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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

24 April ND: CJI sexual harassment issue: SC Spl Bench calls confidential meeting with CBI, Delhi Police, IB chiefs/ Interpol takes up India’s red notice on Zakir Naik:HT/ Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamath demand apology from TOI for associating them with a terror group/No Intelligence Linking Attacks in Sri Lanka to Christchurch Shootings: New Zealand PM


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24 April 2019: 18 Shaban 1440:Vol: 11, No:184
INDIA
CJI sexual harassment issue: SC Spl Bench calls confidential meeting with CBI, Delhi Police, IB chiefs
A Special Bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Arun Mishra, on Wednesday ordered the CBI Director, Delhi Police Commissioner and the IB chief to assemble at the judges’ chambers for a confidential meeting on the claims made by an advocate that the sexual allegations levelled against CJI Ranjan Gogoi is a part of a “larger conspiracy” to frame him (CJI) in a false case and make him resign.Explaining why the three top officials have been called,Justice Mishra said “this is not just an inquiry, this is something more...We will not reveal anything.This will be kept totally a secret.”The Bench, also comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman and Deepak Gupta, ordered the Delhi Police to provide lawyer Utsav Singh Bains "full protection" so that no one approaches him to either influence or threaten him and the evidence he has with him of the conspiracy afoot is kept safe. Bains, in his affidavit filed on April 22,said he was approached by a man who identified himself to be a relative of the former SC employee who has levelled the charge against CJI. This man, Bains claimed, offered him up to Rs. 1.5 crore to file the false case. The person, however, turned evasive when asked by Bains to be specific about his relationship with the woman. The lawyer said he had reliable information that a larger plot was up against the CJI in which “fixers” in a “cash for judgment racket” were involved.Justice Mishra, speaking for the Bench after reading Bains' fresh affidavit, said if the contents of the affidavits were true, "then this is really very disturbing".The judge went on to observe how CJI had been leading the court with a sense of courage and independence, and how his independent nature must be irking certain quarters. Justice Mishra referred to the recent dismissal of court staffers Manav Sharma and Tapan Chakravarthy for doctoring a court order in a contempt case between Anil Ambani and Ericsson in this context. Bains said he had “specific information” on how the “larger conspiracy” was planned.He objected to any possible move to involve CBI in the case. “CBI is used a political tool...I want a judicial inquiry. I have brought all this evidence before the court as an officer of the court. I have no other interest in this," he submitted. thehindu
Over 250 women lawyers and academics appeal to SC for fair probe on CJI sexual harassment case
In a letter addressed to the Judges of the Supreme Court of India dated Tuesday April 24, 2019, over 250 women lawyers and academics made an appeal to the apex court for a fair probe on the allegations of sexual harassment raised by a former employee against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.thehindu
Interpol takes up India’s red notice on Zakir Naik:HT
New Delhi:A high-powered panel of global law enforcement body Interpol last week took up India’s request for issuing a so-called red notice against Dr Zakir Naik, according to 2 Indian officials aware of the development who asked not to be named.Red notices are requests issued to Interpol’s 194 member states worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence.The Interpol panel took up India’s request as NIA has been trying have Naik declared as an international fugitive.The preacher lives in Malaysia, where he has permanent residency. According to one of officials, the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) met on April 19 to discuss India’s request.Interpol cancelled a red notice against Naik in 2017 as he was yet to be charged in India then.The government has attached Naik’s properties since he fled India. His IRF has been banned and some of his associates have been arrested.Attempts to reach Naik for comment were unsuccessful.HT
US to India: Helping you on Masood Azhar, so end Iran oil imports
With the White House announcing the end of the waiver to buy Iranian oil, Washington has conveyed to Delhi that it has stood by India on combating terrorism after Pulwama attack and expects reciprocity on President Donald Trump’s commitment to disrupt Iran’s terror network, Indian Express has learnt.In its conversation with Delhi, Trump administration has also assured that the exemption of the development of the Chabahar port project will continue, though its decision to halt the waiver on oil imports to India is guided by its objective of “changing the Iranian regime’s malign behaviour”. Moving to squeeze Iran’s top export, White House Monday said it will no longer grant sanctions exemption to Iran’s oil customers. The waiver for India runs out on May 1, and from May 2, India cannot import oil from Iran, or its state-owned or private entities will face US sanctions.Hectic consultations are underway between India and US officials, with a top US State Dept.official, Alice Wells, visiting India currently to discuss the issue with Indian interlocutors.US has told Indian officials that the policy is designed to put “maximum pressure” on Iran, and is not targeted against India.indianexpress
