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05 February 2019

5 Feb.ND: SC says no coercive action against Kolkata police chief, issues notice to Bengal govt over CBI plea/ You're Hell Bent on Destroying NRC: SC Fumes at Centre for ‘Not Cooperating at All’ in the Process


NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
05 Feb. 2019: 29 Jamadiul-I 1440: Vol:11, No:120
INDIA
SC says no coercive action against Kolkata police chief, issues notice to Bengal govt over CBI plea
New Delhi: The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Mamata Govt on CBI’s plea that its officers investigating chit fund scam cases were “held hostage” by state police when they went to the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna also asked Kumar to make himself available before CBI at a “neutral place” for probe and fixed Shillong for this.The SC, however, directed that no coercive action including arrest be taken against the Commissioner.The SC asked State Chief Secretary, DGP and Kumar to file their replies to CBI’s contentions by Feb.18.It said that their personal presence may be needed at next date of hearing and added the court will decide on this after going through their replies.indianexpress
Win for us: Mamata, BJP after SC passes order on CBI petition against Kolkata police chief
MHA tells Mamata govt to take disciplinary action against Rajeev Kumar
New Delhi :A day after West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi sent a report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on prevailing situation in Kolkata, Home Ministry asked Mamata Govt to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar for indiscipline and violation of All India Services (Conduct) Rules.In a letter to West Bengal chief secretary, Home Ministry said that Kumar violated All India Services (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1969, by sitting on a dharna along with some police officers and CM  in Kolkata.indianexpress
CBI pressure eased off on 2 in Saradha after they joined BJP
While CBI has turned the heat on Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha scam, its probe against ex-Railway Minister and ex-Trinamool Congress vice president Mukul Roy, which started in 2015, went cold within months. Similar is the case with Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sharma. In connection with alleged payoffs, he was summoned by the agency, his home was raided, but he was not named in any chargesheet. Roy was being probed for his alleged role in Saradha’s news operations and for his association with Saradha chairman SudiptaSen.CBI had a statement of Sen’s driver giving details of how Roy allegedly helped Sen flee Kolkata.CBI summoned Roy in 2015 after allegations by TMC MP Kunal Ghosh.indianexpress
Alleged Mukul Roy-Kailash Vijayvargiya Audio Clip Casts New Cloud Over CBI's Autonomy
New Delhi: Even as Centre-West Bengal standoff over CBI’s action against the Kolkata police commissioner aggravated on Monday, an audio tape alleged to be a phone conversation between senior BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya and Mukul Roy started making the rounds on social media again – casting a new cloud over the independence of the CBI.First published by Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika in Oct.2018, in the clip, senior BJP leader Mukul Roy can be allegedly heard telling BJP’s Bengal in-charge Kailash Vijayvargiya to get 2 central Govt officials transferred to Bengal to act against 4 IPS officers.Then Vijayvargiya asks Roy if he has anything to tell the “adyaksha” (president) as he was supposed to meet Amit Shah soon.thewire
You're Hell Bent on Destroying NRC: SC Fumes at Centre for ‘Not Cooperating at All’ in the Process
New Delhi:The Supreme Court today reproached the Centre to seek suspension of NRC updation in Assam, observing that Govt seems to be "hell bent on destroying NRC". A bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton F Nariman refused to suspend the process of deciding claims and objections of those who were left out of first draft of National Register of Citizens. The court's strictures have come at a time when BJP, through its top leaders, has been talking about its commitment to implement NRC in Assam, and has also sought to take some credit of the process in their political speeches.  "We are very disappointed with your request. We are sorry to say but Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is delaying NRC work. We are left anguished. MHA seems hell bent on destroying NRC," remarked CJI.The observations came after Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the central government, made a request for suspension of NRC work in the wake of the upcoming general elections.Attorney General urged the bench to put NRC process in abeyance for the period between notification of the polls and two weeks after the votes are cast. But submission left the bench anguished. "We just say that Govt of India is not cooperating. When it wants to do something, it can come up with one thousand ways of doing something. But in this case, you don't want to cooperate," it retorted. The court said it would contemplate summoning Union Home Secretary for an explanation over “not cooperating at all.” The bench further said: "Elections are definitely to be held peacefully but NRC must also have to keep going. Elections and NRC must go together. Both the exercises are important for the country." The bench made it clear that it would not extend the deadline of July 31, 2019 for publication of the final list of NRC in Assam. In its order, the bench directed Assam Govt to keep adequate number of officials free for NRC work. Election Commission should also examine exemption of officers to carry on NRC work during the polls, it added. "Least interference should be made in NRC work," maintained the bench, reiterating that deadline for final NRC remains July 31. The court will hear the case next in the first week of March.news18
