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22 May 2019

22 May ND: EC rejects Opposition parties demand on changes to VVPAT counting process/Home Ministry alerts all states about possible violence during counting of votes tomorrow


NEWS DIGEST, EVENING 
22 May 2019: 16 Ramazan 1440:Vol: 11, No:208
INDIA
EC rejects Opposition parties demand on changes to VVPAT counting process
New Delhi:The Election Commission today rejected a demand by 22 Opposition parties asking that VVPAT slips be counted before EVMs in polling stations where applicable. 22 Opposition parties led by the Congress had told the Commission that “if any discrepancy is found anywhere during the VVPAT verification, 100 per cent counting of paper slips of VVPATs of all polling stations of that assembly segments should be done”.On Tuesday,it was senior Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Singhvi who argued Opposition’s case before the Commission.Opposition leaders had said the poll panel assured them that a meeting of full Commission would look into their demands. The leaders, however, had said they were not very hopeful since the EC’s “body language was not very positive”.indian express
22 opposition parties plan stir if EC fails to act
Home Ministry alerts all states about possible violence during counting of votes tomorrow
New Delhi:Home Ministry on Wednesday put out a nation-wide alert to states about possible eruption of violence in different parts of the country in connection with the counting of votes. Centre’s advisory comes just a day after former union minister Upendra Kushwaha threatened of bloodshed in Bihar if any attempt is made to steal “the peoples’ votes”. Ram Vilas Paswan, the union minister and the BJP ally in Bihar, had responded to Kushwaha’s warning of bloodshed. Paswan, who spoke after the dinner for NDA allies hosted by BJP chief Amit Shah, declared that “there will be a tit for tat”.“The Home ministry has asked states and union territories to maintain law and order, peace and public tranquility and take adequate measures for the security of strong rooms and venues of counting of votes,”a Home Ministry statement said.Home Ministry did not spell out the statements that had provoked the advisory ahead of counting of votes but said the alert had been sounded “in the wake of calls given and statements made in various quarters” for inciting violence and causing disruption on the day of counting of votes.HT
Intel note reveals diabolical terror plot tomorrow: Times Now
Exit polls prediction that Modi will return for the second term has spooked Pakistan. Intel input accessed by Times Now unveils Pakistan's diabolical plot to bleed India around May 23 that's when the results will be declared. This Intel note suggests that terror launch pads near the line of control are activated and terrorist will be pushed from J&K & Rajasthan. Watch the video to know more! Times now news
VVPAT verification: ‘Is SC also involved in rigging?’ asks Congress leader Udit Raj
Congress leader Udit Raj today raised concerns about how the Supreme Court has dealt with pleas for 100% verification of the VVPAT slips during the counting from electronic voting machines when votes are counted on May 23.Raj asked if the top court was involved in rigging the elections. “Why doesn’t the Supreme Court want to have all VVPAT slips counted?” he said on Twitter. “Is it also involved in the rigging? If all government work is stalled due to election process for about three months, then how does it matter if counting takes two or three extra days?”Raj told ANI that he was not levelling allegations against the SC, instead he was only raising concerns. “When 22 parties went to the Supreme Court asking for increase in number of VVPAT slips being counted, SC rejected it saying it will cause a delay,” he said.Raj’s remarks come a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by NGO Tech4All, which had sought 100% verification of the VVPAT slips with the results from electronic voting machines.scroll.in
'Why Is EC Not Clarifying Facts:' Former CEC SY Qureshi On EVM Tampering Allegations
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) S Y Qureshi has questioned the Election Commisison asking why the poll body wasn't clarifying facts about ongoing controversy over the movement of EVMs in some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar."Why is EC not clarifying what the facts are? Speed is extremely important," he wrote on Tweeter.Over the past 24 hours, several videos showing the movement of EVMs surfaced online, raising suspicion among people that the voting machines could be tampered with.Qureshi, in another tweet, asked EC spokesperson Sheypali Sharan to simplify the reports from returning officers she posted on Twitter. "State in one line what’s the finding," he said.outlookindia

Congress calls EC’s decision to not make dissenting views public a ‘constitutional travesty’
Congress today said the Election Commission’s decision to reject commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s demand of including dissent notes in the final orders by the poll panel was a “constitutional travesty”.Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “ECI wants to set a new precedent of ‘dark secrets’ & ‘secluded chambers’ in doing its constitutional duties. If CEC can’t play fair in its functioning, can it play fair in ensuring a free & fair election?”Surjewala’s comments came a day after the Election Commission decided that dissenting views in cases of deliberations on Model Code of Conduct violations would not be made public. The commission said dissent notes will only be included in internal files, which has been the practice.scroll.in
