*SOUTH ASIA, INDO-PAK & J&K*
Jammu & Kashmir: Curfew imposed in Srinagar, parts of Valley ahead of first anniversary of Article 370 revocation
Ahead of the first anniversary of the revocation of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, the UT administration has imposed curfew across the Kashmir valley from Monday late evening. The decision was taken at a core group meeting of security officials, civil administration, and intelligence agencies, which was chaired by General Officer Commanding 15 Corps B S Raju and Director General J&K Police Dilbag Singh.Srinagar and other districts of Valley have imposed strict restrictions till end of day on August 5. However, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, medical emergencies and movement of staff with valid cards and passes issued by the administration have been exempted from the restrictions.CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami on Tuesday said all the promises made by the Centre at the time of abrogating article 370 last year proved to be a mirage. "It has been a year since BJP government scrapped J&K's special status under Article 370, 35A demoted the erstwhile state into two Union Territories. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah justified the decision on the floor of the house, that it would end decades-long militancy, separatism and corruption in the region and bring development, jobs and prosperity," Tarigami said in a statement on the eve of first anniversary of revocation of Article 370The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference Tuesday said the Union government's decision to revoke special status of the erstwhile state was not acceptable to the masses. Ahead of the first anniversary of the revocation of provisions of article 370 on August 5 last year, the party said the day would be remembered as a "sad day". Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the preparations for restrictions have started 24 hours earlier this year in contrast to 2019. “I presume the same is being done across the Valley, being placed under strict curfew from tonight for the next two days,” he tweeted.Meanwhile, the Left parties have demanded the release of all those detained since August 2019, the restoration of full communications to the region and the lifting of curbs to allow free movement of people.
Pak PM Unveils New political Map That Includes Whole of Kashmir, Gujarat's Junagadh
A day ahead of the first anniversary of abrogation of Article 370, that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, unveiled a new map of the country that includes the whole of Kashmir and Gujarat’s Junagadh region. “Today, we are introducing the new map of Pakistan before the world. This new map has been endorsed by Pakistan's Cabinet, Opposition and the Kashmiri leadership. This map endorses the hopes and beliefs of the people of Pakistan. This map endorses the unfulfilled wishes of the people of Kashmir and Pakistan. This map nullifies the illegal step that India took on 5 August last year with regards to Kashmir (Abrogation of Article 370). Starting today, this will be the official map of Pakistan,” Khan said, while addressing the media.Congratulating Khan's government and the people of Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the map challenges India's "illegal claim" on Kashmir and its people."This is that map which was only talked about by Pakistan governments behind closed doors. Today, our government has revealed that map to the entire world and shown it where Pakistan stands. This map includes Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, the areas that are considered disputed and the ones that the people of Pakistan have been wanting to be resolved. India released a map on 5 August last year and made fun of itself and its people in front of the world," he added,He said that the dotted line in the initial map that used to indicate a "disputed territory" has been done away with. He also said that Siachen has also been included in the new map and that it has always belonged to Pakistan.Qureshi claimed that the "Kashmiri leadership" has also endorsed the new map. "This map sends a message to India, it sends a message to the unarmed youth of Kashmir who martyr themselves for the cause, that Pakistan stands with them. This map represents our goal," Qureshi said.
Pakistan approves new map claiming PoK as its own, Imran Khan calls it 'historic day'
Pakistan’s attempts to involve UN on Jammu and Kashmir dispute have fallen flat: Indian envoy
Indian diplomat TS Tirumurti on Tuesday said Pakistan’s attempts to involve the UN to resist the changes brought about in Jammu and Kashmir subsequent to August 5 have “fallen flat” and has not “borne any fruit”, ANI reported. “Attempts by Pakistan to try and internationalise what is essentially a bilateral issue are nothing new,” he said. Tirumurti, who is India’s permanent representative to UN, said no formal meeting of the Security Council on the India-Pakistan issue has taken place since Nov.1965. “What came up recently was in a closed-door and completely informally meeting. [It was] Under what is called – any other business – which is not even a recorded discussion,” he told the news agency.
‘Every country but China backed India’s stand on Kashmir’: Indian envoy to UN
Erdogan expresses fresh support for Pakistan's stance on Kashmir: ET report
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed fresh support for Pakistan's stance on the Kashmir issue, according to a tweet by the office of Pakistan’s president. The move, just days ahead of the completion of one year of the removal of Kashmir’s special status (on August 5), is seen strengthening the Turkey-Pakistan alliance in the Islamic world.ET has learnt that Erdogan held extensive talks with both Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi on the occasion of EiD. Kashmir and Erdogan’s support for Pakistan’s narrative on the Indian Union Territory figured prominently during the phone calls, sources said.Islamabad wants to “commemorate” August 5--the day the Narendra Modi government scrapped Article 370--as Yaum-i-Istehsal (Day of Exploitation). "President Arif Alvi and President Erdogan exchanged Eidul Azha greetings in a telephonic conversation. Important matters, including Kashmir and Covid-19, were discussed," a tweet by Alvi's office said."[The] Turkish president assured that his country would continue to support Pakistan's stance on Kashmir as both brotherly countries have similar goals," a second tweet by Alvi's office said.Khan, according to experts on OIC, wants Erdogan to use the platform to champion the Kashmir "cause" at a time when two other traditional allies of Pakistan--Saudi Arabia and UAE--are working to expand their strategic partnership with India.
Shahid Afridi explains why he doesn’t shy away from voicing his opinion on India
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has defended his statements on Kashmir, saying it was his duty to speak up against injustices anywhere in the world.Afridi’s comments had sparked outrage across the border in the recent past but the ex-allrounder said that as a God-fearing human being it was his duty to take a stand against any type of unjustness.“One should always speak the truth, no matter what happens. I believe humanity is above everything else which is why I don’t shy away from voicing my opinion, even if it involves India,” he told Cricket Pakistan.
