05 December 2020

In Round 5 Meet, Centre Gives Written Proposal To Farmer Unions; Farmers Firm on Repeal Demand, Threaten Walkout as Govt Offers Amendments. Don’t label protesting farmers as ‘Khalistanis, anti-nationals’, Editors Guild tells media houses. Normalisation with Israel requires Palestinian state: Saudi FM



05-12-2020,16:21 IST


·        Farmers’ Protest Enters Day 10: In Round 5 Meet, Centre Gives Written Proposal To Farmer Unions;  farmers firm on scrapping of laws; Leaders reject further discussion

·        Don’t label protesting farmers as ‘Khalistanis, anti-nationals’, Editors Guild tells media houses

·        Farm law protests: 36 British MPs urge UK foreign secretary to raise concerns with India

·        Salman Ahmed is New President of Students Islamic Organisation

·        Haryana’s Health Minister tests positive, days after taking trial Covid19 vaccine shot

·        Normalisation with Israel requires Palestinian state: Saudi FM;  Saudi cancels meeting with Israel official after secret meeting with Netanyahu exposed: reports

·        UN General Assembly votes in favour of affirming Syria sovereignty over Golan Heights

·        Saudi FM says final agreement in Qatar dispute ‘in reach’

·        UN General Assembly passes Pak-led interfaith dialogue resolution; HRW condemns France for shutting down anti-bias group; UK rights groups decry anti-Muslim drive



 Protest Enters Day 10: In Round 5 Meet, Centre Gives Written Proposal To Farmer Unions;  Farmers Firm on Repeal Demand, Threaten Walkout as Govt Offers Amendments

 New Delhi: Farmer leaders meeting 3Union ministers for fifth round of negotiations have rejected their offer to amend contentious provisions of the new farm laws, sticking to the demand for total repeal. The representatives of 40 farmers’ unions also threatened to walk out of the crucial negotiations taking place at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. Today's talks - the third this week and fifth overall - began hours after a high-level meet between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior cabinet ministers. Sources said Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar were present for the meet.  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met at PM Modi's house, say sources, adding the centre may consider amending the laws. Amid growing support, thousands camping around Delhi borders are insistent on the laws being repealed. 2 rounds of talks this week have fallen through despite repeated assurances from the centre on the minimum support price or MSP. This is the biggest farmers' protest in years, and numbers continue to swell at Delhi's borders amid Covid pandemic that has affected over 96 lakh people in India. Talks between farmers groups and Central Ministers, led by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Food and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal is underway at Vigyan Bhavan. The govt is prepared to offer amendments to some of the contentious issues in the farm laws, but farmer leaders are still insisting on a full repeal.The centre gave a written proposal to farmers' representatives at the meeting this afternoon. Farmers from MP have blocked the Delhi-Agra highway near Palwal in Haryana, according to Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh.A large number of MP farmers have been stopped in Mathura and Kosi-Kalan in UP, including tractor trolleys, says RKMS spokesperson Abhimanyu Kohar, adding that thousands more are expected to reach Palwal by day after tomorrow. Ahead of the talks, a member of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) Saturday said farmers would walk out of the meeting if the three farm laws were not withdrawn. Farmer leader Jagmohan Singh Patiala, speaking from Singhu border, said farmers from across the country had decided to attend the meeting as one. “It will be one stage, one morcha and one voice”, he said.“We are different farmer unions of Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, UP, Uttrakhand, Rajasthan, Telangana, West Bengal and other states. We have resolved that it will be one stage, one morcha and one voice. This voice will seek the scrapping of all central farm laws, guaranteed MSP, the roll back of the electricity Act, and also to keep farmers out of the new air pollution Ordinance,” said Patiala, who is the working committee member of the AIKSCC. A joint platform of 10 central trade unions, meanwhile, has extended its support to the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call by farmer organisations on December 8.


Don’t label protesting farmers as ‘Khalistanis, anti-nationals’, Editors Guild tells media houses

The Editors Guild of India has issued an advisory to the media against using terms like “Khalistanis” and “anti-nationals” to describe the farmers protesting against the Centre’s agriculture laws.In a statement, the association expressed concern about the news coverage of the protests. It said using such terms, without any evidence or proof to back the claims, delegitimises the agitation.“This goes against the tenets of responsible and ethical journalism,” the statement said. “Such actions compromise the credibility of the media. EGI advises media organisations to display fairness, objectivity, and balance in reporting the farmers’ protests, without displaying partisanship against those who are exercising their constitutional rights to express themselves.”The editors’ association said that media houses should not be complicit to any narrative that derogates dissent or “stereotypes protestors based on their attire and ethnicity”.


Team of Muslim men serving langar all day to protesting farmers at Singhu border

While agitating farmers stay put at Delhi's Singhu border to protest against Centre's farm laws, a team of Muslim men are making sure they are well fed. A 25-member team of Muslim men has been serving 'langar' (community kitchen) since Wednesday to the farmers protesting at the Singhu border -- Delhi-Haryana border.Led by Faaroqi Mubeen, the team of the Muslim Federation of Punjab says they have come to the Singhu border to "serve the farmers who feed everyone". "The langar will go on 24x7 till the protests continue. The farmers do so much for us. It is our turn to return the favour," news agency PTI quoted Faaroqi Mubeen as saying."It is our responsibility to take care of the farmers. We are a team of 25 volunteers who are working non-stop to keep the 'langar' going," Mubeen said.Key routes at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh continued to remain choked as thousands of farmers on Friday held demonstrations for the ninth consecutive day, after talks between three union ministers and a representative group of agitating farmers failed to yield any resolution on Thursday.


Farmers in India have right to demonstrate peacefully: UN Secretary-General spokesperson

Farmers in India have the right to demonstrate peacefully and authorities should allow them, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric."We want to see people have a voice in their lives," Dujarric said on Friday at his daily briefing when a reporter asked about the ongoing farmers' protests against the agriculture reform laws introduced by the Indian government. "What I would say to you is what I've said to others when raising these issues is that people have a right to demonstrate peacefully, and authorities need to let them do so," he added.IANS


Farm law protests: 36 British MPs urge UK foreign secretary to raise concerns with India

36 British MPs have written a letter to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, urging him to raise their concern with India over the ongoing farm law protests, TOI reported . MPs, from various parties but mostly comprising Labour members, have also asked Raab to call an urgent meeting to discuss the “deteriorating” situation in Punjab and “its relationship with Centre”. Legislators said that protests “are of particular concern to Sikhs in UK” as many of them have family members and ancestral land in Punjab. The letter cites a Sikh Council UK survey that states 84% people from the community are personally concerned about the impact of the laws and 93% feel that human rights violations will increase.


