18 February 2019

18 Feb.NEWS DIGEST: Pulwama encounter LIVE: Major among 4 soldiers killed, 2 militants gunned down, a civilian also dies/Mamata Questions Timing of Pulwama Attack, says BJP, RSS stirring riots ahead of polls

NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
18 Feb. 2019: 12 Jamadiul-II 1440:Vol:11, No:131
Pulwama encounter LIVE: Major among 4 soldiers killed, 2 militants gunned down, a civilian also dies
4 soldiers, including a Major, and 2 militants were killed after an encounter broke out in Pinglena area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday. The encounter is underway. A cordon and search operation was launched jointly by J&K Police and security forces after receiving credible inputs about the presence of militants. The militants from inside the target house fired indiscriminately at the security forces as the search operation was going on.In the initial exchange of fire, four Army soldiers and one civilian sustained critical gunshot injuries who were later rushed to Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar. 4 of the soldiers and the civilian, however, succumbed to injuries. 4 Army men have been identified as Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Hawaldar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Hari Singh and Sepoy Ajay Kumar. Attack from the militants was retaliated by security forces leading to an encounter in which 2 militants were killed and their bodies have been retrieved from the encounter site. According to the police, the identity of the slain militants is being ascertained.  A Brigadier is the latest to be injured in the encounter that is presently going on in the Pinglena area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. DIG South Kashmir Amit Kumar has also been injured in the gunfight after being hit by a bullet in the leg.indian express
Mamata Questions Timing of Pulwama Attack, says BJP, RSS stirring riots ahead of polls
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee Monday questioned the timing of the Pulwama attack, asking whether the Govt  wanted to go to war when Lok Sabha polls were round the corner.She also accused BJP and RSS of fomenting communal tension in the wake of the terror assault that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF men."The Govt  knew of the matter. Intelligence inputs were there. Then why so many people had to die? why no action was taken?"Banerjee said she desisted from speaking against Modi Govt after the incident but was compelled to talk about it now as "some people are trying to teach us what patriotism is".She alleged while Govt did nothing after the Pathankot terror assault, it was trying to "create a war-like hysteria" ahead of the elections."I have a doubt.How they (Pakistan) have got this encouragement when the elections are round the corner?I dont know....why after Parliament is over. I am in doubt.... why have not we taken any action against Pakistan in the last 5 years," she said. "When elections are knocking on the door you are trying to stage a war... a shadow war. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are delivering political speeches. Even after such a big mishap you do not resign taking responsibility and are instead delivering political speeches," she told at a press conference. She also wanted to know why a large convoy of CRPF personnel was allowed to move on the highway despite Govt having intelligence inputs about a possible terror strike. Questioning the timing of the attack, she asked, “Does this mean that US Intelligence, who had warned of a communal riot and a terror attack before 2019 elections, they were right?”She accused RSS-VHP-BJP combine of vitiating the atmosphere in the country "by spreading the message of hatred". "They are trying to trigger communal riots by taking out late night processions with national flags. They are trying to exploit the tragedy for political dividend. It is a planted game of RSS, VHP and the BJP. We will resist attempts to take political advantage of the situation," she said. Banerjee sought a high-level inquiry into the Pulwama attack and punishment to those responsible for it."When so many people died there must be an investigation to prove who is responsible for it. Tell me what initiatives have been taken," she said.thequint
How did Pakistan get the courage to carry out Pulwama attack before polls, asks Mamata
Stop blaming Pak, China for terror attacks, give proof on Masood Azhar: Chinese media
Beijing:India should focus on redrawing its anti-terrorism policy rather than blaming Pakistan without evidence for the Pulwama attack and holding China responsible for blocking efforts to list JeM chief, Masood Azhar, as a terrorist at UN also without proof, Chinese state media has said.India has failed to provide “solid evidence” against Azhar and China has rightly practised caution against listing him as a terrorist, the state media comment piece said.It advised “quiet diplomacy” on India’s part to “better address” the Azhar issue.The comment piece published in the nationalistic tabloid Global Times — affiliated to the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) mouthpiece, People’s Daily — dismissed New Delhi’s assertions.“Without solid evidence, India has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorist attacks by JeM and other militant groups and China of providing uncritical support for Pakistan,” article said.It asked a rhetorical question: “Instead of simply blaming other countries, especially Pakistan and China, shouldn’t the Indian Govt  make more self-introspection on its anti-terrorism policy and dwell more on how to better administer the India-controlled part of Kashmir?”