News and views across the globe.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

1 AUG ND: SC gets Babri Masjid mediation panel report, may rule on next step tomorrow/ Unnao rape: SC transfers all cases to Delhi, orders CBI to complete probe in a week/After Triple talaq Bill , BJP MP brings up need for Uniform Civil Code


NEWS DIGEST, EVENING 
01 AUG. 2019: 28 Dhul Qadah 1440:Vol: 11, No:260
INDIA
SC gets Babri Masjid mediation panel report, may rule on next step tomorrow
The mediation panel set up by the Supreme Court to attempt a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya land title dispute today submitted its report in a sealed cover to the top court. 3-member panel led by retired Supreme Court judge FMI Kalifulla was initially told to work within an Aug.15 deadline.The top court, however, asked the mediation panel to submit an earlier status report after the successor of one of the original litigants, told the top court that the panel was not getting anywhere with mediation.In March this year, 5 judges of the top court decided to explore mediation in an attempt to “heal relationships” between communities. The SC is hearing petitions challenging a 2010 Allahabad High Court order that trifurcated the 2.77-acre-site between Nirmohi Akhara, Sunni Central Waqf Board, and Ram Lalla.At Friday’s hearing, 5 judges led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi would decide on its next step. Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer are the other members of the Bench.The judges had earlier indicated that if the mediation effort had run into a wall, it would resume hearings on the appeals filed before the constitution bench that could also be conducted on a day-to-day basis.The panel, which began negotiations with both the Hindu and Muslims litigants in Ayodhya on March 13, held final round of back-to-back discussions spread over 3 days in New Delhi from July 29.HT
Unnao rape: SC transfers all cases to Delhi, orders CBI to complete probe in a week
The Supreme Court today ordered the transfer of all 5 cases related to Unnao rape case outside UP to Delhi. The Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi also ordered CBI to complete the probe related to the accident within a week and then file the chargesheet in a fortnight. It also ordered that the trials in all five cases should be completed in 45 days thereafter on day to day basis.The bench also said the victim and her counsel, who are admitted in Lucknow’s KGMU hospital, can be shifted to Delhi if the family desires. Directing the UP Govt to pay an interim compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the victim, the court also ordered CRFP protection to the girl’s family. The counsel, who is also injured in the accident, has been ordered a compensation of Rs 20 lakhs.The victim, who is now battling for life after an accident in Rae Bareli on Sunday, had written to the CJI stating that she faced threats by accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar in the rape case. On Tuesday the woman and her lawyer were critically injured and her two aunts were killed after the car they were travelling in was hit by a truck on the highway. The SC enquired Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, why the letter sent by the Unnao rape victim’s family was lying before PIL section from July 17 till July 30. In its reply, the Solicitor General said the court receives at least 6,000 letters every month and the letter in question was under screening.This promoted an angry outburst from CJI Gogoi who said “What is happening in this country and you want the court to follow the letter of the law?… What is this? We will be failing in our duty….”Meanwhile, ahead of the top court’s order on the case, BJP expelled party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who is accused of raping a woman in Unnao. Sengar, and nine others, including the son-in-law of a UP minister, have been booked by CBI on allegations that they orchestrated the accident that has left the woman in a critical condition.indian express
SC transfers all Unnao cases out of UP to Delhi; CJI orders presence of 'responsible CBI' officer
Pak offers consular access to Kulbhushan, India says reviewing proposal
Pakistan has offered consular access to ex Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is sentenced to death on espionage charges, on Friday. The development comes 2 weeks after International Court of Justice ruled in favour of India on the issue of consular access. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India is evaluating the proposal by Pakistan in the light of ICJ verdict. “We will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channels,” he said. Pakistan foreign ministry had earlier said that Islamabad will grant consular access to Jadhav “according to Pakistani laws”.India has argued that Article 36 Paragraph 1(a) of Vienna Convention says that “consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State and to have access to them.Nationals of the sending State shall have the same freedom…to communication with and access to consular officers of the sending State.” India is the sending State in this case.indianexpress
