23 June 2019

23 June ND: Acute water crisis: 80% reservoirs across India have below normal storage/ MP: Latest inspections find EVM components missing from safe rooms in few districts

23 June 2019: 18 Shawal 1440:Vol: 11, No:228
Acute water crisis: 80% reservoirs across India have below normal storage
New Delhi : With the progress of monsoon still remaining sluggish, 84 %  of the meteorological subdivisions have recorded deficient rainfall, MeT department data shows. According to the Central Water Commission data, of the 91 major reservoirs in the country, 80% have storage below normal. Of these, 11 have zero% storage, making the water crisis acute.The official rainfall season starts from June 1 to September 30, but the overall monsoon deficiency until June 22 still remains around 39 % .Of the 36 meteorological subdivisions, 25% have recorded “deficient” rainfall, while 6 subdivisions recorded precipitation classified under “large deficient” category. Odisha and Lakhadweep subdivisions have recorded “normal” rainfall. While J&K and East Rajasthan recorded “excess” rainfall, Andaman and Nicobar Islands registered rainfall under the “large excess” category. Met Dept.has four divisions – east and the north east, south peninsula, central India and northwest India.The east and northeast India division comprise northeastern states and eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal and all have registered deficient rainfall.Of the 10 subdivisions of central India, Odisha is the only one to receive normal rainfall. 4 subdivisions, including three from Maharashtra – Vidarbha, Marathwada and central Maharashtra – have recorded rainfall in the category of “large deficient”. The east Madhya Pradesh subdivision has also recorded rainfall in the same category. Vidarbha, Marathwada and central Maharashtra subdivisions have been facing a drought-like situation, with water levels in reservoirs reaching extremely low levels. Although the Gujarat and Saurashtra and the Kutch subdivisions under central India have recorded “deficient” rainfall, Cyclone Vayu helped bring down some of the shortfall.The deficiency in these two subdivisions was 100 %  until June 9, but it went down to 50 and 26%  respectively.Of 10 divisions in the south peninsula division, eight are deficient. The Andaman and Nicobar Island subdivision recorded “large excess” rainfall, the only one under this category in the country, while Lakshadweep recorded “normal” rainfall.With Chennai reeling under a severe water crisis, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal subdivision has a deficiency of nearly 38%.Monsoon reached Kerala on June 8, a week after its normal onset date. Its progress was halted for more than a week due to Cyclone Vayu in Arabian Sea, causing delay in its advancement in several parts.PTI
MP: Latest inspections find EVM components missing from safe rooms in few districts
Bhopal :Latest inspections have found that Ballot Unit (BU) and Detachable Memory Module (DMM), which act as key components of an EVM, are missing from safe rooms in a few districts of Madhya Pradesh, according to RTI documents.However, RTI did not specify whether EVMs were used in the last elections in the state.These inspection reports were prepared during April and June this year and provided to RTI applicant Ajay Dubey who had sought details from the State Election Commission of the latest reports received from district administrations on security and management of EVMs.9 DMMs were found missing during the inspection of EVMs store room in Umaria, the reply said, without mentioning any reason behind it.Detachable Memory Module is an extra memory of the EVM which can be detached from the machine and stored separately.According to Master Stock Register (MSR), there were supposed to be 2,709 DMMs in a strong room at a Govt  polytechnic college in Narsinghpur district.During inspection,2,508 DMMs were not found, according to the reply given by the district administration.In a note, Narsinghpur district authority said 687 DMMs, which were not used in elections (without mentioning what polls they are referring to), were sent to the commission’s office and those used in elections were sent to ECIL, Hyderabad for disposal. There are 201 DMMs available in the store room, the administration of Narsinghpur district said, without mentioning details of other missing EVMs.9 Ballot Units were not found during the inspection of a strong room in Bhind district, RTI reply said.A ballot unit is is a small box-like device, on top of which each candidate and his/her election symbol is listed like a big ballot paper. The voter polls his vote by pressing the blue button against the name of his desired candidate. Errors were found in 13 Control Units and 16 Ballot Units, during pre-first level checks, in May 2018, and they were not rectified by engineers sent by commission, said a copy of the report dated May 21, 2019 by Bhind district to State Election Commission.In Mandsaur, 8 BUs were found missing and one DMM was missing in Shajapur district, according to RTI reply.A total of 26 DMMs were found missing in a strong room at Old Collector Bhavan, Balaghat district, it said, adding that 11 and 28 BUs were not found in the store room in Sagar and Gwalior districts, respectively.“A thorough probe is needed to immediately trace missing Control Units, Ballot Units or DMMs. It poses a serious security concern over the safety of EVMs,” said Dubey.PTI
