Thursday, 19 March 2020

19 MARCH NEWS: CAA has made 6 lakh refugees forever stateless, says rights group / Amid coronavirus outbreak, Delhi's Shaheen Bagh protesters say they're taking all precautions at protest site/ MP Crisis: Floor test tomorrow, SC says uncertainty must be resolved / Coronavirus Shutdown: No Foreign Flights Starting Sunday, Work From Home For Most as death toll rises to 4, total cases now at 173 in India


NEWS DIGEST, EVENING

19 March 2020: 23 Rajjab 1441: Vol: 12, No: 160

*Anti-CAA,NRC-NPR stir*

CAA has made 6 lakh refugees forever stateless, says rights group

A New Delhi-based rights group has said that the CAA has made about 6,00,000 refugees in India forever stateless and vulnerable to refoulement. CAA prescribes citizenship for six non-Muslim communities which took refuge in India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till 2014.The 6,00,000 refugees who stand excluded from the Act comprise 3,04,269 Sri Lankan Tamils, 1,08,005 Tibetans, some 1,00,000 Chins from Myanmar, 40,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar and 39,619 others recognised by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) said.“As any person who entered India without valid documents or overstayed after May 30, 2003, are defined as illegal immigrants under the Citizenship Act of 2003, they and their descendants are ineligible for Indian citizenship, and shall remain forever stateless and remain liable for deportation,” NCAT coordinator Suhas Chakma said.He said this in reference to the Centre’s August 2010 statement in the Rajya Sabha regarding Tibetan refugees. “As the Union of India has no intention to repatriate any refugee except the Rohingyas, Tibetan and Tamil refugees are destined to stay in India, forever, as stateless while Chin refugees have mostly been assimilated in Mizoram,”  Chakma said.NCAT claimed Centre was using “false narratives” – as in the case of Baldev Kumar, a former lawmaker from Pakistan who took refuge in India in Sept. 2019 – to defend the constitutionality of CAA on “legally unsustainable grounds”.“The provisions of the Citizenship Act cited in the case of asylum-seekers like Baldev Kumar prohibit the grant of Indian citizenship to an illegal migrant. Every persecuted religious minority from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has neither come nor will come as a legal migrant, thereby negating the need for CAA,”  Chakma said. “CAA has therefore been enacted for mala fide purposes,”he added.NCAT coordinator further said that the classification of persecuted refugees based on geopolitical considerations was illegal, inhumane and immoral and cannot be justified in the eyes of the law.thehindu

PIL filed in SC seeking removal of anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh in view of health hazards posed by novel coronavirus

A new PIL was filed today in the Supreme Court seeking directions for immediate removal or dispersal of mass gathering at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi in view of the health hazards posed by coronavirus.PIL was filed in the SC by Advocate Ashutosh Dubey. Meanwhile, another petition seeking the removal of Shaheen Bagh protesters claiming that it is causing obstruction of public space is also pending in the top court.ANI

Amid coronavirus outbreak, Delhi's Shaheen Bagh protesters say they're taking all precautions at protest site

New Delhi: Agitators at the Shaheen Bagh protest site say they are following all guidelines and are taking all precautions amid the coronavirus outbreak.On Wednesday National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sought a report from the District Magistrate of southeast Delhi regarding the assembly of people at the Shaheen Bagh protest site amid the Covid-19 outbreak.In a letter, NCPCR has asked for a report on the continued assembly of people at the protest site despite an advisory by state and central government on Covid-19 safety and prevention.Shaheen Kausar, one of protesters told ANI, "The women here at Shaheen Bagh are aware of the threat posed by coronavirus. They have all donned masks and are carrying sanitisers in their bag. We are even maintaining the required distance in the gathering and are also ensuring that more than 50 persons are not present at the site as per state government's guidelines.""We will, however, continue with the protest. It is high time that the Centre pays heed to our constitutionally valid demands for which we have have been protesting on the streets for upwards of three months," Kausar added.ANI

Anti-CAA protester of Delhi's Jahangirpuri in quarantine after sister tests positive for COVID-19:ThePrint

New Delhi: One of the organisers of the anti-CAA protest in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri has undergone a test for COVID-19 after his sister tested positive, ThePrint has learnt. The sister is said to have tested positive after her return from Saudi Arabia on 11 March. She had visited the country for Umrah pilgrimage, which can be performed any time of the year and is not compulsory. Saudi Arabia has banned visits to pilgrimage sites in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and the sister likely entered the country before the ban kicked in. 35-year-old man said he had been to the protest site “a couple of times” after a meeting with his sister on 13 March 2 days after she returned.“I didn’t show any symptoms of the disease (at the time), so I went about life as usual,” he added.The sister tested positive two days after their meeting, he said, and is currently undergoing treatment at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.“After she tested positive, I thought it is my responsibility as an aware citizen to let the doctors know that I got in touch with a coronavirus-positive person,” he said. theprint

Anti-CAA protesters at Bengaluru's Bilal Bagh make, distribute masks

Bengaluru: Protesters at Bilal Bagh, the epicentre of a marathon anti-CAA agitation in Fraser Town here since February 8 have converted the place into a mask-making unit.The protesters, who continue to demand the withdrawal of CAA, have made and distributed around 1,000 masks to residents in the locality. The raw material has been sourced locally and the masks are being made under the supervision of a local doctor. Hundreds of masks are being produced by 10 volunteers.Dr Danish Ahmed, 28, who works in a nearby hospital, told TOI that following the Covid-19 scare, they tried to purchase face masks from wholesale dealers but it turned out to be difficult because of lack of stocks or high prices.