Maldives ex-VP Ahmed Adeeb detained in India
Thoothukudi:Former Vice-President of Maldives Ahmed Adeeb, who was convicted and later acquitted in a plot to assassinate ex President Abdulla Yameen, is in the custody of Indian authorities. The boat having him was intercepted by Coast Guard near coast of Thoothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu today.Police sources said the Mongolian-flagged tugboat left Maldives on July 29 and reached near Thoothukudi coast around noon. Coast Guard's interception of the boat near the old harbour was based on information from Maldivian authorities.The boat had nine workers — 8 Indonesian nationals and one Indian — besides Mr. Adeeb.thehindu
President Kovind gives assent to triple talaq Bill
President Ram Nath Kovind today gave his assent to the Triple Talaq bill, which makes giving instant oral triple talaq a criminal offense with provisions of jail term of up to 3 years. The Triple Talaq law or the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights On Marriage) Act, 2019, has come into effect retrospectively from Sept.19, 2018.Ministry of Law and Justice on Jan.31 had notified Bill in the official Gazette of India for the law to come into forge with immediate effect.thehindu
After Triple talaq Bill , BJP MP brings up need for Uniform Civil Code
New Delhi:A day after Govt managed to pass the triple talaq Bill in Parliament despite numbers stacked against it in the Rajya Sabha, a ruling BJP member in Lok Sabha picked up Uniform Civil Code,another contentious issue, and sought measures to bring it in. Nishikant Dubey, a third-time MP from BJP, raised the matter during Zero Hour, drawing protests from the Opposition benches. Dubey said, “Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is necessary. No one should be allowed to do politics in the name of religion — it is India, and everyone should be treated equally.”Pointing out that Article 44 of the Constitution lists UCC as one of the directive principles of state policy, Dubey said the Govt should initiate measures to bring in the Code. He said UCC will do away with the need to make laws such as the one banning instant triple talaq. “We have one IPC and once CrPC. If CrPC is the same for everyone, why can we not have a UCC,” BJP member asked.indianexpress
 Dalwai’s forum demands uniform civil code
Parliament may have cleared a law to ban instant triple talaq and make it a criminal offence, but progressive Muslim groups have called for this reform to cover more aspects of Muslim personal law to proscribe polygamy and halala and eventually move towards a uniform civil code (UCC)."Practices like triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala cannot be seen in isolation. They are unjust and related to each other. If only triple talaq is banned, men will not grant talaq to their wives, but marry for the second time. However, we welcome the triple talaq ban," said Shamshuddin Tamboli, chief, Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal, adding that they were demanding that divorces decided only through courts. Tamboli also sought a UCC to deal with issues like marriage,divorce and inheritance. Hamid Dalwai, writer, had campaigned against religious fundamentalism and organised a morcha of Muslim women at the receiving end of oral, one-sided divorce on state administrative HQ of Mantralaya on April 18, 1966.He launched Mandal, which is a Muslim reformist movement,in March 1970."In a democracy, freedom is related to issues like religion and faith. (Religious considerations) cannot encroach into the realm of laws.Uniform laws are necessary to ensure exploitation is eradicated," said Tamboli. DNA
All India Democratic Women’s Association ask Prez to not sign TT bill
AIDWA(All India Democratic Women’s Association) referred Triple Talaq Bill as draconian as it criminalizes the mere pronouncement of triple talaq and makes it an offence punishable with up to three years of imprisonment. Condemning the bill AIDWA says that it converts a civil wrong, which all matters pertaining to Family Law are, into a criminal offence and is both ill conceived and legally flawed.It is communal in its intent as it specially seeks to target Muslim men who desert their wives and punish them. In an atmosphere where Muslims are the objects of various kinds of hate crimes the bill is another weapon to demean and chastise Muslim men and show them as criminals.President the General Secretary of AIDWA have also stated that the bill has been passed with retrograde provisions, one of which merely stipulate a subsistence allowance from the husband and not a full maintenance and residence.