Jharkhand: Muslim man dies 4 days after mob beats him up, forces him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
A 24-year Muslim man was beaten by a mob in Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district on June 18, and he died in the hospital, allegedly of his injuries, four days later. However, the police said the cause of the death of Tabrej Ansari, a resident of Kharsawan city, is not yet known since the autopsy report has not been submitted yet.Ansari was caught in Dhaktidih village while allegedly attempting to steal a motorcycle. “Two of his accomplices escaped,” Superintendent of Police Karthik S said. “But he was ill-treated by the villagers. When the police got the information, they went to the spot and took him in custody, along with the motorcycle.”Ansari was charged with attempting to steal, and produced in a court that sent him to judicial remand. According to the police, he fell ill on Saturday and was taken to a hospital, where he died.“While it’s being reported that the death happened in the hospital, Ansari actually died in police custody,” claimed Afzal Anis, activist and Jharkhand state coordinator of Aman Biradri, an organisation that works for communal harmony .Videos of the assault soon spread on social media. Ansari’s family approached the police with the videos after his death, based on which an FIR was filed. The complainant was Shaista Parveen, Ansari’s wife. On the basis of the videos, the police arrested a villager identified as Pappu Mandal and named 100 unidentified people in its first information report. “He has been arrested under murder and rioting charges,”said police. According to the FIR, the mob also forced Ansari to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”.
Assam: After video shows Muslims forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’, key accused held
Guwahati :Police have arrested the primary accused in a case pertaining to a group of Muslim youths allegedly being forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’ in Assam’s Barpeta district earlier this week. Barpeta SP Robin Kumar said, “Debojit Deka has been arrested. A Guwahati resident, Deka had posted a video of the assault on the youths with the comment that “Ram Sainiks of Barpeta district” have taught a lesson to some people “saying Pakistan Zindabad”, police said. “He had uploaded the video. It is under investigation whether Deka was present in the mob that attacked the group,” Kumar said. Police are on the lookout for the other accused.indianexpress
MP to ease cow transport rules, farmers can buy from each other
Bhopal:Congress Govt  in MP has decided to ease rules governing the transportation of cows to ensure that farmers and traders are not harassed by cow vigilantes and stopped by police. Govt has also decided to allow trade of cows between farmers by removing a condition that they could buy bovines only from bazaars or haats. Animal Husbandry Minister Lakhan Yadav said that the new rules would allow farmers in Madhya Pradesh seeking to buy cattle from another state or district to approach SDM in their area and seek a NOC by giving details of the number of cattle, the prospective buyer and the route they were likely to take while transporting the animals. NOC will be prominently pasted on the vehicle transporting the cows. The minister said the NOC would be issued for up to 25 cattle.As of now, someone who seeks to buy cattle from another state has to seek an NOC from SDM of the area from where he plans to buy the cattle. It used to be very difficult for local farmers to get NOC from the SDM in another state. Currently, no NOC is issued to farmers who buy from another district within the state. VMinister Yadav said that currently, in the absence of any written permission, it is easier for cow vigilantes to stop vehicles carrying cattle and take them to the police. “Organisations like the Bajrang Dal do it for the sake of publicity but the cows would be left stranded in police stations. Also, police would illegally charge Rs 100 or Rs 200 before allowing the vehicles to pass,’’ the Cabinet Minister alleged.indianexpress
False cases hinder conviction under Haryana cow law; Cattle traders say cops targeting them to extort money