MHA wants to destroy NRC process: SC raps govt over request to withdraw troops for poll duty
Rohingya row at India-Bangladesh border: 8 women, 17 children released from jail
Agartala: A Rohingya Muslim group of 8 women and 17 children, who were arrested after being stuck at India-Bangladesh border last month, was on Monday released from jail following deposit of bail bonds by Rohingya Refugee Community.Judicial Magistrate, SL Tripura Monday ordered for releasing them from jail after the bail bonds of Rs 5,000 for each of them were deposited. Magistrate also granted bails for 6 Rohingya men, also of the same stranded group, during the day on condition that Rs 30,000 is to be deposited per person. Advocate Prasenjit Debnath, who moved the bail petition for the Rohingyas men, said if the bail bonds are deposited on Feb.8, when they would be produced in the court again, they would be freed.Meanwhile, Md Shaqir, a member of Rohingya Refugee Community, who came from Delhi for depositing the bail bonds, told reporters that he would talk to his community for gathering the money for bail bonds for the 6 men, who were again taken to jail as bail bonds could not be deposited.PTI
Assam Govt gives 2 different figures on number of foreigners
Guwahati: Assam Govt today gave 2 different figures in the state Assembly on the number of foreigners detected in the state.The issue was pointed out by BJP MLA Numal Momin as Point of Order immediately after the Question Hour and he urged the Speaker to take strict action against the "callous officials".Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said a total of 1,03,764 people were declared as foreigners from 1985 to Aug.2018.A question on this was raised by the ruling party MLA Binanda Kumar Saikia and was taken up for discussion during the Question Hour.In a separate query, Patowary gave a different figure and said 94,425 foreigners were detected from 1985 to August 2018.PTI
AGP Slams BJP in Assembly for Attempting to 'Nullify' Assam Accord
New Delhi: AGP, a former ally of ruling BJP in Assam, on Monday slammed the state Govt for its alleged attempt to nullify the 1985 Assam Accord and staged a walkout in the assembly.The state govnt, however, said implementation of the accord is a priority and CM  Sarbananda Sonowal is holding regular discussions with the Centre on the issue.During the question hour, AGP MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita charged the Centre with trying to nullify the accord by bringing in the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.AIUDF member Mamun Imdadul Haque Chawdhury said that while the Assam Accord spoke about Assamese people, the present Govt is using the term indigenous people.“From where has this come? Even the governor’s speech talked about indigenous people. How come has this happened? A wrong signal should not go from here,” he added. Congress’s Rakibul Hussain said the clause 6 talks about land and political rights for people till March 24, 1971, while the Bill is self-contradictory in this case.PTI
In PIL against Citizenship bill, Assamese intellectuals say it violates constitution
Guwahati: A PIL filed in the Supreme Court by leading Assamese intellectuals argues that Union home ministry notifications for granting citizenship to a section of refugees and migrants from the neighbouring countries contravenes not only some articles but the very “basic structure” of the Constitution.85-page petition, submitted by the Hiren Gohain-led Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill makes a case for the declaration of the three notifications by the ministry as “illegal and invalid, being, ultra-vires the Constitution of India.”thewire
No proposal to scrap sedition law: Govt tells LS
New Delhi: Govt on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha that there is no proposal to scrap sedition law, under which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment.“No such proposal is under consideration of the govt,” Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said while replying to a written question on whether the Govt is mulling to scrap the colonial-era sedition law. Ahir said amendments in criminal laws are a continuous process and are made in consultation with various stakeholders, including the state govts. Modi Govt has faced criticism in the past for imposing sedition act against dissenting voices. As many as 245 sedition cases were registered across 17 districts of Assam since BJP-led alliance came to power in the state in 2016.indianexpress
Under BJP Govt, 245 sedition cases filed in Assam
MP: NSA invoked against 3 accused for cow slaughter in Khandwa
Bhopal: NSA has been slapped against 3 persons after they were arrested for cow slaughter in communally sensitive Khandwa town of MP, first such action under Congress govt.Moghat Police arrested Raju alias Nadeem and Shakeel from Kharkali village early on Friday. Azam, 3rd accused who had managed to escape, was nabbed on Monday.Khandwa SP said that NSA has been slapped against the accused. indian express
EWS quota: Jamia Millia Islamia cites minority tag