India to observe US sanctions on Iranian oil, will buy from other oil producing nations
New Delhi : India said it will buy crude oil from other major oil producing countries in view of the US’ decision this week to end waivers that allowed it to buy Iranian oil without facing US sanctions.External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said the government would continue to work with partner nations, including the US, to find ways to protect India’s energy and economic security interests.India bought 23.6 million tons of Iranian oil in the financial year ending in March 2019, said YK Baweja, Petroleum Ministry spokesman. He did not give details of India’s plans after the US waiver ends on May 2. Iran was the third largest oil supplier for India after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Imports account for more than 80 per cent of India’s oil needs.AP
J-K Police arrest PhD scholar from Bhatinda on terror link suspicion
Bhatinda (Punjab): J&K Police have arrested a student of Central University of Punjab in Bhatinda on suspicion of his involvement in alleged terror activities.According to Punjab Police, arrested student has been identified as Hilal Ahmed who is pursuing PhD from the university."5 cops including a DSP (J&K) had come to the university to arrest a 22-year-old PhD student," Bathinda SSP Nanak Singh said Tuesday.An arrest warrant was issued against the student, a resident of J&K.ANI
Yasin Malik sent to judicial custody till May 24, Mufti appeals for his release
New Delhi : A Delhi court today sent JKLF chief Yasin Malik, arrested in connection with terror funding case, to judicial custody till May 24. Tihar jail authorities have also moved an application seeking direction to produce Malik through video conferencing due to security concerns.Meanwhile, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had also appealed to Centre Wednesday to immediately release Malik due to his ailing health. “Also other members of Jamaat-e-Islami should be released. Sadhvi Pragya on whom there are several serious accusations has been set free,” she further said. The family of Malik, said, that JKLF chief had fallen ill and was shifted to a Delhi hospital after he went on a hunger strike to protest against his “illegal” detention.indian express
No one ready to take over JeM leadership in Kashmir: Army
New Delhi : Calling it a healthy sign, Indian Army today said that there had been a decline in the recruitment of local Kashmiri people in terror outfits after the recent crackdown on militancy by the forces.The state police and Army, DGP in J&K Dilbag Singh said, “Recruitment of local youth continues to be low, it is a healthy sign. 272 terrorists were eliminated in the state during 2018 and a large number were apprehended.” indianexpress
Geelani's son questioned by NIA in terror funding case
New Delhi:Nayeem Geelani, son Syed Ali Shah Geelani, appeared before NIA for questioning in connection with a case related to funding of terror groups and separatist organisations in J&K, officials said here.Nayeem, who had been evading questioning by NIA for long, appeared on Monday and a detailed questioning took place on Tuesday. His  questioning comes days after NIA quizzed Mirwaiz Umer Farooq in the same case.PTI
‘Cannot stop Sadhvi Pragya from contesting polls, let EC decide’: NIA court
New Delhi :The special NIA court Wednesday rejected a plea to bar 2008 Malegaon blasts accused and BJP candidate Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, citing that it is for the electoral officers to take a call on the matter.“In the ongoing elections, the court does not have any legal powers to prohibit anyone from contesting the polls. It is the job of electoral officers to decide. This court cannot stop the accused number 1 from contesting the polls. This application is negated,” the court said. “At this juncture, NIA cannot state that there is no prima facie case against the accused as NIA has not challenged the order (rejecting discharge of the accused) before the high court,” it added. Indianexpress
Mumbai residents pay respect to Karkare, condemn ‘distasteful’ remarks by Sadhvi Pragya
Mumbai: In the light of BJP Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur’s “distasteful remarks” against slain cop Hemant Karkare, who was the chief of the state’s ATS, residents gathered to pay their respects to the “city’s hero” who was killed in the Mumbai attack in 2008. Thakur is an accused in Malegaon bombings.Dr Archana Amoulik from Chembur said, “Instead of going to my clinic, I came here after I received a WhatsApp message about the protest. Karkare gave his life for city’s safety.” Sanjeev Batra, a consultant based out of Worli, heard of the gathering through friends. “Karkare is our hero. He received the Ashoka Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award. On the one hand you honour him and on the other, you have this person, contesting the elections, who is badmouthing him. I wanted to express solidarity and took the evening off to be here,” he said. Activist Teesta Setalvad, who was also present at the spot, said she remembered when Karkare’s funeral took place, 25,000 Mumbaikars had assembled and accompanied IPS officer on his final journey from his Dadar home to Shivaji Park. “It was not a planned thing. That was the gratitude Mumbaikars felt for him,” Setalvad said, adding, “in the aftermath of the 1993 riots when there was a trust deficit in police-public relations, it was officers like Julio Ribeiro, Satish Sahney and Karkare, who healed relations. To hear such venomous remarks about him for political gain is really sad.”Retired High Court judge Justice Abhay Thipsay, a member of Congress, said, “This protest was not an organised one. It is just a simultaneous outpouring after hearing such comments. Pragya Thakur, a terror accused, is making such statements; it’s a sad state of affairs.”indianexpress
