04 February 2019

4 Feb ND: You have shown no proof to back your claim Kolkata Police Commissioner is tampering with evidence:SC to Solicitor General /‘Ram Lalla Devotees’ file petition challenging law on land acquisition near disputed site in Ayodhya/Govt said buy VVPATs from private sector, ECI said no, will hurt public faith /22 opposition parties to urge ECI to replace EVMs with ballot papers

NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
04 Feb. 2019: 28 Jamadiul-I 1440: Vol:11, No:119
You have shown no proof to back your claim Kolkata Police Commissioner is tampering with evidence:SC to Solicitor General
New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said there is not one evidence shown by CBI to back their claim that the West Bengal government and the State Police is colluding to destroy electronic evidence in the chit fund cases.A day after CBI officers who went to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar were harassed, detained and released, a Bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjeev Khanna did not take on face value the claim made by CBI in court that it had moved in on Kumar to prevent the destruction of evidence crucial to their investigation.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for CBI, cried foul to the court about what happened to the agency officers in Kolkata and its aftermath. He said the face-off that occurred in Kolkata was an "exceptional situation"."CBI officers were kept in Park Street police station. They (police) retreated only after they found we are moving the Supreme Court. The family of Joint Director CBI was held hostage. They were released only after Joint Director held teleconference publicising his situation," Mehta submitted.He highlighted that Kumar, a senior officer with uniformed services, joined the dharna of TMC party. This, Mehta alleged was a clear indication of collusion to destroy evidence in violation of the SC's judgment in Saradha ponzi case that the State Police and establishment should provide the "fullest cooperation" in its probe."First, Mr. Mehta, we went through your application. You have not shown one proof that evidence is being destroyed... If you can lay a single piece of evidence that the Police Commissioner is even remotely thinking of destroying evidence, we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret it," CJI Gogoi addressed Mehta."But we got the record only today... Applications were prepared last night..."Mehta reacted, seeking an urgent hearing on Monday itself. "What is this... You say that you got records just moments before entering this courtroom... We will hear you tomorrow at 10.30 am," CJI dismissed the explanation given by the SG. The intervening 24 hours of Monday, the court ordered, could be availed by "the Solicitor General or any party" to bring before the court proof to show that the "State of West Bengal including the police, are engaged in or planning to destroy any evidence relevant in the police investigation. The aforesaid material will be placed before this court".As to CBI claims that electronic evidence is being destroyed, CJI reacted "if evidence is destroyed, it can always be retrieved. It is electronic evidence". Senior advocate Abhishek Many Singhvi, for West Bengal government grabbed the opportunity towards the end of the session to quickly submit that Mehta has been "economical with the truth" in his submissions before the court. Singhvi said all CBI questions were answered in writing by the Police Commissioner. Besides there is no FIR against  Kumar. Even the Calcutta HC had agreed in his favour, Singhvi submitted. But CJI cut him short, saying "this is not necessary. Dr. Singhvi is not known to make such unnecessary interventions in court".The court will hear the CBI pleas on Tuesday.thehindu
Guv sends report to Home Ministry, Bengal govt moves HC over CBI bid to probe police chief
Even as West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee continued her dharna in Kolkata, battle over the investigation in chit fund cases involving city police chief Rajeev Kumar moved to courts today. Meanwhile, West Bengal govt filed a petition in the Calcutta HC against CBI’s attempt to question Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar at his residence. The HC, however, refused an immediate hearing and listed matter tomorrow. Throughout the day, support continued to pour in from opposition leaders from across the country for Banerjee. From Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, all leaders expressed solidarity with ‘Didi’. ndianexpress
Mamata vs CBI: Support pours in from opposition leaders for WB CM Mamata Banerjee’s dharna
Why CBI wants top cop Rajeev Kumar: ‘Missing evidence’ in chit fund scam cases
‘Ram Lalla Devotees’ file petition challenging law on land acquisition near disputed site in Ayodhya
