Saturday, 14 January 2017

Evening NEWS DIGEST
14  Jan.2017: 15 Rabius Sani 1438: Vol:8, No:88
High-level panel to look into Haj subsidy issue: Naqvi
New Delhi: The government has formed a high-level panel to look into the Haj subsidy issue in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing subsidy given to pilgrims by 2022, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said here today.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) said the panel, inter alia, is expected to figure out if the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less or equally if there is no subsidy."Questions and issues about Haj subsidy have been raised from time to time. We have formed a high-level committee to study in detail different aspects related to the subsidy," Naqvi said.The committee is doing its work and will hold talks with various stakeholders and furnish its recommendations "soon", he added."We have given a free hand to the committee to conduct its study. But the thing which needs to be looked into is whether the Hajis (pilgrims) can travel spending less or paying equal charges in the absence of subsidy," he said.PTI
Haj subsidy under examination by government once again
Muslims divided over Centre’s proposal to remove Haj subsidy: newindianexpress
Hyderabad:Centre’s proposal to remove subsidy for poor Muslims to go on Haj Pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina has led to debate among intellectuals and politicos of TS Muslim community. While some opposed this proposal outright, others welcomed this move saying that the funds spent for this purpose can be used for welfare and education of the poor. Congress leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir criticised Centre for considering the idea of removing Haj subsidy. He attacked AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi for asking Centre to stop providing subsidy to those who go on Haj pilgrimage. “MIM chief, whose income has spiraled from Rs 8 lakh in 2004 and Rs 4.5 crore in 2014 (as per election affidavits) may not require it. But, Haj subsidy granted by British in 1932 is a boon to poor and retired officials for one Haj pilgrimage in their life time,” he said urging Centre not to remove subsidy.Few intellectuals from the community said welfare and development of Muslims is a Constitutional obligation. Hence, they argue that by cancelling Haj subsidy of Rs 690 crore, Centre cannot bring any contribution to their welfare. Differing with this view, a few back the move, saying that this would help government in spending more money for welfare of poor Muslims.
Haj subsidy withdrawal: Congress leader Shabbir asks Asaduddin to apologize

Apart from the Haj, India subsidises a range of pilgrimages – most of them Hindu
Every few years, the question is raised of the Haj subsidy given by the government to Muslim pilgrims flying to Mecca on state-owned Air India – whether it should continue, whether it is financially viable, whether it compromises India’s secular credentials. Now, just after Saudi Arabia increased its quota of the number of Indians who will be permitted to make the pilgrimage for the first time in 3 decades, the minority affairs ministry has formed a committee to reconsider the subsidy. The govt said it was following up on the Supreme Court order of 2012, which dictated that the subsidy should be phased out in 10 years.There have been questions about the way in which the subsidy is administered. It has been claimed that funds routed through Haj Committee to various community leaders were distributed as political largesse. Some say that there have been various irregularities in the flow of cash. Others contend that the subsidy is no subsidy at all but merely a transfer of funds from one part of the state machinery to the other: people availing of the subsidy travel to Saudi Arabia on the national carrier, Air India. The pilgrims fly out from Mumbai and in 2016 were given a concession of Rs 45,000 for their airfare.While these objections to the Haj need to be considered, what has passed without scrutiny is the fact that India also spends money on a raft of pilgrimages, directly or indirectly. Chief among these are 4 Kumbh Melas, held in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. Millions of people attend each fair. To ensure that they go off smoothly, Central funds are routed through state governments to pay for constructions on the mela grounds, facilities for pilgrims and security. In 2014, for instance, Centre spent about Rs 1,150 crore and the UP govt Rs 11 crore on the Allahabad Kumbh. Of this, Opposition parties alleged that Rs 800 crore had been misused. Last year, Union culture ministry also set aside Rs 100 crore to be granted to the Madhya Pradesh for Simhastha Mahakumbh, which is held in once in 12 years in Ujjain. The state govt had already spent Rs 3,400 crore on the event. Scroll.in
Freedom fighters demand Modi's apology on the KVIC calendar issue
Agra:Following the demonetisation exercise which threw the country into chaos for more than two months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is again in the eye of the storm, this time over his picture printed on the Annual Khadi and Village Industries Commission calendar and diary, a place that was erstwhile reserved for pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, who was an international proponent of khadi or handwoven cloth.Now, the Opposition parties have taken up this fresh issue and renewed their attack on Modi claiming that Modi is conspiring to sideline Mahatma Gandhi and replace that great personality as the national icon. Freedom fighters of Agra have also opened up a front against Modi on this issue and demanded that Modi should issue a personal apology on this gaffe and the KVIC recall the calendars and diaries that have Modi's image spinning charkha printed on them. They have warned that the freedom fighters of Agra will hold a protest at the Parliament if the Modi govt did not make amends immediately. indiatoday