A suspect held in Delhi
New Delhi: The suspect identified as Mohd Faiz, resident of Jafrabad in Delhi, is the 14th accused to have been arrested in an IS module case, NIA said. Faiz will be produced before a special NIA court in Delhi today. NIA claimed that he is one of the key conspirators in planning to carry out attacks in Delhi NCR and UP, surfaced during investigations.According to NIA, Mufti Mohd alias Suhai, resident of Jafrabad, Seelampur, Delhi, was the Amir of pro-IS module, who mobilized funds and procured weapons, ammunition and explosive materials to prepare IEDs.economictimes
People have right to ask what we did in Balakot: Hamid Ansari
Former Vice President Hamid Ansari has said every citizen had the right to question the military and the govt. In an interview to Tiranga TV, Ansari said it was the government’s responsibility to answer such queries. His comments come after much speculation and Opposition criticism for the government on the strike on Balakot, Pakistan. Asked if it was anti-national or unpatriotic to question the military or the government, Ansari said, “Of course it is the right of any citizen to question the performance particularly on matters that relate to foreign policy and defence.” Since Balakot strike on Feb.26, the government has criticised the Opposition for questioning its impact. “There is now so much of evidence available from credible bodies outside the country that you cannot brush it under the carpet.”Asked about claims that India did not shoot down Pakistan’s F-16 plane, Ansari said: “If I have claimed that I have shot a tiger on a tiger hunt, surely I have to produce the tiger.” He said there was no harm in finding out answers to such questions in a democracy. “I don’t know the technicalities of the Air Force,” he said. “One side claims it has shot down a plane the other side says it has not shot down a plane then surely there is something which is in between.”He said Modi-led govt is “some distance away” from fulfilling promises it had made in 2014. He said the five years of Modi government was a mixed record and that the general perception was that it has let people down.scroll
Apoorva Shukla Tiwari, wife of ND Tiwari’s son Rohit Shekhar, arrested for husband’s murder
The Delhi Police has arrested Apoorva Shukla Tiwari, the wife of former Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Chief Minister ND Tiwari’s son Rohit Shekhar Tiwari, for her husband’s murder. The Delhi Police had questioned her for three days in a row.Rohit’s dead body was brought to Delhi’s Max Hospital in Saket last week. He was alleged to have been killed after allegedly being suffocated with a pillow. He had travelled to Uttarakhand to cast his vote in the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls before returning to Delhi on 12 April.jantakareporter
ELECTIONS
Opposition demand 50% VVPAT vote count, to approach SC
Mumbai :Opposition parties have renewed their demand for verifying 50 per cent of the VVPAT voter slips with the EVMs, and announced plans to launch a fresh challenge in the Supreme Court on the issue.Coinciding with the third phase of polling in the country, leaders of major national opposition parties addressed a joint press conference here, contending that " EVMs are susceptible to malfunctioning, manipulations and hacking". Making a PowerPoint presentation to prove his contentions, TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said the 23 major opposition parties will file a review plea in the apex court on the EVM-VVPAT issue and back it up with other petitions soon."What we are demanding is something that can be done... it is easily achievable," Naidu said.IANS
Delhi CEO writes to Delhi govt seeks report about 'increase' in honorarium for imams
New Delhi:Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi has sought a factual report from the revenue secretary over allegations that Delhi Waqf Board increased honorarium for imams after the Model Code of Conduct for Lok Sabha election came into effect, officials said."We have asked for a factual report from the Revenue Secretary. There has been a complaint and we have asked whether there has been such a measure undertaken by the Waqf Board during the Model Code of Conduct. A reply is awaited from them,"an official said. Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijedner Gupta said AAP chief had announced increasing the honorarium in Jan.this year in the hope of getting political mileage. Waqf Board chairman implemented the decision during the operation of Model Code of Conduct, Gupta alleged. PTI
Gujarat: Low turnout in Muslim-dominated localities