“As for the issue of listing Azhar, Beijing has reiterated its stand several times that New Delhi should provide solid facts and proofs for banning Azhar.”The article added that China has reason to cautiously handle the issue. “Observers worry that blacklisting Azhar could be used by India to increase its military pressure on Pakistan, thus risking exacerbating tensions between the 2 countries.”It also dismissed the argument that by blocking India’s bid to proscribe Azhar, China was supporting terrorism.“Citing China’s refusal to support the bid to have Azhar blacklisted by the UN, India in recent years has aggressively blamed China for allying with Pakistan in shielding terrorists. It disregards the fact that as a victim of terrorism itself, China has pledged to support the international community’s anti-terrorism efforts and stands ready to work with India and all other countries to fight terrorism,” the article said.“Should New Delhi resort to quiet diplomacy instead of extensively directing aggressive rhetoric to pressure Beijing, the Azhar issue could have been better addressed.”Blaming Pakistan and China could also disrupt the anti-terrorism efforts under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which admitted New Delhi and Islamabad in 2017, the Global Times said.HT
Pakistan calls envoy to Islamabad for ‘consultations’ amid tensions with India over Pulwama attack
New Delhi:Pakistan has called back its High Commissioner from India for “consultations” amid heightened bilateral tensions after the Pulwama terror attack.“We have called back our High Commissioner in India for consultations. He left New Delhi this morning ,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said on Twitter. Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood was on Friday summoned in New Delhi by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale who lodged strong protest over the killing of 40 CRPF soldiers in Pulwama. Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria was also called to New Delhi for consultations in the wake of the attack.New Delhi says Pakistan had a hand in the attack, which Islamabad denies.PTI
Kulbhushan Jadhav case at ICJ live: India seeks annulment of Jadhav’s conviction
International Court of Justice commences oral hearing on Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, 48, on Monday at The Hague. India is likely to ask the top UN court to direct Pakistan to revoke the death sentence awarded to Jadhav for on the allegations of espionage.Coming soon after a terror incident in South Kashmir’s Pulwama,  the hearing on Jadhav case could stoke fresh tension between the two countries.India submits that military courts of Pakistan can’t command the confidence of this court and shouldn’t be sanctify by a direction to them to review and re-consider the case. India seeks annulment of Jadhav’s conviction, and directions that he be released forthwith.Proceedings adjourned in the International Court of Justice for tomorrow.HT
LoC ‘Peace bus’, trade between India and Pakistan suspended over Pulwama attack
Jammu:The weekly “peace bus” service and border trade between India and PoK have been suspended following the Pulwama attack.“Due to the prevailing law and order situation, weekly LoC bus service and trade have been put on hold,” Poonch deputy commissioner Rahul Yadav said.It has been learnt that the instructions to suspend trade and travel between J&K and PoK has come from the Union home ministry.HT
 200 Kashmiri students from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand take refuge around Chandigarh
After facing public fury, following Pulwama attack, over 200 Kashmiri students from Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand have taken refuge in Chandigarh, Mohali and surrounding areas.Over 80 such students including girls from Dehradun and Mullana in Haryana have arrived in Mohali alone after vacating their rented accommodations and hostel rooms of their respective colleges. Some have even left for their native places in J&K. Sources disclosed that the students are associated with J&K Students Organisation (JKSO) and have been staying in different locations in outskirts of Chandigarh including Mohali.The administration has made adequate arrangements for their stay and security.Inquiries revealed that over 7000 Kashmiri students studying in various educational institutions across Punjab and Haryana who are either hostlers or staying in rented accommodations. Because of winter vacation, a majority of these students had gone back homes and were not back yet due to heavy the snowfall. Those who are here have been advised to remain inside their college or hostel premises by the authorities concerned taking preventive measure for their security and safety.nationalherald
‘Not feeling safe, we want to go back home’: Kashmiri students in Ambala
Kashmiris complain of evictions after deadly attack on Indian forces, authorities promise safety
Jammu:Army veterans, cop among attacked
Jamm: Muhammad Aslam Khan, 81, is a wheelchair-bound former military man living in Gujjar Nagar in Jammu city. He served for five years in the military and for 20 years in the police. He says he could never have imagined what has happened to his home.“We used to hear about this kind of thing in Gujarat or other areas,” he said. “That police stood with rioters to get Muslims killed, but we never believed it. Police could not do it. It is only when we saw it with our own eyes that we realised what was happening.”On Feb.15, in a supposed reaction to the attack in Pulwama, young men rioted in his neighbourhood, pelted stones at his house, set his neighbours’ vehicles on fire and damaged his son’s newly-bought auto rickshaw.“Police stood idly by – SHO, SSP, DSP everyone was there,” Aslam Khan said. “The rioters threw stones and broke our windows. The police force threw shells and tear gas. If military hadn’t arrived, I don’t know what they would have done at night.”thewire
