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Monday, 11 March 2019

11 March ND: SC to consider sending 10% quota law challenge to Constitution Bench/Can’t do much, says CJI on plea against talaq ordinance / RBI board warned of noteban’s short-term negative effect on GDP for current year; no material effect on black money

NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
11 March 2019: 03 Rajab 1440:Vol: 11, No:148
INDIA
SC to consider sending 10% quota law challenge to Constitution Bench

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Monday decided to consider the question whether the challenge to the 10% economic reservation law should be heard by a Constitution Bench. A 3-judge Bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi scheduled a hearing on the question of reference to the larger Bench on March 28.The court refused to pass any interim order to stay or hamper the implementation of the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, which provides 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for those economically backward in the unreserved category.The issue of reference to a Constitution Bench arose when senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan pointed out that 50% quota limit was part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution and the new amendment tinkered with it.The Act amended Articles 15 and 16 by adding clauses, empowering the government to provide reservation on the basis of economic backwardness.The petitions in the SC, mainly the one filed by activist Tehseen Poonawala, said Act violated the Basic Structure of the Constitution. They argued that 50% ceiling limit on quota was “engrafted as a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution’s equality code” by the SC.One of the petitions, filed by Youth For Equality, represented by advocate Senthil Jagadeesan and settled by advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, contended that the SC, in a 9-judge Bench judgment in Indira Sawhney, had settled the law that economic backwardness could not be the sole basis for reservation.thehindu
Can’t do much, says CJI on plea against triple talaq ordinance
New Delhi:An effort to seek judicial intervention against the triple talaq ordinance fell flat on Monday when the Supreme Court today declined to entertain petitions against a fresh ordinance or executive order. “We can’t do much if the bill isn’t passed in the Rajya Sabha and the (Lower) House is now dissolved,” CJI Ranjan Gogoi said.The top judge’s decision came on a bundle of petitions against the ordinance that makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence. The ordinance, which had lapsed twice earlier, was issued for the third time last month because an amended version of the bill was stuck in Rajya Sabha where govt does not have a majority. Opposition wanted a joint select panel to review the bill against instant divorce but did not get its way either.HT
RBI board warned of noteban’s short-term negative effect on GDP for current year; no material effect on black money
New Delhi:RBI board, which included the present Governor Shaktikanta Das as a director, had warned of short-term negative impact of demonetisation on the country’s economic growth and observed that the unprecedented move will not have any material impact on tackling the black money menace. The board, according to minutes of the meeting revealed by the central bank in an RTI reply, met just 2-and-a-half hours before PM Narendra Modi, in an address to the nation, announced the demonetisation decision on Nov.8, 2016. The minutes of the board meeting, which approved the govt’s request for demonetisation, recorded the presence of then RBI Governor Urjit Patel and then Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das. Others present included then Financial Services Secretary Anjuli Chib Duggal and RBI Deputy Governors R. Gandhi and S.S. Mundra. Both Gandhi and Mundra are not part of the board now, while Das was appointed as the RBI Governor in Dec.2018.“It is a commendable measure but will have short-term negative effect on GDP for the current year,” as per the minutes posted by RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak on website of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.“Most of the black money is held not in the form of cash but in the form of real sector assets such as gold or real estate and that this move would not have a material impact on those assets,” the board observed in its 561st meeting held in Delhi.PTI
Minutes of RBI's Pre-Note Ban Board Meeting Raise Questions Over Decision-Making Process
Samjhauta blast case: NIA court puts off pronouncement of verdict, fixes matter for March 14