‘Blatant violation of Model Code’: Non-BJP candidates from Ladakh demand repoll in Zanskar
On May 20, three of the four candidates in the fray for the Ladakh parliamentary seat wrote a joint letter to Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, seeking a repoll in Zanskar sub-division.Ladakh had voted in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 6.This followed a letter they had sent to the office of the Election Commission of India on May 9, in which they alleged “blatant violation of Model Code of Conduct during the polling process and the malpractices thereof committed with utter disregard to democratic practice and norms”. 3 complainants – the Congress candidate and two independents – said that they were compelled to move the office of the Election Commission once again due to the absence of any “positive response” to previous representations. The fourth candidate in the fray is from the BJP.scroll.in
Don’t be disheartened by fake exit polls, Rahul tells party workers
Congress president Rahul Gandhi TODAY asked them to not be disheartened by fake exit poll results and urged them to stay alert and vigilant.His appeal to workers came a day after opposition parties raised concerns over reports of alleged tampering of EVMs and asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting.Rahul Gandhi asked the workers to believe in themselves and the Congress."The next 24 hours are very crucial. Stay alert and vigilant. Don't be scared. You are fighting for the truth. Don't be disheartened by the propaganda of fake exit polls. Believe in yourself and the Congress. Your hard work will not go to waste. Jai Hind," he said in a tweet in Hindi.PTI
UP: Muslims plan to leave this village if BJP wins polls
Muslims in Nayabans, an unremarkable village in UP, say they remember a time when their children played with Hindu youths, and people from either faith chatted when they frequented each other's shops and went to festivals together.Such interactions no longer happen, many say, because of how polarized the 2 communities have become in the past 2 years, and some are frightened and thinking of moving away - if they can afford it.Muslim residents who spoke to Reuters said they thought tensions would only worsen if PM Narendra Modi's BJP wins a second term in the current general election, as exit polls released on Sunday indicate is likely. Votes will be counted Thursday. "Things were very good earlier. Muslims and Hindus were together in good and bad times, weddings to deaths. Now we live our separate ways despite living in the same village," said Gulfam Ali, who runs a small shop selling bread and tobacco."Modi and Yogi Adityanath have messed it up," said Ali. "Dividing Hindus and Muslims is their main agenda, only agenda. It was never like this earlier. We want to leave this place but can't really do that."He says about a dozen Muslim families have left in the past two years, including his uncle.The BJP denies its policies have stoked community divisions.At the end of last year, Nayabans, a village of wheatfields, narrow cemented streets, bullock carts and loitering cows, became a symbol of India's deepening divide as some Hindu men from the area complained they had seen a group of Muslims slaughtering cows, which Hindus regard as sacred.Angry Hindus accused police of failing to stop an illegal practice, and a Hindu mob blocked a highway, threw stones and burned vehicles. 2 people were shot and killed - including a police officer.5 months later many Muslims, who only number about 400 of the village's population of over 4000, say wounds haven't healed. Some Muslim residents said Hindu hardliners started asserting themselves more in the village after Yogi took office in March2017. Atmosphere worsened around the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2017- Hindu activists demanded Muslims stop using a microphone in their madrasa, which also acts as a mosque, to call people to prayer, arguing it disturbed the whole community.The Muslims reluctantly agreed to stop using the mike and speaker - even though they say it had been operating for many years - to keep the peace, but the move created deep resentment."We can't express our religion in any way here, but they are free to do whatever they want," said Muslim law student Aisha, 21.She said that Hindu men from the village often shouted anti-Muslim slogans during festival processions. At least a dozen Hindus in the village denied that was the case.Reuters
Exit poll 2019 results have left people disturbed, Muslims should pray for suitable results: Deoband
New Delhi: With two days to go before the results of 2019 Lok Sabha elections are announced, Deoband, Islamic seminary in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, has urged Muslims to offer prayers if they wish the results of the 2019 polls to be “suitable for all.” Muslims should offer prayers “collectively “in connection with the matter, the Mufti of the seminary said. Maulana Masood Hasan Bulandshahri, who is Mufti of Deoband in Saharanpur said that the exit polls, a majority of which have predicted NDA’s victory in the elections, have left people “disturbed”. He said, “This is necessary for the peace of mankind in the country. The exit poll results have left many people disturbed.”He added, “Prayers are the only answer in this situation and one never knows when their prayers will be answered.”Notably, other clerics have reportedly approved the Mufti’s appeal, IANS reported. Backing the Mufti’s opinion to pray for the poll results, Maulana Ishaq Gora said, "We welcome the appeal and all Muslims should follow this."Times Now
