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Thursday, 24 May 2018

24 May ND: EC has a Plan B for simultaneous polls: One year, one election/ Growing anxiety among minorities: Head of Catholic Bishops’ body /Nipah virus claims one more life in Kerala, death toll rises to 12



NEWS DIGEST, MID-DAY  
24 May 2018:08 Ramazan 1439: Vol:10, No:29
INDIA
EC has a Plan B for simultaneous polls: One year, one election
New Delhi:Election Commission (EC) has suggested “one year one election” as an alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pitch for “one nation one election”, Indian Express has learnt. The poll panel floated the idea in its response to a letter from the Law Commission on April 24 in which the latter had sought the EC’s views on aligning all state elections with the Lok Sabha polls. The Law Commission had asked for the EC’s position on five Constitutional issues, and 15 sociopolitical and economic issues, that need to be addressed before the government can gear up to hold simultaneous polls.While the EC has reiterated its support for holding simultaneous polls, provided the legal and financial challenges are overcome, it is also learnt to have alternatively suggested that all the elections due in a year may be held together.Currently, the Commission conducts elections together for states where the term of assemblies end within a few months of each other. This is because Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits the EC from notifying elections more than six months before the term of a state assembly is about to expire.Although the terms of seven state assemblies ended in 2017, EC had to conduct elections for five states (Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa) in one go and the remaining (Gujarat and Himachal ) later in the year. This is because terms of the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa assemblies ended in early 2017, and that of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh much later in the same year.According to sources, accomplishing “one year one election” will be easier as it doesn’t require as many legal amendments as simultaneous polls for which the Centre will have to make five amendments to the Constitution.SK Mendiratta, former legal advisor to EC, said the suggestion for “one year one election” can be executed by amending Section 15 of the RP Act 1951. “If the six-month stipulation is extended to nine or 10 months, elections to all states, whose term is expiring in one year, can be held together,” he said.indianexpress
Growing anxiety among minorities: Head of Catholic Bishops’ body
New Delhi:Amid the controversy over the Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto’s letter on the “turbulent political atmosphere”, Cardinal Oswal Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said on Wednesday that there is “growing anxiety” among minority communities “because the government is not acting enough” to protect them.Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai who recently took over as the president of the CBCI, the apex decision-making body of the Indian Catholic Church, also said that there have been “more attempts” to polarise society in the last four years. However, he added that the timing of Couto’s letter was wrong and it should not be taken as the “official voice of the Church in India”.“Fear would be an exaggerated word. I would say there is anxiety, a growing anxiety among the minorities that things would get worse. It will be exaggerated to say the Church is being attacked everywhere in the country. It is not. But there is an anxiety because the government is not acting enough (in protecting minorities) and not conveying the right message. My complaint with the government is that they are not giving the message that it (attacks on minorities) is not acceptable,” he said.indianexpress
Only those living in ‘Achhe Din’ may feel offended by this church letter
New Delhi:  A short 5-paragraph letter from a Church leader that seems to have shaken the Narendra Modi government has not a single word against Modi, BJP or RSS, nor has it any word of hatred. What it says has been said by four senior judges of the top court and is said everyday by millions of people. Then why so much hue and cry over the letter of Archbishop of Delhi? What is in it that forced Home Minister of the country to come out telling that all is well in the country and minorities are safe?The 8th May letter from Archbishop Anil Couto is meant for all parish priests and religious institutions in the Archdiocese of Delhi and calls for prayer for the nation.“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” reads the first paragraph of the letter. It asks for a prayer campaign ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.“It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when approach the General Elections.”“As we look forward towards 2019 when we will have new Government let us begin a Prayer Campaign for our country from May 13, 2018 which marks the Anniversary of Apparition of Blessed Mother at Fatima Consecrating ourselves and our nation to Immaculate Heart.”caravandaily
Nipah virus claims one more life in Kerala, death toll rises to 12
New Delhi:The rare Nipah virus infection claimed another life in Kerala on Thursday, taking the death toll to 12 in the state.Moosa Haji, whose two sons Muhammad Salih and Muhammad Sabith are reported to be have been the first victims of the infection, died in Kozhikode on Thursday morning. Moosa Haji’s family is suspected to be the first to have contracted the disease in Kerala. Locals in Kozhikode contend that the virus was found in a compound that was bought by the family. The locals say that after the family bought the land, Haji’s two sons had gone to clean the well. “It was lying unused for a long time. Apparently, there were some bats inside or bat faeces in the water in the well. It’s not clear whether they drank the water or just cleaned it. But it’s being suspected that the infection started there,” said Prasanth Paloli, who works in a stone quarry.indianexpress