New Delhi: Jamia Millia Islamia will not implement 10% quota for economically weaker section (EWS) candidates, citing its minority status. The university, in its academic council (AC) meeting on Monday, decided that it won’t send UGC its seat matrix requirements and infrastructure needs. The registrar will communicate to UGC that Jamia will issue its admission notice based on the existing structure. On Jan.17, Union HRD ministry had asked central institutions to implement EWS quota from the 2019-20 session. The institutions were told to furnish the programme-wise seat matrix along with possible financial requirements by Jan.31. JNU sent it on Feb.1 while DU is still collating data from its colleges. “We found that as we are a minority institution, EWS quota won’t be applicable to us,” said an AC member on the condition of anonymity. “UGC has already said certain institutes and minority institutions will not come under this new system,”he claimed, adding that Jamia had also not implemented OBC expansion quota.TOI
Student Body Releases ‘Students’ Manifesto’, Demands 10% quota For Minorities
New Delhi:A student body today released a 'Student Manifesto' demanding 10 %  reservation in jobs and educational institutes for Muslims and five %  for other minorities. Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) of India, which released the manifesto ahead of the general elections, urged political parties to include the demands in their manifestos. The section on education in the manifesto sharply criticizes the central and state governments for their poor implementation of Right to Education Act,and makes a number of recommendations to improve efficiency and transparency. The manifesto demanded an increase in the stipend of Maulana Azad National Fellowship and Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship. It demanded reservation in educational institutions as per the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report. It also demanded that Arabic and Islamic studies chairs be opened in all universities.In the education sector, it also demanded to enact Rohit Act -- to ensure legislative protection for students from marginalised communities in higher educational institutions -- and to establish AMU off campus centres in minority concentrated districts.. "Govt should ensure that the minority status of AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI)," was another demand. At the launch, Labeed Shafi, President, SIO of India said that students and youth are the biggest constituency of this country and political parties must specially cater to their needs when seeking for votes.ndtv
Students' body demands 10 %  quota for Muslims
Bhima-Koregaon case: Dr. Anand Teltumbde won’t be arrested till Feb 12, Pune Police tells HC
Pune police informed the Bombay High Court today that it will not arrest writer and Dr.Anand Teltumbde, accused in Bhima Koregaon violence,till Feb.12 midnight. A single bench of Justice N.W. Sambre was hearing a petition filed by Dr. Teltumbde seeking anticipatory bail in the case through senior counsel Mihir Desai.He was arrested on Feb.2 at 3.30am at Mumbai airport despite having interim protection from arrest from Supreme Court till Feb.11.Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai appearing for Pune police told the court that a petition which was filed by him seeking to quash FIR against him was dismissed by a division bench of HC therefore this petition too should be dismissed.The court however rejected this plea and directed her to give an undertaking as a condition for securing time to file an affidavit by Feb.9 opposing this petition. The matter will be heard on Feb.12.the          hindu
Teltumbde moves HC to apply for pre-arrest bail

Delhi blasts: HC hears plea against acquittal of 2
New Delhi: Delhi high court on Monday began hearing the prosecution’s appeal challenging the acquittal of 2 people in the 2005 Diwali eve serial blasts that left 67 dead. The HC however, indicated that the prosecution will have to show evidence in support of its claim of the men being involved in a conspiracy.  The court remarked that mere suspicion can’t be the ground to allow the appeal filed by the police challenging the acquittal of 3 people in the blast, and gave a day’s time to the state to bring out from the evidence the role of the accused in the blasts in the capital’s Sarojini Nagar area and other places.Delhi Police has sought to set aside the trial court’s verdict where it acquitted M.Rafiq Shah, Mohammad Hussain Fazili and Tariq Ahmed Dar. TOI
50% matching of EVM results with VVPATs may not be possible in coming LS polls: Ex-CEC
Election Commission (EC) may not to be in a position to meet the demand of opposition parties that 50 %  of EVM results should be cross-checked with VVPATs before declaring final Lok Sabha election results, indicated a former CEC on Tuesday.Leaders of 23 political parties had met EC on Monday and demanded matching of results of 50 %  EVMs with VVPATs  before it declared the results.When asked for his response, the ex Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy opined that EVMs are credible even without VVPATs.”I think EC has already indicated that they will increase the VVPATs verification gradually depending upon the machines that they get”, he told PTI. “Overnight, they may not be able to do it (50 %  VVPATs verification)”.PTI
23 opposition parties ask EC for auditing 50 pc of EVMs before declaring 2019 election results
Shiv Sena targets Modi govt over West Bengal govt-CBI face-off