Upset by exit poll outcome, top Muslim cleric calls for special namaaz for favourable results
Muslim Auto Driver Lynched in TN’s Trichy for Defending a Women Being Harassed
Chennai;32-year-old auto driver Abdullah, who tried to stop his passenger from getting harassed at a restaurant, was allegedly beaten to death on Sunday, reported The News Minute. But the police laughed off the case terming it a drunken brawl.The victim’s family said that not a single person came to his defense as he was beaten mercilessly by four men. Abdullah was a resident of Muslim street in Trichy city. He had left his residence around 11 am and was taking a female passenger to Trichy Famous Biryani restaurant, where he was killed. As the woman had to pick up a parcel, Abdullah waited for her at the restaurant.“According to what eyewitnesses told us, an inebriated man, who was at the restaurant, purposely smacked into the woman. My husband immediately questioned the man and the people with him, and then, a tussle ensued. They hit each other and then the drunk man left, threatening to bring more people. But my husband didn’t take it seriously. However, he did come back with three men and they all hit him till he died. They used a wooden plank to beat his head” Tashmin Banu, Abdullah’s wife was quoted by The New Minute as saying.Tashmin, who has two young children that she now has to support financially, said a complaint was filed on Sunday night with the local police.When TNM contacted Srirangam ACP K Ramachandran, however, he laughed off the case terming it a drunken brawl.“Abdullah was also inebriated and he died because he was pushed to the ground and sustained head injuries. It was not a big fight,” he said. When asked whether the reason behind the brawl was that a woman was harassed, he responded, “It was. The man who allegedly harassed this woman is Nagarajan, who was also drunk,” the officer argued. However, Tashmin vehemently denied that her husband had been inebriated.caravandaily
Justice Gavai to be second Dalit CJI as govt clears names of four judges for Supreme Court
New Delhi :The government Wednesday cleared names of four judges for their elevation to the Supreme Court. The 4 names cleared by the Centre are Justices BR Gavai, Surya Kant, Aniruddha Bose and AS Bopanna. Once the appointments formally come through, the top court will have its full sanctioned strength of 31 judges (including chief justice). As of now, the apex court is functioning with 27 judges.The Centre had earlier returned names of Justices Bose and Bopanna for reconsideration to the SC collegium citing seniority and representation of regions as the reasons. With Justice Gavai’s elevation, the top court will get its second Dalit CJI . Justice KG Balakrishnan was the first Dalit judge to be appointed as CJI in 2007.indianexpress
Break-in at IAF Rafale team office in France
New Delhi:A theft was reported in Paris office of Indian Air Force (IAF) Project Management Team (PMT) overseeing the Rafale fighter deal.“The incident occurred on Sunday and an investigation is underway. It is Dassault Aviation's responsibility as it has been on their premises,” a defence source said. PMT consists of four IAF officers headed by a Group Captain.In Sept.2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in Sept.2016 for 36 Rafale multi-rolejets in fly-away condition and also has a 50% offset clause to be executed by the French partners. As per terms of the IGA, deliveries will begin 36 months after the signing of the contract and should be completed in 67 months.The local police have been informed and a case has been registered, a second source said.thehindu
Rafale controversy: Ambani to withdraw defamation suits against Congress leaders, National Herald
Anil Ambani led Reliance Group is all set to withdraw Rs 5000 crore civil defamation suits which is filed in an Ahmedabad court against several Congress leaders and National Herald newspaper over their statements and an article on the contoversial Rafale fighter jet deal. Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Aerostructure, which are part of the Reliance Group, had filed civil defamation suits against several Congress leaders like Sunil Jakhar, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Oommen Chandy, Ashok Chavan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sanjay Nirupam and Shaktisinh Gohil, a few journalists and news organisations like National Herald. The defamation suit against the Congress leaders was related to press briefings, public agitations and articles in the media on alleged corruption in the Rafale deal.The decision to withdraw the defamation suits is seen as a huge judgement ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019 results. On May 23, the counting will be held and a new government will be in place after the results.NewsX
Rafale deal case: Centre ‘deliberately misled’ court, say petitioners
