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25 October 2017

President Kovind says Tipu Sultan among ‘formidable soldiers’, died heroic death fighting British/Gujarat polls:Voting in 2 phases on Dec.9, 14; results on Dec.18



Evening NEWS DIGEST
25 Oct.2017: 4 Safar 1439:Vol:9, No:29
Amid protests by BJP leaders, President Kovind says Tipu Sultan among ‘formidable soldiers’, died heroic death fighting British
President Ram Nath Kovind today hailed Tipu Sultan, saying he died a heroic death fighting the British, remarks that came in the backdrop of protests by BJP in Karnataka against the glorification of the 18th century Mysore ruler.The remarks by the President in his address to the joint session of Karnataka legislature amid the raging debate on Tipu Sultan’s legacy sparked a war of words between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP. The saffron party has opposed the Congress government's plans for 'Tipu Jayanti' celebrations on his birth anniversary on Nov10.BJP alleged that the state government has "misused" the office of the President by getting Tipu's name mentioned in the speech while the Congress said the opposition party should be "ashamed" for levelling this charge."Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans," Kovind said while noting that Karnataka is a land of formidable soldiers.President's reference to Tipu Sultan came after he noted the contributions of various historical figures of Karnataka.As the President made the reference about Tipu Sultan in his speech to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Vidhana Soudha, the seat of state legislature, Congress members cheered by thumping of the desks.PTI
Tipu Sultan died historic death fighting British, says President Kovind; BJP says Congress scripted speech
Demolish Humayun's Tomb to solve graveyard problem in Delhi: Shia Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi
New Delhi:UP Shia Central Waqf Board has suggested demolition of Humayun's Tomb and its conversion into a graveyard for Muslims. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Board president Waseem Rizvi has said this would solve the grave problem being faced by the Muslims of Delhi for burying the dead.All India Rabta-e-Masajid and Madaris-e-Islamia of Yamuna Vihar, in letters to the UP Shia Central Waqf Board dated October 15, lamented the paucity of space for graveyard in the national capital. They said the old burial grounds had got filled up and there no space for building new ones either.The two organisations have requested the UP Shia Waqf Board to provide land for burial ground in the neighbouring state close to the Delhi border.Board said it examined the cities in UP close to the Delhi border but found that there was no land available with it for the purpose. However, it said, the problem concerning the Muslims living in Delhi was really serious and required to be solved in public interest.The Board has suggested to the PM to demolish the Humayun's Tomb situated in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital and convert it into a burial ground.Giving the reasons behind its proposal, Rizvi said the Humayun's Tomb is spread in an area of 35 acres. "It is not a religious place. It will be considered as a graveyard because of the grave present there."He further said the Mughals had come from various countries to loot India. "These Mughals snatched away the kingdoms from the kings, looted them and became the rulers. They extorted the hard-earned earnings of the people by imposing lagans for several generations."Mughals caused immense harm to India's old culture and traditions. According to historians, the Mughals demolished more than 3,000 temples by misusing their power and rule," he said.Board went on to allege that the Mughal kings were neither propagators of Islam nor they were efficient rulers. "That is the reason why their grand graves cannot be the national heritage," he said. Board has suggested that Humayun's Tomb should be removed from the list of national heritage, demolished and converted into a graveyard for the Muslims. indiatoday
BJP trying to pit Shias against Sunnis by merging waqf boards: Barelvi clerics