New Delhi;A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the constitutional validity of the Acquisition of Certain Area At Ayodhya Act, 1993. This comes days after the Centre moved the top court with a petition asking to return the “non-disputed” surplus land acquired around the disputed structure in Ayodhya to a Hindu trust and other original owners.The surplus land was acquired by the government under the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993 which provides for the acquisition of certain area at Ayodhya and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.In its application,Centre had sought modification of the SC order of March 31, 2003 by which it was directed to maintain the “status quo” with regard to entire land including non-disputed acquired plots“The applicant (Centre) is filing this application seeking permission of this court to permit the applicant to fulfil the duty to revert/restore/hand over excess/ superfluous land acquired under the Acquisition of Certain Areas of Ayodhya Act, 1993,” it said.The plea filed in the SC on Monday contended that Parliament has no legislative competence to acquire land belonging to the state.The plea, filed by a group of lawyers claiming to be devotees of Ram Lalla, submitted that state legislature has the exclusive power to make provisions relating to the management of affairs of religious institutions inside its territory.“As such the land and property situated at Ayodhya continued to the property of the State of UP. Union cannot take over any part of the land of the State of UP including the land and property situated at Ayodhya,” the petition said.indianexpress/PTI
Ram Mandir-Babri: 25 yrs after first challenge failed, second challenge in SC against Ayodhya Act 1993
Govt said buy VVPATs from private sector, Election Commission said no, will hurt public faith
New Delhi :ARGUING that the involvement of private players could hurt the credibility of the electoral process, Election Commission (EC) rejected the government’s proposal to buy VVPAT units from private manufacturers. This is confirmed by official records obtained by Indian Express this week under RTI Act.The Commission put its foot down after the Law Ministry sent three letters, between July and Sept.2016, seeking its views on the suggestion. In its reply, dated Sept.19, 2016, the EC stated that it “is of the firm opinion that private manufacturers cannot be given the very sensitive job of manufacturing VVPAT which are integral to EVMs”. Nasim Zaidi was Chief Election Commissioner then.EVMs and VVPATs in India, from the beginning, have only been produced by two public sector units — Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in Bengaluru and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad. VVPAT units produce a printout of the vote cast using an Electronic Voting Machine or EVM, which can be shown to the voter to dispel any doubts. This printout is then deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the election.indianexpress
VVPAT delivery way behind schedule, advancing Lok Sabha polls not so easy
22 opposition parties to urge ECI to replace EVMs with ballot papers for conducting Lok Sabha polls
New Delhi: As many as 22 opposition parties will meet Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday, seeking the replacement of EVMs with ballot papers for conducting the coming Lok Sabha polls, TMC leader and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien has said.O’Brien said: “A delegation of 22 opposition parties will meet and request the Election Commission of India to revert to the ballot paper system and do away with the EVMs for conducting the coming Lok Sabha elections.”According to O’Brien, the delegation will include among others Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, DMK’s Kanimozhi, CPI’s D Raja and others.O'Brien said: “There is a need to stop the use of EVMs in order to save the Constitution and federal structure of the country. We have spoken to all opposition parties. We have to save the Constitution, the country and the federal structure.”ANI
Visva Bharati V-C: Govt asked President to withdraw assent after he ignored its name, RTI reveals
New Delhi : GOVT asked President Ram Nath Kovind to overturn his decision on the appointment of Visva Bharati University V-C only after he ignored HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar’s recommendation for the post and chose Swapan Kumar Dutta instead, according to official records accessed by Indian Express under RTI Act.As reported by Indian Express on Feb.23, Kovind, in an unprecedented move, withdrew his assent to Dutta’s selection as the head of Visva Bharati in Santiniketan, at the behest of HRD Ministry. He also scrapped the panel of three finalists forwarded by the govt last year.While scrapping a panel for V-C’s post is not unusual, this was the first time that Rashtrapati Bhavan received such a proposal from the government after the President had already approved the appointment of a candidate. According to documents accessed by Indian Express, Javadekar, in a proposal forwarded to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Nov.13, 2017, had backed the candidature of Sankar Kumar Nath for the top job.Nath is a teacher of geophysics in the geology department at IIT-Kharagpur. Dutta, an agricultural scientist who served as acting V-C of Visva Bharati for close to two years, and P N Mishra of the Institute of Management Studies at Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya(DAVV) in Indore were the other candidates shortlisted for the position.indianexpress
MHA refuses to give reasons behind allowing intelligence agencies to access computer data