PDP MP Fayaz Ahmad Mir heckled in Jammu
Jammu:PDP’s Rajya Sabha member Fayaz Ahmad Mir was heckled by a mob at Jamia Masjid in Talab Khatikan area of Jammu, which continued to reel under curfew for 3rd day on Sunday.With Jammu on the edge and mobile Internet services suspended after Friday’s violence during a bandh called in protest the Pulwama attack, nearly 3,000 stranded passengers from Kashmir, Ladakh, as also Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley areas of Jammu region have been staying at Jamia Masjid for the past three days.Mir had gone to Jamia Masjid to meet them. However, as he entered, they objected to his presence there. They asked him where he was when they were caught in the violence.As PDP leader tried to address the people, he was heckled. The accompanying policemen with the help of some locals moved him out of the area.Pointing out that the passengers were rescued by local people and brought to Jamia Masjid, Sheikh Zahoor Ahmad, head of Masjid Committee, said that except for DIG Jammu-Samba-Kathua range Vivek Gupta, who came to their rescue during the violence, they had decided not to talk to anyone else in administration or politicians. indian express
In Dehradun, 2 colleges say won’t admit Kashmiris
Dehradun :As fear hung in the air over Kashmiri students being targeted in Dehradun following the Pulwama terror attack on Thursday, at least two institutes in the city have stated that they will not admit any student from Kashmir in the new academic session. The fear and open threats also prompted several Kashmiri students to temporarily leave the city.In an “undertaking” to the students’ union of the Dehradun-based DAV PG College — which, along with members of the ABVP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal, had led the protests outside colleges on Friday —  Dr Aslam Siddiqui, principal of Baba Farid Institute of Technology, wrote, “Students’ Union president, we assure you that if any Kashmiri student is found engaged in any anti-national activity, then the student will be expelled from the institute.”indianexpress
Not a rational decision to withdraw security of separatist leaders:PDP
Srinagar: It is not a rational decision to withdraw security of separatist leaders in the wake of Pulwama attack, said PDP leader Suhail Bukhari on Sunday.“There is a consultative committee which comprises senior officers from security agencies. They do threat perception assessment and decide who is to be given what type of protection,” Bukhari said. “If at this moment such a decision is taken, we believe that it would be more of a knee jerk reaction...No doubt that there is a lot of anger, but how rational this decision would be, we have our doubts on that...This decision at this point of time is not really a rational one,” he said. ANI
FIR against AIUDF MLA for comment on Pulwama
Guwahati:Benudhar Nath, an advocate of the Gauhati High Court, has filed an FIR against AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam over his comment on the Pulwama attack.“In his comment, MLA of Dhing constituency has questioned as to why there was a bomb blast in Kashmir, ahead of every general election. Apart from being derogatory in nature, such comments might demoralise our army and paramilitary forces. Also, such comments may adversely affect the peace and social harmony in the country. It might also create an environment of communal hatred,” Nath said in his FIR. Assam tribune
India detains 23 men with suspected links to Jaish
Srinagar;Indian forces have detained 23 men suspected of links to Jaish-e-Mohammad.Representatives of NIA questioned the suspects about the bombing on Sunday, two security officials said.“They are trying to reach out to the top commanders of Jaish, including its Kashmir Chief,” one of the sources said. officials said Mohammed Umair, commander of Jaish in Kashmir who is believed to have plotted the Pulwama attack, is suspected to be hiding in the region where the attacks took place. Officials say Umair had “radicalized and motivated” the Kashmiri school dropout who rammed a car laden with explosives into the convoy. Indian officials say Umair is a nephew of the chief of Jaish, Masood Azhar. Reuters
Actor Kamal Haasan says hold plebiscite in Kashmir, later claims quoted out of context
Tamil actor and MNM head Kamal Haasan stoked controversy Sunday when he called for a Kashmir plebiscite and holding of talks with all stakeholders in J&K. “Hold plebiscite and make everyone talk, why the Govt didn’t do that? What are they scared of? We had already torn this single nation and split it into two parts, why don’t we ask them again? But they won’t do,” Hasan said at an event in Chennai.Calling for a ceasefire of hostilities between India and Pakistan at LoC, the actor added: “Why should soldiers die?Is our watchman dying? If both Govt s behave well, no soldier will die. The line of control will be under control.”MNM has, however, issued a statement claiming Haasan’s words were twisted by an English channel.“We firmly believe that entire Kashmir is an integral part of India and we stand firmly with our armed forces, para-military and central police forces who defend it selflessly,” the party said in a statement.“The references made in the English channel report were mentioned by our party president in the context of a magazine article published three decades ago about an option that was available at one point in time of history. This is no longer relevant and is in no way an indication of his position or party’s position today,” the statement further read.indianexpress
