14 March 2019

14 March ND:On Rafale papers secrecy claims, SC cites post-RTI "revolution"; reserves order/China places hold on listing Azhar as designated terrorist/Ayodhya Mediators Ban Reporting of Proceedings in Print and Other Media

NEWS DIGEST, Afternoon 
14 March 2019: 06 Rajab 1440:Vol: 11, No:151
On Rafale papers secrecy claims, SC cites post-RTI "revolution"; reserves order
New Delhi:The concept of confidentiality in documents has undergone a change since the Right To Information Act was put in place, the Supreme Court indicated today during the hearing of petitions that sought review of the judgment in the Rafale case. Seeking that the petitions be dismissed, the Centre has argued that the petitioners have illegally got access to classified documents and made them public. "File notings have lost the sanctity they had...RTI brought about a revolution, a complete change.In cases of corruption and human rights violations, even sensitive organisations have to disclose information under RTI,"said the bench led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi."According to you, these documents affect national security and court should not interfere... we have to consider it under the RTI act,"said CJI. Petitioner Prashant Bhushan, he said, could file a reply if he wants.The court has reserved its judgment on whether there has been any breach of confidentiality. Targeting The Hindu paper over its investigative stories on the purchase of the jets, Centre yesterday said the petitioners have violated Official Secrets Act and endangered national security. None of the documents given to court violates national security, argued lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is one of the petitioners in the case. "When public knew the documents as it had been published, how can the Centre say the court must not look into the documents," Bhushan said. Citing the US verdict on Pentagon papers leak, he said once documents are published, the government can no longer claim privilege. Regarding the govt's argument that the documents have been accessed through illegal means, he said, "If a document is relevant in deciding a fact, it is irrelevant how it was obtained".NDTV
SC reserves order on Centre claiming privilege over ‘leaked’ Rafale files
China places hold on listing Azhar as designated terrorist
Washington: China has placed a technical hold on the listing request for JeM leader Masood Azhar at UNSC 1267 Committee. No reason for a hold — which lasts for 3 months and then can be extended for another 6 — need be given, and China gave none, diplomatic sources at UN said. “ISIL Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee (1267 Sanctions Committee) was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Masood Azhar under UN Sanctions regime, on account of a member placing the proposal on hold,”a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement said, adding “We are disappointed by this outcome”.“We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” MEA said. “We are disappointed by this outcome,” an MEA statement read. The listing request, which was co-sponsored by US, UK and France on Feb.27, came in response to the Pulwama attack. the hindu
UNSC may seek other possible action if China continues blocking Azhar listing as terrorist: diplomat
Outraged by China blocking for the fourth time a UNSC move to designate Masood Azhar a global terrorist, Council members have warned that they “may be forced to pursue other actions” if Beijing continued with this policy.There is an “undeniable” case for listing Azhar as a global terrorist, according to a UNSC diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.The diplomat also warned of other possible action at the UNSC should China continue to block Azhar’s designation.thehindu
Azhar’s designation should be based on trilateral consensus: China
Beijing: Hours after blocking a UN ban on Masood Azhar, China has made it plain that it would consider shifting its position on designating the head of JeM as an international terrorist only after reaching a consensus to do so among Beijing,New Delhi and Islamabad. In response to a question, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang signaled that Beijing was ready to back a triangular formula that would also involve Pakistan on designating Azhar as a global terrorist in the UNSC’s 1267 committee.“I said earlier that only a solution that is acceptable to all sides could be fundamentally providing a chance of lasting solution to the issue,” Lu said.The spokesperson added that there would be no lag in its diplomatic activism to get all the three countries on board.“China is ready to communicate and coordinate with all sides including India to properly handle this issue,” he observed.thehindu
Samjhauta Express blast case: Hearing postponed to March 18
