News and views across the globe.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

22 FEB. NEWS MIDDAY: White House on CAA, NRC: Trump will raise issue of religious freedom with Modi/Non-Protest Side of Shaheen Bagh Road Could be Opened: Mediators/ Trump's India Visit Won't Result In Even Limited Trade Deal: US Officials/ Set to lose land for Ram statue plan in Ayodhya, villagers ask why their farms/


NEWS DIGEST, MID-DAY
 22 Feb.  2020: 27 Jamadi-2, 1441: Vol: 12, No: 138
*anti-CAA,NRC-NPR stir*
White House on CAA, NRC: Trump will raise issue of religious freedom with Modi
New Delhi :Expressing concerns over the rights of minorities, the White House has said that US President Donald Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 2-day visit to India next week.“President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private. He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration,” a senior official told reporters in a conference call on Friday.When asked about the contentious CAA and NRC, which have sparked widespread protests,official said, “We are concerned with some of the issues that you have raised.”“I think President will talk about these issues in his meetings with PM Modi and note that the world is looking to India to continue to uphold its democratic traditions, respect for religious minorities,”official added.Senior official also referred to a poll victory speech by PM Modi where he spoke about the inclusion of minorities.“PM Modi, in his first speech after winning election last year, talked about how he would prioritise being inclusive of India’s religious minorities. And, certainly, the world looks to India to maintain religious liberty and equal treatment for all under the rule of law,” the official said.Noting that US has great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, the official said, “We do have this shared commitment to upholding our universal values, the rule of law. We have great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, and we will continue to encourage India to uphold those traditions.”“Of course, it’s in the Indian constitution— religious freedom, respect for religious minorities, and equal treatment of all religions. So this is something that is important to the president and I’m sure it will come up,” he added.The official also pointed out that India has a strong democratic foundation and is rich in religious, linguistic, and cultural diversity. Trump India visit: Two sides likely to sign MoU on cooperation over homeland security“In fact, it’s the birthplace of four major world religions,” the official noted.indianexpress
Trump expected to talk CAA, NRC and Kashmir in India: US Officials

Shaheen Bagh kayam rahe, only here to talk about roads: Sadhana Ramachandran on Day 4 of mediation
Senior advocate Sadhana Ramachandran, one of the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors, reached Shaheen Bagh -- the epicentre of the anti-CAA demonstrations -- on Saturday for another round of discussion with the protesters. This is the fourth round of talks between the Shaheen Bagh protesters and the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutor after the apex court suggested that the agitation should be held in an alternative site where no public place is blocked."We are not saying that Shaheen Bagh should dismantle. Let's get that very clear. Shaheen Bagh kayam rahe," Sadhana Ramachandran told the Shaheen protesters on Saturday."We are here to talk about roads and let's stick to it," Sadhana Ramachandran said."If you want to go to meet the Home Minister, you can go. And if you want to go to the government, then go. But, we are not here from the government's side," Sadhana said.Presenting their demands, the Shaheen Bagh protesters told Sadhana Ramachandran that they want "security". "We want security and the Supreme should give an order on the same," the protesters said."We want the cases against people of Shaheen Bagh and Jamia to be taken back," the protesters told Sadhana.The interlocutors -- senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran -- held three round of talks earlier with the Shaheen Bagh protesters. However, there has been no breakthrough so far in the discussions.indiatoday


Non-Protest Side of Shaheen Bagh Road Could be Opened: Mediators
Supreme Court-appointed mediators Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran issued a statement on the evening of Friday, regarding the third day of their discussions with the protesters at Shaheen Bagh about moving the protests to an alternative site where no public place would be blocked.“Today was the third day of our interaction with the protesters at Shaheen Bagh,” they said, observing that “Because we were at closer proximity with the protesters we could get a good sense of their anxiety, their pain, their fears particularly with regard to their security.”The takeaway from the discussions is that the protesters have indicated a willingness for the non-protest side of the road – the road from Noida to Delhi, which the protesters have not occupied at any point of time – to be opened by the Delhi Police as a first step towards a resolution.Although it was the Delhi Police and not the protesters who had blocked the non-protest side of the road, the protesters had come to feel that keeping this blocked might be better for their security – especially after the firing that took place there on the eve of the Delhi elections. Over the course of the discussions, however, the mediators found that: “In principle the protesters were not fundamentally against opening of the non-protest side of the road if their security could be guaranteed in writing by the Delhi Police under suitable orders of the Supreme Court.”Ramachandran and Hegde also stated that they had initially been enthused by the opening of the Noida-Faridabad road by the police on Friday morning, another of the roads that the police has closed in the area despite there being no protests on it. However, the road was barricaded by the police again after a short period of time.“This was extremely distressing to us and we wish to emphasise that the action of re-barricading the roads defeats the very purpose of confidence building on the part of police,” they said.One of the issues raised by the protesters and their supporters has been that while they have occupied one road, the Delhi Police has barricaded several other routes in the area, and this has been used to stoke resentment towards the protests at Shaheen Bagh.The mediators thanked the protesters and organisers for ensuring the interactions proceeded smoothly, as well as the media, who had complied with their requests to exercise restraint in filming/reporting on the interactions. They also informed the media that they will not be meeting the protesters on Saturday.“We will not be holding a public interaction tomorrow to enable the protesters to come to an independent conclusion as to the way forward,” they said, before adding that “We will return on Sunday only if we deem it necessary and feasible to do so.”thequint

Shaheen Bagh Protest: Disappointed when Noida-Faridabad road barricaded again
Parallel roads barricaded to ensure security to Shaheen Bagh protest site: Delhi Police

