01 July 2020

30 JUNE NEWS: Chinese Inscribe Huge Symbol, Map Onto Disputed Territory In Pangong. Banning apps violates WTO rules, will affect employment of Indians: Chinese embassy. No doubt’ India was behind Karachi stock exchange attack, says Imran Khan; India calls it as 'Absurd'


30 JUNE 2020. 08 ZU AL-QA'DAH 1441. Vol-12, No-245



Chinese Inscribe Huge Symbol, Map Onto Disputed Territory In Pangong 

New Delhi: In a claim to disputed territory, Chinese forces in the contested Fingers region of Ladakh's Pangong Lake have inscribed a massive Mandarin symbol and map of China onto the ground they occupy.The inscriptions, located between 'Finger 4' and 'Finger 5' measure approximately 81 metres in length and 25 metres in breadth and are large enough to be clearly spotted by passing imagery satellites. Earlier this week, Wang Hajiang, the overall commander of Chinese forces in Tibet was photographed repainting the character of 'China' in a frontier position along the India-China boundary.'Fingers' in the region refers to the spurs which extend to the banks of the high-altitude Pangong Lake. India believes it has the right to patrol from 'Finger 1' to 'Finger 8' while China believes it has rights to patrol from 'Finger 8' to 'Finger 4'. At the moment, 'Finger 4' is the boundary between the two sides after violent skirmishes between soldiers of both sides in May in which dozens of Indian soldiers were attacked with weapons such as batons wrapped with barbed wire. Chinese forces, deployed in significant numbers at 'Finger 4' no longer permit Indian soldiers from patrolling in the direction of 'Finger 8'.

Despite disengagement talks, India, China mobilise further in Ladakh, only winter holds hope:India Today

The precise opposite of disengagement between India and China is happening at the four friction points in eastern Ladakh. With the third round of Corp Commander level talks winding down in Chushul, India Today has learnt that far from de-escalation, a greater mobilisation and concentration of troops have been seen on both sides of the Line of Actual Control in the last 72 hours. And the mobilisation shows no signs of abating.India Today can confirm that the Indian Army has scaled up its deployments, but will not report on the specifics of this mobilisation owing to the dynamic nature of the situation at all four friction points. The Chinese side has clearly scaled up deployments in depth areas of the Finger complex of Pangong Tso as well as Hot Springs area.As reported by India Today yesterday, the talks in Chushul today led with and focused in large measure on the situation at Pangong Tso's Finger 4. India Today was the first to detail just how serious the situation is on the ridgeline at Finger 4, with permanent Chinese positions emerging for the first time in a swathe of disputed territory claimed and earlier patrolled by both sides. While the Chinese Army remains unmoved, both physically on the ground across friction points as well as in talks, it is clear that the PLA leadership has decided to focus its intransigence on Finger 4, showing every intention to move even further west into Indian territory, but held off by bigger Indian deployments in the area.

Galwan Valley Clashes: India and China Hold Marathon Corps Commander-Level Talks 

Indian and Chinese militaries on Tuesday held an over 10-hour Corps Commander-level dialogue with a focus on finalising modalities for the disengagement of troops from various standoff points in eastern Ladakh, and explored ways to ease tension in the region, government sources said.In the meeting, the Indian delegation conveyed concerns over China's "new claim lines" in the region and demanded restoration of status quo ante as well as immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops from Galwan Valley, Pangong Tso and a number of other areas, they said.The talks took place on the Indian side of LAC in Chushul sector in eastern Ladakh. The meeting began at 11 am and was continuing beyond 9 pm, the sources said.Indian delegation at the meeting was headed by 14 Corps Commander Lt Gen Harinder Singh while the Chinese side was led by the Commander of Tibet Military District Major General Liu Lin.The sources said the Indian side also pitched for strictly following provisions of a number of agreements on dealing with issues relating to handling of border issues.The focus of the talks was on finalising the modalities for de-escalation, and disengagement of troops from various friction points, the sources said adding there were deliberations on confidence building measures as well.

Banning apps violates WTO rules, will affect employment of Indians: Chinese embassy 

New Delhi: A day after India banned 59 Chinese apps, the country’s embassy in New Delhi said the move violates international laws governing global trade and e-commerce. This comes after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said earlier in the day that China is strongly concerned about the notification issued by the Ministry of Information Technology Monday.“India’s measure, selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedure requirements, abuses national security exceptions, and suspects of violating the WTO rules,” said Ji Rong, spokesperson, embassy of China, in a statement.The embassy said the move to ban these apps, which include the hugely popular TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser, among others, “goes against the general trend of international trade and e-commerce, and is not conducive to consumer interests and the market competition in India”. She also said the ban will not only impact a large number of users in India, but it will also adversely hit the employment of local Indian professionals working in companies that run these apps.“Related apps have a large number of users in India, have been operating strictly in accordance with Indian laws and regulations, and provide efficient and fast services for Indian consumers, creators and entrepreneurs. The ban will affect not only the employment of local Indian workers, who support these apps, but also the interests of Indian users and the employment and livelihoods of many creators and entrepreneurs,” Ji added.Urging India to change its “discriminatory practices”, the embassy said: “We expect India acknowledges the mutually beneficial nature of China-India economic and trade cooperation … maintain the momentum of China-India economic and trade cooperation, treat all investments and service providers equally, and create an open, fair and just business environment, while bearing in mind the fundamental interests of both sides and the overall interests of bilateral relations.”

China expresses concern over India’s ban on 59 Chinese apps 

After lockdown punch, Indian companies are hit by Chinese shipments stuck at ports 

New Delhi: Imports from China have been piling up at Indian ports pending government clearances, causing concern that a recent border standoff between the two nations could have an economic fallout that will disrupt supply chains.From active pharmaceutical ingredients that go into the world’s most-consumed drugs to the innards of popular mobile phones, Indian companies purchase Chinese raw materials that feed their finished products. These consignments are now being delayed and firms aren’t sure why.“Customs authorities have not been clearing consignments coming from China, and they haven’t been offering any reasons,” Dinesh Dua, chairman of India’s Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council, said by phone. “It has been five days now. We have no source apart from China.”

PLA has never taken such a blatant step at Pangong Tso: Colonel (retd.) Dinny interview 

While attention has been focused on the Galwan Valley following the June 15 violence, another unprecedented face-off has been unfolding at Pangong Tso. By erecting tents and other structures on Indian territory between Finger 4 and Finger 8, China’s PLA has changed rules of agreements, says Colonel S. Dinny (retd.), who commanded an infantry battalion at Pangong Tso until 2017. He said, "Firstly, the scale at which the status quo has been changed is blatant. In Pangong Tso, both sides know there is a dispute, but they have unilaterally changed the status quo and in a blatant way, by erecting structures [between Finger 4 and 8] for everyone to see, in a way that shows they do not respect past agreements. No country can allow such a thing to happen even if this territory is disputed. Also different is the scale of violence [several brawls reportedly took place in May]."

