21 March 2019

21 March ND: NIA unlikely to appeal against Samjhauta blast acquittal/ Terror alien to Hindu culture, an effort to distance it from jihadi terror: Jaitley/Pakistan Accuses India of 'Protecting Hindu Terrorists' After Samjhauta Verdict,

NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
21 March 2019: 13 Rajab 1440:Vol: 11, No:156
NIA unlikely to appeal against Samjhauta blast acquittal
New Delhi: NIA is unlikely to appeal against the acquittal of the accused in the Samjhauta blast case, sources said adding that the agency’s investigations into “Hindu terror cases” are over and there was possibility of any fresh evidence cropping up. NIA’s investigators and legal team had decided not to go on appeal against the acquittal of the accused, including Swami Aseemanand, in Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blast cases in 2017 and 2018 respectively as evidence in all the cases was similar. The agency is likely to take the same stand over the Samjhauta blast case, sources said.Sources said two accused persons — Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange — in these cases are still absconding but there is no aspect of alleged “Hindu terror probe” is pending any more.Panchkula court’s verdict also means that Swami Aseemanand, who was once described as the mastermind of 3 blasts carried out by ‘Hindu’ extremists, is now a free man.TOI
Terror alien to Hindu culture, an effort to distance it from jihadi terror: Jaitley
new delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday attacked Congress-led UPA accusing it of proposing several "contrarian theories" to target BJP-led government at Centre. In his blog, Jaitley attacked the UPA government for coining the 'Hindu terror' theory and for theorising that the 2002 Godhra train burning incident carried out from inside of the train."The vicious theory of ‘Hindu terror’ was coined during the UPA Government by important UPA Ministers and leaders. It was an effort to distract attention from Jihadi terror," he wrote.Arguing that terror is alien to Hindu culture, the Union minister said that the Wednesday's verdict in the Samjhauta train blast case has "judicially put the last nail in the coffin of the so-called ‘Hindu terror theory’."TOI
68 killed, all acquitted. BJP calls it ‘historic’
Pakistan Accuses India of 'Protecting Hindu Terrorists' After Samjhauta Verdict, Summons Envoy
New Delhi: Pakistan government summoned the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad to protest against the acquittal of all four accused in Samjhauta Express blast case, and accused the Indian government of promoting and protecting ‘Hindu terrorists’. Ajay Bisaria was summoned by the acting Pakistani foreign secretary, who lodged a strong protest against the verdict, saying that Pakistan had consistently raised the "lack of progress and the subsequent, concerted attempts by India to exonerate the perpetrators of this heinous terrorist act in which 44 innocent Pakistanis lost their lives." Sources said Bisaria rejected the assertions.  "The issue was raised repeatedly, including at the sidelines of the Senior Officials, Heart of Asia Meeting in 2016. Formal demarches were also lodged regularly with India on the lack of progress and acquittal of the accused in other cases," Pakistan said in a statement on Wednesday. The acquittal, Pakistan said, "makes a travesty of justice and exposes the sham credibility of the Indian courts and belies the rampant Indian duplicity and hypocrisy where India reflexively levels allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, while protecting with impunity, terrorists who had publicly confessed to their odious crimes." The Pakistani government has further accused India of being insensitive to the plight of the 44 families of the deceased Pakistanis and alleged that the verdict was reflective of "Indian state policy of promoting and protecting Hindu terrorists." Before pronouncing the verdict, NIA special judge Jagdeep Singh dismissed the plea filed by a Pakistani woman for examining some eyewitnesses from her country. News18
Samjhauta blast: Mehbooba Mufti questions leniency towards saffron terror after court acquits all accused
Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti questioned the grounds on which the accused in the Samjhauta blast case were acquitted by a court."Despite damning evidence, the accused, including a former RSS member, have been acquitted. God forbid, had they been Kashmiris/Muslims, they would be pronounced guilty and imprisoned without even a fair trial. Why such double standards and leniency towards saffron terror?" former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister asked.PTI 
Samjhauta Express blast case: No one knows who killed 68 people, says Kapil Sibal
New Delhi :A day after a special court acquitted Swami Aseemanand and three others in Samjhauta Express blast case, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal Thursday remarked on the verdict that “no one knows” who killed 68 people, it must be a “proud day” for the criminal justice system.Sibal tweeted: “2007 : Samjhauta Express Bomb Blast, 68 killed. NIA charged 8 accused. “Verdict : No one knows who killed the 68 victims. Must be a proud day for our criminal justice system !”.PTI
