05 January 2021

Agri-export body drops ‘halal’ from meat manual: no role for govt. Day after clashes, road-widening leaves homes demolished in Indore village. UK PM cancels Republic Day visit to India later this month.




·        Agri-export body drops ‘halal’ from meat manual: no role for govt

·        MP: Day after clashes, road-widening leaves homes demolished in Indore village

·        UK PM Boris Johnson cancels Republic Day visit to India later this month

·        Talks inconclusive: Farmers insist on repeal, Govt for clause-wise discussion

·        India to start Covid-19 vaccine drive within 10 days, says health ministry

·        Permissible in emergencies: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind weighs in on ‘haraam vaccine’ row

·        ‘Important step’: Reaction to Saudi-Qatar border opening





Agri-export body drops ‘halal’ from meat manual: no role for govt

New Delhi :Amidst a social media campaign by Hindu right-wing groups and Sikh organisations against halal certification for products in the country, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has removed the word from its ‘Red Meat Manual’.APEDA also clarified that there was no condition on the part of Indian govt regarding halal meat. “It is a requirement by a majority of importing countries/Importers.Halal Certification agencies are accredited directly by respective importing countries. No govt agency has any role in this,” it said. While earlier Red Meat Manual of APEDA, which handles agri-exports under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said “animals are slaughtered strictly according to halal method to meet the requirement of Islamic countries”, it now says “the animals are slaughtered according to the requirement of importing country/importer”.It has also deleted these lines: “The animals are slaughtered by halal system under strict vigilance of (a) recognised and registered Islamic body as per the tenets of Islamic Shariyat. The certificate for halal is issued by the representative of registered Islamic body under whose supervision the slaughter is conducted in order to meet the requirement of (the) importing country.”Sources said the change was made as the use of word halal in the old manual gave the impression that this was mandatory for all meat exports.Islamic countries allow the import of only halal-certified meat, and India exports buffalo meat to many of these. In 2019-20, India exported Rs 22,668.48 crore worth of buffalo meat, with the chief buyers being Vietnam (Rs 7,569.01 crore), Malaysia (Rs 2,682.78 crore), Egypt (Rs 2,364.89 crore), Indonesia (Rs 1,651.97 crore), Saudi Arabia (Rs 873.56 crore), Hong Kong (Rs 857.26 crore), Myanmar (Rs 669.20 cr) and UAE (Rs 604.47 cr). Most of the exports to Vietnam and Hong Kong get diverted to China.Right-wing groups, which had cited the APEDA manual to say the government seemed to be promoting halal meat, called the change “the first step in the right direction”. However, said Harinder Sikka, one of the leading campaigners against halal certification, “This is just one step. We will continue our campaign. Halal meat is haram (unlawful) for us Sikhs.”


‘Animals can’t be confiscated before accused is convicted’: SC asks Centre to amend rules

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to amend a rule in Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that pertains to the confiscation of animals before the accused is convicted under legislation, Bar and Bench reported.“Animals are normally, not cats and dogs, but others are a source of livelihood,” the court said, according to ANI. “You can’t confiscate them. Your rules are contradictory.”A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that Section 29 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act states that animals can only be confiscated if the person involved is convicted, adding that the rules cannot run contrary to the express intention of the Act.The Bench said that if the Centre will not change or withdraw the rules, the court will put a stay on it. Additional Solicitor General Jayant K Sud, appearing for the Centre, said that the 2017 rules have been notified and that people were committing atrocities against animals.


MP: Day after clashes, road-widening leaves homes demolished in Indore village

Indore :In what has deepened anxieties in the wake of the communal tension during rallies by right-wing organisations in few districts in Madhya Pradesh, local administration in Indore partially demolished 13 houses in the minority-dominated Chandan Khedi village last Wednesday, stating these were illegal encroachments on government land. The demolition happened a day after clashes were reported last Tuesday during a Ayodhya Ram Mandir fund-raising rally which passed through the street where these houses were located in Chandan Khedi. There were also reports of stone-pelting by residents with several injured on both sides. When contacted, Pratul Sinha, SDM of Depalpur Tehsil, which covers Chandan Khedi, said, the initial plan was only for road construction, not widening. “After the clash, it was realised that the road was not wide enough for even a fire tender to pass. Following the clashes, the villagers were told to demolish the houses since these were illegal encroachments on land owned by the government of MP.” According to Sinha, villagers were told that either the administration will break the houses, which may cause greater damage, or they can themselves pull down the required portion. He said, the demolition work was carried out with oral consent without any demolition notice. The villagers are critical of the move. Almost immediately after Dec.29 clashes, 27 of them were arrested for pelting the rally with stones. Even as the arrests continued, the bulldozers rolled in. A panchayat member, Mohammad Rafeeq’s house was among the ones on demolition list. Arrested in connection with the clashes last Tuesday, his wife Parveen Bi said district administration officials came and asked her to vacate the house for demolition a day later. “I told them that with the front wall demolished, how can a woman whose husband has been taken away live safely? Why did they suddenly decide to demolish our homes without any notice,” she alleged. Located 40 km from Indore, Chandan Khedi has 400 Muslim families and about 15 Hindu families. It witnessed clashes almost similar to those at Ujjain’s Begum Bagh locality and Mandsaur in the last week of Dec.during fund-raising rallies by right-wing organisations followed by stone-pelting from the other side.When contacted, Harinarayan Chari Mishra, DIG, Indore, said the rally was organised by one Bharat Patel and the first altercation was over villagers shooting videos of the rally as it passed by. “During the argument, some villagers pelted the rally with stones in which three people were injured. That led to the clash,” he said. Villagers claimed that the trouble started when a small group trailing the rally stopped in front of the village mosque and began chanting Hanuman Chalisa. When asked about the villagers’ allegations that police officials did not effectively intervene, IGP, Indore, Yogesh Deshmukh said, “We are trying to identify those in the rally who were responsible and they will be booked soon. I will urge all those who have evidence to come forward and action will be taken against all responsible, including policemen.”


