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Thursday, 18 April 2019

18 April ND: Election Commission suspends IAS officer Mohsin for checking PM's chopper; questions raised/Phase 2 Records 66% Turnout Even as IED Blast, Police Firings, Mob Attacks and EVM Glitches Mar Voting


NEWS DIGEST, EVENING 
18 April 2019: 12 Shaban 1440:Vol: 11, No:179
INDIA:ELECTIONS
Election Commission suspends IAS officer Mohsin for checking PM's chopper; questions raised
New Delhi:An IAS officer was suspended by the Election Commission last night for checking PM Narendra Modi's helicopter in Odisha's Sambalpur on Tuesday. Mohammed Mohsin "had not acted in conformity" with instructions on Special Protection Group (SPG) protectees, said the election body's order. But there is no rule that exempts anyone from such checks during polls, a fact that opposition parties like Congress flagged in tweets condemning move.Mohammed Mohsin, a 1996 batch Karnataka cadre IAS officer, has been accused of "insubordination and dereliction of duty". Reports say as a general observer of Sambalpur constituency, the officer had carried out a sudden check of PM Modi's helicopter, which delayed PM by 15 minutes. Asked to specify the rule that had been violated, an EC spokesperson said:"As cited in the order...instruction dated 10.4.14 states that SPG protectees are excluded from checking."NDTV has accessed the instructions cited in the suspension order but no such exception is listed.The EC's March 22 instructions echo an earlier order dated April 10, 2014.The instructions read: "There shall be a total and absolute ban on use of official vehicles for campaigning, electioneering or election-related travel."This is the EC's 2014 direction calling for "total and absolute ban on the use of official vehicles for campaigning, electioneering or election-related travel". On SPG protectees, it says: "The only exception from the above said prohibition will be PM and other political personalities, who might,in view of extremist and terrorist activities and threat to their lives, require security of a high order and whose security requirements are governed by any statutory provisions made by the Parliament or the State Legislature in this behalf."But the EC adds a caveat that "...if it has any reason to doubt that the assessment of security requirements made by authorities under SPG Act or any other special instruction...have been manifestly or unduly excessive with the intention of promoting indirectly the electoral interests of a particular party or candidate, the commission will bring the matter to the notice of the concerned Govt for immediate and appropriate corrective steps."NDTV also accessed the poll panel's instruction dated 14 July 1999 on the "use of Govt Aircrafts/Helicopters"; that too does not does not exclude anyone from searches.The instruction by the EC in 1999 does not does not provide any exclusion from searches. So EC has apparently cited a non-existent provision to punish Mohsin.NDTV tried to contact the officer several times but he has refused to comment. EC is yet to respond to our query. Official's suspension has provoked outraged tweets from Congress and AAP.NDTV
Election Phase 2 live: Sporadic violence, EVM glitches mar LS polls; 61.12% votes cast at 5 pm
Voting picked up by Thursday afternoon in 95 seats across 11 States and Union Territory of Puducherry in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections which were marred by an IED blast by Naxals in Chhattisgarh, police firing in West Bengal on stone pelters and EVM glitches. Voting was also under way in 35 Assembly constituencies in Odisha and in 18 Assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.In the second phase of general elections, 95 constituencies are going to polls. Over 15 crore voters will decide the fate of 1,629 candidates on April 18.Elections to Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu and East Tripura seat were rescinded recently. thehindu
Till 5 pm, Manipur registers 69.05% polling, Assam 62.95%, Odisha records 46.69% turnout
From Assam to Kanyakumari, reports of large-scale EVM and VVPAT malfunctioning cast shadow on second phase polling
Reports of a largescale EVM and VVPAT malfunctioning have once again cast the shadow on the second phase of Lok Sabha elections. EVMs malfunctioning were first reported from Mathura in UP, where BJP’s Hema Malini is contesting from.Similar complaints were received from Bolangir Lok Sabha seat in Odisha and Uttar Dinajpur in Raiganj Parliamentary constituency in West Bengal. In Bolangir, voting had to be halted at booths 261 and 263 due to EVM malfunctioning.The District Magistrate of Beed in Maharashtra, Alok Kumar Pandey said that at least five places had reported EVM and VVPAT malfunctioning since morning in Beed constituency. “Those are Georai,Mazalgaon, Kej,Ashti,Parali. However all those machines have been replaced immediately and polling