Farm law protests: India summons Canadian envoy over Justin Trudeau’s ‘unacceptable’ comments

Ministry of External Affairs said it has summoned the Canadian High Commissioner on Friday as the comments by the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and some other leaders on farmers’ protests constitute “an unacceptable interference” in India’s internal affairs. India said that the comments made by Canadian politicians, including ministers and members of Parliament, “legitimise extremist activism”.Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada, New Delhi conveyed to the Canadian diplomat, according to a foreign ministry press release.“These comments have encouraged gatherings of extremist activities in front of our High Commission and Consulates in Canada that raise issues of safety and security,” the statement said. “We expect the Canadian government to ensure the fullest security of Indian diplomatic personnel and its political leaders to refrain from pronouncements that legitimise extremist activism.”


Trudeau Shrugs Off New Delhi's Reproach, Supports Farmers' Protest Again

New Delhi: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau repeated his support for the right of farmers in India to hold peaceful protests hours after the central government summoned the country's High Commissioner on Friday to express its displeasure at his original remarks."Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protests anywhere around the world. And we are pleased to see moves towards de-escalation and dialogue," he told reporters in Ottawa to a question about India's warning that he could damage ties between the 2 countries. When pressed further about whether he was worried about the consequences, Trudeau coolly reiterated the first line of his statement.India had summoned Canada's ambassador on Friday and warned of serious damage to diplomatic ties after PM Trudeau commented on growing protests by farmers. The Indian foreign ministry said it had summoned Canada's top diplomat for a warning over "unacceptable interference" in India's internal affairs.

UP police camping in villages to prevent farmers from joining protests in NCR, say farmer leaders

Even as the farmers intensified their agitation demanding repeal of the three farm laws, the Yogi government has asked officials of districts neighbouring Delhi to stop movement of farmers from Uttar Pradesh to join the dharna in the national capital region (NCR). Dharampal, a senior BKU leader told this reporter that farmers are being stopped from marching towards NCR. The police have come to various villages in Meerut district asking villagers not to move out of the village limits. “The police in Aad, Afzalpur Pawati and Ajnauli villages of Meerut tehsil have prevented movement of villagers,” he said.



Farmers' group trying to reach Delhi detained in Greater Noida

A group of protesting farmers have been detained by police on the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida. The farmers were attempting to break the barricades in order to come towards Delhi, ANI has reported.


 Former sportspersons, Padma awardee to return awards, support farmers

Several former sportspersons from Punjab, including Padma Shri and Arjuna awardees, left for Delhi on Saturday to return their awards in support of the farmers' protest against the Centre's three agriculture reform laws. The sportspersons will join the farmers camping at the national capital's Singhu border on Saturday before returning their awards to President Ram Nath Kovind the next day. "We have left for Delhi today and will join the farmers' protest," said former wrestler Kartar Singh, who is a Padma Shri and Arjuna awardee."Many former players like Sajjan Singh Cheema who could not join us because of health or other issues have given their sports awards to us," he said.


Protesting Farmers Call for 'Bharat Bandh' on December 8

New Delhi: Hardening their position ahead of the fifth round of talks with the government, agitating farmers on Friday announced a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on December 8 and threatened to occupy toll plazas on that day.Addressing a press conference, farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni said if the Centre does not accept their demands during Saturday’s talks, they will intensify their agitation against the new farm laws.“In our meeting today, we have decided to give a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call on December 8 during which we will also occupy all toll plazas,” said Harinder Singh Lakhwal, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union.PTI


 Plea in SC against bigamy among Muslims: Opposed to public policy, decency, morality

New Delhi :A group of women has moved the Supreme Court challenging the provisions in the Shariat Act and Indian Penal Code which allow the practice of bigamy in the Muslim community.The plea filed through Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, said that though there are UN conventions against bigamy, “in India the irony is that bigamy has been made punishable under Section 494 of IPC subject to applicability of personal law”. The practice is disallowed by Hindu, Christian and Parsi laws but permitted under Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, the plea said, adding this “is opposed to public policy, decency and morality and is discriminatory within the meaning of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”.“Therefore, the provision of Section 2 of Shariat Act in so far it protects the bigamous marriages by Muslims is liable to be struck down being unconstitutional and void,” the petition prayed.The plea said Section 494 of IPC provides that “whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine”.


"Penal Action Cannot Be Differentiated Based On Religious Practice": Plea In Supreme Court Challenges Legal Recognition Of Bigamy Among Muslims


Lucknow: Hindu,Muslim families give consent but cops stop interfaith wedding, cite anti-conversion ordinance

Lucknow :POLICE STOPPED an interfaith wedding in Lucknow, citing the newly passed Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, after receiving complaints from Hindu outfits. The police intervened on the day of the wedding, despite consent of the families of Hindu bride and Muslim bridegroom to it. The wedding was to take place in Lucknow’s Duda Colony on Wednesday. As final preparations were on, a team from Para Police Station – which has Duda Colony under its jurisdiction – reached the spot and asked the couple to first seek clearance from Lucknow DM before going ahead. Wedding was to be held according to Hindu rituals, according to police officers. Para Police Station SHO Triloki Singh said families of 22-year-old bride and 24-year-old bridegroom have agreed to wait for approval from DM for the marriage. “The family of the girl is Hindu, while the boy’s family is Muslim. Both of them were getting married with each other’s consent and there was no coercion of any type,” Singh said. “Some representatives of Rashtriya Yuva Vahini objected to the wedding and we stopped the wedding and told them that under the new conversion law, you can only get married if you have notified DM for the specified period of time. We told them that it should not seem that there is pressure to convert.”Asked if either the bride or groom intended to convert, SHO said, “That may have been later, but the couple told us that they wanted to get married. The Muslim youth wanted to become Hindu and get married. They were getting married according to Hindu rituals.”


'Forcible and fraudulent conversion illegal': Bareilly's Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat endorses anti-conversion law

LUCKNOW: A prominent Islamic sect associated with Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat shrine in Bareilly has issued a religious decree banning religious conversion by force or allurement.One of the most revered shrines related to the Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims issued “fatwa” calling the practice of forcible and fraudulent conversion against the tenet of Islam.In the decree, the president of Markaz-e-Darul Ifta of Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat, Mufti Musibur Rahman Rajvi, said in the light of the Quran and ‘Shariat’, religious conversion by force or allurement was illegal.