New Delhi:A Special NIA Court in Panchkula today reserved the order for March 14 in the 2007 Samjhauta train blast, in which a total of 68 people were killed.The court put off the pronouncement of the verdict after a lawyer filed an application saying that Pakistani witnesses want to depose before the court. There are 13 Pakistani witnesses in the case. The application is on behalf of one Rahila Wakil, who has claimed to be the daughter of one of the victim. A notice has been issued to NIA and accused for the response on the application. On Feb.18 in 2007, an IED blast was carried out in the Samjhauta train–which runs between Delhi and Lahore–at Panipat in Haryana. Deceased included 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens, and 15 unidentified people. There were 8 accused in the case but only 4 faced the trial. Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, the prime accused in the case, had been granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana HC in 2015. 3 accused – Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma are in judicial custody in Central Jail Ambala. 3 accused – Amit Chouhan (Ramesh Venkat Malhakar), Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange have been declared as proclaimed offenders in the case.indian express
JNU ‘sedition’ case: Why hurry to file chargesheet without getting sanctions, court asks police
A Delhi court on Monday sought a report from the Delhi Police in connection with the sedition case against former JNU student leaders, ANI reported. Former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar is among the accused in the 2016 sedition case.Delhi Police on Monday told the court that authorities were yet to give requisite sanctions to prosecute the accused, PTI reported. The chief public prosecutor informed the court that it could take two to 3 months to procure the sanctions.“You [Police] could have filed [chargesheet] after procuring sanction only. What was the hurry?” Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat said. “I can go ahead with the case.” It sought an update from the Deputy Commissioner of Police assigned to the case. At a hearing last month, the court had asked the city police to procure sanctions by Feb.28. Earlier, on Jan.19, it had criticised the police for filing a chargesheet in 2016 case without the approval of the Delhi govt. The next hearing in case will take place on March 29.scroll.in
JNU sedition row: Yet to get prosecution sanction for Kanhaiya from authorities, Delhi Police tells court
Secret documents published in past too, no threat of action:N Ram
Mumbai :Days after Attorney General KK Venugopal contended in the Supreme Court that reports on the Rafale deal were based on documents stolen from the Ministry of Defence and threatened to invoke the Official Secrets Act against 2 publications, Chairman of The Hindu publishing group N Ram said secret documents have been published by Indian papers in past without threat of action under the 1923 law.Calling the Official Secrets Act an “obnoxious piece of legislation” used by colonial rulers against the freedom struggle, Ram said it has rarely been used against publications. “Any number of secret documents have been published in the past. In 1981, I was the Washington correspondent of The Hindu and we published many secret papers where India was involved in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on what was then the largest multilateral line of credit in history, about $6.3 billion at that time. Nobody spoke about using the Official Secrets Act…On Bofors, we published 250 documents including many govt documents. Nobody spoke about using Official Secrets Act against the publications,” he said.Lawyer Prashant Bhushan has also submitted secret papers to the courts, for example on the coal block allocation scandal, he said. “Courts had no hesitation in looking at it. Nobody thought of using the Official Secrets Act against Prashant Bhushan. The first time it happened was in the Supreme Court,” Ram said.indianexpress
Election Commission’s statistical experts unable to decide threshold for VVPATS
Election Commission of India, which currently matches the votes cast in one polling booth in every assembly constituency with paper slips in VVPAT units, is still not sure of increasing the number to a statistically valid level.There have been demands from both political parties as well as the civil society for matching the votes cast through EVM machines with VVPAT slips in booths ranging from 10% to 50%. This, it has been argued, would increase voter confidence and make the electoral process more transparent.It has also been argued that with each Lok Sabha constituency covering six or more assembly constituencies, the number of booths is often more than 1,200. To match votes in just six of them or 0.5 per cent of the booths make little or no sense.But the CEC Sunil Arora told the media on Sunday, “Election Commission expects the report from the committee of Indian Statistical Institute experts, constituted to determine a feasible threshold, to come in any time, certainly before the poll process is over. It will then discuss the view and take a view.”nationalheraldindia
NDA Short of Majority, Cong Doubles Its Tally: Survey on LS Polls