Bareilly: Prominent clerics of the Barelvi sect on Tuesday accused the BJP government in UP of "trying to drive a wedge between Shia and Sunni communities" with the proposal to merge the Waqf boards of the two groups.This comes days after a state minister had said that a proposal to merge the Waqf boards of both the factions was on the cards.Taking exception to the proposed move, a few senior clerics told TOI that by merging the boards, the BJP "was conspiring" to create differences among Sunnis and Shias and it may bring both the sects "at loggerheads."Spokesperson of Dargah Aala Hazrat, Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, said, "There are different set of rules that govern Shia and Sunni Waqf properties. It appears that BJP wants to create friction between Shias and Sunnis as merging of the Waqf boards will lead to disputes, like appointment of caretaker for the properties. The state has been following the old system for decades and it should be retained."Mohammad Ehsan Raza Khan, caretaker of Dargah Aala Hazrat, also cited similar reasons. "Shias and Sunnis go to separate mosques. Their graveyards are also separate. The move will create disputes. The work of the government is to resolve problems, not to create them," he said.Opposing the merger, Maulana Shahabuddin Razvi, national general secretary of Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa, an influential organization of Barelvi sect, added:"Sunnis comprise biggest chunk of population, while population of Shias is not much. So let the boards remain separate."TOI
Gujarat polls:Voting in 2 phases on Dec.9, 14; results on Dec.18
New Delhi:Gujarat Assembly polls will be held in two phases — Dec.9 and 14 — and the results will be declared on Dec.18, 2017 the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Wednesday, bringing into immediate effect the model code of conduct. Addressing a press conference, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti said VVPAT machines will be used in all constituencies to ensure transparency. He also announced a ceiling expenditure of Rs 28 lakh for each candidate contesting the polls. The tenure of the state Assembly is set to expire on Jan.22, 2018.The first phase of polling will be held in 19 districts and 89 constituencies. Candidates have to file their nominations for this phase by November 21, while the last day for withdrawal of candidature is Nov.24. For the second phase —  13 districts and 93 constituencies — the last date for nominations is Nov.27, and withdrawal is Nov.20. The results to both phases will be declared on Dec.18.The poll body will set up 50,128 polling booths across the state. Further, the poll body will set up CCTV cameras at sensitive areas along the border to ensure polls are carried out smoothly. indianexpress
Arrest warrant against Hardik Patel in 2015 MLA office ransacking case
New Delhi:A Visnagar court in Gujarat’s Mehsana district on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant against Patidar leader Hardik Patel in connection with the alleged ransacking of the office of an MLA in 2015. Hardik’s lawyer had sought exemption for his appearance but the plea was rejected by the court.A case was booked against Patel and 17 others for creating a ruckus in the office of Visnagar MLA Rishikesh Patel during the protest rally of Patidar community demanding reservation under OBC quota for their community. The warrant incidentally comes on a day when the Election Commission announced the dates for the upcoming Gujarat polls.Hardik Patel, who is the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), was supposed to meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi earlier this week but the meeting was cancelled for unknown reasons. He has been offered a poll-ticket by the Congress though he is ineligible to contest as he is still not 25.
Will Convert to Buddhism if BJP's Mindset Towards Backwards Doesn't Change: Mayawati
Azamgarh: BSP chief Mayawati has attacked BJP claiming it should change its mindset towards the Dalits, Tribals and backward classes or else she would be forced to convert to Buddhism like Bhimrao Ambedkar."I throw an open challenge to BJP to change its casteist and communal mindset towards Dalits, Adivasis, Backwards and also those who have changed their religion or else I will also have to take a decision towards changing my religion to Buddhism," she said at a party rally here. Recalling Ambedkar, she said that after witnessing discrimination in the 'varna vyawastha' (caste system) in Hinduism, he had called on the Shankaracharyas and seers to modify it. Since it was not done, Ambedkar, a little before his death, converted to Buddhism in Nagpur along with his followers, she said.The BSP chief said that she too is giving an opportunity to the Shankaracharyas, religious leaders and people associated with the BJP to change their thinking or else she too will convert to Buddhism at the right time along with crores of supporters.Accusing BJP of taking the "casteist agenda" of the RSS forward, she blamed it for the suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad and the Una case of Gujarat where some Dalits were assaulted resulting in outrage and protests. Charging the BJP with fielding a Dalit associated with the RSS as the presidential candidate to garner votes, she said that because of this, Congress and other opposition parties had also fielded a Dalit candidate.PTI    
Ram temple construction to start in Ayodhya: Ex-BJP MP