is going smoothly at all locations,” Pandey was quoted by ANI.Many social media users took to Twitter to allege that EVM was not working in Mysore too as voters had to wait for nearly an hour to cast their votes. Firstpost reported that polling agents temporarily suspended voting at Rudrakshipura near Maddur in Mandya of Kaernataka after EVMs developed technical snags. Voters had to wait for a long time in a long queue to cast their votes as polling officials made arrangements for replacement machines.The website also reported that voting had to be stopped at 15 polling booths in Trichy as EVMs were facing technical problems. In Erode, polling was stopped at three polling booths as EVMs had to be repaired and new machines were not kept in stock, thereby delaying voting. In Nagercoil in Kanyakumari seat, voting was stopped at 33 polling booths for EVM repairs. Reports of VVPAT not working came from Assam, where polling station number 200 reported malfunctioning of VVPAT. Jantakareporter
Phase 2 Records 66% Turnout Even as IED Blast, Police Firings, Mob Attacks and EVM Glitches Mar Voting
Elections 2019: Faulty EVMs Reported In Many States, Big Stakes In Tamil Nadu
Sangh Parivar urges sadhus to mobilise support for BJP, invokes Babri Masjid demolition: report
BJP is sending out messages to sadhus seeking to whip up a saffron tide for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The outreach is being conducted on a massive scale in UP and NP, with support from RSS, and its affiliate the VHP. Sangh Parivar leaders are using direct messaging and appeals to placate sadhus, a large number of whom are upset over BJP govt’s failure to fulfil its 2014 Lok Sabha election promise regarding the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya before the end of its term. According to Rameshji Maharaj, a sadhu based in Mauganj town of MP’s Rewa district, the union home minister Rajnath Singh has sent a text message to religious leaders assuring them that BJP would fulfil its temple promise, irrespective of the pending Supreme Court judgment on the disputed Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi site. “Rajnath Singh’s message has been sent to all prominent sadhus who are associated with the Sangh Parivar,”Maharaj, who is a member of the VHP’s Kendriya Margdarshak Mandal—its central governing council, which is a body of sadhus—said.Rameshji has been associated with VHP since 1992, and works mainly in the tribal areas of MP. “The assurance was reiterated in the meeting of the local heads of RSS and its affiliates at Mauganj on 15 April,” he said. He added that the meeting was called by Surendra, an RSS pracharak—full-time worker—who is in-charge of the vibhag, or division, which covers the districts of Rewa, Sidhi and Singrauli in MP.“A good number of local sadhus were also invited,” Rameshji continued. “They supported me when I raised the temple issue. Surendraji then referred to the message of Rajnath Singh and said that the next BJP government would not be found lacking on this front and that it would bring legislation for the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya if the Supreme Court judgment goes against it.”Rameshji added that RSS office-bearers were conducting similar meetings in other parts of the country as well. CARAVAN MAGAZINE
Tehseen Poonawalla writes to EC, asks it to debar Pragya Singh Thakur from elections
Tehseen Poonawalla today wrote to the Election Commission against BJP’s decision to name Malegoan blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur as the candidate for its Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency. Poonawalla’s social media profiles describe him as a political trendwatcher and a life coach. He is related to Robert Vadra, who is married to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.Poonawalla said that the Maharashtra ATS has pronounced Thakur as one of the “principal conspirators” in the Malegaon blasts.scroll
‘How can Pragya Thakur contest polls if she is on bail on health grounds?’ asks Omar Abdullah
Ex-J&K  CM Omar Abdullah demanded the cancellation of the bail given to Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Singh Thakur after she was named an election candidate by BJP.Abdullah said that Thakur had been given bail on health grounds, and so, if she was fit enough to contest elections, she must be fit enough to be in jail too. Thakur was on Wednesday named BJP’s candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat.“Since the BJP depends on the religion card when it is left with nothing else, they have now given mandate from Bhopal to someone who is not just a terror accused, but is on bail,” the nc leader told reporters after casting his vote in Srinagar. “If her health is not good enough to stay in jail, how can she be fit enough to fight polls?” scroll
Malegaon Blast victim's father asks court to bar Pragya from contesting