Home Ministry has refused to disclose reasons for authorising 10 security and intelligence agencies to access information from any computer resource under Information Technology Act, 2000, terming it “top secret” information.In an RTI response to activist Venkatesh Nayak, the ministry has said the information is classified as “top secret” and it cannot be disclosed as it is exempted under Section 8(1)(a), 8(1)(g) and 8(1)(h) of RTI Act.Nayak had sought photocopy of all official records that contain the written reasons for issuing the authorisation to the 10 security and intelligence agencies specified in the attached gazette notification as per the requirements of Section 69(1) of IT Act among other pieces of related information.Section 8(1)(a) exempts disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence. The information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes is exempted from disclosure under 8(1)(g) of the act.Section 8(1)(h) exempts disclosure of information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders. “CPIO has mechanically washed his hands of the responsibility of being transparent about the routine actions of government,” Nayak said.“Further, I had not sought any information about any specific computer resource that was being intercepted by any of the 10 agencies listed in the Dec.2018 order. So the CPIO’s action of invoking Sections 8(1)(g) and (h) is also misconceived,” he said.indianexpress
In lone central tribal university, only one out of 52 faculty posts for SC, ST, OBC
New Delhi :Highlighting how the UGC’s new formula for implementing reservation in teaching jobs can shrink the number of SC, ST and OBC faculty in higher education, the country’s only central university dedicated to tribal studies has reserved just one out of 52 posts advertised for recruitment last week.Under the old formula, at least 20 out of the 52 vacant positions at the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Madhya Pradesh would have been reserved for SC,ST and OBC candidates, according to PS Krishnan, former secretary to the central govt and an expert on the subject.On March 5, UGC had issued a notification announcing that the number of reserved faculty posts across universities and colleges shall be calculated department-wise and not based on the aggregate vacant posts in a university. The change, which was first reported by Indian Express on Oct.23, 2017, was based on a verdict of the Allahabad High Court in April last year. While hearing a case on teachers’ recruitment in Banaras Hindu University, the court held that reservation in teaching posts has to be applied department-wise by treating the department as a “unit” and not the university.Following a furore over UGC’s March order, the govt had decided to file a Special Leave Petition against Allahabad High Court verdict in the Supreme Court.indianexpress
In plea in Supreme Court, EC shifts stand on Aadhaar: Must link with voter card
New Delhi:Changing Its stand on Aadhaar, the Election Commission (EC) has filed a revised application in the Supreme Court seeking mandatory seeding of 12-digit unique identity number with all voter cards, Sunday Express has learnt.While the poll panel has always supported linking Aadhaar with voter ID cards, its stated position in court earlier was that seeding is completely voluntary. The EC changed its opinion after AK Joti took charge as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) — he retired on Jan.23 this year.e EC is learnt to have justified the shift — from voluntary to mandatory seeding — on the ground that the government has passed the Aadhaar Act, and Aadhaar can also help ensure that each person has only one vote and, thus, prevent voter fraud. The Aadhaar Act, passed in March 2017 and notified four months later in July, makes Aadhaar seeding mandatory for almost all aspects of life.indianexpress
Kanpur blast case: Accused gets 7 yrs in prison, another freed
Lucknow:An accused in the 1997 Kanpur blast case was sentenced to 7 years’ in prison by a local court. Another accused was acquitted for want of evidence. 6 people had been injured in the incident.“Abdul Khaliq (65) and Abdul Rehman (61) were out on bail. On Saturday, Additional District Judge Chandra Prakash Tewari acquitted Rehman over lack of evidence and sentenced Khaliq to 7 years’ imprisonment under Explosives Act,” said Special Public Prosecutor, Crime Branch CID, Nagesh Kumar Dixit.“Khaliq was taken into custody and later sent to jail,” he added. According to the prosecution, the blast took place when Abdul Khaliq’s cycle had collided with another cycle coming from the opposite direction near the railway station on Jan.20, 1997. Khaliq was among the injured. Investigation of the case was later transferred from Kanpur police to Crime Branch CID, which filed chargesheets against Abdul Khaliq and Abdul Rehman on charges of attempt to murder and under the Explosives Act.indianexpress
US talks with Taliban should not impact president’s poll in Afghanistan says India