Indian Muslim student arrested for allegedly trying to convert Hindu woman under controversial 'love jihad' law:CNN

Police in northern India have arrested a Muslim man for allegedly trying to convert a Hindu woman to Islam, under a controversial new law that has sparked widespread outrage and protests.21-year-old student was arrested on Wednesday in UP, only days after the state enacted the law targeting "love jihad" -- a term used by radical Hindu groups who accuse Muslim men of attempting to convert women of other faiths to Islam. The same day the law came into effect, a man named Tikaram Rathone filed a report to police, alleging the male student was trying to coerce his 20-year-old Hindu daughter, who is married, to convert to Islam and marry him. Rathore alleged the man had developed a friendship with his daughter at school, and wanted to "coerce, coax and allure" her into converting. Police in Bareilly district confirmed via Facebook that the man was arrested on Wednesday. Critics have called the law Islamophobic, unconstitutional, and regressive. Many are concerned it will lead to misuse and harassment, and that the law will make it increasingly difficult for interfaith couples to marry in the country.


Uttar Pradesh: 14 people booked under new anti-conversion law in Mau district

The police said they booked 38-year-old Shabab Khan alias Rahul and 13 others under the relevant sections of IPC and UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance. ASP Tribhuvan Nath Tripathi said a FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint by a resident of Molnaganj village. The complainant alleged that Khan had abducted his 27-year-old daughter with the help of the other accused on her wedding eve on Nov.30. The police said Khan, who was already married, kidnapped the woman with the intent to change her religion.


‘Hindus will be beaten if they visit church on Christmas,’ threatens Bajrang Dal member in Assam

In a controversial statement, a Bajrang Dal worker in Assam’s Cachar district threatened to assault Hindus if they visit a church on Christmas, Barak Bulletin reported. “If Hindus go and visit churches on Christmas day, they will get brutally beaten,” Mithun Nath, District General Secretary of Bajrang Dal said at an event. “They are locking temples in Shillong and we are going and celebrating with them. This cannot happen, we will not allow this to happen.” Nath was referring to a recent incident in the Meghalaya capital, where Vivekananda Cultural Centre, in the city’s Quinton Road, was allegedly locked up by members of the Khasi Students Union, according to Barak Bulletin. The centre is a part of the local branch of the Ramakrishna Mission. However, speaking to the website, the mission’s secretary confirmed that that the temple in its premises was not locked up and matter was only related to the cultural centre. Nath, however, referred to the matter to back his threat against Hindus who might visit a church.


Attempt To Murder Charge Against Man Who Attended Tablighi Event 'Abuse of Law': Allahabad HC

Allahabad high court observed that the attempt to slap a murder charge against a Mau resident who participated in the religious congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat in March was reflective of an “abuse of the power of law”.The high court made the observation while staying the proceedings under section 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC against Mohammad Saad, who was accused of deliberately not informing the local authorities about taking part in the event and avoiding voluntary quarantine upon his return from Delhi.Justice Ajay Bhanot passed the order, while hearing a petition filed by Saad challenging the chargesheet filed against him in the case.The petitioner pleaded before the court that earlier the chargesheet was filed under sections 269 and 270 of IPC for spreading deadly disease, but later it was recalled and a fresh chargesheet was filed under section 307 of IPC for ‘attempt to murder’.The court after hearing the concerned parties observed, “From a perusal of the material, charge sheeting the applicant under Section 307 IPC prima facie reflects abuse of the power of law”. The court also directed the state government, SSP Mau and the concerned police officer to file their reply in the case.PTI



SC junks plea seeking govt nominees in Muslim trust for Ayodhya mosque

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking directions for nominating Central and state government representatives to Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF) trust for building a mosque in Ayodhya.  Citing Shri Ram Mandir Teerth Ksehtra Trust – formed by the central government in accordance with the SC judgment of Nov.2019 in the Ayodhya dispute to oversee construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya — the petitioners said it was only fair that the government monitors the Muslim trust as well.The writ, filed by Shishir Chaturvedi of Lucknow and Karunesh Kumar Shukla of Basti in Aug.2020, was dismissed by the bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice KM Joseph. The petitioners had contented that the central govt’s involvement was necessary to maintain peace in Ayodhya and to “ensure no malpractices take place and funds are not misused or misappropriated” by the trust.Spokesperson of the trust Athar Husain said, “The petition does not hold any water. The trust formed by UP Sunni Central Waqf Board for management of 5-acre plot already has CEO of the Board, who is a government officer, as founder trustee.”


Delhi riots: Police carried out “insidious” prosecution, JNU student to Court 

JNU student and Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita, arrested under the stringent UAPA, alleged before a Delhi court on Friday that the police had carried out an insidious prosecution against her in a case of north east Delhi riots. The submissions were made before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat during hearing of her bail plea in the case related to larger conspiracy in the communal violence. The police has claimed in the charge sheet that Kalita along with others had allegedly given provocative speeches at the protest sites to instigate the crowd. Prosecution will counter the arguments of the accused on Saturday. During the hearing on Friday, advocate Adit Pujari, appearing for Kalita, referred to the seizure memo files submitted with the charge sheet and said the police allegedly submitted incomplete documents deliberately to falsely show that around 300 women, who came from Jahangirpuri to Jafrabad where protests against CAA were held, precipitated the violence.PTI


Delhi Riots: Delhi High Court Directs Shifting Of Jamia Student Asif Iqbal Tanha To Guest House For Writing Exams

Delhi High Court has directed the jail authorities to forthwith take Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) student Asif Iqbal Tanha, to a guest house located in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi so that he is able to study and appear in examinations scheduled from 04th December. The Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing an application filed by Tanha under Section 439 Cr.P.C. read with Section 43D(5) of UAPA seeking interim bail for a period of one week for the purpose of appearing in his examinations.


Delhi riots: HC grants bail to man accused of arson

 Delhi high court has granted bail to a man, accused of rioting and arson during the communal riots in north east Delhi, saying that there is no CCTV footage or any electronic evidence that establishes the presence of the accused at the spot. Justice Suresh Kait granted bail to Irshad Ahmad at a bail bond of Rs 25,000.It said that even though in one photograph, the presence of the accused is shown at the house of the co-accused, however, it is not in dispute that charge sheet has already been filed and the accused has been released on bail in two other FIRs registered in connection to the riots in Dayalpur, in north east Delhi.