Gandhi will gradually be removed from currency notes: Haryana minister Anil Vij
Ambala:Anil Vij, a minister from Haryana in PM Narendra Modi-led government, on Saturday sparked a fresh controversy, saying Mahatma Gandhi will gradually be removed from currency notes and that Modi is a bigger brand name than Gandhi. "The day Gandhi came on the rupee, its devaluation started. Gradually, he will be removed from the notes also," Vij said. However, the minister later withdrew his statement against Mahatma Gandhi. The whole controversy started with Modi's picture spinning the charkha donning the cover page of the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) calendar and diary, instead of the iconic picture of Gandhi weaving khadi on a simple charkha, wearing his trademark loin cloth. IANS
Khadi icon row: Rahul Gandhi mocks Vij, says Hitler, Mussolini were “popular brands” too
Demonetisation
‘Humiliated’ by note ban events, do away with interference: RBI staff to Guv
Mumbai:Feeling “humiliated” by events since demonetisation, RBI employees on Friday wrote to governor Urjit Patel, protesting against operational “mismanagement” in the exercise and the Centre impinging its autonomy by appointing an official for currency coordination.In a letter, they said the autonomy and image of RBI has been “dented beyond repair” due to mismanagement and termed appointment of a senior finance ministry official as a “blatant encroachment” of its exclusive turf of currency management.“An image of efficiency and independence that RBI assiduously built up over decades by the strenuous efforts of its staff and judicious policy making has gone into smithereens in no time. We feel extremely pained,” United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers and Employees said in the letter addressed to Patel.PTI
If I Were at RBI, I’d Have Withdrawn From Demonetisation Implementation: Y.V. Reddy
New Delhi: Former RBI governor Y. Venugopal Reddy, who has earned a global reputation for his acumen as a central banker, has admitted that if he were still head of the central bank, he would have quietly conveyed to the Centre his inability to carry out demonetisation on the scale announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.In an interview with The Wire on Saturday, Reddy readily conceded that it is the Centre’s prerogative, as a sovereign, to take the decision to demonetise. However, he would have told the prime minister that it was impossible to effect a quick replacement of currency on such a massive scale. “First I would have tried to impress upon the govt that it should withdraw only Rs 1000 notes so  as to minimise the disruption. If the government still wanted to go ahead with removing 86% of currency in circulation I would have conveyed my inability to execute it,” he said. the wire
Demonetisation is a major assault on poor: Economist Bardhan
Mumbai: The demonetisation exercise is a major assault on the poor and won’t change the structural roots of corruption in India, says Pranab Bardhan, professor of economics at University of California, Berkeley. A strong proponent of universal basic income, he says it could be one of the ways in which the government can compensate citizens for the harm caused by the note ban. livemint.com
RBI row: Opposition slams BJP govt for destroying credibility of autonomous body
New Delhi: In wake of the letter written by employees of RBI to its governor Urjit Patel condemning the demonetisation drive, the Congress and JD(United) dubbed it as ‘shocking state of affair’, while stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have destroyed the credibility of the autonomous body that controls the country’s monetary policy.ANI
Modi govt has decimated independence & functionality of RBI: Randeep Surjewala
Note ban hurting Nepal, says envoy
New Delhi:Nepal’s ambassador Deep K Upadhyay on Friday said that people in his country were facing a lot of hardship due to India’s demonetisation move and failure to resolve the problem soon may erode their faith in the Indian government’s assurances.“They are worried. I have pursued the issue at all levels, including at the diplomatic level. I hope it will be solved soon. I am requesting the government of India, please resolve it as early as possible. Otherwise people may lose their faith in the government of Nepal and naturally in government of India too,” Upadhyay said during an interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia here. indianexpress
OTHERS
Zakir Naik’s IRF moves High Court against immediate ban