The latest CVoter pre-poll survey of March 2019 for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has predicted the BJP-led NDA falling just short of the majority mark of 272, winning 264 seats. Meanwhile, UPA has been predicted to get 141 seats out of 543 in total. The other parties have been projected to get 138 seats.Party-wise, while the BJP is projected to get 220 seats, the Congress is predicted to win in 86 seats, up from 44 in the 2014 elections.While the NDA total includes the Shiv Sena tally, the UPA total includes JDS tally, the survey noted.Now, if the UPA is to stitch post-poll alliances in the states of Assam (AIUDF), Kerala (LDF), UP (SP+BSP+RLD) and West Bengal (TMC), its total tally would increase to 226 seats, the survey said. Meanwhile, if the NDA is to stitch up post-poll alliances, its tally would go up from 264 to 301.Meanwhile, the SP would be reduced to just four seats, while the BSP and the UPA both would get two each in the state.Notably, these latest numbers from a pre-election survey come after the Pulwama and the air strikes in Balakot.In an earlier ABP-CVoter survey from Jan, NDA was predicted to get 233 seats, while the UPA was predicted to settle for 167 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.The Quint
Lok Sabha Dates Clashing With Ramzan to Ensure Minorities Unable to Cast Votes: TMC Leader
Kolkata: Following the announcement of Lok Sabha election dates (to be held in seven phases in West Bengal) by the Election Commission on Sunday, political parties in the state are divided over some of the dates that are clashing with Ramzan (May 5-June 4).With nearly 31% Muslim voters, election during Ramzan will become a key issue of Bengal politics in the upcoming days.In Malda and Murshidabad districts alone, the minority voters’ strength is nearly 52% and 66%, respectively. TMC leader and Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said, “People will face problems in exercising their voting rights as some poll dates are clashing with Ramzan. Since Election Commission is a constitutional body, I don’t want to comment much in to the matter. But they should have considered that people will suffer during Ramzan (in casting votes).”He said, “EC has announced the poll dates on Ramzan so that minorities are unable to cast their votes. But I would like to tell them (BJP) that the people of Bengal are with Mamata.” This is not the first time that TMC is raising the issue of Ramzan. During the last panchayat election, party leaders led by minister Partha Chatterjee met West Bengal election commissioner and requested him to conclude the rural polls before the month of fasting for the minority community begins.West Bengal Congress president Somendra Nath Mitra also said the poll panel should consider the matter. “We have a large number of Muslim voters and EC should consider poll dates as per Ramzan observance,”Mitra said. news18
Unnecessary controversy: Owaisi on voting during Ramzan
As a leader of TMC voices concern about elections in the month of Ramzan and the impact on Muslim votes, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi rubbished such talk. Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of AIMIM, said it was a "totally uncalled for and unnecessary" controversy. "I would earnestly request those political parties that please don't use the Muslim community & Ramzan for whatever reasons you have," he said.ndtv
‘Congress will  probe the post-demonetisation deposits if voted to power’: Jairam Ramesh
Lambasting PM Narendra Modi for destroying the economy through demonetisation, Congress on Monday claimed that if voted to power, it will probe the post-note ban deposits in tax havens and Indian banks, including a Gujarat bank with BJP President Amit Shah as its director which had netted a very high amount of money. Congress' fresh attack against Modi on demonetisation came following revelations that RBI had contested the impact of the move, particularly in the context of its stated objective of curbing black money and counterfeit notes. Citing the minutes of RBI's central board of directors' meeting held just prior to Modi's Nov.8, 2016, announcement, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said govt imposed demonetisation on RBI and termed it a "huge money lacquering scheme".IANS
Balakot strike was done for sole purpose of winning LS elections: Farooq Abdullah
Srinagar:NC president Farooq Abdullah Monday made serious allegations against BJP-led Centre, saying it ordered the air strike in Pakistan’s Balakot with the “sole purpose” of winning Lok Sabha elections.He alleged BJP has “failed” on all fronts and it was apprehended that there would be a fight or skirmish with Pakistan before the polls so that PM Narendra Modi becomes some kind of an “avatar” without whom India cannot survive.“This surgical strike (air strike) was done only for the purpose of election...totally for the election. We lost an aircraft worth crores of rupees. Be thankful that IAF pilot  survived and returned from Pakistan with respect,” Abdullah told reporters here.HT 
‘Need responsible solution’, says China on terrorist tag for Masood Azhar
China on Monday said it was only through discussions that a “responsible solution” could come out on the issue of listing JeM leader Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the UNSC.Chinese foreign ministry’s comment comes in the backdrop of US, UK and France moving a fresh proposal at the UNSC to list Azhar as a global terrorist in the aftermath of attack in Pulwama. According to reports, the resolution was expected to be taken up by 1267 committee of UNSC on March 13. China has thrice blocked the move by India and other UN members, interpreted by observers as a result of Beijing-Islamabad’s close ties. According to reports, the resolution was expected to be taken up by 1267 committee of UNSC on March 13. China has thrice blocked the move by India and other UN members, interpreted by observers as a result of Beijing-Islamabad’s close ties.“China (has) adopted a responsible attitude, follows the rules of the procedure of the committee and participated in the discussions in a responsible manner. Only through discussions can we come up with a responsible solution,” Lu said.HT