UP: Man beaten up, held for raising pro-Pak slogans during march against Pulwama attack
Gorakhpur:A 26-year-old man was beaten black and blue by the locals before being arrested for allegedly shouting pro-Pakslogans during a march against the Pulwama attack in neighbouring Basti district, police said Sunday.The man was identified as Mohammad Khalid. As per reports, the incident took place last Saturday during a march, taken out by girl students and teachers of Begam Khair Inter College, against the attack when Khalid insisted the marching girl to shout a slogan denouncing India and hailing Pakistan. When the girl did not pay heed to him, Khalid started shouted the slogan, infuriating the locals who beat him until police rushed to his rescue and took him into the custody.indian express
Sack ‘Pakistani Bahu’ Sania Mirza as Telangana brand ambassador, demands BJP MLA
Hyderabad:The lone BJP MLA in Telangana assembly T Raja Singh on Monday demanded the removal of tennis star Sania Mirza as the brand ambassador of Telangana because she is a “bahu of Pakistan.” Known for his controversial and inflammatory comments, Singh said in a video message to Telangana CM that it was time India cut off all its links with Pakistan in every form.HT
SC to consider plea for urgent hearing of PIL against Art 370 granting special status to J&K
The Supreme Court today said that it would look into the plea seeking urgent hearing of a PIL challenging the constitutional validity of Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special status to J&K and limits Parliament's power to make laws for the state.A bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submission of lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay that his plea was of "extreme national importance" and needed to be listed for urgent hearing.The plea also seeks a declaration from the SC that the separate Constitution of J&K was "arbitrary" and "unconstitutional" on various grounds, including that it was against the "supremacy of the Constitution of India and contrary to dictum of 'One Nation, One Constitution, One National Anthem and One National Flag'".nationalheraldindia
No proof, will drop sedition charge against AMU students:police
Lucknow:After examining around 40 videos, Aligarh police decided to drop sedition charge against 14 AMU students, including the current and ex office-bearers of AMU Students’ Union (AMUSU), as they could not find evidence of the accused raising anti-national slogans on the campus on Feb.12.The police, however, will probe other charges against the students, including promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, caste, etc. AMU students have been staging protest on the campus, pressing for various demands, including withdrawing of sedition charge against some students. “We have so far not found any proof of sedition while analysing around 40 video footages of incident. Some of the video footages were obtained from media houses. Hence, we decided to drop sedition charge from the case. A police team is verifying other charges mentioned in FIR,” said Ashutosh Dwivedi, ASP, city. No complaint has been filed against BJYM leaders.  AMU has suspended its eight students citing indiscipline and misconduct. The varsity administration formed a 3-member committee headed by deputy proctor, Professor Rashid Umar, to probe into the incident over which two more FIRs have been filed.Students of AMU have been staging protests on the campus since Feb.13 demanding FIR on 3 complaints they filed accusing BJYM leaders and workers of attacking them, while police have been demanding evidence. The students claim police lodged two separate FIRs against them on complaints of BJYM and BJP leaders on charges, including sedition, without any evidence. AMU Students’ Union vice-president, Hamza Sufiyan, who is leading the protest and a named accused in an FIR, said, “DM and SSP of Aligarh came to the campus and asked us to end the protest. When we demanded an FIR on our complaint, SSP asked us to provide evidence of attack on them.” Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhari said,“We have lodged an FIR on the complaint of AMU admin. We will not keep lodging FIRs.”indianexpress
Contempt Petition 'Clear Attempt to Intimidate, Silence' Prashant Bhushan: Activists
New Delhi: Expressing “deep anguish” over the filing of a contempt petition against Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court, over 100 activists, academics and former civil servants have in a joint statement called it “a clear attempt to intimidate and silence one of the leading advocates in the country.”On Feb. 6, the SC issued a contempt notice to the activist and lawyer for his tweets allegedly criticising the court over the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as interim CBI director.The plea against Bhushan was filed by the attorney general and Centre. The statement notes that Bhushan was through his tweets only demanding greater transparency in the process of appointment of CBI chief.Incidentally, a petition raising similar doubts over Rao’s appointment was filed in the SC in end-Jan. The plea challenged the Govt’s decision on the grounds that it was “illegal as he was unilaterally appointed by the Govt, bypassing the selection committee.”thewire
