders have stopped the import of the meat from neighbouring Karnataka. Slaughterhouses in Karnataka have refused to supply meat till the Govt  takes steps to stop harassment by cow vigilante groups.President of Qureshi Meat Traders Association of Goa, Manna Bepari, said the traders are suffering huge losses due to the strike.According to traders, the strike will continue till the state Govt  takes steps to stop harassment by cow vigilante groups."Harassment by these groups has increased in the state since Christmas. Traders have now decided not to import beef as trucks ferrying the meat are being stopped and confiscated in the name of illegality," Manna Bepari told PTI.Bepari said around 25 tonnes of beef is brought from Belagavi every day."There is no production of beef in Goa as its lone state-run abattoir is no longer operational. Oneindia
No mysterious person behind killing of Mahatma Gandhi & he was killed by Godse: Amicus to SC
New Delhi: Senior advocate Amrendra Sharan, who was asked by Supreme Court to examine all documents pertaining to Mahatma Gandhi assassination+ case to find out whether there was involvement of a 'mysterious' person who had fired fourth bullet which killed father of nation, told the court on Monday that there is no evidence to prove that Mahatma was killed by person other than Nathuram Godse.Sharan also said that there was no evidence to prove four bullet theory raised by a self-confessed Veer Savarkar devotee and founder of 'Abhinav Bharat' Pankaj Phadnis+ who insisted that four shots were fired at Mahatma Gandhi and it was the fourth bullet fired by a mysterious person that took his life.Sharan, assisted by advocates Sanchit Guru and Samarth Khanna, filed the report after examining nearly 4,000 pages of trial court records and the Jeevan Lal Kapur Inquiry Commission report of 1969 in the assassination case and told the apex court that allegation raised regarding involvement of some foreign intelligence agency in assassination was baseless and not substantiated by any evidence.Saran filed voluminous report in compliance of apex court's direction asking him to go through all the documents pertaining to Mahatama Gandhi assassination and assist the court in deciding whether fresh probe is required to be done in the case. The court had passed the order on a plea of Phadnis seeking re-investigation of the case and alleged that Gandhi was not killed by bullet fired by Godse."Investigation into the murder of the Gandhi represents the biggest cover up in the history of India. The blame on Marathi people in general and Veer Savarkar in particular for being the cause of the death of Mahatma has no basis in law and facts. On the other hand there is a compelling need to uncover the larger conspiracy behind the murder by constituting a new Commission of Inquiry to look into the issue," he said in his petition.Demanding a fresh probe into Mahatma Gandhi's assassination, he claims that "most newspapers throughout the world" reported that 4 bullets were fired at Gandhiji and that the "fourth bullet has remained a mystery all along".Refuting the contentions raised by petitioner, Sharan in his report said, "Bullets which pierced Mahatma Gandhi's body, the pistol from which it was fired, the assailant who fired the said bullets, the conspiracy which led to the assassination and the ideology which led to the said assassination have all been duly identified. No substantive material has come to light to throw any doubt on any of the above requiring either a re-investigation of the Mahatma Gandhi murder case or, to constitute a fresh fact finding commission with respect to the same".TOI
Mahatma assassination case: Amicus curiae files report, says no need to reinvestigate
Take back order on National Anthem in cinema halls till fresh circular is issued, Centre tells Supreme Court
NEW DELHI:In a dramatic turnaround, the Centre told the Supreme Court to take back its order making it compulsory for cinema halls to play the National Anthem before screening a film and compelling patrons to stand up and show respect.On November 30, 2016, a Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra, before he became Chief Justice of India, had directed that “all cinema halls in India shall play the National Anthem before the feature film starts and all present in the hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the National Anthem.”The court had justified that the playing of the anthem cinema halls is to be conceived as an opportunity for the public to express their “love for the motherland.” The Bench had observed that said the protocol of showing respect and honour to the anthem was rooted in “our national identity, national integrity and constitutional patriotism.”But the November 2016 order had found resonating criticism from within the highest judiciary itself.“Next thing will be that people should not wear t-shirts and shorts to movies because it will amount to disrespect to the National Anthem... where do we stop this moral policing?” Justice Chandrachud had slammed the order. The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Kodungalloor Film Society in Kerala to recall the November order.Following this, the apex court left it to the government to “take a call” and issue a notification describing the circumstances and occasions for showing respect to National Anthem. thehindu