Madras HC grants permission for anti-CAA meet after threat of COVID-19 subsides

Justice G.R. Swaminathan of the Madras High Court on Wednesday quashed an order passed by Tiruchi district police on March 4 denying permission for an anti-CAA public meet. However, the judge refrained from permitting the meet on Friday due to a government imposed ban on congregations till March 31 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.“The jurisdictional DSP shall issue proceedings permitting holding of the event at Kadaiveethi in Enamkulathur of Tiruchi district immediately after the ban issued by the government in the wake of Novel Coronavirus outbreak pandemic is lifted,” the judge ordered while allowing a petition filed by Sunnathaval Jamath Jumma Periya Pallivasal.thehindu

CAA-NRC Protests Affirm Multi Cultural Nature Of India : Plea In Madras HC Opposes Demand For Removal Of Protest Sites

Stating that the sites of protest against the CAA are a "spectacular affirmation" of the multicultural nature of Indian society, an intervention application has been filed in the Madras High Court to oppose a batch of petitions which seek the removal of all such protest gatherings in Tamil Nadu, particularly in Chennai."I must tell this court that these protests have been the most spectacular affirmation to me that Indian society is proudly multi-cultural and fiercely so, and that no government can impose homogeneity through law on this beautiful Indian society", stated the intervention application filed by Chennai-resident Kuruvilla Abraham, who claimed to have visited several anti-CAA protest sites such as Shaheen Bagh and Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.livelaw.in

Anti-CAA protests: Allahabad High Court terms UP’s recovery of damages ordinance arbitrary, asks Govt to reply by March 25

Allahabad High Court has asked Uttar Pradesh government to file a reply by March 25 in the recovery of damages ordinance brought by it last week.The court was hearing a PIL challenging Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020, notified by the government on March 15 after the Cabinet passed the proposal on March 13.In its order, Division Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Samit Goyal, while issuing notice to the government, noted the arguments raised by the petitioners and said that the “ordinance is arbitrary in its very nature”.“According to learned counsels, provisions of the ordinance shall allow the persons to be viral for public at large as criminal without their adjudication for any criminal charge. The ordinance as per learned counsels is also in contravention to the law laid down by the apex court in the Rojer Mathew Vs. South Indian Bank Limited 2019 SCC Online SC 1456,” the court said.The Bench also stated that it is also “emphasised that the intention of the ordinance is only to frustrate and overrule the law laid down by” a bench of the HC which recently asked the state to forthwith remove hoardings erected by it displaying the perosnal information of those accused in the violence during the protests against CAA.“Having considered the arguments advanced and also of the facts and grounds referred in the petition for writ, we consider it appropriate to have a counter affidavit to have adequate response by the State of Uttar Pradesh,” the Bench ruled.The order so notes that the petitioners further submitted that the field wherein the ordinance of 2020 is sought to be operated is already occupied and exhausted by Central enactments, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984.The plea filed by lawyer Shashank Tripathi prays the court to issue a writ, order or direction declaring ordinance “ultra-vires” to the constitution. The PIL seeks the suspension of or stay against the ordinance brought by BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government for the recovery of damages to public and private property during protests, bandhs or riots.Lawyer Ashma Izzat, a petitioner in another PIL in the case, has argued that the ordinance “is unconstitutional.”“...Stting up of a tribunal with multiple members and functioning even with a single judicial member and several non-judicial members is not permissible in law as laid down by the Supreme Court,” PIL said.Uttar Pradesh government armed itself with a stringent new law to recover compensation from those who damage public and private property during protests. thehindu

3 years of terror in UP: Property ordinance is as bad as AFSPA, says advocate Colin Gonsalves

A day after seeking reply Allahabad High Court issued notice to the Yogi government over Properties Ordinance, 2020. On the day Yogi govnt is scheduled to release a report card enlisting work done for the people of Uttar Pradesh, senior advocate and founder of Human Rights Law Network, Colin Gonsalves termed the ordinance “as bad as AFSPA”.Passed by the Parliament, AFSPA grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.Gonsalves who challenged the ordinance passed in Allahabad High Court said that the courts should stand against the “lawlessness”.nationalheraldindia

Uttar Pradesh accused begin paying damages

Lucknow:Some of alleged anti-CAA protesters served with compensation-recovery notices by the Uttar Pradesh government have begun paying up, with one of them saying they knew the notices lacked legal endorsement but feared further harassment if they held out. Yogi Adityanath’s administration has issued recovery notices to more than 1,000 people across state — without waiting for a court order — seeking compensation for damage to public and private property during the protests against the anti-CAA  in Dec.On Tuesday, six residents of Kanpur city’s Bekanganj locality deposited Rs 80,856 — the sum of the individual amounts sought from them — with the city civil court magistrate.The average comes to Rs 13,476 per head among 6 -— Dilshad, Liyaquat, Irfan, Arman, Yasin and Gurgut — most of them small-time shopkeepers.“We understand very well that in an ideal situation, the government cannot confiscate our properties on the basis of a half-baked police report and without proving our guilt in a criminal court,” one of the six men told reporters, requesting anonymity.“But the way the state government seems prepared to harass us makes it clear that we would be stripped of everything by the time a court clears us of all allegations.”Several more in Kanpur city are preparing to pay up,residents said.telegraphindia

Kafeel Khan detention: top court transfers petition to HC

New Delhi :The Supreme Court on Wednesday transferred to the Allahabad High Court a petition filed by the mother of Gorakhpur doctor Kafeel Khan challenging his detention under the National Security Act.“We consider it appropriate that the matter be taken up by the Allahabad High Court. The record of the matter be transmitted to the High Court forthwith,” a bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kanta ordered when the plea came up before it.Aligarh police had booked Khan in December last year, claiming that his address to Aligarh Muslim University students against the NRC and CAA had instigated riots in the city.indianexpress

Lucknow cops’ attempts to clear Clock Tower area fails: Angry Women Protesters Raise Slogans Against Police

Lucknow police has made an abortive attempt to get the Clock Tower vacated by anti-CAA protesters. A large contingent of policemen reach Clock Tower on Thursday afternoon and tried to make the women leave the site.Women protesters at Lucknow 'Ghantaghar' protested strongly when male and female police tried to remove their mats and 'durries' from the protest site.Women police forcibly took away the mats on which women protesters used to sit.Earlier, they had snatched blankets and even confiscated food packets from protesters during chuilling winter.The protesters in Lukcnow were not allowed to erect tent even during chilling winter.A large number of police and personnel of RAF today surrounded women protesters at ‘Ghantaghar’(Clock Tower of Lucknow.According to reports reaching here, police vandalised the dais and allegedly misbehaved with the women protesters. Angry women shouted slogans against the police.Reports say that three women protesters became unconscious due to police action.Rihai Manch general secretary Rajiv Yadav, in a statement, said that police took the action to end the protest from Lucknow which, after Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, was the strongest protest against hostile CAA in the country. Meanwhile, talking to IANS, Rehana, a protester, said, “cops misbehaved with us. They pulled the bedsheets with women sitting on them. 3 women fainted during this scuffle. We will not give up the protest until our demands are met. As for coronavirus, we are not afraid of it – we have survived for two months and our spirits are still not flagging.”India Tomorrow/IANS