Islamic Research Foundation of Zakir Naik has challenged in Delhi High Court the Centre’s decision to immediately ban the organisation, claiming no reasons were given for taking such action under UAPA.Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, before whom the matter was listed, heard part arguments on behalf of the organisation and the Centre and asked the government to produce the relevant record on Jan.17 so that the court can see whether there was material for urgent ban of IRF.IRF, in its plea, has challenged the notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which had imposed an immediate ban on the organisation under UAPA.According to IRF, the notification gives no reason and cites no material for taking such a step as was required by the law laid down by the Supreme Court.It said the immediate ban was imposed without giving them any show cause notice.Opposing the maintainability of the plea, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said the government did not want to wait for some “catastrophic” incident or “pralay” to happen before taking a decision. ASG said the matter is now before the Tribunal, set up under the UAPA, which will take up the issue on Feb.6 on which date the organisation will be provided all the affidavits filed by the govt.IRF, on the other hand, contended that dates or content of the alleged speeches and statements have not been mentioned in the notification.It also said the Tribunal refused to accept or admit, before Feb.6, its plea challenging the immediate ban and thus, it had to come to the high court.It said that it was limiting its plea to the immediate ban and not raising the issue of freezing of its accounts under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.PTI
HC asks Centre to submit report on Zakir Naik’s IRF ban
No one wants to take over IRF-run school: mumbaimirror
Mumbai: Govt has approached Muslim institutions to take over the running of the school, but no one has shown any interest. The controversy surrounding Zakir Naik has put a question mark over the fate of 185 students studying in a school run by his foundation. The Islamic International School in Mazagaon is managed by the educational trust of Zakir Naik’s IRF and holds classes from nursery to Std X.After the Centre’s ban on IRF, the government approached Muslim educational institutes to take over the school but so far, no one has accepted the offer. Among the institutions approached is Anjuman-I-Islam school, which is the largest Muslim educational institution in the state. But authorities have not shown interest in running the school. President of Anjuman, Zahir Kazi, told Mirror,“There have been discussions between the education department and us, but nothing in writing has been given to us. Moreover, we follow a different pattern or syllabus. Our institution is run by a Muslim trust but we do not impart only religious education and hence it will be difficult to take over IIS and run it according to our norms. We are still waiting for the government to approach us officially.”Earlier, the management of the Islamic International School had alleged that the education department was “doing everything possible” to shut down the school. However, when Mumbai Mirror visited the school on Saturday, the administration incharge claimed that there was no problem. “There is absolutely no problem here and we do not think the school will be shut. Even if some other body takes over the school, it will be for the good of the students. We are functioning normally.” Mumbai Mirror
Iran's Rafsanjani was instrumental in improving relations with India at cost of ties with Pak: Iftikhar Gilani's spl story
Not many people know that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president of Iran, who passed away recently, was instrumental in a remarkable turnaround in Iran’s bilateral relations with India at the cost of its ties with Pakistan. In March 1994, an Indian military aircraft touched down at a snowed-in Tehran airport carrying the ailing minister of external affairs Dinesh Singh on a secret mission. Hospitalised at the AIIMS and barely able to walk, the minister had a surprise visitor the day before. Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao had come calling to urge the minister to deliver an urgent letter in person to Rafsanjani.UN Human Rights Commission (now Council) was set to pass a resolution against India, prompting Rao to visit Singh and exort him to proceed to Tehran and blunt Pakistan’s edge at Geneva. It was not the India of the 21st century. In 1992, India had mortgaged its gold reserves and its economic woes were far from over. Russia was licking its wounds after the break-up of the Soviet Union, India’s most bankable ally. Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), supported by influential Western nations, was moving a resolution at the UNHRC to condemn alleged Indian human rights violations in Kashmir.The resolution, if passed, would have been referred to the UN Security Council to initiate economic sanctions and other punitive measures against India. OIC convention requires decisions to be arrived through consensus. A retired senior Indian diplomat mentioned this episode at a Track-II interaction in a Gulf country few years ago. He said Rao had shrewdly chosen Rafsanjani to force his country to abstain from voting. Rao believed that once there was no consensus, the resolution was bound to fall through. The Iranians had no clue why the ailing Indian Minister was arriving in Tehran at short notice. Breaking protocol, Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati was waiting at the tarmac with bated breath. Later, Velayati would narrate in private gatherings that Singh’s perilous journey had intrigued him greatly. Singh held meetings with President Rafsanjani and the Speaker of the Iranian Majlis Nateq-Nouri. By evening, Singh had returned to his bed at AIIMS in Delhi, but not before seeking an assurance from President Rafsanjani to Prime Minister Rao that “Iran will do all it can do to ensure that no harm comes to India”. But what Iran gained by yielding to India’s plea is still a mystery. Some say Rao had committed to settling issues bilaterally with Pakistan, which he later articulated with his famous “sky is the limit” statement on Kashmir. 72 anxious hours later, Delhi learned that Iran had killed the OIC move to table the resolution — with far-reaching consequences for the region in the next decade.