Govt committed to build of temple in Ayodhya:RSS
RSS has asserted that the central government is committed to the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to refer the long-pending title suit to a mediation panel. Sangh, the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP, also said its views on the Ram temple issue remains unchanged.“It was expected from the government that it will bring an ordinance to clear way for construction of Ram temple but it could not,” RSS general secretary Bhaiyaji Joshi told reporters after conclusion of the 3-day conclave of its highest decision-making body, Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), here in Madhya Pradesh. PTI
Ayodhya: AIMMM urges expansion of Mediation team
New Delhi:Navaid Hamid, President of All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat (AIMMM), confederation of major Muslim organisation and Apex body of Indian Muslims appreciates Supreme Court concern for resolving Ayodhya dispute and urges expansion of Mediation team. AIMMM appreciates Hon’ble Supreme Court concern for resolving the Babri Masjid – Ram Janam Bhoomi dispute and its verdict to constitute a Mediation team.AIMMM strongly thinks that though all efforts for a negotiated settlement of the 70 years old dispute had failed in past and there are little chances for it in future too but still there is no harm if SC monitored mediation team explores ways to resolve the dispute with a clean slate and in a non-partisan manner.siasat
National Ganga Council Headed by Modi Has Not Met Even Once
New Delhi: There has not been even a single meeting of National Ganga Council (NGC) headed by PM Narendra Modi thus far, a Right to Information query filed by The Wire has revealed. According to the regulations, NGC is supposed to meet at least once every year.NGC was formed in Oct.2016. Its purpose is to preserve, protect and manage the Ganga river waters. On Oct.7, 2016, a notification issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation stated that the NGC should hold one or more meetings every year, at its discretion. However,information obtained from National Clean Ganga Mission, a body under the water ministry, has revealed that more than two years since its formation, the NGC has not held a single meeting. NGC is perhaps the largest committee overseeing work being done towards cleaning the Ganga.the wire
MP Govt makes computer Baba head of river trust
New Delhi:Congress govt in MP has appointed Namdev Tyagi – aka Computer Baba – as the chairman of the Ma Narmada, Ma Kshipra evam Ma Mandakini River Trust.The same Hindu seer was granted minister of state status by the previous BJP govt in MP, led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In April 2018, Computer Baba cancelled a planned stir around Narmada conservation after he was granted MoS status. However, he resigned months later and even campaigned against BJP in the run-up to the state assembly elections.In a March 8 order – just days before Model Code of Conduct kicked in – the Kamal Nath govt announced Computer Baba’s trust chairmanship. The order does not mention what status or perks he will enjoy with this position, Indian Express reported.“The state government has appointed Namdev Das Tyagi aka Computer Baba, resident of Gommat Giri Ashram, Indore, as chairman of ‘Ma Narmada, Ma Kshipra and Ma Mandakini Nadi Nyas (River Trust)’ till further orders. The appointment will be effective with immediate effect,” TOI quoted order as saying.thewire
Nashik priest close to VHP & RSS arrested in Dubai for duping royal family
The arrest of an Indian priest when he landed at Dubai on Thursday morning and the subsequent diplomatic effort by India to secure his release on bail has become a talking point in Dubai’s Indian community. The arrested priest-turned-businessman is said to be close to senior RSS office bearers. Some people in Dubai told the National Herald that he claimed to represent no less than RSS chief.While Dubai Police remained tight-lipped, it is claimed that the ‘businessman priest’ was arrested following complaints from a member of the royal family that he was misusing the family’s name to raise capital.While influential members of Dubai’s Indian community said that Indian Consul General himself had reached the police station to ensure his bail, the CG himself, when contacted, was evasive. He had been told that an Indian by that name had landed into some trouble, said the CG Vipul who had worked with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj before taking up his assignment in Dubai.“He was in some trouble,” Consul General of India in Dubai, Vipul, said but didn’t disclose the charges framed against Prabhakar. “I will need to check exact status.”nationalheraldindia