Triple talaq law's maintenance provisions regressive for women: Activists
Triple talaq law has further diluted the maintenance provision for women and will not give protection to them as being projected, activists said, calling it a step backward for women empowerment. Kavita Krishnan, an activist and secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association, said the bill is weakening the existing "idea" that a woman should be given maintenance in tune with the life she has already enjoyed.The Govt should have concentrated on strengthening "extremely weak" maintenance law for women of all communities instead of criminalising the practice of triple talaq, she said.She said Muslim women want their husband to support them and give them maintenance in case of divorce. "If the husband goes to jail, it would not help them. Triple talaq law has diluted that (maintenance provision)," she said. Hasina Khan,one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court who has challenged the validity of triple talaq, said the sustenance allowance would be decided by the magistrate which would delay the process."Who will take care of the children when the husband goes to jail. We don't want to destroy a marriage but triple talaq bill would destroy weddings,"Khan said.Mariam Dhawale, women's rights activist, asked where will the woman go when her husband goes to jail.She called bill "a step backward" for women empowerment.Tahir Mahmood, ex member of Law Commission of India, said it might act as a deterrent for men who irresponsibly walk out of marriages due to ordinary wear and tear of married life.
Triple Talaq Bill will have no value if challenged: advocates
New Delhi: Noted lawyer of Supreme Court Sufiyan Siddiqui said Triple Talaq is not considered criminal act in the entire world. Even the other religions of India have no provision for punishment. In Islamic countries also it is not a crime. He expressed surprise that it is non-bailable as per the new law, while the accused of other serious crimes get bail. He further said that the law is against the Supreme Court order as well. The Supreme Court has considered triple talaq as only one talaq so when the talaq has not actually happened, then what is the punishment for? He asked.Advocate Siddiqui said the matter would surely be challenged in the court. Supreme Court will either dismiss the case on the basis of its earlier order or will issue stay order.Advocate Mohammed Aslam Khan general secretary AMU Old Boys said It is a bid to harass Muslims and appease Hindus. Supreme Court lawyer Altaf Husain also called the bill a violation of Supreme Court order.siasat
Punishment for triple talaq can worsen woman's plight: Grandson of Shah Bano
Indore:A grandson of Shah Bano,woman who became the face of the legal battle for married Muslim women's rights, supports the ban on triple talaq but says punishment for husband can make the wife's life more miserable.The bill providing for imprisonment of the husband for giving triple talaq was passed in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.Bano's grandson Jubair Ahmad Khan (45), a lawyer and tax consultant, said, "In Islamic Sharia there is no concept of divorce by uttering 'talaq' thrice. It is good that the Govt has enacted a law to stop this practice.""A good thing was presented in the wrong way. A criminal part has been added to this bill which can be misused like IPC section 498-A (which seeks to punish husband or in-laws who mistreat woman for dowry)," he said."Suppose a man is sent to jail by the court on the basis of his wife's complaint of triple talaq. In these circumstances, can the woman's in-laws would like to keep her with them?" Khan asked."Will the husband be able to accept her back after the release from jail?" he added."It takes a long legal process for a woman to get maintenance from the husband. So, how a woman who is the victim of triple talaq and her children will survive after her husband is jailed?" he asked.PTI
BJP leader in Odisha Assembly says Muslim women ‘dominate red-light areas of Mumbai, Kolkata’
A BJP leader in the Odisha Assembly on Thursday said that “Muslim women dominate red-light areas of Mumbai and Kolkata”. BC Sethi, who is the saffron party’s deputy leader in the Assembly, justified his statement saying that he was quoting “survey reports”.“What’s wrong in quoting survey reports in the House?” the leader was quoted as saying.“I have not made any adverse remarks against any community, but quoted survey reports that say Muslim women dominate the red-light areas in Mumbai and Kolkata.”Sethi also said that divorcee Muslim women, who were “triple talaq victims”, were forced into prostitution in these metros, according to Orissa Post. The leader was speaking during Zero Hour in favour of the triple talaq bill.Members of BJD and Congress demanded that the remarks of BJP leader be expunged from the records. scroll.in/PTI
Govt Considers Panel to Look into Minorities’ Concerns on New Education Policy Draft