Loopholes in Compensation Disbursement Leave Delhi Riots Victims' Families in Limbo

New Delhi: Musarrat, a widow and mother of four, has lost all hope of receiving compensation promised to Delhi riots’ victims. Her eldest daughter Bushra (20) lost all her documents and study material in the fire and vandalism that damaged the entire building where she and her family had lived on rent for a year and a half. “All our books, household stuff, documents, everything got burnt in the riots, and my father’s hard work reduced to ashes.”A day before the riots, the family had moved to Musarrat’s mother’s house due to her pregnancy. After they heard that their house had been damaged, they went to collect their leftover belongings; however, rioters had reduced their lifetime of hard work to mere burnt scrap. In an attempt to receive her compensation as a tenant of the burnt property, Bushra recently visited SDM 0ffice in Karawal Nagar. To her surprise, she came to know that the compensation had already been allotted to the landlord as well as the other tenants living in the building. On raising her concern with SDM, she was told that her compensation claim had been rejected since the compensation filed by the landlord had already been transferred. In Shiv Vihar, many families live in rented accommodations with monthly rent ranging between Rs 2000-4000, and in most cases, rent agreements are not signed. In such cases, property owners let out their building premises considering references, goodwill or community ties. In Musarrat’s case too, there’s no rent agreement or any documentary proof to ascertain that she was a tenant at the said property.


Arnab Goswami, 2 others named in chargesheet in 2018 abetment to suicide case

Maharashtra Police on Friday filed a chargesheet against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and two others in the 2018 abetment to suicide case of Anvay Naik, reported PTI. The other two accused named in the chargesheet, filed before a court in Alibaug in Raigad district, are Firoze Sheikh and Nitish Sarda. As many as 65 people have been named witnesses, special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat told PTI.


 Father Stan Swamy receives straw, sipper, winter clothes

Father Stan Swamy, 83, finally received a straw and sipper and winter clothes from the Taloja Central Jail authorities, his advocate informed the special NIA court on Friday. On November 26, NIA, probing the Bhima Koregaon case, had informed the court that it does not have a straw and sipper as it was not seized at the time of his arrest. The court had then directed the jail authorities to file a reply to the application seeking the items. Advocate Sharif Shaikh, representing Father Swamy, on Friday told the court that he received winter clothes and a straw and sipper from the Jail Superintendent. Mr. Shaikh then filed three applications — seeking direction to the Central probe agency to return Father Swamy’s bag, which was seized at the time of his arrest on October 8; a clone copy of his hard disk which was also seized at the time of arrest; and a direction to not transfer him from Taloja Jail as Father Swamy was anxious about being shifted out.


Delhi HC Grants Bail to Journalist Rajeev Sharma, Held Under Official Secrets Act

Delhi high court on Friday granted bail to freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, arrested in an espionage case under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking sensitive information to Chinese intelligence.Justice Yogesh Khanna granted the relief to Sharma on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and a surety of the like amount, which shall be given by him within a week once the trial court resumes its normal functioning.Sharma had sought statutory bail on the ground that the charge sheet was not filed within 60 days of his arrest. PTI


AIUDF chief’s foundation booked for receiving foreign funds with alleged terror links; Ajmal Foundation rubbishes allegations

Guwahati:Police in Guwahati filed a FIR on Friday against a foundation run by Lok Sabha MP and chief of AIUDF Badruddin Ajmal for receiving funds from some foreign agencies, allegedly linked to terror groups.FIR lodged by BJP leader Satya Ranjan Borah at Dispur police station against Ajmal Foundation alleges that the organization got funds from foreign agencies linked with terror outfits. “The complainant alleges in FIR that Ajmal Foundation had misused funds received from foreign agencies which had terror links. FIR is lodged under sections of IPC and FCRA. We are conducting investigations,” said Himangshu Das, ACP (Dispur). Borah’s complaint is based on allegations levelled against Ajmal Foundation by an NGO called LRO. Ajmal Foundation has rubbished the allegations and said it welcomed a thorough probe.“Most of our foreign funds come from UK under strict compliance of FCRA regulations and are used in social, education and relief works. A false impression about our foundation is being created based on incorrect information. We want the thorough investigation, so that the truth is revealed,” Khasrul Islam, director of Ajmal Foundation told a TV channel.


 Waqf Boards to be established in J&K, Ladakh soon: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Waqf Boards will soon be established in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and the process for it has already started, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Friday.After chairing a Central Waqf Council meeting in New Delhi, Naqvi said that Waqf Boards will be established in Jammu-Kashmir and Leh-Kargil areas for the first time since Independence.It has become possible to do so only after the revocation of Article 370, he said and added that the Waqf Boards in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will ensure proper utilisation of Waqf properties for the welfare of society. Central government will provide adequate financial assistance to construct infrastructure for socio-economic and educational activities on Waqf properties in Union Territories under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karykram (PMJVK)’, Naqvi said.PTI


India carefully monitoring China’s dam construction project on Brahmaputra River: MEA

India has said it was “carefully monitoring” China’s actions, following reports that Beijing would construct dams on a section of the Brahmaputra river close to the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh.The river, also known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in China, flows from Tibet into Arunachal Pradesh and down through Assam to Bangladesh. China plans to build a “super dam” on the river in Medog county of the Tibet Autonomous Region, prompting concerns among Indian authorities that the project could trigger flash floods or create water scarcity, according to the Hindustan Times.


Army Chief to visit Saudi, UAE next week; The region is important for India, experts say

Close on the heels of the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visiting Bahrain and the UAE last week, next week the Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane is expected to visit Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “During the last few years the defence and security cooperation between India and some Gulf countries have acquired a strategic salience,” experts opine. “The upcoming visit of Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Naravane to Saudi Arabia and UAE indicates a titanic shift in security dynamics and geopolitical equations between India and Middle East in the backdrop of changing dynamics in the Islamic world,” Brig NK Bhatia, an Indian Army Veteran, tells Financial Express Online.Sharing his views former Ambassador Amb Anil Trigunayat says, “Joint defence production is being explored. As such Saudi Arabia is the biggest importer of sophisticated arms and ammunition followed by India hence greater scope if mutually beneficial collaboration in joint production is incumbent. Since both Saudi Arabia and UAE are India’s largest trading and investment partners in the region greater collaboration in the Gulf security architecture becomes essential.”