New Delhi:India has conveyed to the US that its talks with the Taliban should not in any way jeopardise Afghanistan’s political and constitutional structure or the presidential elections scheduled for July 20, according to people familiar with the developments.India’s position on US-Taliban talks to end 17 years of conflict, and its concerns about the rapidly evolving situation in the war-torn country, were relayed to US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad when he visited India for Raisina Dialogue last month. Khalilzad had met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale during the trip.At the same time, the Indian govt has adopted a multipronged approach towards the situation in Afghanistan, including intensive consultations with a cross-section of Afghan leaders in Kabul and New Delhi and discussions with other key players such as Russia and Iran. As part of this approach, India plans to reach out to China for talks on the future of Afghanistan, the people cited above said.Taking a cue from its handling of recent political crises in the Maldives and Sri Lanka,Indian govt will not act in haste despite pressure to spell out its position in response to the fast-paced developments in Khalilzad’s talks with Taliban, the people said.“Situation is being monitored regularly at the top level.Just because we haven’t taken a public position, it doesn’t mean we are not active in securing our interests,” said a top official who asked not to be named. Against the backdrop of reports that US-Taliban talks could lead to an interim govt that includes the militants,Khalilzad was told by his Indian interlocutors that New Delhi favoured retaining Afghanistan’s political structure created with great difficulty over the years, and did not favour interim arrangements, the people said.HT
As US eyes Afghan exit, India talks to key players
UP: Gaushala to come up on its playground, Fazl-e-Rahmaniya Inter College protests
Lucknow:A school in Balrampur is up in arms since the district administration informed them Saturday that their playground will now be used to build a ‘gaushala’ (cow shelter) as it is part of a government plot. While officials of Fazl-e-Rahmaniya Inter College School — located in Pachperwa village of Tulsipur tehsil — claimed that the 2.5 acre plot is registered under its name, the district administration said the land belongs to the gram sabha, and warned that an FIR would be lodged against the school administration if it is not vacated.Mohd Ismail, principal of govt-aided school, said,“During a visit to Balrampur in 1977, ND Tewari had donated the land to the school after he was impressed by the students’ performance. We have been using this land for over 40 years. It is registered in the school’s name in Khasra Khatauni documents,” he said.“We have written to the district magistrate.We were not even served a notice regarding construction of gaushala. The school has around 1,500 students from different sections of society and they will suffer if they lose their playground,” he added.However, Ramesh Chandra, Lekhpal for Pachperwa area, said, “land belongs to the gram sabha and we have measured it. We will file a police complaint against the school if they refuse to vacate the land.” Asked about the issue, District Inspector of Schools Mahendra Kumar said he was not aware of it, adding that such a dispute does not fall within his jurisdiction. Abul Kazim Khan, who has been teaching at the school for 11 years, said, “We held a peaceful protest Saturday. We will hold another one on Monday where almost all students will participate with teachers. The government should not let the education of children get affected in this way.”Manager of the school, Shariq Rizvi, claimed there were several other vacant plots in the village. “Authorities can build gaushala anywhere. Why are they taking away land which is being used by school? Several of our students have represented the state in sports, two had recently represented UP in volleyball.Why should the administration take away career opportunities from them?”he asked.indian express
Union Budget continues to ignore real issues of Dalits and Adivasis: NCDHR
New Delhi: Union Budget looks like a “very glossed over budget” for Dalits and Adivasis with reduction in allocations for key schemes, said National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR).“Although there is an increase in the allocation, there are several key schemes where the allocation has been reduced, like the post matric scholarship where it has been reduced to Rs.2926 crore starving one scheme which will directly benefit the youth of the community…the gloss is only a ‘dhikhawa’”,said N Paul Divakar, General Secretary, NCDHR.It is important to point out that in 2017, there was a fundamental shift made towards a ‘welfare model of SC/ST’, revamping Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan to Scheduled Caste Component and Scheduled Tribe Component (henceforth, SCC-STC). Following this shift, new guidelines were issued by Niti Ayog in Dec.2017 for earmarking of funds for Development Action Plan for SC & ST (AWSC & AWST) which have shed light on how the funds for development schemes for the SCs & STs have to be allocated by the concerned Ministries. These guidelines were not incorporated in the Union Budget 2018-19.he biggest take-away from Budget Speech of Interim Finance Minister is that it ignored its own ministry’s formulated guidelines of Dec.2017 which had laid very important series of norms for allocating and implementing schemes for SCs and STs. Allocations under CSS and CS towards SC and ST development are to be a minimum, and not less than their proportionate population, which according to Census 2011 is 16.6% for SCs and 8.6% for STs,” NCDHR said.twocircles
BJP committed to progress of Muslims: Gadkari