Mumbai: The father of one of the victims of 2008 Malegaon blast moved the special NIA court here Thursday, urging it to bar prime accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from contesting Lok Sabha election. The application was filed by Nisar Sayeed, who lost his son in the blast, a day after the BJP fielded Thakur from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat against Congress veteran Digvijay Singh.Special NIA cases judge V.S. Padalkar sought replies from both the NIA and Thakur and posted the matter for Monday.The applicant sought that Thakur, who is out on bail, be asked to attend court proceedings in Mumbai and be barred from contesting the election as the trial is in progress.It further mentioned that Thakur got bail on health grounds. If she was “healthy enough to fight elections in the crippling summers heat”, then she has misled the court, the complainant alleged.A petition seeking cancellation of her bail was pending before the Supreme Court, it said.PTI
Before the court: Sadhvi Pragya’s bike used for blast that killed 6, her chats with co-accused
Her motorcycle with an IED, her phone conversations with would-be bombers, her presence at a conspiracy meeting in Bhopal, her inquiries on why the bomb didn’t kill more. These are some of the allegations against Pragya Singh Thakur, described by the Maharashtra ATS as one of the “principal conspirators” of Malegaon blast which left 6 dead and 101 injured on Sept.29, 2008.The first to be arrested in the case in Oct.2008, Thakur currently faces charges under UAPA and also stands accused of murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, and of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion etc — the court observed that the accused planned the conspiracy with the aim to spread terror and cause communal rift.The bomb was set off with an improvised explosive device, fitted in a gold-coloured LML Freedom motorcycle that was registered in the name of Pragya Thakur.ATS, which arrested Thakur,maintained that she “provided” motorcycle for blast to her close associate Ramji Kalsangra, still a wanted accused. NIA, which took over the probe from ATS in 2011, filed its first supplementary chargesheet only in 2016, and gave Thakur a clean chit.indianexpress
Elections: "Will Leave You In Suspense": Rahul Gandhi On Priyanka Gandhi, Varanasi
Lucknow: Rahul Gandhi, in an interview to The Hindu newspaper, did not rule out the possibility of his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, one of 2 Congress general secretaries in charge of UP, taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi. He did not confirm it either, saying: "I will leave you in suspense."A blockbuster contest in Varanasi, starring PM Modi vs Congress's headliner Priyanka Gandhi, has been all the buzz for weeks, ever since she dropped a hint during a Ganga boat campaign.To a direct question on whether his sister would be Congress candidate in Varanasi, Rahul Gandhi told The Hindu: "I will leave you in suspense. Suspense is not always a bad thing."So he was not denying it, the interviewer pressed. "I'm not confirming or denying anything," said Congress president.ndtv
Not satisfied with EVM: Sam Pitroda
Ahmedabad: Sam Pitroda, a confidant of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on Thursday said that he is not satisfied with the use of EVM in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.“As an engineer, a technical expert, I am not satisfied with EVM, but I have not been able to pinpoint because we do not have EVM. If someone gives us EVM to study for one year, we'll be able to tell you something,” Pitroda said while addressing a press conference here.“You will have to understand the design, its software. Every little signal will have to be analysed. Then only you can say something. But one thing is clear that there is some problem, what is the problem we don't know,” he added.ANI
Congress leader Tariq Anwar condemns Sidhu's appeal to Muslim voters
Patna: Senior Congress leader Tariq Anwar on Wednesday disapproved of Navjot Singh Sidhu's appeal to Muslim voters to defeat BJP and said he would have stopped the Punjab minister from doing so had he been present at the rally held in his Lok Sabha constituency of Katihar."I have always held the view that votes must never be sought in the name of religion and caste. This has also been the policy of the Congress party. I do not approve of what Sidhu has uttered. I would request the party leadership to take note for suitable action," Tariq Anwar said in a statement.Navjot Singh Sidhu, against whom an FIR has been lodged at Katihar in Bihar for violating the model code of conduct, made the controversial statement at a rally in Barsoi police station area of the district on Monday.PTI
Retired IAS who converted to Islam is Hindu again in Lok Sabha nomination
