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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Evening NEWS DIGEST
9 Feb.2017: 11 Jamadiul Awwal 1438: Vol:8, No:112
3 years on, no conviction in gangrape cases in Muzaffarnagar riots: Amnesty International
In 2013, communal violence in and around Muzzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in UP, there were reports of targeted sexual violence against women. 7 Muslim women came forward to report that they had been gangraped by men from Jat community. However, to date, there has not been a single conviction in any of the cases, said a new Amnesty International India (AII) report, Losing Faith, The Muzaffarnagar Gang Rape Survivors’ Struggle for Justice, which was released today. According to the report, 2 of the 7 have changed their statements, following threats and intimidation. One died in 2016. In two cases, trial has not even begun.The survivors also have not received any additional benefits from the state, apart from the compensation given to all who had lost their property in the riots.“The security and compensation that the state govt provided to the survivors came only after human rights lawyers filed petitions on their behalf before the Supreme Court in Dec.2013,” report added.Shockingly, when researchers met the survivors, many did not receive regular information about the status of their cases from government authorities.Some even said that they had not attended hearings for several months as they did not know about the dates of the hearings and had not met the govt prosecutors handling their cases. Muzzaffarnagar district court counsel told AII that the delays were partly caused by difficulty in finding the survivors, and that he was unaware that one of survivors had died in Aug2016.The state’s advocate general insisted that there were no delays on the part of the govt.In an appeal made to the state government that will take over after March 11 results, the AII has urged that it must ensure that the investigations and prosecutions into the gangrape cases are pursued without delay; those responsible are brought to justice;investigate reports of threats, intimidation or harassment of survivors of their relatives, and bring suspects to trial; provide survivors effective legal assistance and services, keep them informed of the status of investigations and prosecutions, and address any concerns they may have; and also ensure that survivors are provided adequate rehabilitation, compensation and other measures of repatriation and that their economic and social needs are met. “There is a pattern that follows communal riots and anti-Dailt violence in India. We have seen this happening in Gujarat and in UP though the ruling parties were different: The police will either not file cases or even if they do, they will make the chargesheet weak. This is not just a failure but a deliberate design to deny justice to the victims. There is a huge majoritarian bias in the system,”ex-bureaucrat Harsh Mander said.HT
3 years after Muzaffarnagar riots, gang-rape survivors face death threats, trial delays: Amnesty report
Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India:US body
Washington: The religious minority communities and Dalits face discrimination and persecution in India where hate crimes, social boycotts and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014, an independent bipartisan American body has claimed, asking the US to put human rights at the heart of trade and diplomatic interactions with India."Under Congress and BJP-led govts, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency," said a report released by US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that monitors violation of religious freedom abroad."In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults, and forced conversion have escalated dramatically," says the report 'Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India' which has been authored by Iqtidat Karamat Cheema, who is director for Institute for Leadership and Community Development, in Birmingham, England.The report recommends the US govt  to put religious freedom and human rights at the heart of all trade, aid, and diplomatic interactions with India. Running into 22 pages, the report alleges that there are constitutional provisions and state and national laws in India that do not comply with international standards of freedom of religion or belief, including Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."As feared by many faith communities across India, threats,hate crimes, social boycotts, desecrations of places of worship, assaults,and forced conversions led by radical Hindu nationalist movements have escalated dramatically under the BJP-led govt," author said. "Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Jains generally are fearful of what the future portends. Moreover, Hindus classified as Schedule Castes or Tribes, commonly referred to as Dalits, also are increasingly being attacked and harassed," it said. US is also recommended to urge India to immediately lift its sanctions against NGOs working for the welfare of the minorities in India. It urges India not to impose Hindu personal status laws on Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain communities, but instead provide them with a provision of personal status laws as per their distinct religious beliefs and practices.PTI