Samjhauta Express case verdict: NIA should be held accountable, says former probe officer
Samjhauta Express blast:Who will answer for death of my 5 kids asks  Shaukat Ali
New Delhi :“Who will answer for the death of my 5 children? Who killed them? The verdict has taken the life out of me. I was never asked by anyone to testify in court,” Rana Shaukat Ali (61) said over phone from his home in Pakistan’s Faisalabad.Ali and his wife Rubsana (54) lost 5 of their children in the Samjhauta Express blast. The couple survived with their youngest daughter, Aksa Shehzadi, who is now 12. Now, they have another daughter Khajija (7). “Hindu or Muslim, they were children after all. Who killed them? You tell me,” said Rubsana.The couple said they had visited India thrice after the blast, and not once were they intimated by Indian or Pakistani authorities that they could testify in court. “If I could have given my statement, maybe the trial could have taken a different turn,” Ali said.In 2007, couple and their 6 children visited Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar for a relative’s wedding. “I still remember my children dancing. My eldest daughter Aisha Tabassum (16) was to take her Class X exams. I remember brushing her hair,” Rubsana said.Ali remembers that ill-fated journey. His sons Bilal (12)and Amir (11) were tucked under blankets, and Aisha was chatting with her sister Asma Shehzadi (8).When the blast took place, Ali jumped out of the train in the chaos. His wife followed with their youngest daughter.“There was smoke all over. My children burnt to death,” Ali said.Ali recalled that two men sitting in his coach had been questioned by Railway Police. “They said they were going to Ahmedabad, and the policemen asked them what they were doing on a train to Lahore. They deboarded 10-15 minutes before the blast. I kept telling investigators that I can identify them. No one listened.”indianexpress
Samjhauta case verdict: I feel humiliated, says UP tailor Zakir who lost his parents
Lucknow:He remembers hearing a loud blast, and waking up in a Delhi hospital with burn injuries on his hands and legs. Weeks later, his brother came across the charred body of his mother. He still hasn’t got the body of his father.On Wednesday, Mohammad Zakir, a 46-year-old tailor from UP’s Bijnor, came to know from his friends and relatives in Delhi that an NIA court had acquitted all 4 accused in the Samjhauta blast, which scarred his life 12 years ago. “I feel humiliated,” he said.“I had got my statement recorded before the court as a witness. I am not at all satisfied with the verdict. I will file an appeal after consulting my family members. I lost my parents in the blast and I will not let the accused go free,” he said.On Feb.18, 2007, Zakir and his parents, Mohammad Saddiq (68) and Ashraf-un-Shah (62), were travelling from Delhi to Lahore on Samjhauta Express to visit relatives when the blast occurred near Panipat. Recalling the days after the blast, Zakir said: “My elder brother Iftikar Ahmed (50) rushed to Panipat but failed to get any information about my parents. He returned home and again went to Panipat with copies of their visa and passports to show the police. They collected his blood samples, which matched with DNA recovered from a charred body… that was my mother. The body of my father could not be traced.”indian express
Samjhauta Express blast: Anything could have happened, say survivors
New Delhi: At first,Jamiluddin thought robbers had stopped the train. When he looked out, he saw it was up in flames.“When I saw the burning coach, I shouted to everyone to run for their lives,” said 74-year-old, seated inside his 2-room house at Delhi’s Turkman Gate. “I was called around two-three years ago to a Panchkula court to identify the accused. I really don’t recognise anyone and that’s what I told the court,” said Jamiluddin, who runs a shop. On Wednesday evening, his children dissuaded him from remembering that night. “It disturbs him, he will fall sick,” said a family member.“I was going to attend my grandson’s wedding in Pakistan and was carrying jewellery and gifts for my daughter, sister-in-law and other relatives. I didn’t have time to jump out with my bags and lost all the jewellery I had packed in them . I also hurt my back but was relieved to be alive,” recalled Jamiluddin.He said he has not followed the case and was “not bothered” by the verdict. Ishtikar Ali, who is a resident of Ghaziabad was seated two coaches from the ill-fated coach of Samjhauta Express when he was woken up by stone-pelting on the window of the train. Also on the train was advocate Tahir, who was travelling with wife Uzma to Lahore in Pakistan. He was woken by the chaos after the blast in the train.“We got down hurriedly from the train with our luggage. The security officials came and checked our passports. Anything could have happened,” recalled Tahir.indianexpress

Samjhauta Express blast case: Owaisi expresses dissatisfaction over aquittal
Hyderabad: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, expressed dissatisfaction on Swami Aseemanand and three others being acquitted in Samjhauta Express blast case. He also called the acquittal as 'shoddy prosecution'."68 dead and nothing to account for them, nothing to say that justice has been done."How long is one going to hear of acquittals because of deliberately shoddy prosecutions?," tweeted Owaisi.timesofindia