A retired IAS officer, who adopted Islam three years back while serving as Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) in the Rajasthan government, has again introduced himself as a Hindu while filing his nomination papers as the BSP candidate for the Jaipur Parliamentary seat.On December 31, 2015, then IAS officer Umrav Salodiya triggered a controversy by converting to Islam in protest against not being promoted as Chief Secretary of the state. He also took a new name - Umraav Khan.Alleging bias against him on caste grounds since he belongs to Dalit community, the officer also quit government service six months before he was due to retire.However, this retired officer has again introduced himself as a Hindu when he filed his nomination papers here on Tuesday. BSP candidate explained this contradiction, saying "I could not get permission from the Central government to issue the gazette notification for a name change and hence have to submit my earlier name.""I have written to the concerned officials but could not get any answer from them," he added.He also asserted that he remains firm on his conversion and considers himself a follower of Islam.IANS
OTHERS
Govt suspends LoC trade with PoK, says routes were being misused by terror elements
New Delhi:“This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc,” said MHA in a release. The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday issued orders to suspend LoC trade between Jammu & Kashmir and PoK. The government said that the step has been taken in view of the trade routes being misused by Pakistan based elements.“This action has been taken as the Government of India has been receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by the Pakistan based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency etc,” said the MHA in a release.The release added, “It may be recalled that LoC trade is meant to facilitate the exchange of goods of common use between local populations across LoC in Jammu & Kashmir.”Highlighting on banned terror outfits fuelling separatism in the valley, MHA release said, “During ongoing probe of certain cases by NIA, it has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are operated by persons closely associated with banned terror organisations involved in fueling terrorism/separatism.”indianexpress
No Pakistan soldier or citizen died in Balakot air strike: Sushma Swaraj
Ahmedabad: External affairs minister and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said no Pakistani soldier or citizen died in air strike carried out by Indian Air Force across the border in response to Pulwama attack in Feb. Swaraj said the air strike was carried out in self- defence. "When we carried out air strike across the border after Pulwama attack,we had told international community that we took that step in self-defence only. "We had told the international community that the armed forces were instructed not to harm any Pakistani citizen or its soldier during the strike," she said. PTI
Home Ministry Orders Probe Into Assam Editors Critical of BJP's Citizenship Bill
New Delhi: The home ministry has sought a probe into four Assamese editors and a news channel based on a complaint by a Hindu right-wing outfit with links to RSS. Assam director general of police, Kuladhar Saikia and the commissioner and secretary (home and political) Ashutosh Agnihotri have been asked to carry out the investigation.Those named in the complaint letter to the ministry by Vinay Joshi of Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) are Nitumoni Saikia, editor-in-chief of the popular Assamese news channel Pratidin Time; Manjit Mahanta, ex editor of Axomiya Pratidin; Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, the editor of Assamese news channel Prag News and Afrida Hussain, the editor of the web news portal InsideNE. Assamese chapter of the TV18 channel has also been named.Saikia, Bhuyan, Hussain and Mahanta have all been quite vocal about their support to the widespread protest in the Brahmaputra Valley against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill brought by the Narendra Modi govt.Saikia, Bhuyan and Mahanta have also been vocal critics of the BJP-led state government’s policies for a while now and have particularly taken on the party’s Northeast strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma’s attempt to polarise the Assamese society on religious lines.thewire
Bombay HC Quashes FIR Against Journalist For Suicide Of Jawan After Sting Video