Youth bulge may become a bane for India: US intel report
New Delhi: A US intelligence report analysing global trends has said that in the wake of unmatched economic progress, youth bulge may prove a bane rather than a boon for India. After every four years, when results of the presidential elections are out, National Intelligence Council (NIC) of US releases a long-term strategic analysis for the new administration, parts of which are declassified for public debate.A 256-page report, released here by NIC officer Robert S Williams for South Asia, says India needs to create as many as 10 million jobs every year in the coming decade. Even in the global context, NIC, which in US, serves as a bridge between the intelligence and policy communities, has predicted rising tensions within and between countries of different regions over the next five years.“Insufficient opportunity as a result of inadequate resources and social discrimination could contribute to the radicalisation of a segment of the region’s youth,” report said. It also raised a red flag at widespread pre-natal sex selection that is making the youth population disproportionate. DNA
Bangalore; Exhibition in Mangaluru conveys tenets of IS, teachings of Quran
Bangalore: In an attempt to convey to the masses the true meaning of Islam, Karnataka Salafi Association has organised The Miracle, an exhibition on Islam in Mangaluru. The exhibition is being held from Jan 9-15 at the Nehru Maidan in the city.Speaking to Bangalore Mirror of the initiative, Sharifa, in-charge of the organisation’s women’s section and the one organising the exhibition, says its objective is to make people understand what Islam actually preaches, and dispel misconceptions tagged to it. “This is being held for the first time in Dakshina Kannada,” she said.The exhibition premises is spread over 30,000 square feet of 500 informative panels in English and Kannada. Separate video theatres in the 2 languages offer multimedia sermons.Bangalore Mirror
Anger in MP after police officer probing a multi-crore scam is transferred
The abrupt transfer on Monday of a senior police officer who was investigating cases related to a hawala scam estimated to be worth Rs 500 crore in Katni, a business hub in Madhya Pradesh, has led to allegations from the Opposition and members of the public that the state government was trying to protect its leaders, including an influential minister.Gaurav Tiwari was barely six months into his tenure as Superintendent of Police in Katni, 400 km east of Bhopal, when BJP government transferred him to Chhindwara.The move sparked protests in the town, which shut down for two days following the transfer order. Citizens came onto the streets to demand the revocation of the order, people have posted messages of solidarity on the officer’s Facebook wall, and government employees in the district have threatened to go on strike from Feb.3.The massive popular anger in Katni is mainly directed against Sanjay Pathak, the minister of state for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises, who is seen as the man who prevailed upon the chief minister to shift Tiwari out of the district. scroll
Kolkata: Imam blames 'sexy manner' of girls for rape: DNA
Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid, Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati said that girls of present generation are presented in a ‘sexy manner’ and that is why they become 'prey to men’s lust'. “One should take example from how the women of Rajasthan wear a veil on their face or the women of Punjab who wear a dupatta over their dresses. Present day women here go about in such a sexy manner that they become ‘insaano ke hawas ka shikaar’ (prey to men’s lust),” Barkati said at a press conference on Friday.He said that the many have adopted the Islamic rule of purdah even in places like America and that would bring down the number of cases of violence against women. “Even Hindu sages are appreciating the purdah system and when they ask women to dress up in a sober manner, they receive a lot of flak,” he said.DNA
Women would be respected if they wear veil: Maulauna Noor-ur Rahman Barkati
Muslim clerics in fight over Kolkata's Tipu Sultan Mosque imam's fatwa
Mumbai:A week after the shahi imam of Kolkata's Tipu Sultan Mosque, maulana Nurur Rehman Barkati, issued a fatwa against PM Modi, the controversial cleric faces a fatwa from a Mumbai-based mufti (one qualified to issue fatwas).In his fatwa, mufti Manzar Hasan Khan Ashrafi Misbahi, chief mufti of Madrassa Darul Uloom Ali Hasan Ahle Sunnat, has not only dismissed Barkati's "fatwa" against Modi as an outrageous and condemnable political statement, he has also questioned the controversial imam's credentials to lead namaz or prayers.TOI
Arnab Goswami’s new media venture is funded by NDA MP and Mohandas Pai