Lucknow:Former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti on Tuesday said work towards the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh will begin before Dec.6 this year.Vedanti, also a senior member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyaas, said this would be done most likely through legislation by the BJP-led NDA government, paving the way for a grand Ram temple.Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi matter is before the Supreme Court, and no construction can be carried out at the disputed site till judgement is delivered. Vedanti is an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case and is being heard by a special court under the directions of Supreme Court.He also said electoral victories in many states (in future) would also add to the BJP's strength in Rajya Sabha and thereafter, it would be easy for the ruling coalition to go ahead with the construction of the Ram temple.IANS
Govt extends deadline to link Aadhaar with welfare schemes till March 31, 2018
New Delhi:The government has extended to March 31 the deadline for linking the 12-digit Aadhaar identity number to various welfare schemes, the Supreme Court was told on Wednesday.The government also told the court that those without the biometric number would not be denied benefits and no coercive action would be taken against those who don’t have Aadhaar.The court will on October 30 hear the government on mandatory linking of bank accounts and mobile phones, a directive that has been challenged in the court.The deadline for linking bank accounts is December 31 and for mobiles February 28. hindustantimes
Centre to SC: Deadline to link Aadhaar with schemes extended
Coal on move, 25 tonnes a minute, is choking Goa, more is on the way: indianexpress
Panjim:Nearly 25 million tonnes of coal — evenly spread across a standard football field, this toxic black mountain will rise almost 3 km into the sky. That is the amount that will be unloaded each year at the Mormugao Port Trust by 2020, just 3 years away. By 2030, official records attest, this is slated to double — up to 51.6 million tonnes each year.In 2016-17, 12.75 million tonnes of coal was unloaded at the port and carried across Goa to power stations and refineries in Karnataka and beyond. By a clutch of importers, the biggest ones being JSW Steel Ltd and the Adani Group. And Vedanta — together they are The Big Three — which currently imports coal for its pig iron plant in Goa, is set to ramp up an additional 1.2 million tons of anthracite, 2.6 million tonnes of coking coal and 2.1 million tonnes of thermal coal for its proposed steel plant in Karnataka’s Bellary.Over a 4-month-long investigation, The Indian Express found that coal that arrives at the port takes three key routes, road, rail and river (see map below), that slice deep wounds in the ecological heart of the state.
Activists rally against controversial Rajasthan ordinance, demand withdrawal
Jaipur: Not satisfied with Rajasthan government referring the controversial Criminal laws (Rajasthan Amendment ) Bill to the Select Committee of the Assembly, civil rights activists in Jaipur today are demanding its complete withdrawal.Scores of activists including Kavita Srivastava of the PUCL, Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Salim Engineer of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind among others came together for a protest rally. The activists are raising doubts over the govt's intentions and are demanding complete withdrawal of the contentious bill. "Yes, because what is the intent? Had they really been affected by the people's voice which was against this bill totally, they would have withdrawn it. She had the powers to withdraw it. Sending to the Select Committee means you have kept the agenda open. So, that is not acceptable," Kavita Srivastava of the PUCL told India Today.Even though the bill has been referred to the Select Committee, it was mentioned that the ordinance is still in place."We have come to tell her squarely, that we know you are a feudal madam who likes to jail people. This is not the first time that you have brought in such provisions. You have brought it in the Rajasthan Land Acquisition Act also where you had threatened three years' jail to a farmer and six months jail to an activist..."  Srivastava added.India Today
58 academics from top institutions named as sexual harassers in Facebook post; JNU, DU, FTII feature in list