Mumbai: Shiv Sena Tuesday attacked Modi Govt over the face-off between the West Bengal Govt and CBI, alleging that it was "orchestrated" for political gains in upcoming Lok Sabha polls.Sena, in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana', said what was happening in Kolkata was a "threat to democracy". Sena said the Centre could have acted against the Kolkata Police chief two months back and the CBI should have carried proper summons before visiting his house to question him.The Sena claimed that the BJP was going to fall short of 100 Lok Sabha seats from north India to Maharashtra (in the west) in the Lok Sabha polls.PTI
Once ‘close’ to Mamata, ex-IPS officer Bharati Ghosh joins BJP
New Delhi:Retired IPS officer Bharati Ghosh, once considered close to West Bengal CM  Mamata Banerjee, joined the BJP on Monday at the party headquarters in the national capital. Indian Express had first reported about Ghosh’s plans of joining politics to take “revenge” against TMC Govt in the state. “I will definitely join a political party soon. When I followed their (TMC’s) instructions, I was hailed as an honest officer. The moment I started putting my foot down on things I thought were inappropriate, they initiated criminal cases against me. I am determined to give them (TMC) a befitting reply,’’ Ghosh had said.indianexpress
BJP used Lokpal agitation to come to power, now allergic to it:Anna Hazare
Pune :Social activist Anna Hazare, who is sitting on a hunger strike at his village Ralegan Siddhi over non-appointment of Lokpal by the central government, said BJP came to power “using Lokpal agitation” and now seems to have developed an “allergy” towards the term.“What’s the use of coming here and meeting me when nothing is being done to appoint Lokpal? It only sends across a wrong message to people. I have asked them to clear their stance on Lokpal first,” said Hazare. He further said BJP govts in the Centre and the state had “misled” him over the past few years. indianexpress
A-G files contempt petition against Bhushan
Attorney General of India KK Venugopal has approached the Supreme Court, seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Advocate Prashant Bhushan over his tweets in connection with the hearing on a petition challenging M Nageswhar Rao’s appointment as CBI interim director.The plea referred to the hearing before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha on Feb.1 when the petition filed by NGO Common Cause came up — Bhushan had represented the NGO at the hearing.indianexpress
Telangana; Jamaat-E-Islami Hind Drive to restore family values
Hyderabad: Telangana and Odisha president of Jamaat-E-Islami Hind (JIH) has said that the disappearing family system is one of the key reasons for all societal problems. Speaking on the group’s 10-day campaign on ‘ideal family system’ being held in the city, Hamid Mohammed Khan said that it was aimed at restoring family values among people. As part of the campaign that will end on Feb.10, activities including seminars and street plays are being organised to help people resolve family issues peacefully. Counselling sessions are also being held under the guidance of expert counsellors. TOI
Hyderabad: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to introduce course for brides and bridegrooms
Jharkhand Opposition protests against removal of burqa, black dupattas in Assembly
Opposition parties protested in the Jharkhand Assembly on Monday, against the forced removal of burqas and black dupattas worn by women during an event attended by CM  Raghubar Das in Giridih district.Jhobha Manjhi, a JMM MLA, spoke on the incident that took place on Sunday, when the House met at 11 am. Supporting her protest, JVM-P MLA Pradeep Yadav said:"CM needs to answer on this issue.This is serious."Later, Geeta Kodfa, a Congress MLA, said: “On one hand, state Govt is launching many schemes related to the well being of women, and on other hand, it also humiliates them. In reaction, ruling BJP MLA Biranchi Narayan asked: "Until the burqa is not removed, how can it be ascertained whether it is a woman or a terrorist?"IANS
Agra: Will give financial aid if Hindu man marries Muslim girl on Valentine’s Day, says Hindu out
Agra:Right-wing outfits are usually known to stage protests - which are sometimes violent in nature - and harass young couples in public spaces on Feb.14 every year, on the occasion of Valentine's Day.However, this year, a right-wing outfit has claimed that it is ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day, albeit with certain conditions. Agra unit of the Hindu Kalyan Mahasabha has declared that it will protect and offer monetary benefits to couples "if a Hindu man ties the knot with a Muslim woman on Feb.14', TOI reported. Convenor of the group, Sanjay Jat, said that that decision was a "counter move" by the outfit to "save Hindu girls" from being cheated by men from "other community" who "disguise themselves as Hindu men."He said,"Right-wing bodies are always targeted for protecting Hindu girls from falling prey on Valentine's Day.But this year, we have decided to welcome the occasion and will also offer protection and monetary benefits of Rs 51,000 to such couples."TOI
Uttarakhand: Dalit group gives ultimatum: Absolve ‘innocents’ in riot case, trace body of youth
Dehradun:Members of a Dalit rights body staged a ‘silent protest’ at Parade Ground on Monday for booking few Dalits, who they claimed to be innocent, in a riot incident at Vikasnagar last month. The riots were triggered after locals protested over the delay in recovery of a youth’s body. As per the family members of the victim Moti, he was murdered and his body was dumped in Shakti canal. Following the complaint, police filed a kidnapping case on Jan.18 and launched a search operation, but could not locate the body. Violent protests had ensued on Jan.21 over the alleged delay in recovery of Moti’s body.Protesters had also blocked Delhi-Yamunotri highway,attacked policemen and vandalised several stores in Vikasnagar. Meanwhile, members of the Dalit group, Uttarakhand Samvaidhanik Adhikar Sanrakshan Manch have given a 15-day ultimatum to the police to trace the body and also withdraw the cases against few Dalits who staged protests on Jan. 21. TOI