In a relief to journalist Poonam Agarwal, Associate Editor of "The Quint", the Bombay High Court today quashed FIR registered against her for abetment of suicide of a jawan who was interviewed by her in a sting video.She had conducted a sting operation with the assistance of an ex-military man and Kargil war veteran Deepchand Singh to show that 'sahayak system' of engaging subordinate officers for menial work for seniors was being followed in army camps, despite its ban by Army as per Circular dated 19th Jan.2017.In the sting video published during Feb.2017,several officers, who were made to do menial work in a military camp at Deolali, Nashik, accused their seniors of harassment.Identities of the officers in sting video were concealed by blurring their faces.After video went viral online, Lance Naik Roy Mathew, who was interviewed in the video, committed suicide by hanging on March 7,2017.Following this, an FIR was registered for abetment of suicide against Poonam Agarwal and Deepchand for offences punishable under Sections 306,451, 500 read with 34 of IPC. Offences punishable under Sections 3 and 7 of Official Secrets Act were also included in the FIR.livelaw.in
Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing: brother Rubabuddin challenges acquittal of all 22 accused
Mumbai:Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin on Thursday filed an appeal at the Bombay High Court challenging the acquittal of 22 accused in the killing of his brother, his sister-in-law Kauser Bi and his aide Tulsiram Prajapti in 2005. On Dec.21, 2018, special CBI court acquitted all of them by saying, “the way in which the evidence was brought before me I could not help. The prosecution could not prove a conspiracy, it could not prove it beyond reasonable doubt despite investigations being conducted by various agencies.” While delivering his last judgment before retiring, Judge SJ Sharma said, “the alleged offence was committed by the accused persons in discharge of their official duty and under the colour of office, even if it is assumed that the accused persons acted in excess of their official duty, then also they are entitled to claim protection of section 197 (prosecution of judges and public servants) of CrPC.”thehindu
Right to travel abroad is a basic human right: SC
New Delhi:The right to travel abroad is a genuine and basic human right like marriage and family, the Supreme Court has observed in a recent order.“The right to travel abroad is an important basic human right for it nourishes independent and self-determining creative character of the individual, not only by extending his freedoms of action, but also by extending the scope of his experience,” a Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao said in its order.The court was hearing an appeal filed by an IPS officer who was refused permission to take a private trip abroad to visit relatives as he had a departmental enquiry pending against him.Satish Chandra Verma, Inspector General of Police/Principal, Central Training College, Central Reserve Police Force at Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu said he was denied permission despite the fact that he had no criminal case against him.thehindu
Two Punjab men beheaded by Saudi authorities, confirms MEA
Chandigarh :2 men from Punjab have been executed by beheading in Saudi Arabia, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has confirmed. Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia, however, was not informed before Satwinder Kumar of Hoshiarpur and Harjeet Singh of Ludhiana were executed on Feb.28, it said.Expressing shock over the “barbaric and inhuman”, Punjab chief minister flayed the MEA for failing to prevent, and then not disclosing the execution of the two men, till it was forced to do so by a petition filed by Satwinder’s wife. As per the Saudi system, the families of the two deceased will only get death certificates and not the mortal remains, the MEA informed Satwinder’s wife Seema Rani.Seema Rani received a letter from the MEA on Tuesday.Signed by Prakash Chand, director (consular), the letter reads, “Our embassy in Riyadh received a note verbale dated Feb.28, from Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs by fax in the evening the same day stating implementation of execution order of late Satwinder Singh and Harjit Singh on Feb.28. The embassy had not been informed about execution beforehand”.indianexpress
WORLD
Israel bans Gaza Christians from going to Jerusalem, Bethlehem for Easter
Israeli occupation authorities refused to issue travel permits for hundreds of Palestinian Christians from Gaza who planned to visit holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem during Passover, Safa news agency reported. Reporting Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Safa said that Israel allowed only 200 Christians from Gaza, who are over 55 years old, to travel to Jordan only and did not issue permits for those wishing to visit the Church of Nativity in occupied Bethlehem or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in occupied Jerusalem.Israeli rights group Gisha reported complaints against the Israeli occupation regarding the restrictions imposed on people who want to travel during the Jewish Passover holiday which coincides with Easter.“This is a flagrant violation of the freedom of movement, freedom of worship and freedom of enjoying family life for the Christians in Gaza,” Gisha said, noting that Gaza is an example of a “wider Israeli racist policy”. middleeastmonitor