There has been a lot of speculation on the potential investors in journalist Arnab Goswami’s new media venture after he quit Times Now as its editor-in-chief.It has now emerged that among those who’ve invested in Republic are Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an NDA MP in Rajya Sabha and Mohandas Pai, a former executive of Infosys.Although Chandrasekhar identifies himself as an independent MP, his association with the BJP-led NDA is not a secret anymore. Not too long ago, he had actively campaigned for the NDA in Kerala assembly elections in May last year.His ‘independence’ had also come under intense scrutiny last year when an email sent by Amit Gupta, the Chief Operating Officer of Jupiter Capital, was leaked to media. Chandrasekhar owns his media ventures that includes Asianet in Kerala and Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha in Karnataka. jantakareporter
Crisis in AMU’s Murshidabad campus
Kolkata: Faced If the fund marked for Murshidabad campus of the AMU is not disbursed by the end of March, it may jeopardise the career of more than 500 students studying in the campus. The director of the campus, which is officially called the Murshidabad Centre, said the allotted fund would lapse on March 31, “shattering dreams” of many. The campus, located in the erstwhile constituency of President Pranab Mukherjee in Jangipur, was inaugurated in 2014 by the President. The campus received Rs. 60 crore of the Rs. 107.80 crore marked for the institution in August 2013. However, the director of the University, Dr. Badaruddoza, has no idea if they will receive the rest of the fund by March 31 this year. thehindu
Will probe if Bakshi complains of conspiracy:Army chief
New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat said prompt action would be taken if Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi, who cut short his prolonged leave on Friday to resume duties as the Eastern Army Command (EAC) chief, formally complained of the alleged conspiracy to defame him over the last few months. "If General Bakshi has any grievance, or if there is anything that needs to be investigated, and it is formally brought to my notice, we will look into it," Rawat, who superseded Bakshi, said."We have both reached out to each other since I was appointed the chief. All that he has told me is that he accepts the government's decision and will support the organisation... He has been supportive of me and I will be supportive of him," Rawat added. timesofindia
Naushad acquitted of terror charges, rearrested in Bijnor
Lucknow: Naushad, a resident of Bijnor, who was acquitted of terror charges was arrested again by police on Friday.Police had arrested Naushad in 2007 claiming that he was planning a terror attack.However, in 2015 he was acquitted by a special court after spending more than eight years in jail.The state government had challenged the order in the high court. The high court had issued a nonbailable warrant against him in December last. Naushad, who was arrested in Bijnor on Friday, will be taken into transit remand and brought to Lucknow on Monday . The next hearing of the matter is on Jan.31."The police furnished a false report in the HC alleging that Naushad has fled and got a warrant against him. Naushad was at his home all the time and was arrested from village Chak Udaychand Chamli in Bijnor district," said Naushad's lawyer and activist Mohammad Shoaib.TOI
NIA frames charges against Zabiuddin for conspiring terror attacks in India
New Delhi: A special NIA in New Delhi on Friday levelled charges against Zabiuddin Ansari aka Abu Jundal in a matter related to conspiring terror attacks in various parts of India. The charges against Jundal, who is also the convict in the Aurangabad arms haul case, have been framed under the IPC Section 153 A and other sections of UAPA. The trial on the same will begin from Jan.31.Advocate M S Khan, appearing for Jundal, however, had opposed NIA’s contention, claiming that allegations against his client were false.ANI /PTI
Muzaffarnagar riots: 2 years on, SIT yet to get govt’s nod to chargesheet 602 accused
Lucknow: 2 years after it requested the state government’s sanction to file chargesheets in 57 cases against 602 accused including leaders from the BJP, Congress and BSP, a SIT formed by the state government itself to investigate the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots is yet to get a nod for the same. On Wednesday, a meeting was held in the home department where SIT officers placed evidence against the accused before a four-member committee. “We are examining the evidence produced by the IOs to take a final decision,” Joint Secretary Chhedi Lal Gupta, who heads committee,said.Indian Express
Muzzafarnagar Riot victims to vote for hope, rehabilitation
Lucknow: Saleem, 32, was a happy man until fierce riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar 3 years ago. Like thousands of riot victims, he and his family stayed at a rehabilitation centre for over six months.He later shifted to a rehabilitation centre on the outskirts of Shahpur town, close to his native village Kakra.To reorganise the devastated lives of riot victims, Saleem later formed ‘Danga Peedit Sangharsh Samiti in Jan.2014.Samiti organised its first demonstration at Budhana tehsil office to raise the problems of riot victims.3 years on, Saleem and his associates have dedicated themselves to bring scattered votes together and make riot victims a potential force during the assembly election.Saleem is now the hope of hundreds of riot victims who seek their advice to solve their day to day problems. hindustantimes