'No courage to say Muslim': Pakistan slams India's condemnation of NZ attacks
On Wednesday, Qureshi, who is Pakistan's foreign minister, accused the Indian government of omitting the words 'Muslim' and 'mosque' in its statement condemning the terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand.Dawn quoted Qureshi as saying New Delhi "did not have the courage" to use the words 'Muslim' or 'mosque' in its condemnation of New Zealand attacks. Qureshi even claimed that Pakistan would not distinguish between the religion of victims of terrorism. "If, God forbid, there had been an attack on a Hindu temple, Pakistan would have stood with India," Qureshi declared.“PM strongly condemns the heinous terrorist attack at the places of worship in Christchurch,” ministry of external affairs tweeted, adding the prime minister had sent a letter to his New Zealand counterpart, expressing his condolences.theweek
Another terror attack on India will be ‘extremely problematic’, US warns Pakistan
Washington:US has warned Pakistan that another terror attack on India will prove to be “extremely problematic” and asked Islamabad to take more “concrete and sustained” actions to rein in terror groups, including JeM and LeT. At the White House, a senior administration official said: “If there’s any additional terrorist attack without Pakistan having made a sustained, sincere effort against these groups, it would be extremely problematic for Pakistan and it would cause re-escalation of tensions, which is dangerous for both countries.” Asked about the steps being taken by Pakistan in the aftermath of the Balakot air strike by Indian fighter jets, he said on the condition of anonymity that US and the international community needed to see “irreversible and sustained” actions against the terror groups.PTI

Resolve post-Pulwama differences bilaterally, China-led SCO tells India, Pakistan
China-led regional security bloc, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has said India and Pakistan should resolve their differences in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack bilaterally, cautioning them against any spillover of the animosity in the group.India and Pakistan also have to remain committed to fighting terrorism, the newly appointed SCO secretary-general, Vladimir Norov said.“Otherwise, it would be impossible for two States to participate in the SCO,” he added.Norov said the SCO members were “sincerely glad” that the “calls for restraint and a political and diplomatic solution to bilateral conflicts from all SCO member states were heard by the parties”.HT
NDA Government orchestrated Pulwama carnage for votes: SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav
New Delhi: Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that the Pulwama carnage was orchestrated by NDA government at the Centre in order to win votes. He said he is saddened at the sacrifice of the jawans for votes and questioned how it is possible that there were no security blockades on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. He even claimed that senior officials in the paramilitary forces had requested to be transported either by air or in armoured vehicles but instead they were transported in normal buses. “I’m sad that soldiers were killed just for votes, there was no checking between Jammu and Srinagar. The soldiers were being transported in normal buses – this is a conspiracy. I don’t want to say right now but there will be an investigation when the government will change,” the veteran SP leader said. Times Now
Kashmiri School Principal 'Brutally Tortured, Burnt' Before Custodial Death
Srinagar: The family of the young school principal from Awantipora who died in police custody claimed on Thursday that the victim had torture marks all over his body. Preliminary post-mortem findings have suggested that “profuse bleeding resulting from multiple injuries” could have caused the death that triggered massive protests in Kashmir.On Thursday, Rizwan Asad’s family members staged a protest on Srinagar-Jammu highway at Awantipora Chowk, demanding that the state authorities make public the postmortem report and book the accused who “murdered our son”.“My brother (Rizwan) had been brutally tortured. He was murdered in custody,” said Mubashir Hussain, Rizwan’s brother, who led the protest. Scores of villagers, including Sikhs, joined him.According to Mubashir, 30-year-old Rizwan had “multiple horizontal cuts” on both thighs. “The thighs had turned black as if they had been burnt…there were cuts on the thighs. He had a swollen and bruised abdomen,” Mubashir told The Wire.“Also, my brother’s right leg had swollen heavily and it had turned dark red. I could feel that the leg had been broken,” said Mubashir, adding that doctors at the Srinagar hospital where Rizwan’s autopsy was conducted told them that he had also suffered an injury to his spinal cord.Assadullah Pandit, Rizwan’s father, added that his son had two or three stitches on his head, on the left side. “His left eye was bruised and swollen, as if it had been hit with force,” said Pandit.