Kulbhushan Jadhav case: Pak court appoints 3 senior lawyers as amici curiae
A top Pakistani court has named three senior lawyers as amici curiae in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav as it ordered the Pakistan government to give "another chance" to India to appoint a counsel for the death-row prisoner.Jadhav, the 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017.India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.PTI
New Domicile Law Worries Kashmir Valley, Jammu For Different Reasons
New Delhi: New domicile rules in Jammu and Kashmir are creating uneasy moments in each the two principal regions of the newly-formed union territory. However, these apprehensions are for different reasons.People in the Kashmir Valley claim the new law is designed to change the territory's demography, while those in Jammu fear an influx of population from border areas.The centre has, so far, issued four lakh domicile certificates. According to available data, 75 per cent of these (or three lakh certificates) have been issued in Jammu."Almost 85 per cent of domicile certificates issued have been given to people who already had state subjects," Pawan Kotwal, Principal Secretary (Revenue), told NDTV.According to Mr Kotwal, the number of certificate issued to refugees from western Pakistan is not, for now, very large. "Those who are applying, we are granting them certificates," he added.Home Ministry has said that so far around 20,000 certificates have been issued to people from that region. A further 2,000 have been given to people from the Valmiki community and 700 to the Gorkhas.
4% quota announced for Ladakh students in J&K institutes, residents say it’s not enough
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir administration Tuesday announced that 4 per cent seats in professional institutes in J&K will be reserved for students of Ladakh for the academic year 2020-21.This include 24 seats in engineering and 35 in medical colleges, said J&K administration’s Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) in a tweet.The DIPR stated that the announcement was made in a meeting chaired by J&K Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam held in Srinagar.Sources in the administration, however, said that an official order regarding the same is yet to be issued. “The government has not issued any order to this effect,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
Kargil Congress, NC declare 5 August ‘darkest day’, demand reintegration & statehood for J&K
Srinagar: Kargil units of Congress and National Conference issued a joint statement a day ahead of first anniversary of scrapping of Article 370, demanding reunification of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh and a return of statehood.The parties declared 5 August the “darkest day in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh”, and appealed to the people of Kargil to mark the day as ‘black day’ to “denounce the central government’s decision”.Leaders of both parties said this in a joint statement at the end of an “all-party meeting”, to which they said the BJP was also invited but didn’t attend.
People in Valley demand restoration of Article 370 and J&K statehood: PDP MP Nazir Ahmad Laway
A year after he was thrown out of the Rajya Sabha for tearing a copy of the Constitution, PDP parliamentarian Nazir Ahmad Laway says people in his constituency are still deprived of development, employment and other benefits promised by the Centre.Mr. Laway and Mir Momammad Fayaz, the two MPs from Kashmir Valley representing the PDP in the Rajya Sabha, were marshalled out of the House on August 5, 2019 when Home Minister Amit Shah moved two Bills to revoke the special status of J&K and downsize the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Nearly 150 militants killed in J&K this year, only 17 of them from Pakistan
Security forces have killed nearly 150 militants in Jammu and Kashmir in the first seven months of this year — a significant success as compared to 157 militants killed in 2019. However, with only 17 foreign terrorists (FTs) killed till July end this year, the number of militants from Pakistan killed by the security forces has nosedived by almost 50% compared to last year.The data is at odds with the claim of J&K Police that recruitment of local militants has gone down since the scrapping of special status of J&K.
J&K: Data Punctures Centre's Claim That Dilution of Article 370 Reduced Conflict
Srinagar: Despite the Central government’s claim that the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status would usher in a “new era of dawn” in the region, a report by human rights organisation Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has shown that even one year after that move, there has been no let-up in conflict.In its biannual report about the human rights situation in the region, JKCCS has revealed that Kashmir saw 229 killings in 107 incidents of violence during first six months of this year, besides an uptick in the destruction of residential properties during gunfights between security forces and militants. BJP government had taken the unilateral decision to dilute Article 370, asserting the move would “end militancy” in Kashmir and bring “peace” to the region, claiming the constitutional provision of special status to J&K was “strengthening separatist narrative” in the Valley.The report has, however, laid bare the ground realities and punctured the government’s peace claims. With uncertainty about the future of the situation in Kashmir only growing by the day, the violence which has gripped Kashmir for the past three decades appears far from over.An analysis of data provided by JKCCS also shows that while the number of killings reported in the first half of 2020 is lower than the previous two years, when seen together with reports of increased destruction of civilian property and more violations of ceasefire at the border with Pakistan, there can be no denial of heightened conflict.
IAS, IPS officers in J&K accused of ‘anti-national’ activity can now be fired without probe
New Delhi: Any government official in J&K, including senior IAS and IPS officers, can now be dismissed from service without an inquiry if found to be engaged in “anti-national” activity, ThePrint has learnt.According to sources in the J&K government, a committee has been formed under Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam to examine and recommend action, including dismissal from service, with regard to officers “working against the ‘integrity and security’” of India.The committee also comprises the J&K home secretary, the director general of police, administrative secretaries of the general administration and law & justice departments, and additional director general of police (CID), the sources said.
Indian Journalists Union Demands Scribe Qazi Shibli Be Released From Custody
Indian Journalists Union (IJU) has released a statement demanding the release of Qazi Shibli, the editor of The Kashmiriyat, after he was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir police’s cybercrime division on July 31 in Srinagar. Shibli has been reportedly detained at the Shergari police station since Friday. On Thursday, he received a call from the cyber police asking him to present himself the next day, which happened to be Eid. However, it is unclear whether he has been charged with anything. A police official at the police station told the Kashmir Walla, “We were told by seniors to keep him in custody and don’t know the reasons.” Shibli was detained in UP’s Bareilly jail for nine months under the draconian Public Safety Act after he tweeted information about deployment of additional troops in J&K in July 2019. Shibli was released only this April 13 after his detention was revoked during the decongestion of jails across the country.