Mandsaur Police Lenient with Hindutva Goons Who Vandalised Muslim Properties, Mosque, Say Locals

Mandsaur Police in Madhya Pradesh is not taking strong action against those who were involved in violence, vandalism and looting of property during the violent bike rally taken out by Hindutva groups last week, say the locals.“The police held some people in connection with the incident but released them later. We don’t think that the police are going to take strong action against them. We are not satisfied with the police action. Those against whom we have filed police complaints are roaming around. We have named 58 people in the FIR and 250 unknown people,” said Muhammed Hakim, a resident of Dorana whose properties were looted and vandalized by the rioters.Talking to Clarion India, he said that Muslims have submitted all the video clips, CCTV footage and photo evidence to the police. “Some of the accused are unknown to us as we know them only by their faces. Those accused have not been arrested so far. Only five or six people are in jail,” he said. SP, Mandsaur, Sidharth Choudhry, told Clarion India that nine people were arrested in six cases. Responding to the allegations of the arrested people roaming around, Choudhry said they were booked under bailable offences. “So, they might have got bail,” he said.About the property damage, Choudhry said that the offences were registered in this regard.Clarion India


UK PM Boris Johnson cancels Republic Day visit to India later this month

New Delhi :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday cancelled his Republic Day visit to India later this month, citing the need to oversee Covid-19 pandemic response at home. The development comes as Britain began its third Covid-19 lockdown on Tuesday, with citizens under orders to stay at home.“Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Prime Minister Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said.“In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the prime minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” the spokeswoman said.



Delhi riots: Ask police how chargesheet was leaked to media, Umar Khalid tells court

Activist Umar Khalid has told a Delhi court to ask the investigating officer how the supplementary chargesheet filed against him in the Feb.riots case was leaked to the media, when he is yet to get a copy from the court, The Quint reported. Khalid, a former student leader from JNU, is lodged in jail in connection with the Delhi riots case. The activist also raised concerns on the manner in which a certain section of the media was reporting against him. “I am saying with absolute dismay that this pattern of media reporting on the chargesheet before the accused get a copy of it, is prejudicial to the trial,” Khalid told the court. “Please ask the prosecution and the investigating officer how is it that the media is getting a copy of the chargesheet before the accused is.”


Assam student group to take anti-CAA fight to Delhi

GUWAHATI :An influential students’ organisation in Assam has decided to take the movement against CAA to New Delhi for mobilising public support.Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), which was at the forefront of the anti-foreigners Assam Agitation during 1979-85 along with the All Assam Students’ Union, has also petitioned the Supreme Court for the implementation of British-era Inner Line Permit (ILP) system that restricts the entry of people from elsewhere in India. “Apart from staging protests, our objective is to bring different political parties on board for the intervention of Central govt in both CAA and ILP,” AJYCP general secretary Palash Changmai said on Tuesday.He added that AJYCP and other like-minded organisations would be reviving anti-CAA movement on the streets of Assam. The first mass protest across all districts and sub-divisional HQRS of the State has been scheduled for Jan. 9.“We have also decided to coordinate with political leaders across 8 north-eastern States to lobby for ILP system in the region, which is a must for protecting the indigenous peoples,”  Changmai said.


Internal investigation shelved: Year on, little headway in JNU violence probe

New Delhi :No arrests, no chargesheet and the university’s internal probe dissolved — a year after masked people went on a rampage inside JNU, the investigation into the violence has made little progress.According to police sources, a special investigation team of Delhi Police Crime Branch has identified 15 suspects — all students — but their investigation was stalled after the lockdown was announced and students returned to their homes.On Jan.9 last year, a press conference was called by Delhi Police — 4 days after around 100 masked persons went on a rampage inside JNU campus, leaving 36 students, teachers and staff injured — wherein it had released the names of nine suspects, all students, of whom seven were identified as members of Left-student outfits. The other two were from ABVP, though police did not name the outfit.


Talks inconclusive: Farmers insist on repeal, Govt for clause-wise discussion

New Delhi :Talks between the Centre and farmer unions opposed to the new agriculture laws remained inconclusive Monday over two key demands — repeal of the newly enacted laws and provision of legal guarantee on MSP — with the two sides drawing hard line on their respective positions. The talks will resume on January 8 when 2 sides sit across the table for what will be the eight round of negotiations ever since protests that brought farmers from Punjab and Haryana to the gates of Delhi on Nov.26. Meanwhile, 2 Punjab BJP leaders, Surjeet Kumar Jyani and Harjeet Singh Grewal, who have been in mediation with the farmers, will be meeting Prime Minister Tuesday evening. Jyani said: “Grewal and I had sought time from PM. He has called us to his camp office at 5.45 pm Tuesday.” Jyani is chairman of an 8-member panel of BJP leaders, including Grewal, coordinating with the farmer unions. Farmer union leaders said they made it very clear to govt that the talks will have to be on their demand for repeal of the new laws. BKU (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said: “Today, we became very strict when we were told again to discuss the benefits of the farm laws. We told them we had said earlier as well that our talks will only be on the repeal of the Acts, nothing else. They told us that farmers in the rest of the country are happy. At this, we asked them what they think of people who have been sitting on roads since September. Nearly 500 farmer unions of India are protesting, don’t they recognise any of them?”.Kirti Kisan Union general secretary Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala said:“Today, Union Ministers observed a two-minute silence with us in memory of 70 farmers who have left us (died) during morchas since Sept. We call them martyrs… The government wants to discuss the laws with us clause-wise, but we have one line for them: no appeal, no daleel, only repeal. The govt said they have walked ten steps forward and we too should move a little, but we rejected it categorically.”Punjab Kisan Union president Ruldu Singh Mansa said: “Although the meeting today did not yield a result, we could judge that the government’s attitude was soft. We told them to discuss only the repeal of the Acts at the next meeting. We are hopeful they will walk only in that direction.”BKU (Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill said: “Agriculture Minister told us that majority farmer unions are happy with the farm laws. We told them to arrange our meeting with them. They gave no answer. We call these unions part of the kisan cells of BJP and alliance parties.” All Indian Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah said: “We told the government that there will be no talk except on the repeal (of farm laws) … We will discuss the repeal first. The issue of MSP will be taken up thereafter.”