Panchkula:The hearing on the Samjhauta Express blast case of 2007 in the special NIA court here was on Thursday has been postponed for March 18.Advocate Mukesh Garg, one of the counsel for the accused Swami Aseemanand, told reporters “Hearing was scheduled for today, however, the district bar association of Panchkula had suspended work on some local issue. In wake of this, the court adjourned the matter and the fixed the next date of hearing on March 18.”Trial in the case has concluded and the court was expected to deliver a verdict on March 11. However, Rahila Wakeel, a Pakistani national and daughter of one of the victims of the blast had on March 11, filed a petition through advocate Momin Malik, to get her statement recorded as witness in the 12-year-old case.Former RSS member Aseemanand is the prime accused in the case.thehindu
Pakistan woman urges NIA not to oppose plea in Samjhauta case
Kartarpur corridor talks: India asks Pakistan for visa-free access for 5,000 pilgrims per day
New Delhi:During the discussion over the Kartarpur Sikh corridor, India today asked Pakistan to give visa-free access to at least 5000 pilgrims per day. A joint statement issued after the talks said both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the project and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalising Kartapur Sahib Corridor (KSC).“Our side pressed on the need for arranging the visit of at least 5000 pilgrims per day, to begin with, in phase 1 of the project. This should include not only Indian nationals but people of Indian origin as well,” MHA official SCL Das said.Keeping in mind the special days including Gurupurab and Baisakhi when corridor would receive a massive footfall, Das added.indianexpress
Ayodhya Mediators Ban Reporting of Proceedings in Print and Other Media
New Delhi:The Supreme Court appointed mediation committee for the resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in an order dated March 13, directed that there should “not be any reporting of the mediation proceedings in print or other media”.The order, signed by committee chairman F.M.I. Kalifulla, is in line with the what the Supreme Court had said while ruling in favour of mediation. The court had said:“We are also of the view that mediation proceedings should be conducted with utmost confidentiality so as to ensure its success which can only be safeguarded by directing that the mediation proceedings and those views expressed therein by any of the parties included and learned mediators shall be kept confidential and not be revealed to any other person.”The committee reportedly heard everyone who attended the proceedings after notices had been issued to all parties to different civil appeals pending before the SC regarding the issue.thewire
Ayodhya dispute: 50 Litigants and counsels appear before SC-appointed mediation panel
Didn’t let BJP crack down on J&K Jamaat-e-Islami, Hurriyat: Mehbooba Mufti
Srinagar :Former J&K chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has said BJP wanted to ban J&K Jamaat-e-Islami and crack down on Hurriyat leaders when her party was in a coalition with BJP in the state, but she didn’t let them do it.“BJP wanted to crack down on Jamaat-e-Islami, a crackdown on moulvis. I didn’t let them do it. BJP wanted to carry out NIA raids on Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others. But I didn’t let them do it,” Mehbooba said while addressing a workers’ convention in north Kashmir’s Bandipora. She also said that Kashmir is used whenever elections take place in the country. “In the 2014 polls, during Congress govt, Afzal Guru was hanged to show the country what they have done. Today…BJP has started raids, banned JeI, summoned Mirwaiz.”indian express
Religious leaders withdraw shutdown call after Mirwaiz request
Srinagar:A day after all religious leaders in the Valley rallied behind Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and called for a shutdown to protest against NIA's summons to him in a case of alleged terror funding, the shutdown call was withdrawn on Wednesday on the request of Mirwaiz.Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference also convened an emergency meeting in Srinagar to discuss the issue. Hurriyat has said that a “hostile environment is being wilfully generated to cause harassment”.On Wednesday, Mutahida Ulema Council — an amalgam of religious leaders— withdrew the shutdown call after a request from Mirwaiz. indian express
National Conference leader MI Wani shot at by unknown gunmen, injured
New Delhi:National Conference leader Mohammad Ismail Wani was reportedly shot at by unknown gunmen earlier today in Anantnag.Wani, the block president of the Bijbehara block in South Kashmir, is reported to have suffered some seriously.Reacting to news of the incident, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, “My @JKNC_ colleague Mohd Ismail Wani, block President Bijbehara block in South Kashmir of has been shot & injured. He has been referred to Srinagar. Praying for his recovery.”HT
Shah Faesal set to launch party on March 17, Shehla Rashid may join