Muslim men and women queued at polling booths in Juhapura, one of the largest Muslim ghettoes in India, and in the walled city areas. The walled city, however, saw the lowest turnout in Ahmedabad West seat. Booths in the Dariapur assembly segment also saw low turnout till the afternoon, which picked up somewhat later in the day. However, turnout in Muslim-dominated areas was lower than average for the parliamentary constituency. The Jamalpur-Khadia assembly segment, where Muslims make up a majority, saw a turnout of just over 52%, against the 58% average for Ahmedabad West. Similarly, the Vejalpur assembly segment, includes most of Juhapura-Sarkhej, saw a 60% turnout, against the nearly 65% turnout for the Gandhinagar LS seat. TOI
West Bengal: BJP's Muslim faces chose not to campaign on triple talaq plank
Kolkata :Hoping to break the party's anti-minority image with their messaging, BJP's two Muslim candidates say their outreach was not based on the triple talaq poll plank but on issues such as domestic violence and the need to educate women in the community. Humayun Kabir, contesting from Murshidabad Lok Sabha seat, and Mafuja Khatun, who is fighting from Jangipur, are the party's only two Muslim candidates in its list of 42 for the state. While Kabir is a former TMC minister, Mafuja is a 2-time CPI(M) MLA. Both Jangipur and Murshidabad are voting on Tuesday in the third round of the 7-phase election. BJP made talaq one of its major poll planks in this election but Kabir and Mafuja said they were not keen on highlighting the issue as it may not have yielded results. PTI
As BJP, TMC dive deep, Congress bastion Malda sees battle for Muslim votes
Malda : It is a 3-cornered contest in Malda, one of last Congress bastions in West Bengal, which goes to polls on Tuesday in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections, and Muslim votes are likely to settle the fight for the seat.Muslims form a major chunk of the electorate in both the Maldaha North and the Maldaha South seats, which have stayed with the Congress for almost 40 years, and there is a distinct buzz about the need for a change this time.And that buzz has created a space, which the BJP and the TMC are vying for.While the Congress has pitted Isha Khan Choudhury against sitting Congress MP and now TMC nominee Mausam Noor Ghani Khan's nephew and niece respectively from Maldaha North, BJP has fielded former CPI(M) leader Khagen Murmu in the seat.In Maldaha South, sitting Congress MP Abu Hasem Khan, Ghani Khan's brother, is contesting against Moazzem Hossain of the TMC and Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury of the BJP.PTI
Muslim candidates could split Mewat votes, dash Congress hopes
Gurugram Lok Sabha constituency, which has a significant number of Muslim voters, has two candidates belonging to the minority community in the race — Mehmood Khan of JJP-AAP alliance and Rais Ahmad of BSP — and they are likely to dent the chances of Congress candidate Captain Ajay Yadav. Yadav is banking on around 4.5 lakh Muslim voters in Mewat, which is spread across Nuh, Ferozepur Jhirka and Punhana assembly constituencies.These voters, according to party insiders, were expected to prefer Congress to BJP if no other Muslim candidates had contested the polls.Captain Ajay Yadav has repeatedly has expressed confidence about support from Meo and Ahir communities, which he thinks, would give him the edge. Yadav, a 5-time MLA from Rewari, is expected to give a tough fight to incumbent MP Rao Inderjit Singh of BJP. But the equations are set to change with two Muslim candidates contesting the polls. Yadav, however, is still confident about the support of Muslim voters. As per the past trends, almost 80% of Yadavs vote for a Yadav candidate.Meos of Mewat always supported a Meo candidate, and vote en bloc. Traditionally, Meos vote for Muslim candidates. Presence of more than one candidate in the fray could split their votes, giving advantage to BJP.TOI
Denied ticket by BJP, Udit Raj joins Congress
New Delhi :Dalit leader Udit Raj, who was denied a ticket to contest from the North West Delhi Lok Sabha seat by BJP, on Wednesday joined the Congress in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi. “Congress President Rahul Gandhi welcomes Udit Raj into the Congress party,” the party announced on Twitter.“BJP’s refusal to grant me a ticket shows that they are anti-Dalits. I was the most popular BJP MP in Delhi,” Raj later told reporters in the national capital.indianexpress
‘BJP committed cow slaughter’: Union minister Vijay Sampla rebukes party after being denied ticket
Union minister Vijay Sampla accused BJP of committing cow slaughter after he was denied a ticket to re-contest the Lok Sabha polls from Hoshiarpur. In March, the party had replaced Union minister with MP Shwait Malik as Punjab BJP chief.Sampla, a popular Dalit leader, expressed his disappointment with a series of tweets. “You [BJP] should have pointed out any fault,” Sampla tweeted.“What is my fault? There is no corruption charge against me.No one can raise a finger at my conduct. I got an airport in my region, got many new trains started, got roads built.If this is the fault, I will tell my coming generations that they must not commit these mistakes.”scroll
Vinod Khanna’s wife upset with BJP giving ticket to Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur, says she feels betrayed