New Delhi:Prominent Christian leaders met the Union HRD Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Tuesday, to apprise him of the issues and objections raised by the religious minorities on the draft of New Education Policy (DNEP), and said the central Govt may constitute a committee to consider the same. Govt also extended the date for submission of comments on DNEP by another fortnight till Aug.15 as July 31 was the last date earlier after one-month extension.At the end of a 2-day National Christian consultation on Draft National Education Policy,a delegation of senior Christian leaders called on the minister last night who assured them that the Govt would consider their demand and a special committee would be set up to consider objections and suggestions given by various religious minorities. convenor of All India Catholic Union and United Christian Action, Dr. John Dayal said, the minister has positively responded to their demands and assured that he would take all suggestions and objection into account.Caravan News
Assam Govt releases confidential district-wise numbers of people excluded from draft NRC
Assam Govt today released the district-wise break-up of the 40.07 lakh people who had failed to make it to the final draft of the National Register of Citizens. The state Govt submitted these numbers in the Assembly as part of its response to a query during Zero Hour.NRC state coordinator Prateek Hajela had submitted the district-wise data in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court in August 2018. In an order dated Sept. 19, 2018, the court had stated that the “confidential reports” submitted in “sealed covers” should not be made available to anyone else because of their “sensitive nature”.Today, Assam’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary cited the data in the state Assembly to make a case for fresh verification of the people included in NRC. Earlier in the month, Union home ministry and the Assam Govt had approached the Supreme Court for the same – a request that the court had turned down saying that 27 % people had already been freshly scrutinised.scroll.in
Re-verification necessary for a correct NRC:Assam BJP
Assam unit of BJP has said that a re-verification exercise of NRC should be undertaken to ensure a correct process.“Some people just want NRC. Centre and state demanded that for a correct NRC there should be re-verification of 20%entries in border areas and 10% in general areas. NRC has already taken so much time. What is the harm if it takes six months or 3 more months,” said Ranjeet Dass, president of Assam BJP, adding that in NRC draft “there were Assamese people who were excluded.” HT
480 Bangladeshis deported between Jan.2016 and April 2018: Delhi Police tell Supreme Court
Delhi Police HAS informed the Supreme Court that 489 Bangladeshis have been detained and 480 out of them have been deported from Jan.1, 2016 to April 30, 2018. However, no Rohingya immigrants were detained or deported during this period.Delhi Police was responding to a petition filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.His petition sought a direction to Centre and the state Govts to identify, detain and deport all “illegal migrants and infiltrators”.The matter is likely to come up for hearing next on August 14.scroll.in/ANI/PTI
Abdullahs meet PM Modi, ask him to hold J&K elections before year end
New Delhi:A National Conference delegation, led by Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, met PM Narendra Modi today and asked him to hold Assembly elections in the state before the end of the year.Abdullah said they had also apprised the PM of the situation in the Valley and requested him to not take any step that might affect the environment there.“We discussed two issues with PM. We told him that no step should be taken which will lead to deterioration of the situation in the Kashmir Valley.We also told him that the assembly elections should be held before the end of the year,” Omar Abdullah said.The meeting comes amid the deployment of 100 companies of paramilitary forces in Kashmir, which has led to speculation regarding the abrogation of Article 35A — which empowers the J&K Legislature to define permanent residents of the state.indianexpress/PTI
Article 35A ‘abrogation’: Shah Faesal, Rashid seek all-party meet
Srinagar :Reiterating its call for an all-party meet to formulate a joint strategy against the alleged attack on the special constitutional position of J&K, Peoples’ United Front (PUF) has launched a signature campaign to “tell the world what the people of J&K want”.The joint forum, formed by the bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal’s J&K Peoples Movement and Engineer Rashid’s Awani Ittihad, has said it is ready to “erase its identity and existence” if all the political parties join hands.“We appeal to New Delhi, please don’t try to play with fire. Any fiddling that will change the demography here would be unacceptable,” Rashid said. “By challenging this issue, you are challenging the wisdom of your forefathers, you are challenging the wisdom of those who have given you the Constitution.” Indianexpress