Meerut arson: BJP ‘disowns’ minority cell member named accused
The ruling BJP has “disowned” its Meerut unit minority cell member soon after his name emerged as the third accused in the list by SIT probing the violence, arson and widespread loot that took place during a protest against anti-encroachment drive on March 6.The first 2 accused —Ishtiaq (30) and Abbas (34) — were arrested by the Meerut police in connection with the case. BJP member Shahid Bharti (28) is the third out of the total 30 identified among 80 suspects shortlisted by SIT through three videos and eight photographs.SSP Nitin Tiwari has announced a reward of Rs 25,000 for any clue on the hideouts of the 30 identified persons.“Earlier, he was a member of the party’s cell but he has not been with us for a long time. We have directed our cadre to remove posters and are also going for a verification of our existing office-bearers of the minority cell in Meerut,” said Tehseen Ali, district chief of the cell.indianexpress
Bajrangi given bail while Sanjiv Bhatt remains behind bars: activists aghast
"What goes for the rule of law recently in our country is very distressing. The slow and surreptitious reduction in sentences to the few convicted of crimes in carnage across the country is very disturbing as are the sedition and other charges against activists”, says renowned dancer-cum-social activist Mallika Sarabhai.Mallika was referring to the granting of bail to Babu Bajrangi, convicted in post-Godhra carnage, and denial of bail to whistle-blower former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt.Gujarat High Court recently rejected the bail plea of Sanjiv Bhatt and directed the trial court to speed track the hearing of 23-year-old case against him in six months. Sanjiv Bhatt is lodged in Palanpur district jail since Sept.5, 2018 after he was picked up from his home for “questioning”. Voicing similar concern, human rights activist and veteran journalist Prakash Shah said, “If Bajrangi can be freed and Sanjiv Bhatt remains in jail, it obviously shows the crooked ways of rulers in Gujarat.”nationalheraldindia
Civil Aviation Security chief Rakesh Asthana among 3 officers to get top pay scale
Civil Aviation Security chief Rakesh Asthana, who hogged the headlines due to his bitter fight with former CBI chief Alok Verma, is among 3 IPS officers who have been given the top pay scale, according to a Personnel Ministry order.Asthana, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, along with the head of NIA Y C Modi were given the top pay scale of Rs 2.25 lakh, it said.PTI
Surf Excel Holi ad upsets right-wing activists for depicting Hindu-Muslim harmony
 Detergent brand Surf Excel is facing heat for its new Surf Excel Holi ad. The company who is known for its heart-warming advertisements with social messages, this time also Surf Excel tried to deliver the message of communal harmony and friendship through the latest Surf Excel Holi ad. According to the reports, Surf Excel released the Holi ad, on Hindu-Muslim harmony concept and the one minute video has been garnering a huge response on social media platforms. But at the same time, some people are criticising the ad.Holi ad video features 2 kids – a young girl on a bicycle and a boy doning skull cap. After dropping the Muslim kid to the Mosque, the boy says he will return in a while and the girl says but after you offer the prayers, we will stain you will Holi colours. The ad ends with punch line ‘Rang Laaye Sang’ and Surf Excel’s tag line daag acche hain.NewsX
Suleman Usman Bakery firing case: If I had support, I would have fought, says first panch witness
Mumbai:On Feb.13, when the trial in Suleman Usman Bakery firing case finally began after 26 years, Mohammed Farooq Shaikh (57), the first panch witness examined in the sessions court, said that he does not remember anything. But days later, Shaikh, a shop owner selling footwear right outside Suleman Usman Bakery, said that if he had the necessary backing, he would have said all that he knew about Jan.9, 1993.“Agar koi mazboot aadmi sar par hota, to apan fight bhi karte (If I had strong support, I would have fought),” he said, sitting in his tiny shop on Mohammed Ali Road, a few feet away from the bakery.Following the Babri mosque demolition in 1992, riots were witnessed in Mumbai for 5 days in Dec.1992 and 15 days in Jan.1993. On Jan.9, 1993, amid curfew, a special operations squad of the police had opened fire on Suleman Usman Bakery, the Dar-ul-uloom Imdadiya madrasa located above it and an adjacent mosque, allegedly following a tip off that rioters were housed in the building. 9 persons were killed and 12 injured in the incident. The police had claimed that they retaliated after being attacked by soda bottles and acid bulbs when they broke open the door of the bakery. indian express
WORLD
Hamas: Abbas’ new government ‘reinforces division’