National Anthem in movie theatres: Centre to set up panel to frame new rules
Corporators From BJP, Mayawati's Party Clash In Meerut Over Vande Mataram
Meerut: The first meeting of the newly elected mayor and corporators in western UP's Meerut saw chaos and confusion over the national song 'Vande Mataram'.The meeting began with the song being played on tape when Muslim corporators from both the BSP and Samajwadi Party, walked out and soon after Bhartiya Janta Party corporators started shouting anti BSP slogans.Swearing in ceremonies for recently concluded urban body polls were carried out across UP  last month. In a campaign led by CM  Yogi Adityanath, BJP won as many as 14 of 16 municipal corporations across UP .Meerut, in western UP , is a municipal corporation where Mayawati's BSP won the mayor's position and 28 of 90 seats for corporators. BJP won 38 seats but lost the post of mayor both in Meerut and Aligarh to Mayawati's BSP.NDTV
UP: Muslim cleric welcomes loudspeaker ban
Lucknow: Welcoming the UP  Govt ’s order on the removal of illegal loudspeakers from religious places, Muslim clerics have termed it a move in the interest of the nation.Sufiyan Nizami, a cleric, said, "The Allahabad High Court's order should be welcomed by everyone as it is in the interest of the nation. But if the Govt  has to act it should first check on the loudspeakers used in private functions such as marriages and political rallies. The use of loudspeakers at religious places is done for a very limited period of time.”News18
Home ministry wants special cell to combat lone wolf, DIY terrorists
New Delhi: Home minister Rajnath Singh has asked for the creation of a dedicated cell to monitor online radicalisation, warning the security establishment that “do-it-yourself” (DIY) and lone-wolf attacks were among the greatest threats to communal harmony, a ministry official said on Sunday.Singh, who was addressing an annual three-day conference of the country’s top police officials at Madhya Pradesh’s Tekanpur, cited lone-wolf attacks that hit France, Germany and the UK last year as examples of new forms of terror.“Minister spoke on Saturday about mowing down civilians and stabbings that have been witnessed across the world. In India, such acts can take a deadlier dimension,”official said. Taking Singh’s suggestion forward, IB on Sunday called for a special unit that would collect data and share information on a real-time basis with central security agencies and state police, an official at the conference said.IB made 2 presentations on “counter radicalisation” and “integrated approach”, stressing the need for a national counter-terrorism strategy with a special focus on online propaganda by terror organisations.Domestic intelligence agency also asked the director-generals of police to study radicalisation patterns in their respective states.“Idea is to create a better understanding of radicalisation and emerging patterns in international terrorism,” official said.PTI
AMU expels Kashmiri research scholar, suspected of joining Hizb, varsity intensifies security checks
AMU has expelled a research scholar from J&K’s Kupwara region after the varsity suspected of having links with terror group Hizbul Mujahideen after a photograph of student appeared on social media with him holding an AK-47 rifle. Varsity officials also sealed the room of 26-year-old Mannan Bashir Wani at AMU’s Mohammad Habib Hall following reports of his alleged involvement in “highly objectionable activities, which can hamper the peaceful academic atmosphere and create disharmony,” AMU said. Professor M Mohsin Khan, Proctor, AMU, said that since Wani has breached the ‘AMU Students’ Conduct and Discipline Rules, 1985’, the matter was placed before Professor Tariq Mansoor, the Vice Chancellor of the university.Wani was a researcher in the Department of Geology and was last present in his department on January 2, according to AMU officials, who said that the university has initiated an inquiry into the matter and intensified security checks including in all its hostels in view of the incident. According to the officials, Wani hailed from Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir and had left for his hometown shortly before the commencement of the winter vacations at AMU on Jan6.A senior AMU official said that prior to police dept’s letter, the university had not received any intimation from the student’s family that he had not arrived at his home after leaving Aligarh.Suspicion over Wani’s antecedents was triggered after his photograph showing him holding a gun appeared on various social media sites. It was suspected that the scholar from Tikipora in Lolab area might have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen.However, police in J&K said it was too early to confirm if Wani had joined militancy. A police official said Wani’s last known location was Delhi few days earlier and they are ascertaining where he went after that.Meanwhile, the AMU Proctor, Professor Mohsin Khan, told PTI that the University had set “up a comprehensive inquiry into the entire matter” and is also taking further necessary steps for beefing up security in hostels of the university. indianexpress