Illegal mosques, graveyards on 500 Delhi Govt lands: BJP MP
New Delhi:Taking a dig at Congress for allowing illegal construction by a specific community so as to garner their votes, BJP MP Pravesh Verma has said that over 500 Govt properties in Delhi, where hospitals and schools are proposed to be built, have been illegally taken over by constructing mosques and graveyards. Participating in the debate on Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha, Verma said this is not only the problem of the national capital but also an issue for the entire country.He said that the land parcels where these "illegal mosques and graveyards" have been constructed, belong to Delhi Development Authority (DDA),Municipal Corporation of Delhi(MCD),Delhi Jal Board and many other Govt departments."There are over 500 Govt lands where illegal mosques and graveyards are built. I object to such constructions on Govt land even if it is a mosque, temple or a gurdwara. But in the last 5 years I did not come to know about any such Govt land where an illegal temple or gurdwara is constructed," he said.Last week, BJP MP also met Delhi Lt. Governor Anil Baijal and handed him a list of 54 Govt properties in his parliamentary constituency where illegal mosques and graveyards have been constructed.IANS
 ‘Karkare may be a martyr but his torture of Pragya must be pointed out’: RSS leader
RSS leader Indresh Kumar has said that while one may respect the sacrifice of police official Hemant Karkare, alleged torture he inflicted on Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Thakur must also be pointed out, ANI reported. Karkare was the chief of Maharashtra ATS when he was killed during the attacks in Mumbai in 2008.Thakur, now a BJP MP, had claimed during her election campaign in April that Karkare had died because she had cursed him. Thakur is currently out on bail. Karkare had investigated the charges against Thakur in connection with Malegaon blasts. Thakur has claimed that she was tortured by officials when she was in jail for her alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon blasts.“No [investigating] agency has the permission to torture an accused who has not been proven guilty, that also a woman,” Kumar said. “Karkare is a martyr because he died of a terrorist’s bullet. But the Congress Govt got Sadhvi tortured to get its story proven true. Getting this done by the agency is a crime, and for the agency to do it is undignified. They should have resisted it. While his sacrifice can be respected, the torture done by him must be pointed out too.”scroll.in
UAPA Bill most dangerous legislation till date:CPI-M
UAPA Bill is "a dangerous piece of legislation" and will be used against the BJP's ideological opponents, CPI-M has said. UAPA Amendment Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is now being considered in the Rajya Sabha. An editorial in CPI-M journal "People's Democracy" said that along with NIA Amendment Bill, which has already been adopted by Parliament, "these two measures are going to make laws more draconian in the name of fighting terrorism."This legislation is an attack on federalism, democratic rights and liberty of citizens..."IANS
Parliament LIVE: National Medical Commission Bill passed in Rajya Sabha amid doctors strike
Rajya Sabha Thursday passed National Medical Commission Bill 2019 which seeks to replace Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. The Bill has already been passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill talks of a uniform NEET exam for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate super-specialty medical education. NMC will have 25 members, all appointed by the Central Govt on recommendation of a search committee comprising the Cabinet Secretary and 5 experts nominated by the Centre. Opposition protested in Rajya Sabha over the Speaker not taking on record their opinion during the voice vote on NMC Bill. Congress leader Anand Sharma said that this is happening every day that the Speaker is not allowing to record the Opposition's viewpoints and this is not acceptable in a democratic system. Meanwhile, UAPA Bill, 2019, which was cleared by the lower house on July 24, will be tabled in Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah. indianexpress
Resident Doctors, Including in Emergency Department, Strike Against NMC Bill
Villagers lynch thief to death in Jharkhand’s Dumka
Dhanbad:A 40-year-old thief was beaten to death by villagers after they caught him fleeing following a burglary in Dumka district of Jharkhand today, police said. Dumka’s SP YS Ramesh said the incident occurred around 1.30am today in Chihutiya village.The dead man was identified as Bhola Rajwar, a resident of nearby Loharia village under Taljhari police station of the district. Rajwar was one of 3 men who had burgled the house of Anandlal Marandi and were leaving with the stolen items when villagers caught them.They beat up Rajwar, who died on spot, and the other two men managed to flee.15 villagers have been taken into custody. HT