Chennai: A Facebook post by a woman lawyer inviting others to name academics who have sexually harassed their students went viral on Tuesday, with 58 professors listed by name and the institution they serve at.The list includes several prominent academics from some of India’s premier academic institutions. Among them are 12 professors at Jadavpur University, nine at Delhi University, 3 each from FTII and SRFTI, two professors at JNU,  and one of them is a leading political theorist from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.Besides these, 31 others working at Oxford University, St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, University of California Santa Cruz, Ambedkar University Delhi, EFLU - Hyderabad, Christ University have also been named. Raya Sarkar, whose Facebook profile describes her as an "an attorney interested in prisoner's rights, reproductive rights and anti-caste jurisprudence", posted the invitation at 12.25 am on Oct.24 and asked others to add the name of their sexual harassers to the list. Sarkar's post, “If anyone knows of academics who have sexually harassed/were sexually predatory to them or have seen it first hand PM me and I'll add them to the list." The post immediately hit a chord and by 10.26 pm of the same day, there were 58 names of academics listed. newindianexpress
3 Men From Kannur Arrested For ISIS Links: Police
 3 men from north Kerala stopped from going to Syria 4 months back were arrested today for links to ISIS.The men, all in the mid-twenties, had been on the radar of the police ever since they were turned back from Turkey four months ago. Kannur police said they were headed to Syria to join the terror organization when they were deported.Over the next few months, the police closely tracked their online activities.3have been identified by the police as Mithilaj KC, 26, Abdul Razak KV, 24, and Rasheed MV, 27. ndtv
Sangh outfit favours appointment of non-brahmin priests in temples
As Kerala created waves with the appointment of non-Brahmins as priests in state shrines, Sangh outfit Wednesday said it favoured the appointment of all “qualified” persons irrespective of caste as priests in all temples, including the famed Lord Ayyappa temple. Hindu Aikya Vedi, a state-based right-wing outfit, said anybody knowledgeable with regard to ‘pooja’ and ‘tantra’ as prescribed by the tradition, is eligible to enter the sanctum sanctorum of shrines and perform rituals.PTI
J&K dialogue: This is the beginning… talks the best option, there is no other way, says Mehbooba Mufti
 New Delhi:J&K XM Mehbooba Mufti has said that by appointing a representative to hold talks in Kashmir, the central government has finally taken an important step towards reconciliation.“It is exactly what we always wanted,’’ Mehbooba Mufti told The Indian Express in an exclusive interview, a day after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh named Dineshwar Sharma, ex-Director of IB, as its special representative.“This is the beginning of a political process. Centre has finally taken a very serious step forward. There has been a lot of discussion within the government about it. There has been lot of preparation. When Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) spoke on Independence Day, the message was clear that he wants reconciliation, a process of rapprochement, to be the mainstay of the government’s Kashmir policy. I knew that they were looking for a credible face since Aug. The appointment of this interlocutor, a retired officer whom we know very well, is part of that process of reconciliation… it is an important move forward”.“Unlike most such processes earlier, Govt of India has taken ownership of this initiative. Unlike the interlocutors sent here by UPA govt, this interlocutor is the official representative of the Government of India. He has been given a Cabinet Secretary rank and, thus, the government is owning it up officially. Unlike the previous interlocutors (during UPA rule), he will speak on behalf of the Government of India and his report will be the government’s own report,’’ she said. indianexpress

Sohrabuddin ‘fake’ encounter: Court frames charges against 16
Mumbai: A special court framed charges against 16 accused in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.On Tuesday, each of the 16 men were present in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence. Special CBI prosecutor BP Raju opened the case Tuesday and pointed out the role played by each accused based on the statements of witnesses and documents from the chargesheet. The court will decide on the framing of charges against seven persons on the next hearing. The other accused are Mukesh Kumar, Narainsinh Harisinh, Himanshu Singh Rao, Shyam Singh Charan, Ajay Kumar Parmar, Santram Sharma, Vijay Kumar Rathod, Ghattamaneni Rao,Narayan Chauhan, Yudhvirsingh Chauhan, Kartarsingh Jat, Jethusingh Solanki, Kiransingh Chauhan and Karansingh Sisodia. indianexpress
Tillerson calls India 'emerging leader in region' during meeting with Sushma Swaraj
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said that India was the "emerging leader in the region" during his maiden visit to the country. Tillerson made the statement while holding a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. Tillerson also said that India is crucial to the US' Afghanistan strategy. "India is a natural partner in our fight against terrorism," he said.The top leaders discussed a wide range of topics during their meeting, ranging from US-India relations to Pakistan harbouring terrorist organisations on its soil.Swaraj said that Tillerson recognised India's role in the development of the region, and announced that India, US and Afghanistan will hold a trilateral meet in December. ibtimes