Indian websites not accessible in China as Xi Jinping govt blocks VPN

While Indian newspapers and TV channels continue to pick up reports about the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from Chinese Communist propaganda sites, the Indian newspapers and websites cannot be accessed in Beijing now without Virtual Private Network (VPN) server.According to diplomatic sources in Beijing, Indian TV channels can be accessed through IP TV as of now. However, VPN had not been working in the Communist state for the past two days on iPhone as well as desktops.VPNs are powerful tools which allow users to overcome blocking of censorship and visit a particular website.But China has created such a technologically advanced firewall that it blocks even VPNs. China is infamous for its repressive online censorship and Xi Jinping government has refined it into an art with high-tech interventions. For example, anytime the word Hong Kong protest is mentioned on either CNN or BBC, screens in Beijing go blank and news only returns after the topic is over.The blocking of Indian websites is the latest amid the ongoing tension between India and China after the Ladakh stand-off on June 15. The latest development coincides with the Indian government’s move to ban 59 applications, most of them Chinese.

BJP talks of ‘Make in India’ but buys from China, says Rahul Gandhi

A day after Centre banned 59 popular Chinese apps, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took a dig at the Modi government’s record on imports from China and alleged that the BJP talks of ‘Make in India but buys from China’. “Facts don’t lie. BJP says: Make in India. BJP does: Buy from China,” the Congress leader tweeted and posted a graph that compared volume of imports from China during BJP-led NDA government, and the Congress-led UPA regime.The graph showed that India’s imports from China as a total percentage of its GDP grew from a little over 12% in 2009 (under UPA) to over 18% in 2018 (under NDA). The graph, however, shows a steady decline in India’s purchases from China between 2018 and 2020,  Gandhi’s tweet on imports is his latest attack on the Modi government over India-China border stand-off in eastern Ladakh that resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers after Indian and Chinese troops clashed in Galwan Valley.

‘We’re devastated, my wives cried’ says Dinesh Pawar— TikTok stars in Maharashtra village crushed by app ban

New Delhi: Dinesh Pawar, a resident of the tribal village of Jamde in Maharashtra’s Dhule district, felt crushed Monday as the Modi government banned TikTok, the Chinese video app, in India.Pawar and his two wives had gained a following of 30 lakh on TikTok with their dance performances on 1990s Bollywood songs. They claim to have earned no money from the social media platform, but it helped them get a taste of stardom. “We were devastated but we realised that it’s not only us. Both my wives saw the news and cried like anything. This ban hurts millions of people like us,” he said. “We have decided to move on to YouTube.”Prakash Chavan, a partially blind Jamde resident who had also gained a solid following on TikTok, said the ban had spelt despair for not just him but at least 11 other couples in the village who had started posting videos on the app.  

France conveys ‘steadfast support’ to India amid standoff with China

France has expressed “deep solidarity” over the death of 20 Indian soldiers in a violent-face-off with Chinese troops along LAC, with French defence minister Florence Parly conveying “steadfast and friendly support” to her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.Parly wrote a letter to Singh on Monday, condoling the death of the 20 Indian soldiers in the clash in Galwan Valley on June 15, people familiar with developments said.

Pak PM says he approached UN over J-K domicile issue 

 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that he has approached the UN over the issue of the grant of domicile certificates by India to the people not originally from Jammu and Kashmir.As per the new domicile law, non-permanent residents who have residency proof of at least 15 years in Jammu and Kashmir are entitled to get domicile certificates."I have approached UN Secretary General and am reaching out to other world leaders...," Khan tweeted.Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir''s special status on August 5 last year and bifurcating it into two Union territories.PTI

‘No doubt’ India was behind Karachi stock exchange attack, says Imran Khan:REUTERS 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament on Tuesday he had 'no doubt' that India was behind an attack on the stock exchange building in Karachi a day earlier.Four gunmen armed with grenades attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday, killing two guards and a policeman before security forces killed the attackers.India said on Monday it had nothing to do with the assault.“There is no doubt that India is behind the attack,” Mr. Khan said in his address to Parliament. “For the last two months my cabinet knew (there would be an attack) I had informed my ministers. All our agencies were on high alert,” he added.

Karachi terror attack : India Calls Pakistan FM's Accusation of Sleeper Cells Activated by India as 'Absurd'

New Delhi: After Pakistan’s foreign minister accused India of being behind the terror attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange, New Delhi dismissed the allegations as “absurd” and taunted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for referring to Osama Bin Laden as a “martyr” in parliament. At around 10 in the morning, 4 armed gunmen attempted to enter the compound of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). They were stopped by security personnel and in the ensuing gun fire, all four militants were killed, along with a police officer and three security guards. Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that terrorists were armed with grenades, automatic rifles and explosive material.According to Sindh Rangers director general Omer Ahmed Bukhari, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has apparently taken responsibility via a social media post, but said that a final picture will be available only after investigation.The BLA were designated as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” by US state department in July 2019. They have been accused of carrying out a Nov. 2018 attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, a suicide attack that targeted Chinese engineers in August 2018 and blamed for a May 2019 attack on a luxury hotel in Gwadar.In a tweet, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi described the attack as “externally supported terrorism”.State run Radio Pakistan further reported that Qureshi had directly pointed a finger at India.“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says the clues of terrorist attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi are leading towards India’s activated sleeper cells,” it said.Qureshi also stated that India was attempting to disrupt the law and order situation in Pakistan just as it was readying to open the Kartarpur corridor. Pakistan had offered to open the corridor from June 29, but India had stated that it was too short a notice period. Following Qureshi’s statement, Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava responded, “India rejects the absurd comments of the foreign minister of Pakistan on the terrorist attack in Karachi”. He said Pakistan was attempting to “shift the blame on India for its domestic problems”. Stating that India condemned the attack, Srivastava asserted, “Unlike Pakistan, India has no hesitation in condemning terrorism anywhere in the world, including in Karachi”.Meanwhile, relations between India and Pakistan continue to go further south. On Tuesday, scores of Indian and Pakistani high commission officials will leave for their homes, after the two countries decided to slash the staff in their missions by half.