Nipah virus outbreak: 19 more cases reported, government says safe to travel to Kerala
J-K border villages turn into ghost towns as 1,00,000 flee continued Pak shelling
Ramgarh:A week of relentless Pakistan shelling has driven 1,00,000 people from their homes in J&K, reducing their villages to ghost towns and leaving their homes pockmarked, bearing the telltale signs of hostilities from across the border.Soonam Kundal is busy gathering her belongings at her home in Keso village, a few kilometers from the border.19-year-old is alone at home. On Tuesday evening, her father was curing a newly built boundary wall when a mortar shell landed in the compound of their house, injuring him, her mother and brother.Like Kundal, most of the people forced out of their homes in border villages of Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts have chosen to live with relatives.A few have opted for relief camps.A village of 1,500, Keso is all but abandoned. Women and children have moved to relief camps, men join them at sunset.HT
Top J&K BJP leader ‘bought’ village land in Nagrota not up for sale
Jammu:The contentious plot near the defence ammunition depot in Nagrota, where the Army has opposed construction of a residential bungalow by, among others, top BJP leader and Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh, is a village common land — called “shamlat” — that cannot be sold under the state’s laws, it is learnt. Besides the land bought by top BJP and RSS leaders in Jammu being “shamlat’’ plot, the broker who arranged the deal said the buyers are yet to pay him.Officials also said Nirmal Singh’s wife Mamta Singh started constructing a multi-storey bungalow on the plot without getting the building plan approved. BJP leader Singh, the former deputy CM, claimed that land bought by his wife was a “private ownership property’’, and that she has got the building plan approved from the Block Development Officer concerned.indianexpress
Begging at public, religious places in Srinagar banned
Jammu and Kashmir government has banned begging at public and religious places here and directed the police to arrest the offenders.The order, issued by Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Syed Abid Rasheed Shah Wednesday, said Srinagar being the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir holds a great importance in the socio-economic landscape of the state and so it is contingent upon the administration to take all measures necessary to make the district more citizen friendly and to prevent public nuisance at all costs.“Begging being an offence under the Act (Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Beggary Act I960), it is imperative that strict necessary action under law be initiated against the offenders,” it stated.The deputy commissioner said, “It has been observed that off late there is a proliferation of beggars on the streets of Srinagar which creates massive nuisance for the general public.”PTI
Major Leetul Gogoi, who tied J&K man to jeep, questioned over woman at hotel
Srinagar:Major Leetul Gogoi, who tied a civilian to an Army Jeep and paraded him through a dozen villages during elections last year in Budgam, was questioned by Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday along with a local woman and a man at a Srinagar hotel.Gogoi was questioned at a police station following a scuffle with hotel staff, who refused to let the woman inside. Officer was later allowed to leave.IGP (Kashmir) SP Pani has ordered a probe and appointed SP North City Sajad Ahmad Shah as the inquiry officer. “This is in reference to the Press Release issued by District Police Srinagar which reported the incident at the Hotel Grand Mamta today,” a police statement said.“In this matter,IGP Kashmir Zone has ordered a probe to be conducted by the SP North zone Srinagar in this incident within the ambit of law.”Shah said: “We are conducting a parallel detailed inquiry.The story until now is that there was a room booked in the name of Leetul Gogoi. A couple came to the hotel but were not allowed inside. They (hotel staff) had said they cannot allow a local girl in the hotel.”indianexpress
MP lynching: Victims’ relatives say police have refused to give them copy of FIR
3 days after a Muslim man died and his friend suffered severe injuries after being attacked by a group who accused the two of slaughtering a bull in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district, the police have not yet handed over a copy of the FIR of the case to the families of the victims, their relatives said on Wednesday.Shiraj Khan and his friend Shakeel, 38, were attacked on Sunday by a group of men wielding sticks and wooden planks as they were walking to their homes in Maihar town from a neighbouring village. The men accused them of killing a bull for meat. Khan died in the attack, while Shakeel was badly injured. He is being treated in Jabalpur. The police registered FIR  on Sunday on the basis of Shakeel’s statement, making him the official informant.scroll
Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ is in Jail, But Bhim Army Marches On: newsclick