Nagpur: Union minister Nitin Gadkari has said the BJP was committed to ensure the progress of Muslim community though there could be a difference of opinion on some issues. A discussion is required on the various issues being faced by the minority community, he said, adding there was a need to spread education among the community. Gadkari was speaking on 'Muslim Issues With Govt' at a seminar organised by Vidarbha Muslim Intellectuals Forum here."One thing (I am saying) from the core of my heart...my party and we are very much committed to (ensure) all type of development and progress of the Muslim community," he said."I am of the view that spread of education is required the most in the Muslim community, and in that women should get equal rights with men," he added.PTI
Gadkari only one in BJP with guts, tweets Rahul Gandhi, then adds a request
New Delhi:Congress president Rahul Gandhi described Union Minister Nitin Gadkari as the only person in the BJP having guts, after the Union minister told former ABVP workers to fulfil their domestic responsibilities before working for the party or the country.HT
Make public minutes of CBI chief selection panel meeting, demands Kharge
New Delhi :On a day new CBI director Rishi Kumar Shukla took charge of the probe agency, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was part of the selection panel, expressed apprehensions over the 1983-batch IPS officer’s “lack of experience” and hoped that it would not hamper his ability to rebuild the institution “destroyed” by the BJP government.In a letter to Union minister Arun Jaitley, who had accused the Leader of the Opposition of “dissenting regularly”, Kharge said the value of PMO was brought down in the way the govt handled appointment of the CBI Director.indianexpress
AMU students urge Muslim leaders to form new political front to fight Lok Sabha polls
Students of AMU has urged all Muslim leaders across the country to join hands and form a new political front to fight the upcoming general elections. While student leaders from the university organised a meeting with a few such political leaders on Saturday, another one has been scheduled for Feb.12 Presidents of Rashtriya Ulema Council,Peace Party, National Aman Party among others are slated to attend the meeting to decide the strategy and distribution of seats. Salman Imtiaz, president of AMU students union, said that the idea of a political front of Muslim leaders was mooted as secular parties and successive governments have failed to fulfil the aspirations of the community and uplift them from their marginalised status. He added that the union would mobilise AMU alumni across the state and hold meetings to sensitize them about various issues related to the community. TOI
Stand by citizenship Bill, tortured children of Maa Bharati: PM Modi
Vijaypur (jammu):Saying his govnt was committed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that is pending in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that his govt would stand with the children of “Maa Bharati (Mother India)”who have faced persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Addressing a rally at Vijaypur in Jammu region, at the site of a proposed AIIMS, Modi said, “There are many children of Mother India in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh who have faced persecution. They were once a part of our Republic. We shall have to stand for justice and protection of the rights of all these people who were once part of undivided India and got separated during 1947.”Later in the day, addressing a rally in Srinagar, Modi asserted that his government would “break the backbone of terror in J&K”. Targeting Congress for its opposition to the citizenship Bill, Modi said when in power, it had not paid “attention to the pain of our brothers and sisters”. “But we have brought the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with a commitment… If they are discriminated against on the basis of faith, the country will stand with them.”indianexpress
Takht Hazur Sahib row puts focus on RSS affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat
Amritsar :The row over the appointment of Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Board president has put the focus on the activities of RSS-affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat.While a 2004 Akal Takht decree had “warned” the community against the Sikh Sangat, opponents of Akali Dal-ruled SGPC have been accusing the body going soft on the Sikh Sangat.Intensifying its activities after the formation of the BJP government at the Centre, the Sikh Sangat has been vocal on the issues of Sikh prisoners, blacklisted Sikhs, 1984 anti-Sikh riots and many issues where earlier only the SGPC was the advocate.It raised many of these issues with offices of the Home Minister, the PM and the President.In fact, despite the Akal Takht decree being in force, Sikh Sangat president Gurcharan Singh Gill was part of a 2014 meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue of Sikh prisioners that was attended bythen Takht Kesgarh Sahib Jathedar late Giani Mal Singh, Damdami Taksal incmubent head Harman Singh Dhuma and now BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa.Gill said, “We were instrumental in making SIT functional which was formed to probe 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in 2015 There were some technical problems with the SIT and we approached office of the President to solve such issues and this resulted in conviction of Sajjan Kumar. We still have been working with Union government on the issue of compensation to the riot victims. We urged Centre to abolish the black list of Sikhs and the government almost abolished it. There is issue of Sikh Kirpan at airports and we are in final negotiations with Union Civil Aviation Minister to solve it soon. We convinced the Union government to open Kartarpur corridor despite security issues related with it. We made Maharashtra government waive of debt on Takht Patna Sahib management board. Now we have huge plans for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. There is long list of Sikh issues which have been worked out by Sikh Sangat.”indianexpress