‘Daughters of farmers’ on tractors headed for Delhi

Chandigarh :AS farmers threaten a “tractor parade” to New Delhi on the occasion of Republic Day if their demands against the new agricultural laws are not met, joining them would be women from Haryana villages.At several places across the state, women are receiving training to drive tractors, with one such session held for those belonging to Jind district, at Khatkar Toll Plaza on Jind-Patiala National Highway, on Monday. Women have been present in large numbers at the protests being held by farmers at Delhi borders, now into their second month. By having women ride into the Capital on Jan.26 now, while riding tractors, a startling change for patriarchal Haryana, farm unions don’t just hope to attract eyeballs but also send a message that their families stand behind them in the agitation.At the Khatkar Toll Plaza — farmers have made all such tolls across Haryana “free” — the women are trained in everything from how to start a tractor and switch it off, before being handed the steering.


After Adanis, Reliance seeks to placate farmers: ‘with you’

Targeted by farmers opposed to the new agriculture laws, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) said Monday that the company would always support the demand of the farmers for “fair and profitable price on a predictable basis” for their produce, and that the company had no plans to enter corporate or contract farming, now or in the future.RIL also said it had, through its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm, mentioned a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in which it had sought urgent government intervention to stop vandalism of its towers.“Neither Reliance nor any of our subsidiaries has purchased any agricultural land, directly or indirectly, in Punjab/Haryana or anywhere else in India, for the purpose of ‘corporate’ or ‘contract’ farming. We have absolutely no plans to do so,” RIL said.


Mumbai man, YouTube channel barred from defamatory posts against Adani group firm

Ahmedabad :Acting on a civil suit moved by Adani Agri Logistics (Panipat) Private Limited (AALL) against Mumbai resident Vinay Dubey, seeking damages to the tune of Rs 5 crore for allegedly circulating a defamatory video against the company, an Ahmedabad city civil court has restrained Dubey and the YouTube channel concerned from reporting and circulating “any defamatory story, article, video and tweets” concerning AALL-Panipat and Adani Group.Dubey’s video was run on a YouTube channel named Loktantra TV.The ad-interim injunction, as was sought by AALL, a subsidiary company of Adani Group, was granted until the next date of hearing – scheduled for January 5.


Delhi HC allows woman who left with friend, got nikahnama ready, to return home

New Delhi :Weeks after she had left home with a male friend to his home state of West Bengal, Delhi High Court on Monday permitted a family to take the woman home after they convinced her to return, telling her, among other things, that the friend is a “Bangladeshi” and did not belong to their religion. The woman was in contact with the man since 2019. On Dec22 last year, the court had directed the Crime Branch to register an FIR and ordered them to make “all-out efforts” to produce her before the court – the police had said she has married her friend, Syed Mustafa. Her father had approached the court last month and alleged that his daughter was taken away by Mustafa to Kolkata by train “in an organised manner”. Brought to Delhi by Crime Branch, she was produced before the court on Monday through video-conferencing. Her family was also present during the hearing. Belying her parents’ contentions, the woman told the court that she had left on her own with Mustafa. She said that after completing B.Tech she wanted to prepare for competitive examinations but the “atmosphere at home was not conducive, since there were bickering in the family”.


UP: Police drop ‘love jihad’ case against 3 Muslim men after complainant’s allegations prove false

The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district dropped a case against three Muslim men who had been charged under anti-conversion law for sexually harassing and stalking a 22-year-old woman, after her allegations turned out to be false, The Times of India reported on Sunday.Bareilly SSP Rohit Singh Sajwan told the newspaper that a case will now be filed against the woman under Section 182 of IPC, which pertains to providing false information to the authorities.The police have now said that the three men were not in Bareilly on the day the alleged incident took place. “As per the evidence collected by the police, the allegations levelled against the 3 men by the woman were wrong,” the Bareilly SSP was quoted as saying by Indian Express.



Patna: No Arrest Even After A Month Of Demolition Of A Marble Showroom, Godown

Bihar police is yet to take any action against fifty vandals who broke open into a marble showroom owned by a Muslim in Transportnagar area of Patna on Dec 9 and vandalized the business establishment. The owner and his staff were brutally assaulted by the marauders and Agamkua police officials were looking the other way, alleged his family members. Charging the police for inaction, the family members said that the attackers brought a JCB machine and demolished the showroom and godown. During the illegal crackdown, both the owner and two staffers were seriously injured. The family members told India Tomorrow that police under pressure was not acting against the goondas and despite 26 days passing by following the incident, the criminals were roaming free on the roads instead of being  behind the bars.Owais Ahmed is the owner of the showroom which goes by the name Delta Marble Point which falls under the jurisdiction of Agamkuan Police station of Patna Police.His brother, Dr Arshad, alleged “The attackers want to gobble up our land and they are using the government and administration in this heinous crime against us. They think we are minorities and weak and so, our land can be easily grabbed,” he said.