Switzerland set to transfer details of Indian account holders in HSBC
New Delhi:The transfer of banking details of accounts held by Indians in HSBC (Suisse) by Swiss authorities has become imminent with account holders receiving a communication from Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) to provide their written consent and a Swiss address to receive notices.It was in 2011 that French authorities had given India a list of 628 Indians who held accounts in HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) and in 2015, Swiss Leaks, an investigation done by Indian Express with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and French newspaper Le Monde had expanded the list to 1195 Indian accounts holding balances totalling Rs 25,420 crore for the year 2006-07.The investigation had revealed there were 276 Indian account holders with at least $1 million in their balance of whom 85 are residing in the country.indianexpress
UK Home Secretary signs Mallya extradition order
New Delhi:Less than 2 months after a UK court ordered fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has signed the order for completing the process. India was quick to “welcome” the decision, with Govt sources saying that they “await” the early completion of the legal process. Mallya said he would appeal against the order — he has 14 days to do so.A UK Home Office spokesperson confirmed that the minister had signed Mallya’s extradition order on Sunday. Javid had to make a decision within 2 months of the day the case was sent to him.“On Feb.3, Secretary of State,having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India. Mallya is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offences,”spokesperson said.indian express
2002 Gujarat Best Bakery case: 2 accused charged with rioting, murder
Mumbai :A sessions court has framed charges against 2 persons in 2002 Best Bakery case. Harshad Solanki and Mafat Gohil will face trial for charges including murder, attempt to murder, rioting and other sections of IPC for the communal violence in Vadodara in 2002.During the violence in the bakery, 14 persons were killed. A total of 19 accused faced trial earlier, nine of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court in 2006. They then challenged the order in Bombay High Court, which confirmed the life term of four, while acquitting 5 in 2012. Solanki and Gohil were named as absconding accused at that time and were brought before the trial court only after their arrest in 2013.indianexpress
Indian Media Barred from Conference Addressed by Pak Foreign Minister in UK Parliament
London: Indian media was not allowed entry into a global conference, which was projected as an 'open' event, addressed by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a committee room in UK House of Commons complex on Monday.International Conference on Kashmir was billed as an event to express "solidarity" with the people of Kashmir. Chaired by Rehman Chishti, a PoK-born Conservative Party MP,event was organised by All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistan. There was restricted access allowed into what had been projected as an open conference.India had registered strong opposition over Qureshi being allowed to address such a meeting within the British Parliament complex. The event was attended by Pakistani-origin British MPs and peers, including Khalid Mahmood and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. British Sikh Labour Party MP, Tan Dhesi, was among the few Indian-origin parliamentarians seen entering the room.In response, the UK Govt had said Qureshi was not an official guest as he was on a private visit to Britain.UK event coincided with "Kashmir Solidarity Day", observed by Pakistan on Feb.5. PTI
Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day
1 killed, 6 injured in communal clashes in UP's Muzaffarnagar
Muzaffarnagar:One person was killed and 6 others were injured after members of two communities clashed at Chatela village here, police said today.The clash broke out after 2 men -- Rajkumar and Shavaiz -- entered into an argument following a quarrel between their children, SP, Rural, Alok Sharma, said.On Monday, members of the two groups attacked each other with sticks, leaving 6 injured and one dead, police said. Rajkumar was declared dead at a hospital here.2 people have been arrested and a search has been launched to nab the remaining accused, Sharma said.PTI
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to meet party minority cells across nation
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is going to address representatives of the party's Minority Congress, the party's minority cell, from all blocks around the country in Delhi on Feb.7, during its annual convention. During the day-long convention, which will take place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, issues of 6 communities that the cell represents -- Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains -- will be taken up. Also in attendance will be senior leaders including Ahmed Patel, Oscar Fernandes, Navjot Singh Sidhu, among others. AICC in-charge of the minority cell, Nadeem Javed, said that the focus will be the challenges that minorities across the country face.dnaindia
WORLD
Trump pushes withdrawal from "endless" Afghanistan, Syria wars