Modi’s Ayodhya visit on August 5 is an attempt to cover up failure in J&K:Iltija Mufti
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti on Tuesday said it was not a coincidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was going to Ayodhya for the Ram temple ceremony on August 5.Iltija Mufti, in an interview with The Hindu, claimed this was an attempt to “obfuscate the reality and entire fallout” of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, which was done on the same day last year. “It covers up the huge colossal failure in J&K [Jammu and Kashmir],” she said. “The whole day the press is going to be focussed on Ayodhya.”
‘Government wants to make an example of my mother,’ says Mehbooba Mufti's daughter
Avoid politicising normal cooperation, says China on India’s Confucius Institutes move
China on Tuesday called upon India to “avoid politicising normal cooperation,” following moves to review ongoing cooperation for language training between Indian universities and Chinese government-run programmes.Following the decision to drop Mandarin from its list of suggested languages under the National Education Policy, Ministry of Education has also put several higher education institutes that offer Chinese language training under the scanner, as The Hindu reported on Monday.The Ministry is looking closely at universities that have in the past had links with the official Chinese language training department Hanban that runs hundreds of Confucius Institutes overseas. “Ministry of Human Resource Development and UGC are in the process of reviewing the work being done by higher education institutions as part of agreements/educational arrangements with foreign institutions. As part of this process we would like to review the activities undertaken by the Confucius Centre in your university/institution affiliated to your university,” said a letter sent to the institutions on July 29.On Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi issued a statement responding to reports that the “Ministry of Education of India has decided to review Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms jointly established by China’s Confucius Institute and 7 Indian universities and colleges, as well as 54 Memoranda of Understanding on inter-school cooperation signed between Indian and Chinese higher education institutions”.
India to Impose Import Restrictions to Counter China Routing
New Delhi is considering measures to prevent trade partners mainly in Southeast Asia from re-routing Chinese goods to India with little added value, two government sources said, amid strained ties with Beijing and a push for self-reliance.India is planning to raise quality standards of imports, impose quantity restrictions, mandate stringent disclosure norms and initiate more frequent checks at ports of entry for goods coming from many Asian countries, the officials said, declining to be named as they were not authorised to talk to the media.The moves will mainly target imports of base metals, electronic components for laptops and mobile phones, furniture, leather goods, toys, rubber, textiles, air conditioners and televisions, among other items, the officials said.
Chinese Firm VIVO Pulls Out As IPL Title Sponsor For This Season Amid Row
VIVO has pulled out as the title sponsor of IPL for this year's edition, following backlash on social media. VIVO had paid Rs 2,199 crore for a five-year contract in 2018. The BCCI on Sunday had announced that all sponsors were being retained, but VIVO pulled out following criticism on social media in the backdrop of the clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh in June. The Indian cricket board on Sunday had announced that the 2020 season will be played from September 19 to November 10 in the United Arab Emirates.
Eid ceasefire: 2 of 3 Indian hostages held by Taliban released
Two Indian abducted by the Taliban returned to Delhi on Tuesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, and negotiations were on for one more Indian, the last of the group kidnapped in 2018, sources told The Hindu.“We thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for their constant and unwavering support in securing the release of the Indians,” said the MEA spokesperson, announcing the return of the two men, whom it didn’t name and who had been released from captivity on July 31.According to the sources, their release was helped by Eid ceasefire between Afghan forces and the Taliban, which included prisoner exchanges. A meeting of “elders” or a ‘Loya Jirga’ called by President Ashraf Ghani on August 7 to advise him on the fate of about 400 Taliban convicted of “heinous crimes” could also prove crucial in securing the release of the last hostage, the sources said.The hostages, Prasadi Mahto and Hulas Mahto from Jharkhand and Mantu Singh from Bihar, were part of a group of seven employees of Indian engineering company KEC International (owned by the RP Goenka group) that was developing a power project in Afghanistan’s northern Baglan province.
PM Modi, Ghani discuss evolving security situation, terrorism in region
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ashraf Ghani on Monday discussed the evolving security situation in the region against the backdrop of a spike in terrorist violence in Afghanistan.The two leaders had a phone conversation and exchanged greetings on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. Ghani thanked Modi for timely supply of food and medical assistance to meet Afghanistan’s requirements, according to an official statement.“The two leaders also exchanged views on the evolving security situation in the region and other areas of mutual bilateral interest,” the statement said, adding Modi had reiterated India’s commitment to the Afghan people “in their quest for a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Afghanistan”.
*INDIA- ISLAMOPHOBIA, HUMAN RIGHTS & OTHERS*
Soil for Ram Mandir construction angers Jharkhand tribals, VHP blames Christian missionaries
Ranchi: Soil has been drawn from religious places across India for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, but, in Jharkhand, the drive appears to have driven a wedge within the tribal community. Jharkhand’s contribution to the Ram temple campaign includes soil from 1,100 sarna sthals, which are places of spiritual significance to tribals. Followers of Sarna school believe they are a different religion independent of Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. Some members of Sarna community have thus protested against attempts to use soil from sarna sthals for the Ram temple, even as others have expressed support for the move. In the churn triggered by controversy, a former BJP MLA has been booked for allegedly stealing soil from a sarna sthal, and lingering resentments regarding conversions have resurfaced, with supporters of the soil campaign blaming Christian missionaries for the protests. Amid all this are allegations that the former BJP MLA, Gangotri Kujur, engaged a Brahmin to conduct a “purifiation drive” at one of the sthals before its soil was collected. “Sarna sthals are sacred in themselves. But former BJP MLA Gangotri Kujur invited a Brahmin for purification of the sarna sthal… only after this was soil collected and sent to Ayodhya,” said Sarna religious leader Bandhan Tigga. “An FIR has been lodged against this act. Apart from this, another FIR has been registered against a VHP office-bearer.”ThePrint reached Kujur for comment through phone calls but she refused to make a comment about the allegations.For the bhoomi pujan Wednesday, which will be attended by PM Narendra Modi, among others, two people have been invited from Jharkhand — Dhaneshwar Ram Munda and Chaitanya Brahmachari, both of whom are associated with VHP. Munda said the majority of people opposing the contribution of soil from sarna sthals and are doing this “at the instigation of Christian missionaries”. Keshav Raju of the VHP agreed, alleging that “Christian missionaries (also) carried out large-scale conversion” during Covid-19 lockdown. On 29 July, over 25 organisations protesting against the move to send soil from sarna sthal to Ayodhya held a meeting in Ranchi. Dr Karama Oraon, dean of the anthropology department at Ranchi University, who was also present in the meeting, said the participants had announced a social boycott against former MLA Ramkumar Pahan, Gangotri Kujur, Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra — all of them BJP leaders — and others involved in the soil-collection campaign. Prayer meetings will be held to “purify” all the sarna sthals from where soil was collected, he added. “Adivasis who believe in Hinduism, Christianity or other religions should desist from calling themselves as sarna dharmavalambi (followers of Sarna religion). This duplicity will no longer work. In this regard, we will also run an awareness campaign in our society,” Oraon said. JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said the soil-collection drive is a “RSS ploy… against the tribals”. “Sarna Dharma is a different religion,” he added.