“People don’t die in custody, they are killed. My son was killed in custody,” said Pandit, as he broke down during the protests. While doctors at Government Medical College are expected to submit the post-mortem report by Saturday, a senior official said the preliminary findings have suggested that “profuse bleeding from vessels caused due to multiple injuries” could have resulted in the death.“Extravasation of blood simulating antemortem bruising could have become cause of his death. In such a case there is also a possibility that severe internal bleeding blocks the vessels resulting in kidney failure which results in death,” said the official.He corroborated the statement of Rizwan’s family members that the victim had “multiple and deep cuts on his bums” and injuries on other body parts including “heamatoma in right leg arm and eye”. thewire
Custody death: Valley principal had ‘multiple injuries’, says initial probe
Outraged Srinagar Protests Against Custodial Death Of School Principal
Srinagar: Srinagar has been marred with protests today against the custodial death of a school principal on Tuesday. Awantipora, the hometown of the victim, Rizwan Asad Pandit, saw hundreds of people visiting the family of the victim to stand in solidarity.The protests, led by National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, were taken out from the party headquarters. Police intercepted the march soon, after which the protesters dispersed peacefully.Scores of activists and NC leaders demanded stern punishment for the death of 29-year-old Rizwan Asad Pandit, a principal of a private school at Awantipore, Pulwama.Showing photographs of the victim's body on a mobile phone at a press conference in Awantipora, his brother Mubashir said the family is even ready for exhumation of the body to show those torture marks to anybody.ndtv
Shutdown in Kashmir to protest custodial death
J&K:Soldier killed in Pak ceasefire violation in Rajouri
Jammu :An Army jawan was killed on Thursday as Pakistani troops, in yet another incident of ceasefire violation, resorted to mortar shelling and small arms fire, targeting forward Indian posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Sunderbani and Nowshera sectors of Rajouri district. The deceased soldier Identifyied as Rifleman Yash Paul, 24, of Chenani in Udhampur district.He is the second soldier killed in unprovoked Pakistani firing in Sunderbani sector during the last 3 days. indianexpress
Kerala:Jamaat-e-Islami Hindserves notice on Malayali web portal
Kozhikode :Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Kerala, has served a legal notice on Marunadan Malayali web portal.In a release, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said that while carrying a news report on the ban on Jamaa-e-Islami, Jammu and Kashmir, the portal carried a picture of their name board. Both are different organisations. The organisation said it would initiate steps to seek crore in damages if the news report was not removed and an apology not carried on YouTube channel.thehindu
Nearly 3 crore farm labourers lost their jobs in last 4 years reports NSSO
The number of casual farm labourers has gone down by 40% in the last four years, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-2018 report by NSSO which the government has declined to release.The details revealed by the survey proves as completely false the tall claims of the Narendra Modi government that it has brought ‘Achchhe Din’ (good days) for the common men.According to the NSSO survey, as many as 3.2 crore casual labourers lost their jobs in rural India between 2011-12 and 2017-18, of these almost 3 crore were working on farms.As against 36 million families who depended mainly on income from casual farm work in 2011-12, only 21 million families now depend on farm work. This means 15 million families have moved away from the farming sector.This indicates over 40% shrinkage in the casual farm labour workforce since 2011-12. Casual labourers are those employed from time to time when work is required to be done in farms.nationalheraldindia
Lok Sabha Elections LIVE: BJP declares first list of LS candidates, PM Modi to contest from Varanasi
BJP declared its first list of 182 candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Thursday.The party’s Central Election Committee had met for the third time in a week on Saturday to pick its candidates for the April-May Lok Sabha elections, but stopped short of announcing their names.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other senior leaders of the party sat for over four hours to discuss the names of possible candidates in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.BJP has, however, named its candidates for some assembly seats for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the states where assembly elections are being held simultaneously with parliamentary polls.HT
Satta bazaar in MP bets on BJP getting 246 seats