Washington:Pushing back against Republican opposition, US President Donald Trump reaffirmed his determination to pull US troops out of "endless wars" in Syria and Afghanistan, in an interview. But he said they would stay in Iraq to watch Iran.Trump cited the high cost in blood and money after years of fighting in Afghanistan, in arguing for a US withdrawal from the place where 9/11 attacks were hatched."It's time," he said in the interview with CBS's "Face the Nation." "And we'll see what happens with the Taliban. They want peace. They're tired.Everybody's tired."Trump's comments come in face of warnings by US intelligence chiefs that a hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria could allow a resurgence by Al-Qaeda and ISIS.On Thursday, US Senate voted overwhelmingly for a measure sponsored by Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of Trump's Republican party, warning against a "precipitous withdrawal" from either country.But Trump appeared unmoved by the rare Republican pushback, noting that his promises to bring US troops home was "a big part" of the reason he was elected. AFP
Senate rebukes Trump over withdrawal plans
Erdogan: 'No satisfactory plan' with US on Syria safe zone
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says he has not yet seen an acceptable plan for the creation of a "safe zone" in northeastern Syria, three weeks after US President Donald Trump suggested move."There is no satisfactory plan that is put before us concretely yet," Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting of his AK Party."Of course, we are loyal to our agreements, our promise is a promise. But our patience is not limitless."Trump proposed setting up a "safe zone" for Kurds after announcing he was pulling out all 2000 US troops in northern Syria.aljazeera
Kabul 'regrets' Taliban-Afghan opposition talks in Russia
Afghan Govt has criticised talks in Russia between Taliban and opposition figures - including ex president Hamid Karzai - as regrettable while politicians attending described gathering as the continuation of peace efforts.The discussions starting today in Moscow come 10 days after peace negotiations between US and the Taliban in Qatar ended with signs of progress towards the withdrawal of thousands of foreign troops from Afghanistan and an end to over 17 years of war. Fazel Fazly, chief adviser to President Ashraf Ghani, expressed "regret" that politicians who previously led Afghanistan's democratic transition were to meet Taliban leaders over 2 days. Ghani's office criticised the meeting saying Afghan politicians attending were doing so "in order to gain power".Along with Karzai, many of 38 delegates from Kabul have held prominent Govt positions. Also on list are powerful commanders-turned-politicians and ex Taliban fighters who reconciled with the Kabul administration.Moscow gathering is likely to further isolate Ghani who has been irked by US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad's direct talks with Taliban, as well as his successive rounds of talks in regional countries. Moscow-based Council of Afghan Society, an organisation of the Afghan diaspora in Russia, organised the meeting.It said the participants will discuss a range of issues, including a ceasefire, ways to support Khalilzad's initiatives and a path to ensure a "powerful and democratic central govt" in Afghanistan.aljazeera
58 die in clashes between Taliban, Afghan forces
Kabul:At least 36 members of the Afghan security forces and 22 Taliban rebels have been killed in fresh clashes in the country’s north, officials and local media confirmed Tuesday.The renewed fighting coincides with a two-day round of peace talks now underway in Moscow between Taliban representatives and several Afghan officials.
Iran's first Prez Bani-Sadr says Khomeini betrayed 1979 Islamic revolution: Reuters
France:Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini betrayed principles of the Iranian revolution after sweeping to power in 1979, his first president told Reuters, leaving a “very bitter” taste among some of those who had returned with him to Tehran in triumph.Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, a sworn opponent of Tehran’s clerical rulers ever since being driven from office and fleeing abroad in 1981, recalled how 40 years ago in Paris, he had been convinced that religious leader’s Islamic revolution would pave the way for democracy and human rights after the rule of the Shah. “When we were in France everything we said to him he embraced and then announced it like Koranic verses without any hesitation,” Bani-Sadr, now 85, said in an interview at his home in Paris.“We were sure that a religious leader was committing himself and that all these principles would happen for the first time in our history,” he said.Bani-Sadr, son of a senior Shi’ite Muslim cleric and a former student of economics in Paris, had close family ties with Khomeini and helped him move to France after periods in Turkey and Iraq, becoming one of his closest aides.For Western observers, at least, Khomenei appeared to endorse a more modern interpretation of Islam in which religion and politics were kept separate and Iran would move away from Shah’s dictatorship, Bani-Sadr said.“It was when he came down the steps from the plane in Iran where he changed ... The mullahs got a hold of him and gave him a new destiny, which is the dictatorship we see today,” he said. Bani-Sadr was elected president on Feb. 5, 1980, in a popular vote,but under the new Islamic Republic’s constitution, Khomenei wielded the real power - a situation that has continued since his death in 1989 under his successor, Ali Khamenei.