Gurugram: Jubbair, 49, a resident of Ghasera village in Nuh off Gurugram-Alwar highway, faces around half a dozen cases under Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, banning the slaughtering of cows and sale of beef in the State. He, however, claims innocence.Jubbair said he runs a dairy and owns around 70 animals, including cows, and also trades in cattle. “ All these cases of transporting cows for slaughtering have been registered against me since 2015. But I am innocent. I have full faith in the law of the land,” he said over phone. He alleged that the police target the cattle traders and dairy owners, in connivance with cow vigilante groups, to register false cases and extort money.Though around 1,000 cases have been registered under the new law in Nuh over the past four years, the prosecution has failed to prove charges in over a dozen cases so far, leading to the acquittal of the accused. Punjab and Haryana High Court also took cognisance of the matter earlier this year following which the Haryana police decided to impart training to Nuh police personnel in the new law.Advocate Tahir Devla, a defence lawyer in 10 such cases, said the police mostly registered false cases which failed to stand the scrutiny of the law. “It’s a simple law prohibiting transportation of cows outside the State for slaughtering, sale of beef and slaughtering of cows in Haryana. In most of the cases, the police book traders bringing milch cows to Haryana from Rajasthan saying they were being transported outside the State for slaughtering, but later fail to prove it in the court,” he said.All-India Mewati Samaj president Ramzan Chaudhary claimed the police in many cases let off influential people involved in cow slaughtering and fabricated innocent men in return for money and the cases later faltered in the court.thehindu
J-K: Hurriyat leaders ready for talks, says Governor Satya Pal Malik
Srinagar :Appearing to signal that the time was ripe for dialogue in J&K,Governor Satya Pal Malik made a public statement on Saturday, in the presence of two ministers from Modi Cabinet, that the separatist Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks.“Things are much better than when I came here. Look at Hurriyat, Ram Vilas Paswan stood at their door and they didn’t open the door. Now they are ready for talks,” Malik said.The Governor was speaking at a DD event in Srinagar. Union Minister for I&B Prakash Javadekar and Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh were also present on the occasion.In an interview on Friday, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had said the Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with Govt. Reiterating what he said last month after BJP’s massive election victory, he said: “With such massive mandate, it is the responsibility of the central Govt  to take forward the political process in the state and initiate all possible measures to put an end to the cycle of violence in the state”. He could not be contacted on Saturday. Hurriyat leader, in his interview, also said that “we will never shirk from our responsibility to take the political process forward, and if Centre shows sincerity (we) will respond in appropriate manner”. Farooq had said the Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with Govt.After BJP’s huge win in Lok Sabha polls, Mirwaiz, in his address to the congregation assembled at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid for the last Friday of Ramzan, had said: “People of India overwhelmingly voted for Mr Modi and his party… this mandate gives PM Modi the opportunity and the power to play a decisive role in the resolution of the long pending Kashmir conflict”.He had also said that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved militarily or through confrontation “but by dialogue and deliberations, and Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s oft-repeated offer of dialogue on all issues between India and Pakistan, including on the Kashmir issue, should be seriously considered by the new dispensation in New Delhi as the way forward.”However, even as Governor seemed to be welcoming Mirwaiz’s olive branch, Hurriyat leader was placed under house arrest and prevented from attending a book fair at Kashmir University Saturday. On Friday, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, most senior Hurriyat leader, was also prevented by security personnel from leaving his house to visit the book fair. Governor Malik said “We do not feel good at all about young men dying. We are interested in bringing them back and Centre is thinking about this”.indianexpress
J&K: 4 suspected militants killed in gunfight with security forces in Shopian district
4 suspected militants were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Shopian district in J&K today, state police said.Security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in Daramdora area of Shopian, following information about the presence of militants, an unidentified Army official said. Militants were identified as Rafi Hassan Mir, Suhail Ahmad Bhat, Showkat Ahmad Mir and Azad Ahmad Khanday, a police spokesperson said. While Showkat Ahmad Mir joined militant ranks in 2015, others had recently joined. “Showkat was instrumental in recruiting Azad, Rafi and Suhail in terrorist ranks,” the official said. “Showkat was initially associated with Hizbul Mujahideen.”Officer declined to comment on the affiliation of the militants, but the news agency cited sources as saying that the militants were affiliated to Ansar Gazwatul Hind.