39 Pakistan High Commission officials return home 

At least 39 officials from the Pakistan High Commission returned home on Tuesday, diplomatic sources have confirmed. This development came a week after India asked Pakistan to reduce the staff strength in the mission by 50%.By Tuesday afternoon, a total of 143 Pakistani nationals, including the officials and family members, left through the Wagah-Attari border. India also evacuated 38 officials from the High Commission of India in Islamabad who reached Wagah on Tuesday afternoon.Mutual acrimony and tit for tat allegations had increased in recent weeks involving the officials posted in the missions. In the last week of May, India expelled two officials from the visa section of the Pakistan mission after the Delhi police accused them of espionage.

EU bans Pakistan airline from flying to Europe for 6 months over pilots’ exam controversy 

The European Union’s aviation safety agency said on Tuesday that Pakistan’s national airline will not be allowed to fly into Europe for at least six months after the country’s aviation minister revealed that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots had cheated on their pilot’s exams.Pakistan International Airlines spokesman Abdullah Hafeez says PIA has not been flying to Europe because of the pandemic. But the airline had hoped to resume its flights to Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona and Milan within the next two months.“It is hurting us really bad,” he said of the pilots scandal.AP 

Kashmir: 4-Year-Old Boy Killed in Cross Firing Between Militants and CRPF 

Srinagar: On June 25, a family from Machwa Yaripora village in Kulgam, Kashmir, was preparing dinner when Nihaan, their four-year-old son, came to the kitchen and started kicking and hitting the cabinet doors for no discernable reason.“We tried to calm him, but he wouldn’t stop. He very rarely behaved like this,” said Fiza Jan, Nihaan’s sister.That night, Nihaan went to bed without eating, Jan said. The next morning, when Nihaan awoke, he asked his sister to dress him in his best because he planned to go with his father, Bhat, to Bijbehara in Anantnag. Bhat is a government teacher and had some work there.First, Nihaan chose a yellow outfit. But Jan suggested that he wear red instead, since the colour suited him. “I took his picture and showed him how good he was looking and he was happy,” she said.Nihaan waved goodbye to his mother and two sisters. He said he would never annoy them again with the kind of behaviour he had displayed the night before. “He said, ‘Behiv khudayas hawal (take care)’,” Jan recalls.

Nepal’s ruling party leaders demand PM Oli’s resignation 

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s recent anti-India remarks and claim that efforts are being made to oust him after his government redrew Nepal’s political map has backfired, with top leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party demanding his resignation on Tuesday.As soon as the powerful Standing Committee meeting of the Nepal Communist Party started at the Prime Minister’s Official residence at Baluwatar on Tuesday, former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ slammed Prime Minister Oli for the remarks he made on Sunday. “The Prime Minister’s remarks that India was conspiring to remove him was neither politically correct, nor diplomatically appropriate,” he said.“Such a statement by the Prime Minister may damage our relations with the neighbour,” he warned.Prime Minister Oli, 68, on Sunday claimed that there have been various kinds of activities in the “embassies and hotels” to remove him from power. He said some Nepalese leaders were also involved in the game.

Villagers near Indo-Nepal border in Uttarakhand use Nepalese SIM cards to beat network blues 

A simmering boundary dispute between India and Nepal hasn’t stopped villagers in bordering areas in Uttarakhand from relying on Nepalese SIM cards due to poor connectivity of the Indian telecom service providers.The villagers mainly of Khumti gram panchayat in Pithoragarh district which comprises about 10-12 villages, have to depend on the Nepalese telecom service providers.They said they are forced to use Nepalese SIM cards as the network of the Indian telecom service providers is very poor in comparison to that of the Nepalese.Param Singh, a villager of Khumti village which is located about 15 km away from the Nepal border said, “We are compelled to use the Nepalese SIM cards because we have no other option. Their network in this hilly terrain is very strong as compared to the Indian ones who have very poor or often no network.”Singh added, “The villagers who have someone known in Nepal, ask them to arrange a Nepalese SIM card for them on their documents and then receive it here when they come to visit them. It is the only way of communication for any work or emergency.”

Madhya Pradesh HC orders accused to install non-Chinese LED TV at hospital as bail condition 

Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday ordered two accused to install an LED television at a district hospital, manufactured anywhere except in China, Live Law reported. The order passed by Justice Sheel Nagu directed the petitioners to “purchase and install a black coloured LED TV at Renbasera, District Hospital Morar worth at least Rs 25,000 manufactured in India or abroad except China”.

Geelani Singularly Responsible for Pushing Kashmir into Terror: BJP general secretary Ram Madhav

BJP has said that Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has announced his dissociation from the separatist outfit Hurriyat Conference, was singularly responsible for pushing Kashmir into terror and violence and ruining lives of thousands of Kashmiri youths and families. Coming down heavily on the separatist leader, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav asked if Geelani's action can absolve him of the "past sins"."This man was singularly responsible for ruining the lives of thousands of Kashmiri youths and families; for pushing Valley into terror and violence. Now resigns from Hurriyat without giving a reason. Does it absolve him of all d past sins?" he tweeted.Madhav is BJP's pointsman for Jammu and Kashmir.PTI 


PM Extends Free Ration Scheme till Nov: Experts Cite Food Surplus, Cloud Remains Over Migrants

New Delhi: Dousing speculation on a COVID-19 vaccine or a definitive announcement of India’s stance regarding China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address on June 30, said that the government was going to extend the free ration scheme till the end of November. As the prime reason behind the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana, Modi mentioned that the calendar would be seeing a number of festivals. He named several Hindu festivals, along with August 15 and Guru Purnima, to illustrate the point and said that the Yojana would continue till Diwali and Chhath. Several noted on social media the marked absence of the mention of Eid ul-Adha, a Muslim festival in late July, and Guru Purab, observed by Sikhs, in late November.Commenters on social media have mentioned how Chhath is primarily celebrated in Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh, among which states, Bihar is going to polls in October-November this year.Tuesday’s speech, at 16 minutes, was one of the shortest addresses by prime minister.“As many as 80 crore people will get free rations…five kilos of rice or five kilos of wheat, and in addition, each household will receive a kilo of whole grams per month,” he said, adding that the extension would cost the government Rs 90,000 crore. Under this scheme which was announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on March 26, 80 crore ration card holders in the country were entitled to 5 kg of grain (wheat or rice) per person free of charge for the months of April, May and June. This was in addition to the usual entitlement of 5 kg of grain per month under National Food Security Act (NFSA).Now as per Modi’s announcement the entitlement of an additional 5 kilograms per ration card holding household will continue for another 5 months. This is over and above the provision of 5 kilogram of grain per month under the NFSA. Former secretary of the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare Siraj Hussain said that the unprecedented pile up of stocks in the government’s granaries made the decision to extend the provision of additional grain a no-brainer.