Anti-CAA violence: SIT files charge sheet against 38 in Muzaffarnagar

Muzaffarnagar: An SIT probing the violence that broke out during a protest against CAA here last year filed a charge sheet against 38 people in a court on Thursday.The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Ravi Kant Yadav ordered accused to appear before it on March 31.Of the 38 accused, 17 have got bail.According to the prosecution, the accused were arrested for their alleged involvement in the violence during an anti-CAA protest here on Dec.20. One person was killed and several police personnel were injured in the violence. PTI

Will give call for NPR boycott if not as per 2011 census: Barelvi clerics 

Sunni clerics associated with an influential Islamist seminary have said that they will call for a boycott of the survey to be taken for NPR if it is not on the lines of the 2011 Census.Barelvi clerics, who gathered at Dargah Aala Hazrat here, said they will appeal to the Imams of mosques to give the boycott call if the central government failed to address the concerns of the community.Apprehending that quite a few Muslims may be declared "outsiders and infiltrators" if they were unable to furnish relevant documents to prove their Indian nationality, the clerics said that the new citizenship law was also unacceptable to the Muslims.Salman Hasan Khan, national vice-president of Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa, an organisation affiliated to Dargah Aala Hazrat, said: "The population census should be carried out in the same way as in 2011. Muslims should not be afraid of National Population Register as the dargah will stand by them. If anyone comes to your house for the survey, talk to them politely but there is no need to share any documents with them. We will appeal to the Imams of mosques to inform the public about boycotting NPR during Friday prayers."IANS

Days after getting bail by NIA court, Akhil Gogoi arrested in another case

Guwahati: 2 days after he was granted bail by a NIA court in Assam, anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi was arrested again on Thursday morning.Although formalities regarding his bail were completed, the founder of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a farmers’ rights body, could not avail it as police from Sibsagar district arrested him in a separate case. “A police team from Sibsagar arrested him inside the central jail in Guwahati and took him away around 5:00 am on Thursday morning,” said Gogoi’s lawyer Shantanu Borthakur.HT

Assam CAA Protests:Gorkha student leader latest to be summoned by NIA

Guwahati: Rahul Chetry, a 24-year-old who is the general secretary Dibrugarh University Post Graduate Students’ Union (DUPGSU) has become the latest individual in Assam to be issued a summon by NIA for taking part in an anti-CAA protest. Chetry has been asked by NIA to appear at its office, which is located at Sonapur in the outskirts of the city, on Friday for the ‘purpose of answering certain questions relating to the case’.Chetry is among the slew of students’ union leaders and academics in the state who have been asked to appear before NIA for anti-CAA protests. In Feb, ex Cotton University student leader Pranjal Kalita and IIT Guwahati academic Arupjyoti Saikia were summoned by NIA for the same purpose.thewire

*DELHI VIOLENCE*

Delhi Riots: HC pulls up forensic science lab, govt over delay in DNA test

Delhi high court has pulled up Delhi government and Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini for not testing DNA samples taken from the charred body of a youth found alongside a car following the riots in North East Delhi on Feb. 26.After a man, Sajid Ali, claimed that the body was that of his son Mohsin, DNA samples from him and his wife were taken on March 3 to establish if the deceased was indeed his son. However, testing on DNA samples was not done for over 2 weeks on the frivolous ground that permission of a court was needed.When Justice Navin Chawla of the Delhi high court asked the counsel for the Delhi government if there was a provision for the need of such permission, latter replied in the negative.In his order, on the petition filed by Sajid Ali which sought directions for the Delhi government and FSL Rohini to expeditiously conduct DNA matching test and furnish a report, Justice Chawla wrote that such a delay in testing for want of orders from the court, when there was no such provision of the law requiring such orders, “cannot be countenanced”. He said that respondents should “looking into the urgency of each case, carry out such testing without waiting for any order from any court”.In petition, Ali had named Delhi government and the Forensic Science Laboratory, Rohini through its director, as the respondents.thewire

Delhi riots: Former HC judge to look into public property damage, recovery

Retired Delhi High Court judge Sunil Gaur has been appointed as the claims commissioner to evaluate damage to public property during the north-east Delhi riots and the recovery process.he high court appointed Gaur after the city govt wrote the court registrar general seeking the appointment of a claims commissioner. Delhi High Court Registrar Manoj Jain said, “…..Chief Justice pleased to appoint Justice Sunil Gaur (rtd) as claims commissioner in terms of the law laid down by the SC in the cases of Destruction of Public and Private Properties versus State of Andhra Pradesh and others….The duration of commission shall, initially, be for a period of six months, subject to further extension, if found necessary”.HT

Delhi riots: Number of victims at Idgah camp touches 870

NEW DELHI: Over 3 weeks after riots broke out in the Capital, the number of victims currently residing at the Idgah relief camp in Mustafabad has touched 870, said Delhi Waqf Board, who had set up the camp.“By the first week of March, we started the process of writing down names and details of those residing in the camp. Initially, the number was around 550 and by Tuesday night, it went upto 870,” said Mohammed Imran, media coordinator [Idgah relief camp] and Nodal Officer of Delhi Waqf Board.While many who owned houses in riot-affected areas have started to return, Mr. Imran is of the view that the number of people residing in the camp is high because people only leave for a brief period and are returning. “People who had returned to their homes are coming back saying that they’ll finally leave the camp once their burnt or vandalised houses are in order,” he said.“People are coming back saying that they were staying at relatives’ houses,” he said.The Board, he said, has planned to give ration for three months, ₹1 lakh to owners whose houses have been burnt and vandalised and ₹60,000 to tenants.thehindu