Biker Sana Iqbal’s death in car crash: Mother alleges pre-planned murder
Hyderabad:A day after cross-country woman motorcycle rider Sana Iqbal died in a car crash, her mother today alleged that it was a “pre-planned murder” which the deceased’s husband was trying to portray as an accident. The police, to whom Iqbal’s mother has complained alleging that the incident was a pre-planned murder, however, maintained it was a road accident. 29-year-old Iqbal, who undertook a solo expedition to raise awareness about suicide and depression, died while her husband, Abdul Nadeem, suffered injuries in the car crash in the early hours yesterday when they were heading home in Tolichowki area here, according to the police.“Yesterday, he (Iqbal’s husband) planned it in such (a way) that…and gave it a turn as an accident. But, it was a pre-planned, well organised and a cold-blooded murder,” Iqbal’s mother alleged.PTI




WORLD
Qatar commits to Kuwait's mediation on Gulf crisis
Qatar has reiterated its readiness for dialogue to solve the GCC crisis and called on its citizens and media outlets to refrain from attacking "Gulf symbols".A statement by Qatar's foreign ministry on Tuesday was in response to a call by the Kuwaiti emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, for all sides to de-escalate the ongoing Gulf crisis.The statement said Doha "hailed the appeal" made by the Kuwaiti leader and did not seek to "escalate the situation". "In line with the approach laid down by HH the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in his address to the people of Qatar on 21 July 2017, calls upon citizens, residents and all media in Qatar to avoid slipping into the abuse of Gulf symbols," the statement read.  "Qatar has a strong belief in the fairness of its position in this crisis and its adherence to dialogue based on mutual respect, on the basis of its principles and values," it added. Aljazeera
Former adviser to Trump: Riyadh summit triggered siege on Qatar
US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia last May triggered the siege on Qatar according to one of Trump’s closest advisers.Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist claimed, during an appearance at a Hudson Institute conference on Monday titled “Facing Violent Extremism: Qatar, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood”, that Trump’s visit to Riyadh was the main cause for the regional escalation against Qatar.He said Saudi Arabia and its allies had become much more aggressive about fighting terrorism in the months since Trump’s visit. “They’ve had a fundamental change since that summit,” Bannon explained. Bannon was invited to give the keynote address at the privately funded event hosted by the Hudson Institute, which is well-known for taking an extreme pro-Israeli position and having closeties with UAE Ambassador to Washington, Yusuf Al-Otaiba.A report in the McClatchy news bureau said that shortly after Bannon resigned from his post at the White House, the UAE hired a company close to Bannon to help in its anti-Qatar campaign. middleeastmonitor
Iraqi Kurds propose to freeze referendum results
Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has expressed readiness to freeze the results of a recent referendum to secede from Iraq, as tensions mount between Erbil and Baghdad.The KRG said in a statement on Wednesday that its leadership was prepared to declare an "immediate ceasefire and halt all military operations in the Kurdistan region".People in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted to secede on September 25 in a referendum, amid rising tensions and international opposition. KRG said on Wednesday it would "freeze the results of [the] referendum" in an attempt to foster dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad.The announcement comes amid Baghdad's military buildup in the Kurdish region and mounting international pressure on the KRG leadership to back down."As Iraq and Kurdistan are faced with grave and dangerous circumstances, we are all obliged to act responsibly in order to prevent further violence and clashes between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces," the KRG statement said.Aljazeera
Iran reopens border crossing with Iraq’s Kurdish region
Iran on Wednesday reopened a border crossing with northern Iraq’s Kurdish region after a 10-day closure, according to the Iranian consulate in Erbil. In a statement, the consulate said the Bashmaq crossing was reopened to people and trade. Iranian authorities had shut the terminal in mid-October upon a request from the Iraqi government amid tension between Baghdad and Erbil over last month’s illegitimate referendum for regional Kurdish independence.