Disrupting normal life is a form of terrorism: Kerala Governor Arif Khan
NEW DELHI: In an apparent reference to the Shaheen Bagh protesters, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Friday said forcing opinion on others by disrupting normal life is a form of terrorism. "Aggression does not come in the form of violence only. It comes in many forms. If you will not listen to me, I will disrupt normal life," he said at the "Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad" here."Dissent is the essence of democracy. There is no problem with that but five people sit outside Vigyan Bhawan and say we shall not move from here unless this parliament of students adopts a resolution which we would like them to adopt-- that is another form of terrorism," Khan said.Since Parliament passed CAA in December last year, a number of protests have taken place across the country, including the one at Shaheen Bagh in the national capital, against the contentious law and a proposed nationwide NRC.PTI
Hyderabad police again foil Shaheen Bagh-style protest
Hyderabad:Police here on Friday foiled another attempt to organise a Shaheen Bagh-style protest against the CAA, NPR and NRC as it dispersed a group of protestors gathered here on Friday.About 600 people, half of them women, had to end their protest at Hari Dargah ground in Barkas on the city”s outskirts as police used the management committee to make them vacate the place.The protestors began the sit-in after Friday prayers. Several burqa-clad women from Barkas and surrounding neighbourhoods joined them. They were carrying placards demanding the Centre to revoke CAA and drop the plans to carry out NPR and NRC.During the last one month, the police foiled attempts by various groups to organise a permanent protest on the lines of Shaheen Bagh. On few occasions, the police detained the protestors.Meanwhile, daily silent protests at few places entered the fifth day on Friday. Holding national flags and placards in their hands, people are silently standing by the road side for couple of hours to lodge their protest.Only local residents are participating in such protests at Paramount Colony, Seven Tombs Road, and Rajendranagar.IANS

Hyderabad University imposes RS 5000 fine on students for organising Shaheen Bagh-like protest
In a bizarre decision, the University of Hyderabad has imposed Rs 5000 fine on three students for organising a "Shaheen Bagh Night" in the campus.A Shaheen Bagh-style protest was organised in the campus from January 31 to February 2. The university has now imposed a fine on Faseeh Ahmed EK, Sahana Pradeep and AS Adish for organising the protest against the CAA, NRC and NPR.The order, issued on February 18, has asked all three students to submit the penalty to the Gurubaksh Singh Students Assistance Fund in Finance and Accounts within 10 days of notice.Before this, a registrar’s order also sternly warned and cautioned the students and asked them to "focus on their studies in future".indiatoday


Assam: NRC data back online
Guwahati : 10 days after NRC data was reported to be inaccessible on the official website, the data is back online, confirmed Hitesh Dev Sarma, NRC state coordinator.The status of 3.3 crore applicants to Assam NRC — published on August 31, 2019 — was inaccessible due to non-renewal of IT Services Contract with Wipro, the company which looks after the online NRC data. To check (inclusion or exclusion) status, users have to key in their Application Receipt Number on the official website — when they did, it redirected to an invalid page till Friday. Sarma confirmed that the data has been back online since Friday midnight.indianexpress
FIR against AIMIM leader Waris Pathan over ’15 crore Muslims’ remark
New Delhi :An FIR has been registered by Kalaburagi Police against AIMIM leader Waris Pathan for his purported remarks at an anti-CAA rally that 15 crore Muslims can “weigh heavy” on 100 crore Hindus.While addressing a rally in Karnataka on February 16, Pathan had reportedly said, “…Ikattha hoke chalna padega, azadi leni padegi aur jo cheez mangne se nahin milti, usko chheen ke lena padega yeh bhi yaad rakhna…humko bola ma-behno ko aage bhej diya… abhi toh sirf sherniya bahar nikli hain aur tumhare paseene chhoot gaye, samajh lo agar hum log saath mein aa gaye toh kya hoga, 15 crore hain lekin 100 ke upar bhari hain, yaad rakh lena yeh baat (We have to take freedom, and when you don’t get something by asking for it, you have to snatch it…they said we put the women in front…only the tigresses came out and you have started sweating…imagine what would happen if all of us came along…we are 15 crore but weigh heavy on 100 crore).”AIMIM leader has claimed he was quoted out of context.indianexpress
Waris Pathan — Late entrant to politics, he rose to fame through TV theatrics
Remember what happened in Gujarat, says BJP MLC Girish Vyas over Pathan’s ‘15 crore’ remark
Reacting on AIMIM leader Waris Pathan over his '15 crore Muslims can be heavy on 100 crore' remark, Maharashtra BJP legislator Girish Vyas has said he should remember what happened in Gujarat.Vyas, who is an MLC and a BJP spokesperson, also urged the Muslim community to boycott people like Pathan and "teach them a lesson"."The youths and patriots of this country and each worker of the BJP are ready to give a befitting reply to Waris Pathan in the same language he has used," Vyas said while speaking to TV9 news channel on Friday.PTI