Israeli president tasks Netanyahu with forming new govt
Israel’s president has nominated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to head the next government, after he won the backing of a majority of members of parliament following an April 9 election, Reuters reports. In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term despite an announcement by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in February that he intends to charge the prime minister in three corruption cases. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.“At a time of great turmoil in our region, we have managed not only to maintain the state’s security and stability, we have even managed to turn Israel into a rising world power,” Netanyahu said at the nomination ceremony after President Reuven Rivlin gave him the mandate to form a new government. Netanyahu has 28 days, with a two-week extension if needed, to complete the task. If, as seems likely, he succeeds, he will become in July Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.middleeastmonitor
Libya death toll rises to 205 as Tripoli fighting continues: WHO
At least 205 people have been killed in the battle for control of Libyan capital Tripoli, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, as the UN-recognised government said it would seek the prosecution of renegade military leader Khalifa Haftar in the International Criminal Court.UN-affiliated WHO said in a post on Twitter it had deployed medical specialists to support frontline hospitals as the recent fighting had also left more than 900 wounded.aljazeera
Gunmen kill 14 bus passengers in Pakistan's Balochistan
At least 14 people have been shot dead by attackers after several buses were ambushed in the remote Ormara area of Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province, officials say.The travellers were removed from the buses and taken to a second location, where they were shot dead, early on Thursday morning, provincial information minister Zahoor Buledi told Al Jazeera."They identified non-Baloch by checking their identity cards and employee cards," said Buledi. "They took them to the nearby mountains and shot them dead after tying their hands."Muhammad Musa, a local health official who examined the bodies, told Al Jazeera that most had been shot in the head.aljazeera

Asad Umar steps down as Pak Finance Minister amid IMF bailout talks
Islamabad: Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar on Thursday stepped down from the position after Prime Minister Imran Khan asked him to take the Energy portfolio.Umar wrote on his official twitter handle, "As part of a cabinet reshuffle PM desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance. However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position. I strongly believe @ImranKhanPTI is the best hope for Pakistan and inshallah will make a naya pakistan."In a press conference held hours after his announcement, Umar said that he hopes his successor will be supported in the efforts to take difficult decisions for the "sake of the nation"."What I want is that whoever comes in is supported when they make difficult decisions for the sake of the nation," Dawn quoted Umar as saying."I need to thank the PTI’s youth for their enthusiasm. I need to say that when we came in, the economy was in a dangerous and sorry state, we were standing near a ditch, one move and we would have been in the ditch. The state of the economy is still not great [and] the next finance minister that comes in will still have a hard time," he added.Notably, Pakistan on Tuesday reached on an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the multi-billion aid to the debt-ridden country.The exact size of the package is yet to be decided, however, Umar had apprised that it would be between USD 6 billion and USD 8 billion. (ANI)
Pakistan finance minister to step down amid IMF bailout talks
Protesters keep up pressure on Sudan's military
Thousands of protesters staged rallies across cities in Sudan to mark one week since the military's removal of Omar al-Bashir.Engineers marched in Blue Nile state while lawyers rallied in North Kordofan state, demanding the military hand over power to a civilian administration, while thousands converged on the square outside the army headquarters in Khartoum. "We are happy with what we have achieved so far," said Amir Abdul Rahman, an engineer in Khartoum. "When the SPA says we should stay in the square, that's what we are going to do," he added, referring to the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has spearheaded the months-long anti-government protests. A spokesman for Sudan's military council said two brothers of al-Bashir have been arrested as part of a continuing campaign of arrests against "symbols of previous regime".