Delhi Violence: Police Books People Using Same Narrative, Different FIRs

New Delhi: Almost following a pattern, FIRs filed in a certain template with glaring loopholes are the prominent features found in the cases of violence in North-East Delhi – the riots ended three weeks ago.  A large number of FIRs have been filed against unidentified people under severe sections of IPC, and people are allegedly being arrested “arbitrarily” and framed in these cases. For instance, the case plot in FIR numbers 0066/2020, 0067/2020, 0068/2020, 0069/2020 and 0070/2020, filed at Dayalpur Police Station in East-Delhi under the Arms Act, 1959, is the same. The only differences are names of the complainant and the place where the police claimed they spotted the accused.In FIR number 66, the complainant — Piyush, a constable — said he was deployed at Brijpuri  with Rohit, another constable, as part of “arrangement duty” on Feb.27, when Section 144 of CrPC was imposed. Piyush said that at around 3 p.m., he spotted a “suspicious” man who was hiding behind a vehicle parked at Nala Road. As soon as he saw the police party, said the complainant, the man turned and moved quickly.“I and Constable Rohit stopped the man and questioned him. He identified himself as Md Sohib (a resident of Jaffrabad), aged 22. Upon frisking his body, we seized a loaded country-made pistol from his possession,” said the complaint based on which the FIR was registered against the accused under Sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act. Same story has been narrated in next FIRs with slight changes. In his complaint mentioned in FIR number 67, Constable Subash said he along with Constable Sunil was deployed as part of “arrangement duty” on February 27 in Chand Bagh where prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr.PC. was in place.newsclick

Delhi Violence: Nawab Ali of Shiv Vihar Lost Everything in Violence, Gets Mere Rs. 12,000 in Compensation

NEW DELHI:Shiv Vihar is the most affected by the recent anti-Muslim violence Muslims in northeast Delhi  in which houses shops, and small manufacturing units belonging to Muslims were looted and then consigned to flames, ensuring maximum economic and financial loss to the community which is already at the lowest rung of the economic ladder.Though Delhi state government announced compensation for the victims and the latter also filled up the compensation forms, the verification process is reported to be too slow. And in even cases where the verification by the government officials have been completed, the compensation amount doled out is too meagre. Some of them say they have been received Rs. 12,000 and some have got merely Rs. 25,000 which is too inadequate even to repair the badly burnt houses.Mohammed Ismail, a resident of Shiv Vihar, ran a mobile phone shop. “Violent fanatics looted and set afire my mobile phone shop. I lost everything. I have filled up and submitted the compensation form. But no verification has also been done so far. As per government rules, I cannot get compensation without verification. About a month has passed but I cannot start my business again in this situation because I have no money”, Ismail told India Tomorrow. When India Tomorrow visited the relief camp in Mustafabad started by the Delhi Wakf Board, victims of the violence had a common complaint that verification process of the compensation applications is very slow.India Tomorrow

Delhi violence: ED likely to attach properties of riot-accused former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate may soon attach properties of suspended AAP leader Tahir Hussain in connection with the Delhi Riot case. Tahir Hussain, who has been arrested by Delhi Police in the riot and murder case, has been booked by ED under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).India Today has learned that the ED has started the process of identifying properties belonging to Tahir Hussain and will soon attach them as part of the proceeds of crime. The ED has taken cognisance of the FIR by Delhi Police in which Tahir Hussain has been accused of sponsoring and participating in violence during Delhi riots in the northeast part of the national capital.Tahir Hussain, has denied all the allegations and claimed that he had reached out to the police twice that day to save his life during the violence.Police, however, said that Tahir Hussain's claims are false and baseless.India Today

*OTHERS*

MP Crisis: Floor test tomorrow, SC says uncertainty must be resolved

New Delhi : Ruling that uncertainty over the government should be resolved, the Supreme Court has ordered the state Assembly Speaker to conduct the floor test for Madhya Pradesh Friday.Earlier in the day, the court had suggested that Speaker N P Prajapati should interact with the rebel Congress MLAs through a video link or the court can appoint an observer to put an end to the fear that the legislators are in captivity. Prajapati, however, refused to accept the top court’s proposal.Taking a jibe at the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker on Thursday, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan asked what does the Speaker need extra time for? The former chief minister’s reaction comes after the Supreme Court’s hearing in the case. Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati, sought two weeks of time and asked the Supreme Court to let the rebel MLAs return to their homes. “Please give me two weeks’ time to decide. Let the rebel MLAs come back to MP, their homes,” he said. The apex court, which is hearing the BJP’s plea for immediate floor test in the state, resumed hearing the case on Thursday. Senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh wrote letters to each of the 17 MLAs who are staying at a resort in Bengaluru. Singh, in a covering letter to Karnataka DGP, requested him to ensure delivery of those letters to the concerned MLA by videographing the process. Security was beefed up at the state headquarters of the BJP and Congress on Thursday amid ongoing political tension in Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, The Supreme Court bench said, 'We can appoint an observer to Bengaluru or some other place so that the rebel MLAs can connect with the Speaker through video conferencing after which he can decide.' It also asked the Speaker whether any inquiry was made on the resignation of the rebel MLAs and what decision has he taken on them. Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker, said the day court begins to give time-bound direction to the Speaker, it will be constitutionally problematic. Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker told the Supreme Court, "The Governor cannot decide whether the government has lost the majority or not. It's the House that decides. The Governor has only three powers: whether to summon, prorogue and dissolve the House". indianexpress

"Weeks = Gold Mines For Horse Trading": Supreme Court On MP

‘If they were loyal to Scindia…’ Kamal Nath claims most rebel Congress MLAs in touch with him

Bhopal: MP CM Kamal Nath in an exclusive conversation with News18 has claimed that he's in touch with "most of the rebel MLAs", who have been holed up in a resort in Bengaluru for the last 10 days.The veteran Congress leader claimed that after "these MLAs released these messages," referring to video messages released by some of the MLAs, "they called me to say that they have been forced to record those videos...that is why I'm confident about my numbers."Referring to the 16 Congress MLAs who have tendered resignations to the state assembly speaker as "my MLAs", Nath said no sitting Congress MLA had yet joined BJP. "These are my MLAs until proven otherwise...If these MLAs were loyal to Scindia then they would have joined BJP as soon as Scindia joined BJP," he argued.news18

Briefed international community on JK, CAA; countries have shown understanding: Govt

New Delhi:The government has briefed the international community on the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in Jammu and Kashmir and the amended citizenship law, and these countries have shown understanding of India''s position, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.In a written reply to a question, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said as a result of government''s efforts, countries have shown a better understanding that matters related to Jammu & Kashmir are internal to India and that Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism has been posing a grave threat and affecting the lives of Indians.Some countries have also called on Pakistan not to allow its territories to be used for terrorism in any manner, he said."The government has pro-actively reached out and briefed the members of the international community on the facts relating to Jammu and Kashmir and also shared perspectives and objectives of CAA," Muraleedharan said.The government has also note of some statements made by China, Malaysia and Turkey on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir, he said.PTI