Central Vista Project gets all-clear from Supreme Court in 2:1 verdict

New Delhi :In a 2:1 verdict, the Supreme Court Tuesday approved the Central Vista re-development project. In its judgment, the apex court upheld the exercise of power by Centre as “just and valid” and confirmed the modifications in the change in land use. The recommendations of the environmental committee were also valid and proper, the three-judge bench said.Justice Khanwilkar, writing the judgment for himself and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, also directed that the project proponent set up a smog tower and use anti-smoke guns at the construction site for the Central Vista project.Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the third judge on the bench, also agreed on the issue of the award of the project. He, however, disagreed with the judgment on change of land use and on the grant of environmental clearance for the project. There was no prior approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee he said, adding the matter, therefore, has to be remitted back for a public hearing. On the question of environmental clearance, he opined that it was a non-speaking order.



UP: Earning members among 24 dead at crematorium in Ghaziabad, families left destitute

Ghaziabad :“HUM TOOT chuke hain (We are totally broken),” cried Mamata Khatri, 35, whose husband Pramod and a nephew died in the roof collapse at a crematorium in Muradnagar, Ghaziabad district, on Sunday, leaving the family without any earning member.A day after, as the toll in the roof collapse rose by one more to 24, there were several families like Mamata’s wondering what would happen to them now.Pramod, 36, and Robin Singh, 23, had gone to the crematorium for the last rites of Pramod’s uncle Jai Ram, a vegetable seller. Now all that are left in her extended family, Mamata said, are herself, her mother-in-law, her two children and Robin’s mother.



UP: Dalit girl found dead, family says couldn’t pay school fees

Lucknow :A Dalit schoolgirl was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her home in Banda district’s Baberu police station area early on Monday morning.Sanjana Devi’s family told the police that she died by suicide because she was depressed after her school did not allow her to sit for a half-yearly examination on December 21. The school allegedly barred her from the exam since her family had not paid fees since April 2020. No suicide note was found, said the police.Police started an inquiry after the girl’s father filed a complaint. Investigators are now collecting the call details of her cell phone.


UP: Dalit family in Banda leaves home after being beaten up for using hand pump

A family in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district left their home after they were allegedly beaten up by people for using a hand pump, PTI reported on Monday, quoting a family member. SHO Narendra Pratap Singh said that they have booked three people in the case but have no information about the family leaving their home.In a FIR lodged at Bisanda police station, Ramchandra Raidas alleged that family members of Ram Dayal Yadav attacked him with sticks when he went to take water from the hand pump on Dec.25. Raidas sustained injuries in the attack and was admitted to a primary health centre, the police said.


Dalit women confront discrimination on Indian village councils: aljazeera

When Priya Periyasamy was elected to lead her village council in southern India a year ago, her parents warned that she would face hostility as a low-caste Dalit woman, but nothing prepared her for the constant abuse she receives.Periyasamy is among at least 16 women village council leaders in Tamil Nadu state who have filed complaints in the last six months over discrimination for being Dalits – considered India’s lowest caste in an ancient social hierarchy.“Since I was elected, other members of the council wouldn’t even greet me,” Periyasamy, 24, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from her village of Mannampandal.The last straw came when she was lambasted for sitting on a new chair in the council office – prompting Periyasamy to go on strike and stage a sit-in protest to highlight the daily discrimination and insults she faces.“Initially, I told myself I should focus on learning the job and ignored it. But then the office was being renovated and I decided to replace the old chair with council’s consent. I was abused for sitting on the revolving chair,” she said.Rights campaigners say her experience is all too common in India, where elected Dalit women face double discrimination in a country with low rates of female representation, despite gender quota laws in village council, or panchayat, elections.


‘No video of Munawar Faruqui insulting Hindu deities,’ say police two days after arresting him

Indore Police on Sunday said they had no video evidence to show that comedian Munawar Faruqui insulted Hindu deities during a performance at a cafe in the city, Indian Express reported. Faruqui had been arrested on Friday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Kamlesh Sharma, the town inspector of Tukaganj Police Station, told the newspaper that the video submitted by the complainant showed another comedian making jokes about the deity Ganesh. “There’s no evidence against him [Faruqui] for insulting Hindu deities or Union Minister Amit Shah,” Sharma said. The complaint against Faruqui was filed by Eklavya Singh Gaur, the chief of Hindutva group Hind Rakshak Sangathan, according to reports. Meanwhile, several comedians spoke out against Faruqui’s arrest. “You can’t stop jokes and laughter,” actor and comedian Vir Das tweeted. “Not because comedians are performing it, but because people need to laugh. Harder you try, the more you’re going to be laughed at, now, and by history. Anyone who has ever tried to control humour, now has a category of jokes devoted to them.”


Avian flu confirmed: 1,800 migratory birds found dead in Himachal

SAMPLES OF dead migratory water birds found at the Pong Dam Lake in Himachal Pradesh have tested positive for avian influenza or bird flu.RT-PCR testing of samples of five dead Bar-Headed geese conducted at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal found all birds positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, according to the report.Around 1,800 migratory birds, most of them Bar-Headed Geese, have been found dead in the lake sanctuary so far.


Was called media’s biggest sexual predator without research, probe: MJ Akbar to court

Former Union Minister MJ Akbar on Monday argued that he was called “media’s biggest sexual predator” without any research or investigation, and accused journalist Priya Ramani of making a false statement before the court regarding issuance of a corrigendum after her tweet about his reported resignation.Ramani has been sued by Akbar for defamation over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. He resigned as MoS, External Affairs, in Oct.2018 after several women came forward with similar allegations against him.