New Delhi: Petitioners in the Rafale deal case accused the government of having “wilfully and deliberately misled” the Supreme Court by feeding it untruths which amounted to “wholesale fraud”.This is part of 41-page written submissions filed by the petitioners, including ex-Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan. The written submissions covered points raised by the petitioners for initiating a case of perjury against officials responsible for “suppressing the facts” of Rafale purchase. It also addressed issues raised for reviewing the SC’s Dec.14 judgment which had upheld the purchase.Instead of providing the court with the original and complete records of the deal for 36 Rafale jets from M/s Dassault Aviation in France, the government saw the court make do with two notes filed in sealed covers, the petitioners contended.“It suppressed the truth and thereby insinuated utter falsehoods: facts and documents of the greatest significance, which have direct and overarching bearing on the matter that the court was considering, and which were available with the government were suppressed from the court,” the submissions said.“It was not just one factor document that might have been left out accidentally. But a series, and all of them conformed to a pattern... The court placed its trust in the govt — as a result, in reaching the conclusions that it did, the court relied almost wholly on the notes that the government had submitted; and the government abused that trust,” the petitioners argued.“The falsehoods and suppression of facts were so extensive that they amount to wholesale fraud: and a judgment [Dec.14] obtained by fraud is ipso facto void, non est.”thehindu
14 years later, relief for Mulayam, Akhilesh: CBI tells Supreme Court assets probe shut
New Delhi :CBI has told the Supreme Court that it has closed a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) initiated against Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and his sons, Akhilesh Yadav and Prateek Yadav, over allegations of disproportionate assets since the charges could not be substantiated.“…in furtherance of the directions of the Honourable Court… further enquiry was conducted in the said PE and it was found that the allegations against Respondent Nos. 2,3 and 5 for allegedly having acquired disproportionate assets to their known sources of income could not be substantiated. Accordingly, the PE was closed by submitting a report to the CVC on 08.10.2013,” the agency said in an affidavit.indianexpress
Stray cattle count up in Haryana, gaushalas reel under space shortage, fund crunch
Karnal:Though the number of gaushalas in Haryana has risen in the past two-and-a-half years, caring for abandoned cattle is becoming difficult for authorities due their ever-increasing numbers.The are currently 567 gaushalas in the state (up from 350 in 2017) but most of these, especially the ones in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar and Panipat districts, are overcrowded and facing a dire shortage of funds. With the population of stray cattle in the state estimated to be around 4 lakh, the authorities are struggling to provide even basic necessities such as fodder, water, shelter and treatment. A visit to any gaushala would reveal the plight of these cattle. It’s a common sight to see the cattle battling the scorching heat in the absence of enough shelters. As farmers find it difficult to afford the upkeep of their livestock once the cattle stop producing milk, they abandon them soon after. Vikram Singh, a caretaker at Govansh Dham Anusandhan Kendra in Mathana village of Kurukshetra district, says,“As soon as the cows stop producing milk, their masters abandon them and they are left to die. It seems the cow is no more Gaumata”. Moreover, due to the ban on cattle slaughter under the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, and monitoring by cow vigilantes, the number of stray cattle has been increasing.HT
Journalist, social activists express concern over ‘fake’ NRC objections
A group of people in Assam on Wednesday expressed concern over "false" objections raised by persons with "vested interests" to "harass genuine Indian citizens", whose names have appeared in the draft NRC. Complaints have been raised by persons and groups with "vested interests" against "genuine" citizens who have established lineage dating back to early 19th century, claimed journalist and convenor of rights body, Centre for Justice and Peace, Zamsher Ali.Objections have been filed against Ali's seven-year - old daughter and the "entire family, tracing its lineage to the same legacy data, has to be present at the NRC Seva Kendra to prove her citizenship", he said. The complainants do not even appear before the authorities during the time of hearing of their pleas, the journalist alleged."It is a concerted effort to ensure that names of genuine Indian citizens are deleted from the final NRC, scheduled to be released on July 31," he said.Objections have also been also filed against the inclusion of the name of Hara Kumar Goswami, a social activist of Rampur village in Barpeta district."There is no history of migration in our village but objections have been filed against five persons, including me, mainly because we highlight the problems being faced by people struggling to establish their citizenship, and also those who have been declared as D-voters", Goswami said.Echoing similar sentiment, researcher and social activist, Syeda Mehjabeen Rahman, said, "Objections are filed randomly and in my case, it has been filed against me and my uncle."She also alleged that authorities of the NRC Seva Kendras were "in league" with the complainants providing them with the Application Receipt Number (ARN) of the applicants.nationalheraldindia
Seers plan Ayodhya meeting in June over Ram temple