Constitutional proposals could allow Sisi to stay in power till 2034
Cairo:Constitutional amendments proposed by Egyptian lawmakers would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power for up to 12 years beyond his current term and boost his control of the judiciary, according to a draft seen by Reuters.The proposed amendments were submitted to the speaker of parliament on Sunday. Any changes need approval by two-thirds of parliament members, followed by a referendum.In recent months, speculation has been building that his supporters would seek to amend a constitutional clause according to which he should step down at the end of his second four-year term in 2022.The amendments submitted on Sunday include an extension of the presidential term to six years from 4 in article 140 of the constitution, and a "transitional" clause that would reset clock, potentially allowing Sisi to stay in power until 2034.Reuters
Egypt's ElBaradei slams proposed charter changes
Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei has criticized proposed constitutional amendments to increase the president's term from four to six years. "The constitution is a consensual contract between all parties and not a contract of consent imposed by one party to another," ElBaradei said. Citing that the struggle to change the constitution since 2011 was a reason for "catastrophe" in Egypt, ElBaradei said "non-consensual constitution usually hastens the departure of its owner."
Israel settlers threaten Palestinian workers over cooperation with human rights groups
Israeli settlers in the southern occupied West Bank have “posted flyers warning Palestinian labourers not to cooperate with Israeli human rights activists or bodies if they want to keep their jobs”, reported +972 Magazine. “Do you wish to keep working in the settlements? Do you want to provide a living for your families from Jews? Whoever cooperates with any one of these individuals and organizations (Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights) will never be allowed to enter the settlements for work. Be warned!”Settlers based in the so-called Gush Etzion bloc “have been posting these intimidating flyers around Palestinian villages nearby”, stated the article. “Flyers threaten to ban Palestinians who cooperate with human rights groups from working in settlements there.”The flyer includes photos and names of prominent Israeli and Palestinian activists, and singles out Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights, “2 bodies that accompany and protect Palestinians in the occupied West Bank from threats of settler violence”, +972 Magazine reported.middleeastmonitor
Israelis to turn historic mosque into museum
Israeli authorities in Tiberias have broken into the historic Al-Bahr Mosque in order to start turning it into a museum, Al-Resalah reported. Move violates a 2000 agreement between the authorities and the Palestinian community in Israel to maintain the status quo at the mosque, which has been closed ever since. One fifth of all Israeli citizens are Palestinians, the so-called “Arab-Israelis”, and face institutionalised discrimination at the hands of the state.Israel has demolished hundreds of Palestinian mosques, cemeteries and other religious sites since the state’s creation in 1948. Dozens have been turned into bars and night clubs in Jaffa, Lod, Al-Ramla, Ashkelon and other cities with no regard for their religious significance.According to Arab48.com, the deal reached in 2000 has been violated several times, with attacks on the building, including arson. Largely left unguarded, it has been used by drug addicts.“We have to go to Tiberias and stop the desecration of the holy site which aims to erase any Palestinian symbols in the city,” insisted Mohammad Baraka, the Chairman of the High Committee for Arab Citizens.He said that Arab citizens in Israel would never accept such a move and pledged to protect the mosque and other holy places.MEMO
Saudi, UAE gave US arms to al-Qaeda-linked groups in Yemen: report
Saudi Arabia and its coalition partner in Yemen, UAE transferred US-made weapons to al-Qaeda-linked groups and a Salafi militia whose commander who once "served with"Yemeni branch of ISIL, a CNN investigation has found. Corroborating an earlier report by Al Jazeera, CNN investigation said that the weapons had also made their way into the hands of Houthi rebels who are battling against the coalition for control of the country.Saudi and UAE entered Yemen's war in 2015 leading a military coalition to try and restore the internationally recognised Govt of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.2 Gulf countries wanted to restore Hadi Govt after a civil war broke out between Hadi's supporters and those loyal to the Houthis.But according to CNN, coalition was using US-manufactured weapons "as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape," local commanders and analysts said.Citing the situation in the flashpoint city of Taiz, CNN said that al-Qaeda had forged "advantageous alliances with pro-Saudi militias they fought alongside".It said Abu al-Abbas Brigade possessed US-made Oshkosh armoured vehicles that were paraded through city in a 2015 show of force. Aljazeera
N. Korea trying to protect nuke,missile capability: UN