Bengal Sports Minister Quits, Mamata Banerjee Says "No Misunderstanding"

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress MLA and minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla has resigned from his post in the government and the party to pursue a career in cricket, a decision that comes just months ahead of the assembly election in West Bengal and weeks after a senior minister, Suvendu Adhikari, quit the party and joined the BJP along with a dozen other MLAs.The 39-year-old former batsman who joined politics in 2016 to contest on a Trinamool ticket from Howrah North seat wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today, saying he wished to quit politics and return to cricket once again.He requested that he be relieved from all posts in the party and the government.


Union Budget To Be Presented On Feb 1: Sources

Union budget will be presented in parliament on February 1, sources said, adding President Ram Nath Kovind will address both the Houses - Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha - on January 29.The budget session of parliament will be conducted in two parts. The first phase of the session will begin on January 29 with President Kovind's address and end on February 15. The second phase will run from March 8 to April 8, sources said.The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs or CCPA.


Probe Agency Backtracks In Coal Scam Case After "Protest" By BJP Leaders

New Delhi: CBI has sought government sanction to charge three bureaucrats, two of whom are retired, in a coal scam case it had closed in 2016 but reopened two years later after the move was opposed by senior BJP leaders, who are also the complainants.The probe agency is all set to file a chargesheet against then Secretary of Coal Ministry HC Gupta IAS (Retired), besides KS Kropha IAS (Retired) and KC Samaria in the coal scam case involving Prakash Industries Limited. While Gupta was the Chairman of the Screening Committee that allocated Fatehpur Coal Block jointly to Prakash Industries and another firm on Feb.6, 2008, Kropha was the then Joint Secretary and Samaria the Director in the Coal Ministry.


Muslims View Abolition of Govt-run Madrassas in Assam as Direct Attack on Community

NEW DELHI – Assam government’s move to convert government-run madarssas into general schools is being seen by Muslims as an unconstitutional move to harass the community. They view it as yet another proof of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s anti-minority policy and a direct attack on the community. A bill to this effect was passed in the Assam Legislative Assembly last week. Opposition parties like Congress and AIUDF vehemently opposed the move but the ruling party managed to get through the bill which abolishes the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.It will come into force from April 1.There are over 600 government-run madarssas in the state where 140,000 students study. The Assam Madrassa Teachers’ Association (AMTA) said that they will challenge the bill in the court of law.


RSS, affiliates meet in Gujarat: Modi cabinet rejig, Bengal and farm stir on agenda

3-day national convention of RSS and various affiliated organisations began on Tuesday at Gandhinagar in Gujarat for an appraisal of the schemes, policies and actions of the Narendra Modi government and crafting the future course of action.BJP president JP Nadda, RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat and leaders of all RSS affiliates had reached Ahmedabad on Monday for the crucial meeting, which is the top coordination platform between the various organs of the RSS including the BJP.


India to sign $2.5-billion contract for 56 transport planes for IAF

 India will sign a $2.5-billion contract his year for the supply of 56 medium transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force to replace its fleet of aging Avro-748 planes, officials familiar with the development said on Tuesday.Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) will jointly execute the project to equip the air force with 56 C-295 transport aircraft under the Make-in-India initiative in the aerospace sector.Under the contract, Airbus will supply the first 16 aircraft in flyaway condition while the remaining 40 will be assembled in India by TASL, the officials said.


China flies choppers over Lhasa in military drill to tame Tibet

China has carried out an aerial drill over Tibet’s capital of Lhasa, a preemptive move designed to remind Buddhists scattered across the vast Himalayan plateau about the communist party’s military might that last crushed an uprising by young Tibetans ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.The aerial drill comes days after the United States enacted the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 that reaffirmed the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Tibetan government-in-exile based in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala had described th US legislation as historic.A China watcher in New Delhi said the drill could be only one part of the continuing effort by President Xi Jinping to sinicise Tibet that would pick up pace in view of the new US law.


4 arrested for waving saffron flags inside Taj Mahal premises

Members of a Hindutva group on Monday allegedly waved saffron flags inside the premises of the Taj Mahal in Agra, TOI reported. 4 of them have been arrested in connection with the incident.Videos of the incident have gone viral on social media. Three of the group’s members are seen holding up flags and facing a camera. The person filming the video is heard saying that the frame looks good.The four men belonged to the youth wing of the Hindu Jagran Manch, a body linked to the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor RSS. They were identified as the organisation’s district President Gaurav Talwar, Rishi Lavania, Sonu Baghel and Vishesh Kumar.





Permissible in emergencies: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind weighs in on ‘haraam vaccine’ row