Lucknow:Saints from across the country will converge in Ayodhya on June 3 to discuss the construction of the Ram temple at a meeting convened by the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, a body of saints that spearheads the Ram Mandir movement and VHP, a right wing Hindu organisation. The proposals finalised at the meet will be put up before the saints at an open platform on the last day of the nine-day-long birthday celebrations (June 7 to June 15) of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, head of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.CM Yogi Adityanath will be a part of the inaugural event. “Saints from all across the country will assemble in Ayodhya on June 3 for a meeting to discuss the Ram Mandir issue,” said Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, senior member of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas and successor of Mahant Nritya Gopal Das.HT
Sushma speaks of Pulwama, Sri Lanka attacks at SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting in Kyrgyzstan
New Delhi:External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today took up terror strikes at Pulwama and Sri Lanka and urged member nations of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) for greater counter-terror cooperation. Addressing the ministerial meet of SCO at Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, the External Affairs Minister said that India remains committed to regional connectivity and peace in Afghanistan.“Our heart goes out to our brothers and sisters of Sri Lanka, who have recently witnessed the ghastly act of terrorism. Our wounds of Pulwama attack were still raw and the news from the neighbourhood has made us more determined to fight firmly [and] resolutely against this menace,” said Ms. Swaraj addressing a gathering which included her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.thehindu
Anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka: SDPI leader meets High Commissioner
New Delhi:SDPI, submitted a memorandum to Austin Fernando, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, on Friday expressing grave concern over the ongoing anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka wherein despite a nationwide curfew imposed the violence has spread to three districts north of the capital Colombo.A delegation of SDPI led by its national president M K Faizy called on Mr. Austin Fernando, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner, in New Delhi and submitted the memorandum. Others who were part of the delegation included National vice presidents Sharfuddin Ahmad & Dehlan Baqvi Sheikh Mohammad and national general secretaries Abdul Majeed KH & Mohammad Shafi.High Commissioner Austin Fernando gave a patient hearing to SDPI delegation assuring to forward their memorandum to the Sri Lanka Govt highlighting their concern about Sri Lankan Muslims who are under siege following the break out of anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka.The delegation pointed out that reportedly in the presence of Sri Lankan police and Army the rioters are indulging in brutal acts of violence on Muslims while the peace-enforcing agencies are looking the other way. The High Commissioner promised to convey the sentiments and concern of the delegation to the Sri Lankan Govt. about the Muslims who are at the receiving end.siasat
J&K High Court quashes detention of Masarat Alam under PSA
Srinagar:J&K High Court has again quashed the detention of separatist leader Masarat Alam. The court has ordered release of Alam, who is in jail since April 2015, “if not required” in any other case.Alam, who was booked under 37th PSA in Nov, last year, was under detention in Jammu jail.Saying that it should be ensured that the grounds of detention are not vague, Justice Rashid Ali Dar quashed Alam’s detention. “The order of detention impugned does not sustain on the above referred grounds alone, therefore, other grounds projected in the petition are not required to be dealt with,” Justice Dar said.Alam’s release, however, is unlikely. The separatist leader, who is part of Syed Ali Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference, has spent most part of his life in jail since 2008. In the last 25 years, he has been booked 37 times under the Public Safety Act – a law that allows government to detain any person, without trial, for a period of up to six months.indian express
Construct Masjid in Amberpet before constructing Temple:Telangana Congress leader  Shabbir
Hyderabad: Senior Congress leader and former Minister, Mohammed Ali Shabbir demanded TRS Govt. to explain its stand on Masjid Ek Khana issue.He further told that the first ten days of Ramadan are over but according to the assurance given by the Govt., construction work could be started.He mentioned that on one hand, Home Minister is assuring to reconstruct the masjid at its place but the Advocate General claimed that there was no masjid at that place. It is not clear whose statement has to be taken as genuine.He lamented that despite Wakf records, GHMC officials dismantled the masjid which is deplorable. It is also regrettable that its compensation has already been paid to unauthorized occupants. Commenting on the statement made by CM KCR, Shabbir said that before constructing the temple at Kaleshwaram, he should reconstruct Masjid Ek Khana at Amberpet.He also told that KCR has Rs 100 crore for Kaleshwaram Temple but he is not releasing the amounts for the implementation of welfare schemes meant for the Muslims.siasat
Hyderabad: NGOs provide Iftaar for jail inmates