Srinagar :Former bureaucrat Shah Faesal is set to launch his own political party on Sunday. Amid speculation that he would be joining the National Conference, Faesal has been travelling through different districts in the Valley, meeting and bringing “like-minded individuals” into the fold. Among them is ex JNU Students’ Union vice-president Shehla Rashid.Rashid, who is pursuing a PhD at JNU, is the first of many names expected to join Faesal’s political venture. Faesal will launch his party from Srinagar. Indian express
Data on Jobs Created Under Mudra Won't Be Released Before Elections: Report
New Delhi: Results of a survey on jobs created under Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (Mudra) scheme, conducted by the Labour Bureau, will not be released before the 2019 elections, the Indian Express has reported.“Number of jobs created under the Mudra scheme will be released after the polls as the expert committee found anomalies in the methodology used by Bureau in arriving at the findings,” the newspaper quoted sources as saying.The Mudra scheme, Modi’s govt flagship programme to encourage self-employment, was launched in 2015.This is the third time the Modi government has delayed – or entirely scrapped – the release of jobs data. The government was reportedly planning to use the Labour Bureau’s Mudra survey after it did away with the National Sample Survey Office’s report on unemployment.The unreleased NSSO survey – leaked in the Business Standard – said that unemployment reached a 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18. This was the first jobs survey conducted after demonetisation. Expert members of the National Statistical Commission – including the acting chairman – resigned in protest after the government did not release the data despite their green light.In addition to this, the Centre has also failed to release details of the Labour Bureau’s sixth annual employment-unemployment survey, despite the Union labour and employment minister approving the reports.Results reportedly indicate that India’s unemployment rate hit a four-year high of 3.9% in 2016-17.The Labour Bureau’s Mudra survey too has hit a roadblock. According to the Indian Express, experts committee asked bureau to “reconcile some errors” at a meeting on Friday. The Labour Bureau asked for two months to do that – which means the results will not be public before the upcoming elections.thewire/ Indian Express
Even Mudra job survey data put in deep freeze:Indian Express
Gorakhpur infants deaths: Allahabad HC orders Yogi govt to complete Dr Kafeel case in 90 days
Allahabad High Court has ordered the Yogi Adityanath government to complete its enquiry against suspended paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan of BRD Medical College within 3 months. The Yogi government had made Khan the scapegoat in the deaths of many infants due to Japanese Encephalitis in Gorakhpur even though he had to save lives by bringing private oxygen cylinders in his car after the oxygen supply in the hospital had exhausted. At least 70 infants had died within 54 hours in August 2017 due to Japanese Encephalitis. Nine people were suspended, including three doctors Dr Rajiv Mishra, Dr Satish Kumar and Dr Khan.“Let us see if they complete the case. We still have the option of going to the Supreme Court. UP government has lied in court that I was not cooperating with the enquiry. If that is the case, then why are the other doctors still under suspension? We are going to file a review petition against this response. The High Court had given me a clean chit when they gave me bail after being in jail for 9 months. They said I was not involved in the tendering of oxygen,” emphasised Khan.nationalheraldindia
21 Opposition Parties Move Top Court On Voting Machines, Hearing Tomorrow
New Delhi: Less than a month before the national elections, 21 opposition parties have approached the Supreme Court, asking for Electronic Voting Machines would be tinker-proof. The court will hear their petitions tomorrow.The petitioners want more safety norms and strict standards for EVMs. They also want 50 per cent of VVPAT to be tallied with the voting machines.The parties that went to court include the Congress, Chandrababu Naidu's TDP, Sharad Pawar's NCP, Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, Left parties, Samajwadi Party and Mayawati.Since the 2017 assembly elections in which the BJP had a sweeping victory in Uttar Pradesh, the opposition contended that the voting machines have been tinkered with. Mayawati has called for a return to paper ballots.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Unveils People’s Manifesto; Demands Security, Reservation for Muslims