New Delhi:Amid claims by some Muslim scholars that the Covid vaccine cannot be administered to members of the Muslim community as it contains ingredients considered “haraam (unlawful)” for consumption in Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind on Saturday tried to clarify the theological position, saying a vaccine with unlawful substances will be permissible in emergency situations to protect human lives in case of unavailability of any other vaccine containing lawful substances. Dr Razi-ul-Islam Nadwi, Secretary of JIH Shariah Council, said, “If an impermissible substance is transformed into something completely different in terms of properties and characteristics, then it may be considered as clean and permissible. On this basis, the use of gelatin derived from the body part of a haram (unlawful) animal has been considered permissible by Islamic jurists,” he said. “Even those jurists who disagree with the above transformation rule sanction a vaccine which contains prohibited substances in case of unavailability of halal vaccines, in dire and emergency situations.” However, he added that “the source of ingredients of the popular vaccines, which have been made public, is not yet known with certainty. After becoming fully aware of it, further guidelines regarding its use or non-use will be issued”. A section of Muslim scholars in India and Islamic organisations in countries like UAE and Indonesia have declared that the vaccines cannot be administered to Muslims as they contain pork gelatin. In India, All India Sunni Jamiat-ul-Ulema Council and Raza Academy in Mumbai have declared them as “haram” and appealed to Muslims not to use the vaccine with pork gelatin. At the press conference, the outfit also slammed the “dictatorial approach” of various BJP-governed states over passage of ordinances in the name of “unlawful religious conversion” and “deliberate efforts to polarise society” by blaming the Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the coronavirus, “planned” communal violence in Northeast Delhi, and the “police attack” on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU. “Jamaat feels that these laws are one of the many ways to keep the flames of ‘anti-minorityism’ or Islamophobia alive. They are being promulgated for strengthening the agenda of hate and polarization,”the organisation said. The outfit said that every issue is being looked through the “communal prism” for political gains. It extended its support to the protesting farmers saying it agreed with their “point-of-view that the new laws will end MSP support unless there is a legal guarantee of procurement at MSP”.  Indian Express


India to start Covid-19 vaccine drive within 10 days, says health ministry

Days after granting the emergency use approval to two Covid-19 vaccines, the government has announced that the immunization drive will begin with 10 days.Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the government was ready to roll out the vaccine drive within 10 days from approval. “Now since the approval has been granted, the vaccine drive will be rolled out within 10 days from that day [Sunday, January 3],” he said.On Sunday, the Drug Controller General of India granted AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin emergency use approval. The first phase of immunisation will be carried out by the government that will focus on health care workers, emergency service employees and the elderly.Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan revealed how the approved vaccines will travel from manufacturers to the beneficiaries.Addressing a press conference, the health secretary said that the manufacturers will send the vaccine to the Government Medical Store Department depots at Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Karnal in Haryana by air.The vaccine will then travel to 37 state vaccine stores from where it will go to district vaccine stores which will then supply primary health care centres, designated as Covid-19 immunisation centres.The health secretary said that India currently has 29,000 cold chain points where the approved vaccines Covishield and Covaxin can be stored safely.


Malegaon blast accused Prasad Purohit in home quarantine

Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast which killed six and injured 101 persons is under quarantine at home as he came in close contact with a relative who tested positive for COVID-19. His wife Aparna Purohit told The Hindu, “He came in primary contact with a close relative who has tested positive so as a precautionary measure he is under home quarantine. He is absolutely fine and is not showing any signs of COVID 19.”Purohit had appeared before the special NIA court on January 4 before Judge P.R. Sitre for the trial along with Pragya Singh Thakur, sitting BJP MP from Bhopal and two others.


SII, Bharat Biotech engage in war of words: A look at controversies surrounding vaccines cleared by DCGI

The year 2021 has begun with an unseemly verbal duel between vaccine makers in India, with the heads of Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech making public allegations against each other.On 3 January, SII chief Adar Poonawalla said in an interview to NDTV that only vaccines of Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca have proven efficacy, and that other vaccine candidates, including Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, are “safe, just like water.” (In India, Serum Institute is manufacturing vaccines developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca.) In response, Bharat Biotech chairman Krishna Ella alleged that AstraZeneca was giving paracetamol to volunteers to suppress adverse reactions.This war of words took place after the Drug Controller General of India announced the approval of the Covaxin and Covishield vaccines for restricted use in an emergency situation in a media interaction. DCGI chief VG Somani, however, did not answer questions from the media.


Bill Gates, World Leaders Praise India's "Decisive Action" In Virus Fight

New Delhi: Global leaders have lauded India's leadership in scientific innovation and decisive action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country gets set to begin the world's largest vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus.The Drug Controller General of India on Sunday approved the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech, for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive."It's great to see India's leadership in scientific innovation and vaccine manufacturing capability as the world works to end the COVID-19 pandemic," Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a tweet on Monday, tagging PMO.PTI


Study in India shows novel coronavirus does not spread far away from patients

Pune :A first study to understand the transmission routes of SARS-CoV2 and risks for healthcare personnel and visitors to hospitals in the country has shown that the virus does not seem to spread farther away from patients – especially if they are asymptomatic. However, chances of airborne transmission depend on the number of Covid-19 positive cases in the room, their symptomatic status and duration of exposure, a study published in medRxiv preprint has said.Scientists at Hyderabad and Mohali decided to understand the transmission characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 as initially contact and droplets were considered as major modes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2. Hence, hand washing and social distancing were the main measures suggested along with wearing mask, to avoid contracting the disease. The alarmingly increasing number of cases of Covid-19 globally raised the possibility of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. More so, when it has been observed that SARS-CoV-2 is quite stable in aerosols. Indian Express


SMS, Aadhaar, DigiLocker: New Details On Covid Vaccination - 10 Points

New Delhi: Aadhaar authentication and SMS confirming vaccination in at least 12 languages are some of the features of the CoWIN app that India is developing to inoculate millions of people against COVID-19. Short for Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network, the CoWIN app and its ecosystem will be used to manage and scale up the massive vaccination drive amid the pandemic. India has cleared two vaccines for emergency use - Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield developed by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. The government has prioritised groups who will get the vaccine first, including doctors, healthcare workers, police and others engaged directly in fighting COVID-19.


Indian Express Explained: What next for Covid-19 vaccine rollout in India?