Hyderabad: In Ramzan, one of the most scorned sections of society is remembered by two organisations that provide seasonal fruits and dates for the Iftaar to the inmates of four city jails.Majlis Dawat-ul-Islam has been quietly arranging Iftaar — food taken when the day’s fast is broken in the evening — for the inmates of jails for 28 years, while Jamat-e-Islami is providing fruits for the last seven years, with the permission of the Department of Prisons and Correctional Services.Some 750 prisoners observe fast during Ramzan In Hyderabad’s jails.NGOs provide fruits and food during the holy month with the prior permission of the Department of Prisons.President of Majlis Dawat-ul-Islam Khaja Ali Babar said they had informed jail authorities that many prisoners are observing the fast, but they were not getting sufficient fruits in Iftaar.“Earlier, the members of the organisation were allowed to enter the jail, our volunteers used to arrange Iftaar inside the jail, but from the last 3 years, our entry has been restricted and authorities have asked us to hand over the fruits at the jail gate to the superintendent or deputy superintendent of the jail,”Babar said.Even more surprising, Babar said that earlier they were allowed to deliver sermons during Jumma prayers during the holy months, but for the last three years, this too has been prohibited by the jail officials. The Malakpet unit of the Jamaat-e-Islami is also providing fruits to Chanchalguda and Cherlapalli jails.Syed Abdul Quadar Nasir of Jamaat said that last year the organisation was allowed to lead the Eid prayer in Chanchalguda and “we hope this year also we will get permission for the same.”State President of Jamat-e-Islami Hamid Mohammed Khan said one of the affiliated wings of the organisation MPJ has provided finance for special arrangements for Sehri in jails.Deccan Chronicle
Study shows use of banned synthetic in feeding bottles
Despite a 2015 ban by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on the use of chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) in the manufacture of infant feeding bottles, a recent study conducted in seven states and Delhi has shown that the regulation is hardly followed, with laboratory tests showing concentrates of the banned synthetic compound in plastic bottles.Across Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Manipur, 20 random branded and non-branded samples of feeding bottles and sippy-cups were tested at the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. All the 20 bottles showed leaching of BPA ranging from 0.9 to 10.5 parts per billion.“BPA is associated with the increased risks of breast and prostate cancer, brain and thyroid abnormalities, infertility, heart diseases, diabetes, early puberty, and obesity,” the study observed. While samples from Gujarat had maximum BPA concentration, at 10.5 ppb, a sample from Kerala had the least BPA presence at 0.9 ppb. In Maharashtra, the samples had BPA ranging between 1.9 to 4.8 ppb.“We wanted to check compliance level by manufacturers. The Indian regulatory testing mechanism for BPA is poor. Several countries have a strict regulation against its use in feeding bottles. India needs a stronger framework,” said the study’s co-author, Piyush Mohapatra.indianexpress
WORLD
Deadly protests continue in Indonesia after Jokowi's election win
Jakarta, Indonesia - At least six people have been killed as protests continue for the second day in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, after the results of last month's election confirmed incumbent Joko "Jokowi" Widodo being officially declared president after getting 55 percent of the votes.The protesters were largely supporters of presidential candidate and former military general Prabowo Subianto and they claimed widespread fraud took place before, during and after the election.Major roads and public transport routes were shut in the city centre on Wednesday, with over 20,000 police deployed to protect vital installations and stop protests spreading on the second day.Thousands of protesters thronged near the Elections Oversight Body on Jakarta's main thoroughfare, Jalan Thamrin, in the morning and early afternoon, with crowds growing by the hour.Police shut off access to the office with rolls of barbed wire and heavy cement barricades. aljazeera
Saudi to execute 3 leading scholars after Ramadan: Report
3 leading Saudi Arabian scholars being held by Riyadh on multiple charges of "terrorism" will be sentenced to death, according to a report.Citing two government sources and one of the men's relatives, Middle East Eye on Tuesday reported the three individuals - Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari - will be convicted and executed after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan concludes next month.There was no comment from Saudi authorities on the report.Al-Awdah is an internationally renowned progressive Islamic scholar described by UN experts as a "reformist", al-Qarni is a preacher, academic and author, and al-Omari is a popular broadcaster."They will not wait to execute these men once the death sentence has been passed," one unnamed source told Middle East Eye.Another Saudi government source said the execution last month of 37 of the country's nationals was used as a "trial balloon" to gauge the strength of international condemnation, the outlet reported. Ali al-Ahmad, a longtime Saudi opposition figure and head of the US-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, called the reported move to execute the three prominent men a "crime to terrorise the Saudi citizens into submission"."The Saudi court system is more or less a kangaroo court system," al-Ahmad told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.But Yahya Assiri, founder of ALQST, a Saudi human rights organisation based in London, called the news report untrue in a tweet in Arabic. However, he wrote, "Nothing is beyond the authorities who are oppressive, brutal and ignorant, but also no one has been convicted or executed … This news is harmful to the victim and the human rights situation and our work."The trio are currently awaiting trial at the Criminal Special Court in the capital, Riyadh, according to Middle East Eye, after being arrested in Sept. 2017, when Saudi authorities detained dozens of prominent figures in an alleged anti-corruption crackdown headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. aljazeera