‘No Ayodhya bhoomi pujan invite for Advani or Joshi’, and no one seems to know why
New Delhi: None of the five faces of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the 1980s and 90s — Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar — will attend Wednesday’s Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan (ground breaking) ceremony in Ayodhya.But while Singh, Bharti and Katiyar featured on the invitees’ list for the ceremony, veteran BJP leaders Advani and Joshi’s names weren’t even on it, leading to questions about why they were left out.Champat Rai, general secretary of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, said at a press conference Monday that age was a factor behind Advani not being invited — he said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people above the age of 90 were advised to stay away. Advani is 92. However, that does not answer why Joshi, who is 86, is not on the invitees’ list, but former UP CM Kalyan Singh, 88, is.
Ram temple: 175 guests to attend ceremony, only PM Modi and four others to be allowed on stage
Ram temple trust has said that 175 guests have been invited for the foundation stone-laying ceremony to be held in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya city on August 5. The guests will include 135 spiritual leaders and the residents of the city. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, Governor Anandiben Patel and Mahant Nritya Gopaldas – the head of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra – will be the only five people on stage at the ceremony, NDTV reported.Ram temple trust General Secretary Champat Rai told ANI that Iqbal Ansari, one the litigants in the Ayodhya title suit, has also been invited for the foundation-laying ceremony. Padma Shri winner Mohammad Sharif, honoured for cremating over 10,000 unclaimed bodies in Ayodhya, has also been invited for the .Rai told PTI that guest list has been prepared after consultations with senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Uma Bharti had on Monday said that she will go to to Ayodhya but skip the ceremony due to health risks. Chief Minister Adityanath, who visited Ayodhya on Monday to review arrangements for the ceremony, said that strict coronavirus safety rules will be enforced in the city.
Ram temple foundation ceremony: Rashtriya Sikh Sangat initiates Akhand Path; Sikh Jathedars invited
Amritsar :Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an affiliate of RSS, started an Akhand Path at the historical Gurudwara Brahm Kund on the banks of the Sarayu river in Ayodhya on Monday.The prayer — a three-day-long uninterrupted recital of Guru Granth Sahib — is being held as a thanksgiving for clearing all the hurdles to the construction of the Ram temple. It will conclude on August 5 — the day of foundation laying ceremony of the temple.
Ram Mandir: Ayodhya to Be Lit up with 1.5 Lakh Lamps in 'Diwali-like' Celebrations
Two nights of "Diwali-like celebrations" in Ayodhya will start at sunset today, with Ram Ki Paidi being lit up with around 1.5 lakh earthen lamps. Temples along the bank of the river Sarayu will also be lit up with lights. Other than this, 50 other places in Ayodhya and its major temples will also be lit up.Section 144 has been imposed in Kalaburagi city in Karnataka ahead of 'Bhumi Pujan' in Ayodhya tomorrow. Karnataka govt has also issued a circular asking all temples in the state to offer special pooja during 'Bhumi pooja' at Ayodhya tomorrow.
‘Hope it becomes an occasion of national unity’: Priyanka’s statement ahead of Ram Temple bhoomi pujan
Senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Tuesday read out a statement by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony of Ram Temple bhoomi pujan that is set to take place in Ayodhya on Wednesday.Priyanka Gandhi, in her statement, hoped that the bhoomi pujan event becomes an occasion of national unity, fraternity and cultural congregation and spreads the message and blessings of Lord Rama all across.“Simplicity, courage, restraint, sacrifice, commitment are the essence of the name Deenbandhu Rama. Ram is with everyone, Ram is with everyone,” Surjewala read out Gandhi’s statement.
Madhya Pradesh Congress will send 11 silver bricks for Ram temple, says Kamal Nath
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Congress president Kamal Nath on Tuesday hosted a ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ recital at his residence here and announced sending 11 silver bricks for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, on the eve of the “bhoomi pujan” ceremony.Nath said the silver bricks were bought from contributions made by members of the Congress.“We will send 11 silver bricks for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya on the behalf of citizens of Madhya Pradesh,” the former chief minister told reporters.He said ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ was recited for happiness, progress and prosperity of MP.Welcoming the upcoming construction of a Ram temple, Nath said its foundation had been led by prime minister (late) Rajiv Gandhi “who had opened the Ram Janmabhoomi temple site in 1985”.“These are our sentiments… Rajivji had said in 1989 that ‘Ram Rajya’ should come in the country. It’s due to Rajiv Gandhi that the dream of Ram temple is coming true. Had he been alive, he would have been very happy,” Nath said.
Coronavirus: ‘Please don’t hold Ram temple event on inauspicious day,’ Digvijaya Singh tells Modi
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cancel the foundation-laying ceremony of Ram temple in Ayodhya on August 5, as he claimed the timing was inauspicious. Several politicians, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, as well as a priest and 16 police officers on duty in Ayodhya have recently tested positive for the coronavirus.“Swami Swarupanand had warned that August 5 was inauspicious for the stone-laying of Ram temple,” Singh tweeted. “This date has been fixed in accordance with Modiji’s convenience. Which means Modi ji is greater than the Hindu faith’s beliefs of thousand years! Is this Hindutva?”