Sabarimala protest: RSS worker arrested for hurling bomb at Kerala police station
An RSS worker, prime accused in a bomb attack on a police station here, was arrested here Sunday, the police said. Praveen, a district functionary of RSS, and his accomplice Sreejit, a sangh worker, hurled bombs at the Nedumangad Police Station during Jan.3 shutdown called by Hindutva outfits protesting against the entry of 2 women into the Sabarimala Temple, they said. The duo was arrested from the Thamapanoor railway station here, they added.Police had issued a look out notice against Praveen after CCTV visuals showed him hurling at least 4 bombs at the police station during a clash with the CPI(Marxist) workers.PTI
26/11 case: Court issues non-bailable warrants against 2 Pak  Army officials
Mumbai:A sessions court here has issued non-bailable warrants against two Pakistan Army officials - Major Abdul Rehman Pasha and Major Iqbal - in connection with the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case.While Major Pasha has retired, the prosecution believes Major Iqbal is still serving as an ISI official in Pakistan, as disclosed by David Coleman Headley, an approver in the case here.Both Major Iqbal and Major Pasha are shown as wanted accused in the charge sheet filed by the city police’s crime branch in the case.PTI
Remove Your Hijab to Sit in Exam, It's India, Not Pak
Aligarh:In another case of brazen bias on the part of the authorities, a post-graduate Muslim woman was asked by officials at a government exam centre in Agra of Uttar Pradesh to remove her hijab if she wants to sit in the exam. However, when she threatened to go to court, she was allowed in after screening by female staffers. Ironically, the incident took place on Saturday, day after the International Hijab Day.Shakira Nomani, who is a post-graduate from AMU, has narrated her ordeal on Facebook.“Today I got a first-hand experience of communal bigotry at Swami Bagh Higher Secondary School, Agra (UP) where I went to appear in UP PGT examination, conducted by UP SESSB. There I was asked to remove my hijab as a condition to get entry in the exam,” she wrote.What she further wrote is more disturbing. When she was taken to higher officers of the exam centre, she was bluntly reminded that she was living in India, not in Pakistan, and so can’t demand any such right.“When I refused to do so and asked to meet the authorities, I was conducted into an office where some officials were sitting. When I approached the one seeming to hold the highest office among them and to whom I was presented (I couldn't get to know his name and designation), and told him about the matter, asking him to grant me permission to appear in the examination with my headscarf on, citing my constitutional right to do so (covering head being a religious obligation for me), he rudely denied that I have any such right and said: "You don't have any rights here, you are living in India, not in Pakistan", and asked me to choose between hijab and exam, I chose the hijab and said that I would go to court to carry on this fight for my right. indiatomorrow
Kerala:  Muslim girls find it tough to get qualified grooms: new Indian express
 A widening gap in educational qualification between boys and girls is creating an imbalance in many communities, with the latter finding it difficult to get qualified grooms. It is starker in the Muslim community. A Centre for Information and Guidance India (CIGI) study, conducted formally in 3 districts and informally in the rest, found many Muslim boys are inclined towards starting a business than spending years on academics. Kozhikode Govt Arts and Science College Statistics Department head ZA Ashraf, who piloted the CIGI study, said: “There’s a huge discrepancy. Even after getting good marks in Plus-2, Muslim boys drop out of studies for the sake of making money, thus creating a problem.” “Muslim girls get into premier institutions and there’re doctoral and post-doctoral scholars in science. And most of them will be overqualified for the prospective grooms.” “Muslim girls are highly educated, but boys lag them.For every educated boy there’re seven highly qualified girls,” said Palayam Juma Masjid Imam Suhaib Moulavi. A study has revealed that in past 10 years, almost all OBC seats at AIIMS New Delhi were filled by Muslim girls. They are breaking barriers in general quota as well and entering premium institutes of the country.Asked whether it would affect the study prospects of girls from the community in future, Ashraf said:“Yes. Such signs are visible and some Muslim families have started thinking of not giving higher education to their girls.”