New Delhi:Releasing people’s manifesto for the present Lok Sabha elections, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, one of the largest Muslim Organizations in India, demanded security for Muslims and deprived sections, reservation for minorities especially Muslims, protection of religious and cultural rights of minorities,police reforms, introduction of interest-free banking and implementation of Sachar committee recommendations. The manifesto was released by Jamaat chief Syed Jalaluddin Umari at Press Club of India in New Delhi.“We will send our manifesto and approach to all political parties who believe in democracy and secularism,” said Jamaat’s vice-president Nusrat Ali while releasing the manifesto. “We not only want them to accept this manifesto but also implement it,” said Mohammed Salim, General Secretary of Jamaat, while interacting with media-persons.The manifesto highlighted many crucial issues concerning the country and its people such as right to livelihood, affirmative action for deprived sections, independence of state institutions i.e CBI and RBI, employment, agriculture, education policy, security regulations and proper use of wakf properties. Demanding reservation for minorities and Muslims in particular, the manifesto said “Indian Muslims are a deprived lot, it is necessary to provide reservation for them. Hence the Ranganath Misra Commission’s report should be implemented. Reservation to all minorities should be provided in education and jobs. Among such reserved positions; 2/3rd  should be marked for Muslims”.Caravan News
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Releases 'People's Manifesto': Inclusive Education, Employment, Reforms in Focus
Raj Babbar, Shinde in Congress’s 2nd Lok Sabha list
Congress has released its second list of Lok Sabha candidates, fielding its Uttar Pradesh unit chief Raj Babbar from Moradabad and former Union Ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde from Maharashtra's Solapur and Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur.The second list of 21 candidates, five from Maharashtra and 16 from Uttar Pradesh, includes two MPs who joined it after quitting the BJP- Nana Patole from Nagpur and Savitri Phule from Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich.Patole, who had joined Congress in 2018, heads the All India Kisan Congress. Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is the sitting MP from Nagpur and Patole will face him if he recontests from there.Former Samajwadi Party MP Rakesh Sachan has been made Congress candidate from UP's Fatehpur.In Maharashtra, the party has fielded late actor and former Union Minister Sunil Dutt's daughter Priya Dutt from Mumbai North Central and Milind Deora from Mumbai South.Nandev Dalluji Usendi is the party nominee from Gadchiroli-Chimur.In Uttar Pradesh, party has fielded Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur, Ratna Singh from Pratapgarh, Omwati Devi Jatav from Nagina, Zafar Ali Naqvi from Kheri, Kaisar Jahan from Sitapur, Manjari Rahi from Misrikh, Ramashankar Bhargava from Mohanlalganj, Parvez Khan from Sant Kabir Nagar, Kush Saurabh from Bansgaon, Pankaj Mohan Sonkar from Lalganj, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi from Mirzapur and Bhagwati Prasad Choudhary from Robertsganj.IANS
Priyanka meets Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar who says will fight against PM Modi
New Delhi :A day after BSP chief Mayawati ruled out a tie-up with the Congress in any state, Congress Uttar Pradesh east general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Wednesday met Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad at a Meerut hospital.Azad was admitted to Anand Hospital Tuesday when he fell ill after being detained by the Saharanpur Police for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct in Deoband.While the meeting signalled a possible Congress understanding with the Bhim Army, Priyanka said her meeting with Azad had no political connotations. Bhim Army declared, soon after the meeting, that it would contest the LS polls and that Azad would take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi.Hours after the meeting, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav met Mayawati at her Lucknow residence in what Akhilesh said was to discuss Mahaparivartan.Following 2-hour meeting, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said they met to discuss upcoming Lok Sabha polls and was not connected to Priyanka meeting Azad.Asked about the possibility of Azad contesting from the Nagina seat in UP, she said, “There is nothing like this. Nothing political. I like his enthusiasm. I like the fact that he is struggling and raising the voice of his people,” she said. Priyanka was accompanied by AICC general secretary in charge of UP West Jyotiraditya Scindia and state party chief Raj Babbar.Asked about Priyanka’s visit, Azad said: “It wasn’t political at all.” Azad said, “We haven’t forgotten the previous 4-and-a-half years. The way Dalits have been tortured and killed on the basis of caste. Muslims have been killed on the basis of cows. There were attempts to cause riots in Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr.The way SC, ST (Atrocities) Act has been weakened.”National President of Bhim Army, Vinay Ratan Singh said that Priyanka’s visit came as a complete surprise.Along with taking on the Prime Minister, he said Bhim Army will also “put up a candidate against (Textile Minister) Smriti Irani in the constituency she chooses to contest from”. He said they will support any Opposition candidate, who it believed could defeat the BJP.indian express
Union Minister Hegde targets Rahul again: ‘Can son of Muslim give proof he is Brahmin?’