Muslim leaders rubbish NIA charges: Only a fool can think of establishing caliphate in India
New Delhi:Reacting on the charge sheet filed by NIA against 10 suspects arrested in a case involving a “terror module” in Delhi, Hapur and Amroha (UP) in Dec.last, noted community leaders and activists on Saturday said only a fool can think of establishing caliphate in India. They dismissed the charges as another “cooked up story by the security agencies” as they have done earlier.On Friday, NIA filed charges against all the accused in Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar’s court claiming that “all accused were planning to establish an ISIS caliphate in the country after planning large-scale attacks in and around the National Capital Region.” The court listed the matter for consideration on July 4. Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, umbrella body of leading Muslim organisations, dismissed the charge sheet as yet another “fabricated story” to tarnish the image of Muslim community in the eyes of Hindu brethren. Mushawarat president Navaid Hamid said: “It is another fictional story meant to soil the image of the community and lives of these innocent persons.” Commenting on the agency’s charges, he said only a foolish person can think of founding caliphate in India or anywhere else.“It is a cooked up story, a fool only can think of establishing caliphate in India. The past instances showed that there were people in security agencies who fabricated and framed trumpeted terror charges against innocent young persons from the community but they were acquitted by the higher courts of the land.”Expressing his displeasure over the charges framed by the agency against the accused, he said it is sad that “such cases not only ruin the lives of innocent persons but also create misgivings about the community in the minds of our Hindu brethren”. He also lambasted the culture of impunity saying those officers, who frame innocents in false terror cases just for the sake of accolades and medals, should be made accountable. Past experience has repeatedly shown that almost all accused were released by courts finding no evidence against them, he added. Concurring with his views, noted activist Nadim Khan, said the agency’s claims against all accused are false and baseless. He rubbished NIA charges saying that “Caliphate cannot be established by making Sutli twine bombs and kitchen knives,this is all outlandish. He argued that in the past all such charges did not stand in the court of law and however, scores of innocents lives were ruined due to security agencies’ false flag and irresponsible attitude.“It is a fact that 95% terror cases fabricated by security agencies have fallen flat in courts and accused got acquittal honorably but after spending their prime part of life in jails,” he noted. One of the accused’s relatives said they still had not received the copy of the charge sheet and even FIR copy. Dismissing all charges, he said that they would react after seeing the charge sheet.The relative did not want to disclose his identity expressing the hope that all 10 youths would be acquitted soon as they are all innocent’.caravandaily
We are soon going to be completely isolated: Assamese poet Shalim Hussain on migration, NRC
A PhD scholar at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university, Shalim Hussain,32, a poet, who writes in Assamese, speaks about the fear and uncertainty triggered by the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the relevance of poetry today.Speaking about the Muslim community, mostly Bengali-origin Assamese Muslims, Hussain said, "There is always fear about the ‘outsider’.But while violence against, say, the Biharis, will peak and subside, the anger towards us is permanent.We are called rapists, child kidnappers and anything else that one can imagine. Congress party initiated NRC so there is no point in giving them a clean chit, but with the Citizenship Amendment Bill, our community will be isolated. Hindus of Bengali origin will get citizenship but we won’t." He speaks about the impact of NRC, "Anytime something as major as NRC or the Citizenship Amendment Bill comes up, a fear akin to the one at the time of the Nellie massacre, sets in. It makes people do desperate things. Many have taken their own lives — 40 at the latest count — because they fear they will be put in permanent detention once they are declared illegal immigrants as India doesn’t have an extradition policy with Bangladesh. Social mobility is the only way out. Although, it didn’t help retired army officer Sanaullah, who was sent into detention until the courts intervened." indianexpress
Human sacrifice in Assam? A headless body found near Kamakhya temple raises questions
On June 19, the headless body of a woman was found close to Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. Police officers on the case are investigating the possibility that it was a human sacrifice.“It looks like a murder that has stemmed from superstition,” said Deepak Kumar, the city’s police commissioner. “The crime scene definitely suggests so: everything was in order; the woman’s body was wrapped in a blanket next to which was a bottle of water and other puja essentials.” Such speculation has been fuelled by the fact that the Kamakhya temple is known to be a seat of tantric practices, often associated, at least in the popular imagination, with human sacrifice.The timing of the incident seems to have bolstered the theory. It occurred days before one of the most important events on the temple calendar, Ambubachi Mela, which has hordes of devotees and ascetics descending on the temple complex.The mela, an annual affair, marks the goddess Kamakhya’s menstrual period,which is believed to occur only once a year. The temple remains closed during that period – according to religious belief, the deity is in a state of impurity. However, the supposedly impure blood of the goddess is also believed to be a harbinger of life and vitality. When the temple is opened, usually after 3 days, pieces of red cloth, representing the goddess’s blood, are distributed among devotees. But the temple establishment insists that human sacrifice has never been part of the Ambubachi ritual.