‘80 Cr People to Get Free Food Grains for 5 More Months’: PM Modi 

In Unlock 2.0, states can no longer seal borders 

The Centre has issued guidelines for Phase II of the ‘Unlock’. In view of rising Covid-19 cases, most existing curbs such as the ban on reopening schools and colleges, as well as multiplexes, gyms, and bars, and the operation of Metro rail services, have been maintained. However, the most important part of the order issued on Monday night is that the Centre has taken away the right of states to seal their borders.Over the past month, since the central government ushered in the phase of reopening of the economy and restoration of public life and normalcy through what was called “Unlock” (as opposed to ‘lockdown’), multiple states have resorted to sealing their borders to arrest the spike in novel coronavirus infections. Some states such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have even imposed lockdowns. The new order from Ministry of Home Affairs is likely to make some states that are struggling with rising Covid numbers uncomfortable — and may become a point of friction between these states and the Centre.As part of Unlock II, the government has extended lockdown in containment zones until July 31 — however, it has allowed further relaxations in areas outside of these containment zones. These include reducing night curfew hours to 10 pm-5 am from the currently applicable 9 pm-5 am.In larger showrooms where there is ample space, more than five customers can be allowed at a time, provided they maintain the stipulated distance of six feet between themselves. This would be a relief to shopping malls.The Centre has said that despite these relaxations, the states will have the right to impose more restrictions if they deem it necessary for Covid containment. However, they will not be allowed to seal their borders — either for the public or for goods.

Mamata announces free ration in West Bengal till July 2021 

Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) till November-end, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday  announced that the her government will provide free ration to beneficiaries till June next year.“The Centre’s ration policy should be to provide ration to each and every one of the 130 crore population of the country,” she said.The scheme, started to distribute ration among the poor after the Covid 19 lockdown was announced, was to end today. The scheme involves providing additional 5 kg foodgrain free to 80 crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries, over and above their monthly entitlement. Initially, it was for three months—April, May and June only.

8 core industries’ output contracts 23.4% in May 

The output of eight core infrastructure industries shrank by 23.4% in May due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, according to the official data.The eight core sectors had expanded by 3.8% in May 2019, the data released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry on June 30 showed.Barring fertiliser, all seven sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, steel, cement, and electricity — had recorded negative growth in May.During April-May 2020-21, the sectors output dipped by 30% as compared to 4.5% in the same period previous year.“In view of nationwide lockdown during April and May 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, various industries — Coal, Cement, Steel, Natural Gas, Refinery, Crude Oil etc experienced substantial loss of production,” the Ministry said in a statement.PTI 

Continued spread of COVID pandemic poses risk to Indian economy, says IMF official 

The main downside risk to India’s growth forecast is the continued spread of the Covid-19 pandemic as the health crisis has not yet been contained, a top IMF official said on Tuesday, noting that the country’s near-term growth outlook continues to be clouded by the global and domestic slowdown and uncertainties relating to the coronavirus.Recently, IMF in its report projected the Indian economy to contract by -4.5 per cent in 2020, which is the slowest Indian growth that it has in its record since 1961.“The main downside risk to India’s growth forecast is the continued spread of the pandemic as the health crisis has not yet been contained. Further outbreaks could require additional lockdowns to contain the pandemic. Concerns about the virus could also dampen consumer confidence and delay the economic recovery, Chang Yong Rhee, who is director of IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, told PTI in an interview.PTI

Tamil Nadu Has Created a Detention Camp Just to Hold 129 Foreign Tablighi Jamaat Members 

Mumbai: In the first week of March, 25-year-old Mukhtar and his wife Fhedya had travelled from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, to India’s capital, New Delhi. The couple had planned to spend a few days at the ongoing Tablighi Jamaat gathering, organised at its global headquarter in the Nizamuddin Markaz, before heading down south to Tamil Nadu. The couple were to return to their home country at the end of the same month.Mukhtar was familiar with India; this was his third visit, but Fhedya’s very first. She was nervous since this was also her first time away from their three-year-old son, Mohamed Mukhtar. In their absence, the child was to live with his grandparents.The four-week trip took a tragic turn when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a hasty decision, put India under a forced lockdown. This was followed by severe communalisation of the Tablighi Jamaat amid accusations of them being the “primary carriers” of COVID-19 in India, and the couple ended up in prison. Mukhtar and Fhedya are among 129 foreign nationals, belonging to nine Asian, African and European countries, who have since been pushed into forced institutional confinement – first in the Puzhal Central prison in Chennai, followed by a few weeks in Saidapet sub-jail and then in the Borstal School, which was hurriedly converted into a detention centre for them. The last update is that around 31 men and women among them have been moved to Puzhal Prison II for undertrials and the special prison for women.Back in Addis Ababa, Mukhtar’s family has been anxious, trying every channel to find out where the couple is being held. Mukhtar’s sister Fozia says it has been over three months since the family heard the couple’s voice. “We have no idea what is happening to them and how long will they be stuck here. Their little one (child) has been asking for his momma (mother) and ābayē (father) and we have run out of excuses. This trip has caused us severe distress,” shares Fozia over the phone, from Addis Ababa.

Delhi's Jama Masjid to reopen on July 4: Shahi Imam 

The historic Jama Masjid, which had closed earlier this month due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the city, will reopen for congregational prayers (namaz) from July 4, Shahi Imam of the mosque Syed Ahmed Bukhari said on Tuesday.The mosque was closed on June 11 in view of the “critical” conditions in the city due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, till June 30.Earlier, the mosque had reopened on June 8 after a gap of over two months with the government allowing further relaxations as part of unlock 1.0, the first phase of a calibrated exit from the coronavirus lockdown.Bukhari said that the decision to reopen the mosque was taken after consulting people and experts.PTI 

Gujarat: Maulvi running madrasa arrested in Valsad for violating Covid protocol 

Valsad Police have arrested a maulvi running a madrasa in Pardi town of the district for not adhering to social distancing norms.Acting on a tip-off, police reached the madrasa at Damani bazaar street in Pardi on Monday evening. The officials found that Maulvi Yusuf Khalifa (64) was teaching 15 students in a small room. No social distance was being maintained and the maulvi had not put on a face mask, police said.