Bengaluru: Union Minister of State for Skill Development Ananth Kumar Hegde has again questioned Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s claims of being a Hindu and a Brahmin by raising the issue of his parentage.On March 9, Hegde said that Congress and Rahul were questioning the recent strikes in Pakistan by BJP govt while the Congress chief’s claims of being a Hindu were in question. Hegde is MP from Uttara Kannada.“They want proof it seems (of the airstrikes in Pakistan). They want proof of what the soldiers have done. Can this son of a Muslim give proof that he is a Brahmin as he claims? His father is a Muslim and mother is a Christian, how did he become a Brahmin? Can he provide any proof?” Hegde said.Hegde, a Brahmin,has repeatedly questioned Rahul’s claims of being a Brahmin over the past few months. indian express
Kejriwal’s desperate plea to Rahul , asks him to ‘consider’ on alliance with AAP in Haryana
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has made a desperate plea to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, asking him to consider stitching an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Haryana for this year’s Lok Sabha polls.Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal wrote, “People of this country want to defeat the duo of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. If JJP, AAP and Congress fight together, the BJP will face defeat in all 10 seats of Haryana. Rahul Gandhi ji, please consider this.”His tweet came amidst rising speculations on whether the two rival parties will strike a deal in Delhi for the Lok Sabha polls. Although the Delhi unit of the Congress has repeatedly said that there was no possibility of striking a deal with the AAP, latest reports suggest that Rahul Gandhi is seeking feedback from his supporters on the matter.jantakareporter
Owaisi likely to contest from a western UP seat
Bareilly: Will AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi contest from UP? If the local unit of party has its way, he may contest from one of the five seats of western UP, though his party is likely to contest from 20 seats in the state.Confirming this, national spokesperson of the party, Syed Asim Waqar, said that the party was planning to contest on five seats -- Aligarh, Sambhal, Firozabad, Moradabad and Rampur -- in west UP and Owaisi might contest from one of these, apart from his traditional Hyderabad, where he won in 2014. He said the party chief would take a final decision on this in a couple of days.Waqar said that both parties SP-BSP ask for Minority votes but they have never given them their due share.“They did not even consider Muslim parties for a grand alliance against the BJP,” he said adding that if Owaisi decides to contests from UP, it will be good for the community as he is the only leader who can consolidate Muslim votes and upset the calculations of SP-BSP and Congress.TOI
2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case: SC asks Gujarat govt to file affidavit convict's bail plea
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Gujarat government to file a detailed affidavit within two weeks in connection with the bail application of Prakash Rathod, a convict in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case.A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi also issued notice to the state government on an application filed another convict in the case for bail on medical grounds.During the hearing on Tuesday, Aparna Bhatt, a senior counsel who was asked by Justice Khanwilkar to appear and argue for victims/witnesses in the Naroda Patiya case, had opposed the bail application of Rathod.ANI
Civil Society Condemns Harassment of Ram Puniyani by Maharashtra Government
New Delhi — Civil society members have alleged that BJP-led Maharashtra government is harassing prominent rights activist Ram Puniyani who has been critical of the BJP and right-wing forces through security agency. Reportedly, a team of CID has conducted an unauthorized raid at his home and harassed his family.They accused that the government is trying to muzzle the voice of dissenters and the opposition. Writing to Mumbai Police Commissioner, they condemn the unauthorized raid conducted by the CID and demanded to order a probe into this whole episode and to book the guilty. Human rights activist Shabnam Hashimi, who issued the press statement on behalf of civil society, asked for the endorsement of the statement.caravandaily
Mumbai school teacher acquitted in terror case pens book on jail experience:ANI
Wahid Sheikh,a school teacher acquitted in 2006 Mumbai blasts case, has now turned author who has brought out a book that documents his experience in prison.Sheikh arrested in connection with 2006 Mumbai blasts case was acquitted of all charges in 2015 when trial concluded. After his acquittal,he resumed his teaching profession and also completed a law degree. Today, he is again in news for his book "Begunah Qaidi," (Innocent Prisoner) which he wrote while he was in prison. Recently, a Delhi-based publisher brought out the book in two languages--Hindi and Urdu.A thousand copies of the book have already been sold as of now. Sheikh expects that the book and his experiences will help other innocent people who are jailed for no reason.