As BJP fielded actor sunny Deol from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, Kavita Khanna, wife of late Union minister and four-time MP Vinod Khanna from the constituency, expressed her disappointment on Wednesday saying she felt “betrayed” by the party. She added that she is now weighing all her options, including contesting as an Independent.“I feel betrayed. I also feel that the wishes of people who wanted me as their MP were ignored,” Kavita told PTI.indianexpress
SRI lANKA BLASTS
Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamath demand apology from TOI for associating them with a terror group
After the bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter, 24 Muslim youth have been arrested on grounds of suspicion.The government of Sri Lanka has shut down internet services to prevent false news from spreading and creating more hatred and terror. The media in Sri Lanka named National Towheed Jamath (NTJ) as group responsible for the dastardly act. And the Media in India unhesitatingly associated the Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamath (TNTJ) with the suspected National Towheed of Sri Lanka drawing the ire of TNTJ.It has condemned both the terrorist act and also the role of Media in tarnishing its image and misleading people.  And even released a video stating the facts and chiding the irresponsible media. Mohammed Ghany,audit committee member of TNTJ, said, “Sri Lankan media mentioned the suspected involvement of NTJ in the blasts in Sri Lanka and Indian media picked this up and linked our organization TNTJ as an extremist organization associated with the NTJ. We are not even remotely connected with the NTJ of Sri Lanka which is banned in 2017 though we do have one of our branches there called ‘Sri Lanka Towheed Jamath’. He explained that the TNTJ is a non political Islamic organization founded in 2004 in Tamil Nadu and has branches in all of South India and their work is focused mainly on 4 objectives such as giving dawah (inviting people to Islam); socio-religious activities for betterment of social harmony; open questions forum to clear misconceptions of Islam by non-Muslims and also organize  protests in a democratic manner against any injustice irrespective of any religion. “And in Sri Lanka we are functioning from 2006 and the jamath there is also based on the same objectives” he said.“It is sad that Indian Media especially Times of India published an article linking us with the terror act. Our work is all about peace and harmony. We are going to push for an apology because this is very irresponsible on the part of TOI, he added. TOI has rectified their mistake by saying TN outfit denies links  with namesake organisation named in the blasts.  But have not apologized for dragging the organization in the incident.twocircles
Muslim, Christian Leaders Condemn Sri Lanka Blasts at Joint Press Conference in Delhi
New Delhi:Leaders from top Muslim organizations and Christian groups addressed a joint press conference on Tuesday here at the Constitution Club and strongly condemned the deadly serial blasts in Sri Lanka on Sunday. Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind had organized the press conference to express solidarity with the victims of the terror bombings at several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. Eminent figures who attended press conference included Maulana Mahmood Madani, General Secretary, Jamiat, Nusrat Ali, ex Vice President, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Navaid Hamid, President, Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission, human rights activists Dr. John Dayal and AC Michael.Addressing the media, Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan said that some forces “don’t want peace in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nepal and Pakistan because if there is no peace in the region, their weapons will purchased, people from here will approach them for help and to buy weapons.”Dr Khan proposed constitution of an International Tribunal in India, Sri Lanka or other country in the region “to probe this heinous crime in which more than 300 people were killed and to expose those behind this crime.” “Our presence here at this meet is an announcement that we Muslims, Christians and others strongly condemn this heinous crime,” he said. Nusrat Ali,ex Vice President, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said: “The attacks are highly condemnable. Those who are doing such acts in the name of religion are actually maligning the image of their religion. They must be more strongly condemned.”Navaid Hamid also demanded a high-level enquiry into such incidents in the region. “Those who are behind such heinous game in the region must be brought to fore,” he said.India Tomorrow
Those responsible for Sri Lanka blasts anti-human, anti-God: Religious leaders in Delhi
Leaders from Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh Communities Make Human Chain outside Delhi Church against Sri Lanka Bombings
New Delhi:Leaders from different religious communities including Muslim and Christian made a human chain at the prominent church- Sacred Heart Cathedral - in Delhi on Tuesday in protest against the serial bombings in Sri Lanka on Sunday. Eminent figures who were part of the human chain included Maulana Mahmood Madani, General Secretary, Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind, Nusrat Ali, former Vice President, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Navaid Hamid, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, Civil rights activists Dr. John Dayal, AC Michael and Apoorvanand and a large number of members of United Against Hate.They were holding placard with messages condemning terrorism like “Terrorism has no religion”, “We will fight against politics of terror” and “We are Colombo, We are Christians.India Tomorrow