'Maharana Pratap won Battle of Haldighati against Akbar,' proposal to rewrite history backed by Rajasthan Ministers
Jaipur: Days after protests in Rajasthan over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Padmavati, 3 senior ministers of the Vasundhara Raje govt  have backed a proposal to rewrite history taught at the university level to say that Rajput warrior-king Maharana Pratap won the Battle of Haldighati against Mughal army of Akbar led by his general Man Singh.The proposal, discussed at a meeting of Rajasthan University, was backed Tuesday by ex-Higher Education Minister Kalicharan Saraf (now Health Minister) and School Education Minister Vasudev Devnani. On Wednesday, Urban Development and Housing Minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat joined the chorus. Last week, university syndicate member and BJP MLA Mohan Lal Gupta had proposed rewriting the history curriculum in Rajasthan university to portray Maharana Pratap as winner of 1576 battle. Acting V-C Rajeshwar Singh said the proposal has been forwarded to the university’s Board of Studies (for critical examination and appropriate decision).Authoritative texts on medieval history, such as Satish Chandra’s Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals- Mughal Empire(1526-1748), say the Battle of Haldighati was fought between the forces of Akbar led by Man Singh and those of Maharana Pratap, assisted among others by “an Afghan contingent led by Hakim Sur which played a distinctive role”. The battle failed to break the stalemate between Akbar and Rana Pratap, with the latter retreating into the hills of southern Mewar.“The Mughal forces were commanded by Kr. Man Singh. With both the Hindus and the Muslims divided, the battle of Haldighati can scarcely be considered a struggle between Hindus and Muslims. Nor can it be considered a struggle for Rajput independence, influential sections of the Rajputs already having cast their lot with the Mughals. The struggle can be regarded at best as an assertion of the principle of local independence,” Chandra notes.“Akbar followed up the battle of Haldighati by coming back to Ajmer, and personally leading the campaign against Rana Pratap. In the process, Goganda, Udaipur and Kumbhalmir were occupied, forcing the Rana deeper into the mountainous tract of south Mewar,” he writes.But Minister Kalicharan Saraf says Akbar was only a foreign invader, and that Rana Pratap actually won the battle.“It is true. Maharana Pratap did win the battle of Haldighati against Akbar,” School Education Minister Devnani said. Historian Tanuja Kothiyal, who specialises in the history of medieval Rajasthan, believes altering historical facts such as the result of the Battle of Haldighati “not only insults history but the education process as a whole”. indian express
Inspired by Rajasthan’s bid to rewrite history: 5 other facts from India’s past that we could (should) change: Adrija
Maharana Pratap won battle of Haldighati: How BJP's bid to rewrite history textbooks sets a dangerous precedent
AIUDF at President door to stop minority eviction:TOI
Guwahati: AIUDF has sought President Pranab Mukherjee's intervention to stop 'targeting of a particular community' in the name of eviction in the state.An AIUDF delegation, led by party chief Badruddin Ajmal, met the President in New Delhi on Tuesday on the issue of state govt 's recent eviction drives on its encroached lands.The delegation highlighted that the evictions were carried out targeting people of a particular community in an 'arbitrary' manner without providing rehabilitation packages. Ajmal said people actually settled on govt land after they were displaced by floods and erosion. Asserting that 23% of govt land is under encroachment, the Delegation said there should be no discrimination on the basis of religion, caste and creed while carrying out eviction drives.
‘Vande Mataram’ has special place, but can’t be on par with ‘Jana Gana’: Centre to Delhi HC
New Delhi;‘Vande Mataram’ occupies a “unique and special place” in the psyche of Indians but it cannot be treated on par with national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ penned by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the Centre told the Delhi High Court.‘Vande Mataram’ occupies a “unique and special place” in the psyche of Indians but it cannot be treated on par with national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’, Centre told hc.PTI
Over 81,000 Muslims lodged in jails in 2015 across the country, says  NCRB data: indianexpress
New Delhi:Over 81,000 Muslims were lodged in jails across the country, as per the latest data presented by the govt in Rajya Sabha today.Responding to a question about the details of “innocent” Muslims languishing in various jails, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said, “Only convicts, undertrials and detenues are lodged in jails. NCRB data shows that 81,306 Muslim inmates were lodged in jails at the end of 2015.”On a query over mechanism being worked out to avoid “harassment” of Muslims, he said the question of “harassment” does not arise in view of “in the view of above”.