Pansare case: Irked over probe, HC says state a ‘laughing stock’
Mumbai :Bombay High Court on Thursday said the state has been reduced to a “laughing stock” by adopting elementary methods in probing rationalist Govind Pansare’s killing.A bench of Justices SC Dharamadhikari and BP Colabawalla summoned Maharashtra Home Department’s additional chief secretary on March 28 to explain the cause of the slow progress made in the case. “Let the state feel some pressure. It must face consequences some day. For most often, the police gets away. No memos are issued, no explanations sought,” the bench said.PTI
Rampur: Unani Hospital evacuated ‘illegally’ by Azam brought back to Madrassa-i-Aliya building
Rampur: In a major setback to Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, Government Unani Hospital, which was allegedly evacuated by him during the Samajwadi Party regime in 2016 from century-old Madrassa-I-Aliya Oriental College, was on Wednesday shifted back to the building from its existing location the district hospital amid tight security. Issuing the order to shift the hospital back to the building, Rampur DM Anjaney Kumar Singh said, “According to the lease paper, building was transferred to Jauhar Trust of Azam Khan. But, the terms of lease do not mention shifting of Unani hospital from the building. Only a portion of the building was given to the Trust, which did not include the portion of the Unani hospital.” DM said, “In 2016, the building of Unani hospital was illegally occupied at the behest of the former minister. Following the legal course, I ordered the hospital authorities to take possession of the building in the public interest. An FIR has also been registered at the Ganj police station against those who had illegally occupied the building, following a complaint lodged by the chief medical superintendent of the hospital.”DM said in 2016, then government had transferred the building to Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust for 99 years on a lease, following which Azam established a branch of his trust-owned Rampur Public School there and evacuated the Unani hospital from the campus.Following the order of the state govt, said DM, an SIT probe has been initiated into the matter.SP workers, however, soon gathered near the premises and sat on a dharna, protesting against DM order. TOI
Azim Premji makes most generous donation in Indian history: gives 34% of his shares to charity - $7.5 billion
Azim Premji, billionaire chairman of Indian conglomerate Wipro Ltd., will give a further 34 percent of shares in the company worth $7.5 billion to support philanthropic activities, the most generous donation in Indian history. The shares held by entities controlled by Premji have been irrevocably renounced and earmarked to the Azim Premji Foundation, the foundation said in a statement on Wednesday.“With this action, the total value of the philanthropic endowment corpus contributed by Premji is $21 billion, which includes 67% of economic ownership of Wipro.”His foundation works directly in education and supports over 150 other non-profits serving under-privileged and marginalized Indians through multi-year financial grants. The foundation set up the Azim Premji University to develop professionals in education and related human development domains, offer degree and education programs, and conduct research.HT
US drops 'Israeli-occupied' designation from Golan Heights
US no longer refers to the Golan Heights as an "Israeli-occupied" territory in its latest annual human rights report, published on Wednesday, though the State Department insists the wording change doesn't mean a policy change.The report now calls the area the "Israeli-controlled Golan Heights".When asked about the change on such a sensitive Middle East subject, a senior US official told reporters in Washington: "There's no change in our outlook or our policy vis-a-vis these territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there.""This, by the way, is not a human rights issue, it's a legal status issue," said Michael Kozak of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor."What we try to do is to report on the human rights situation in those territories, and so you're just trying to find the way of describing the place that you're reporting on," he said. "And 'occupied territory' has a legal meaning to it; I think what they tried to do is to shift more to just a geographic description."Another semantic change that appeared in last year's report showed up again this year, with a section titled "Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza," instead of its previous "Israel and the Occupied Territories" heading.Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the US dropping the term “occupation” from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Syrian Golan Heights is "a continuation of the hostile approach of the American administration toward our Palestinian people and is contrary to all UN resolutions."He stressed, "These American titles will not change the fact that the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 and the occupied Arab Golan are territories under Israeli occupation in accordance with UN resolutions and international law," Abu Rudeinah said, as reported by Palestinian news agency Maan.aljazeera
Scores of settlers storm J'lem's Al-Aqsa Mosque complex
Jerusalem:Scores of Jewish settlers forced their way into Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex on Thursday, according to a Palestinian official. “About 150 Jewish settlers -- backed by at least 30 policemen -- have forced their way into the mosque compound since morning,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run agency tasked with overseeing the city's Muslim and Christian sites), told Anadolu Agency. After entering the compound through the Al-Mugharbah Gate, settlers proceeded to take a tour of the compound, passing through the courtyards of both the Al-Qibali and Dome of the Rock mosques, the official said. Anadolu Agency
Israel rounds up 15 Palestinians in occupied W.Bank
Ramallah:Israeli army detained at least 15 Palestinians in overnight raids carried out across the occupied West Bank, according to a military statement issued Thursday. The individuals were arrested for “suspected involvement in terrorist activities”, the army said, adding that they had since been referred to relevant authorities for further investigation. The Israeli army frequently carries out wide-ranging arrest campaigns across the occupied West Bank on the pretext of searching for “wanted” Palestinians. Anadolu
Top Brazilian officials oppose relocating embassy to Jerusalem
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is set to visit Israel at the end of the month, but senior officials remain opposed to his promise of relocating the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, reported Reuters.According to reports, the move is “opposed by military officers in his cabinet”.An unnamed Brazilian government official told Reuters yesterday “that no decision has been taken on the embassy move”.“Something will have to be said about the embassy during the trip,” said the official, adding that a formal announcement might not be made during the 31 March to 2 April visit.During his visit to Brasilia for the presidential inauguration in January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Bolsonaro had told him the relocation of Brazil’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a matter of “when not if”.