Hamas has condemned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ nomination of Mohammed Shtayyeh as the new prime minister, saying this “reinforces internal division”.In a statement, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “new government formed without consensus. It reflects Abbas’ unilateralism and monopoly of power.”Barhoum added: “Abbas also ignored previous reconciliation agreements, and in doing so he is preparing for separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and is reinforcing the internal Palestinian division.”Therefore, Barhoum stressed that his movement “does not recognise this separatist government because it was formed without national consensus.”He stated that the best way to solve the internal Palestinian deadlock is “to reorganise the current Palestinian situation, form a national unity government and hold the Palestinian general elections, including presidential, parliamentarian and national council elections.”This statement followed the nomination of the senior Fatah leader and former minister Shtayyeh as a prime minister.“In line with the instructions of President Abbas, the duty of our government is to ensure the unity, to end the division and to bring the national legitimacy to Gaza,” Shtayyeh said. However, Shtayyeh’s nomination was widely condemned by all the Palestinian factions.MEMO
Popular court in Gaza indicts PA president for crimes against Palestinians
Popular court in Gaza indicted on Sunday Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah and PLO President Mahmoud Abbas for “crimes he committed against the Palestinians,” Safa news agency reported.The virtual trial was organised by Popular Movement for National Salvation (PMNS) in partnership with graduates, tribes leaders and families of prisoners, martyrs and the wounded who had their salaries cut by Abbas.Judges and lawyers for Abbas and witnesses attended the trial where the president was represented through recordings of his previous speeches.The attorney general read the indictment which included charges of misusing power, causing death of tens of Palestinians after depriving them of treatment, cutting salaries and aid for widows and orphans and cutting electricity supplies for Gaza, as well as taking part in the Gaza blockade.MEMO
Hamas says awaiting Israeli response on truce
GAZA:Palestinian resistance group Hamas awaits an Israeli reply to its conditions for halting the weekly anti-occupation protests in the Gaza Strip, a leading Hamas member said Monday. "Hamas is waiting for an Egyptian delegation to return to Gaza in a few days to study the Israeli response," Suhail al-Hindi said. An Egyptian delegation conducting a shuttle diplomacy between Hamas and Israel visited Gaza last week for talks with Hamas leaders regarding a truce between the two sides. During the talks, al-Hindi said, Hamas has reiterated its demands, including lifting Israel's years-long siege on Gaza, increasing the fishing zone for Palestinian fishermen and solving a chronic power crisis in the strip. He said the Egyptian delegation also conveyed Israeli demands, including halting the launch of arson balloons from Gaza into Israel. Anadolu Agency
Netanyahu: Israel is a state 'only of the Jewish people'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is "not a state of all its citizens", in a reference to the country's Palestinian Arab population, adding that all citizens, including Arabs, had equal rights.However, in his comments on Instagram, Netanyahu referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people."Israel is not a state of all its citizens," he wrote in response to criticism from an Israeli actor, Rotem Sela."According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people - and only it."aljazeera
Iran President Rouhani in Baghdad to 'expand ties with Iraq'
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has arrived in Baghdad on his first official visit to the nation that Tehran once fought a bloody war against and later backed in the battle with ISIL group.Rouhani was welcomed by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Hakim on Monday.He will visit a Shia shrine in the Iraqi capital and then meet President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mehdi, as well as visit other politicians and Shia leaders. Since Rouhani's election in 2013, Iraq has relied on Iranian paramilitary support to fight ISIL following the group's capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul and other territories in both Iraq and Syria.Now, with the armed fighters facing a final territorial defeat in the Syrian village of Baghouz, Iran is looking for Iraq's continued support as it faces a maximalist pressure campaign by Donald Trump after his decision to withdraw US from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. Rouhani's visit is a strong message to US and its regional allies that Iran still dominates Baghdad, a key arena for rising tension between Washington and Tehran.aljazeera
4 civilians killed in regime attacks in Syria's Idlib
IDLIB:4 civilians were killed in attacks by regime forces and Iran-backed terror groups on residential areas in Syria's northwestern Idlib late Sunday, according to the White Helmets civil defense agency.Mustafa Haj Yusuf, head of the White Helmets in Idlib, told Anadolu Agency that 51 rockets struck the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib's south, killing four and injuring six, including women and children.On Sunday, regime forces also attacked a center of the White Helmets in Idlib, killing a civil defense worker.Anadolu Agency