ASSEBLY POLLS & POLITICS
Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid backs BSP in UP polls
Lucknow: A day after the Rashtriya Ulema Council pledged its support to BSP, Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid Maulana Ahmad Bukhari today announced his backing for Mayawati's party in the UP Assembly elections and accused SP of going back on its words."Muslims should look for a political alternative in UP and show exit route to this unjust Samajwadi Party that has gone back on its word. Otherwise, every political party will use Muslims like football for their own interests," the Shahi Imam cautioned, while declaring his support to BSP”.PTI
Ulema council pledges its support to BSP, withdraws 84 candidates
Lucknow: Pledging its support to the BSP, Rashtriya Ulema Council has announced withdrawal of 84 candidates fielded by it in the ongoing UP  assembly elections, while lending support to the BSP.President of RUC, Maulana Aamir Rashadi, said, "The need of the hour both in the interest of the state and that of the country, is that we (RUC and BSP) should work in close co-ordination with each other, so as to curtail the movement of the fascist forces and at the same time help the state to get relief from the prevailing goondaraj (rule of the goons) and parivaarwaad (family feud)."He further stated that all the 84 candidates fielded by RUC would not be contesting the elections, and would be supporting the BSP. Replying to a question, Rashadi said that RUC would be only supporting the BSP, and there would be no merger with the BSP. "I will campaign for BSP, if I am allowed," Rashadi said.TOI
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha supports Mayawati
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha chief Swami Chakrapani today extended his support to BSP supremo Mayawati for the upcoming UP Assembly elections, saying the state remains crime-free during her tenure."Everyone knows that criminals and anti-social elements run for cover when Mayawati becomes CM of UP. Women fell much safer under her leadership," he said. Criticising PM  Narendra Modi, he claimed lakhs of people have lost their jobs and several others died due to the demonetisation move."Mayawati is a saint. She works for the development of all while Modi, who is more an actor than a leader, works to destroy things."She has dedicated herself in the service of people. She works for all sections of the society," Chakrapani added. dnaindia
Election: 5 reasons why Muslims don't vote BSP in as high numbers as they should: Ajaz Ashraf
UP: RSS-backed Muslim Manch struggling to win minorities' support with 'jumla' sabka saath, sabka vikas'
New Delhi: RSS-supported Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), which is often referred to as the Hindutva outfit's Muslim arm, is finding it hard to gather the support of the minority community in poll-bound UP as Muslim community is vexed at being completely excluded from BJP's list of candidates. According to highly placed sources in MRM, which has controversial RSS pracharak Indresh Kumar as liaison with the Sangh, the organisation had asked for a mere 2 tickets for the UP polls, but the party did not pay much heed to the demand. The two tickets were ultimately turned down. Turning down MT's queries over ticket denial, MRM, however, said it did not feel that it had fitting candidates to be fielded. "We did not want our name to be tarnished by asking for tickets and the facing defeat. We feel we did not have such candidates that could win in the UP polls and thus we were not very bullish in asking for tickets from BJP," MRM national coordinator Mohammad Afzal said. Meanwhile, the MRM has sent out a 1000-strong force of volunteers across the state to take BJP's message to the minority community that is considered to be in a deciding position on a large number of seats. "We are not doing big programmes this time. In a change of tactic, we have devolved the responsibility of taking PM Modi's message of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas' and to dampen the Opposition charge that BJP is anti-Muslim on our local cadre who are going door-to-door across the state, especially in western UP," Afzal said.MailToday
35% of Muzaffarnagar riot victims not registered with EC as voters: Survey
Meerut: At least 35% of people who were displaced after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots are not registered as "voters" with the Election Commission, finds a survey conducted by NGO Afkar India Foundation. With elections in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli just a couple of days away (Feb.11), a complaint in this regard has been filed with the EC.While the study was conducted after the local administration concluded its voter ID drive, the survey findings suggest that there are colonies in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli where nearly 40% people don't have a voter ID. For instance, in Shamli's Alflan colony, out of 900 residents eligible to cast their ballot, only 11 have voter ID cards. The survey reveals that 19,000 "voters" were displaced after the 2013 riots and 6,650 of them don't have voter IDs.TOI
 Stories of Wasim, Qurban should make Akhilesh sit up, take note
Panneerselvam, Sasikala meet TN Governor, stake claim to form Govt