Kashmir research scholar ‘joins Hizbul’, family says lost contact after new year
No terrorist link found to arrested Kashmiri youth: UP  IG
Lucknow:Police have found no terrorist link to a Kashmiri youth arrested while travelling without ticket in a train from New Delhi to Bhopal, a high-ranking police officer said on Monday.   The youngster, Bilal Ahmad Wani, was arrested by Govt  Railway Police from Palwal while travelling in the New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express, and later handed over to the Anti Terrorist Squad.UP  ATS Inspector General Asim Arun said that there was nothing irregular about his background.tribuneindia
Hizbul threatens to pour acid in eyes of those who contest Kashmir panchayat elections:HT
Hizbul Mujahideen has purportedly threatened to “pour acid” into the eyes of those who would participate in the upcoming panchayat elections in the state.The threat was conveyed in a clip circulated on social media.Outfit, for the first time, also publically acknowledged killing some of those who participated in the past elections, but said this time it would not resort to killing.“You saw in 2016 how many youth lost their eye sights (to pellets). That is why we have planned …whosoever fights elections, he will be dragged out of his home and concentrated acid –sulphuric or hydrochloric acid – will be poured into his eyes so that he loses his eyesight and becomes a burden for his families for life,” a person, believed to the Hizb’s operational commander Riyaz Naikoo, was heard saying in the clip.HT could not independently verify the authenticity of the video. But in the past also similar videos, conveying the militant group’s stance on various issues, surfaced in the social media. The rural body polls, which could not be held in 2016 following violence after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, are scheduled to take place from Feb. 15.South Kashmir’s deputy inspector general of police SP Pani refused to comment on the threat saying he has heard about the clip but not yet seen it.Naikoo is a resident of south Kashmir’s Awantipora. Besides the militant’s threats,separatist leadership has also called for a boycott of the upcoming elections.Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have said in a statement that any sort of election under “Indian occupational system-- be it for so-called assembly, parliament, municipal committee or panchayat-- is meant only to harm the national interests of Kashmiris. We cannot vote and hence strengthen the hands of the tyrants”.HT
I stand by every word, have earned the FIR: Tribune reporter on Aadhaar breach story
New Delhi: Rachna Khaira, the reporter of “The Tribune” newspaper who has been booked by the Delhi Police in connection with a newspaper report on the breach of details of over one billion Aadhaar cards, on Sunday said she was happy about the development as she had “earned” FIR.“I think I have earned this FIR. I am happy that at least the UIDAI has taken some action on my report and I really hope that along with the FIR, Govt of India will see what all breaches were there and take appropriate action,” she told a television news channel. Asked whether she stood by her report, Khaira said, “Yes, of course. I stand by every word in it.”On being asked whether the FIR against her was a case of shooting the messenger, Khaira said, “I have not received the copy of the FIR. For me, it is difficult to comment on the issue right now, because if it is filed by the UIDAI officials, my comment may be different. So, right now, I would like to refrain from commenting on the issue.”PTI
Reporter who exposed India data breach named in criminal complaint:theguardian
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/08/reporter-who-exposed-huge-indian-data-breach-rachna-khaira-named-in-Govt -criminal-complaint
Aadhaar FIR: Are we living in banana republic, asks Sinha
New Delhi:BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha on Monday wondered if the people of the country were living in a “banana republic”, saying a journalist who did a story to highlight the misuse of Aadhaar details was being hauled up for reporting an “alleged truth”.“What kind of ‘justice’ is this? Is there only politics of vendetta? Even public is being victimised for coming out honestly for society and the nation,” he said in a tweet. Sinha has been critical of the central Govt  and the BJP leadership over a host of issues.tribuneindia
Does UIDAI filing FIR signal beginning of a police state: Ashwani
New Delhi:Ashwani Kumar, who was Minister of State for Planning during the UPA-II, on Monday wondered if the filing of an FIR against The Tribune reporter for her Aadhaar report signalled the beginning of a police state.He said the newspaper and its reporter had done a “yeoman’s service” by demonstrating that “all is not well” with the technology architecture of Aadhaar. Kumar said, “The dangers of breach of data and privacy require to be purposively addressed and The Tribune expose has done a yeoman’s service by demonstrating that all is not well with the technological architecture of Aadhaar.” The