Palestinian minors arrested by Israel 'suffer abuse'
Mohammed, 14, was with his friends riding horses in a park in Jerusalem's Old City when the Yassam, a special patrol unit of the Israeli police, arrived at the scene.Sound grenades were fired at the teenagers. One landed near Mohammed's feet. He picked up a rock and threw it in the direction of the notorious riot police, whose excessive force against Palestinians has been well-documented.Unbeknownst to Mohammed, Yassam had been surveilling him and had also taken photos. Later, on his way back home, the boy was arrested by Israeli security forces on Saladin Street. He was handcuffed, taken to an interrogation centre, and was questioned without the presence of a lawyer or his parents.Little did he know then, in mid-Sept.2016, that his ordeal through the Israeli military court system had just begun."They called me after he was interrogated," Salwa, Mohammed's mother, told Al Jazeera."He spent the night in jail and was due in court the next day. He was imprisoned for a further two weeks and in that period he had another court appearance that was postponed 4 or 5 times."More than a year later, Mohammed is still under house arrest.He is one of the hundreds of Palestinian minors in the occupied territories that are arrested by Israel on a yearly basis. The most common charge levelled against them is stone throwing, which under Israeli military law can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.Al Jazeera
No room for militias in Gaza:Abbas
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that he does not want “militias” in the blockaded Gaza Strip, which the Palestinian militant group Hamas handed it over to the Palestinian Accord Government a couple of weeks ago.In an interview with China’s official Xinhua news agency, Abbas said that the Palestinian leadership “does not want to repeat the unsuccessful model of allowing militias to operate in Gaza,” referring to Hezbollah and Lebanon.“There must be one authority [in Gaza]: one law and one gun,” Abbas said. “There is no room for the presence of militias.”After it signed the agreement to concede its control over the Strip to the Fatah-dominated PA, Hamas has stressed that it did not discuss the issue of its arms with Fatah or Egypt the broker of the handover agreement. It reiterated it would never disarm.AP
Anything Hamas requests will be given:Iranian FM
The advisor to the Iranian foreign minister, Sheikh Hussein Al-Islam, has said the relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hamas is excellent and has become stronger and more solid.“Anything Hamas requests from Iran will be given. This is our duty,” Sheikh Al-Islam said in an exclusive interview with Shehab News Agency.“All of Iran’s doors are open to Hamas which represents the first line of defence for the Palestinian resistance,” he said.Commenting on Israel’s demand that Hamas sever ties with Iran as a precondition to accept Palestinian reconciliation, Sheikh Al-Islam said that “Israel wants to destroy Hamas because it is a resistance movement, not because of its relationship with Iran”. Middleeastmonitor
Israel secretly using US law firm to fight BDS
Israel has secretly been using a US law firm in order to fight the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement in Europe, North America, and elsewhere, according to Haaretz.The Israeli goverment has paid Sidley Austin, a Chicago-based firm, hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years, to manage court proceedings, prepare legal evaluations and handle activities deemed “extremely sensitive” by the Justice Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry.Strategic Affairs Ministry is primarily in charge of Israel’s fight against BDS movement, and is also involved in gathering intelligence and attacking individuals and organisations that encouraged other businesses to back the boycott.The documents obtained by Haaretz from the Justice Ministry withheld the specific services the Israeli government required from the firm, prompting suspicions that lawyers were also hired to prepare lawsuits against those supporting BDS activities. middleeastmonitor
Syria: 397 civilians under siege starve to death in eastern Ghouta
Syrian regime has trapped 400,000 civilians in eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus since October 2012, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said yesterday, noting that 397 civilians so far have starved to death.The rights group said that 206 children among the civilians perished due to the severe lack of food and medicine, in addition to 67 women.In a report the network said that the Syrian regime imposed a partial siege on Al-Gouta in October 2012 and tightened it in Oct.2013.“At the beginning of 2015 some food was smuggled into Al-Ghouta through Al-Wafideen Refugee Camp after a deal between the regime and the armed opposition groups,” the network said.It added: “Some food was smuggled through tunnels linked to eastern Ghouta neighbourhoods with Al-Qaboun, Barza and Tishreen in Damascus.” middleeastmonitor
Swiss formalize intermediary role between Saudi, Iran