Sri Lanka president dismisses security officials
Sri Lanka's president has asked for the resignations of the defence secretary and the national police chief after security forces failed to act on warnings before Easter suicide bombings.President Maithripala Sirisena's office announced that he asked for the resignations of defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara. It wasn't immediately clear who would replace them.Sirisena said during a televised speech on Tuesday that he planned to change the head of the defence forces within 24 hours.aljazeera
Sri Lanka death toll rises to 359, more arrested
Police say the death toll in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka has risen to 359 and more suspects arrested.Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said on Wednesday that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58. The Prime Minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large.AP
Fear of Backlash Grips Muslim Community Sri Lanka Mourns After Deadliest Attack:News18
New Delhi: For the first twenty-four hours after the deadliest attack that killed more than 200 people and injured hundreds, Sri Lanka remained calm and controlled. Even as rumours of various extremist organisations, including those with Buddhist and Islamic backgrounds, being responsible for the Easter massacre did the rounds, people lined up outside hospitals to donate blood and help as much as they could.On Monday, however, Sri Lankan government confirmed that attacks were carried out by the Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamaat (STJD), a Salafist group with its origin in Kattankudy, a Muslim majority town in Batticaloa district. Now, Muslims in Sri Lanka are holding on to the hope that there would be no untoward incident in the near future. Hilmey Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said his council’s first priority was to restore the faith in people.  Ahamed said,“Trust and faith of our people are shaken. Majority of the Muslims don’t subscribe to any kind of violence, even when they were expelled from the North and all the problems they went through during the 30-year conflict. Now, after years, you wake up to such a horrific massacre. We have to do everything possible to restore the faith in the Muslim community.”Muslims were living in a fear of backlash,he added.“In fact, even with the political leadership, there is a fear of something grave happening over the next couple of days,” Ahamed said.He also pointed out how he had brought up the case of STJD with the authorities years ago. “It was a very small organisation if at all, or a one-man show. There were posts on YouTube and social media spreading hate. We knew about this person and informed the authorities 3 years back. We informed not because we knew that they were capable of such large-scale violence but because we felt that the outfit was preaching hate,” he said, adding that the level at which the outfit carried out the bloodshed was something that neither he nor the Council could have expected.A resident of Colombo, on condition of anonymity, said that the community was more in danger than ever.Ahamed further said that it was close to impossible for STJD to have carried out this attack on its own.“Even with the almost 30-year-long war, LTTE could not pull off something like this, despite the experience that they had. How is it that such an amateur organization has undertaken such an act of violence on such a large scale?” he asked.AFP
Sri Lanka may ban burqa following Easter Sunday terror attack: Report
Colombo:Sri Lanka has initiated a plan to ban the burqa as interrogation of suspects and other evidence are pointing to the involvement of a large number of women in the Easter Sunday attacks that killed at least 321 people and wounded nearly 500 others in the island nation, a media report said on Tuesday.The government is planning to implement the move in consultation with the mosque authorities, the Daily Mirror reported quoting sources."The government, he said (source), is planning to implement the move in consultation with the mosque authorities and on Monday several ministers had spoken to President Maithripala Sirisena on the matter," the paper reported the source as saying.It has been pointed out that burqa and niqab were never part of the traditional attire of Muslim women in Sri Lanka until the Gulf War in the early 1990s which saw extremist elements introducing the garb to Muslim women. Defence sources said that a number of female accomplices of incidents in Dematagoda too had escaped wearing burqas, the report said.PTI
No Intelligence Linking Attacks in Sri Lanka to Christchurch Shootings: New Zealand PM
Wellington: New Zealand‘s PM Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that her government was not aware of any intelligence suggesting that the devastating attack on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for deadly shootings on a mosques in Christchurch.Sri Lanka‘s junior minister for defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, told the parliament on Tuesday that an initial investigation had revealed that the bombings on churches and hotels, had been carried out in revenge for deadly shootings in two New Zealand mosques on March 15.Security experts and analysts, however, have questioned whether the coordinated bomb attacks could have been planned in such a short period.“We haven’t received anything officially nor have we received any intelligence reports that corroborate what has been said in Sri Lanka,” Ardern said.“Sri Lanka will be in the very early stages of its investigations. So we are simply stepping back and allowing them to undertake those, but we have nothing at this stage to corroborate what is being said,” she added.Reuters