“There are rumours that they want to bump us off — the three brothers,” said Kamal Kishore, the youngest brother of Bhim Army leader Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’, while walking through the inner lanes of the ‘Harijan Basti’ in Chhutmalpur, near Saharanpur, on the Dehradun Road in western Uttar Pradesh.31-year-old Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ is now a legend in western UP. For nearly the past one year, he has been imprisoned in Saharanpur jail with no evidence against him, “purely on cooked up charges” as his supporters say.  After the Allahabad High Court quashed all charges against him, he was booked under the draconian NSA, under which one can be jailed for an indefinite period of time.Now the local scenario has become volatile once again — since Sachin Walia, the younger brother of Bhim Army’s district chief Kamal Walia, was shot dead in Ramnagar on 9 May this year, as the aggressive upper-caste groups, mainly Thakurs, were preparing to celebrate Maharana Pratap Jayanti. Even the police versions say the situation was peaceful and there was no provocation from the Dalits in Ramnagar, where they are the majority. According to the autopsy report, one bullet from a .315mm pistol hit Sachin’s lower lip and entered his brain, leading to instant death.Sachin, a science graduate, was the media coordinator of Bhim Army.Locals say he looked exactly like his brother, Kamal — and that could be a possible reason behind his murder. 3 days after the funeral of Sachin, the entire Ramnagar was in mourning. Sachin’s mother was crying non-stop. She and her family members were not in a position to talk to reporters.“We have a network in 26 states,” said Kamal Kishore.“UP and Maharashtra are our strongest, with Bihar now setting up a unit too. In Maharashtra,500 new Bhim Army schools have now been set up. We also work through social media, as we did during the recent Bharat Bandh against the dilution of SC/ST Act. Our leader from Muzzafarnagar, Upkar Babra, is in prison along with others. We organised candlelight marches against Kathua and Unnao rapes all over western UP, with a huge Muslim participation.”
Proposed changes in civil services allocation unconstitutional, executive has no role: Chidambaram
Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the proposed changes in the way cadres and services are allocated to those qualifying the civil services examination are unconstitutional, PTI reported. “Is the central government planning another disruption?” he asked in a blog post. “And if yes, why?”Reports earlier this week said that the Department of Personnel and Training had asked cadre-controlling ministries if services and states can be allocated after the completion of the three-month foundation course, and if performance in the course can be made a parameter.
Court rejects Teesta Setalvad’s anticipatory bail plea
Ahmedabad:A special sessions court here on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand who are facing arrest in an alleged case of embezzlement of Central government’s funds.The court of special judge P J Tamakyvala rejected the anticipatory bail plea while upholding the argument of the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), Ahmedabad, which is probing the case. DCB had argued that Sabrang Trust, run by Anand and Setalvad, had received Rs 1.40 crore under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, but the amount was allegedly transferred to their personal account.In its submission, DCB had stated that the probe was at a sensitive stage and the accused were capable of tampering evidence against them. Anticipatory bail plea was moved by the couple in an FIR lodged against them on March 30 this year.indianexpress
Delhi HC rebukes JNU for not providing safety to women who alleged sexual harassment
Delhi High Court criticised the JNU for not taking measures to provide a safe working environment for the students who levelled sexual harassment charges against a professor, reported PTI. “You [JNU] said on the last date that you were setting up a fact-finding committee which will hear them,” said Justice Rajiv Shakdher. “I see a complete turnaround as you are saying you do not know who the eight students are and do not call them [to be heard before the committee].” Court said it would issue directions on May 29.scroll
India, Russia set to work together in Afghanistan for the first time
New Delhi :After six hours of one-on-one conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi earlier this week, New Delhi and Moscow are going to cooperate in a new area: Afghanistan. This is the first time that the two countries will undertake a joint project — possibly in the development sector — in Afghanistan. This also comes close on the heels of the informal summit in Wuhan, China, where Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping decided to work on a project in Afghanistan after four hours of one-on-one conversation.Sources told Indian Express that Modi proposed the idea for the joint project in Afghanistan, which Putin readily accepted. “Unlike in Wuhan, where Xi had proposed the Afghanistan project, here Modi took the initiative with Russia,” a source said. This assumes significance in the wake of Russia urging international community, especially US, to talk to Taliban or face a bloody war for years to come.Indian Express
NSA Ajit Doval meets new CIA director Gina Haspel to assure support :nationalheraldindia