Israel has highest rate of poverty of any OECD country: new report
Israel “has highest rate of poverty of any Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country, according to a National Insurance Institute report”, the Jerusalem Post reported today.Poverty and “near poverty” rates are particularly acute amongst Palestinian citizens of Israel who have faced systematic discrimination since the state’s establishment in 1948.“Israel has the highest rate of poverty of any OECD country, according to a National Insurance Institute report published in December 2018”, the paper reported, “with the poverty line defined as half of the median disposable income, weighted by household size”.A new study published yesterday by Adva Centre “has revealed that the situation of those living in ‘near poverty” – those whose income lies between the poverty line and 25 percent above it – is not much better,” said the Jerusalem Post.MEMO
Attacks in Syria’s Idlib leave 15 dead: White Helmets
IDLIB:Regime shelling and Russian airstrikes killed 15 civilians in Syria’s Idlib, the White Helmets civil-defense agency said Thursday.  Along with regime artillery barrages, Russian SU-34 warplanes struck central Idlib and its rural outskirts, leaving 15 dead, including eight children, the White Helmets said.Regime attacks in Idlib’s de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited, are believed to have killed at least 138 civilians since Jan. 1. Anadolu Agency
US-backed forces pummel last Islamic State stronghold in Syria
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia has been bombarding Baghouz in an attempt to smash the last stand of Islamic State (IS) group in eastern Syria. Arab-Kurdish fighters, backed by US warplanes, have since Sunday launched an all-out assault on the enclave, but IS militants have kept up their underground defences, unleashing suicide bombers on the advancing forces.A spokesman for the SDF inside Baghouz, a collection of hamlets and farms, on Thursday said these tactics were preventing a speedy advance.'Those who stayed inside are mostly suicide bombers blowing themselves up, which is impeding the advance'- Jiaker Amed, SDF spokesman."There is progress but it is slow as the area is narrow," said Jiaker Amed, a spokesman for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), who make up the largest faction of the SDF.middleeasteye
US Senate passes bill to halt military support to Saudi in Yemen
Washington:US Senate voted 54 to 46 to block further involvement by US military in the war in Yemen, where bombings by Saudi Arabia and UAE, conducted with US weapons, are blamed for causing mass civilian deaths, starvation, and the spread of disease."We have the opportunity to take a major step forward in ending the horrific war in Yemen and alleviating that terrible, terrible suffering being experienced by the people in one of the poorest countries in the world," Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, said."There is no secret as to why there is a cholera epidemic. It's because the Saudis bombed the water treatment facilities so the water isn't clean anymore," said Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat.Aid groups estimate that as many as 60,000 civilians have been killed in the war and as many as 85,000 children starved to death.Senate action sends the resolution back to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve it a second time after having voted 248 to 177 on Feb.13 to approve the measure. The resolution is being brought forward under War Powers Act of 1973, a Vietnam War-era law that asserts Congress's authority over the deployment of US military power.Trump White House has threatened to veto the joint House and Senate resolution if it reaches the president's desk. aljazeera
Saudi official says kingdom pursuing justice for Khashoggi murder
The head of the Saudi human rights commission said on Thursday that the kingdom was bringing those accused over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to justice and rejected an international investigation into the case.Three dozen Western countries, including all 28 European Union members, called on Saudi Arabia last week to cooperate with a United Nations-led investigation into the murder of Khashoggi, a critic and Washington Post columnist.He was killed by Saudi agents October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Bandar bin Mohammed al-Aiban told UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) that those on trial for the "heinous crime" and "unfortunate accident" had attended three hearings so far with their lawyers present. He gave no names or details.aljazeera
US urges Muslim nations to condemn China's treatment of Uighurs, Muslim minorities in Xinjiang