Chennai:Rift between Saikala and Panneerselvam has reached Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, met acting CM O. Panneerselvam today and  AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala. Both the leaders sought claim to form govt. Panneerselvam reached Raj Bhawan to meet the governor with 10 of his supporters to discuss his ongoing rift with Sasikala. After meeting governor he briefed his whole meeting by saying, “Justice will win”.Sasikala is expected to give the list of legislators extending support to her and stake her claim to form the govt.ABP News
Tamil Nadu crisis: Governor Rao, lifelong RSS man who returned from wilderness
New Delhi: Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, who has shot to fame as ‘acting’ governor of Tamil Nadu, has been a member of BJP during its entire duration till he was appointed to the gubernatorial post.After starting as an ABVP activist, he became a Jan Sangh leader who was thrice elected to the undivided AP assembly and later to Lok Sabha. During his Jan Sangh days, he practised law in Karimnagar district court and Andhra HC. He was elected state BJP president in 90s. Rao, like most politicians from the area, espoused statehood for Telangana. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and in 1999 and served as a minister of state for home affairs under LK Advani.The power struggle in AIADMK, following the death of Jayalalithaa seems to have finally turned the focus on Rao as his absence from Chennai has led to speculation on the Centre’s role in TN politics.Given his steadfast commitment to the saffron ideology, BJP is certain that he would not take a false step and hit the BJP, which is trying to gain roots in the state. He seems to be waiting for the cue from the Centre as he gets ready to play his important constitutional role.ET /TOI
Panneerselvam has worked 'wisely' as CM, public support with him: TN BJP
Tamil Nadu governor Rao is deliberately delaying Sasikala’s swearing in: Faizan Mustafa's article
OTHERS
Kerala: RSS leader arrested for murder of convert Faizal
An RSS leader has been arrested in Kerala’s Malappuram district in connection with the murder of an upper-caste Hindu man months after he converted to Islam. Madathil Narayanan, 47, is an RSS pracharak. Earlier, 14 other workers of BJP or RSS have been arrested in connection with the murder of P Faizal, a native of Tirur.Police have identified Narayanan as the key conspirator in the murder of Faizal, who was hacked to death on Nov.19, a day before he was to return to Gulf where he was employed. Faizal, an upper caste Hindu Nair, had converted to Islam a few months before he was murdered. Police said Narayanan was also an accused in the murder of a priest Ayyappan after he converted to Islam in 1998. A trial court had acquitted Narayanan and 5 others, but the high court sentenced them to life imprisonment. But on July 20 last year, the Supreme Court acquitted all the accused. indianexpress
J&K sacks its counsel in SC after he disagrees on sovereignty
New Delhi: Weeks after the Supreme Court said that J&K “has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India”, the state govt , following an uproar in the Valley, has fired its standing counsel in the top court after he reportedly refused to file a review petition to dispute the court’s views.Supreme Court lawyer Sunil Fernandes, who has been the chief standing counsel for the state since Sept.2015 during his second stint, was on Monday evening instructed to resign “immediately”. Sources said that authorities in J&K law dept. had been mounting pressure on Fernandes to file a review petition against the SC judgment of Dec.16, in which the top court had snubbed the J&K High Court for asserting the state’s “sovereignty” and “sovereign powers”.Fernandes, it is understood, was asked to file the petition for reconsideration of the specific observations on the state’s “sovereignty” but the lawyer reportedly pointed out that no valid legal grounds for filing a review petition was made out. indianexpress
Kashmir shutdown: Essential services hit after separatists protest on Afzal Guru's death anniversary
Kashmir was tense on Thursday after separatist organisations like the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and the Hurriyet forum called for a shutdown in the state on the death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru. Authorities suspended train services between Banihal and Baramulla in Kashmir due to fear of violence. The call for the shutdown was given by joint resistance leadership comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. ibtimes
Why do memories of guru still haunt India’s conscience? Apoorvanand
Delhi’s JNU quiet, bears no trace of ‘anti-national’ tumult
Delhi: It was business as usual at JNU on Thursday, a year after some students allegedly raised anti-national slogans at the campus during an event held to commemorate hanging of Afzal Guru. Academic issues are now at the centre stage in the university with a section of students holding protest on Thursday at the Administration Building over new admission policy. JNU, however, remained calm with no talks, events or public lectures on the issue scheduled in the campus. The only organised protest on Thursday was by JNU students’ union over academic issues. JNU administration said they had not received any requests for event or talk except one by ABVP for “nationalism lecture” which was denied.Today, students led by JNUSU met admission director Milap Punia to tell him about a referendum on the new policy. They said over 98% JNU students had voted against the new policies.“Students from each centre in JNU will ask the VC. Who is going to apply for this year’s admission when there is zero admission in JNU?,” said Satarupa Chakraborty, general secretary JNUSU.