As soon as he heard that the world’s biggest foreign intelligence agency would be getting a new boss,  India’s own spymaster Ajit Doval flew to Washington and arranged a meeting with her.Yes, it is a woman, the first ever female to head the CIA. On Monday, Gina Haspel was sworn-in as new Director at the agency’s Langley headquarters in Washington in an impressive ceremony in the presence of the US President.But Doval, India’s National Security Adviser, had already met her weeks before her confirmation.  Under the present strategic partnership between India and US,  New Delhi considers itself a fairly useful ally of the Americans especially in the shadowy world of espionage and intelligence sharing. The relationship is described in official statements as a “deeper security partnership” – with the stated objective of countering China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.The details of what this implies is obviously shrouded in secrecy but the assumption is that Doval was keen to assure the new Director – even though her confirmation process was still uncertain at that time – that New Delhi can be trusted as a reliable ally at all levels not only in regard to Pacific region but also South Asia where India  has tremendous geo-political stakes.CIA on its part views its role in this part of the globe as closely monitoring the world's two most populous nations, India and China, as they continue to compete for influence across the Asian continent.During his Washington visit,  Ajit Doval also met with his American counterpart, HR McMaster,  as well as the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (who was at that time about to be shifted as CIA Director to be replaced by incoming Director Gina Haspel).nationalheraldindia
Saudi Arabia’s $80 oil goal is eating into Modi’s budget before 2019 polls
New Delhi :Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an oil problem. And it’s set to worsen with Saudi Arabia rooting for the commodity to push through the $80 barrier.Modi’s government made the most of cheap oil by substituting any fall in prices with taxes that kept retail fuel rates unchanged for consumers and boosted the federal revenue. Now, pressure is mounting to forego some of that windfall as pump prices of gasoline and diesel hit records, likely marring the ruling party’s prospects at the national ballot in 2019.“There is a strong case for the central government to take another excise duty cut, and ask state governments to reduce value added tax,” Anil Sharma and Ravi Adukia, analysts at Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities India Pvt. wrote in a note Tuesday.Fuel prices have started to pinch as Brent, the benchmark for more than half of the world’s oil, hit $80 a barrel last week. indianexpress
MMS letter to Shahi Imam on Jama Masjid: Finally, we have traced the file, govt tells HC
New Delhi: The government has, finally, traced the file containing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter assuring the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid that the historic mosque will not be declared a protected monument. In an affidavit filed Monday in the Delhi High Court, the government submitted that “since the file is very old and no file number pertaining to the same was available with the respondents nor was the same shared by the petitioner”, the government was “unable to procure the file”. However, it added that “after sincere efforts the same has been traced” and that it undertakes to produce the same for perusal by the court on the next date of hearing.  It added that “although Jama Masjid has not been declared a protected monument”, the government has “taken necessary steps towards conservation and repair of the historical monument from time to time and continue to sanction estimated amounts for the said purposes”. ET
Free heart surgeries for children at AMU medical college
Aligarh:Free heart surgeries will be available for children with congenital defects at AMU Jawahar lal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) after the varsity signed a deal with a British charity.The collaboration with the Healing little Hearts (HlH) charity was initiated by AMU V-C Tariq Mansoor, Tabassum Shahab (Pro V-C) and Shamshul Zoha, an AMU alumnus.Javaid Akhter (Registrar), Mohammad Hanif Beg (Chairperson, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery) and Azam Haseem signed MoU with HlH's Sanjiv Nichani (Consultant Paediatric Interventionist) and Zoha.IANS
WORLD
Israel to push for US recognition of occupied Golan Heights
Israel's intelligence minister has said US recognition of its sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights is at the top of the agenda in its diplomatic talks with its closest ally.Israel Katz told the Reuters news agency that the move - in what is internationally recognised as Syrian territory - would be a "painful response" for Iran, which has a military presence in Syria. "This is the perfect time to make such a move. The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognise Israel’s Golan sovereignty - with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined (in law)," he said.Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since it defeated Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and has in the past mulled returning the territory to Syria in exchange for a peace deal with Damascus.The Israelis have since changed tact and have argued in favour of keeping the land citing the civil war in Syria and Iran's presence there in support of the Syrian government.Katz said Israel wanted the Syrian government to distance itself from the Iranian government in exchange for Israel's non-intervention in the country.aljazeera
Israel plans 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank – defence minister
Jerusalem: Israel’s defence minister said on Thursday he plans to seek approval next week for the construction of some 2,500 new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Avigdor Lieberman, writing on Twitter, said a regional planning board would be asked to designate 1,400 of the housing units for immediate construction.Settlements are one of the most heated issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014.Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider settlements that Israel has built in territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal. “We will promote building in all of Judea and Samaria, from the north to south, in small communities and in large ones,” Lieberman wrote, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.Reuters