BHOPAL: Satta trends in Madhya Pradesh predict a Narendra Modi comeback. Bookies are bullish on BJP, giving 246-249 seats to the saffron party and 76-78 seats to Congress.The satta bazaar had come uncannily close to predicting the scoreline in the 2018 assembly election — 116 for Congress and 102-plus for BJP. But Lok Sabha election is a vastly different ball game, and much has changed between the assembly polls and now. It's still early days and the candidate lists are yet to be out, but MP punters are giving 21 of the state’s 29 LS seats to BJP Both Congress and BJP, however, are confident they will get more.TOI
Dozen BJD lawmakers quit Naveen Patnaik’s party in last 7 days
The ruling Biju Janata Dal in Odisha has suffered a serious setback with at least a dozen senior leaders, including 3 sitting MPs and 4 sitting MLAs, deserting the party in the last seven days.The Naveen Patnaik led BJD was the first party to declare its list of candidates for the first phase of the elections to the Odisha Assembly as well as Lok Sabha elections. Odisha would see simultaneous polls to the Assembly and Lok Sabha on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.Sitting MLAs from Dasapalla, Aska, Gunupur and Nilagiri resigned from the BJD while sitting MPs from Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Nabarangpur resigned from the party after being ignored during the nomination process.HT
BJP MLA Yogesh Verma shot at during Holi celebrations in Uttar Pradesh
Lucknow:Unidentified gunmen shot at Yogesh Verma, BJP lawmaker from Lakhimpur assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday during Holi celebrations. The incident happened around 3 pm while he was on his way back to Rajgarh residence after celebrating Holi at his office in Patel Nagar area of the city.When he reached near the Guru Nanak Inter College, some unidentified gunmen shot at Verma. He was below his right knee, Kheri police said. The attackers fled spot.HT
Former BJP MP Uday Singh joins Congress, may contest Lok Sabha polls
Former BJP MP from Bihar's Purnia district, Uday Singh, on Wednesday joined the Congress and is likely to contest the Lok Sabha polls from the Purnia seat."I have joined the Congress and will do whatever the party will ask me to do," Singh said at a press meet at the Congress headquarters here.Singh said he was happy to return to the Congress. He had joined the BJP in 2004 following the request of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He had contested the then Lok Sabha polls and won.nationalheraldindia
Karnataka: Muslim neighbours sponsor Hindu girl's wedding
A poor Hindu girl’s wedding was organised and sponsored by her Muslim neighbours. The incident has been reported from Karuvelu near Uppinangady in Karnataka. The bride, Revati, works in a factory and was in a relationship with Sharat, a resident of Salmara.Even though their families were agreeable to the match, Revati’s family was unable to afford the expenses due to a dire financial crunch. That’s when her Muslim neighbours stepped in and extended help by talking to the boy’s family and finalising the date. They also offered to make all necessary arrangements for the same.The expenditure for the wedding including Mangalasutra and two sets of dresses for the bride was borne by Latif K Aboobacker, owner of Niha Dresses, Shabeer, Ashraf, Puttumonu and others.bangaloremirror
Mosque covered ahead of Holi in communally sensitive Aligarh
The district administration on Wednesday covered the decades-old Sabji Mandi mosque with a cloth in the communally-sensitive Aligarh city. Authorities said the move was in line with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath's last year's directions to all district officials that, if required, all religious places should be covered with cloth so that Holi colours could not be thrown on these. Such incidents in the past have led to tensions between communities here. This particular mosque in the area, which has a mixed population, was covered ahead of last year's Holi too.  BSP councillor Musharaff Husain Mazhar, however, raised the questions to cover the mosque, saying no purpose will be served. "Is the government trying to prove that Hindus create tensions by targeting religious places of another community during festivals," he said. Mazhar said he would speak to the administration as such steps create divisions between the two communities. "We also celebrate Holi and Diwali with our Hindu brothers, then why this divide is being created by the government," he added. TOI
Rohtak: Muslim vendors allege goons cut their beards
Rohtak: A Muslim father and son duo who sell crockery in the streets were allegedly assaulted by goons and their beards forcibly cut at Sanjarwas village of Charkhi-Dadri district. In their police complaint filed on March 18, Uttar Pradesh residents Muhammad Indresh and his son Mohsin, said that when they got off a bus at Sanjarwas village on March 14, four-five youths asked them the purpose of their visit, thrashed them and hurled abuses at them. They also said that the accused threatened them and forcibly got their beards cut, and they were saved from their clutches by passersby.The complainants added that they were so terrified that they returned home that day without saying anything. Later they found out that the goons who beat them were Rakesh Kumar, Harkesh Kumar, Attar Singh, Jonny Kumar, all residents of Sanjarwas village. The complainant then approached the police and sought strict action against the accused.  Police said they were probing the case.TOI