WORLD
US Middle East peace plan to be released after Ramadan
The long-awaited Mideast peace plan, hailed as a solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict by US President Donald Trump, will be revealed after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser said Tuesday.While Jared Kushner provided no details as to what the plan entails, he said that “there will be tough compromises for both sides.”Kushner references to the two-state solution, a long-held framework for the solution to the conflict, saying that efforts made in the past have not worked.Kushner said in an interview at TIME 100 summit in New York:"We’ve studied all the past efforts and how they failed and why they failed. I think if people focus on the old traditional talking points, we will never make progress."The plan will be revealed in early June when Ramadan ends.middleeastmonitor
Hamas to form committee to tackle ‘deal of the century’
Member of Hamas’ Political Bureau Salah Al-Bardaweel announced yesterday that his movement is working to form the Supreme National Committee Against the Deal of the Century, Al-Wattan Voice reported.The committee, Al-Bardaweel explained, will include national, regional and international players.“We are working to face the ‘deal of the century’ and we want to achieve a real national unity that respects all the Palestinians,” he said, pointing to the “successful joint work through the Return March and the joint operation room.”The senior Hamas leader said that his movement is also working against normalisation, as well as reinforcing popular resistance, not only in Gaza, but also in the occupied West Bank.middleeastmonitor
Israeli army shoots handcuffed, blindfolded teen
BETHLEHEM:A Palestinian teen has accused Israeli forces of attempting to kill him in the occupied West Bank while being handcuffed and blindfolded. Osama Ali al-Badan, 16, was arrested last week during a protest in the town of Taqou in Bethlehem after a settler ran over into a female Palestinian. “Israeli soldiers opened fire on me when I tried to escape while being blindfolded and handcuffed,” al-Badan told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. The Palestinian teen accused the Israeli military of “deliberately attempting to kill him”.He was released by local residents and was rushed to hospital for medical treatment. Anadolu Agency
Israeli army razes West Bank home of slain Palestinian attacker
Israeli forces on Wednesday destroyed the family home of a Palestinian teenager who was suspected of carrying out a deadly stabbing and shooting attack in the occupied West Bank last month.Omar Abu Laila, 19, who was on the run, was found in a house in the village of Abwein, north of Ramallah. He was killed on March 20 after he opened fire at Israeli forces who had come to arrest him two days after the attack.Omar had allegedly killed an Israeli soldier with a knife at a junction near the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel in the West Bank.aljazeera
Saudi executes 37 in connection with terrorism
Saudi Arabia executed 37 of its citizens on Tuesday for what it said were "terrorism" related crimes, publicly pinning 2 of the bodies to a pole as a warning to others. The individuals were found guilty of attacking security installations with explosives, killing a number of security officers, and cooperating with "enemy organisations" against the interests of the country, the interior ministry said in a statement.The sentences were carried out in Riyadh, the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, central Qassim province, and Eastern Province, home to the country's Shia minority.The men were executed "for adopting terrorist and extremist thinking and for forming terrorist cells to corrupt and destabilise security", a statement by official SPA said.2 of the executed men's bodies were publicly hung from a pole for several hours in a process that is not frequently used by the kingdom and has sparked controversy for its grisly display.The report didn't state how death penalty was implemented, but executions in Saudi are known to be carried out by shooting or beheading with a sword, sometimes in public.The state killings came a day after the alleged ISIL's attack on Sunday on a Saudi security building in the town of Zulfi. In that attack, all 4 gunmen were killed and three security officers were wounded. At least 100 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year, according to a count based on official data released by SPA.Last year, the oil-rich Gulf state carried out the death sentences of 149 people, according to Amnesty International, which said only Iran was known to have executed more people.aljazeera
Zarif slams US silence on mass executions in Saudi Arabia