Giriraj Singh’s latest: India paying price for not sending Muslims to Pakistan
New Delhi :In yet another controversial statement, Union Minister Giriraj Singh Friday said that the country is paying the price for failure to send Muslims to Pakistan and bring Hindus to India after Islamic Republic came into being at the time of Independence.“When our forefathers were fighting for Independence from British rule, Jinnah was pushing for the creation of an Islamic state,” BJP leader said in Purnea district of Bihar which has a sizeable Muslim population.Highlighting the need for legislation like CAA, Singh further said, “our forefathers, however, committed a mistake. Had they ensured that all our Muslim brothers were sent to Pakistan and Hindus brought here, the need for such a move (CAA) would not have arisen. This did not happen and we have paid a heavy price for it.”BJP leader’s comment came in the backdrop of nationwide protests against CAA. indianexpress
Woman who chanted ‘Pakistan zindabad’ had links with Naxals: Yediyurappa
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has alleged that woman charged with sedition for raising ‘pro-Pakistan’ slogans during a rally in Bengaluru has had links with Naxals.Amulya Leona, a student of a south Bengaluru college, was charged with sedition for chanting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ during a protest rally against CAA. She has been sent in 14-day judicial custody by a magistrate court.Amulya, in her address, appeared to be explaining to the audience the difference between chanting “Pakistan Zindabad and Hindustan zindabad”. The organisers of the event under the banner of “Save Constitution” had invited her to address the gathering.AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi was also present on the stage when the incident occurred. However, he rushed to snatch the microphone from her and was joined by others who tried to stop her. Later, the police stepped in and removed her from the stage.indianexpress
Will ‘Sri Sri Ravishankar’ be charged with sedition for saying ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, ask people on Twitter
The day after a young college student, Amulya Leona was arrested in Bengaluru for allegedly raising ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan, Twitterati on Friday wondered if godman Sri Sri Ravishankar can also be booked on the charge of sedition for saying, “ Jai Hind and Pakistan Zindabad should go hand in hand”.The godman can be heard saying, "Pakistan and India and all countries, we should all remember that we are all human, we are all a part of this planet, we are sons of Ishwar, and we should come together with love... Pakistan, Hindustan should move forward with friendship. Jai Hind aur Pakistan Zindabad saath saath chalein (Long live India and long live Pakistan should go hand in hand)," The viral video is from the World Cultural Festival held in Delhi in 2016.nationalheraldindia

Haven't done anything anti-national: Amulya on pro-Pakistan sloganeering during Bengaluru anti-CAA rally
BENGALURU: 19-year-old BA Journalism student Amulya Leona, who was arrested for shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ during an anti-CAA event at Freedom Park on Thursday evening, has been remanded to 14 days in judicial custody by a local court. However, the feisty teenager from Chikkamagalur has blamed her predicament on the organisers of the protest — Hindu Muslim Sikh Isaai Federation — for not allowing her to complete what she wanted to say on stage as they grappled with her for the microphone as soon as she hailed Pakistan."Maybe she had intended to say what she had recently posted on her Facebook page where she has said ‘Zindabad’ to all the countries, including India and Pakistan. But it went awry. She was not answering any of our questions, but kept saying she had not done anything wrong," a senior police official said."It was the organisers’ mistake to snatch the mike from me before I completed what I had to say. Because of them, I have been arrested today. If they had given me a chance to complete what I had to say, nothing like this would have happened. Now, there is no point in telling you what I intended to speak there. But I can say that there was nothing anti-national in what I did. You can initiate action against me and my advocate will fight the case," a source, citing Leona, said.newindianexpress
Pro-CAA protest:Another woman held in Karnataka, for holding a “Kashmir Mukti, Dalit Mukti, Muslim Mukti” placard
Bengaluru:A day after pro-Pakistan slogans were raised by an agitator at an anti-CAA event here, a young woman was arrested on Friday for holding a “Kashmir Mukti (liberation), Dalit Mukti, Muslim Mukti” placard at a counter protest in the city, police said. A case has been registered for offences under the Indian Penal Code including creating enmity between different groups of people against the woman, identified as Arudra, they said. “We have registered the case suo moto for creating enmity between different groups of people,” DCP  Chetan Singh Rathore said, adding she was being questioned. Later, the woman was produced before a court, who remanded her to 14 days judicial custody till March 5. Holding the placard with the slogans, Arudra was spotted sitting among the participants of the protest organised by the Hindu Jagaran Vedike against Amulya Leona who had shouted “Pakistan Zindabad” on Thursday. The protesters also hailed the CAA. She was escorted out of the place as protesters asked her to leave and crowd started gathering, city police chief Bhaskar Rao said. “She has now been taken into custody for her own safety along with the placard... we will find out her background, where she has come from and who are behind her among other things,” Rao told reporters, adding she did not raise any slogan.tribuneindia
Sedition Case Against Bidar's Shaheen School Management for Anti-CAA Play Challenged in Supreme Court
New Delhi: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the sedition case registered against a Karnataka school management for allegedly allowing students to stage an anti-CAA, anti-NRC drama that 'portrayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in poor light'.The petition seeks quashing of the FIR against the principal and other staff of the Shaheen School at Bidar who have been booked under sections 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code.In the petition filed on Thursday, social activist Yogita Bhayana has also sought an apex court direction for a proper mechanism to deal with alleged government misuse of the sedition law.PTI