Aadhaar: Journalists condemn FIR against Tribune reporter
Arunachal Border "Incident" Resolved; Army Chief
NEW DELHI:  Indian troops have stopped attempts by Chinese engineering teams to build a road near the border town of Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh and the "incident" has been resolved, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat told reporters in New Delhi today.General Rawat said a meeting of the border personnel from the two sides two days ago had resolved the issue. "The Tuting incident has been resolved," he said.The army chief said the number of Chinese troops in Doklam plateau in the Sikkim sector has reduced considerably.People familiar with the matter in the government have said Chinese road-building teams entered one kilometre inside Indian territory in Tuting, adding they had come for track alignment activities, news agency Press Trust of India reported.After Indian troops confronted them, the Chinese teams returned to their side, leaving behind road-building equipment including excavators, the people said. ndtv
PM Modi’s call to Saudi King helped India’s ‘Operation Rahat’ in Yemen: Swaraj
Singapore:One direct phone call from PM  Narendra Modi to Saudi King in 2015 turned out to be a decisive game changer and facilitated a massive evacuation of Indians and foreigners stranded in war-torn Yemen, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday.‘Operation Rahat’ was launched by Indian Armed Forces to evacuate more than 4,000 Indian citizens and other foreign nationals from Yemen during the 2015 military intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies. The 11-day evacuation by sea started on April 1, 2015 from Aden port.Addressing Indian diaspora at ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) here, Swaraj said that relentless Saudi bombing of Yemenese locations had made evacuation of Indian civilians next to impossible.She gave a blow-by-blow account of how ‘Operation Rahaat’ in Yemen was successfully carried out.Swaraj said that she approached Modi and suggested that the excellent rapport he enjoyed with Saudi King (Salman) be put to good use.Modi then made a direct phone call to the King in Riyadh, requesting a safe passage for Indian nationals and evacuation efforts and sought a halt in bombings for a week, she said.According to Swaraj, the Saudi King replied that India’s request was too important to be ignored but also expressed his inability in bringing about a total halt to the bombings. Saudi King, due to the friendship with Modi, agreed to halt bombings between 9 AM and 11 AM daily for a week, the minister said.PTI
MP:  Protest against attacks on Dalits, minorities
Bhopal:A foot march was taken out on Sunday under the leadership of ex-secretary of MP Congress Committee (MPCC) Nasir Islam to protest against communal attacks on Dalits and minorities and the violence in the country. Large number of Congress workers holding placards took part in the march.The march started from Itwara Chauraha at about 2.30pm and headed towards Mangalwara. Youths participating in the march raised slogans. March culminated at Mangalwara. Addressing the protesters, Nasir Islam said communal attacks on Dalits and minorities are being made in a pre-planned manner. Many people have lost their lives in these attacks. Many people belonging to the BJP attacked at a programme organized by the Dalits at Pune district’s Bhima Koregaon.centralchronicle
Aurangabad civic body: 5 MIM corporators may lose membership, MLA cries communal
Aurangabad: 5 AIMIM corporators in the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) may lose their membership for allegedly abusing and "forcing" civic officials to raze a structure near Damdi Mahal recently. Mayor Nandkumar Ghodele (Shiv Sena) directed the municipal commissioner to initiate proceeding to cancel the membership of the five corporators after a special General Body meeting was held yesterday to discuss the incident.While Sena and BJP corporators joined hands to move the proposal against the corporators yesterday, MIM members staged a walkout as soon as the mayor read the ruling. NCP and Congress corporators remained silent.About 2 weeks ago, the issue of demolition of a house was raised by the MIM corporators, who wanted the structure to be razed claiming that it was built illegally and was coming in the way of widening the 100 feet road.Sena members alleged that 5 AIMIM corporators Feroz Khan, Naser Khan, Zameer Ahmed Qadri, Sarwat Begum and Sajeda Farooqui pressurised and abused the AMC officials during anti-encroachment drive. Addressing reporters here today, local AIMIM MLA Imtiyaz Jaleel said the mayor proposed cancellation of membership of the corporators as they belonged to a particular community."PTI
Sirhind’s Gurdwara keeping Mughal-era mosque alive