‘No BJP storm,’ says Owaisi as BJP emerges second-largest party in Hyderabad civic polls

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Friday dismissed claims of a “BJP storm” after the BJP emerged the second-largest party, with 48 seats, in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls, HT reported. Owaisi said his party would continue to fight BJP. “Where is the storm?” asked Owaisi. “Had there been a storm, BJP wouldn’t have lost in Maharashtra MLC election. BJP had said they would conduct surgical strike in old city. But they couldn’t do anything in my area. We did democratic strike. We contested in 51 seats and won 44. Think what would have happened had AIMIM contested in 80 seats.”  AIMIM chief added that his party had contested in 60 seats and won 44 in 2016, making this year’s strike rate better.


J&K: Over 50% total turnout recorded in third phase of DDC polls; candidate shot at in Anantnag

The third phase of District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday saw a total turnout of 50.53%, according to the data provided by the Election Commission.Jammu region recorded a turnout of 68.88%, while Kashmir division saw a turnout of 31.61%. The highest turnout of 75.20% was recorded in Reasi, and the lowest of 10.87% was in Pulwama.


Maharashtra: BJP suffers setback as ruling coalition wins four of six seats in Legislative Council

BJP has suffered a major setback as the party managed to secure only one of the six seats in the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections, whereas the Maha Vikas Aghadi government won four seats, NDTV reported. The Opposition also won BJP’s bastion in Nagpur and the crucial Pune seat. An Independent candidate won the remaining seat. BJP leader and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis told ANI that the results of the polls were not what the party expected. “The results of Maharashtra Legislative Council polls are not as per our expectations. We were expecting more seats but won only one. We miscalculated the combined power of the three parties [NCP, Shiv Sena and Congress].”


BJP Suffers Setback in Varanasi and Gorakphpur in UP Legislative Council Polls

LUCKNOW—BJP has won three seats in the UP Legislative Council, of the six where results have been announced.All these six seats are in the teachers’ constituency. BJP has won seats in the teachers’ constituencies in Lucknow, Meerut and Bareilly.Meanwhile, a major setback for the BJP is that the party candidate has lost Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, where the Samajwadi Party’s Lal Bihari Yadav has won the election.In Gorakhpur too, an independent Dhruv Kumar Tripathi has won the elections.Meanwhile, candidates and their supporters fought a pitched battle with the police in Jhansi at the counting centre on Friday afternoon.IANS


IMA scam: Former Karnataka minister Roshan Baig granted bail by Bengaluru special court

Bengaluru :A special court on Saturday granted bail to former Karnataka minister R Roshan Baig in connection with the Rs 4,000 crore I Monetary Advisory (IMA) scam. Baig was arrested by CBI on November 22 and a raid was conducted on his residences the following day. He is accused no 36 in the case.In the bail order, the judge ordered Baig to surrender the passport and directed him to appear before CBI officials whenever required for the investigation. Shashikiran Shetty, who appeared for Baig, argued that CBI had taken him into custody and have questioned him. He also said that Baig co-operated CBI officials during investigations.


Trial in 2008 Malegaon blast case resumes

Trial resumed in the 2008 Malegaon blast case after nine months with the cross-examination of a witness, who had been part of a spot panchnama (inventory) of the site. The witness had begun his deposition in July last year identifying 33 articles seized by the investigating agencies from Bhiku Chowk in Malegaon after the blast on Sept.29, 2008, which killed 6 and injured over 100. While cross-examination on behalf of accused BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur had also began, the trial was stalled after the special judge in the case retired in February and thereafter the lockdown was imposed.


 Dabur, Patanjali among 13 brands adulterating honey with sugar syrup: CSE study; Dabur only company that rejects findings
Environment watchdog Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claimed on Wednesday that honey sold by 13 major brands in India including Dabur has been found adulterated with sugar syrup. Dabur, however, has rejected the allegation in a statement issued today. Food researchers at CSE selected 13 top brands and some smaller brands that sell processed and raw honey in India to check their purity. The researchers found that 77 per cent of the samples were adulterated with sugar syrup. Out of the 22 samples that were checked, only five passed all the tests. CSE study said honey samples from leading brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari and Apis Himalaya failed NMR test.The samples of these brands were first tested at the CALF at NDDB in Gujarat. The CSE said almost all the top brands passed the tests of purity while a few smaller brands failed the tests to detect C4 sugar or basic adulteration using cane sugar.However, when the same brands were tested using NMR — laboratory tests currently being used globally to check for such modified sugar syrups — almost all the big and small brands failed. Out of the 13 brands, only three passed the NMR test conducted by a specialised laboratory in Germany.The three brands are Saffola, MarkfedSohna and Nature's Nectar (one out of two samples).A Business Today report said Dabur has refuted the findings of the study. As per Dabur's statement, it is the only company in India to have an NMR testing equipment in its own laboratory.An Emami spokesperson said that Zandu Pure Honey “conforms and adheres” to all protocols and quality norms and standards laid down by the Government of India and its authorised entities such as FSSAI. However, unlike Dabur, it did not comment on NMR test which is considered the global standard. Meanwhile, an Apis Himalaya spokesperson replied saying that the company will not comment immediately but will hold a press conference. Sunita Narain also mentioned in the study that consuming adulterated food "compromises" public health during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.


Salman Ahmed is New President of Students Islamic Organisation

NEW DELHI ;Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) of India has elected Mohammed Salman Ahmed as national president. A native of Maharashtra, he holds a masters degree in Engineering. His election was held recently at a meeting in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh in which other office-bearers of SIO were also elected.Syed Ahmed Muzakkir, who was previously Director of SIO’s Centre for Educational Research & Training, was elected general secretary. Muzakkir holds a masters degree in Economics from the University of Malaysia.The national secretaries who form part of the central leadership are Nihal Kidiyoor, Dr. Naseem Ahmed, Tahoor Anwar, Rameas EK, Musab Qazi, Fawaz Shaheen and Abdul Hafeez.All the office-bearers, including the president, will hold their posts for two years.


Gujarat University: Salma Kureshi, first Muslim woman to get PhD in Sanskrit

It was not only Salma Kureshi brimming with pride when she held her PhD from Gujarat University’s School of Languages. Her PhD guide and her family also felt proud, as she is not only the first person from family to earn a doctoral degree but to receive a PhD in Sanskrit. She also broke stereotype and general notion of Sanskrit being only a language of brahmins and that the God’s language belongs to only specific religion.Kureshi earned PhD with title- Puraneshu Nirupita ShikshaPadshati- Ekamdhyayanam. In the thesis, she studied educational methods in Puranas and its implementation in the current times.




Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij tests positive, days after taking trial Covid19 vaccine shot

Chandigarh: Barely 2 weeks after being administered a trial vaccine shot of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij Saturday tested positive of the novel coronavirus. 67-year-old BJP veteran is diabetic, and had recently undergone a surgery for a thigh bone fracture. He had volunteered to participate in the vaccine’s human phase trials, in which over 25,000 persons were administered trial doses. Announcing that he had tested positive for Covid-19, Vij tweeted: “I have been tested Corona positive. I am admitted in Civil Hospital Ambala Cantt. All those who have come in close contact to me are advised to get themselves tested for corona.”Health department officials said Vij was under close surveillance by a team of doctors, and his health parameters were fine.On November 20, Vij was the first in Haryana to participate in Covaxin’s trials.


COVID-19 vaccination drive will begin as soon as scientists give nod: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India's vaccination programme against COVID-19 would begin as soon as a go-ahead from scientists is given, and asserted that healthcare workers involved in treating coronavirus patients, frontline workers and old people suffering from serious conditions would be inoculated on priority.PTI


Joe Biden: Covid vaccination in US will not be mandatory

President-elect Joe Biden says Americans won't be forced to take a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available in the US. It comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the first time urged "universal mask use" indoors, unless when Americans are at their own home. CDC said the US had "entered a phase of high-level transmission" of the virus. Mr Biden - who is due to take office on 20 January - also said he expected his inauguration to be a scaled-back event without large crowds because of coronavirus concerns."My guess is there'll still be a platform ceremony but I don't know how it's all going to work out," he said.On Friday the US recorded over 2,500 deaths and nearly 225,000 new cases. It has confirmed 14.3 million cases and more than 278,000 deaths.


Covid: Russia begins vaccinations in Moscow

Russia is starting its Covid-19 vaccination programme, with clinics in the capital Moscow inoculating those most at risk from the virus.Its own vaccine Sputnik V, which was registered in August, is being used.Developers say it is 95% effective and causes no major side effects, but it is still undergoing mass testing.Thousands of people have already registered to get the first of two jabs over the weekend, but it is unclear how much Russia can manufacture.Producers are only expected to make 2 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year.


Jamia Researchers Invent Solar-Powered Disinfection Tunnel To Prevent Covid-19 At Public Places

NEW DELHI—Jamia Millia Islamia (JIM) university added yet another feather to its cap as researchers of Jamia’s Department of Mechanical Engineering have developed a solar-powered self-generating disinfection system for preventing spread of coronavirus in large gatherings, public and private places.The invention has been published in the Official Journal of The Patent Office, Government of India and awaiting grant of patent.The disinfection system is mainly intended for remote or public places such as, banks, malls, hospitals, marriage halls, party halls, airports, universities, schools, temples, colleges etc, where the transportation of chemicals and electricity availability for disinfection is scarce, thereby self-generating the mixture with available tap water using the solar energy.India Tomorrow




Normalisation with Israel requires Palestinian state: Saudi FM

Rome: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has said Saudi Arabia would only normalise ties with Israel within a plan that would deliver a sovereign state to Palestinians, quashing speculation that the kingdom may soon become the latest Arab country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.“What we need to make [normalisation of ties with Israel] happen is a peace deal that delivers a Palestinian state with dignity and with a workable sovereignty that Palestinians can accept,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Friday.Prince Faisal was addressing an online talk at Med2020, a yearly international forum held every year in Italy’s capital Rome bringing together world leaders.He said Saudi Arabia envisaged normalisation of ties with Israel in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borderlines.“That deal would have to be negotiated, but what is important now is to bring back Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table to work towards a fair deal,” Prince Faisal said.Prince Faisal said a normalisation of ties with Israel has long been part of Saudi Arabia’s vision. “It was first put on the table in Fez in 1982 by then Crown Prince Fahad,” he said.“We still have that same vision, whereby Israel becomes a normal part of the region, where it has fully normal relations with the neighbours. What we need to make it happen is to deliver a [Palestinian] state.” Just a few hours earlier, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also delivered Qatar’s take on the Abraham Accords to the Med2020 platform, saying Qatar did not consider them as helping the Palestinian cause.Al Thani said the Palestinian issue would have to be at the core of any normalisation agreement between Qatar and Israel.



Saudi cancels meeting with Israel official after secret meeting with Netanyahu exposed

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has cancelled a meeting with an Israeli official after details of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unannounced trip to the Saudi city of Neom last week were leaked.According to Arab48, the cancellation is most likely due to the lack of secrecy regarding the earlier meeting where Netanyahu was joined by Bin Salman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chief of Israeli Mossad Yossi Cohen.The senior officials are reported to have discussed normalising ties and possibly the signing of a peace deal in the near future.Israeli Education Minister, Yoav Galant, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet and his Likud party, confirmed the secret meeting had taken place earlier this week.He told Israel's Army Radio: "The very fact the meeting happened and was outed publicly, even if half officially right now, is a matter of great importance."However, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saudi denied that the meeting took place, claiming that "the only officials present were American and Saudi" during the recent visit by Pompeo.


Bahrain, Israel on same front against Iran: Manama minister

Bahrain and Israel are "on the same front" against the Iranian threat and "for humanity and humanitarian values, Israeli media outlets reported a Bahraini official saying during an official visit to the occupation state.Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Bin Rashid Al-Zayani is heading a high-ranking Bahraini trade delegation in a visit to Israel, nearly three months after a normalisation deal was signed between the two countries.In an interview with Israeli TV, Al-Zayani said that Manama is coordinating with friendly nations, including at the security level, in the face of the Iranian threat.During the Bahraini delegation's visit, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the tourism sector.


UN General Assembly votes in favour of affirming Syria sovereignty over Golan Heights

United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday voted with an overwhelming majority in favour of a draft resolution affirming Syria's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, and considering all Israeli procedures in them null and void. The resolution called on Israel to withdraw from the entire occupied Syrian Golan Heights and to comply with the resolutions relating to them, especially Resolution No. 497 of 1981, which considers Israel's decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied area null and void. The resolution reiterated that all measures taken by the Israeli government with the aim of changing the Syrian Golan's character null and void, and constitute a flagrant violation of international law and the Geneva Convention concerning the protection of civilians in times of war.


 January Syrian talks to focus on Constitution: UN envoy

UN special envoy for Syria announced Friday that a new round of talks to discuss constitutional principles for a peaceful Syria will begin next month in Geneva  Geir Pedersen told reporters at the UN that there was "some common ground" after five days of talks."So, when the next meeting will be starting on the 25th of January, the COVID situation allowing, what we will be discussing is then constitutional principles or basic principles of the Constitution," he said.