Chief priest of Ram Janmabhoomi site goes into quarantine after assistant tests positive
The chief priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya has gone into self-quarantine after one of his assistants tested positive for the coronavirus, The Times of India reported on Monday. With Satyendra Das in quarantine, his assistant Santosh Das has been asked to perform prayers at Ram Janmabhoomi premises.
ABP News all excited about Ram temple, India Today & NDTV 24×7 focus on J&K woes
New Delhi: The upcoming foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya was the focus of many channels Monday prime time. the first anniversary of the move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir also got a look in — when channels could tear themselves away from the probe into Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. On India Today, anchor Rajdeep Sardesai interviewed former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter, Iltija Mufti, who said, “ This is not about Muftis or Abdullahs, BJP is deliberately pushing that narrative. They want to take focus away from the fact that what they have done here is blatantly illegal…” Sardesai tried getting a word in, but the younger Mufti was unstoppable on the subject of the impact of the move on J&K. Sardesai finally managed to ask, “Do you see any light at the end of this dark tunnel for your family and dare I say…for the Kashmir valley?”
On RTI Queries on Ayodhya Ram Temple Construction, Centre Prefers Silence
New Delhi: BJP has been very far from a silent spectator on the demolition of the Babri Masjid and construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. But when it comes to questions around recent developments, Modi govt has been far less forthcoming. Centre has largely kept mum in response to 2 RTI queries – one filed before and the other after the Supreme Court’s 2019 judgment on the Ayodhya title dispute. The apex court’s ruling paved the way for the construction of a temple, and construction work will begin soon after the much-touted ‘bhoomi pujan‘ ceremony on Aug. 5.In Nov.2018, a ‘dharma sansad’ was organised by VHP and RSS, parent organisation of the BJP, to demand the construction of a Ram temple since the party was in power both at Centre and in Uttar Pradesh.However, when a Lucknow-based RTI activist Nutan Thakur filed a query with PMO a few days later, on November 27, 2018, to seek “details of the various directions/instructions issued by the Prime Minister and/or PMO to Ministry of Home Affairs and/or Uttar Pradesh Government in the wake of the recent incidences in Ayodhya related with Dharma Sansad”, she found the response unsatisfactory.
UP: Dalits kept away from Ayodhya event, alleges Apna Dal (S) MLA
Apna Dal (S) MLA Chowdhury Amar Singh has claimed that Dalits were ignored while invitations were extended for the ground-breaking ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.Talking to reporters on Monday, he said that the haste shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the construction of the temple should also be shown for giving houses and pension to poor. Modi is scheduled to attend the big event on Wednesday for which preparations are in full swing.“Dalits and backwards have been deprived of attending the Ayodhya bhoomi pujan event. The haste which PM showed for the temple should also be shown for giving house and pension to poor,” MLA from Apna Dal (S), an ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, said.PTI
Jamia violence: Police acted with sheer vindictiveness against students, Indira Jaising tells Delhi HC
The police acted with sheer vindictiveness against the students of Jamia Milia Islamia, by using violence against them in December, 2019, in the wake of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, submitted Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, in the Delhi High Court on Monday, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported. Jaising was appearing in one of the petitions seeking an independent investigation into the allegations of police brutalities in Jamia campus.There is a need for an independent inquiry into the misconduct of the police in relation to the students of Jamia, she submitted at the outset.She said that the police used disproportionate force against the students. The use of force was not with the intention to disperse crowd, as police chased students who had taken shelter in libraries, hostel rooms and toilets.
Delhi violence: Professor Apoorvanand questioned, phone seized for investigation
Delhi University professor Apoorvanand was on Monday questioned by the police in connection with communal violence that broke out in the city in February. The professor said his phone has been seized for investigation and he spent five hours with the police.In a statement on Tuesday, Apoorvanand said the police should not harass and victimise protestors and their supporters, who through constitutional means, opposed CAA, NRC and the process to create a NPR. “While cooperating and respecting the right of police authorities to conduct a full, fair and thorough investigation, one can only hope that the probe would focus on the real instigators and perpetrators of the violence against a peaceful citizens’ protest and the people of North East Delhi,” he added.Apoorvanand, who teaches Hindi at Delhi University, urged the police to conduct a thorough, just and fair investigation into the violence, which left at least 53 dead and hundreds injured. “It is disturbing to see a theory emerging which treats the supporters of the protestors as the source of violence,” he said.
SC tells Prashant Bhushan there is a ‘thin line’ between contempt and freedom of speech
The Supreme Court on Tuesday told advocate Prashant Bhushan that there was a “thin line” between contempt and freedom of speech, Live Law reported. The top court was hearing a contempt case against the advocate from 2009. Bhushan had allegedly made some objectionable remarks against Supreme Court judges in an interview to Tehelka magazine in 2009. The contempt of court case against him was filed by advocate Harish Salve.The top court bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, told Bhushan’s lawyer Rajeev Dhavan that there should be a balance between the right to free speech on one hand and the need to safeguard the dignity of the judiciary, according to HT. “We are all for freedom of speech and then there’s contempt,” Mishra was quoted as saying by Live Law. “However, there’s a thin line that you [Bhushan] may have crossed.”In a response to the notice against him, Bhushan had said on Monday that the power of contempt must not be used to stifle voices that seek accountability from a court for its errors. “To prevent a citizen from forming, holding and expressing ‘bonafide opinion’ in public interest on any institution and from ‘evaluating’ its performance is not a reasonable restriction on fundamental right to free speech,” Bhushan had said.