Taliban Founder Mullah Omar Lived Just 3 Miles Away From US Bases in Afghanistan, Reveals Biography
Islamabad: Taliban founder Mullah Omar lived within walking distance of US bases in Afghanistan for years, according to a new book that highlights embarrassing failures of American intelligence.Washington believed the one-eyed, fugitive leader had fled to Pakistan, but the new biography says Omar was in fact living just three miles from a major US Forward Operating Base in his home province of Zabul before his death in 2013."Searching for an Enemy", by Dutch journalist Bette Dam, reveals the Taliban chief lived as a virtual hermit, refusing visits from his family and filling notebooks with jottings in an imaginary language.Dam spent more than 5 years researching the book and interviewed Jabbar Omari, Omar's bodyguard who hid and protected him after the Taliban regime was overthrown. According to the book, Omar listened to BBC's Pashto-language news broadcasts in the evenings, but even when he learned about the death of al-Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden rarely commented on developments in the outside world.PTI
Malaysia deports 6 Egyptians despite concerns over torture, rights abuses
Malaysia has deported 6 Egyptians and a Tunisian suspected of being linked to outlawed groups abroad, despite protests from human rights groups.The suspects include 5 people who allegedly confessed to being part of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, IGP Mohamad Fuzi Harun said.Rights groups say that members of the group face possible torture and persecution in Egypt, which brands them as "terrorists". 5 Egyptians confessed to being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and are accused of providing shelter, transport and employment for the two linked to Ansar al Sharia.Amnesty International Malaysia said the Egyptians deported were now at risk of enforced disappearance, torture, prolonged detention and unfair trials.trtworld
Crashed Ethiopian plane had at least 19 UN officials on board
United Nations had at least 19 officials on the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed Sunday morning, some of whom were en route to a major environmental conference in Nairobi, Kenya. No one on board survived.The World Food Program, the UN Refugee Agency and Food and Agriculture Organization were among UN agencies reporting personnel losses. The casualty list also included a professor, CEO of a restaurant company and a Kenyan soccer official.French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are among those expected to attend the UN Environment Assembly, set to begin Monday, along with more than 4,700 heads of state, ministers and executives. Outcomes from the meeting are to set the global environmental agenda and boost chances of success in the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda, according to a UN press release.The meeting will go on as scheduled, said Laurent Gallissot, Secretary General of One Planet Summit.HT
UN consultant with environment ministry among 4 Indians killed in Ethiopia plane crash
4 Indians, including a UN consultant attached with the Environment Ministry, were among those killed when a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed after taking-off from Addis Ababa, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.PTI
Turkey's economy slips into recession, according to new figures
New figures show Turkey's economy went into recession in 2018, even as the country's finance minister claimed the worst of the economy's woes were behind it.Turkish Statistical Institute said on Monday that the country's economy shrunk 2.3 percent in the last quarter of 2018.This followed a 1.6 percent drop the previous quarter, meeting the technical definition of a recession. Turkey's economy has been in crisis for over a year. The value of the lira plummeted in 2018, coinciding with a trade war and diplomatic spat with the US, while unemployment and inflation have risen.In the run-up to local elections on 31 March, the government has instituted policies to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis, including opening government-backed grocery shops and loan guarantees for businesses.Despite the gloomy news, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said he believed the worst was over and that he expected the economy to have returned to growth by the end of 2019.middleeasteye
Flash: views & NEWS

Mediation In Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid Case Is Highly Recommended : Fali Nariman
'Our Only Mistake Was Being Born Muslim': A 25-Year Fight Against Terror Charges:Sukanya Shantha
Framing of the arbitration in Ayodhya dispute raises questions: Pratap Bhanu Mehta
It is time to thank God for services provided and jettison the concept: Tahir Mahmood
SC seems to have learnt from its mistakes in Bhopal case while setting terms for Ayodhya mediation: Indira Jaising
Lok Sabha election: Kashmir plunges into political uncertainty over President's Rule, crackdown on separatists: Sameer Yasir
Balakot Airstrikes are a Replay of Modi’s Notebandi Strategy:Asim Ali


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