Israel, US armies intensify coordination for possible Iran retaliation to top scientist assassination

Senior officers from the Israeli army have recently met with their counterparts from the US Central Command to strengthen coordination and preparation for a possible Iranian retaliation to the assassination of Tehran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.The paper divulged that several defence measures had been taken as part of the coordination, including joint detection of missiles launched at Israeli or US targets in the region.According to the paper, the Israeli army officials expect Iran to retaliate this month, to keep a safe distance from the date of US President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on 20 Jan.


Palestinian teen killed by Israeli forces at protest: Officials

A Palestinian teenager has been killed in clashes with the Israeli army on the sidelines of a protest in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.Thirteen-year-old Ali Ayman Nasr Abou Aliya “succumbed to his wounds after he was shot with live rounds in the stomach” during clashes on Friday north of Ramallah, the ministry said in a statement.He had been taken in critical condition for treatment at a hospital in Ramallah where he later died, the ministry said.


Saudi FM says final agreement in Qatar dispute ‘in reach’

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has expressed optimism that the 3-year boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations, including the kingdom, may be nearing an end. “We’ve made significant progress in the last few days,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan said, speaking to Italy’s annual Mediterranean Dialogues on Friday.“We hope that this progress can lead to a final agreement which looks in reach, and I can say that I am somewhat optimistic that we are close to finalising an agreement between all the nations in the dispute to come to a resolution that we think will be satisfactory to all,” the prince said.However, the other three nations boycotting Qatar – Bahrain, Egypt and UAE – did not immediately acknowledge any progress. More than a year ago, a similar hope for an end to the dispute quickly faded.But Prince Faisal’s remarks did come just hours after the top diplomat from mediator nation Kuwait described the ongoing talks over the crisis as “constructive and fruitful”.Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser al-Sabah said on Friday there was progress in resolving the dispute but stopped short of announcing any breakthrough in the dispute. “Fruitful discussions have taken place recently in which all sides expressed their keenness … to reach a final agreement,” al-Sabah said in a statement read out on Kuwait TV, thanking White House senior adviser Jared Kushner for his “recent efforts”. Earlier on Friday, Al Thani also said there has been movement on resolving diplomatic dispute.Following the statement, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman thanked Kuwait for its mediation.


Trump orders withdrawal of US troops from Somalia

US President Donald Trump has ordered withdrawal of nearly all US troops from Somalia by 15 January, Pentagon has said. US has about 700 troops in the country helping local forces battle al-Shabab and Islamic State militants.US officials said some of the troops would move to neighbouring countries, allowing for cross-border operations.In recent months President Trump has issued similar orders to reduce US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.


UN General Assembly passes Pakistan-led interfaith dialogue resolution

UN General Assembly has adopted the Pakistan-led resolution on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue,” the country's foreign ministry said.   The resolution, co-sponsored by Pakistan and the Philippines, was adopted by UN General Assembly with an overwhelming majority. "This resolution is part of Pakistan’s global efforts to promote interfaith harmony, tolerance, respect for each other’s religions and values, and peaceful co-existence," the ministry said in a statement.  In the wake of growing religious intolerance and racism, especially Islamophobia around the world, the resolution focuses on interreligious and cultural dialogues amongst all stakeholders and advocates combatting intolerance, Xenophobia, discrimination and acts of violence.It also supported the call of High Representative for UN Alliance of Civilizations for “mutual respect” and emphasized the importance of realization of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, especially the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies. "Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly called upon the international community to counter Islamophobia and promote respect for religious sensitivities. The adoption of this resolution by UN General Assembly is part of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts inter alia for raising awareness about Islamophobia and countering the defamation of sacred religious personalities and symbols," the statement further said.


Erdogan hopes France ‘gets rid of Macron trouble’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hopes France will soon get rid of President Emmanuel Macron, describing him as a burden on France which was enduring dangerous times.“Macron is a burden on France. Macron and France are going through a very dangerous period actually. My hope is that France gets rid of the Macron trouble as soon as possible,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul after Friday prayers.


HRW condemns France for shutting down anti-bias group

Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Friday a decision by France to shut down a leading anti-discrimination group.  US-based rights advocacy NGO said the move threatens basic human rights and liberties including freedom of expression, association, religion and the principle of nondiscrimination.“Whatever its intention, this measure risks further stigmatizing Muslims in France,” said HRW’s Western Europe researcher Kartik Raj.“Shutting down an organization that raises legitimate concerns about anti-Muslim prejudice is blaming the messenger rather than addressing existing discrimination,” he said.The heavy-handed action will make it harder for victims of anti-Muslim prejudice in France to seek appropriate redress and could leave others afraid to complain, according to Raj. “It could also backfire by fueling the narrative that French state policy is anti-Muslim.”French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced Dec. 2 the dissolution of the anti-racist group Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).


UK rights groups decry France's anti-Muslim drive

British advocacy groups have condemned France's decision to shut down anti-racism group Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), Anadolu Agency reports.While announcing the move on Wednesday, Gerald Darmanin, France's interior minister, accused the CCIF of carrying out "Islamist propaganda" for several years, allegations the group has vehemently refuted.In a statement in response, London-based group CAGE said the decision "exposes the French state's brazen hypocrisy in advocating 'free speech' while legally denying Muslims the freedom to speak and organize."


 US Senate considers blacklisting Muslim Brotherhood

Republican Senator Ted Cruz presented a bill in the Senate that proposes adding the Muslim Brotherhood to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs).Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced in a tweet that he is proud of proposing this bill, which was presented on Wednesday in cooperation with Republican senators Jim Inhofe, Pat Roberts and Ron Johnson.He asserted that this bill is part of: "US' fight against radical Islamic terrorism."According to a report published on the Senate's website, Cruz stated in the bill's introduction that: "The Muslim Brotherhood should be held responsible for financing and promoting radical Islamic terrorism," while appreciating the ongoing endeavour of Trump's administration to unveil the true face of terrorism and fight it as a potential threat.


Al-Ouda's son: 'My father lost half his ability to see and hear'

Abdullah Al-Ouda, son of the Saudi preacher Salman Al-Ouda, revealed on Thursday that his father "lost almost half of his ability to hear and see" in prison.Of his father, Al-Ouda's son tweeted: "Praying for the harmony of hearts and the good of people cost this man his freedom, and made him victim to harm, torture, pressure and denial of treatment, while being placed in solitary confinement since his arrest (more than three years and few months)."He continued: "A prison doctor told him that he lost almost half of his ability to hear and see! But they still want to harm him!"There was no immediate comment from the Saudi authorities on the allegations made by Al-Ouda's son. However, the Saudi state usually reiterates its full respect for human rights and prisoners' rights.