Azam Khan’s MLA son held for ‘obstructing’ police search at university
Rampur Police yesterday took into custody MLA Abdullah Khan, son of SP MP Azam Khan, for allegedly creating obstacles during a search operation at Mohammad Ali Jauhar University. Azam Khan is the chancellor of the university.The police team had been looking for books allegedly stolen from Madrasa Aaliya.Abdullah was later released on a personal bond by the court of SDM. In Lucknow, SP workers led by its state president Naresh Uttam and party MLAs staged a protest, alleging that BJP Govt was targeting Azam Khan and his son out of vendetta.Zubaid Khan, principal of Madrasa Aaliya, lodged a complaint regarding the theft of books from the madrasa on June 16. indianexpress
1992-93 communal riots: Court acquits man arrested 26 years after violent clash
Mumbai:A man, who was arrested 26 years after 2 groups clashed violently during the communal riots in Mumbai in 1992-93, was acquitted by a sessions court last week.The trial against Usman Mulla, now 52, who was arrested in Feb.this year, began in June and saw the deposition of only one witness —a police officer. However, witness could not establish Mulla’s presence at the spot where alleged incident took place on Jan.10, 1993.“Prosecution has even failed to establish that the accused was present at the time of occurrence of the incident. Merely saying that the accused was arrested on the day of the incident cannot be and should not be considered as sufficient evidence against the accused to connect him with the alleged crime when his presence on the spot is not established,” court said. indian express
ATS’s deradicalisation programme: ‘I realised Allah didn’t want me to sacrifice my life to make him happy’
Mumbai:On April 11,2017, as dusk was settling over Aurangabad, policemen from Maharashtra’s ATS knocked on his door and asked him to go with them for an “urgent” investigation. He guessed why they had come. He had been in touch with his childhood friend who is believed to have joined Islamic State in 2014. And through this friend, he had spoken to an IS recruiter over a chat app on becoming a suicide bomber.On his Facebook page, he had changed his profile picture to black-and-white IS flag and posted two messages that declared his affiliation.That evening, his wife and parents watching, he feared the worst as he was driven away in a car — life behind bars, even death. But nothing prepared him for what came next.At their office in Aurangabad, ATS officers pushed a sheaf of papers towards him. It was a list of 240 questions but not about him and IS. They were questions no one had ever asked him. Are you impulsive? Do you like going on roller coaster rides? Do you have an active fantasy life? Do you do things just for the thrill of it? Do you sometimes flatter people to get your way? For 8 hours, questions kept coming. Unknown to him, he was facing a psychometric test. And the questionnaire was to assess the degree to which he had been “radicalised” or how vulnerable he was to radicalisation. Then came the second surprise. He was sent home — asked to return every day until further instructions.He was the latest entrant to ATS’s “deradicalisation programme” under which the police say they are trying to pull people like him back from edge. According to Maharashtra DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, this 3-year-old programme has “reintegrated” at least 114 young men and 6 women who were being wooed by IS. ATS claims to have counselled 200 others, too. indianexpress
Gujarat  Rains: 4 dead, 5000 evacuated so far
At least 4 people were killed and over 5000 were evacuated from Vadodara city and surrounding areas as incessant rains battered the city in central Gujarat, reports PTI. Army and NDRF teams have been called in for relief and rescue efforts. Vadodara received nearly 500 mm rainfall in 24 hours ending 8 am today. This created a flood-like situation and disrupted normal life here.Breaking a record, Vadodara received over 20 inches of rainfall for over 12 hours Wednesday, flooding major parts of the city. All schools have been declared closed today by the district collector. indianexpress
WORLD
Iranian Prez slams US over 'childish' FM Javad Zarif sanctions