Fatehgarh Sahib (sirhind): It is known as Chittian Masjidan, the white mosque, a possible reference to its 2 domes, now in disrepair but which still retain remnants of a brighter past. While the domes may be out of reach, the mosque’s guardian ensures that at least the rest of the structure lives up to its reputation, periodically giving it a whitewash.But what really makes this Mughal-era mosque at Mahadian village, near the historic city of Sirhind in Punjab, is that its guardian is the granthi of the neighbouring gurdwara.Despite harbouring a painful and tragic chapter in Sikh history, the mosque and the gurdwara appear to have made peace with their violent past. The gurdwara, the Mastgarh Sahib Chittian, had been functioning inside the mosque for nearly a hundred years, and is only now being shifted to its own premises beside the masjid.It was the qazi of this mosque, so the story goes, who issued a fatwa for the death of the 2 sons of Guru Gobind Singh in 1705. Mosque is less than a km from the spot where the 2 — Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh — were walled in by Nawab of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, for refusing to embrace Islam. That event is now observed as Jor Mela, with Sikhs congregating at the spot every year. Jeet Singh, the granthi, says he cleans the mosque twice a day because it is his “duty”. “Very few worshippers have turned up, but we have never stopped anyone. Muslim worshippers feel happy that we are taking care of the old mosque,” says Singh, who lives at the dera with his family including children, wife and father-in-law. Professor Rashid Rasheed, who teaches Punjabi at Mata Gujri College in Fatehgarh Sahib, says Chittian Masjidan gurdwara is an example of communal harmony that can be followed across the country. “I have visited the mosque and have found that Muslims are free to offer prayers there. It is an example that should be followed everywhere to keep the social fabric of our country intact,” he says.Prof Subash Parihar, a Faridkot-based historian and author of ‘History and Architectural remains of Sirhind’, says the mosque most likely dates back to the period of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and was built between 1628-1658. indianexpress
Missing since 2008, Gujarat villager traced to Pak jail; govt says ‘nationality verification’ awaited
Sitting on a mud-plastered floor in front of their house in this border village in Kutch district, Kamabai Sama Karima, 49, and her daughter Raziyabai, 20, are stitching a quilt together on a wintry morning. Kamabai’s weather-beaten face breaks out in a smile as she watches her grandson playing with a corner of the quilt. But that is not the only reason for the smile. 3 months ago, she heard her husband, Ismail, 52, a cattle herder who went missing over nine years ago, on August 28, 2008, was still alive and in a jail in Pakistan. Rafiq Jat, a resident of a nearby village who was also a prisoner in Pakistan, told her, after his release in October 2017, that he and Ismail were together in a Karachi prison.“After my husband did not return home that day, we launched a search for him in the village but couldn’t find him. The search continued for days in nearby villages, until I was told that he had lost his way and crossed over to Pakistan side of the border. I never heard about him again, until Rafiq Jat returned from Pakistan,” says the mother of nine.However, unknown to Kamabai, the Govt  of India has had information about her husband’s imprisonment in Pakistan for four years now. But it has not been able to bring him back home, although his sentence ended in October 2016, because, by its own admission, it has not completed his “nationality verification”.Kamabai believes that her husband either inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan side of the international border, near Khavda in western Kutch, after losing his way, or was abducted by Pakistani security forces. Nana Dinara is about 80 km from Bhuj, the district headquarters of Kutch, and 50 km from the Pakistan border. Nana Dinara village panchayat comprises the vandh (cattle herder) settlements of Allaiya, Fazal, Mavar and Harun. Kamabai lives in Allaiya vandh, which has about 500 people. indian expres
Swiss paper reveals: Secret military cooperation between Saudi, Israel
Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung revealed the fact that there exists a “secret alliance” between Saudi Arabia and Israel, intended “to restrain Iran’s expansion in the region, despite the absence of any official relations between the two countries.” “For the time being, Riyadh rejects any official normalization of relationships with Israel as long as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not resolved and normalization has not been publically declared by Arab countries and thus there will be no exchange of ambassadors,”said Pierre Heumann, newspaper’s correspondent in Israel in his report.“There is an intensive secret cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel in order to achieve the main goal of curbing Iran’s expansion project and undermining its regional ambitions,” said the reporter. He added that “there exists indeed military cooperation between Saudi and Tel Aviv.”Reporter quoted unidentified sources from Riyadh as saying “the Kingdom is currently considering the possibility to purchase Israeli weapons and it has shown an interest in purchasing defence systems for the tanks and the iron dome, which Israel claims has proven to be effective in countering rocket attacks from Gaza Strip.” middleeastmonitor