Washington: US has voiced disappointment at the failure of Muslim nations to jointly take a stand against China's treatment of its Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province."We are, I can say, disappointed about the lack of response from members of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and the lack of outspoken concern," said US Ambassador Kelley Currie who heads the State Department's Office of Global Criminal Justice.Currie was speaking to reporters ahead of a US-sponsored event at UN headquarters in Geneva focused on allegations of mass-internment of Uighurs in China's restive Xinjiang province.While she applauded Turkey for its recent strong criticism of China's treatment of its Muslim minorities, she said Washington had hoped the IOC would have collectively condemned the situation in Xinjiang as it has done regarding rights abuses against Muslims in Myanmar and Syria.AFP
Brexit vote: UK parliament rejects 'no-deal' option
With just over two weeks to go until the Brexit deadline, the British parliament has signalled that it is strongly against leaving the European Union without a deal.After politicians rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to quit the EU for a second time on Tuesday, the government on Wednesday put forward a motion to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit on March 29, the current deadline.MPs then backed an amendment to that motion, which rules out a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. The motion as amended was passed by 321 votes to 278.Wednesday's vote is not legally binding, however, and does not rule out a no-deal Brexit altogether.A deal or another alternative needs Parliament's approval.MPs on Wednesday also voted down an amendment which resurrected elements of the "Malthouse compromise" for a "managed no-deal", supported by prominent Brexiters. That amendment included a delay to May 22 for preparations.PM confirmed that a vote on extending Article 50 will take place as promised tomorrow. aljazeera
New Algerian prime minister to form 'technocratic government'
New Algerian Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui said on Thursday that he will set up a technocratic interim government days after longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika opted out of the presidential race in the face of mass protests.Bedoui, who was appointed prime minister this week after his predecessor Ahmed Ouyahia resigned in the wake of the protests, said his new cabinet would be formed early next week and will include representatives of the young Algerians who have been staging mass protests to push for quick political changes.Bouteflika, the 82-year-old wheelchair-bound leader, also decided to delay the long-awaited election scheduled to be held in April, sparking countrywide protests.aljazeera
Muslim Brotherhood of Algeria: Bouteflika’s measures circumvent the will of the people
Movement of Society for Peace, Hamas (Muslim Brotherhood in Algeria) rejected recent the measures announced by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and suggested that the government is seeking to  pre-empt of the movement’s efforts to get the country out of its current political crisis. The Hamas movement had presented a political initiative to postpone the elections and the implementation of political and legal reforms which would establish guarantees of free and democratic elections. In a statement, Tuesday, the Movement of Society for Peace, said “the National Executive Office finds that the measures announced by the President of the Republic do not live up to the aspirations of the Algerian people, which took to the street in millions in different states demanding a real change.”The statement added that “these measures are meant to circumvent the will of the Algerians, prevent them from the historic opportunity to move Algeria towards the embodiment of popular will and to get rid of unilateralism.”It further confirmed that “the postponement measures announced are not compatible with the initiative of the Movement of Society for Peace, presented to the presidency and the opposition with due transparency and clarity. Such actions constitute an emptying of the content of the Movement’s initiative and a sense of abuse of its credibility, which cannot be accepted in any way.”middleeastmonitor
Flash: views & NEWS
With the RTI Law in Place, Rafale Deal Secrets Can't Be Called 'Stolen':M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Did Pak army admit 200 killed in Balakot? Indian media runs video without verification :/altnews
It hardly matters that Masood Azhar has escaped once again:Nirupama Subramanian
A Muslim can choose not to participate in Holi and still remain secular:Saba Rahman
Lok Sabha poll dates clash with Ramzan: Here’s how many seats, states will vote during the month of fasting
Balakot and After, or How to Build a Strategic Doctrine for Political Gain:Anand K. Sahay
Uttar Pradesh’s missing voters: Agricultural labourers move due to low incomes; Muslims, SC/STs in search of jobs:Varun Aggarwal
If India continues to politicise military, we may not look very different from Pakistan:LT GEN H S PANAG

Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:06 PM)


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