'Shame, shame!': Opposition unites to lambast Ranjan Gogoi as ex-CJI takes oath in Rajya Saba; Congress, BSP stage walkout

New Delhi: Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi took take oath as Rajya Sabha member on Thursday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Even as he was being administered oath, opposition members shouted 'shame' and 'deal' and later walked out in protest against his appointment.Gogoi, who headed benches that pronounced several key judgements including in the sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, was on Monday nominated to Rajya Sabha by the government. Gogoi also led the benches that ruled on Rafale fighter jet deal and entry of women in Sabarimala temple.PTI

Madhu Kishwar Files PIL Against ex CJI Gogoi's Rajya Sabha Nomination

New Delhi: Academic and activist Madhu Purnima Kishwar has filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha. In her petition, she alleges that Gogoi’s appointment casts a shadow in the independence of the judiciary.The former CJI’s nomination, she argues, counts as an assault on this independence. “…his (Gogoi’s) nomination as a Rajya Sabha member by the President of India gives it the colour of a political appointment and therefore casts a shadow of doubt on the credibility of the judgments delivered under his headship of the Supreme Court,” Bar and Bench quotes the PIL as saying.thewire

Rajya Sabha polls: Sharad Pawar, Ramdas Athawale and several others win unopposed; Rajasthan set for tough fight for 3 seats

NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale were among several candidates who won the election to Rajya Sabha, unopposed on Wednesday. With no nominations filed against them and the last date for withdrawal of nomination ending at 3 pm today, at least 21 leaders from across six states won these polls unopposed.Maharashtra saw the maximum of seven candidates winning unopposed on Wednesday, while 5 won from Bihar and West Bengal each, four from Odisha, 3 from Haryana, and 2 From Chhattisgarh, among others.Some of the other prominent leaders who won the election to Upper House of the Parliament were deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh. Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda, BJP's Indu Goswami from Himachal Pradesh and BJD leader Munna Khan, were also declared winners unopposed, among others.Meanwhile, Rajasthan will see a tough fight for 3 seats on 26 March when elections are held as none of the four candidates in the fray withdrew their nomination.All 5 candidates for as many Rajya Sabha seats in Bihar were on Wednesday declared elected unopposed as no other nominations were filed, an official said. 2 candidates each were from JDU and RJD, and one from the BJP.firstpost

Nirbhaya Case: President, SC, Delhi court reject last-minute pleas, execution set for 5:30 am Friday

There are less than 24 hours to go for the scheduled hangings of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. A Delhi court on Thursday rejected a plea seeking a stay on the executions of the four convicts. The four convicts are set to be hanged at 5:30 am in Tihar Jail. With the time of the executions nearing, the four convicts are moving courts and filing pleas seeking relief from the capital punishment. The four men have been convicted for the gang-rape and murder of a young woman who was brutally assaulted in a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012. Stay with IndiaToday.in as we bring you the latest updates on the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.indiatoday

Yes Bank crisis: Anil Ambani appears before Enforcement Directorate in money laundering case

Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani on Thursday appeared for questioning before the Enforcement Directorate in Mumbai in connection with a money laundering case into the crisis-hit Yes Bank, reported PTI. Ambani received the summons from the agency on Monday.Ambani’s statement will reportedly be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The businessman’s 9 group companies are considered to have taken loans of about Rs 12,800 crore from the bank. The loans were reportedly under “stress”.scroll

UP’s BJP MLA declared ‘defaulter’ by coop bank

HCBL Cooperative Bank Ltd has declared BJP MLA Pankaj Gupta as "defaulter" over alleged non-payment of Rs 75 lakh.Gupta was said to have raised a loan of Rs 2.25 crore from the bank in 2013 in the name of his company Fantasy Motels Private Limited.A bank official said that the cheques issued to the bank by the legislator against loan amount had since bounced.The revenue officials concerned had issued notice for arrest and seizure of property against Gupta in 2016.IANS

Organisations express concern over rejecting bail to Navlakha, Teltumbde

Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD) is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the plea by Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha seeking anticipatory bail in the cases registered against them in relation to the violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. Their arrest is imminent in the next three weeks. Nine other activists and intellectuals who have been accused in this case and charged with sections of the draconian UAPA have been imprisoned since 2018, a statement said. MRSD's statement  said, "The top court’s order to deny interim bail is alarming given that the case against the activists is based on very thin evidence. Moreover, the cyber forensic analysis by credible investigative journalists and technical experts discredit evidence used by the Pune police to incriminate the activists. The analysis reveals that letters which were allegedly recovered from the hard disk of Rona Wilson, one of the nine activists accused in the case, and used by the police to link the accused to a banned political party are most likely to have been planted in the disk through use of malware which allowed remote access into Wilson’s computer. This clearly indicates manipulation of evidence and the fabricated nature of the case."The organisations supporting the statement include: PUCL, CPDR, NTUI, TUCI, SIO, Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC)- IIT Mumbai, COSTISA, LEAFLET, Police Reforms Watch, NCHRO, Bebaak Collective, Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), LABIA- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Jagrut Kamgar Manch (JKM), Majlis, IMSD, WSS,BBA, INSAF, PCSDS, HRLN, Cause Lawyers Alliance, NAPM and  students from various colleges in Mumbai.punemirror

Guj: ‘Cricket match, music and crackers have led to communal violence’

Gandhinagar:A cricket match, playing of music by a Disc Jockey (DJ) and the bursting of crackers during Ganesh Visarjan were among the listed reasons for incidents of communal violence in Anand district of central Gujarat, the Gujarat Assembly was told on Wednesday. One person had died and 10 others were injured in these incidents in 2018, the state govt revealed.In a written response to a question on communal riots asked by Dariapur MLA Gyasuddin Sheikh, the state government stated that there were nine incidents of communal riots in Anand district in 2018. Similarly in 2019, four more incidents happened in the district and two persons were injured. There were no incidents of communal violence in Anand city or in the neighbouring Vadodara city and district during this two-year period.indianexpress

*Coronavirus UPDATES*

Coronavirus Shutdown: No Foreign Flights Starting Sunday, Work From Home For Most as death toll rises to 4, total cases now at 173 in India