Saudi calls on US judge to drop lawsuit against the Kingdom over 9/11 attacks
Saudi Arabia has asked a US federal judge to reject a lawsuit that seeks to hold the Kingdom accountable for the September 11 attacks of 2001, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported.The paper cited a document presented by Riyadh’s lawyers to the Manhattan federal court in which he stated that the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which was passed in Congress in 2016 and is commonly known as JASTA, does not change the reality on the ground, which is that there is no evidence of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 2001 attacks. According to the paper, the lawyer told the court that JASTA does not mean that those who filed the case can continue make accusations against Saudi without presenting sufficient evidence to support their allegations. middleeastmonitor
Blood-rusted Sword: Elite force of Saudi crown prince
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is using an elite force to suppress dissent within the royal family.The brigade, which reports directly to the crown prince, is called al-Ajrab Sword (Blood-rusted Sword).According to Saudi media reports, al-Ajrab Sword Brigade arrested 11 Saudi princes last week after they gathered in the capital Riyadh to protest against newly imposed austerity measures.The brigade is named after the sword of Imam Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud, the founder of the second Saudi state.Imam Turki is believed to have bestowed this title on his sword after finding rust on its blade. According to Saudi sources, the sword that appears on the Saudi flag underneath the "tawheed" phrase refers to this weapon, which was in Bahrain for more than 150 years before King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa gifted it to the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in 2010. aljazeera
Saudis 'ban family' of arrested scholar from travelling
Saudi Arabian authorities have imposed a travel ban on 17 relatives of prominent scholar Salman al-Awda, who has been held for nearly four months, Human Rights Watch reported.A member of the Awda family said in a statement on Sunday that a relative discovered the ban when he tried to leave the kingdom.The customs officer reportedly confirmed to the family member that the royal palace had imposed the ban for unspecified reasons.Saudi authorities arrested Salman al-Awda, a prominent figure of the Awakening movement, on Sept. 7.The family member told HRW that Awda was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. Instead, Awda posted a tweet on September 9, saying: "May God harmonise between their hearts for the good of their people" - an apparent call for reconciliation between the Gulf countries, HRW said. aljazeera
Turkey-based TV airs Egypt tapes on Jerusalem
A Turkey-based TV station has released audio recordings it said were of an Egyptian intelligence officer asking influential hosts in Egypt to persuade their viewers to accept a US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.The recordings in Arabic, aired by Mekameleen TV late on Sunday, were first reported on by the New York Times and appeared to contradict Egypt's public condemnation of the US move. Mekameleen TV is an Istanbul-based free-to-air satellite television channel, run mostly by exiled Egyptians.In the audio recordings, a man the Times identified as Captain Ashraf el-Kholi, tells the hosts that war with Israel was not in Egypt's national interest, and asked them to play down opposition to US President Donald Trump's move. Egypt's State Information Service has denied the Times' January 6 report in a statement, saying its stance on Jerusalem remains unchanged.Egypt's positions "are conveyed by the president, the foreign minister and in official statements", the statement said, adding that the Times does not provide evidence el-Kholi was an officer with the country's intelligence service.  A Palestinian official also dismissed the content of the recordings on Monday.Qais Abdulkarim, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's executive committee, said he believed Egypt continues to support the Palestinian cause. aljazeera
UNRWA vows to go on after Israel's call to scrap agency
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has vowed to continue its work after Israeli PM  Benjamin Netanyahu called for it to be scrapped.In a series of tweets on Sunday evening, a spokesperson for the UN agency said it would continue providing help to Palestinian refugees until the international community comes up with a solution for their plight."UNRWA is assigned by the General Assembly to continue its services until a fair solution to Palestinian refugees issue is reached," UNRWA official Sami Mushasha noted. His comments came shortly after Netanyahu called for the agency to be scrapped, accusing it of helping "fictitious refugees."UNRWA is an organisation that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and the narrative of the right-of-return, as it were, in order to eliminate the State of Israel," the Israeli leader said, adding the development agency needed "to pass from the world". aljazeera