Mangaluru violence probe: Police officials to be summoned for hearing
Mangaluru:Police officials including the Mangaluru city Commissioner of Police P S Harsha would be summoned to appear before the panel conducting a magisterial probe into December 19, firing on anti-CAA protesters in the city which left two people dead.Notices would be served on 176 police officers and staff to appear for hearing, Udupi deputy commissioner G Jagadeesha, conducting the magisterial probe into the incident said here on Thursday. He told reporters that officials, including the city police commissioner Harsha, would be summoned to depose on the violence which led to police firing that killed two people.Mangaluru (North) Assistant Commissioner K U Belliappa, who is the nodal officer for the police department, has given a list of 176 policemen who are ready to adduce evidence in the hearing.The police officers would be summoned in phases.The next hearing is on February 25.Former city Mayor K Ashraf, who is under treatment in hospital, has also provided a written statement.The remaining members of the public can provide evidence during next hearings, he said.PTI
Thousands turn up at Panaji's Azad Maidan, vow not to provide information for NPR, Census 2021
PANAJI: The several thousands who showed up at Azad Maidan in Panaji on Friday to protest against CAA, NPR and NRC pledged not to furnish “any information whatsoever for the purposes of NPR or even for the purpose of Census 2021” till all three are withdrawn.The grounds couldn’t contain the massive crowd that climbed up trees and spilled on to streets and in front of the police headquarters, making it the largest anti CAA-NPR-NRC protest the state has witnessed till date. Speakers included students from JNU and lawyers from Assam and Delhi, who spoke about police brutality on college campuses and termed the CAA, NPR and NRC as tools to persecute minorities.Despite the Church supporting the protest and sending out letters to all parish priests and chaplains to mobilise people for the rally, no Church representative featured among the speakers.Goa Alliance Against CAA, NRC and NPR, which organised the rally, stressed on the large number of OCI card holders in the state who have surrendered their Indian citizenship for Portuguese citizenship and noted the apprehension over “arbitrary grounds for cancellation of OCI registration”. Activist and advocate Albertina Almeida said there was no assurance that OCI cards wouldn’t be cancelled.Activist Arturo D’Souza urged participants to teach those MLAs who defected to the BJP and who have supported CAA, a lesson in the next election.Dalit activist Dadu Mandrekar, who was one of the speakers, said the central government was trying to destroy the Constitution and expressed uncertainty about the rights of the GAKUVED (Gawda, Kunbi, Velip and Dhangar) community, many of whom don’t have proper documentation. Julio Aguiar appealed to deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavalekar, tribal minister Govind Gaude and tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on the issue, while activist Rama Kanconkar said it was a shame that tribal leaders were assuring tribals in Goa that they would not be affected by CAA, NPR and NRC.“Lakhs of people surveyed in Assam have been sent to detention centres,” advocate of the Guwahati high court, A S Tapader, said. Jamia Milia Islamia student Ayesha Renna spoke about police brutality on campus.TOI
Maharashtra village passes resolution against CAA, NRC
AURANGABAD:Patrud village in Beed district of Maharashtra has passed a resolution against CAA and NRC. The gram panchayat of Patrud in Majalgaon tehsil passed the resolution at its meeting held on Feb. 2.“There is confusion in the society over the CAA and NRC. All the people residing here are Indians, but don’t have any documents to prove their nationality. Hence CAA and NRC should not be implemented in the village,” the resolution says.A resident of Patrud, Eknath Maske, said, “The population of the village is around 18,000. The villagers were against the new citizenship law and NRC. Hence we decided not to implement these things in the village and passed a resolution.”Gram sevak Sudhakar Gaikwad said, “The government’s move on CAA and NRC affected the social fabric of the village.PTI


Maharashtra will go ahead with CAA, NPR, says Uddhav Thackeray after meeting PM Modi
NEW DELHI: Disregarding protests from within the Maharashtra coalition, CM and Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray stuck to his guns that CAA as well as NPR will be implemented in the state, sharpening friction with coalition partners NCP and Congress.“I had a good discussion with the Prime Minister over issues concerning Maharashtra. I also discussed the CAA, NPR and NRC with him. No one needs to fear CAA. The NPR is not going to throw anyone out of the country,” Thackeray told the media on Friday.The CM’s public assertion is significant as they came after his meeting with PM Narendra Modi and before he made a courtesy call on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Congress general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge, who is in-charge of Maharashtra affairs, had earlier taken exception to Thackeray’s statement about implementation of CAA and NPR in Maharashtra, saying such calls could not be taken unilaterally.Thackeray said there was a detailed discussion on CAA, NPR and NRC. Modi has previously said that his government had taken no decision yet on the implementation of a nationwide NRC, as distinguished from the one in Assam.TOI
No need to fear CAA, says Uddhav Thackeray after meeting PM Modi