BJP leader arrested with two for staging his daughter's abduction with TMC MLA
Kolkata: A BJP leader in Birbhum in West Bengal was arrested alongwith two youth by the police for allegedly staging the abduction of his daughter with the help of Trinamul Congress MLA of Labhpur Monirul Islam hours after she was rescued by the police from Malda early on Sunday. Suprobhat Batabyal, the main accused, is the father of Prothoma Batabyal who was allegedly kidnapped 4 days ago in Labhpur.In a dramatic twist TMC district head Anubrata Mondal directly accused party MLA Monirul Islam, known for his rivalry with Mondal, of his role in the abduction. He declared that Mr Islam helped Mr Batabyal, who has switched to the BJP from the Trinamul, in kidnapping his daughter. Before joining the Trinamul, Batabyal was a CPI(M) district committee member.He was detained by the police on Saturday night for questionning. BJP leader was cross-examined with Mr Islam by the cops also. Apart from Mr Batabyal the two other arrested are Raju Sardar and Dipankar Mondal. Both are from Naxalbari in Darjeeling. They were caught during Prothoma's rescue by the police as they had her captive at a place.Asian Age
Kirti Azad: BJP backstabbed me, PM Modi is running a govt of Julmebazi and corruption
Cricketer turned politician and a bete noire of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi politics, Kirti Azad, after meeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi, joined Congress on Monday. Azad termed his joining Congress as a Ghar wapsi. But in the the same breath he said, "BJP has backstabbed him for raising issues related to corruption."Son of ex Bihar CM and famous Congressman Bhagwat Jha Azad, Kirti won Bhagalpur Lok Sabha seat on BJP’s symbol however he was suspended from the party in 2015 for anti-party activities. Azad attributed his suspension to the "moral corruption that has engulfed" the BJP under the patronage of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who according to Azad knows “more about PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah” than any of the media.“He (Arun Jaitley) may have some information about Modi and Shah. That is why they obliged him by suspending me. Despite the fact that I tried my best, they (Modi and Shah) were very reluctant to give me a hearing,” said Azad.“Instead, they branded me a rebel. Agar sach bolna bagawat hai to mai baghi hu,” he added.nationalheraldindia           
Saradha scam: Calcutta HC grants interim relief from arrest to Nalini Chidambaram for six weeks
New Delhi :Calcutta High Court on Monday granted interim protection from arrest for 6 weeks to Nalini Chidambaram, wife of ex-Union minister P Chidambaram, in connection with a probe into the Saradha chit fund scam case.A division bench headed by Justice Joymalya Bagchi, however, kept Nalini’s application for anticipatory bail on hold and directed her to cooperate with the investigation.The court also asked CBI and Nalini to file affidavits in support of their respective stands in the case. indian express
RBI to transfer Rs 28,000 cr interim surplus to govt
RBI in its board meeting today decided to transfer Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend to the govt for the period of July to Dec.2018.Interim surplus has been decided after a limited audit review and after applying Economic Capital Framework.This is 2nd  successive year that RBI will transfer interim surplus to govt.moneycontrol
Manmohan paints a grim picture for Indian economy; jobless growth turning into job-loss growth
Pointing to domestic challenges like agrarian crisis, declining employment opportunities and prevalence of divisive forces, ex PM Manmohan Singh painted a grim picture of the Indian economy and said the jobless growth was fast turning into the "job-loss growth". Singh blamed the "slipshod" implementation of GST for damaging the vibrant small and unorganised sector. "Domestic challenges of our economy are daunting in their complexity and devastating in their impact on society. Grave agrarian crisis, the declining employment opportunities, the pervasive environmental degradation and above all the divisive forces at work are obvious," he said."Knee-jerk reactions and off cuff announcements of grandiose schemes and unproductive projects have failed to lift the economy to its potential," he said.IANS
Gujarat to amend law to allow trusts running gaushalas to own more land
https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-bjp-Govt -to-amend-law-to-allow-trusts-running-gaushalas-to-own-more-land-5588753/
Gandhinagar:BJP Govt  in Gujarat is all set to exempt certain trusts running gaushalas or cattle sheds from certain provisions of the agri land ceiling law that restrict them from owning a large quantum of agricultural land. A Bill to amend the existing Agriculture Land Ceiling (ALC) Act in order to bring in the exemptions are set to be tabled in the state Assembly in the upcoming budget session, beginning Monday.Under the provisions of the ALC Act,a person or body cannot own agriculture land more than the limit stipulated by the law.indianexpress
Centre is providing 100 pc financial support to utilise Waqf properties: Union Minister Naqvi