‘Supreme Court remained a mute spectator when Delhi burnt’: Prashant Bhushan refuses to apologise
The Supreme Court remained a mute spectator as communal riots ravaged north-east Delhi, advocate Prashant Bhushan said on Sunday in his counter-affidavit filed in response to the contempt of court case initiated against him by the top court for his tweets against the apex court and CJI, SA Bobde.Bhushan refused to apologise for his tweets stating that it fell within the domain of free speech and also cited the speeches on dissent made by sitting SC judges, Justices DY Chandrachud on February 15 and Deepak Gupta on February 24, when he was a sitting judge before retiring on May 6, to bolster his argument.
Tablighi Jamaat: Delhi HC asks police to file consolidated chart of all FIRs lodged against foreign nationals
Delhi High Court has issued notice in two fresh petitions moved by foreign nationals related to Tablighi Jamaat event who have moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the second FIR registered against them pertaining to the same chain of events for which they have already entered into a plea bargain, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.While issuing notice, the Single Bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani has further directed the Delhi Police to submit a consolidated chart of all FIRs registered against the foreign nationals related to Markaz event.These fresh petitions are moved by nationals of South Africa, Niger, Australia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. The court was also informed that two nationals of the United States of America have refused to enter into plea bargain and have instead claimed trial.The earlier petition was filed on behalf of the nationals of Bangladesh.
5% Muslims among new civil services recruits, only one in top 100
New Delhi: UPSC has recruited 42 Muslim candidates through Civil Services Exam (CSE) for the 2019 batch — up from 28 last year. Safna Nazarudeen, who ranked 45, has secured the highest rank among Muslim candidates and is the only one from the community among the top 100.According to CSE results released by the UPSC Tuesday, a total of 829 candidates have cleared the latest exam. Muslim candidates comprise 5 per cent of this, as has been the trend over the last few years. Muslims are believed to constitute nearly 15 per cent of India’s population.The number of Muslim candidates picked last year was 28, or 4 per cent of the 759 candidates recruited. For 2016 batch, for the first time in history, 50 Muslims were selected through the UPSC, with 10 making it to the top 100. In the 2017 batch, too, 50 Muslims were selected through the exam. For the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 batches, this number was 30, 34, 38 and 36, respectively.“Since 2016, the percentage of Muslim candidates has remained around 5 per cent, which is a big feat, considering that, since Independence, this number was around 2.5 per cent,” said Zafar Mahmood of Zakat Foundation, which grooms Muslim candidates for UPSC. We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.Out of the 42 candidates who have made it this year, 27 are from Zakat Foundation, Mahmood claimed.
25 From Jamia Millia Academy Clear UPSC Civil Services 2019
New Delhi: 25 candidates who are trained at the Residential Coaching Academy or RCA of Jamia Millia Islamia have been recommended for various Civil Services based on the recruitment examinations and interviews conducted by the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC. Pradeep Singh topped the Civil Services examination 2019, results of which were announced on today by the Commission.
Bihar gangrape: Social workers jailed for helping complainant granted bail by SC
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to two social activists who were jailed last month for supporting a gangrape complainant in Bihar’s Araria city, Live Law reported. A bench led by Justice Arun Mishra noted that sending Tanmay Nivedita and Kalyani to jail was “totally impermissible”, according to ANI. The court also issued a notice to Bihar government in the case.The court directed the two activists to deposit Rs 10,000 as surety for the bail and ordered their release.
Rajasthan crisis: Congress says rebel MLAs should give up BJP’s hospitality before dialogue
Congress on Tuesday said the dissident MLAs supporting ousted Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot should give up the hospitality of BJP and security of Haryana Police if they want to have a dialogue, PTI reported. “Congress MLAs who are staying at the resort in Manesar should shun the hospitality and police security of BJP government in Haryana and return to the party, then we can hold talks,” spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.
Despite being COVID-19 positive, Amit Shah will continue posing threat to Gehlot government in Rajasthan: Shiv Sena
Shiv Sena on Tuesday took a dig at Union Home Minister Amit Shah stating that despite being infected with COVID-19 and staying in isolation he will continue posing a threat to Rajasthan state govt."Corona has attacked Home Minister Shah and as a result, he had to go into isolation. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot should not get too happy over this. Wherever Shah is, he can continue his political operations from there only and, therefore, the danger on Gehlot government still persists," an article in Saamna, the party mouthpiece, read. "Home Minister went into isolation and Gehlot too had to take his MLAs into isolation means the danger still persists," it added.Wishing Union Home Minister Amit Shah a speedy recovery from the infection, Sena said that his absence will be felt on August 5 during the 'bhoomi pujan' ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.ANI
Great grandson of Frontier Gandhi moves Bombay HC, seeks appointment as aunt’s guardian in India
Mumbai :Mashal Khan, a Pakistani national and the great-grandson of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, also known as Frontier Gandhi, recently moved the Bombay High Court seeking to be appointed as guardian of his aunt Zarin Ghani Walsh – a resident of Breach Candy in Mumbai – on the ground that she is mentally and physically unfit to take necessary and appropriate decisions in her interest.The court on Monday observed that though health reports sufficed to prove that Zarin was in need of guardianship, it could not decide on it until the Union government cleared its stand on the issue.A division bench of Justice Suresh C Gupte and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a writ plea filed by Mashal Khan (40), a resident of Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (North West Frontier Province) in Pakistan.
Punjab Hooch Tragedy: As Death Toll Rises to 104, Amarinder Singh Faces Political Wrath
New Delhi: All is not well with the Punjab Police in the wake of the state’s hooch tragedy that has so far witnessed 104 deaths. Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has thrown the onus on the state’s bureaucracy for these deaths that occurred in the past four days, suspending several officers of the excise wing, besides two DSPs and four SHOs of police stations in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts.The axe on bureaucracy is being seen as a kneejerk reaction by Amarinder as he faces political backlash from rivals in AAP and SAD. 2 opposition parties in Punjab have demanded the CM’s resignation in the wake of the deaths.Punjab vidhan sabha’s leader of opposition and AAP MLA Harpal Singh Cheema had reached the spot, Muchhal village in Amristar district the very next day of the hooch tragedy deaths on July 30. He demanded the CM’s resignation for holding the portfolios of the home and excise departments as well. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has also asked for Amarinder’s resignation, accusing him of giving “political patronage” to the liquor mafia in the state.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Tests Positive, Admitted to Hospital
nion Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today tested positive for the coronavirus and has been admitted to the Medanta Hospital. His staff had earlier tested positive and he was in isolation since. Pradhan is one of the several high-profile names to have tested positive after Union Home Minister Amit Shah's diagnosis on Sunday. Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah today tested positive for Covid-19, the latest addition to a list of politicians, including Home Minister Amit Shah and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who have been hit by the pandemic.