New Delhi : India’s top drug regulator on Sunday approved Covishield and Covaxin as vaccines for restricted use against Covid-19, paving the way for mass vaccination against the virus that has so far infected over a crore people and killed nearly 1.5 lakh. A look at these vaccines, how they were approved and what this means for the population: Covishield is the Indian variant of AZD1222, the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford. Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) developed and manufactured Covishield through a licence from AstraZeneca and Oxford. Indian Express


Fresh Covid lockdown in Europe cast shadow on India’s grapes exports

Pune :The fresh coronavirus lockdown in European countries has cast a shadow of uncertainty on India’s grapes exports, the season for which is set to start next week. While orders have come for exports, most are uncertain about how the season would pan out as a greater part of Europe goes under an extended lockdown in fear of the new strain of the coronavirus.United Kingdom and other countries of the European Union have been a prized market for Indian grapes given the surety of payment there. Indian grape growers deal with both supermarkets as well as wholesale traders, with the former cornering 60 per cent of exports. Almost 80 per cent of Indian exports originate from the vineyards in Maharashtra. Farmers command better prices for export grapes than those meant for the domestic markets.


Coronavirus: 20 more people test positive in India for UK virus strain, total rises to 58

20 more people in India have tested positive for the coronavirus variant detected in the UK, HT reported on Tuesday, citing the health ministry. With this, a total of 58 samples have been found to be positive with the new virus strain.A consortium of laboratories, set up by the Centre, conducted genome sequencing and released test results. Among the sequenced samples, 19 cases have been detected in two Delhi labs, 25 in Pune, 10 in Bengaluru, three in Hyderabad, and one in Kolkata.



Coronavirus: England to go under complete lockdown amid surge in infections

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a complete lockdown in England amid concerns over the new, faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus in the country, BBC reported.The lockdown restrictions in England are likely to remain in force till mid-February. They will come into effect from Wednesday. Schools in the country would remain closed during that time. People have been advised to stay home and step out for essential tasks only.





‘Important step’: Reaction to Saudi-Qatar border opening

Saudi Arabia has reopened its land border with Qatar and Kuwait’s foreign minister has said the kingdom’s airspace and sea border will open, too, before the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit that is set to take place in Saudi’s Al-Ula province on Tuesday.Monday’s announcement could pave the way towards resolving a political dispute that led Riyadh and its allies to impose a boycott on Qatar more than three years ago.Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott on Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism” and having ties with Iran that were deemed too close. Qatar has repeatedly denied the allegations and said there was “no legitimate justification” for the severance of relations.On Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and de-facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman said the GCC summit will be “inclusive”, leading the states towards “reunification and solidarity in facing the challenges of our region”.Anwar Gargash, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, described the upcoming summit as “historic”.“We stand before a historic summit in Al-Ula, through which we restore our Gulf cohesion and ensure that security, stability and prosperity is our top priority,” he said on Twitter. “We have more work ahead and we are headed in the right direction.”Nayef Mubarak Al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the six-member GCC, also welcomed the move.


Saudi’s MBS says Gulf states sign ‘solidarity and stability’ deal

Gulf leaders are meeting in Saudi Arabia for their annual summit on Tuesday amid a breakthrough in long-running dispute between a Saudi-led bloc and Qatar. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced that GCC member states have agreed on a ‘solidarity and stability’ deal to end the three-year diplomatic spat with Qatar.



Qatar emir heads to Saudi Arabia for Gulf summit

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani headed to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, state media said, for a Gulf Arab summit that is expected to see formal agreement towards ending a dispute that has seen Riyadh and its allies boycott Qatar. Sheikh Tamim’s participation comes after Kuwait’s foreign minister announced late on Monday that Saudi Arabia will reopen its airspace, as well as its land and sea border, with Qatar, paving the way for a deal towards resolving the Gulf crisis.


Hamas congratulates Saudi, Qatar on restoring ties

Hamas has congratulated Saudi Arabia and Qatar following the announcement that the Gulf states had brought to an end an almost four year blockade on Doha. "We hope that the crisis in the Gulf would be completely resolved and unity between the Gulf countries would be fully restored," the statement said, adding: "This will contribute to solidifying the Arab positions and stances."The statement continued: "On this happy occasion, we call for more intra-Arab dialogue to agree on all controversial issues and solve all disputes."It concluded: "Finally, we hope that 2021 will be the year of ending the Palestinian rift and restoring unity among all the nations of the Ummah."


Afghan rivals set to resume talks in Doha amid surge in violence

Afghan government representatives and Taliban officials are set to resume peace talks in Qatari capital, Doha, aimed at ending decades of conflict, even as journalists and opponents have been killed amid a surge in violence.A road map for post-war Afghanistan and a nationwide ceasefire are part of the agenda of Tuesday’s talks. The first round of talks, which kicked off in Sept., ended last month after the rivals agreed on procedural rules. Talks will also cover disarming tens of thousands of Taliban fighters and militias loyal to regional chieftains, some of them aligned with the government, as well as the rights of women and minorities.“Lasting peace must be just, inclusive and must be built on views of all Afghans. It is clear that ceasefire is the absolute priority of our people and it must be the priority for negotiations,” Nader Nadery, a member of the govt’s negotiation team, said in a Twitter post. Both sides have shared proposals on the agenda of the talks but no agreement has been made on what topics would be prioritised.


Ex-adviser to UAE crown prince compares Iran's 'occupation' of Gulf islands to Israel occupation

A former adviser to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, has sparked controversy by comparing Iran's "occupation" of three islands in the Gulf contested between his country and Tehran to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. "The brazen Iranian military man who visited the occupied UAE islands knows that Israel has carried out 1,000 air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria and destroyed 50 military installations and killed about 200 Iranian soldiers. This cowardly soldier did not fire a single bullet towards Israel, but he is flexing his muscles day and night before the Arab Gulf states," he wrote on Twitter.