New Delhi:Central Govt  led by PM  Narendra Modi is giving 100%  financial assistance to use Waqf properties for the empowerment of minorities, said Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi here.Naqvi, who was chairing the meeting of newly constituted Central Waqf Council, said:“For the first time since the Independence, Centre is providing 100% financial help to utilise Waqf properties across India for educational empowerment and job-oriented skill development of the needy sections of the society.” “Centre has provided basic amenities to ensure educational empowerment and job-oriented skill development of Minorities, especially girls, in those backward areas of the country which were deprived of these facilities since the Independence,” he said.“While only 90 districts of the country had been identified for minority communities’ development during the earlier Central Govt,Modi led Govt has expanded development programmes for minorities in 308 districts,”he said. “Campaign to utilise Waqf properties across the country for socio-economic-educational empowerment and job-oriented skill development has been successful. There are around 5.77 lakh registered waqf properties across the country,” he said.He said the report of a five-member committee, constituted to review Waqf properties lease rule, headed by Justice (Retd)Zakiullah Khan,has been submitted.ANI
Telangana Waqf Board scam: Officer took lakhs of rupees to issue NOC:TOI
Hyderabad: Abids Road police investigating a Wakf Board scam on Sunday said that the arrested law officer of Telangana State Wakf Board(TSWB),Sultan Mohiuddin, had allegedly taken lakhs of rupees to facilitate the issuance of an NOC to declare an endowed land as private land.A team of cops raided the residence of Mohiuddin and carried out searches at his residence in Langer Houz after securing his custody.In the latest development, the police has decided to change the order of the other accused persons in the case as the arrested law officer has allegedly emerged as the prime accused in the case. It may be recalled that on Jan.30, one of the accused, Mohammed Imtiaz, surrendered before the Metropolitan Court in Nampally, after which the Abids police took him into two days custody, where he spilled the beans during interrogation. He said that while obtaining NOC for an endowed land in Manikonda, Mohiuddin had allegedly provided him logistics support.
Israel to withhold millions of dollars in Palestinian funds
Israel says it will withhold $138m in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority(PA) over payments given to  Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis.Govt's security cabinet said on Sunday it was implementing a law passed last year allowing Israel to withhold funds equivalent to those PA pays in stipends to Palestinians jailed in Israel, their families, and released prisoners.   The money comes from taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA.Israel transfers the tax funds to PA on a regular basis as outlined by a 1994 economic agreement. Israel says the PA's payments to the families of those jailed for attacks encourage violence - a claim the Palestinians reject.PA sees them as a kind of welfare system for families who have lost a breadwinner.The system is referred to by Israel as "pay for slay".The freeze comes as the Palestinians face major budget cuts made last year after the United States slashed funding for UN's Palestinian refugee programme, UNRWA, and for development programmes in the Palestinian territories.
AL slams Israeli 'piracy' of Palestinian funds
Cairo:Arab League has decried as "piracy" an Israeli decision to freeze millions of dollars in tax fees to the Palestinian Authority."This decision is a continuation of the Israeli piracy and theft of the Palestinian people's funds and resources," the Cairo-based league said.It said the freeze was a "clear violation and flagrant breach of international commitments", going on to call on the UN agencies to "face this new Israeli aggression".Anadolu
Israeli police shut Jerusalem's Aqsa Mosque
Israeli police today reopened East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al Aqsa Mosque compound after a short closure, according to the mosque director. "Israeli police reopened all gates to Al Aqsa Mosque," Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director of Al-Aqsa mosque, said. Israeli police spokesman, for his part, confirmed reopening the holy site after arresting 5 people. Earlier Monday, Israeli police closed all gates to the mosque. Anadolu Agency
Pak Will be Very Important in Future, Says Crown Prince MBS as Saudi Pumps $20 Billion Investments
Islamabad: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia has signed a slew of investment agreements worth USD 20 billion which will provide a welcome relief to the teetering economy of the cash-strapped South Asian country.At a ceremony in PM House, Pakistan and Saudi officials signed MoUs for bilateral cooperation in a number of areas a process overseen by Pakistan premier Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who arrived here late evening on a two-day visit."Today we signed MoUs. The amount of that kind of investment is $20 billion. It is big for phase one and definitely it (Saudi investment in Pakistan) will grow every month, every year in bigger numbers and it will be beneficial for both the countries," the crown prince said. "Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the future and we want to be sure we are part of that," he added. 7 pacts, including MoUs in power, petrochemical and mining sectors, were inked as Prince Salman launched his diplomatic trip to Asia in Islamabad.After Pakistan, the crown prince will travel to India, where he will meet PM  Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.He is expected to finish the trip with a visit to China on Thursday and Friday.MBS said Saudi "cannot say no to Pakistan, whatever you (Pakistan) want we will do." PTI