Israel begins construction of new Gaza barrier
Israel has said the work to strengthen its fence along the Gaza Strip entered a new phase with construction starting on a massive new barrier along the frontier. "Over the weekend we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border," PM Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists on Sunday before a weekly cabinet meeting. The barrier, set to stand six metres off the ground, will be constructed on the pretext of preventing the infiltration of Palestinians from Gaza Strip into Israel, Netanyahu said.Israeli prime minister gave no further details but a defence ministry statement said the work on the structure began on Thursday.It is set to follow the 65km course of an underground barrier also under construction meant to neutralise the threat of cross-border tunnels built by fighters from Gaza.aljazeera
Israel plan to settle 1 million new Jewish settlers in W.Bank
Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin has revealed that the goal of the upcoming Israeli government is to settle an additional one million Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, Quds Press reported.Arabic site said Israeli news website 0404 revealed that Levin made his remarks during a meeting with the Chairman of Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan in the occupied West Bank.“We agreed on reinforcing settlement, accelerating building and creating a situation where settlement does not grow, but develop very fast in order not to meet the needs of the settlers, but to meet the developing settlement,” Levin said.middleeastmonitor
US needs military base in Iraq to 'watch Iran': Trump
US forces must remain in Iraq so the US can keep a close eye on neighbouring Iran, according to President Donald Trump. In an interview with CBS' Face the Nation programme, Trump highlighted the importance of a key military base in Iraq that he said was crucial to the surveillance of the Islamic Republic's activities."We spent a fortune on building this incredible base, we might as well keep it," he said in an apparent reference to Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, which he visited during a trip to the country in December."And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem," Trump said in the interview broadcast on Sunday.aljazeera
Iraqi President  Salih: Trump did not ask Iraq's permission to 'watch Iran'
Iraqi President Barham Salih has said US President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission for US troops stationed there to "watch Iran".Salih was responding on Monday to Trump's comments to US media in which he said American forces would remain at a US base in Iraq to keep a close eye on neighbouring Iran. Iraqi leader, speaking at a forum in Baghdad, said US troops in the country are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating "terrorism" and that any action taken outside that framework is "unacceptable". "Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues," Salih said. "US is a major power ... but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here.""It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran" and other neighbouring countries, he added. aljazeera
British army permitted shooting of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan: middleeasteye
British army operated rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan that at times allowed soldiers to shoot unarmed civilians who were suspected of keeping them under surveillance, a Middle East Eye investigation has established.The casualties included a number of children and teenage boys, according to several former soldiers interviewed by MEE.Two former infantrymen allege that they and their fellow soldiers serving in southern Iraq were at one point told that they had permission to shoot anyone seen holding a mobile telephone, carrying a shovel, or acting in any way suspiciously.The rules were relaxed, they say, in part because of concerns that unarmed individuals were acting as spotters for militants, or were involved in planting roadside bombs.
Erdogan slams US 'silence' over Khashoggi, demands Saudi answers
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan has lashed out at the US for not taking a tougher position against Saudi Arabia over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, as he demanded answers from the kingdom over the journalist's killing."I cannot understand America's silence when such a horrific attack took place, and even after members of CIA listened to the recordings we provided," Erdogan said."We want everything to be clarified because there is an atrocity, there is a murder," he added, calling the killing "not an ordinary one." Erdogan has long insisted that the order to kill Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul four months ago came from the highest levels of the Saudi government.In the interview, Erdogan said the murder was planned by 22 people, 15 of whom arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate on the day of the killing.aljazeera
Saudi leaders may be responsible for activists' torture: UK MPs
3 British politicians have endorsed reports stating that women activists detained in Saudi Arabia have been tortured, and said responsibility for what is likely a violation of international law could lie with "Saudi authorities at the highest level".The conclusions of the panel indicate growing uneasiness among Western allies with alleged rights abuses under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto leader who is already facing reproach over last year's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.A UN investigator is now leading an international inquiry into the murder, which has tarnished Prince Mohammed's standing in the West after he won accolades for seeking to ease social restrictions and end the country's dependence on oil revenues.Those reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including the arrest of over a dozen women's rights campaigners starting last May, most of whom had advocated for the right to drive and an end to the male guardianship system.aljazeera