JNU students:Police may name 5 others in chargesheet
‘Anti-national slogans’ at event: Year after sedition row, what changed in JNU, and what didn’t
Pro-VC of University of Hyderabad clarify on allegation of “Muslims ban”
Hyderabad: After reports of discrimination surfaced, University of Hyderabad came up with clarification.According to the news published in TOI, Pro- VC of University of Hyderabad, Vipin Srivastava said, “The situation (on campus) was tense and somebody called the police fearing that the protesting students would barge into VCs chamber.”He also said that the security officer just asked MANUU student to reveal the purpose of his visit. He also claimed that MANUU student did not mentioned that he visited to deliver medicines. He further added that security officer suspected unusual activity when some Kerala students sought permission to enter campus.siasat
74 missing defence personnel believed to be in Pak custody: Govt
New Delhi: 74 missing defence personnel (MDP) are believed to be in Pakistan's custody but whose presence has not been acknowledged so far by that country, govt said today. PTI
No ground for appeal against Sadhvi acquittal, Police tell MP govt; Joshi’s kin questions Sadhvi’s acquittal
Dewas: A week after the acquittal of Sadhvi Pragya in the Sunil Joshi murder case, the prosecution has written to the MP govt  that “there is no ground for appeal.’’ “There is no direct or circumstantial evidence. All witnesses have turned hostile. I have informed the govt  that there is no ground for appeal,’’ govt  pleader Girish Mungi said on Wednesday.A day after the verdict, murdered Joshi’s sister-in-law Shailaja questioned Sadhvi’s acquittal but indicated that the family was indifferent to the verdict or to an appeal.Records show that the probe into the murder of Joshi, whose death was linked to the larger plot of terror by alleged Hindu extremists, took twists and turns that contradicted each other and prompted the judge to remark:“Analysis of entire evidence reveals that either out of prejudice or some unknown reasons agencies did not seriously investigate the case and collected weak and mutually contradictory evidence that is not enough to prove the charges. The contrary nature of evidence has cast a serious doubt over the prosecution story.’’Judge highlighted some glaring contradictions. Over 2 years of Joshi’s murder,MP police made no headway and filed a closure report. indian express
Malegaon case: Sadhvi's bail plea adjourned till Feb 17
Indian Muslims will lose faith in democracy if Sadhvi Pragya walks free: Shehzad Poonawalla
Malegaon blast case: Lt Col Purohit infiltrated into ISI, SIMI camps, says his lawyer
Mumbai:Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case had not just infiltrated a right wing Hindu group but as an officer of military intelligence he had even managed to get into Pakistan's ISI and the now banned SIMI camps in Kashmir.Pleading over Colonel Purohit bail application in Bombay High Court, his counsel Shrikant Shivde said, "It was only on the orders of his superiors that Purohit infiltrated into right wing group - Abhinav Bharat." indiatoday
ED established money trail of Rs 200 crore in IRF, probes Zakir Naik's Panama link: India Today
Mumbai: The skeletons are now coming out of the Zakir Naik's cupboard. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) not only claims to have established a money trail of approximate Rs 200 crore linked to Zakir Naik and his NGO, the IRF, but also a link between Naik and the Wahedna group, which was named in the Panama Papers leaks.The agency recently issued a third summon to Naik, currently in Saudi Arabia, to remain present before the ED Mumbai office within next two weeks.