Saudi, UAE to attend US-led workshop in Bahrain
Saudi Arabia and UAE will attend a U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain next month aimed at encouraging investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.US administration officials are expected to unveil during the event the economic aspects of the US back-channel Middle East peace plan known as “deal of the century”. Saudi's official SPA said Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri will participate in the workshop. The participation comes as a "continuation of Saudi's permanent and supportive stance to Palestinian people and what would help it achieve stability, development and good living," SPA said. UAE also confirmed participation in the meeting. Anadolu
Hamas calls on Arabs not to participate in Bahrain ‘peace’ conference
Hamas has called on Arab states not to take part in the US economic conference being held in Bahrain, a statement said.“We warn Arab states against the malicious activities aimed to pave the way for normalisation with Israeli occupation and involvement in the deal of the century,” the statement said.Hamas said that deal adopts US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision to achieve what is called “economic peace”, which contradicts the decision of the Arab League and the unified Palestinian stance, which rejects Trump’s deal.“Therefore, participation in the workshop is against the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic stances,” the statement said.The movement also reiterated its rejection of any political, economic or other moves that may pave the way for the US peace plan dubbed the “deal of the century”.MEMO
Canada court hears lawsuit challenging Israel settlement wine labels
A Canadian court is hearing a lawsuit against a decision to allow wines made and manufactured in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be labelled “Product of Israel”.According to a report in Middle East Eye, David Kattenburg, a Jewish-Canadian activist based in Winnipeg, has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for an order “declaring unlawful” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) directive.In 2017, the CFIA “ordered liquor stores across the province of Ontario to de-shelve two Israeli settlement wines that were being sold with the label ‘Product of Israel’”, before promptly reversing its stance after “widespread public pressure from pro-Israel groups in Canada”.“What [the CFIA’s decision] amounts to is an acknowledgement and endorsement of Israel’s de facto annexation of the settlements,” Kattenburg told Middle East Eye earlier this month.After receiving a complaint filed by Kattenburg, the CFIA initially agreed that the wines should be taken off the shelves, on the basis that they were made in Psagot and Shiloh settlements. 24 hours later, the body had “changed its mind”.MEMO
Nuclear war risk highest since WWII, UN arms research chief warns
A top security expert at the United Nations has warned that the risk that nuclear weapons could be used is at its highest since World War II, calling it an "urgent" issue that the world should take more seriously.Speaking to reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday, Renata Dwan, director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), said the arms-control landscape was changing - partly due to strategic competition between the United States and China - and noted that all states with nuclear weapons have nuclear modernisation programmes under way. Traditional arms-control arrangements were also being eroded by the emergence of new types of war, with an increasing prevalence of armed groups and private sector forces and new technologies that blurred the line between offence and defence, Dwan said.With disarmament talks at a stalemate for the past two decades, 122 countries have signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, partly out of frustration and partly out of a recognition of the risks, she said. aljazeera
Theresa May under pressure to resign over new Brexit plan
Theresa May is under pressure to scrap her much-derided Brexit plan and resign.The British prime minister spoke about the latest iteration of her European withdrawal deal in the House of Commons on Wednesday, as voices of dissent within her own party grew increasingly loud.Not a full day has passed since May offered concessions to opponents, hoping to get enough support to get her deal agreed by parliament by offering the possibility of a "confirmatory referendum".But her efforts failed to impress."It's now clear that the overwhelming majority of the parliamentary party, the voluntary party and the electorate now agree," Conservative politician Andrew Bridgen told Reuters. "She has to go."Many senior government ministers failed to turn up for parliament's weekly Prime Minister's Questions, often an opportunity for political figures to show support for the government on television.