SIMI leader Nagori convicted of ‘inciting communal tension’
Bhopal: A district court on Saturday convicted Safdar Nagori, member of SIMI, and 2 others for “organising training camps for unlawful activities and fomenting communal tension” in Narsinghgarh area of MP’s Rajgarh district in 2008.They were sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment and fined Rs 10,000 each under UAPA, Explosives Substances Act. They have admitted to visiting the town in 2008, holding a meeting and distributing pamphlets with “inflammatory writing with the intention of instigating communal trouble”. TOI
Makkah Masjid blast: Court seeks response from Addl.Solicitor General over acquittal of accused
Hyderabad: Telangana High Court on Friday conducted the hearing of the writ petition challenging the verdict of Nampally Criminal Court which acquitted the accused in Makkah Masjid blast case.A bench of Chief justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and justice Shameem Akhter ordered additional solicitor general K Lakshman to respond to the writ petition within 3 weeks.Several worshipers were killed in the blast occurred in the historical Makkah Masjid on May 18, 2007.NIA had filed a charge sheet against Devendra Gupta, Aseemanand and others but court acquitted them.Appealing against the verdict of NIA special court, which acquitted all the 5 accused, including Swami Aseemanand, Makkah Masjid blast victims’ families had knocked the door of Telangana High Court. siasat
Foreign govts have no right to question India on religious freedom: MEA s-have-no-right-to-question-india-on-religious-freedom-mea/article28115779.ece?homepage=true
New Delhi:Foreign Govt s do not have the right to criticise India’s vibrant democracy and dedication to rule of law, said the Ministry of External Affairs after US State Department’s annual report on religious freedom pointed out India’s failure to protect minority communities.“We see no locus standi for a foreign Govt  to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).The report sets the backdrop of the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that begins on June 25. Official spokesperson, however, maintained that India was proud of its “secular credentials”, saying, “it is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights.”MEA did not answer if report and its observations about India’s failure to uphold and protect minority rights would feature in talks with Pompeo during his visits here between 25-27 June.thehindu
"Doing Best To Wipe Out Terrorism": Pak Army Chief After Watchdog Warning
London: Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that the country is using all available sources to eliminate terrorism from its soil and is moving towards attaining sustainable peace and stability. Speaking at an event in London on Friday, General Bajwa suggested that all nations must cooperate with each other in "wiping out terrorism" since it is a common enemy for all."We are doing our best, utilising all available sources to wipe out the enemies of peace and prosperity. It is a fact that peace and stability in South Asia was dependent on the resolution of conflicts and disputes in the region", The Nation quoted Bajwa.ANI
Pakistan accuses India of "politicising" deliberations at FATF meeting in US
Pakistan has accused India of "politicising" the deliberations for its "narrow and partisan" objectives at the FATF meeting in Florida where the global terror financing watchdog decided to keep Islamabad on its 'grey' list for failing to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups.Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which concluded its week-long meeting in Florida in the US, also asked Pakistan to take credible, verifiable, irreversible and sustainable measures to address global concerns related to terrorism and terrorist financing emanating from the territory under its control."We regard the statement issued by India regarding FATF report as preposterous and unwarranted," Pakistan Foreign Office said."If anything, this is yet another evidence of India's relentless efforts to politicise the deliberations of FATF for its narrow, partisan objectives," it said. PTI
China, Malaysia, Turkey bail out Pak at FATF: Pak  may stall till it's Beijing's turn to head body
Dabholkar murder: Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar sent to judicial custody till July 6
A Pune court today sent Sanatan Sanstha lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar, an accused in the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, in judicial custody till July 6.Special judge R.M. Pande on June 20 granted Punalekar’s custody to CBI till June 23, after the agency said it recovered some “incriminating documents” from the lawyer’s laptop and that he was required to be questioned about it.The Central Bureau of Investigation on June 23 told the court it does not require any further custody of Mr. Punalekar, following which the judge sent the accused in judicial remand till July 6.PTI
Mayawati’s brother, nephew get plum posts in BSP, Danish Ali named Lok Sabha leader
New Delhi :Following BSP’s poor showing at the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, party supremo Mayawati today appointed her brother Anand Kumar and nephew Akash Anand as the party’s national vice-president and national coordinator respectively.The decision was taken at a meeting in Lucknow that was attended by BSP’s top leaders.Meanwhile, Amroha MP Danish Ali was made the leader of the party in Lok Sabha and its Nagina MP Girish Chandra appointed chief whip.Akash, a prominent face in Mayawati’s Lok Sabha campaign, had first raised brows with his presence at the birthday celebration of BSP supremo. She later announced Akash would join the party’s “movement” and learn the ropes of politics.“It is an anti-BSP conspiracy…dragging in my nephew forces me to think something about it…in a tit-for-tat response, I will make Akash join BSP movement and give him a chance to learn,” she had earlier said amid criticism from the BJP. indianexpress
Mani Shankar Aiyar: ‘Non-Gandhi’ can be Congress chief, but family must remain active in party