Turkey calls OIC meeting on Islamophobia after NZ attacks                  
Turkey has called an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the New Zealand mosque attacks and "increasing violence based on Islamophobia".The country's foreign ministry said in a statement published on Thursday that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu would chair the meeting held in Istanbul on Friday."Turkey, as the OIC Summit Chair, has called upon holding an emergency meeting for discussing the increasing violence based on Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia, in particular the terrorist attack that targeted two mosques in New Zealand on 15 March 2019," the statement said.It also said that apart from OIC members, the representatives of the UN, the European Union and Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were also invited to the meeting.On Wednesday, the Labour party in the United Kingdom has officially adopted the definition of Islamophobia, saying it was important to to "build a common understanding of its causes and consequences, and express solidarity with Muslim communities".The definition states: "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness." Turkey's announcement came a week after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last Wednesday that her foreign minister would travel to Turkey to "confront" comments made by President Tayyip Erdogan on the Christchurch mosque shootings that killed 50 people.Erdogan, while campaigning for March 31 local elections, said on Tuesday that Turkey would make the suspected attacker pay if New Zealand did not.He presented the attack as part of an assault on Turkey and Islam and warned anti-Muslim Australians would be "sent back in coffins" like their grandfathers at Gallipoli - a blood-drenched World War I battle.aljazeera
New Zealand bans assault weapons after mosque massacre
New Zealand has banned the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons after the country's worst-ever attack that killed 50 Muslims in two mosques."Be assured this is just the beginning of the work we'll be doing," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference on Thursday."It's in the national interest and it's about safety... to prevent an act of terror from ever happening again in our country," she said of the ban.aljazeera
Man wanting Christchurch like attack in India sacked, deported from UAE
Dubai: An employee of UAE-based Transguard Group has been sacked and deported after he allegedly celebrated the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand last week. He posted an insensitive comment on Facebook expressing his approval of the terror attacks and also suggested that such attacks should also happen in India."Over the weekend, a Transguard employee made inflammatory comments on his personal Facebook account celebrating the deplorable mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. This prompted an internal investigation, which uncovered the fact that the individual in question had been posting his views on social media under an assumed name", the company said in a statement posted on its website."After verifying this person’s actual identity, he was apprehended by Transguard, stripped of his security credentials, terminated from our employment and handed over to the relevant authorities as per company policy and UAE Cybercrime Law", company
UK: Counter-terrorism officials investigate overnight attacks at four Birmingham mosques
Counter-terrorism officers in England are investigating overnight attacks on four mosques in Birmingham city following reports that a man with a sledgehammer was seen smashing windows at 2 of them, AFP reported on Thursday.Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the motive for the attacks is not known yet. “What I can say is that the [police] force and the counter terrorism unit are working side-by-side to find whoever is responsible,” police said.The incidents came nearly a week after a 28-year-old Australian citizen opened fire at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city and killed 50 people last
Officials: US will recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan heights next week
Senior Israeli officials have reported that United States may be preparing to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, and suggested that the announcement could occur as early as next week.Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior Israeli officials stated that they believe that the Trump administration is planning to formally recognise Israel’s authority over the occupied Golan Heights after decades of non-recognition by the US and others, according to a report released by Israel’s Channel 3 this morning.The Golan Heights were captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967 from the Syrian army, which used the strategic high ground overlooking Galilee to launch attacks and retaliations on Israeli territory. Since then, the area has been recognised as highly strategic in maintaining Israel’s dominance over the Syrian border. Israel administered the Heights through military law until 1981, in the same way in which it administered the West Bank and Gaza Strip, before the Menachem Begin government directly applied Israeli law and effectively annexed the territory to the Israeli state. middleeastmonitor