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticised the administration of US President Donald Trump for not condemning a mass execution of prisoners in Saudi Arabia. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia beheaded 37 of its citizens for what it said were "terrorism"-related crimes, publicly pinning two of the bodies to a pole as a warning to others."After a wink at the dismembering of a journalist, not a whisper from the Trump administration when Saudi Arabia beheads 37 men in one day - even crucifying one two days after Easter," Zarif said on Twitter, referring to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi agents in Oct.aljazeera
US offers $10m reward for information on Hezbollah's finances
As part of its anti-Iran push in the Middle East, the US has offered a $10m reward on the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah.Trump administration wants to cut the Lebanon-based group's means of getting funds.But there are concerns that the move could unsettle Lebanon since it is so firmly entrenched in the nation's political system.aljazeera
Calls grow louder in Sudan for civilian government
2 weeks after mass protests in Sudan unseated former President Omar al-Bashir, more protesters from the northern city of Atbara have joined the sit-in in Khartoum.They are unhappy with the military dragging its heels over establishing a transitional civilian government and dismissed an African Union proposal to put back that deadline by three months.aljazeera
Islamists make comeback in union elections in Jordan
Islamist faction in Jordan, which is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood group, has made a series of consecutive electoral wins in the country’s professional syndicates in less than a month, having obtained the majority of seats in the teachers’ and medical doctors’ associations, the Student Union of the University of Jordan, and the student association at the Faculty of Technological Engineering. Such electoral results in favour of Islamists had been absent for several years partially due to interventions from the state, such as the state’s backing of rival candidates, which was the case in the Jordan Engineers Association’s elections.In 2018 the Muslim Brotherhood lost the Jordan Engineers Association elections, which was a first given that the association had been a stronghold for the group since 1992. In May 2018, a ticket representing a coalition of leftists, pan-Arabists, and secularists won the presidency and deputy presidency in the association’s 2018 election.middleeastmonitor
Libya: GNA forces repel Haftar's offensive, retake Tripoli suburb
Troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government have retaken control of territory along the capital's southern districts from renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based forces.Forces aligned with the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) on Tuesday repelled Haftar's self-styled National Liberation Army (LNA) from the town of Aziziya, pushing the latter's troops to more than 60km from central Tripoli.GNA spokesperson Mohammed Qanounou said government forces destroyed eight armoured vehicles belonging to Haftar's troops.He added that the GNA air force had conducted seven sorties targeting Haftar's al-Watiyah airbase and al-Thamenah camp in Gharyan, located about 100km southwest of Tripoli.aljazeera
Afghanistan: Pro-government forces killed more civilians than insurgents did in 2019, says UN
Pro-government forces in Afghanistan were responsible for more civilian deaths than those attributed to anti-government elements including the Taliban during the first quarter of 2019, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said on Wednesday. The international organisation’s report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, however, reported a 23% decrease in the overall civilian casualties as compared to the same period (Jan.1 to March 31) last year.The mission attributed 305 civilian deaths and 303 injury reports in the first quarter to pro-government forces and said that it accounted for a 39% increase compared to the corresponding period in 2019.“UNAMA attributed 17% of civilian casualties to the Afghan national security forces, 13% to international military forces, 2% to pro-govt armed groups, and 2% to multiple pro-government forces,”report said. “Continuing trends observed in 2018, UNAMA documented increased harm to civilians from aerial and search operations.”scroll.in/
North Korea's Kim Jong Un to meet Putin in Russia
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has left Pyongyang by train as he heads to Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.North Korean leader left at dawn on Wednesday with top government and military officials, according to the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency. It said officials and residents gathered at Pyongyang's train station to see him off. Kim will meet Putin on Thursday in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok to discuss the international standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear programme, a Kremlin official said.aljazeera
More than 50 dead in South Africa after heavy rains
More than 50 people have been killed in southern and eastern parts of South Africa after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides, authorities said.Rescue workers were digging through collapsed homes and other buildings in coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal province, where the death toll stood at 51, local officials said.aljazeera
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