Karnataka: Bellari DC tenders ‘unconditional apology’ after video shows bodies of Covid victims dumped in pits 

Bengaluru :Facing criticism over a video clip that showed bodies of coronavirus victims being dumped in a large pit in Karnataka’s Bellari, Deputy Commissioner (DC) S S Nakul Tuesday tendered an “unconditional apology” and said he is “deeply upset and sorrowful at the manner in which the remains of the deceased were handled.”In the video that surfaced online, six men wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits are seen dumping the corpses covered in black body bags into large pits in what appears to be a cremation ground. The men are also heard speaking in Kannada on how to “dump” the body. “Let’s dump it all in one pit and close it,” a man in PPE kit is heard saying to which another replies, “yes, first let’s close it soon.” An Earthmover can be seen next to a van from which bodies are taken to the pit.Meanwhile, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President D K Shivakumar urged the government to take immediate action. “It is disturbing to see bodies of COVID patients who have died being dumped inhumanly into a pit in Ballari,” he said.

Video of mass burials of COVID-19 deceased from Ballari goes viral, invites criticism 

Wedding in Bihar sets off biggest Covid infection chain; groom dead, over 100 infected 

A wedding ceremony in rural Patna a fortnight ago where the groom was running high fever and died two days later his wedding, with his body cremated without being tested for Covid-19, appears to have set off the biggest infection chain in Bihar so far, health department officials said on Tuesday.More than 100 people have tested positive in Paliganj sub-division of Patna district, about 55 km from the state capital, in the last few days, out of over 350 who have been tested upon contact tracing, they said. Fifteen of his relatives who attended the wedding tested positive for the contagion and apparently infected others.The officials, who requested anonymity, said the groom was a software engineer based in Gurugram and had returned home for his marriage in the last week of May. A few days after the ‘tilak’ ceremony, he started showing symptoms of the disease.PTI 

Over 2 lakh tests again after Sunday dip, 18,522 new cases, 418 deaths: Latest Covid data 

New Delhi: India’s coronavirus case tally now stands at 5,66,840, two days after crossing the 5-lakh mark. Over the last 24 hours, as many as 18,522 new infections and 418 deaths have been reported across the country. The recovery rate is now over 59%, with the number of cured patients exceeding active cases. India reported 18,522 fresh Covid cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total active cases tally to 2,15,125. It has been some time now that active cases are less than recovered cases, but the worm keeps climbing a steep slope. After a sharp fall on Sunday, testing recovered again Monday with 2,10,292 samples being tested in the 24 hours till 9 am Tuesday morning. However, it is still lower than some of the highs that were hit in the last few days, the highest being 2,31,095 on June 27. The number of deaths in the last 24 hours crossed the 400 mark to touch 418. However, this is not the highest single-day toll as clearing of earlier backlogs in some states had pushed the daily toll beyond 2,000 earlier this month. There are now 1,19,696 more recovered patients than active cases in all. So far, 3,34,821 patients have been cured or discharged. The recovery rate is 59.07%. After a sudden spike on Monday because of low testing over the weekend, the positivity rate has returned to usual levels. 

European Union reopens borders to 14 nations; US, Indian tourists among those barred 

The European Union announced Tuesday that it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, but most Americans have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in the USTravelers from other big countries like Russia, Brazil and India will also miss out.As Europe’s economies reel from the impact of the coronavirus, southern EU countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are desperate to entice back sun-loving visitors and breathe life into their damaged tourism industries.More than 15 million Americans are estimated to travel to Europe each year, while some 10 million Europeans head across the Atlantic.Citizens from the following countries will be allowed into the EU’s 27 members and four other nations in Europe’s visa-free Schengen travel zone: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

An Indian COVID vaccine made by Bharat Biotech is set to enter human trials 

India, on Monday  got the approval for conducting human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine.Covaxin — developed by the Indian vaccine and bio-therapeutics manufacturer Bharat Biotech — is the first COVID-19 vaccine to get DGCI’s (Drug Controller General of India) nod. The drug regulatory body allowed the pharma company to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials.

 UK approves resumption of hydroxychloroquine trial 

7 months into the coronavirus pandemic, over 5.8 million people have been tested positive and more than half a million deaths have been witnessed globally. The United States accounts for a quarter of all deaths.As more and more US states are taking a step back from reopening their economies due to a fresh wave of new cases reported in Sun Belt states, Los Angeles saw an “alarming surge” taking its total infections to over 100,000.As the pandemic is “not even close “ to getting over “180,000 people worldwide have tested positive in the last 24 hours”, WHO Director General said. He also notified that a team will be sent to China next week to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain’s medical regulatory agency has approved the resumption of a trial testing whether hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favoured by US President Donald Trump, might help prevent health workers from contracting the coronavirus. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had suspended enrollment into the trial after a paper was published in the journal Lancet last month that suggested there was an increased death risk linked to the drug. The paper was found to be based on fraudulent data and was retracted.

 Spain GDP shrinks 5.2% in first 3 months of year 

Spanish official statistics show that the country’s gross domestic product contracted 5.2 per cent during the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, the biggest drop in at least half a century. The National Institute of Statistics, or INE, said Tuesday that the economic freeze imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus impacted the economy like never before since quarterly records began to be kept in 1970.

‘Urgent need to stop child marriage, gender-biased sex selection; Covid threatens to reverse gains’ 

United Nations Population Fund’s State of the World Population Report 2020 has estimated that 142 million girls are missing globally and 46 million girls are missing in India due to gender-biased sex selection.This year’s report is titled, ‘Against my will : defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality’.United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates show that gender-biased (pre-natal) sex selection accounts for about 2 out of 3 of the total missing girls in India, and post-birth female mortality accounts for about 1 in 3.

Delhi schools to re-open virtually from tomorrow, say prepared to tackle online classes

New Delhi: Schools in Delhi are set to re-open “virtually” from Wednesday after the summer break given that Covid-19 cases have continued to rise and the Ministry of Home Affairs has restricted physical opening of schools and colleges until 31 July.FWhatClasses will begin for schools following all boards, catching up with some states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu that had started classes in June.Unlike in April, when schools had to rush into online learning, they are now better prepared with study schedules and methods and have treated the development as something that is “here to stay”.The Ministry of Human Resource Development had last month announced they would come up with a framework for online education that schools can follow while conducting classes. However, it is yet to release the guidelines.Government schools will also start online classes from 1 July. Although an official communication had not been issued until the time of this report being published, teachers expected classes to start from Wednesday.theprint


46 million girls went missing in India: UNFPA report 

One in three girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, is from India — 46 million out of the total 142 million, according to the UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2020 report released on Tuesday.The figure shows that the number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, who were at 61 million in 1970.The report examines the issue of missing women by studying sex ratio imbalances at birth as a result of gender-biased sex selection as well as excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls because of a culture of son preference. Excess female mortality is the difference between observed and expected mortality of the girl child or avoidable death of girls during childhood.The report cites a 2014 study to state that India has the highest rate of excess female deaths at 13.5 per 1,000 female births or one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 due to postnatal sex selection. The same study shows that in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan excess female mortality of girls below 5 years of age was under 3 per cent.However, the advent of technology and increased access to ultrasound imaging ensured that parents didn’t have to wait for the birth of their girl child to kill her but could terminate a foetus upon knowing its gender. This resulted in the number of girls missing due to female foeticide exceeding those that were missing because of postnatal sex selection.According to estimates averaged over a five year period (2013-17), annually, there were 1.2 million missing female births, at a global level. India had about 4,60,000 girls ‘missing’ at birth each year.