Netanyahu: UN Palestinian refugee agency ‘must disappear’
Israeli PM  Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet meeting yesterday that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “must disappear”.According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu made the remarks at the start of the weekly gathering, addressing recent reports that the US intends to stop funding the agency.“I fully agree with President Trump’s strong criticism of UNRWA,” Netanyahu declared. middleeastmonitor
Report: Majority of Israelis are not convicted for assaults on Palestinians
A human rights report revealed that the majority of Israelis are not convicted of attacks they commit against Palestinians or Palestinian property in the occupied territories.Israel’s Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights organisation issued a report saying: “From the beginning of 2014 to the end of August 2017, Yesh Din monitored 225 new investigation files.”“At the time of publication, investigation and prosecutorial bodies had completed processing of 185 of these investigations. Twenty-one (11.4%) of these investigation resulted in indictments, and 118 (64%) were closed under circumstances attesting to police investigative failure,” it added.The organisation did not reveal the result of the other cases. middleeastmonitor
Senior Sephardic rabbi opposes death penalty for Palestinians
A senior Sephardic rabbi in Israel announced on Saturday his opposition to the proposed law stipulating the death penalty for Palestinians, Arab48 has reported. Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made his comment during his weekly sermon on Saturday, even though on several other occasions he has called for Palestinians to be killed.His stance has embarrassed the extremist right-wing Shas party due to their close links. It has also pushed another ultra-orthodox Jewish bloc in the Knesset to put off its vote on the law until further discussions with its rabbis in order to avoid further embarrassment. middleeastmonitor
Hamas ‘sincere’ about internal reconciliation:PFLP official
Secretary General of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP) has said that Hamas is “sincere” about the moves towards internal Palestinian reconciliation, Al-Resalah reported on Sunday. Ahmed Sa’adat pledged to offer whatever help he can give from Israeli prison, where he has been held since 2003, to support the “faithful” efforts exerted by Hamas to achieve reconciliation. The left-wing Palestinian MP called for Hamas to continue its efforts in support of reconciliation in order to end the damaging political split. In a letter sent from his “narrow cell” Sa’adat encouraged Hamas to do its best to take part in the meeting of the Palestinian National Council, “especially if it is held outside Palestine.” Middleeastmonitor
Israel bans 20 NGOs from entry for boycott support
Jerusalem:Israel on Sunday banned representatives of 20 NGOs working in the country from its territory due to their supporting a campaign opposed to the occupation of Palestine. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Israel published a blacklist of 20 organizations, including 11 European and 6 U.S. groups, due to their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  Israel’s Channel 7 quoted the country’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan as saying: “We have shifted from defense to offense. The boycott organizations should know that the state of Israel will act against them and not allow [them] to enter its territory.”  Among the people on the blacklist are the France-Palestine Solidarity Association, British War on Want, BDS France and Italy, European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, Jewish Voice for Peace, and National Students for Justice in Palestine.  BDS Chile and South Africa are also on the list, according to Haaretz.  The BDS movement is a global campaign to put more economic and political pressure on Israel to end violations of international law.  Anadolu Agency
Ahmed Shafik pulls out of Egypt presidential race
Ahmed Shafik, a former Egyptian PM , has said he will not stand for president in the country's upcoming presidential elections.76-year-old had previously announced his plan to run in an exclusive video message to Al Jazeera."I saw that I will not be the ideal person to lead the state during the coming period," a statement posted on Shafik's Twitter account read on Sunday."Thus I have decided not to run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections."Shafik was seen as one of the few people who could potentially challenge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the election, scheduled to take place in March.The New York Times quoted one of Shafik's lawyers, who asked not to be named, as saying that the Egyptian Govt  had forced him to withdraw by threatening to investigate previous charges of corruption against him. aljazeera