Congress will convince Uddhav Thackeray to pass resolution against CAA: MLA Zeeshan Siddique
Bandra East MLA Zeeshan Siddique said here on Saturday that the Congress will convince Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to pass a resolution against implementation of CAA in the Maharashtra legislature session that starts from February 24.“It is our responsibility to convince him and we are confident of doing it,” he told reporters here.thehindu
*J&K AND S. ASIA*
Kartarpur has potential… you send somebody in morning, by evening he is trained terrorist: Punjab DGP
Chandigarh :Raising questions over Pakistan’s intent in agreeing to throw open the Kartarpur Corridor, Punjab Police chief, Dinkar Gupta, Friday said visa-free passage cleared for Sikh pilgrims was “a huge security challenge from terrorism point of view”. Claiming that there were reasons why the Corridor was not opened all these years, DGP Police said that some elements based in the neighbouring country were “trying to woo the pilgrims and making overtures to them”.“Kartarpur offers a potential that you send somebody in the morning as an ordinary chap and by evening he comes back as trained terrorist actually. You are there for six hours, you can be taken to a firing range, you can be taught to make an IED,” Gupta said.“It is a huge concern…that is why it was not opened for all these years. I was in IB for 8 years…I used to handle it over there. The feeling was that it (Corridor) will be a huge security challenge. But after that as the community wanted it, the disapora wanted it, it was decided why cannot this dream be realised. So all those security concerns were put on the backburner. And we also gave our go ahead,” DGP said.indianexpress
Kamal Nath targets Centre: Share details of surgical strikes
Bhopal :Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Friday continued to target the central government over the surgical strike, seeking evidence and saying that people would feel proud when they get details about the number of terrorists killed or the number of buildings demolished.“There is nothing, no photos. (It’s only) in the media. The hullabaloo is only in the media,” he said in Chhindwara when asked to clarify his comments in which he appeared to question the surgical strikes in Uri.When asked whether he meant to say that the surgical strike was fake, Nath said, “No, our Army and Air Force do not indulge in any fake work. We are proud of both the forces… But share information with the country.”indianexpress
At Srinagar’s Sharika Devi temple: ‘Pandits were driven out, but those who stayed, survived thanks to Muslims’
Srinagar :Overlooking Srinagar is Hari Parbat, a hill home to a fort, a temple, a gurdwara and a dargah. The temple here is dedicated to Jagdamba Sharika Bhagwati, considered the presiding deity of Srinagar.Rolled-up concertina wires lie on the long flight of stairs leading up to the temple. A CRPF jawan proffers a register, where one must note down their name and phone number before entering the temple. Inside, on the afternoon of February 16, around 10-15 people are busy with kirtan. It is a few days before Shivratri, and the temple is gearing up for the festival.“Had you come here this time of the year in 1980s, you wouldn’t have space for one sesame seed on the ground, so crowded would the courtyard have been. Had you come in the early 90s, you wouldn’t have found anyone,” says Virendra Koul, a retired government employee.“See, a minority is always a minority. I lived in Uttar Pradesh and NCR for years. Muslims are a minority there, don’t they feel insecure? We Pandits will always feel that here. Also, the horrors of the 90s can’t be forgotten,” says Kumar.A CRPF jawan passes by, listening intently, but not interrupting the conversation.indianexpress
*OTHERS*
Trump's India Visit Won't Result In Even Limited Trade Deal: US Officials
Washington: Trump administration officials have acknowledged that US President Donald Trump's visit to India next week will not result in even a limited trade deal, saying they still have major concerns over India's trade barriers.Hopes that the world's two largest democracies could negotiate a "confidence building" deal in time for President Trump's arrival on Monday on a two-day visit have faded in recent days as differences over agriculture, medical devices, digital trade and proposed new tariffs fester, according to business groups.US concerns that led last year to the suspension of India's tariff free access for some $5.6 billion in exports under 1970s-era Generalized System of Preferences still remain, a senior Trump administration official told reporters on a conference call."We do want to make sure that we get this balance right. We want to address a lot of concerns and we're not quite there yet," official said, adding that President Trump will likely discuss these concerns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Trade talks will continue, but new Indian tariff proposals aimed at strengthening the country's "Make in India" domestic manufacturing push have made them more difficult, the official said.Apart from growing protectionism, the Trump visit comes against the backdrop of India's multibillion-dollar purchase of a Russian missile shield system, which added friction to its ties with Washington.The government in its Feb.1 budget proposal announced new import tariffs on medical devices, walnuts, toys, electronics and other products in a move aimed at reducing imports from China but affecting many US firms.The new tariffs surprised US negotiators, especially as they were working with Indian counterparts to reduce the impact of India's price controls on US medical devices such as cardiac stents and knee implants."We will be discussing those concerns and what we see an increase in barriers not a decrease. This will certainly come up among the leaders," the US official said. The official did not completely rule out any trade related announcements during the trip, but said this was "really wholly dependent on what the Indians are prepared to do."ReutersUpdated
Family to accompany Trump; Commerce, Energy Secretaries, NSA part of his team
The first stand-alone visit by a US President, a high-powered White House delegation that includes three of President Donald Trump’s family members, the first time that First Lady Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka are travelling together on an official visit, and a fifth meeting since May right in the middle of an election campaign that comes after four earlier meetings between Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi — a headline trade deal may be off the table but officials in New Delhi underline how these firsts underline the deepening of the India-US strategic partnership.Beyond the pomp and the spectacle at the Namaste Trump event in Ahmedabad, some substantive outcomes are also expected: a centre for counter-terrorism is likely to be announced as the MoU on Homeland security will focus on aviation and immigration security. Sources said that an Industrial Security Annex summit is scheduled for April-May while an energy dialogue to diversify India’s energy requirement is a key thrust area to be discussed around the visit.
CM Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia not invited to Melania Trump’s school visit
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will not accompany First Lady Melania Trump to government schools during her brief visit to the national capital next week, it has been learnt. “The chief minister and deputy chief minister have been dropped from the list of people who will be present at the school when Melania Trump visits,” sources said.On Tuesday, Melania is expected to attend a class on the happiness curriculum, one of the flagship programmes of the Delhi government in the education sector that aims to help children relieve stress, meditate and discuss things that are troubling them.“Delhi government is keen on showing Melania Trump a few other programmes they have started, such as the entrepreneurship curriculum, but her visit is expected to last just an hour or so. She and her team have expressed a desire to witness a happiness class as it happens, so that is definitely on the cards,” a source had earlier said.indianexpress
AAP MLA Shoaib Iqbal Appointed Pro-tem Speaker of Delhi Assembly
New Delhi: AAP MLA Shoaib Iqbal has been appointed as the pro-tem Speaker of the Delhi Assembly by Lt Governor Anil Baijal.Iqbal, who has been elected for the sixth time from Matia Mahal constituency, will oversee the oath-taking of newly elected members on February 24 when the first session of the Assembly begins. The order appointing Iqbal was issued on Thursday evening. As Iqbal, who is one of the senior-most legislators, has been appointed as the pro-tem speaker, he is unlikely to become the speaker of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. Sources said Ram Niwas Goel, who was the speaker in the previous Delhi Assembly, is likely to retain the post. A 3-day session of the Delhi Assembly will begin from February 24 during which the Speaker will be chosen. The lieutenant governor is likely to address the House during the 3-day session. Last week, Seventh Delhi Legislative Assembly was constituted after the Aam Aadmi Party won 62 seats in 70-member House. BJP won eight seats, while the Congress drew a blank.PTI
All CMs will be invited for temple construction, will take no funds from govt: Mahant Nritya Gopal Das
Gwalior: President of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das Maharaj, on Friday said that Governors and Chief Ministers of all states will be invited to Ayodhya to participate in the construction of a grand Ram temple."We have already invited Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, we have Yogi Adityanathji as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. All other Governors and Chief Ministers, who have an interest in religion, will be invited to participate in the construction of a grand temple. The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister will also be invited," Maharaj told reporters on Friday after reaching Gwalior.President of the Ram temple trust further said that no grants from the government will be taken for the construction of the temple.ANI
 Set to lose land for Ram statue plan in Ayodhya, villagers ask why their farms
Ayodhya :Nearly a month after the Ayodhya district administration put out a public notice saying close to 86 hectares would be acquired to build a Lord Ram statue and museum around 6 km from the Ram Janmabhoomi site in the town, villagers remain reluctant to part with their agricultural land.Uttar Pradesh government is planning a 251-metre high statue of Ram (making it the tallest in the world), along with a digital museum, on land situated along the Lucknow-Gorakhpur national highway. While the authorities have said 125 families would be affected, and 66 pucca houses apart from hutments demolished, the villagers of Majha Barhata gram sabha put the number at more than 300 families and around a hundred pucca houses.The January 25 notice by the district administration mentioned 86 hectares and 259 landowners in the Yadav-dominated gram sabha, giving them 15 days to register objections. Officials said they had received close to 200 complaints, and the process to address them had started.Around 40 per cent of the land being acquired for the statue and museum belongs to little-known Maharishi Ramayan Vidyapeeth Trust, with headquarters in Delhi and branches reportedly across 27 countries, and the authorities have its clearance to acquire it. The remaining land comprises small plots owned by farmers.indianexpress
Ayodhya: Sunni Waqf Board to meet Monday, may decide on five acre-plot
Lucknow : Sunni Central Waqf Board will hold a meeting on Monday to take a call on whether the Board will accept the five acres allocated at Dhannipur village near Ayodhya by Uttar Pradesh government as per the Supreme Court’s order. The Board, which was one of the main litigants in Ayodhya title suit, comprises 8 members from different fields.Board CEO Mohammad Shuaib said the meeting was scheduled on February 24. “The issue of the five acres of land in Dhannipur will be discussed that day and we will see what the majority of the board members say,” said Shuaib.Sources in the Board said all issues regarding the five acres of land would be decided during the meeting on Monday.indianexpress
 RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch warns against ‘non-veg’ milk ahead of US President Trump visit
Barely 72 hours before US President Donald Trump lands in India, the RSS's economic arm has warned Modi government against promising of any trade deal that allows the US to eat into India's over Rs 10,000 billion dairy business.Before you jump to conclusions that the opposition is to protect the domestic dairy interest alone, think again. Swadeshi Jagran Manch has brought in a religious angle to it.Its Co-Convenor Ashwani Mahajan said: "Milk is a vegetarian diet in India. Demand of US administration is that India should remove the condition that only the milk of vegetarian cows be imported from US. Since, in the US, cows are fed with blood and meat, and import of milk from such cows is prohibited in India."IANS
 