Saudi to hold trial session for jailed cleric
Saudi authorities will hold a trial session on Sunday for jailed cleric Sheikh Salman al-Ouda, according to his defence lawyer.“We have no idea about the reason behind holding this [trial] session,” Francois Zimeray said in a statement cited by Arab media.He said Saudi lawyers are banned from communicating with the outside world.“It could be a normal session or to give a verdict,” he said, voicing concern over the possibility of sentencing the prominent cleric to death. On Sept.10, 2017, Al-Ouda was arrested as part of a massive detention campaign against opponents of the Saudi policy regarding the blockade on the Gulf state of Qatar.During the first trial session in Sept.2018, Saudi Public Prosecution demanded a death sentence against al-Ouda for alleged terrorism-related charges.MEMO
WHO Report Flags Distortion of Investment and Innovation in Cancer Research
Geneva: High prices of cancer drugs hurting desperate patients have caught the attention of policymakers everywhere. But do high prices of medicines that provide huge financial returns to pharmaceutical companies also distort innovation?A new cancer report by WHO has both countries and the pharma industry debating on just how much profit cancer drugs generate for pharmaceutical companies. At stake is not only how much money the drug industry makes from high priced cancer drugs, but also, as the report suggests – is this investment really efficient? Is too much money chasing too few cancer drug candidates with only marginal benefits, diverting funds away from other therapeutic areas?The technical report that minced no words, said that “pharmaceutical companies set prices according to their commercial goals, with a focus on extracting the maximum amount that a buyer is willing to pay for a medicine”. The industry denounced the report as flawed.The report showed that in some cases, the return on investment on research and development fetched companies as much as $14 for every dollar invested. The report infers:"The high financial returns from cancer medicines, together with other government’s incentives, might have over-incentivized the pharmaceutical industry to dedicate considerably higher, possibly disproportionate, levels of investment towards the R&D of cancer medicine."thewire
'Huge mistake': Fears of arms race as US, Russia suspend INF pact
In an escalating standoff over nuclear weapons, Russia and the US have suspended compliance with the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, prompting fears of a new arms race that analysts and politicians say could push the world "much closer" to a nuclear war.The long-running dispute between Washington and Moscow came to a head on Friday when US President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the 1987 bilateral treaty with "impunity", and announced his government was suspending its obligations under the landmark pact.aljazeera
Candidate of Palestine origin wins Salvador presidency
A candidate of Palestinian origin, Nayib Bukele, won Sunday’s presidential election in El Salvador, clinching over 50 percent of the vote, according to the country’s official electoral board. According to preliminary results (with nearly 90 percent of ballots counted), Bukele, 37, won almost 54 percent of the vote, the electoral board announced late Sunday. By winning a majority of ballots cast, Bukele, who ran for the center-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA), avoided a runoff poll slated for March. Carlos Callejas of the center-right Nationalist Republican Alliance won around 32 percent of the vote, while Hugo Martinez of center-left-leaning Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) won nearly 14 percent of the vote, according to the board. Businessman Josue Alvarado, meanwhile, reportedly won less than 1 percent of ballots cast. Anadolu
European nations recognize Venezuela's Guaido
Oviedo:Several European nations recognized Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president on Monday as their 8-day ultimatum to call fresh elections in the South American nation expired.Spain, the UK, France, Sweden, Germany and Denmark have announced that they no longer recognize incumbent President Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela. The recognition of Guaido, according to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez who made the announcement in a televised speech, has one clear objective: “free and democratic elections” in Venezuela as soon as possible.Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, tweeted: “Nicolas Maduro has not called presidential elections within 8 day limit we have set. So UK alongside European allies now recognises @jguaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held."Anadolu Agency

flash: views & NEWS
As India sends Rohingyas back to face certain persecution in Myanmar, every Indian is complicit; Harsh Mander
Controversy over EVMs shows that regulatory structures are needed: Vikram S Mehta
‘Every time we see policemen, our blood boils’ Part IV of Kashmiri teenagers stories:Auqib Javeed, TwoCircles.net
If BJP does not win a majority, Gadkari will challenge Modi for leadership: P Chidambaram
Feb. 4, 1979, Forty Years Ago: Khomeini’s Call:By Editorial , indian express
Is Assam Mirroring the 'Idea of India' on the Citizenship Amendment Bill?Gorky Chakraborty
Hope CBI chief’s lack of experience won’t hamper rebuilding of agency ‘destroyed by govt’: Kharge

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 6:44 PM)


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