Pak confers highest civilian award Nishan-e-Pakistan on Saudi Crown Prince
Pakistan has conferred its highest civilian award Nishan-e-Pakistan on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for his “outstanding support” in reinvigorating the ties between the two countries. The award was presented by Pakistan President Arif Alvi at a special ceremony held at the President House in Islamabad. Pakistan PM  Imran Khan, members of prince Salman’s delegation, diplomats, senior officers and Cabinet ministers attended the ceremony.PTI
MBS gets Pak highest honour after $20bn deals
US-Taliban talks in Pak postponed to Feb 25; Location changed to Doha
Islamabad:Talks between US and Afghan Taliban slated for today have been postponed, according to the insurgent group which alleged that some members of its negotiating team could not travel to Pakistan for the meeting due to sanctions imposed by America and the UN. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid announced last week that talks with US will take place in Pakistan's capital, while they will also meet PM Imran Khan."Islamic Emirate had arranged for their representatives to participate but unfortunately,most members of the negotiations team were unable to travel due to US and UN blacklist and the meeting was postponed," the Taliban said.Security officials said that some of the members of the Taliban were still under sanctions but it was not the sole reason for the delay.They said Afghanistan was not comfortable with these talks and the delay in arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman visit was another reason.Now the next round of talks between rebel and US will be held on Feb.25 in Doha as panned earlier.Last month the 2 sides held detailed talks and there were indications that they have come closer to end over 17 years of conflict. Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to the announcement of a meeting in Islamabad, saying it was in violation of a UNSC resolution.Previously, Afghanistan launched a similar complaint against Russia for allowing Taliban to travel to Moscow for a conference.PTI
Saudi leads efforts to change Arab Peace Initiative with Israel
Saudi Arabia is seeking to modify the Arab Peace Initiative in order to better align it with the Kingdom’s current warming of relations with Israel.Citing senior sources close to Palestinian Authority (PA), Al Khaleej Online reported yesterday that the Kingdom is seeking to make “basic changes” to the initiative, noting that these efforts are being led by Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS).During a 2002 meeting, Arab League approved the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative to be the basis for any relationship with Israel. It stipulates the creation of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, adopting a just solution for refugees and Israel’s withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights and occupied Lebanese territories, in return for Arab recognition of Israel. According to the PA sources, Arab countries did not commit to the terms of the deal, pointing to Saudi, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt’s overt normalisation with Israel and covert normalisation of many other countries.MEMO
Yemen: Thousands demonstrate against Israel normalisation
Thousands of Yemenis have participated in rallies across the country, including the capital Sana’a, to reject normalisation with Israel and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause.The participants rejected what they called “suspicious meetings” and steps towards normalisation by Foreign Minister Khalid Yamani at the Warsaw Conference which took place in the Polish capital last week. They also stressed that the steps do not represent the Yemeni peoples’ view, who are known longstanding support of the Palestinian people.The head of the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said the alliance with Israel is despicable, describing the Warsaw Conference as “an American-Israeli” meeting and not an Arab or Islamic meeting.middleeastmonitor
Kuwait reiterates rejection of Israel normalisation
Kuwait has reiterated its rejection of Arab countries’ normalisation with Israel, slamming those ministers who met with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at last week’s Warsaw Conference Speaker of Kuwait’s Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanim affirmed Kuwait’s “principled and firm position” against normalisation with Israel, stressing it was one of few Arab countries that had not acquiesced to building ties with Israel.Al-Ghanim said he “wish[ed] there wasn’t a picture of any Arab or Kuwaiti official with any official of [Israel],” responding to allegations that the presence of a Kuwaiti official in a group photo of conference attendees signalled a change in his country’s stance towards Israel.middleeastmonitor
Netanyahu secretly met Morocco foreign minister
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, on the side-lines of UN General Assembly meeting last Sept.The revelation was made by Israel’s Channel 13, which quoted an anonymous senior Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu and Bourita discussed normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries and what the source described as “the mutual struggle to face the Iranian threat”.Israeli channel confirmed that Netanyahu tried to push Morocco to invite him to visit the North African country, an effort which failed and Morocco has since vehemently denied. Netanyahu’s office did not refute the news, according to Channel 13, but refused to comment, stating: “We do not comment on having contacts with countries with which we do not have formal relations.”middleeastmonitor