New Lebanon parliament re-elects Hezbollah ally Berri as speaker
Beirut:Lebanon's new parliament today elected veteran speaker Nabih Berri to a sixth consecutive term, making him one of the longest-serving parliamentary heads in the world.His election came after the country's May 6 parliamentary poll, the first in 9 years after the deeply divided legislature, elected in 2009, repeatedly extended its own term.Today, the body met for the first time since the poll, to elect its speaker to a four-year term.AFP
China wants Pakistan to relocate Hafiz Saeed to a West Asian country:The Hindu
Karachi:China has asked Pakistan to explore ways of relocating JuD chief Hafiz Saeed to a West Asian country in response to mounting international pressure to act against him for his links with terror groups.Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested this course of action — allowing Saeed to live a quiet life in a West Asian country — to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the sidelines of the Boao Forum in China last month. “At a 35-minute meeting, at least 10 minutes of the discussion dealt with Saeed. Chinese President was keen on pressing the Prime Minister to find an early solution to keep Saeed away from the limelight,” a close aide of Abbasi told The Hindu, requesting anonymity. Abbasi has consulted the govnt’s legal team, which is yet to come up with a solution. The issue is expected to be referred to the next government as the Prime Minister will leave office on May 31 after completion of his tenure. The general election will be held at July-end.JuD has been accusing the government of taking action against Saeed at the instance of the US and India.the hindu
China says report on President Xi asking Pak to relocate Hafiz Saeed shocking, baseless
Beijing: China on Thursday dismissed a media report that President Xi Jinping has asked Pakistan to explore ways to relocate JuD chief Hafiz Saeed to a West Asian country amid mounting international pressure to act against him for his links with terror groups.Chinese Foriegn Ministry spokesperson's office has said the report that Xi has asked Pak PM Abbasi to relocate the Pakistan-based JuD chief to a West Asian country was "shocking and baseless". PTI
Trump-Kim summit: N. Korea threatens to walk away
North Korea has threatened to walk away from the proposed summit with US President Donald Trump, if Washington continues to do what it described as "unlawful and outrageous acts" that could damage Pyongyang's "goodwill".North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Thursday that her country "will neither beg the US for dialogue, nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us", according to the Korean Central News Agency. "Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room, or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."Choe issued the warning as she denounced as "ignorant and stupid" the remarks made by US Vice President Mike Pence that North Korea might end up like Libya, if it refuses to adhere to the American demand of denuclearisation.aljazeera
UN Body Seeks India's Response to Charge of Complicity in Abduction of Dubai Princess
Action of Indian coast guard – apparently with authorisation from PM  Narendra Modi – in forcibly boarding a US-registered vessel in international waters off the Goa coast, abducting a woman  and handing her over to UAE commandos – has come under international scrutiny with UNO of OHCHR writing to Govt  of India seeking an explanation for woman’s disappearance.Woman – Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai ruler and UAE PM  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – went missing on March 5, 2018, some 50 kms off the coast of Goa, with French-US national former spy Hervé Jean Pierre Jaubert, and a third person, Tiina Jauhiainen, a long-time friend of Latifa, while they were on a US-flagged yacht, the Nostromo.In a message she recorded before setting sail, Latifa said she was fleeing UAE because she no longer wished to be oppressed by her father. Toby Cadman from Guernica 37, law firm representing the princess and her 2 friends, said that given unlawful abduction, arbitrary detention and  suspected torture of Sheikha Latifa, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers has invoked the special procedures of OHCHR, specifically UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment requesting their urgent and immediate intervention.thewire
Unrealistic to expect UN peacekeepers to protect civilians in conflict situations: Akbaruddin
India has said it is "unrealistic" to expect from UN peacekeepers protection of civilians in the absence of clear mandates, and suggested developing a "politically attuned" framework for the purpose.Speaking at a UN Security Council debate on 'Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts', India's permanent representative to UN, ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, said the Council's membership needs to frame mandates with clarity and specificity."Every time this Council reviews a peace keeping operation, it is incumbent that it undertakes a serious examination of whether the peacekeepers have the ability to do what they are expected to carry out in extremely trying circumstances," he said.PTI

FLASH: VIEWS & NEWS
In the Land of Gau Rakshaks, Anything Goes in the Name of the Holy Cow:Newsclick
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How Modi Government Helped Vedanta's Sterlite Plant Bypass Environmental Norms:Nitin Sethi
Four years of Modi Government: Economic engine sputtering, struggling RAMAN SWAMY

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 2:24 PM)

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