Iran issues Interpol notice for 48 US officials including Trump

US President Donald Trump has had a “red notice” request for his arrest issued through Interpol by Iran.Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced during a press conference on Tuesday that Iran has requested the international police organisation to arrest Trump and 47 other American officials identified as playing a role in the assassination of top general Qassem Soleimani last year.“Islamic Republic of Iran is very seriously following up on pursuing and punishing those who ordered and executed this crime,” Esmaili told reporters. Soleimani, Iran’s top general who led the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was assassinated on January 3, 2020, in a US drone strike in Baghdad ordered by Trump.


Syria regime extorts money from detainees' families to fuel prison network, report reveals

A large-scale money extortion system is rampant within Syria's vast prison network in which the families of detainees are forced to pay guards and officials to visit or secure their release, a report has revealed.According to the report by the Association of Detainees and the Missing in Sednaya Prison (ADMSP), prison guards, military officials and members and judges receive money from detainees' families for information of their whereabouts, appointing a visit, and having them smuggled out.The bribes, which sometimes involve middlemen who receive a lucrative cut, have been reported to amount up to a few dollars, and sometimes up to $30,000 for families living abroad after fleeing the country. In one prison, it is reported that a total of around $27 million was paid.


Muslims concerned about rise of Islamophobia in Germany

Germany's Turkish-Muslim community is alarmed by the increase in Islamophobic hate crimes, senior figures told Anadolu Agency Monday.Kemal Ergun, president of the Turkish-Muslim association IGMG, said more and more mosques have become the targets of threats, vandalism, or arson in recent months."At least 122 mosques were targeted in such attacks last year," he said, adding that dozens of mosques received multiple bomb threats by neo-Nazis or other extremist groups, sparking worry among the members of the community."We call on the police authorities to conduct more effective investigations and arrest the perpetrators of these attacks," he said.


Trump's leaked audio tape reveals he wanted to 'find' votes to win US election

'There's nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you've recalculated (the vote tally),' Trump can be heard saying on the tape. 'You're off by hundreds of thousands of votes.'The outgoing US President Donald Trump has only a few days left in White House, but it looks like scandals are not ready to give up on him. This time, Trump is back in news for a leaked audio tape in which he can be heard asking his aides to "find votes" for him in the recently concluded US election 2020.Local US media has released an audio tape on Sunday in which Trump can be heard pressurising the Georgia's secretary of state to "find" enough votes for him to overturn his dreaded defeat in the elections against the President-elect Joe Biden."There's nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you've recalculated (the vote tally)," Trump can be heard saying on the tape. "You're off by hundreds of thousands of votes."


India begins 8th term as non-permanent member of UNSC, promises to promote peace

India on Monday formally began its eighth term as a non-permanent member of United Nations Security Council, promising to speak out against terrorism and offer solutions related to matters like international peace and security.Mexico, Kenya Norway and Ireland also joined India as non-permanent members to UNSC. A flag installation ceremony was held on Monday to formalise their term.


No, Nepal Supreme Court Has Not Banned Loudspeakers in Mosques

Several social media users have claimed that the Supreme Court of Nepal has banned or criminalised loudspeakers in mosques.Speaking to The Quint, journalist Deepak Adhikari stated that the case is still ongoing and the SC had only asked the mosques to lower the volume of loudspeakers on 29 November 2020, in response to a petition.A spokesperson of the SC also confirmed to Adhikari that it was a temporary stay order, which did not criminalise loudspeakers.A user shared the claim on Twitter, garnering over 9,500 likes and 1,900 retweets at the time of writing this article.



Pakistan’s Supreme Court orders reconstruction of vandalised Hindu temple

New Delhi :Days after a Hindu temple was vandalised and set afire by a mob in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, the country’s Supreme Court Tuesday said the incident has brought “international shame to Pakistan” and ordered the authorities for its reconstruction, Pakistan daily Dawn reported.The over 100-year-old temple in Terri village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Karak district, which also had a samadhi (shrine) of a Hindu religious leader, was attacked by the mob on December 30 last year after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate its decades-old building.  Pakistan’s Supreme Court had ordered the local authorities to appear before the court on January 5. On Tuesday, the court ordered Evacuee Property Trust Board (EPTB) to start the reconstruction of the temple while also directing it to submit details of all functional and non-functional temples and gurdwaras across the country.


At nearly 60,000, India records highest number of babies born on New Year’s Day: UNICEF

More than 371,500 babies were born worldwide on New Year’s Day and India is estimated to have recorded the highest number of births at around 60,000, according to the UN’s children’s agency.UNICEF said that an estimated 371,504 babies were born around the world on New Year’s Day. Fiji in the Pacific was projected to have welcomed 2021’s first baby while the United States would welcome its last. Globally, over half of these births are estimated to have taken place in 10 countries: India (59,995), China (35,615), Nigeria (21,439), Pakistan (14,161), Indonesia (12,336), Ethiopia (12,006), US (10,312), Egypt (9,455), Bangladesh (9,236) and the DR Congo (8,640), it said. PTI


Where is Jack Ma? Alibaba founder’s ‘disappearance’ triggers conspiracy theories online

Reports of Chinese business tycoon Jack Ma “missing” for nearly two months have triggered a plethora of reactions online, with netizens wondering on the whereabouts of the co-founder of Alibaba Group. 56-year-old, whose companies have been subjected to a crackdown from Chinese regulators, has also been absent on social media, with the last Twitter post on October 10.






Uttar Pradesh's 'Love Jihad' Law Is a Moment of Glory for Hindutva Foot Soldiers:Ismat Ara


It's Foolish to Throw Stones at Pakistan When Modi's India is Now a Communal Glass House:K.C. Singh

The MP letdown: indian express Editorial

 UPDATED BY:  05/01/2021 17:58


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