GENEVA:Swiss government says it has finalized agreements with Iran and Saudi Arabia to represent each other’s interests in their respective capitals, after the two countries broke off diplomatic ties last year.The government says Switzerland’s executive body “gave the green light” Wednesday to the “protecting power mandate” between the two Middle Eastern countries. The arrangement was also formalized separately in Riyadh and Tehran.Saudi Arabia and Iran broke off diplomatic ties in Jan.2016 after Saudi Arabia executed a leading Shiite cleric. Protesters in Iran attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.Switzerland, a proudly neutral Alpine country, has often played the role of go-between for countries at odds with one another, such as between the United States and Cuba, and the US and Iran.AP
At a forgotten Pakistan port, China paves a new Silk Road
GWADAR: Remote and impoverished, Pakistan's Gwadar port at first glance seems an unlikely crown jewel in a multi-billion-dollar development project with China+ aimed at constructing a 21st century Silk Road.Situated on a barren peninsula in the Arabian Sea, Gwadar, or the "gate of the wind", owes its fortuitous selection as Pakistan's next economic hub to its strategic location near the Strait of Hormuz.The city is set to become the bridgehead for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $54 billion project launched in 2013 linking western China to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan.The corridor is one of the largest projects in Beijing's "One Belt One Road" initiative, comprising a network of roads and sea routes involving 65 countries.Chinese-financed initiative aims to connect the country with Africa, Asia and Europe through a vast network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.But for Pakistan, participating in the project presents an enormous challenge in a country plagued by weak institutions, endemic corruption and a range of insurgencies in areas slated to host the corridor."This port is going to help Pakistan make linkages with neighbouring countries. The entire nation will be getting benefits out of Gwadar," Dostain Khan Jamaldini, chairman of the Gwadar Port Authority, told reporters.But "the first beneficiaries of this port will be the people of Gwadar".The subject of economic dividends is extremely sensitive in resource-rich Balochistan - one of Pakistan's poorest and most violent provinces, where separatist insurgencies have been waged for decades.AFP
US Top Court Dismisses Hawaii’s Challenge to Trump Travel Ban
Washington:US Supreme Court formally dropped plans to hear the last remaining challenge to an earlier version of President Donald Trump‘s travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries and a ban on refugees, but a fight over the legality of his latest restrictions still could reach the nine justices.The high court said it will not hear the case brought by Hawaii over the bans, which have expired and been replaced with revised policies. Trump‘s 120-day ban on refugees ended on Tuesday and is set to be replaced by a new set of restrictions.Two lower courts have blocked Trump‘s new ban targeting people from eight countries, Trump‘s third set of travel restrictions, and the issue could find its way back to the Supreme Court on appeal.Reuters
US refugee ban ends, but 'enhanced vetting' implemented
The US will temporarily delay processing for refugees from 11 "high-risk" nations, the White House has announced, as a 120-day ban on refugees entering the country came to an end. US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Tuesday that directs government agencies to resume US refugee programme, but according to the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS), a 90-day review period for those arriving from "11 countries previously identified as posing a higher risk to the United States" will be put in place.The order also said that new "enhanced vetting" procedures will be implemented for all refugees.DHS officials declined to reveal the countries that are considered "high risk", but said in a statement that "admissions for applicants from those 11 high-risk countries will move forward on a case-by-case basis" during the review period. The resumption of the refugee programme came as the 120-day ban on refugees ended on Tuesday.In the latest executive order, Trump announced new "enhanced vetting" procedures for refugees entering the US.Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said in a statement that "these new, standardised screening measures provide an opportunity for the US to welcome those in need into our country, while ensuring a safer, more secure homeland." Aljazeera
Taliban fighters storm Afghan army post, kill 9: official
KABUL:Afghan officials say Taliban fighters have stormed a security post, killing nine soldiers in a western province.Spokesman for the governor of Farah province, Mohammad Naser Mehri said today the militants stormed a security post killing nine soldiers and wounding four other soldiers.The attack took place last night in Pusht Road district.The intense, four-hour gun battle included the use of artillery against the army.Mr. Mehri says Afghan war planes were deployed and 17 Taliban fighters were killed.PTI
FLASH: VIEWS & NEWS
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'Will Taj Mahal be a past in our future?' Prakash Raj asks amid the controversy

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