Iraqi prime minister makes first visit to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia's King Salman welcomed the Iraqi prime minister on his first official visit to the kingdom, as the two oil-producing giants move towards closer diplomatic and economic ties after nearly three decades of uneasy relations.Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's visit on Wednesday came two weeks after Saudi Arabia reopened its consulate in Baghdad for the first time in nearly 30 years. The opening was accompanied with the announcement of a one billion dollar aid package for Iraq.Abdul Mahdi went to Riyadh with a large delegation, including officials and businessmen, with trade billed as a prime focus of the discussions between OPEC's two largest oil producers.aljazeera
'We're broken': Rohingya on hunger strike in Saudi detention
Scores of Rohingya detainees inside a Saudi detention centre have gone on a hunger strike for the third time in recent months, activists told Al Jazeera.Almost 650 men, most of whom have been kept at the Shumaisi detention centre in Jeddah since 2012 for not having valid documentation, started the strike on Saturday, Ro Nay San Lwin, campaign coordinator for the Free Rohingya Coalition, said.By Tuesday night, at least seven had been taken to hospital, he said, as the strike continued in 10 rooms at the detention camp. Footage secretly filmed by a detainee and sent to Lwin that was shared with Al Jazeera showed the Rohingya men lying on the floor.aljazeera
North Korea conducts tests for 'tactical guided weapon': Report
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised the test-firing of a new type of "tactical guided weapon" in a move that could be an attempt to register the country's displeasure with currently deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States.The country's state media, KCNA, reported on Thursday that the "advantages" of the weapon were "the peculiar mode of guiding flight and the load of a powerful warhead".The report also said that the North Korean leader described its development as one "of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People's Army".KCNA added that Wednesday's test was "conducted in various modes of firing at different targets" and that Kim "guided the test-fire". aljazeera
North Korea wants Pompeo removed from nuclear talks
North Korea wants United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo replaced with someone "more careful and mature" in talks over its banned nuclear programme, a senior official told state media, hours after the country announced a missile test.Describing Pompeo as "reckless" the foreign ministry said a summit in Vietnam earlier this year showed that talks could go wrong "whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in".aljazeera
Top US Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly
The top Democrats in the US House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday called on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticised Attorney General William Barr for writing what they called a "slanted" summary letter and for planning a press conference to immediately follow the expected release of the report detailing the probe's findings on Thursday.aljazeera
HRW: Torture continuing in Iraq jails
A Human Rights Watch statement today accused Iraqi officials of allowing torture to continue in Mosul detention facilities.“If the Iraqi govt ignores credible reports of torture, it’s no wonder that the abuses persist,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW.The statement reports the testimony of a former prisoner of a jail in Faisaliya prison which is east of Mosul. “5 guards and an officer strapped each detainee in turn, still naked, onto an orange gurney and tipped it backward so that the detainee’s feet were raised above his head and covered his face with a towel,” HRW said.“For about five minutes, they beat each one with plastic piping while pouring water over his mouth.”Further abuse was reported, including kickings, beatings, and prisoners being hoisted from the ceiling using a hook and pulley. The people in custody were accused of being members of Daesh.Ex-prisoner accused 4 interior ministry officers of actively participating in the violations. HRW validated the reports by comparing his recollection of the layout of the facility with other testimonies.It went on to urge the Iraqi government to act to end the practice and condemn the use of torture. Middleeastmonitor

Flash: views & NEWS
Sadhvi Pragya as BJP Candidate: How the SC Missed an Opportunity to Cleanse Politics:Venu Sundaram
How Pragya Singh Thakur, Sunil Joshi and Aseemanand planned the Samjhauta Express blast:Leena Gita Reghunath
There is No ‘Hindu Terrorism’. But There is Something Called Sangh Parivar Terrorism:
Jyotirmaya Sharma
Tilting at the windmills...The ban on movement of civilian traffic in Kashmir Valley is self-defeating in the extreme:Iftikhar Gilani
BJP/RSS Wants to Kill 2 Birds by Fielding Pragya Thakur against Digvijay Singh
In five years, India’s largest minority has been cleaved from basic entitlements of democratic citizenship:Shah Alam Khan
Ambedkar’s ideas of social justice still haunt country’s constitutional apparatus. How much have we achieved? Soli J. Sorabjee
Mahatma Gandhi’s wariness of RSS' ideology is clear from his writings, historical record:
Ram Puniyani
‘Minority communalism is costly’: A polarising debate on citizenship makes Assam’s Muslims cautious:Ipsita Chakravarty
Netanyahu and the Death of the Zionist Dream:Israel’s founding fathers are turning in their graves: Avi Shlaim, NYT
In Indonesia's election, the winner is Widodo - and Islam:Kanupriya Kapoor, Fanny Potkin, Reuters



Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:39 PM)

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