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called a decision by US to sanction Iran's foreign minister "childish" amid rising tensions between the 2 countries.In its latest move aimed at ratcheting up its "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran, Washington on Wednesday said it was imposing sanctions on Mohammad Javad Zarif for acting on behalf of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - who is also subject to recently-imposed US sanctions.Rouhani said US was "resorting to childish behaviour ... They were claiming ever day 'We want to talk, with no preconditions' ... and then they sanction the foreign minister."Rouhani also accused the US of being "afraid" of Zarif, who recently gave a series of wide-ranging interviews to foreign media in New York.In one of them, Zarif hit back at US President Donald Trump's call for new nuclear negotiations that encompass Iran's ballistic missiles programme and accused Washington of bringing the Middle East to the brink of "explosion" by selling arms to allies in the Gulf. "They are afraid of our foreign minister's interviews," Rouhani said. "It is completely clear that the foundations of the White House have been shaken by the words and logic of an informed, devoted and diplomatic individual". In a statement announcing the sanctions against Zarif, US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin said: " Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader, and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world". Zarif brushed off the sanctions on Twitter, saying US move indicated that Washington saw him as a "threat".aljazeera
Germany refuses to join US-led naval mission in Hormuz
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said his country will not participate in a US-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting a frustrated response from Washington's ambassador to Berlin.aljazeera
Netanyahu ally: Saudi Arabia discussed buying gas from Israel
Saudi Arabia sought to buy Israeli natural gas, a former member of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Govt has revealed. Ayoob Kara, former communications minister, said in an interview given in Jerusalem that the 2 countries discussed building a pipeline that would connect Saudi to the southern Israeli city of Eilat which lies in Gulf of Aqaba.Kara, an Israeli of Druze descent, who was previously one of Netanyahu’s closest advisers on relations with the country’s Arab neighbours and was among the few Israeli cabinet members to have appeared publicly in a Gulf state in the past year, said that the discussions were “about mutual interest.”The deals that were discussed stem from vast quantities of natural gas found in Israeli waters around ten years ago, for which companies developing the reservoir of gas have already signed contracts worth $25 billion, but still have over 80% of the resource available to other buyers. The talks between Israel and Saudi were conducted with the hopes that the Gulf monarchy would fill that gap as it plans to invest over 6 times that amount in gas throughout the next decade as part of its plan to meet demands for cheaper electricity.MEMO
Palestinian killed, 3 Israeli soldiers hurt in Gaza
Israeli army has said that a Palestinian man crossed from Gaza into Israel overnight and shot at Israeli troops, drawing return fire in an incident that left the Palestinian dead and three Israeli soldiers wounded.An Israeli tank also targeted a military outpost belonging to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, during the incident, Israel's military said.It added that an army officer had been moderately wounded and two soldiers lightly injured by the Palestinian's shooting in the area of the southern Gaza Strip.The latest shooting comes as US senior adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is on a Middle Eastern tour to promote his peace plan.aljazeera
Dutch 'Burqa Ban' Comes Into Force
A law that prohibits clothing that “covers the face” from being worn in a variety of public spaces, such as schools, hospitals, public buildings and public transport, came into effect in Netherlands today.Authorities are now required to tell people to show their faces.If someone refuses, they can be denied access to public areas, and face fines of up to €150.The ban also applies to full-face helmets or balaclavas.Attempts to enforce the new law have already been met with disapproval as several cities as well as hospitals, public transport operators and even police said that they would not be sticking to it.DW
US believes Osama bin Laden's son is dead: report
Intelligence officials in US have received information that al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden's son Hamza has died, according to a US broadcaster.NBC reported that 3 US officials had confirmed they had information of Hamza bin Laden's death, but gave no details of the date or place, and did not indicate if they had confirmed information.New York Times also reported that the US had a role in the operation that led to Hamza's death, which it said took place in the past 2 years.Al Jazeera could not independently confirm the report at the time this story was published.President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the report.aljazeera
Tunisia:Co-founder of Ennahda may run for Prez poll
Tunisian Acting Parliament Speaker Abdelfattah Mourou said that he might run in the upcoming presidential polls, Arabi21 reported.His remarks came during a radio show following the death of the President Beji Caid Essebsi. “Door is always open. I will not run for the parliament as the nominations were done and the lists were closed, but the door for other [polls] is still open and everything is possible.” Mourou’s name floated to the surface after the Essebsi fell ill and discussions erupted around his successor in light of the absence of the Constitutional Court and the deteriorating health condition of the President of the Legislature Mohamed Ennaceur, who is interim president of the country until elections are held.middleeastmonitor