UP Congress leader held in connection with violence during anti-CAA stir 

Uttar Pradesh Congress minority cell chief Shahnawaz Alam has been arrested in connection with violence during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the state capital last year, police said on Tuesday.“Alam was arrested from Hazratganj area on Monday night in connection with an FIR registered at the Hazratganj police station in connection with the violent protest during an anti-CAA agitation on December 19 last year. Alam’s location was found near the violence spot,” a senior police official said.Following the arrest, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu, Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Aradhana Mishra and other party workers reached the Hazratganj police station.When some party workers started shouting slogans, police resorted to lathi charge. A Congress worker, identified as Shivam Tripathi, and others were injured in the police lathi charge.Ajay Lallu said his party will start an agitation to protest Alam’s arrest.PTI 

Doctors' body demands judicial probe in N-E riots Zafar Abbas 

NEW DELHI: A doctors' body, Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum has now come out in support of Doctor Ehtesham Anwar, the owner of Al-Hind hospital in North East Delhi's Mustafabad area who had been named in a Delhi Police chargehseet and demanded a judicial inquiry in the riots-related cases. Delhi Police have said that Anwar had allegedly organised a protest at Farooqia Masjid and that participants of this protest took part in the violence on Feb.23. "PMSF brought out a detailed report on the medical emergency resulting from the riots in northeast Delhi and recorded the remarkable role of AlHind hospital and its proprietor, Dr Anwar, in alleviating peoples' suffering." the statement said. The police allege that "false news was spread there that Muslims would not be given Indian citizenship due to NRC, and they would be sent to detention camps." While Dr Anwar had denied making any such speech, but it remains a fact that this opinion of CAA was shared by many more people, not just among Muslims, but also other progressive and democratic sections of the society, including leading intellectuals, members of judiciary, retired bureaucrats, human rights activists and even organisations like UN. 

Delhi violence: Tihar Jail officials tell HC they will fulfill Pinjra Tod activist’s requests 

The authorities at Tihar Jail in New Delhi on Tuesday told the High Court that they will allow Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal to videoconference with her lawyer, make telephonic calls with her family, and provide access to books of her choice, Live Law reported.Narwal has been in prison since last month in a case related to communal violence in the national Capital in February. The Delhi Police have also charged Narwal under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for her alleged role in inciting the violence between supporters and opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act.The superintendent of Tihar Jail submitted a status report before a single-judge bench of Justice Hari Shankar on Tuesday.

Delhi riots: Gun-wielding Shahrukh Pathan got ‘carried away’ by YouTube video, offers to identify other accused 

Delhi riots accused Shahrukh Pathan, who became infamous after he was seen pointing a gun at a constable during violence, has said that he got “carried away” after watching a video on YouTube about anti-CAA protests at Maujpur Chowk. According to a report in The Indian Express, Pathan joined the anti-CAA protest, pelted stones and fired at police after watching the video, his disclosure statement to police has said.  Pathan, clad in a red t-shirt and blue jeans, had opened fire during violence in northeast Delhi in February. His video was captured pointing a gun at a policeman during the riots. A photo of him brandishing the pistol had gone viral on the internet.

Delhi HC adjourns hearing in Jamia violence case till July 6 

Delhi High Court has adjourned hearing till July 6 a batch of petitions in connection with the violence that erupted in and around Jamia Millia Islamia in December last year.A bench presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, which was hearing the pleas through video conferencing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, listed the matter for hearing on July 6 after noting that some of the parties have not received the replies filed in this matter.Earlier, Delhi Police filed an affidavit before the High Court in connection with the matter. It stated that the violence that erupted in December last year was a "well-planned and orchestrated attempt by some persons with local support (who were not students) to intentionally perpetrate violence in the area" and the said incident "was not sporadic but well-planned"."From the electronic evidence and also from the statements recorded, it is clear that in the garb of student agitation, what happened in fact appears to be a well-planned and orchestrated attempt by some persons with local support (who were not students) to intentionally perpetrate violence in the area," the affidavit read.IANS

Babri Mosque demolition case: Court shut for two days after lawyer tests COVID positive 

The district court campus on Monday shut for the next two days after a lawyer tested positive for coronavirus, disrupting also the schedule of the special court hearing the Babri Masjid demolition case. Earlier, senior BJP leader L K Advani was to depose through video conferencing on Tuesday and former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi on Wednesday, the two days the court will now not sit.Apart from the disruption in the schedule due to the COVID-19 case, the National Informatics Centre (NIC) is yet to set up a video link at the CBI court. Durga Vahini founder Sadhvi Rithambara appeared in the special CBI court on Monday, denying her involvement in the demolition of the mosque and claiming that she was framed. District judge Anil Kumar Ojha directed that the entire campus should be closed for the next two days after being informed that a bar association office bearer had tested positive and is in hospital. The Old High Court building, Roshan-ud-Daula building and the family court will also be closed for two days for their sanitisation.The special CBI court where the Babri Masjid trial is on is situated in the Old High Court building. Special judge S K Yadav observed that the video conferencing facility was still not functional in the court and fixed July 2 for recording the evidence of the other witnesses.He did not pass any directions about the two accused, Advani and Joshi, whose statements were to be recorded through video conferencing on Tuesday and Wednesday.The court is currently recording the statements of 32 accused under section 313 of the CrPC, a stage in the trial that follows the examination of prosecution witnesses. Responding to questions put before her in court, Sadhvi Rithambara rejected the charge that she conspired to demolish the disputed structure.Rithambara claimed that she was framed in the case due to political reasons. She was the 18th accused to depose before the court. Fourteen accused are still left to be examined at this stage.

Chouhan govt. tapping phones of Kamal Nath and other leaders in MP: Congress 

Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders on Tuesday accused the State BJP government of tapping the phones of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, his associates and several journalists, a charge denied by the BJP.While observing “Black Day” to mark 100 days of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, Congress media incharge Jitu Patwari told reporters here, This government is spying on us. Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, leaders and members of the State party committee, their phones are being tapped.In view of such acts being committed by government officials, the former Minister asked “if it wasn’t a murder of democracy and a black day”.Appealing to  Chouhan to work in the “right direction” and not “without direction,” he said, “The way you murdered democracy and bought legislators with the cooperation of the Prime Minister, you became the Chief Minister. But now you should work on how the State should be run. The Congress is ready to support you in this.