Palestine official renews rejection of dialogue with US
Ramallah:Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), reiterated the PA’s refusal on Thursday to hold dialogue with the U.S. administration. Abu Rudeineh attributed the move to Washington's “recent retreat from its longstanding positions on Jerusalem, [Palestinian] refugees and [Israeli] settlements”.   At a press conference held at the Palestinian Information Ministry’s Ramallah headquarters, Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinian leadership “will not be cowed into accepting the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’”.The “Deal of the Century” is a backchannel US plan to secure a peace settlement between the Palestinians and Israel.Anadolu Agency
Israel bans Mother's Day event in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM :Israeli police on Thursday banned an annual event marking Mother's Day at the French Culture Center in East Jerusalem. According to witnesses, police detained at least one Palestinian woman outside the center.Organized by the Jerusalem Girls Association, Thursday’s event -- intended to honor prominent Jerusalem women and showcase local handicrafts -- was timed to coincide with Mother's Day, which in Palestine is commemorated on March 21.Israeli police, however, preempted the event, surrounding the culture center and denying entry to would-be participants.Anadolu Agency
Israeli forces kill Palestinian near checkpoint in West Bank
A Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli gunfire in the occupied West Bank, marking the fourth Palestinian killed in 24 hours.The Palestinian Red Crescent said one of its crew treated a man with two bullet wounds at an Israeli military checkpoint near the city of Bethlehem on Wednesday and that Israeli forces had shot him.The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man as 26-year-old Ahmad Manasra from the village of Wadi Fuqin near Bethlehem.aljazeera
Bahrain NGO slams conference for inviting Israelis
MANAMA :A Bahraini NGO has criticized Manama's plan to host three Israeli speakers for the upcoming 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Congress, which will be held in the Bahraini capital from April 15 to 18.“Bahraini people will not allow those responsible for killing our Palestinian brothers to participate in an event on our territory,” the Bahraini Society Against Normalization, which opposes diplomatic normalization with Israel, tweeted Thursday.Using two Arabic-language hashtags, “Bahrain rejects normalization” and “No to murderers’ entry into Bahrain”,  NGO also retweeted posts by Bahraini activists opposed to normalized ties with Israel.Anadolu
Dozens dead as ferry sinks in Tigris River near Iraq's Mosul
At least 40 people die, officials say, with most of casualties being women and children celebrating Nowruz holiday.Dozens of people have died after a ferry carrying families celebrating the Nowruz holiday capsized in Tigris river near the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to officials.Husam Khalil, the head of Mosul's Civil Defence Authority, was quoted as saying by news agencies that at least 40 people were killed in Thursday's accident.Most of the casualties were women and children who could not swim, Halil said.The apparently overloaded vessel is believed to had been carrying around 200 people celebrating the holiday of Nowruz, which marks the Kurdish new year and the arrival of spring, when it sank. The holiday is celebrated as the Persian New Year in Iran.aljazeera
UAE’s bin Zayed ‘proposed killing Taliban leaders’:Middle East Eye
Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, offered to set up a covert assassination programme targeting senior Taliban leaders during a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this year, Middle East Eye has learnt.Bin Zayed made the offer during Pompeo’s visit to the United Arab Emirates on 12 January amid disagreements between the pair over the progress of peace talks between US and Taliban negotiators.According to a source with detailed knowledge of the meeting, bin Zayed told Pompeo that Washington risked allowing Afghanistan to fall back into the hands of the “backward, bearded bad guys” and proposed hiring mercenaries to kill Taliban leaders to weaken the group’s negotiating position.Pompeo was visibly taken aback by the offer, but said nothing, the source said.UAE has previously supported US efforts to broker a peace deal with the Taliban, and hosted a first round of face-to-face negotiations between the two sides on 20 Dec.last year in Abu Dhabi.But bin Zayed is understood to have been frustrated that subsequent rounds of talks were moved to Doha, the capital of Qatar, at the Taliban’s insistence.According to MEE’s source,bin Zayed also warned Pompeo that withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan risked turning back the clock to 2001, prior to US-led invasion that overthrew Taliban government in Kabul.US hopes that a negotiated deal with Taliban, which continues to battle Afghan government and international forces, could allow it to start withdrawing some of its 14,000 troops still in the country before the end of 2019.Bin Zayed suggested instead organising and funding what he described as a “Blackwater-style” operation to “wage an assassination campaign against the first-line leadership of the Taliban” in order to prevent it from achieving its chief political demands, the source said.middleeasteye