UP elections: Will the ghost of Muzzafarnagar riots return to haunt this village?
 The ghost of the Muzzafarnagar riots continues to haunt this small village, Phugana. There were around 2,000 Muslim families living in this village peacefully until August 2013 changed everything. A riot that broke changed the lives of many and several Muslim families were forced to leave this village which they once called home. one india
PM Modi should promise Ram temple if BJP wants seers’ support in UP polls: Chief priest Acharya Satyendra Das
Ayodhya:The seers will support BJP in the upcoming UP elections only if Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises to get the Ram temple constructed in Ayodhya during his tenure, the chief priest of the makeshift temple at the Ram Janm Bhumi-Babri Masjid disputed site said here.The chief priest, Acharya Satyendra Das, said that ‘mahanat’ and ‘sadhu’ are believers of Lord Rama and their only wish is to see a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.Reacting to Das’ demand, the Mahant of Rasik Niwas temple in Ayodhya, Raghuvar Sharan, alleged that the BJP leaders who gained politically due to the Ayodhya Ram temple movement never raised the issue in Parliament.PTI
RSS Muslim wing’s mission against conversions, Naxals
Nagpur: After a conference involving Kashmiri students in New Delhi, the RSS' Muslim wing is planning similar events in Naxal-hit states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The target audience here are Naxals and Christian missionaries, with the aim of dissuading them from violence and conversions respectively. The missionaries are being asked to shift their agenda to improving the tribals' life rather than changing their faith. Indresh Kumar, convener of Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) and executive body member of RSS, will be visiting Chhattisgarh's capital Raipur on Feb.3. This will follow a two-day stay at Nagpur where he will hold meetings at RSS HQRS. Kumar will be attending a ceremony to install an idol at a temple in Raipur, where a large congregation of tribals is expected. Another function is being planned at Jagdalpur town in the Naxal stronghold of Bastar region, followed by one in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, another Naxal affected state. "The agenda is to wean away Naxals from violence and also seek the cooperation of the missionaries in the process. Talks have been held with the latter and they have agreed to cooperate," Kumar said.He said RSS is also looking at other organizations, which may also like to work in this direction. It wants the tribals to become stakeholders in the region's natural resources and also the development process.TOI
Mohan Bhagwat insists RSS not ‘working against anyone’ but only for empowerment of Hindu community
New Delhi: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has insisted that his organisation is not “working against anyone” but only “working to unite Hindu community and for its empowerment”, ANI reported. Bhagwat was speaking at an RSS programme in Kolkata. His comments came in the backdrop of high-octane tension between the Bharatiya Janata Party and West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress.“Can anyone stop us? No one can stop us. We have to work. We have and we will keep on doing it. Increase activism, it doesn’t increase from preaching,” he added in his message on Makar Sankranti. indianexpress
Waqf Board row: CBI to grill AAP leader Amanatullah Khan
New Delhi: With the CBI preparing to question senior AAP leader and former chairman of the Delhi Waqf Board, Amanatullah Khan, in connection with its ongoing probe into the alleged irregularities in operations of the board, a fresh round of confrontation between Delhi government and the Centre is set to intensify. Mr Khan, sources said, will soon be summoned for questioning by the agency.ASIAN AGE
Livemint’s spl story on thew issue of triple talaq