Fears of forced removals as Bangladesh moves hundreds of Rohingya refugees to remote island

Hundreds of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are being relocated to a controversial island facility in the Bay of Bengal today amid fears that some could be coerced to move there and held indefinitely. A ship carrying 1642 refugees is traveling to Bhasan Char, an island about 40 km off the coast near the city of Chittagong, according to Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.Bangladeshi government has spent years constructing a network of shelters on the island to accommodate up to 100,000 people currently living in sprawling refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, near the Myanmar border.



Bangladesh claims Rohingya relocation is life-saver

Bangladesh defended a controversial plan Friday to relocate Rohingya refugees to a remote island as a move to protect the persecuted people from risks, the nation’s top diplomat said. Despite an outcry by the international community on safety and rights, Bangladesh transferred the first batch of 1,642 Rohingya on Friday to Bhashan Char, a distant island in the Bay of Bengal.Another 3,500 will be sent to the island this week and the relocation is expected to be completed within a week, the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported, citing naval sources.Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen thanked premier Sheikh Hasina for her “decisive action” to transfer a portion of Rohingya living in the squalid makeshift tents in the southern district of Cox’s Bazar to Bhashan Char. International rights defenders, including UN, slammed Bangladesh for starting the transfer without any professional feasibility studies by international experts on the island. Anadolu Agency


US blocks Xinjiang cotton imports over Uyghur 'slave labour'

US Customs and Border Protection agency said on Wednesday that its 'Withhold Release Order' would ban all cotton products from China's Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, one of China's largest producers, Reuters reported.The ban on cotton imports comes as China continues to draw worldwide condemnation over its policies in the Xinjiang region, where nearly a million Uyghur Muslims are being held in labour camps according to Amnesty International.US Homeland Security maintains that the centres in Xinjiang are run like 'concentration camps'.


China doing biological tests to create ‘super soldiers’: US intelligence chief

China has conducted tests on members of its military with the aim of creating a legion of biologically enhanced soldiers, US’ national intelligence chief said in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial.President Donald Trump’s Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has warned that China “poses the greatest threat to America today”. “The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal.“Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. Ratcliffe added that China had gone to great lengths to turn its vision into a reality.“US intelligence shows that China has even conducted human testing on members of the People’s Liberation Army in hope of developing soldiers with biologically enhanced capabilities,” he wrote, claiming that there we’re no “ethical boundaries” to Beijing’s pursuit of power.


China to expand weather modification program to cover area larger than India: CNN

China this week revealed plans to drastically expand an experimental weather modification program to cover an area of over 5.5 million square kilometers -- over 1.5 times the total size of India.According to a statement from the State Council, China will have a "developed weather modification system" by 2025, thanks to breakthroughs in fundamental research and key technologies, as well as improvements in "comprehensive prevention against safety risks."In the next 5 years, the total area covered by artificial rain or snowfall will reach 5.5 million sq km, while over 580,000 sq km will be covered by hail suppression technologies. The statement added that the program will help with disaster relief, agricultural production, emergency responses to forest and grassland fires, and dealing with unusually high temperatures or droughts. China has long sought to control the weather to protect farming areas and to ensure clear skies for key events -- it seeded clouds ahead of 2008 Beijing Olympics to reduce smog and avoid rain ahead of the competition.



Azerbaijan soldier helps end Armenian occupation

Serkan Memmedov, who fled his village in Agdere because of Armenia’s occupation in 1993, wants to return after fighting in operations to liberate the Azerbaijan territory. Memmedov lives with his family in the Terter region in mass housing built for those who fled the occupied regions.He was injured by mortar shelling during the operation."We were heading toward the Fuzuli region to fight. Our battalion commander ordered us to move forward. When we attacked, the enemy opened fire on us with mortars. As a result of the fire, me and my friend were injured," he said.He was injured in his throat, shoulder, arm and legs; his toe was cut and there are two pieces of shrapnel in his body.



Fighting hampering aid delivery to Ethiopia’s Tigray: UN

UN has said that ongoing fighting “in many parts” of Ethiopia’s Tigray is complicating efforts to deliver humanitarian aid despite a deal granting UN access to territory under federal control. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced military operations in the northern region a month ago against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).Last week, he declared victory, saying fighting was “completed” after federal forces entered the regional capital Mekelle. But TPLF has promised to fight on.


As China Restricts Access To Tibet, US Urges Nations To Make Laws Over It

Washington: Slamming China for its "repressive" regime in Tibet, a top American diplomat has urged other countries to pass their own versions of a US law that calls for denying access to US for Chinese officials known to be involved in restricting visits to the remote Himalayan region. Robert A Destro, Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, on Friday said that together with partners around the world, US has and will continue to call on China to provide unhindered access to foreigners travelling in Tibetan areas, including for diplomats and journalists, just as other countries give Chinese diplomats, journalists and citizens access to their respective countries. The US adopted the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act to press for greater access and transparency. Today, I call on our like minded friends and partners to pass their own versions of the Act, he said in his remarks at a virtual event: Religious Freedom in Tibet: The Appointment of Buddhist Leaders and the Succession of the Dalai Lama.PTI




 Why is a human rights activist in prison for an act of peace?Anand Patwardhan

 Vaccines are powerful but not perfect tools. Application in a diverse country is a challenge:Shah Alam Khan,AIIMS

 UAE and Israel's whirlwind honeymoon has gone beyond normalization: Analysis by Ben Wedeman, CNN Senior International Correspondent


Understanding AIMIM’s rise: Muslim voters have rejected the counterfeit liberalism of ‘secular’ parties:Rahul Shivshankar,  Editor-in-Chief, Times Now

 Hindu families seek ‘justice’, Muslims bereft – UP ‘love jihad’ law has Bareilly in frenzy:Revathi Krishnan

 Legal Howlers in UP's 'Anti-Conversion' Law Expose its Real Intent:N.C. Asthana

 Thatcher or Anna moment? Why Modi’s choice on farmers’ protest will shape future politics:Shekhar Gupta

 Journalist's Job Is Not to Speak Up for the Government But to Ask Questions:Sidharth Bhatia

 Bihar’s Champaran Sowed Seeds of First Farmers’ Movement:Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India






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