New Delhi: The death toll due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has risen to 4 in India after a 70-year-old man, who returned from Germany via Italy a fortnight ago, died at a hospital in Punjab’s Nawanshahr district. The septuagenarian, who had diabetes and hypertension, tested positive after he died at the Banga community health centre on Wednesday. No international flights will be allowed to land in India from Sunday for a week, the government announced today escalating measures to fight coronavirus. In a notice hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation, the government also urged work from home for most and said those below 10 and above 65 should stay home. Coronavirus cases in India climbed to 173 on Thursday after 18 new cases were reported. To check the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed over 8,000 lives globally and infected more than 2 lakh, India had already suspended visas for the vast majority of foreigners seeking to enter the country.The govt advised citizens above 65 to stay at home unless they are public representatives or doctors or government employees. People have been advised to keep children below 10 at home.Railways and airlines have been asked to suspend all concessional travel except for students, patients and persons with disabilities. States have been asked to enforce work from home for the private sector, except for emergency and essential services.A fourth death from coronavirus, that of a 70-year-old man who had travelled to Germany, was reported from Punjab today. The other deaths were reported from Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Mumbai also reported two fresh cases this morning, taking the total number of patients in Maharashtra to 47. Karnataka also reported a positive case in Coorg and now has 15 patients. Delhi has, so far, reported 12 positive, 17 in Uttar Pradesh, 27 in Kerala, six in Telangana, four in Rajasthan and 17 in Haryana. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to eight and J&K 4. AP, Odisha, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Pondicherry, Chandigarh and Punjab have reported one case each.indianexpress / NDTV

Coronavirus: Indian Railways Cancels 168 Trains From March 20 To March 31 Due To Covid-19 Scare

Indian Railways has cancelled 168 trains due to low occupancy in view of noverl coronavirus outbreak, according to ANI. The trains will remain cancelled from March 20 to March 31 in view of coronavirus, said officials on Thursday. A PTI report said that all passengers having tickets in cancelled trains are being informed about it individually.newsnation

PM Modi won't announce lockdown in his address: PMO sources

Warning against unnecessary lockdown panic ahead of the prime minister's address at 8 pm on Thursday, PMO sources have said that there are no plans to announce a lockdown in view of Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Speaking to India Today TV, top PMO sources said, "Some media outlets are speculating that PM Modi will announce a lockdown in his address. This information is incorrect. It will also create unnecessary panic in the minds of people, which is the last thing we need in times like this.""Some media outlets are speculating that PM Modi will announce a lockdown in his address. This information is incorrect. It will also create unnecessary panic in minds of people, which is the last thing we need in times like this," Shashi Shekhar, CEO Prasar Bharati, said.indiatoday

CBSE Board Exam Date: All ongoing exams postponed till 31 March; National Testing Agency defers JEE-Main exam

With coronavirus cases rising, CBSE postponed all exams in India and abroad that were scheduled from 19 to 31 March."All ongoing CBSE examinations in India and abroad postponed till 31 March and will be rescheduled thereafter... after an assessment of the situation," CBSE Secretary Anurag Tripathi said."All ongoing evaluation work will be suspended during the period," he added.Meanwhile, the National Testing Agency postponed Joint Entrance Exam (JEE-Main) held for admission to IITs and engineering colleges in view of coronavirus. The exam was earlier scheduled from 5-11 April."The JEE-Main exam has been postponed. The new date will be decided in accordance with the board exams schedule and other competitive exams to ensure there is no clash," a senior NTA official said.firstpost

Delhi Airport: After Complain, New Coronavirus Protocol Implemented

New Delhi: On Tuesday evening, the Delhi airport put in place new regulations to streamline passenger movement during the outbreak. This came after multiple reports details inconvenience, health risks, long wait times and confusion at the airport.HT

Kashmir Valley records first positive coronavirus case in Srinagar; restrictions to be imposed in capital tomorrow, say officials

Srinagar: Kashmir Valley on Wednesday recorded its first positive case for novel coronavirus in Srinagar, mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation Junaid Azim Mattu said."I have been informed a short while ago that Srinagar has had its first positive case for Covid2019. It's a congested area in the city interiors. We have to be transparent to convey the gravity of the challenge and also seek serious measures and responsible behavior," Mattu said in a series of tweets.firstpost

Demand for high-speed internet grows in Kashmir amid Coronavirus scare

After Jammu and Kashmir reported a fresh case of Coronavirus on Wednesday, the chorus for the restoration of high-speed 4G internet services has grown.The administration has restricted the mobile Internet speed to 2G services, citing security reasons.Several people, including Lok Sabha Member Farooq Abdullah, Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti's daughter Iltija Mufti, have called for the restoration of the services to help raise awareness about the virus.Abdullah wrote to PM Modi, requesting the restoration of 4G Internet services to enable people of JK to work from home."World's battling coronavirus but J&K admin still unrelenting & refuses to lift inhuman ban on 4G. In times of COVID pandemic, access to Internet & info is a necessity not a privilege. Are Kashmiri lives so cheap? (sic)," Iltija wrote on her mother's Twitter handle.PTI

IndiGo CEO Announces Pay Cut for Self, Employees; Air India May Follow Soon

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta has announced pay cut for all employees and will himself take 25 per cent cut in salary. The move comes in light of the unprecedented loss that airlines all over the world are suffering due to the global outbreak of Covid-19. Most likely to join the same is state-owned airline Air India which is also planning pay cuts of up to 5 per cent.The reduction will be across the board, they say. The loss-making airline, which is in the process of the second attempt of privatization after failing to get a single buyer nearly two years ago, has already taken some steps such as reduced flying allowances to cabin crew besides withdrawing entertainment allowance to executive pilots, among others.news18

2 million NRIs residing in 10 countries hit by coronavirus

New Delhi: Union government on Wednesday informed Parliament that 255 Indian citizens were infected by the novel coronavirus disease  in Iran, one of the countries worst hit by the infection. Even as the government has evacuated hundreds of Indians from China, where the infection originated, and other countries including Iran, official data shows that a large number of Indians abroad may be vulnerable to the virus.According to data compiled by United Nations in 2019, India was the leading country of origin of international migrants in the world. It estimated that a total of 17.5 million Indian migrants lived across the world, forming more than 6% of the world’s total migrant population.According to MEA data, more than 15% NRIs (nearly 2 million people) were in 10 countries that have by far recorded the highest number of positive coronavirus cases, including China. Of these, the highest number of NRIs were living in the United States at nearly 1.3 million.There were more than 300,000 NRIs in Italy, Iran, Spain and Germany -- the four worst-hit countries outside China. Also, more than 86% NRIs Indians lived in countries where at least 100 positive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. HT