Regime attacks kill 12 in Syria's de-escalation zones
IDLIB:12 civilians were killed in regime airstrikes in Syria’s northwestern de-escalation zones, sources with the White Helmets civil defense agency said on Wednesday. The attacks targeted the towns of Maarat Al-Numan and Maarat Herma in Idlib province, the sources said. Also, regime forces and Iran-back terrorist group shelled the town of Khan Sheykhun and the villages of Al-Kassabiyya, Abdin, Karasaa, Kafr Sajna and Al-Naqeer. The new deaths brought to more than 455 civilians, who have lost their lives in Idlib since April 25.  Some 1.5 million people currently reside in Idlib, half are displaced from other parts of the war-torn country. Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression would be expressly prohibited. Anadolu
'Targeted killings',wave of arrests in Syria's Deraa
At least 380 civilians have been arrested in Syria's Deraa and 11 people killed in apparent "targeted killings" since government retook the southern province, according to the United Nations.Marta Hurtado, spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the 11 cases included a number of civilians and former fighters serving in civilian local councils and the security forces.The killings in Deraa, the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, took place despite attempts at reconciliation between the government and former fighters.Deraa surrendered to the Syrian army under a deal brokered by Russia in July last year. Assad's government offered amnesty to former fighters under the so-called "reconciliation" agreements. The 11 deaths that took place from July 26, 2018, to March 13, 2019, included fatal drive-by shootings, the UN rights office said in a report. Aljazeera
Omani author Jokha Alharthi wins Man Booker International Prize
Omani author Jokha Alharthi has become first Arabic-language writer to win the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for Celestial Bodies, a novel that deals with family connections and history in the coming-of-age account of three sisters.Alharthi's book beat five other shortlisted novels from Europe and South America to take the prize, which celebrates translated fiction from around the world and included a $64,000 award divided equally between author and translator. "I am thrilled that a window has been opened to the rich Arabic culture," Alharthi told reporters after the ceremony on Tuesday in Britain's capital, London."Oman inspired me but I think international readers can relate to the human values in the book-freedom and love,"40-year-old added.aljazeera
Pak Prepares Scientific Lunar Calendar in View of Ramzan to End Debate Over Moon-sighting
Islamabad: A panel of experts set up by the Pakistan government has prepared a scientific lunar calendar to end the controversy over moon-sighting ahead of Ramzan and according to it, Eid is expected to fall on June 5, a senior minister said.Since assuming office as Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has been pushing for using scientific methods for preparing the Islamic calendar and doing away with the traditional moon-sighting practices used by the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.Chaudhry announced on Monday that the scientific calendar has been completed and "will be sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology on Tuesday".The minister said that according to the scientific lunar calendar prepared by his ministry, Eid is expected to fall on June 5.Pakistan government formed a scientific committee this month to end the moon-sighting controversy, angering several Islamic scholars. According to the minister, calendar has been prepared through collaboration between Suparco, experts on space and weather experts. He said that members of the Council of Islamic Ideology as well as the moon sighting committee have been invited to view the calendar "so that they understand the extensive working that was done to compile it"."A 10-year calendar will end the disputes and extra expenses," minister said.Chaudhry said, "Before issuing the lunar calendar, religious scholars will be consulted and taken into confidence. After taking opinion from the IIC, the calendar will be sent to the federal Cabinet for approval."PTI       
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Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:54 PM)

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