Multiple blasts rock Afghan capital, 6 dead
KABUL:At least six people were killed and close to 30 others wounded in multiple explosions in the Afghan capital Kabul on Thursday, the country’s Health Ministry said.Baseer Mujahed, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police in Kabul, said IED blasts rocked the Karta-e-Sakhi neighborhood in west Kabul during the Nevruz celebrations marking the beginning of spring.Earlier, Mujahed had said two people got killed and over a dozen more were injured in these blasts. However, the Ministry of Public Health later revised the death toll to 6 and injury toll to 29.Anadolu Agency
Russian airstrikes kill 5 civilians in Syria’s Idlib
IDLIB:5 civilians were killed and five others injured in overnight airstrikes in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, according to sources with the White Helmets civil defense agency.Airstrikes that continued until Thursday morning claimed the lives of four children and their father in al-Faqie village, with the mother being rescued from debris, sources said.The attacks taking place at dawn also targeted the villages of Frikeh, Sheikh Mustafa, Al Hamidiyah, Hbit and the outskirts of the town of Kafr Rumah.Anadolu Agency
ISIS territory nearly eliminated, will be erased from Syria by today: Trump
Washington :US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Islamic State's last bastion in Syria will be "gone" by the end of the day.He showed off maps that illustrate the dramatic shrinking of territory held by the jihadist group in the period from his election in 2016 and now. In one map shown by Trump to reporters in Washington and then again at a rally to factory workers in Lima, Ohio, IS territory marked in red extends over large areas. A second map, he said, shows the jihadist organization about to be wiped out."There is no red. In fact, there's actually a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight," he said.Fighting continued in Baghouz, Syria, on Wednesday, but the IS jihadists are down to a tiny scrap of land, where they are surrounded and under heavy fire from a US-led coalition of Kurds, Syrians and others.AFP/PTI
Syria rights group: Thousands killed by regime at Al-Mezzeh ‘slaughterhouse’ Hospital
More than 6,000 people were executed in 21 months by the forces of President Bashar Al-Assad at Al-Mezzeh 601 Military Hospital near Damascus, the Syrian Legal Commission (SLC) has revealed in a memorandum to UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, calling the facility a “slaughterhouse”.The commission provided evidence of widespread torture and extrajudicial killings committed by government troops al the Al-Mezzeh base, including the testimony of a regime dissident and the names of 43 soldiers and doctors who led the campaign of abuse.The defector stated that some 70 bodies a week were transferred from the hospital in designated trucks to a nearby crematorium where they would be burned so as to remove any evidence of torture. The extent of the violence committed resulted in several soldiers defecting from the military; however, the source said one was caught prior to his escape and was also tortured to death.Much of the abuse took place within the hospital’s trauma department due to its secluded nature and was restricted to only intelligence officials. The 601 military bases is believed to be one of the detention centres at which the Caesar photos were taken in 2014, which documented 11,000 victims who had died from torture during their detention.middleeastmonitor
Pakistan: Sirajul Haq re-elected Jamaat-e-Islami chief
KARACHI:Senator Sirajul Haq has been re-elected as emir (chief) of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) -- the country’s mainstream religious party -- for another 5-year term, the party’s election commission announced on Thursday. Announcing the results, Asadullah Bhutto, JI’s election commissioner, at the party’s headquarters in northeastern Lahore city, said Haq won the election with a “huge majority”.According to the JI traditions, no one is actually a candidate for the top slot, however the Majlis-e-Shoora (central executive council) gave 3 names to over 39,000 party members -- male and female -- for “guidance purpose”.This time, apart from Haq, the other two figures were party’s incumbent secretary general, Liaquat Baloch, and deputy chief Professor Ibrahim Khan.Currently, Jamaat has over 39,124 members apart from hundreds of thousands of workers and supporters.Haq is the JI’s fifth emir since its inception in 1941.Haq, 56, has been elected as the JI chief for the second consecutive term.Anadolu Agency
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Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:10 PM)


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