All samples tested for community transmission negative:ICMR

Indian Council of Medical Research on Thursday said all samples taken to monitor the presence of community transmission of the novel coronavirus have tested negative. The health research body is the nodal authority for screening patients for COVID-19 in India. A sentinel surveillance to detect community transmission of COVID-19 was initiated by the council on February 15, the medical research council said in a statement. “The surveillance sites have been scaled up from 16 sites till February 29 to 51 sites by March 15,” it added. “Till date [Thursday], a total of 826 samples of the people suffering from severe acute respiratory infection /influenza like illnesses have been tested at the sites. However, none of the samples tested positive.”scroll

Coronavirus Rumours, Misinformation are Wreaking Havoc on India’s Poultry Sector

India’s poultry industry is one of the few examples of success in the country’s rural sector. Not only is it the fastest growing sub-sector of agriculture – posting a growth of 10% in 2017-18 and handily beating Brazil (7%) and China (2.1%) – but it is why New Delhi is the third-largest producer of eggs and contributes about 7% of the world’s production. In the case of broilers, India is the world’s fifth-largest producer, with 5% of global production. In 2015-16, it was valued at about Rs 80,000 crore.It is a tragedy, therefore, that the sector has in recent times succumbed to misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. This has the potential to destroy lakhs of rural livelihoods.thewire

Coronavirus: Man Falls Ill After Drinking Cow Urine, BJP Member Held For Hosting Event

Kolkata: A BJP activist has been arrested for organising a cow urine consumption event here, claiming that it will protect people from coronavirus or cure those already infected, leading to a civic volunteer falling ill after drinking it, police said on Wednesday.He was arrested late Tuesday night following a complaint filed by the victim with the police, they said.According to police officials, 40-year-old Narayan Chatterjee, a local party worker of Jorasakho area in North Kolkata, had on Monday organised a cow-worship programme at a cowshed and distributed cow urine.He vouched for its “miraculous” properties while offering gaumutra to others.A civic volunteer, who was on duty near the cow shed also consumed gaumutra and fell sick on Tuesday, following which he lodged a complaint with the police against Chatterjee.Reacting to the arrest, the state BJP leadership criticised the state government.“Chatterjee had distributed cow urine, but he didn’t fool people in consuming it. When he distributed it he clearly said it was cow urine, he didn’t force anyone to drink it. It has not been proved whether it is harmful or not.PTI

About 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide due to coronavirus: UN

Nearly 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, but an internationally coordinated policy response can help lower the impact on global unemployment, according to a UN agency.In its preliminary assessment report titled "COVID-19 and world of work: Impacts and responses", the International Labour Organization (ILO) calls for urgent, large-scale and coordinated measures across three pillars - protecting workers in the workplace, stimulating the economy and employment, and supporting jobs and incomes.PTI

Arab region could lose 1.7 mn jobs in 2020: UN

Arab region could lose over 1.7 million jobs due to the coronavirus crisis and the service sector would be the most affected, a UN report said.IANS

UP: Muslim clerics ask community to avoid going to mosques

Muslim clerics have issued a special advisory for the community, asking them to avoid going to mosques for Friday prayers and offer 'namaaz' in their homes or in small groups.The advisory, issued on Wednesday evening, was shared with the media and also asked children and the elderly to not visit mosques for prayers till the coronavirus scare ebbs and to pray in their homes.Those with flu symptoms, including cough and cold and fever, have also been asked to pray at home instead of mosques.Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, Imam of Eidgah, who chaired a meeting of several clerics on Wednesday evening, said, "Imams of the various mosques have also been requested to keep Khutba (speech) delivered before or after the Friday prayers, short so that the time spent outside of the house and within the mosque is reduced. There will also be special prayers held in the mosques for eradication of the contagious disease and for health of all people in the world."Apart from the directives to the Imams, mosques and devotees, the cleric also held a meeting with heads from other religions, including Gurudwara Prabhandak committee chief R.S. Bagga and Father Donald from the Catholic Diocese of Lucknow and representatives of Sindhi, Jain and Hindu communities.IANS

Mumbai : Will reduce number of devotees, not possible to shut down mosques, says community members

Mumbai  Almost a week after leaders from the Muslim community announced that they have requested people not to crowd mosques during Friday prayers; they have told the police and municipal authorities that it is not possible to shut down the mosques to devotees.“If we shut the mosque, it will be against Shariat. However, we have left the final decision to our religious scholars,” said Sohail Khandwani, managing trustee of Mahim dargah.At a meeting with community representatives at the Mumbai Police headquarters on Wednesday, government authorities asked them to not hold Friday prayers.Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi and municipal health department officials were present at the meeting. They were told that while mosque trusts will try to reduce number of devotees on Friday, it was not possible to shut down the mosques and dargahs completely. Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi  said, “We have told people to perform Wudu  at home and maintain cleanliness in the place of worship. Also, all imams have been asked to reduce the time of namaz,” said Daryabadi. However, some dargahs have asked devotees to not touch or kiss the mazar - tomb.Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay has exempted the community members from attending Sunday masses until March 31. Seth RN Rustomframna Agiary, Zoroastrian fire temple at Dadar, sent out a message informing community members that they were closing the entrance to agiary from Tuesday night onwards. The main Hindu temples in the city - Siddhivinayak, Mahalaxmi and Mumbadevi have announced that the shrines will be closed to devotees though priests will conduct scheduled prayers. Hindustan Times

Mumbai's Haji Ali, Mahim Dargahs Closed For Devotees Due To Coronavirus

Mumbai: No entry will be allowed to devotees at the landmark Haji Ali Dargah (shrine) as well as the popular Mahim Dargah in Mumbai in view of the coronavirus epidemic, it was announced on Thursday.The decision to stop entry at the two shrines till further notice was taken following the Maharashtra government's advice to avoid crowding in public places, said Suhail Khandwani, Managing Trustee of Mahim Dargah and a Trustee of the Haji Ali Dargah.ndtv