Vadodara: 12 arrested after groups clash over ‘hitting cow with stick’ in Dabhoi 

12 people were arrested among 24 booked following a clash between two groups over an alleged incident of hitting a cow with a stick in Dabhoi taluka of Vadodara on Sunday night.The groups belonging to two communities residing in the adjacent localities of Rabarivaga and Sangarwadi in Dabhoi filed a complaint each at the Dabhoi police station on Sunday, after which the arrests were made.According to police, a member of one of the groups told them that on Sunday when their cow entered the area of the other community and was resting, one of them hit the animal with a stick in a bid to chase it away. This led to a heated argument between the two groups. To bring the situation under control, leaders from both the communities intervened, following which the crowd dispersed. However, late on Sunday night, the members again confronted each other with communal taunts, leading to a violent clash. Members from both the communities resorted to attacking each other with sticks and pelted stones at each other.

Bombay HC suspends FIRs against Arnab Goswami, says ‘prima facie no case’ 

In an interim relief to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday suspended FIRs against him for allegedly making provocative and inflammatory statements in relation with Palghar lynching and Bandra (West) migrants gathering incidents. The court said that no coercive steps be taken against him until further orders and ‘prima facie there is no case made out’ and no offences disclosed against Goswami.The court observed that there was nothing to show that Goswami tried to cause public disharmony. The court admitted the petition and said that interim protection from coercive steps will be continued until further orders. A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla heard through videoconferencing a criminal writ plea filed by Goswami seeking various reliefs, including quashing of two FIRs filed against him on April 22 and May 2.Goswami has been booked in connection with a TV show on April 29, regarding his comments on migrants gathering outside Bandra railway station on April 14. Apart from this, multiple FIRs have been filed against him over a TV show on April 21, in which he questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the lynching of two sadhus and their driver in Palghar.

Madras High Court transfers probe into custodial deaths of Jayaraj, Bennix to CB-CID 

Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered the transfer of investigation into the death of a father-son duo in Tuticorin, alleged victims of police torture, to the CB-CID, expressing fear that evidence could disappear by the time CBI took over the probe.The Judges appointed Anil Kumar, DSP, CB-CID as the investigating officer, considering his track record, and directed that he start the probe immediately saying, “in a case of physical violence, alacrity in investigation is the need of the hour.”Justices P N Prakash and B Pugalendhi, who gave the direction, also observed that they were constrained to do so to ensure that “precious evidence does not get dissipated over the time”PTI 

Sterling Biotech case: ED begins second round of questioning of Ahmed Patel 

Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigators on Tuesday began the second round of questioning of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel at his house here in connection with the Sandesara brothers bank fraud and money laundering case probe, officials said.A three-member team of the central agency along with few other officials reached Patel’s 23, Mother Teresa Crescent home in the Lutyens’ zone of central Delhi around 10:30 am.The team members were seen carrying files and wearing masks and gloves as a precautionary measure in view of the coronavirus pandemic.PTI

2 dead, one critical in Visakhapatnam gas leak; third case in Andhra in two months 

At least two people were killed and four of them were taken ill after a Benzimidazole gas leak at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company at Visakhapatnam on Tuesday morning. This is the third gas leak causing deaths in Andhra Pradesh in the last two months.As many as 30-35 people were working when the incident took place at Sainor Life Sciences inside Pharma City at Parwada. The gas leak occurred near a reactor where the six persons who were affected were working. While two of them died on the spot, four were rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

Narasimha Rao was neither an economic nor a social liberal: Owaisi 

One day after Prime Minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, participated in an event marking the start of the celebrations of the anniversary of the birth of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and sought Bharat Ratna for him, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said the late chief was “neither economic nor social liberal” and represents “the worst of the cynical Congress, of the misleading Indian policy”.“Rao was neither an economic liberal nor a social-liberal, and he represents the worst of cynical Congress, deceptive Indian politics and the Indian State’s low ambivalence in the face of the challenge. – But not praise “said Owaisi, who is a member of Parliament for Hyderabad, said in a tweet. He also attached an opinion piece to the post.His AIMIM party had previously criticized Narasimha Rao in a tweet.ANI 

Tamil Nadu: Wajahat Habibullah Stresses The Need For A Strong Law Against Custodial Torture, Killing 

NEW DELHI:Former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, who currently heads the Executive Committee (India chapter) of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has stressed the need for police reforms in the wake of torture and killing of a father and son in police custody in Tamil Nadu recently.In a statement, the former bureaucrat said that the custodial killing of P. Jayaraj and his son J. Benicks indicated that there was an urgent need for a strong law against custodial torture and murder.The father-son duo was arrested by the police on violating the permitted hours for keeping their shops open.Quoting a report, he said that as many as 1731 people had died in police custody in India in 2019 alone.“Given the reality and the circumstances of the recent deaths, we urge the Government of India to bring a draft law on torture before Parliament as a top priority and announce its commitment to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)”, Habibullah said.He said that India signed UNCAT in 1997 but it is yet to ratify it.India Tomorrow

Assam flood situation remains grim; 1.5 million affected, 27 dead 

The flood situation in Assam continued to remain grim on Tuesday with nearly 1.5 million people affected in 23 of the state’s 33 districts. Three more deaths were reported during the day taking the total to 27 so far in this season.According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 2,235 villages in 66 revenue circles of the state remain affected by flooding. Over 75,700 hectares of crop area have also been inundated.Most rivers in the state continued to remain in spate on Tuesday. As per a Central Water Commission bulletin, Brahmaputra and several of its tributaries were flowing above the danger mark at several places.

Prasar Bharati-PTI controversy: Press club says Centre seems to be trying to ‘dismember’ news agency 

Press Club of India on Tuesday issued a statement alleging that the central government seems to be working towards the “dismemberment” of the news agency Press Trust of India, after public broadcaster Prasar Bharati threatened to cancel its subscription over its allegedly anti-national coverage. The news agency had interviewed Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong, days after the border clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh that led to the deaths of 20 soldiers.“The government gives the impression of working for the dismemberment of  PTI, India’s premier news agency which has established a name for itself for being a professional news establishment,” the Press Trust of India said on Tuesday. “A demolition exercise of such magnitude has been undertaken through its proxy, Prasar Bharati.”The Press Club said that PTI is a not-for-profit organisation that is balanced in its reportage and has credibility as a media outfit that serves newspapers and other news organisations in remote areas of India. It alleged that on the other hand, Prasar Bharati has failed to live up to its mandate of being India’s public service broadcaster and maintaining autonomy, instead becoming a “lackey” of the govt.