Yemen's warring sides agree to pullback from Hodeidah: UN
Yemen's warring sides have agreed on the first phase of a pullback of forces from the key city of Hodeidah, in a deal the UN has described as "important progress". Hodeidah, which is located on Yemen's western coast and provides access to the Bab al-Mandeb Strait - the fourth busiest waterway in the world - has been in Houthi hands since 2014, when the armed group staged a takeover of large swaths of Yemen.The move prompted the military intervention of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and allies the following year on behalf of the embattled Govt , triggering what UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Following two days of talks in Hodeidah, the Govt  and Houthis finalised a deal on the first phase of the pullback and also agreed in principle on the second phase, a UN statement said on Sunday.aljazeera
Iran ready to improve ties with Gulf rivals:Prez
Iran is ready to work with all of its neighbours to secure peace in the Middle East in the face of US and Israeli aggression, President Hassan Rouhani said. Iran and Saudi Arabia have been fighting proxy wars for years, backing opposing sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen. However, pressure is building on Tehran after Donald Trump pulled US out of a 2015 nuke deal between Iran and 6 world powers and reimposed sanctions, targeting Iran's vital oil sector. Saudi welcomed the move."Iran is ready to work with regional states to preserve security in the Middle East," Rouhani said.aljazeera
Maldives ex-Prez held for money laundering trial
A court in the Maldives has ordered the country's former President Abdulla Yameen be held in state custody until the end of a trial on money laundering charges, according to local media.At a remand hearing on Monday, prosecutors alleged the former president, who lost an election in September, tried to bribe a witness in the prosecution's case to change their testimony, according to the news websites Mihaaru and Avas. 59-year-old was charged with money laundering last week over claims he received $1m, stolen from state coffers in the country's biggest-ever corruption scandal. Police say a private company that laundered more than $79m in tourism revenues deposited the money to Yameen's private account at the Maldives Islamic Bank.aljazeera
Saudi prisoners begin hunger strike
A number of Saudi prisoners have begun a hunger strike protesting against their ill treatment by Saudi authorities.The hunger strikers are calling for the release of all peaceful and democratic activists, as well as all prisoners who have been arbitrarily imprisoned over freedom of expression, the New Khalij reported.In a statement leaked from prison, prisoner Abdullah Al-Hamid announced starting his hunger strike in protest against ill treatment by the Saudi authorities. He also said he is calling for his release, as well as the release of all activists and preachers detained in the country.MEMO
Visegrad summit in Israel axed over Poland anti-semitism row
A summit in Israel between the leaders of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia has been cancelled after Israel's newly appointed foreign minister said "anti-semitism was innate among the Poles".Israel and Czech Republic said today that though the summit was cancelled, they will hold bilateral meetings this week alongside Hungary and Slovakia."There will be no full V4 meeting," Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesperson for Israel's foreign ministry, said according to Reuters, using a term for the central European Visegrad bloc. "3 PM's [sic] are arriving and will hold meetings with [Israel's] PM."Citing Czech PM Andrej Babis, news agency CTK said Tuesday's summit may be rescheduled for the second half of this year.Earlier today,Poland's PM Mateusz Morawiecki announced he had cancelled his country's participation in summit following remarks by Israel's interim foreign minister, Israel Katz.middleeasteye
7 MPs resign from UK Labour Party
London:A group of 7 MPs have resigned from Britain’s Labour Party and will now sit in parliament as independent lawmakers.The decision to leave the opposition party was announced Monday at a press conference held by resigning MPs Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie,Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.Berger said Labour Party had become “institutionally anti-Semitic”, adding that she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to remain in the party. Leslie, for his part, said the party had been hijacked by “machine politics of the hard left”.Anadolu
Hearing on Bangladesh Jamaat’s appeal against scrapping registration soon: AG
Dhaka: Attorney general Mahbubey Alam has said initiatives will be taken soon to start hearing the appeal of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami against the High Court verdict that scrapped its registration as a political party.‘PM recently rightly said as the appeal is pending with the Appellate Division, executive order is not being able to be passed in this regard. We will try to hold hearing of the matter soon,’ the chief state counsel said at a briefing held at his office.The trial of war criminals will continue, the attorney general said, adding ‘It does not matter whether they seek apology or not.’ newagebd
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