Covid: Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah tests positive, Tripura CM goes into self isolation
Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.“I have been tested positive for Covid-19 and also been admitted to the hospital on the advice of doctors as a precaution,” the Congress leader wrote on Twitter. “I request all those who had come in contact with me to check out for symptoms and to quarantine themselves.”On Monday, six staff members of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s office had tested positive for the coronavirus. The chief minister himself tested positive for the infection on Sunday.
Karnataka CM Yediyurappa under Treatment for Covid-19, Holds Review Meeting from Hospital
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday held a review meeting with officials from a hospital where he has been admitted for COVID-19, on increasing ventilator beds in the state."Yediyurappa held a review meeting over phone with officials regarding increase of ventilator beds in the state today," his office said in a statement. Yediyurappa is undergoing treatment for coronavirus at
Coronavirus: Wonder why Amit Shah did not go to AIIMS after testing positive, says Shashi Tharoor
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday wondered why Union Home Minister Amit Shah opted for a private medical facility for treatment of the coronavirus disease instead of going to the state-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Shah, who tested positive on Sunday, has been admitted to Medanta Hospital in Gurugram.Tharoor’s comment came in response to a tweet posted by one Vishakh Cherian, who said AIIMS was considered to be one of the “temples of modern India”, a concept coined by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Majority of Politicians Who Contracted COVID-19 Have Preferred Private Hospitals
Across party lines, very few ministers, legislators and leaders seem to have put their faith in public medical facilities.
Majority of Politicians Who Contracted COVID-19 Have Preferred Private Hospitals
CPI(M) leader Sunnam Rajaiah dies of Covid-19 in Telangana
Senior CPI(M) leader and former MLA in Telangana, Sunnam Rajaiah, who is known for his simplicity, died of COVID-19.Following the announcement of his demise, condolences began pouring in from across political divide. He was 62.Rajaiah, who represented Bhadrachalam in Legislative Assembly thrice (1999, 2004 and 2014), died while being shifted to a hospital in Vijayawada late on Monday night, CPI (M) sources said here on Tuesday.PTI
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, CPI(M)'s Mohammed Salim Test Positive for COVID-19
New Delhi: Congress MP Karti Chidambaram and CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim were among the prominent politicians who tested positive for COVID-19 as a rapid spike in cases took the tally in the country to over 18 lakh on Monday.“I have just tested positive for #Covid. My symptoms are mild and as per medical advice, I am under home quarantine. I would urge all those who have recently been in contact with me to follow medical protocol,” Karti, who is the son of Congress leader P Chidambaram and represents Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency, said.PTI
PFI Members Perform Last Rites Of BJP Leader In Karnataka Who Died Of COVID
In a strange twist of fate, members of Popular Front of India (PFI) on Sunday performed the final rites of a BJP leader in Karnataka’s Gangavathi who passed away due to COVID-19. Somashekar Gowda, a BJP leader in Koppal’s Gangavathi died of coronavirus on Sunday morning. 54-year-old’s family members were quarantined and his own party members were reportedly not ready to facilitate his last rites due to the fear of the disease.That’s when a team of PFI members stepped in and performed the last rites of the deceased BJP leader as per Lingayat traditions.Speaking to the media, PFI’s district president Zaheer Abbas said that due to lack of knowledge about COVID-19 and the stigma created around it, people are staying away from performing the last rites of victims. He said his team of activists followed all the health guidelines and precautions and facilitated the funeral of the late BJP leader according to his religious beliefs and the consent of his family.
Over 50% Of Covid Deaths In Patients Aged 60 And Above: Health Ministry
New Delhi: Over 50 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in India have taken place among people aged 60 years and above and 37 per cent deaths have been reported among patients in the age group of 45 to 60 years, Health Ministry said on Tuesday.Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Health Ministry said that 11 per cent COVID-19 deaths took place in the age group of 26 to 44. 18 to 25 age group and those below 18 years reported one per cent deaths each.
Covid: Over 1,100 patients untraceable in Lucknow as nearly 2,300 gave wrong details during tests
Nearly 2,300 coronavirus positive patients in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, have submitted wrong names and other personal details to health authorities, PTI reported on Monday. Authorities have tracked down 1,171 people so far.An unidentified health official told the news agency that a total of 2,290 people, who were tested at various private and government diagnostic laboratories between July 23 and July 31, had given false names, mobile numbers and addresses. “This came to the fore when our department could not contact them,” the official said. “We have informed the police about it. These people are not only from Lucknow but [from] other cities also who were tested in the state capital.”
Madras HC asks govt to provide students with eggs, ration and sanitary pads during lockdown
In a major relief for many students in Tamil Nadu, the Madras High Court has asked the state government to distribute eggs and sanitary napkins to schoolchildren who were missing the facilities as schools were shut during the lockdown.The court has said that the parents of the children can come and collect the things from school for their children.The noon meal scheme provided by the government schools has been helping children from the poor section to provide them with nutritious meals, but with Covid-19 crisis, children have not able to access the meal.
UN chief: 1 billion students affected by Covid-19 closures
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday the coronavirus pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history, with schools closed in more than 160 countries in mid-July, affecting over 1 billion students.In addition, the UN chief said at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education “in their critical preschool year.”As a result, Guterres warned that the world faces “a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.”Even before the pandemic, Guterres said, the world faced “a learning crisis,” with more than 250 million children out of school, and only a quarter of secondary school youngsters in developing countries leaving school “with basic skills.”