'It will be a disaster': Palestinians prepare for annexation 

Palestinian farmers living in the occupied Jordan Valley say they are worried about what the future holds with Israel's impending annexation of the territory, which could begin as early as Wednesday.Concerns abound the annexation will prevent them from accessing their land and they will be cut off from the rest of the West Bank, destroying their export business and only source of income.The strategic, and fertile, Jordan Valley is known as the "breadbasket" for Palestinians, constituting half the total agricultural area providing food for Palestinians in the West Bank."If annexation goes ahead, it will be a disaster for us farmers in the Jordan Valley," 52-year-old Muneer Nasasri from the village of Jiffly, 30km  south of Jericho, told Al Jazeera."We're tired of the issue of annexation. We're very scared of what the future could hold. We're all scared and expecting something to happen on July 1 or July 10 or July 15. What could happen?" Nasasri said.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to begin the annexation of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including parts of the strategic Jordan Valley, from July 1, fulfilling an election campaign pledge.The plan to annex as much as one-third of the occupied West Bank was given impetus by US President Donald Trump's unveiling in late January of his so-called "Middle East plan" as Netanyahu stood by his side.But details on how Israel plans to proceed with the annexation, as well as the timing, remain unclear.US officials have said no final decision on the next steps for implementing the Trump plan has been made.Meanwhile, Israeli military and intelligence officials have warned against the move as it poses a security risk since it could spark an uprising in the West Bank.

Taliban, Pompeo discuss peace in call amid Russia bounty scandal 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken with Taliban's chief negotiator, a spokesman for the armed group said, amid controversy in Washington over reports that President Donald Trump knew Russia had paid Taliban bounties to kill US troops.Pompeo and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar held a video conference late on Monday in which Pompeo pressed the armed group to reduce violence in Afghanistan and discussed ways of moving a peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban in February forward, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted.However, there was apparently no mention during the call of allegations that some Taliban fighters received money to kill US and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.The call came as Trump faces mounting pressure to explain why he did nothing after being reportedly told that Russian spies had offered and paid cash to Taliban-linked fighters for killing US soldiers.Taliban has denied its fighters received any Russian bounties, and the group's Qatar-based chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar reiterated their pledge not to strike against the US.Baradar told Pompeo that "according to the agreement, we do not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against the US and other countries," Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a statement on Twitter on Monday.

Russia-Taliban: White House officials knew in 2019 - report

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, a full year earlier than has been previously reported, according to United States officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence. The information came out overnight from White House officials who reiterated the president was unaware,  according to the Associated Press news agency (AP).The assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump's written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-National Security Adviser John Bolton also told colleagues at the time that he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.The White House has said Trump wasn't - and still hasn't been - briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified. However, it is rare for intelligence to be confirmed without a shadow of a doubt before it is presented to top officials. Bolton declined to comment on Monday when asked by the AP if he had briefed Trump about the matter in 2019. On Sunday, he suggested to NBC that Trump was claiming ignorance of Russia's provocations to justify his administration's lack of response. "He can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it," Bolton said.

Trump Order On H1-B Leaves Many US Workers Stuck In India

Natasha Bhat learned in late February that her father-in-law had suddenly died. Bhat, 35, recently recalled how she grabbed a backpack and hustled her U.S.-born 4-year-old son to the San Francisco airport to catch a midnight flight to India, her home country. She didn't anticipate being stuck there indefinitely.Bhat works at a tech company in Silicon Valley on an H-1B visa, and her documents were due for renewal. So she threw them in the bag, knowing she'd have to get the chore taken care of before flying back to the U.S. in a few weeks. But she said her mid-March appointment at the U.S. consulate in Kolkata was canceled when it shut down due to Covid-19 concerns. Her return home was delayed further when President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week barring many people on several types of visas, including H-1Bs, from entering the country until 2021.

DRC violence displaced more than one million in six months: UN

More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the violence-ravaged eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the start of the year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.The UNHCR voiced alarm at an increasing number of attacks by armed groups on displaced civilians, saying it was "appalled" by the surging violence."In the last eight weeks, UNHCR and its partners have recorded multiple attacks by armed groups on displacement sites and villages," it said in a statement.

Myanmar finds troops guilty in Rohingya atrocities court-martial 

Three Myanmar military officers have been found guilty by a court-martial investigating atrocities against the Rohingya in conflict-ridden Rakhine state, the army announced.The rare action against members of the military on Tuesday comes as Myanmar faces charges of genocide at the UN's top court over a brutal 2017 crackdown against the Rohingya.Some 750,000 mostly Muslim Rohingya fled to neighbouring Bangladesh during the crackdown, carrying with them accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson.Rights groups accused security forces of committing atrocities in various villages, including Gu Dar Pyin, where they alleged at least five shallow mass graves had been found.After initially denying the allegations, the military started court-martial proceedings in September last year, admitting there had been "weakness in following instructions" in the village.The commander-in-chief's office announced on Tuesday that the court-martial had "confirmed the guilty verdict", and sentenced three officers.

Iran journalist who 'inspired' 2017 protests sentenced to death   

Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam, accused of inspiring mass anti-government protests in 2017, has been sentenced to death."The court has considered 13 counts of charges together as instances of 'corruption on earth' and therefore passed the death sentence," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday."Corruption on Earth" is a charge often used in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow Iran's government. It was not immediately clear when the sentence was handed down.The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced the arrest of Zam in October last year. The elite IRGC  described Zam, a former opposition figure who had lived in exile in France, as a "counter-revolutionary" who was "directed by France's intelligence service".



Who is India fighting – PTI, Congress or its own ambassador in China? Xi knows the answer:JYOTI MALHOTRA 

Post-COVID, religion must be God-centred and priest-free:Swami Agnivesh

‘BJP Leader Said Don’t Spare Muslims’ Alleges Delhi Riots Survivor:ADITYA MENON

Modi skips Eid in the line-up of Indian festivals. Act of omission or commission?BISMEE TASKIN

Surviving Insecurity: Mental Health Through a Riot, a Pandemic and an Apathetic State

India Has Known About the Chinese Threat in Ladakh for Years. So Why Are We Unprepared:Rahul Bedi

17 years and counting, family of Khwaja Yunus killed in police custody awaits justice: Nazish Hussian and Raqib Hameed Naik,

* Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:31 PM)*


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