Yemen: Dozens killed in Houthi attack on military parade
A missile attack on a military camp in Aden,seat of Yemen's internationally recognised Govt, has killed dozens of people, according to officials, while a separate suicide bombing in the southern city killed at least 10 others. Houthi, which controls capital, Sanaa, claimed responsibility for today's attack which targeted a military parade at a camp belonging to the Yemeni Security Belt forces backed by UAE, a key partner in a military alliance assembled by Saudi to fight against them. aljazeera
Taliban leader meets Indonesia’s Muslim leaders, VP during the visit
Jakarta:The leader of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization voiced support Wednesday for Afghan peace talks after meeting in Jakarta with visiting Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.Qatar-based Baradar, Taliban’s political head, stopped by the HQRS of the 60-million strong Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in Indonesian capital and held talks on Tuesday with its chairman, Abdul Manan Ghani, after meeting with officials from Indonesia’s Govt.Abdul said that he told Baradar that the warring factions in Afghanistan should sit at one table and agree to make peace based on the spirit of Islamic brotherhood.“We conveyed our views that they should prioritize dialogue among the factions in Aghanistan and should not let other countries to meddle and compromise an already fragile situation there,” Abdul said.Baradar’s visit came as Jakarta is trying to help facilitate negotiations aimed at ending decades of war in Afghanistan, and more than a year after Indonesia hosted a trilateral summit with scholars from Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the first meeting of its kind between 3 nations. Baradar’s Jakarta visit took place after Desra Percaya,a representative of Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, met Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani in Kabul last week. During his Indonesian visit, Baradar and his entourage also met Vice President Jusuf Kalla and officials from the Govt-backed Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that Baradar and his colleagues “highlighted the current situation of Afghanistan, policy and achievements” made by Taliban.Yesterday, chief US negotiator for Taliban talks tweeted that he was heading to Doha, for what could be the final round of negotiations that could mean the beginning of the end of US’ 18 years of involvement in Afghanistan.benarnews

Afghan announces team for talks with Taliban
Afghanistan Govt has said it had formed a team of 15 members for peace talks with Taliban group. However, Ministry for Peace Affairs didn't disclose the names of the Govt negotiators, only saying that the panel was formed "after comprehensive consultations and discussions with various" people."Negotiation team formation has been finalized and members appointed. But (the) names of the team members will be released in the next phase of the process. We can assure it will be soon," a spokeswoman for the Ministry said .IANS
‘Egypt must end rights abuses of political prisoners’
Amnesty International has called on Egyptian authorities "to immediately end cruel and inhume conditions" of political detainees, who have been on hunger strike at a notorious maximum security prison in Cairo.In a statement, international right group urged authorities to investigate allegations of torture and other abuses against prisoners at al-Aqrab prison in Tora, just south of the Egyptian capital. An estimated 130 detainees have been on hunger strike for more than 6 weeks inside the prison known as the Scorpion. In total, about 1,000 political detainees have been jailed at al-Aqrab following sweeping crackdown on dissent in recent years. aljazeera
Special Report: How Sisi's Egypt hands out justice
Indian Shashi Dhar among UK’s most wanted
Britain’s crime officials issued an appeal to the public to help apprehend 11 fugitives – including India-born Shashi Dhar Sahnan – suspected to be involved in murders, sex offences and drug trafficking.Sahnan, 61, from Leicester, is accused of importing heroin into UK in 2007 and is reportedly in Spain. He was born in India, wears a hearing aid in his right ear, approximately 5ft 7in tall and stocky,National Crime Agency (NCA) said.It added that Sahnan is accused of being involved in the import of a huge quantity of drugs, which were concealed in packaging of air conditioning units, which were seized during a joint operation with Leicestershire police in July 2007. HT
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Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq,(Released at: 8:01 PM)

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