 IS case: NIA to file chargesheet in case of Kerala youth
Mumbai: NIA by Thursday is likely to file its chargesheet in the case of radicalisation of a Kerala youth who is alleged to have joined the IS. The case pertains to Ashfaque Majeed, a Kerala-based youth who is one of the 21 locals from Kerala. Among those who are set to be chargesheeted by NIA are Arshi Qureshi, guest manager of IRF, Rizwan Khan, an alleged volunteer of Al-Birr Foundation and Mohammad Haneef, a clergyman from Kerala. “While the four accused radicalised Ashfaque, there is no common link connecting them,” said officials. Sources said that they have not found any evidence to link IRF founder Zakir Naik to the case.“While Ashfaque was a regular at the IRF office in Dongri, we have not found any evidence to link Naik to the case,” they said. indianexpress
Areeb Majeed not linked to IS anymore
Mumbai: The prosecution's case for Areeb Majeed, an alleged ISIS recruit, fell flat on Wednesday, as the special NIA court refused to charge Majeed on the grounds that he was part of a terrorist group. Majeed was instead charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.Advocate Mobin Solkar, who appeared on behalf of Majeed, said the court was initially of the view that Majeed should be charged under section 38 of UAPA, which says that a person associates himself to be a part of a terror organisation."We argued that it was not applicable at all. So, the NIA court decided to drop the initial charge," said Solkar. With regard to section 20 of UAPA, which states that an accused will be punished for being a member of terror group, the defence maintained that at the time of Majeed's arrest (Nov.2014), ISIL was not listed as a terror organisation, and therefore the charge does not carry weight. "Since ISIL was not declared a terrorist organisation prior to Feb.16, 2015, charges against the accused for commission of an offence of attaching a terror group cannot be framed," said the court. Solkar said the new angle has weakened the NIA's case. dnaindia
IS suspect Areeb Majeed won’t be tried for joining IS
NIA probes IS ‘kill-list’ of I-T engineers who tracked group online, 70 from Mumbai: Indian Express
Mumbai: NIA has obtained what it calls a “kill list” prepared by handlers of the Islamic State targeting “ethical hackers, software managers” — computer professionals, some of whom are said to have helped security agencies track down ISIS members and potential recruits.The list has names from across the world and details of over 150 such professionals across Maharashtra, nearly 70 from Mumbai. indianexpress
ATS breaks espionage racket in MP, complicity of telcos’ staff revealed; multiple arrests made in crackdown
ATS today busted an espionage racket in MP arrested over 11 people involved in the racket. MP ATS chief Sanjeev Shami said that last year in Nov., 2 men were arrested in Jammu for collecting and using information of strategic interests for espionage and they were being funded by a person in Satna. Giving details of the case, ATS chief said, ”They converted internet calls to a cellular network and acted as a medium for overseas handlers to contact people in India.” He added:”complicity of some employees of telecom companies has also surfaced.”Persons who were arrested hailed from different parts of the state, that included 5 from Gwalior,3 from Bhopal,2 from Jabalpur,1 from Satna. financialexpress
Intellectual Property index: India remains near bottom
New Delhi:India remains near the bottom in an international Intellectual Property (IP) index by being ranked 43rd out of 45 countries, according to a report by US GIPC.Only 2 countries were ranked below India – Pakistan (44th) and Venezuela (45th).US, UK, Germany, Japan, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Singapore, S.Korea and Italy completed the top 10 ranks. Among the BRICS countries China was ranked 27th, South Africa (33rd), Brazil (32nd) and Russia (23rd). thehindu
What’s wrong if Muslims worship 'Bharat Mata': RSS chief
Bhopal: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday said that there was nothing wrong if Muslims worshiped “Bharat Mata” since all Indians were bound together with one culture of Hindustan. Muslims may follow a different religion but all Indians irrespective of their caste, creed and religions are bound together by one culture of Hindustan, the RSS supremo said in Betul.“What is wrong if Muslims perform ‘aarti’ to Bharat Mata,” he asked. “Every Muslim in Hindustan may be follower of Islam but in core of their hearts they are Hindus,” he added. “Citizens of England are known as English, the inhabitants of America as Americans and similarly, people of Hindustan are identified as Hindus,” he said, adding, “Bharat Mata should be worshiped in every house in India”.Bhagwat also spoke against the caste system in the Hindu society saying that it has only divided the Indian society.Deccan Chronicle
Mohan Bhagwat is confusing religion with nationality by saying all Indian Muslims are Hindus
RSS' narrow Hindutva not rooted in reality, but similar to radicalisation sweeping through Islam: Sandipan Sharma
Centre reduced Haj subsidy in 2016: Naqvi