China reports no new domestic coronavirus cases for first time

For the first time after the deadly coronavirus broke out about three months ago in Wuhan, China on Thursday said that no new domestic cases of the COVID-19 were confirmed, including in the virus' epicentre, even as eight more fatalities have been reported, taking the death toll in the country to 3,245.PTI

Pakistan coronavirus cases double after pilgrims return from Iran

Pakistan’s coronavirus cases jumped after more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the disease.The nation reported 204 cases on Wednesday from 94 two days ago, according to data by National Institute of Health. About 60% of the cases are people with recent travel history to bordering Iran, the country with the third-highest number of infections, as part of a pilgrimage to holy shrines, according to government data. The jump makes it South Asia’s most affected by the outbreak. Rest of the region has 166 cases with about 90% in India.Pakistan sealed its 900-kilometer  border with Iran last week. It also quarantined 3,000 people in a makeshift tent city for 14 days but many positive cases were detected among them after they were let off. The officials from provincial governments of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have blamed the federal government of negligence in not properly screening the pilgrims who returned from Iran at the border.Bloomberg

Coronavirus : Spanish death toll climbs to 767

Spain said the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic soared by 209 to 767 fatalities overnight, as Russia announced that a 79-year-old woman with the virus was recorded as the country's first confirmed death resulting from the pandemic.Italy, the country most affected by the coronavirus outside China, reported a further 475 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, as the world stepped up efforts against the pandemic by closing schools, shutting down cities and imposing strict border controls. The UK was the latest to announce it would close schools. The US and Canada, meanwhile, have closed their border to all but essential traffic.Nearly 220,000 people have now been confirmed with the coronavirus globally, and while at least 84,000 people have recovered from COVID-19, more than 8,800 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in the US.aljazeera
*WORLD*

US envoy urges Kabul, Taliban to begin prisoner releases

The coronavirus pandemic adds urgency to prisoner releases agreed to by the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has said, advising they take place "as soon as possible"."No prisoners have been released to date despite the commitment to do so expressed by both sides," Khalilzad tweeted on Wednesday.Khalilzad's comments illustrated how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting one of US President Donald Trump's top foreign policy priorities.The prisoner releases were slated to have started last week as part of an effort the US is leading to end its longest war and bring peace to Afghanistan after decades of strife. But the releases were stalled by disagreements over the numbers of detainees to be freed and guarantees they would not return to fighting."US would like to see prisoner releases begin as soon as possible in line with the US-Taliban agreement,"Khalilzad tweeted, referring to a Feb.29 deal he signed with the armed group for a phased US troop withdrawal.aljazeera

Israel threatens to fine Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque

Israeli occupation authorities have warned that they will fine Palestinians who pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem if gatherings of more than 10 people are spotted there, the Palestinian Information Centre reported on Wednesday. Israeli police stationed at the gates of Al-Aqsa have collected the identity documents of Muslims in order to put pressure on them.Local sources report that the move is allegedly part of the Israeli government’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, the same sources point out that if this really is the case, then the authorities would also stop large groups of illegal settlers from taking part in disruptive incursions into the mosque under police protection.Moreover, the Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, has called on worshippers to follow the guidance of the World Health Organisation in relation to prayer gatherings inside the Noble Sanctuary. He pointed out that the Israeli occupation authorities are clearly planning to exploit the coronavirus issue in order to cut the Palestinian presence within Al-Aqsa to make it easy for their plans to Judaise the Islamic site.middleeastmonitor

Israel summons Al-Aqsa Mosque director for questioning

Israel Police yesterday summoned Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani, the director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, for interrogation at the Russian Compound in West Jerusalem.Sheikh Al-Kiswani has called for Muslims to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque yards instead of inside the buildings as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus.Occupation have allowed Jewish settlers to storm the mosque and perform Talmudic rituals in its grounds despite a state of health emergency being in place which has prevented Muslim worshippers from accessing the compound.On Wednesday, Israeli forces also arrested Amir Shweiki, from Al-Thawri neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, after storming the neighbourhood with military vehicles and closing its entrances and preventing vehicles from moving.

Likud proposes bills to annex Jordan Valley and execute Palestinian prisoners

The ruling Likud party has submitted a bill for approval by the Knesset to annex the occupied Jordan Valley, the North Dead Sea area and the Hebron Desert, Israel Hayom reported on Wednesday. A second bill was also submitted which, if passed, would reintroduce the death penalty for Palestinian political prisoners.According to the newspaper, the head of the Likud bloc in the Knesset, Micky Zohar, said that the 2 bills are intended to “embarrass” Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Gantz was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin to form the government and he was endorsed by Lieberman and Arab MKs.“Let’s see this wonderful cooperation between the Joint List [the of Arab MK bloc], Yisrael Beiteinu and Blue and White,” mocked Zohar. This was apparently a reference to the condition insisted upon by the Joint List for its backing of a Gantz-led government coalition over the issue of Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley.middleeastmonitor

Netanyahu and Gantz meet to discuss unity government

The leaders of Likud and the Blue and White party, Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz respectively, met on Wednesday night to discuss the formation of a unity government but were apparently unable to reach any agreement on the issue.Prior to the meeting Israeli media reported that there was a primary understanding within Blue and White to agree to govern with Likud based on the rotation of the post of prime minister. However, the bloc wants a one-year rotation cycle for Netanyahu and 3 years for Gantz, rather than Likud’s preferred two years for each candidate. Moreover, according to the Times of Israel, Blue and White demanded several top ministries, including foreign affairs, justice, public security and culture.

Iran's Khamenei to pardon 10,000 prisoners ahead of Nowruz:REUTERS

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will pardon 10,000 prisoners including political detainees to mark the Iranian new year on Friday,according to state TV."Those who will be pardoned will not return to jail ... almost half of those security-related prisoners will be pardoned as well," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told state TV on Wednesday.On Tuesday, Esmaili said Iran had temporarily freed about 85,000 people from jail, including political prisoners, in response to the coronavirus epidemic."A large number of prisoners who have been temporarily freed do not need to return to jail after the leader's pardon," Esmaili said."The unprecedented point is that the pardon also includes the security-related prisoners with less than five-year jail sentences," Esmaili said.aljazeera

*VIEWS, ARTICLES, FEATURES*

National Herald India View: Ranjan Gogoi’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha sets an unacceptably bad precedent

Gogoi betrayal: Judges will not empower you, they are diminished men:Pratap Bhanu Mehta , indianexpress


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