PIL seeks ban on slaughter of ‘old bulls, buffaloes’
New Delhi :A PIL was filed on Friday in Delhi High Court seeking to impose a “total prohibition” on slaughter of old bulls and buffaloes on the grounds that the “cattle breeds are never useless”.PIL, filed by Madhya Pradesh resident Brishbhan Verma — who claims to be a social worker — submitted that the “prohibition on slaughter of cows must be extended to bulls and buffaloes only because such cattle, even after becoming useless as animals, assist in agriculture work or breeding”.The petition claimed that these animals “continue to provide dung and urine that can either be used by farmers as manure and fertilizer, or can be sold by the owners…”The plea states that an interpretation of Article 48 of the Constitution, which states that the prohibition on killing/slaughtering of any animal and their progeny, excludes the male counterpart and “violates Fundamental Rights of the petitioner under Article 21 of Constitution…”indianexpress
Non-veg off plate: Venue of Harappan dinners shifted from National Museum
New Delhi :Harappan dinners that were scheduled to be hosted at National Museum as part of ‘Historical Gastronomica’ exhibition have been moved off the premises, according to a statement by the co-organiser, One Station Million Stories (OSMS), on Friday.“With the support from National Museum, we shall continue Historical Gastronomica at National Museum, serving only veg tasters till 25 Feb, 2020. We had to cancel all dinners at National Museum. After receiving multiple requests from patrons who booked their Harappan diners with us, we have decided to move only the dinners (set to take place on Feb.21, 22 and 23, 2020) out of National Museum to Lavaash by Saby (Feb. 24, 25),” said the OSMS statement.The dinners were priced at Rs 4,000 (non-vegetarian) and Rs 3,250 (vegetarian) per head. OSMS is offering full refunds for those who do not wish to attend.As reported earlier, the week-long exhibition-cum-event on culinary history which planned to offer “the Indus dining experience” through an “ethno-archaeological kitchen of the Harappan culture” ran into trouble when, the day before it opened, OSMS was asked by the museum not to serve non-vegetarian food. The additional director general of the museum, Subrata Nath, said at the time, “This museum has so many idols of gods and goddesses, and a relic of Lord Buddha. International dignitaries visit this museum. We have to consider these sensitivities here.”indianexpress
Harappan meat-eaters, Lutyens’ vegetarians
‘Denied’ visit to Mangta village, Chandrashekhar Azad meets injured Dalits in Kanpur hospital
Kanpur: 4  days after opposition parties raised the issue of alleged atrocities against Dalits in Mangta village of Kanpur Dehat in the state Assembly, which were later denied by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad visited Dalits admitted to a hospital of Kanpur on Friday and assured them of “all possible help”. Dalits had alleged that they suffered injuries after being beaten up on Feb.13.Chandrashekar told them, “Caste is a big thing and when it comes to Dalits, the administration becomes ineffective.” Bhim Army leaders claimed that they wanted to visit Mangta Village in Kanpur Dehat too but were denied permission by the administration.Chandrashekhar was accompanied by the divisional president of Bhim Army, Sikandar Boudh, who alleged that the administration did not allow Dalits to raise their voice after they were beaten up. Mehmood Paracha, legal adviser to Bhim Army, who also accompanied Chandrashekar to the hospital in Kanpur, said, “Despite all the claims by the administration, Dalit victims and their families are still scared. They told us that they are still being threatened.”He added, “We have written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary informing him that the provisions of SC/ST Act have not been followed as these Dalits have not been provided security despite their complaint that they are being threatened. Moreover, they are not being given proper care at the hospital also. We have also demanded action against the guilty officers,” adding that it is to raise voice against all such atrocities that the Bhim Army has given a call for “bandh” on February 23.indianexpress
Rajasthan: ‘They wanted to spread fear among Dalits by making us an example’
Nagaur :On Friday, 7 men in their underwear lined up at Panchodi police station in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district as Inspector General, Human Rights, Bipin Kumar Pandey called them up for questioning one by one.On Feb.16, the men, all of whom work at a motorbike service centre, allegedly stripped a 23-year Dalit youth after accusing him of trying to steal money, inserted a screwdriver in his anus and recorded the act on at least two phones. “They should have respected the law and handed over the two to police,” Pandey said, “Now they are repentant.” The men face an FIR under several IPC sections, including attempt to commit culpable homicide and charges under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.About 12 km from the police station, at Bhojas Gram Panchayat, Bisha Ram (24) sits in a newly built, small room. Next to him is his cousin Panna Ram, 18, who was also assaulted. Behind them are their mothers, Gita and Dapu, respectively.“Don’t know why they had so much anger for us,” says Bisha, who seems a little dazed due to the incident and the steady stream of politicians and officials visiting him. “Maybe they just wanted to spread fear among Dalits by making us an example.”According to Panchaudi SHO Rajpal Singh, 6 out of the 7 arrested are Rajputs and one is a Muslim.indianexpress
Madrassa Shut Down: Govt’s Decision Draws Flak from Minority Community
GUWAHATI: Assam government’s decision to close down Madrassas has not gone down well with the members of the Muslim community. They feel that it has hurt the sentiments of their community. Recently, state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that the government will shut down all government-run Madrassas as well as Sanskrit Tols within the next 4-5 months. He had added that the Madrassas will be modernised and will be converted into high schools.Several people from the minority community feel that BJP-led government is deliberately taking such decisions to make Muslims feel like second class citizens in their home state.  “We are indigenous Assamese Muslims and have always lived together with people from other communities with a sense of equality and brotherhood. However, with the government bringing in such new policies, it seems like they are discriminating against the Muslims,” said Imran Rasul, a senior citizen of Guwahati.guwahatiplus