New Delhi: On 20 November, some 200,000 people crammed into Kolkata’s Park Circus maidan. Some slumped against the bamboo grills, while others slouched on the ground in the front rows in the packed-to-capacity venue. An aerial view published in the media showed a tightly packed cluster of white skull caps and some, mostly black and white, headscarves. On the podium was a congregation of bearded men in white robes and turbans. One of them stood at the lectern, addressing the crowd. “We don’t need suggestions from the govt or courts on what we should do with our laws. It is our business. Let us deal with it,” he roared.The gathering was much like a political rally. For those who could not be accommodated at the venue, giant screens were put up in different parts of the city. This was the 25th All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) conference—a 3-day event, and the biggest gathering of the Board in 2016.The conference came at a time when the Supreme Court was hearing a lawsuit seeking a ban on three specific practices permitted under Muslim Personal Law: triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala.“Whenever the demand for a uniform civil code is raised, it is in context of something related to Muslims, and that is why Muslims think it will affect them alone, even though we know it will affect many Indians,” says Zafar-ul-Islam, editor of the New Delhi-based newspaper, Milli Gazette.“We oppose uniform civil code because it will take away all the religious freedom that the Constitution has given us. We follow the criminal laws as per the Constitution, at least we should have the right to live our personal lives based on our religious teachings,” he adds.“Those who are misusing triple talaq should be punished,” says Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mehmood Madani. Yet, he adds, the rights of women are not being compromised because of the existence of triple talaq.Most AIMPLB members this reporter spoke with say they are against the misuse of triple talaq. In fact, they say, the word ‘talaq’ itself is considered bad in Islam, with the Quran as well as the Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet and practices from his daily life) referring to incidents that show how the religion views divorce in poor light even though the option is available.“Islam has given divorce as the last option only if nothing else works out and there is no way the marriage can survive…but it is not the preferred route,” says Mufti Fuzailur Rahman Hilal Usmani of the Darussalam Islamic Centre, Punjab. “When a man marries, he takes the responsibility of the woman and children. At no point can a man say I can’t take care of them. He is obligated to. A woman can contribute but she is not obligated to,” explains Syed. Jalaluddin Umari, vice president, AIMPLB. “Her money is her money alone. Even if she is earning, the money is for her. The meaning of talaq is that the man who had taken the responsibility says he will not take it anymore. If a woman legally takes up these responsibilities, she can also give talaq. The problem is with those interpreting religion, not the religion.”
Ullekh NP's Book Excerpt: How AB Vajpayee was foiled in his bid to have Narendra Modi removed as Gujarat CM
WORLD
Bashar al-Assad personally linked to chemical weapons attacks for first time
International investigators have said for the first time that they suspect President Bashar al-Assad and his brother are responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict, according to a document seen by Reuters.A joint inquiry for the United Nations and global watchdog the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had previously identified only military units and did not name any commanders or officials.Now a list has been produced of individuals whom the investigators have linked to a series of chlorine bomb attacks in 2014-15 - including Assad, his younger brother Maher and other high-ranking figures - indicating the decision to use toxic weapons came from the very top, according to a source familiar with the inquiry.Reuters
‘Israel cooperates with Russia on Syria air strikes’
Israel cooperates with Russia on its air strikes and military operations in Syria, an Algerian writer and political analyst claimed on Friday. Anwar Malik also stressed his belief that the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad and the Iranians are no more than tools used by the “bigger players” in the region. “If Israel carries out a military operation in Syria,” he wrote on Twitter, “it would be in full cooperation with Russia. The Iranian mercenaries and the Assad idiots are just tools used in an international plot that is bigger than their sectarian mentality.”On Friday, the Israeli air force targeted one of Syria’s air force bases to the west of Damascus, Anadolu and Russia’s Sputnik news agencies reported. middleeastmonitor
Turkey, Russia coordinate air operations in Syria
Turkish and Russian militaries are coordinating their respective air operations in Syria to avoid mishaps, the Turkish defense minister said on Friday.Speaking at a signing ceremony on “Cyber Security Cooperation” in Ankara, Fikri Isik said the Syrian regime could eventually join the coordination arrangement.“The necessary coordination has been made in Syria to ensure that the air elements of Turkey and those of the regime or Russia are not confronted,” Isik said.On Thursday, the Turkish military announced that Turkey and Russia had signed an agreement, allowing the 2 countries to work in coordination for the safety of their military aviation in war-torn Syria.According to the army’s statement, the Turkish General Staff said that the delegations from the two countries met in Moscow on Thursday.”The purpose of the deal is to specify the mechanisms for coordination and cooperation for flight safety of Russian Aerospace Forces and Turkish Air Force during offensive against terrorist targets,” military said. middleeastmonitor