New Delhi:3 days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi made it clear that the party would decide on his successor, senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar Sunday said a ‘non-Gandhi’ could be party chief but the Gandhi family must remain active.“It would be best that Rahul remains party chief, but at the same time, Rahul’s own wishes must also be respected,” Aiyar said. Aiyar’s statement comes amid uncertainty over Rahul continuing as Congress president.“I am sure we can survive if we have to without a Nehru-Gandhi as the titular head of the party, provided Nehru-Gandhis remain active in the party and can help resolve a crisis in case serious differences arise. Rahul has given about a month to the party to find a replacement and there have been confabulations within the Congress over the issue with the feeling in the party overwhelmingly in favour of Rahul staying on,” saidAiyar.indianexpress
Death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome reaches 167 in Bihar, Muzaffarpur remains worst hit
PATNA: The deaths linked to the massive outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) - a viral infection -  has risen to 167 in Bihar till Sunday morning, plunging the state in a grim crisis. The deadly outbreak of the disease has gripped the children of the state since the beginning of this month. Muzaffarpur remains the worst-hit district of Bihar with the viral disease taking the lives of as many as 129 children. The death toll in the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) reached 109 and that in Kejriwal hospital stands at 20.zee news
14 killed, several injured as shamiana collapses during religious programme in Rajasthan’s Barmer
Barmer:At least 14 people were killed and about 50 injured after a shamiana fell on them due to strong winds during a religious programme in Barmer district of Rajasthan, police said.A ‘Ram Katha’ was organised at Jasol area of the district when the shamiana was uprooted by strong winds trapping the people sitting under it, ASP, Khinv Singh, said.At least 14 persons have died in the incident, he added.PTI
Air India suspends regional director for allegedly shoplifting at Sydney Airport
New Delhi :Air India’s regional director (Eastern region) has been suspended for allegedly shoplifting at Sydney Airport, an officer said on Sunday.Rohit Bhasin, who used to oversee Air India’s operations in the eastern region, was suspended after a complaint was filed by the Australian Regional Manager against him regarding shoplifting a wallet from a duty-free shop at Sydney Airport.indianexpress
Ethiopia's state chief killed amid coup attempt
The president of Ethiopia's Amhara region and his top adviser were killed in an attempted coup in which the country's army chief was also shot dead, the office of Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed said.Spokeswoman Billene Seyoum told journalists a "hit squad" led by Amhara's security chief Asaminew Tsige burst into a meeting in the state offices of Amhara's capital, Bahir Dar, on Saturday and shot regional Govt  President Ambachew Mekonnen and his adviser Ezez Wassie.The men were "gravely injured in the attack and later died of their wounds," she said. "Several hours later, in what seems like a coordinated attack, the chief of the staff of the national security forces Seare Mekonnen was killed in his home by his bodyguard in Addis Ababa."Also shot dead was a retired general who had been visiting him, Billene added.The bodyguard has been apprehended while Asaminew is still on the loose, sources said.Al Jazeera's Leah Harding, reporting from Addis Ababa, said Abiy called those responsible "mercenaries"."Army intelligence general said the coup was meant to create chaos and division in the military. He said the military now has control over the situation...and he reiterated that there are no divisions within the military," Harding reported."This is particularly important because the two generals that were killed in Addis Ababa are part of the Tigre ethnic group, and the person who we believe is responsible for the coup plot is part of the Amhara group."Analysts said the incident showed seriousness of the political crisis in Ethiopia, where efforts by Abiy to loosen iron-fisted grip of his predecessors and push through reforms have unleashed a wave of unrest. "These tragic incidents, unfortunately, demonstrate the depth of Ethiopia's political crisis," said International Crisis Group analyst William Davison."It is now critical that actors across the country do not worsen the instability by reacting violently or trying to exploit this unfolding situation for their own political ends," the expert said. Residents of Bahir Dar said late on Saturday there was gunfire in some neighbourhoods and some roads had been closed off.Early on Sunday, Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, head of special forces in Amhara, told state television that "most of the people who attempted the coup have been arrested, although there are a few still at large."Since coming to power last year, Abiy has tried to spearhead political reforms to open up the once isolated, security-obsessed Horn of Africa country. He has released political prisoners, lifted bans on political parties and prosecuted officials accused of gross human rights abuses, but his Govt is battling mounting violence.aljazeera
Iran warns war would spread across Gulf, threaten US troops
Washington :Any conflict in the Gulf region may spread uncontrollably and threaten the lives of US troops, a senior Iranian military commander said on Sunday after US President Donald Trump said he would impose further sanctions on the Islamic Republic.While flagging more sanctions, Trump had also said on Saturday he wanted to make a deal to bolster Iran’s economy in an apparent move to defuse tensions following the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone this week by the Islamic Republic.Iran has said it would respond firmly to any threat against it and warned on Sunday of the risks of a military confrontation.“If a conflict breaks out in the region, no country would be able to manage its scope and timing,” Major General Gholamali Rashid said, according to the semi-official news agency Fars.“American government must act responsibly to protect the lives of American troops by avoiding misconduct in the region.”Reuters