North Korea has maintained its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and is looking for ways to ensure those capabilities cannot be destroyed by any military strikes, according to a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors.The report to a 15-member UN Security Council sanctions committee, seen by Reuters, comes before a second planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this month.aljazeera
Tunisia: Ghannouchi announced his intention to run for upcoming presidential elections
A source close to the Tunisian Ennahda told Quds Press that the head of the movement, Rached Ghannouchi, plans to run for the presidential elections scheduled for the end of this year.The source, who asked not to be named, said that Ghannouchi consulted with some Ennahda leaders and public figures in Tunisia about running for the upcoming elections.He pointed out that Ennahda leader “has already decided, and will raise the issue during the next Shura Council meeting of the movement.”He noted that Ghannouchi spoke with former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to ensure his support and the absence of conflict between the two parties, “but Marzouki rejected the idea and confirmed that he would run for elections even if Ghannouchi ran for office.”middleeastmonitor
US sanctions on Venezuela to hurt world oil market
US sanctions on Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will affect the global market negatively, the oil minister said Monday. Manuel Quevedo, also president of the oil company, commented on US sanctions imposed last week on PDVSA and its US subsidiary Citgo. Quevedo said US sanctions and trade wars will affect oil prices in 2019."What happened to Citgo is totally illegal, a robbery, which was attempted through sanctions," he said. Venezuelan has been rocked by protests since Jan.10 when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a 2nd term following a vote boycotted by the opposition. Tensions rose when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president on Jan. 23, a move which was supported by the US and many European and Latin American countries.Anadolu Agency
Pope Francis holds first Papal Mass in Abu Dhabi
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/pope-francis-holds-papal-mass-abu-dhabi-190205065039040.html                                                
Pope Francis has held the first Papal Mass at a stadium in Abu Dhabi, the first time the pontiff visited the Arabian Peninsula.About 135,000 Catholics attended the mass today with some carrying Vatican flags and banners as the pope drove into Zayed Sports City Stadium, where an altar with a large cross was set up for the open-air service.Francis, who has made outreach to Muslim communities a cornerstone of his papacy, is on an historic three-day visit to UAE.The mass celebration is being billed as the largest show of public Christian worship on the Peninsula.The mass celebration comes a day after making a broad appeal for Christian and Muslim leaders to promote peace and reject war.At an interfaith meeting on Monday, Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb - the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar - signed a joint statement on "human fraternity" and their hopes for world peace. Francis said that faith leaders have a duty to reject war as he called for religious freedom in the Muslim-majority region.aljazeera
Ex- lawmaker from far-right Dutch party PVV becomes Muslim after writing anti-Islam book
A former far-right Dutch politician announced on Monday that he has converted to Islam.Writing a book on Islam changed the views of Joram van Klaveren, 39, on the religion, and he converted, local media reported. Van Klaveren served as a member of parliament for the far-right and anti-Muslim Freedom Party (PVV) from 2010 to 2014.He resigned after PVV leader Geert Wilders' racist remarks about Moroccans and set up his own party, but failed to win a seat in the 2017 national elections, and quit politics. Klaveren's about-face follows in footsteps of Arnoud Van Doorn, another ex PVV member who converted to Islam.Van Doorn praised van Klaveren on Twitter, saying he never thought that he would see so many converts from his former party. Anadolu Agency
Rights groups seek UN inquiry into China’s mass detention of Muslims
Human rights groups have called for a UN investigation into China’s mass detention of Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang, seeking to galvanize an international response to allegations of widespread abuses.The rights organizations, presenting the issue as a test of the UN Human Rights Council’s credibility, urged it to set up an international fact-finding mission during its session that starts at the end of Feb.“The magnitude of abuses allegedly occurring in Xinjiang demand uncompromising scrutiny,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement released at a news conference in Geneva. New York Times
US state dept says 129 detained Indian students committed crime wilfully
Washington: All 130 foreign students, including 129 Indians who were detained for enrolling in a fake university, were aware that they were committing a crime to fraudulently remain in US, the state department has said, days after India issued a demarche to the American embassy in New Delhi.Foreign students were arrested last week by US Department of Homeland Security for enrolling at University of Farmington, allegedly to remain in America.thewire
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Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:13 PM)

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