MP govt scraps its sterilisation circular, BJP recalls days of Emergency
Bhopal :A day after Indian Express reported on a circular issued by MP government that male health workers would lose their salaries and face retirement if they failed to get at least one man for sterilisation, the state withdrew the directive while describing it as “a mistake”.The state government removed Chhavi Bharadwaj, the state’s National Health Mission (NHM) director who issued the circular, and attached her to the Secretariat as officer on special duty till further orders. 2008-batch IAS officer is currently attending a mid-career training course.Friday’s move came after Opposition BJP slammed the circular and asked if it was “part-2 of Congress’s Emergency’’ in a reference to the aggressive family planning programme conducted by central government of that time.State Public Relations and Law Minister PC Sharma blamed the circular on “a mistake by officials’’ and said it has been revoked with immediate effect on orders from Chief Minister Kamal Nath.The Chief Minister’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja said no target had been fixed and that MP’s National Health Mission officials periodically carry out campaigns to motivate men for sterilisation. Saluja said no punitive action will be taken against any health worker.BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma added a communal twist to the issue. “If your concerns about population are genuine, such measures should apply to everyone irrespective of caste or religion. You should appeal to even Muslims to restrict their families. It should not happen that Hindus remain at two and Muslims multiply from 5 to 25,’’ he said.indianexpress

‘No proof against MLA’ — UP Police gives clean chit to BJP leader, 4 sons in gang-rape case
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Police Saturday gave a clean chit to BJP MLA Ravindra Nath Tripathi and four of his sons who were booked in a case of gang-rape earlier this week.The Bhadohi MLA’s nephew Sandeep Tiwari, who was the main accused in the case, has been arrested. One of the MLA sons, Nitesh, was charged under section 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.An FIR was lodged Wednesday against Sandeep, the MLA and his five sons — Sachin, Chandrabhushan, Deepak, Prakash and Nitesh — for allegedly raping a 35-year-old woman.theprint



BJD, Cong fume as AIIMS-Bhubaneswar mandates use of Hindi in official work
Bhubaneswar :An order from the senior administration of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar mandating the use of Hindi language in official communication drew sharp responses on Friday from BJD and Congress leaders.A copy of the letter, shared by the staff, lists eight specific orders, such as they “should sign in Hindi, write name and subject on all files in Hindi, write name and sub headings of the registers in Hindi and also make entries in Hindi, write at least 30% noting and drafting in Hindi, at least 55% correspondence in Hindi, fill all up all bilingual office forms in Hindi, reply to all letters received in Hindi”.The order also specifies that in administrative meetings, employees “may” have discussions in Hindi and “prepare the minutes in Hindi as far as possible”. The order’s signatory, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar Deputy Director (Administration) P K Ray, said the order is only for administrative work.indianexpress