US 'launched cyberattacks on Iran weapons' after drone downing
US military launched cyberattacks against Iranian missile control systems and a spy network on Thursday after Tehran downed an American surveillance drone, US officials have said.US President Donald Trump ordered a retaliatory military attack against Iran after the drone shootdown but then called it off, saying the response would not be "proportionate" and instead pledged new sanctions on the country.But after the drone's downing, Trump secretly authorised US Cyber Command to carry out a retaliatory cyber attack on Iran, 2 officials said.A third official confirmed the broad outlines of the attack. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly about the operation. US media outlets Yahoo News and The Washington Post also reported the cyberattacks. The cyberattacks - a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions - disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said.The officials said the US targeted the computers of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps after Washington blamed Iran for two recent mine attacks on oil tankers.There was no immediate reaction on Sunday morning in Iran to the US claims. aljazeera
NSA Bolton: US sanctions on Iran are biting
Iran is feeling the effects of existing US sanctions as President Donald Trump prepares to impose more of them from Monday, his National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday during a visit to Israel, reports Reuters.While flagging further sanctions, Trump also said on Saturday he wanted to make a deal to bolster Iran’s flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions following the shooting down of an unmanned US drone by the Islamic Republic. Tensions in the region began to worsen significantly when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers and reimposed sanctions on the country. The sanctions had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, its threats to exceed the limits set in the failed Iran nuclear deal in the coming days … are not signs of a nation seeking peace,” Bolton told reporters during a visit to Israel.middleeastmonitor
Egypt suppressed coverage of Morsi’s death: Media group
Cairo:Egypt suppressed media coverage of the death of former president Mohammed Morsi in a Cairo courtroom this week, a media advocacy group said.Morsi collapsed and died Monday during his trial on espionage charges. His death, however, was barely mentioned in the country’s media, which mostly limited coverage to reproducing an official statement, said Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, on Friday.“The vast majority of Egyptian media outlets just used the same 42-word Govt  statement, without offering their own take on the event and without even mentioning that he was Egypt’s former president,” RSF said.Most Egyptian daily newspapers only carried brief reports of Morsi’s death buried in inside pages of Tuesday editions. The exception was Al-Masry Al-Youm, which had a front-page report.Yahia Kalash, a former head of the journalists’ union, said such coverage was expected and it revealed the extent of Govt  control over media in Egypt.“The media blackout was not a decision by an editor. It revealed the extent of censorship. The idea of media blackout has become mockery and unfruitful,” he said Saturday. Authorities have also launched an unprecedented crackdown on reporters and the media, imprisoning dozens and occasionally expelling foreign journalists.RSF urged Egypt to “allow freedom to the media...rather than seek to lock the debate and minimize the spread.”AP
Egypt, Saudi 'Prison Tomb' abuse scrutinized after Morsi's death
Human rights organisations report widespread abuses in prisons across the region, including torture, extended solitary confinement and a lack of medical care, not to mention the use of the death penalty for minors in Saudi Arabia. The death of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has intensified the spotlight on the dire conditions faced by political prisoners in Egypt under the Govt of army chief-turned-president Abdel Fattah el Sisi, not to mention in neighbouring states such as Saudi Arabia.Morsi was Egypt's first democratically elected president and died after collapsing in a soundproof cage during his trial, where he was left unattended for at least 20 minutes. Ageing deposed president had developed a history of health issues during his imprisonment, including diabetes, liver and kidney disease, and the loss of sight in one eye, without receiving medical treatment. His medical conditions made no changes to the conditions of his incarceration, where he was kept in solitary confinement for at least 23 hours a day."Ex-president Morsi's death followed years of Govt  mistreatment, prolonged solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and deprivation of family visits and access to lawyers," says Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director of HRW.But former president Morsi was only one of tens of thousands of prisoners currently suffering under similar conditions.He was not the first prisoner to succumb to harsh prison conditions in Egypt.In the first 100 days of Sisi’s administration alone, HRW reported at least 35 people died in custody.Of those 35, 15 cases identified a cause of death: 13 were due to overcrowding or failure to provide medical care, and two involved physical abuse. The numbers could be much higher, with human rights agencies criticising their lack of access to observe prisoner conditions. trtworld
Palestinians reject economic part of US peace plan
US has revealed a proposal to create a $50bn global investment fund for the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states, designed to be the economic engine of the long-awaited US Middle East peace plan.The plan was posted on the White House website on Saturday, two days before a US-led workshop in Bahrain where the economic portion of the so-called "deal of the century" is set to be discussed.Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday rejected the economic plan and the US peace effort, which is led by President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner.