UK: Corbyn calls for probe into Israeli 'interference'
The leader of the UK's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has called for an inquiry into the activities of an Israeli embassy officer who was caught on tape in an Al Jazeera investigation discussing a plot to "take down" British politicians. In an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn described the actions of Israeli embassy official Shai Masot as "improper interference in this country's democratic process". Explaining that he was "concerned" by UK foreign minister Boris Johnson's announcement that the embassy's activities were a closed matter, Corbyn urged May to launch an inquiry: "This is clearly a national security issue." aljazeera
UN funding threat due to illegal Israeli settlements resolution
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is prepared to meet with US lawmakers, a UN spokeswoman said, as some US senators push to cut funding to the world body over a Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements. The US abstained from 23 Dec.vote, allowing 15-member Security Council to adopt the resolution with 14 votes in favour. Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump had called for Washington to wield its veto.On Thursday,Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham introduced legislation to cut UN funding until the president certifies that the Security Council has repealed the resolution. However, the legislation stands little chance of advancing in Congress, where it would need Democrats’ support and even some Republicans consider the move as too extreme.“The secretary-general very much welcomes an opportunity to discuss any issues with US lawmakers,” UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said. “We’re always eager and available to meet with US lawmakers as needed.” middleeastmonitor
Lieberman calls on Trump to form alliance with Israel and moderate Arab states
Israeli defence minister has called on US President-elect Donald Trump to form an alliance to fight terrorism, including Israel and moderate Arab countries amongst the membership, the Jerusalem Post, has reported.“This is what Israel should be focusing on with the new administration,” explained the extreme right-wing Avigdor Lieberman. “In effect, it is similar to the coalition that the US established in 1991 ahead of the First Gulf War, only this time with Israel as a member.”Lieberman believes that even those Arab countries which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel will agree to join the coalition under pressure from the US.“Moderate Arab world understands that the real threat against it is not Jews, Zionism or Israel, but rather the radicals in the Muslim world.” middleeastmonitor
Thousands of Israeli-Arabs demonstrate against demolition of homes in Israel
Around 20,000 Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel took to the streets of Qalansawe on Friday to protest against the demolition of Arab-owned homes by the Israeli authorities. The demonstration followed a call by the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Residents of Israel for a countrywide response to the demolitions, Arab48.com has reported.The protesters raised the flag of Palestine and banners condemning the “crimes” carried out by the Israeli government in predominantly Arab cities. These include the demolition of 11 Arab homes in the Qalansawe and the 108th demolition of Al-Araqib village in the Negev Desert. middleeastmonitor
US lifts 20-year economic embargo on Sudan: aljazeera
US has announced the end of a 20-year economic embargo on Sudan, lifting trade and financial sanctions in an effort to foster ties with the Sudanese government.The announcement made by outgoing President Barack Obama's administration on Friday comes after an executive order to permanently repeal a range of sanctions as a result of Sudan's efforts to improve security in the region.For the first time in two decades, Sudan will be able to receive imported goods and services from the US, as authorised by the US Department of the Treasury.
WhatsApp vulnerability allows snooping on encrypted messages
A security vulnerability that can be used to allow Facebook and others to intercept and read encrypted messages has been found within its WhatsApp messaging service.Facebook claims that no one can intercept WhatsApp messages, not even the company and its staff, ensuring privacy for its billion-plus users. But new research shows that the company could in fact read messages due to the way WhatsApp has implemented its end-to-end encryption protocol. The guardian
 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:11 PM)

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