Coronavirus India: 44,306 patients cured in a day, highest-ever testing
India's COVID-19 tally reached 18,55,475 today, with 52,050 cases being reported in a day. Recoveries rose to 12,30,509, including 44,306 in past 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry data. There are 5,86,298 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country presently while the recovery rate among COVID-19 patients has gone up to 65.76%.This is the sixth consecutive day that COVID-19 cases have increased by more than 50,000.
Covid-19: WHO chief scientist says India’s testing rate is very low compared to many other countries
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Tuesday that India has one of the lowest coronavirus testing rates in the world, PTI reported.According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 6,61,892 samples were tested on August 3, and the total number of tests carried out stands at 2.08 crore. India’s population is 138 crore.
US Doing "Very Well" Against Covid, India Has "Tremendous Problem": Donald Trump
Washington: US President Donald Trump has said that as compared to big countries, America is doing "very well" in fight against COVID-19 pandemic, while India is having a "tremendous problem" battling the disease and China is witnessing a "massive flare up" in infections.India's COVID-19 tally increased to 18,55,745 on Tuesday with 52,050 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day.China today reported 36 new cases across the country, down from 43 the previous day. The country's COVID-19 cases crossed the 100-mark on July 29, for the first time in over three months, sparking the fear of a rebound.
Further cracks as Israel’s unity government fails to agree on budget
Israel’s power sharing government has been unable to reach an agreement to approve the state budget.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at loggerheads with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party with the former insisting on a single-year budget, the latter on a two-year budget.Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said that Gantz’s backing of the single-year budget would help prevent early elections soon and would lead to stability.The Likud “isn’t going to blink” in the standoff with Blue and White over the budget, Akunis was quoted in Times of Israel as saying.“Everyone will know who led Israel to a fourth election,” he added. “The blame will all go to Gantz.”He also told Kan radio station that Gantz is irresponsible because his stances come as Israel is facing the danger of a possible third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Israel army says it attacked military posts in southwest Syria
Israeli aircraft have attacked targets in Syria, the Israeli military said, describing the raids as retaliation for an attempted bombing of the border fence by a group of four people, an incident for which Israel held "the Syrian regime accountable".Monday's attacks hit Syrian observation posts, intelligence collection systems, anti-aircraft batteries and command-and-control bases, an Israeli military statement said."[Israeli army] fighter jets, attack helicopters and aircraft struck military targets in southern Syria, belonging to the Syrian Armed Forces," the Israeli military said late on Monday.Syrian state media reported local sources saying Israeli forces had "targeted the Tal al-Ahmar area in the southwestern countryside of Quneitra with four shells". The attack, the sources added, was launched from the Tel al-Faras area in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
US sends world’s largest plane to Israel to pick up Iron Dome missile systems
The world’s largest plane landed in Tel Aviv airport , carrying a cargo of US military trucks to be loaded with an Israeli air defence system.The massive Antonov An-225 carrying ‘OshKosh’ trucks were fitted with Iron Dome missile defence system batteries before leaving Israel.The Unit for International Transport of the Directorate of Production and Procurement in the Israeli Ministry of Defence was involved in bringing the Antonov plane to Israel, the ministry announced. The plane has previously landed in Israel in 2008.
Palestinian co-founder of Islamic Movement in Israel dies
The co-founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Farid Abu Mukh, passed away in his hometown of Baqa Al-Gharbiye in Israel yesterday.Eighty-three-year-old Abu Mukh had publicly called for an armed struggle against Israel combining Islamic and national ideologies.In 1981, Israeli authorities arrested him and sentenced him to 15 years in prison for co- founding the Jihad Family secret organisation.
Pompeo, Taliban's Baradar discuss Afghan peace process
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a video meeting with the Taliban's chief negotiator, Mullah Baradar Akhund, to discuss the state of the Afghanistan peace process, the armed group's spokesman said.The discussions included 400 Taliban prisoners still held by the Afghan government in spite of being on a list of 5,000 prisoners the armed group is demanding that Kabul release, Suhail Shaheen, Taliban spokesman in Doha, said on Twitter.While the government has released most of 5,000 Taliban prisoners stipulated in a February agreement between US and Taliban, the delayed release of the remaining 400 has stalled the so-called intra-Afghan talks envisioned in the agreement to start by March 10."Both sides talked about the inception of intra-Afghan negotiations" and they "emphasised that the release of the remaining prisoners are essential for commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations," Shaheen wrote.
Afghan troops retake prison attacked by ISIL group, 29 killed
Afghan security forces have retaken a prison in eastern Afghanistan after an hours-long gun battle with ISIL fighters who targeted the facility in an attack that killed 29 people, officials said.At least 10 ISIL fighters involved in the assault were also killed while trying to free their comrades from the prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, said Ajmal Omar, a provincial council member. "The attack is now over," Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the provincial council, told Reuters news agency.The rest of the dead were believed to be prisoners, civilians and Afghan forces, although no official breakdown was given.Another 50 people were wounded in the attack that began on Sunday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed vehicle at the entrance to the prison complex some 70 miles east of Kabul, Omar said.
Trump gives Microsoft over a month to reach deal to acquire TikTok
United States President Donald Trump on Sunday gave Microsoft 45 days to reach a deal to acquire Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok, Reuters reported. Microsoft, after a conservation between Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and Trump, said on Sunday that it will continue negotiations with ByteDance to acquire the video app and reach a deal by September 15. On Friday, however, Trump had brushed-off the idea of TikTok’s sale to Microsoft.
Trump Signs New Order On H-1B Visa Hiring, Blow To Indian Professionals
Washington: In a huge blow to Indian IT professionals eyeing the US job market, President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order preventing federal agencies from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers -- mainly those on H-1B visa -- from hiring.The move came over a month after the Trump administration in June 23 suspended H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas until the end of 2020 to protect American workers in a crucial election year. The new restrictions took effect from June 24.The H1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
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Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:39 PM)*