Myanmar has ordered internet shutdown in two provinces, including Rakhine:telecom company
International telecommunications company Telenor group has said Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications has ordered all mobile phone operators to temporarily shut down internet services in 9 townships in state of Rakhine and neighbouring Chin.“ Directive, which makes references to Myanmar’s Telecom Law, does not specify when the shutdown will end,” read the statement issued on Friday. “As basis for its request, MoTC has referenced disturbances of peace and use of internet services to coordinate illegal activities.”The company said that it has asked for more clarification about the rationale for the shutdown. It also said “freedom of expression through access to telecoms services should be maintained for humanitarian purposes, especially during times of conflict”.scroll
Sudan protesters accept Ethiopia plan for political transition
Protest leaders in Sudan said on Saturday they have accepted the creation of a civilian-majority governing body for a political transition in the country, as proposed by an Ethiopian envoy.The compromise blueprint suggests the creation of a 15-member governing body - comprising eight civilians and seven members of the military - that would install a civilian administration, according to AFP."We think that our acceptance of the proposal is a major leap towards meeting the goals of the revolution, which are freedom, peace and justice," protest leader Babiker Faisal told reporters in a statement, AFP reported."It will put the country on the right track to create the transitional period that would usher in sustainable democracy."The ruling Transitional Military Council(TMC) has yet to give its decision on the Ethiopian proposal.According to the Ethiopian plan, seven of the eight civilians on the governing body will come from the umbrella protest movement, Alliance for Freedom and Change, another protest leader, Amjad Farid, had told AFP earlier on Saturday. aljazeera
Turkey: Istanbul votes in 'historic' rerun of mayoral vote
Istanbul:Residents of Istanbul are back at the polling stations on Sunday in a rerun of the mayoral election, which was last held about three months ago.The rerun comes weeks after Ekrem Imamoglu, candidate of main opposition CHP, won the contest in Turkey's commercial hub by a slim margin over Binali Yildirim of ruling AK Party. Voting started at 8.00am local time  and will continue through 5:00pm local time in 31,342 ballot boxes across 39 districts of Istanbul.The result of the March 31 polls was a big blow to the AK Party, which in the same local polls also lost control of the country's capital, Ankara, and Izmir, the third largest city.AK Party, led by Tayyip Erdogan, successfully lobbied for a rerun of the Istanbul mayoral vote, after Imamoglu secured the seat with a difference of just 13,729 votes.aljazeera
Trump nominates Mark Esper as Pentagon chief                             
US President Donald Trump has nominated Mark Esper to be the Secretary of Defense, the White House has said. Esper replaces Patrick Shanahan, who led the military in an acting capacity but this week withdrew his name from consideration for a permanent role after allegations of domestic violence.    It has been six months without a permanent defence secretary - three times longer than ever before - even as the country deals with the growing tensions with Iran.aljazeera
Pakistan key to bringing peace in Afghanistan: ex-PM Hekmatyar
Afghanistan's ex PM Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has praised Pakistan's role in the ongoing peace process for his war-ravaged country. "Pakistan is a very important country and Islamabad could play a key role in bringing peace in Afghanistan and now they are doing it," Hekmatyar told Anadolu Agency in the resort town of Bhurban near the capital Islamabad. He arrived in Pakistan along with 57 other Afghan leaders to attend a peace conference on Saturday. "I praised Pakistan's sincere efforts and I am sure they will continue its help to bring peace in our country," 2-time PM said.Americans are also praising Pakistan's role in bringing Taliban on the negotiating table, he said.Hekmatyar arrived in Islamabad for the first time after his landmark deal with the Kabul Govt in 2016, which ended his 20-year-long self-imposed exile. 71-year-old leader was received on Saturday by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi." Hekmatyar demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and reiterated the need to allow the Afghan people decide their future.Hekmatyar asked the Afghan political and religious leaders to brainstorm for a system to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.Anadolu Agency
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Buck stops at the table of the head of the govt — CM or PM: P Chidambaram -narendra-modi-muzaffarpur-bihar-deaths-across-the-aisle-5795047/
Aakar Patel: India must do what it can to avert a US-Iran conflict

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