New Delhi: Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the Centre in 2016 spent Rs 405 crore as subsidy for Haj pilgrims. “As per directions of the Supreme Court to progressively reduce Haj subsidy so as to completely eliminate it within a period of 10 years, Haj subsidy has been gradually reduced from Rs 836.56 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 405 crore (approx) in the year 2016-17 and various aspects linked to it are determined and implemented,” he said.IANS
Over 95000 Indians evacuated from the war affected Gulf
India’s rape capital: 140 rapes, over 200 molestation cases in Delhi in Jan
WORLD
Air strike on Gaza tunnel near Rafah kills 2 Palestinians
2 Palestinian civilians were killed and 5 others were wounded in an air strike that hit a tunnel in Gaza near the Rafah on the Egyptian side of the border. It was unclear who launched the attack today. A Palestinian official blamed Israel, however, a military spokeswoman denied any knowledge of the strike. Ashraf al-Qedra, Gaza's health ministry spokesperson, said 2 men were "martyred and five other people were wounded as a result of being targeted by an Israeli warplane along the Palestinian-Egyptian borders". The incident took place after at least 3 rockets were fired from the Sinai peninsula into Israel's southernmost resort city of Eilat late on Wednesday. Israeli media reported a group affiliated with ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack on Eilat.
Assad ready for direct talks with opposition, says Russian official: middleeastmonitor
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has confirmed his readiness to hold talks with representatives of the opposition, including armed opposition groups, Russia’s Sputnik News reported on Wednesday, quoting Russian lawmaker Dmitry Sablin.“Syrian president assured that he was ready to maintain contacts with all opposition representatives, including armed opposition”, MP Sablin said, following talks with Syrian President in Damascus. Earlier in the day, Assad held a meeting with a group of Russian lawmakers in Damascus. According to the Russian State Duma lawmakers who participated in the meeting, Assad has expressed his readiness to engage in dialogue with the Kurds to discuss their vision of the country’s political order. “Today, it was voiced for the first time that the Syrian president supports the Astana talks and calls them effective and favorable”, a lawmaker said after Damascus meeting.
Erdogan,Trump agree joint action against IS in Syria:Reuters
Ankara: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump agreed in an overnight phone call on joint action against Islamic State in the Syrian towns of Raqqa and al-Bab, both held by the militants, Turkish presidency sources said on Wednesday.Turkey has the 2nd largest army in NATO alliance and is key to any success in rolling back and eventually neutralising IS in Syria and Iraq, Turkey has presented a detailed plan to oust IS from its Raqqa urban stronghold in northeastern Syria and strategy discussions with the Trump administration are under way, according to Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin."The operational details were not discussed on this call ...Now detailed planning will be conducted in coordination," he said. Turkish govt and Syrian rebel sources said on Wednesday insurgents backed by Turkey's military had taken the outskirts of al-Bab, northeast of Aleppo. White House said that in the phone call, Trump spoke about the two countries' "shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms" and welcomed Turkish contributions to the fight against IS. But it gave few details. Sources in Erdogan's office said the two leaders had touched on issues including a "safe zone", as well as the regional migrant crisis and the fight against terrorism.
Dozens of ISIL fighters killed by Turkish-led forces
Syrian govt jets target rebel-held area in Homs: 8 killed
Afghanistan: ICRC halts operations after workers killed
International Committee of Red Cross temporarily suspended some of its efforts in Afghanistan on Thursday, a day after gunmen killed six employees delivering aid to a remote northern region hit by heavy snow storms.A search operation was under way to find 2 charity workers still missing. aljazeera
Was held at US airport without explanation: Hijab-clad American Olympian fencer
Los Angeles:Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, has said she was recently detained at US Customs for 2 hours without explanation. Ibtihaj said she did not know if she was held as a result of the Trump administration’s travel ban but is sure the move was a result of her ethnicity.PTI
28 Bangladesh Jamaat women denied bail
A Dhaka court rejected bail petitions of 28 female leaders and activists of Bangladesh  Jamaat-e-Islami and sent them to jail in a case filed against them for planning to sabotage govt establishments. Defence lawyers submitted separate petitions seeking bail for their clients, adding that they were arrested on false and vague allegations. thedailystar
 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:47 PM)



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