76 Muslim, 25 Hindu couples marry at Belagavi madrassa
BELAGAVI: Sending a strong message of communal amity, a madrassa in Belagavi district hosted a mass marriage on its premises on Friday in which 76 Muslim and 25 Hindu couples were married.Madarsa Al Arabia Anwarul Ulooma, an Islamic religious institute in Bailhongal, 50km from Belagavi district headquarters and 480km from Bengaluru, played host to the event that was organised by Jamia Faizan-ul-Quran and Issa Foundation, which has conducted mass marriages on a bigger scale in Gujarat.The mass marriage comes a month after the 100-year-old Cheravally Jamaat Masjid in Kerala’s Kayamkulam in Alappuzha hosted a Hindu wedding, complete with a vegetarian feast for 4,000 people. A Hindu priest led the rituals, and the couple sought the blessings of chief imam Riyasudeen Faizy of the mosque.At Bailhongal, moulvis and pontiffs led the marriage proceedings and asked the couples to read passages from Quran and Bhagvad Gita.

Muslim students in UP’s RSS schools rise 30% in 3 years: TOI
ALLAHABAD: The number of Muslim students in the schools run by Vidya Bharati, the educational wing of RSS, has witnessed an increase of approximately 30% in the past three years. About 12,000 Muslim and Christian students are studying in these schools in the state. Moreover, Vidya Bharati has recruited Muslims as teachers also.Muslim students also recite ‘shlokas’ and ‘bhojan mantras’ and are doing well in studies as well as sports.Mohd Afsar and Mohd Sahban, students of Jwala Devi Saraswati Vidya Mandir Inter College, Prayagraj, won gold in hammer throw at recent ‘Khelo India Youth Games’ in Guwahati.Chintamani Singh, additional secretary, Vidya Bharati (East Uttar Pradesh), said, “As many as 12,000 Muslim and Christian students are studying in our schools in UP. Around 9,037 Muslim and 10 Christian students are pursuing studies in 1,194 schools in east UP. The remaining are in west UP.”“The urge for good and quality education has been the prime reason for the rise in number of Muslim students in our schools.

*WORLD*

US, Taliban to seal Afghan peace deal on Feb.29, India wary of fallout
New Delhi :In a dramatic development with strategic, political and security repercussions for India, US and the Taliban said Friday that they will seal a political settlement on Feb.29 at the end of a weeklong period of “violence reduction” starting midnight in Afghanistan.The deal could become one of the major talking points during bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Feb.24-25.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that agreement, which will reduce US presence in the region, will be signed upon the successful implementation of an understanding with Taliban on a “significant” and nationwide reduction in violence.Reuters quoted a Taliban spokesperson as saying that “both parties agreed to sign the finalised accord in the presence of international observers”. Both sides would also make arrangements for the release of prisoners, the Taliban said. Afghan, international and Taliban forces will observe the reduced violence period.There has been no official word from New Delhi yet, but the deal is of some concern to Indian establishment. More so, because the return of Taliban in Afghanistan carries harsh memories from 1990s, especially of the IC-814 hijack crisis that ended with the release of Masood Azhar. Over the last two years, New Delhi had kept a close watch on meetings between US and Taliban negotiators. It has been briefed by the US interlocutors, especially US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad who has travelled to India several times and recently met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar recently at the Munich Security Conference.Apart from the US, India has engaged in regular talks with other active players, like Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and the political forces in Afghanistan, on this issue.While many Western observers believe the agreement could represent a chance for peace in the region, New Delhi has been cautious on the issue as it gives strength to Pakistan, which has been a long-time benefactor of Taliban.Though New Delhi has softened its position over the years on engaging with Taliban, India has always maintained that it has three “red lines”, which it spelt out last year when the US, Russia and China were conducting negotiations with the Taliban.With the deal announced Friday, India will closely track the fate of the Ashraf Ghani government, which just got re-elected. indianexpress
US-Taliban truce begins, raising hopes of peace deal


Sri Lankan parliamentary committee proposes immediate burqa ban
A Sri Lankan parliamentary committee on national security has proposed an immediate ban on the burqa and suspending the registration of political parties on ethnic and religious basis, following the Easter Sunday terror attack that killed over 250 people.The proposals featured in a special report presented in Parliament on Thursday to resolve 14 controversial issues following the April 21 Easter attack last year. The report was tabled by MP Malith Jayatilaka, Chairman Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security, the Daily Mirror reported.According to the report, a number of countries have already banned the burqa.The report suggested that the police should have the power to ask anyone wearing a face covering in a public place to take off such clothing in order to establish the identity of the person.If such a request is not complied with, police should have the power to arrest the individual without a warrant, the report said.It also recommended the country’s Election Commission to enact a legislation to suspend the registration of political parties on ethnic and religious basis.PTI

China deliberately delaying clearance for flight to evacuate Indians: Official sources
New Delhi:China is delaying grant of clearance to India's proposal to send an Indian Air Force flight to carry relief material for people affected by coronavirus in the neighbouring country and bring back Indians from its city of Wuhan, official sources said Saturday.India was to send a C-17 military transport aircraft to Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, on February 20 but the plane could not take off as permission was not granted for the flight."China is deliberately delaying grant of clearance for the evacuation flight," a high-level source said.The aircraft was to carry a large consignment of medical supplies to China and bring back more Indians from Wuhan.Sources said the Chinese side continued to maintain that there was no delay in granting permission for the flight to go, but "inexplicably" the clearance has not been given.PTI


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Simantik Dowerah


Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 3:04 PM).   

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