Syria monitor: Over 20 killed in Idlib car bomb blast
At least 23 people, including seven civilians, have been killed in a car bomb attack in Syria's northwestern city of Idlib, according to a monitoring group. The blast on Sunday evening struck the military headquarters of the "Ajnad al-Kavkaz" armed group in the city, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said. The monitor, which gathers its information from a network of sources inside Syria, added that it was not clear whether the attack was specifically targeting the group's base.  According to the SOHR, 3 sisters were among the civilians who were killed in the explosion. aljazeera
Syrian forces recapture military base from rebels
Syrian army has reclaimed a military site on the outskirts of the country's capital, Damascus, from rebel forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).Govt troops "managed to open a road" on Sunday to the Military Vehicles administration base in city of Harasta, in the Eastern Ghouta district, freeing some 200 troops trapped inside the compound, the British-based monitor said.Govt  forces had been besieged by rebel fighters from the Ahrar al-Sham group and al-Rahman Corps since an offensive on Dec.31, during which anti-Govt  forces expanded their control over the site. Some 160 pro-Govt and rebel fighters have been killed in fighting over the base since Dec.31, according to SOHR. aljazeera
Thousands flee as Syria forces press further into Idlib
Syrian Govt  troops and allied forces are advancing in an offensive to gain ground in northwestern Idlib province, the country's largest remaining rebel-held territory.The push has forced thousands of civilians to flee towards the border with Turkey in freezing winter conditions, according to humanitarian groups.The operation's main target appears to be the rebel-held airbase of Abu Zuhour on the southeastern edge of Idlib, a province largely dominated by Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former al-Qaeda affiliated group. aljazeera
Iran bans English in primary schools after Islamic leaders' warning
Iran has banned the teaching of English in primary schools, a senior education official said, after Islamic leaders warned that early learning of the language opened the way to a Western "cultural invasion"."Teaching English in Govt  and non-Govt  primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations," Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television late on Saturday."This is because the assumption is that, in primary education, the groundwork for the Iranian culture of the students is laid," Navid-Adham said, adding that non-curriculum English classes may also be blocked.The teaching of English usually starts in middle school in Iran, around the ages of 12 to 14, but some primary schools, below that age, also have English classes.Some children also attend private language institutes after their school day. And many children from more privileged families attending non-Govt  schools receive English tuition from daycare through high school.Iran's Islamic leaders have often warned about the dangers of a "cultural invasion", and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced outrage in 2016 over the "teaching of the English language spreading to nursery schools".Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters, said in that speech to teachers: "That does not mean opposition to learning a foreign language, but (this is the) promotion of a foreign culture in the country and among children, young adults and youths."Reuters
Opposed to US 'finger-pointing' at Pakistan on terror-related issues: China
Beijing: China on Monday said it is opposed to the US "finger-pointing" at Pakistan and linking it with terrorism, insisting that the responsibility of cracking down on terror outfits cannot be placed on a particular country.China's support for its all-weather ally came as the US stepped up its efforts to pressure Pakistan+ to eliminate terror safe havens on its soil.The US last week suspended approximately $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan for its failure to take decisive action against terror groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network."China has always opposed linking terrorism with any certain country and we don't agree to place the responsibility of anti terrorism on a certain country," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing.He was responding to a question on a White House official's remarks that China could play helpful role in convincing Pakistan+ that it was in its national interest to crackdown on terror safe havens."We have stressed many times that Pakistan has made important sacrifices and contributions to the global anti terrorism cause," Lu said."Countries should strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation on the basis of mutual respect instead of finger-pointing at each other. This is not conducive to the global terrorism efforts," he said.PTI
Talaq bill against gender justice, minority rights:Audrey D’Mello
Islam's gradual resurgence in post-Soviet Azerbaijan:Ayseba Umutlu

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:33 PM)


Post a comment