Wednesday, 4 March 2020

4 MARCH NEWS: India suffers 'alarming' decline in civil liberties, discriminatory citizenship law, suppression of anti-CAA protests, Kashmir ranked 'not free': Freedom Report/ ‘Adjournment for a month unjustified’: SC asks High Court to hear Delhi riots pleas on Friday/Delhi violence was well-planned, outsiders were brought in as part of conspiracy: Delhi Minorities Commission/Coronavirus outbreak in India: Cases rise to 28, Health Minister says 27,000 people under surveillance/Social media curbs removed in J&K after 7 months / Supreme Court removes ban on cryptocurrency trading in India

NEWS DIGEST, EVENING
 04 March  2020: 08 Rajjab 1441: Vol: 12, No: 148
*DELHI VIOLENCE*
India suffers 'alarming' decline in civil liberties, discriminatory citizenship law, suppression of anti-CAA protests, Kashmir ranked 'not free': Freedom Report
New Delhi:In the latest edition of Freedom in the World, an annual report published by pro-democracy nonprofit Freedom House, India has suffered the largest decline in its political rights and civil liberties score among 25 most populous democracies because of Narendra Modi govt’s “alarming departures from democratic norms,” while Kashmir’s status has declined from “Partly Free” to “Not Free.”This 2020 report gives a damning assessment of Modi govt’s “pattern of Hindu nationalist policies,” including the persecution of religious minorities, abruptly revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy, adoption of CAA, which it calls a “discriminatory citizenship law,” and “aggressive” suppression of anti-CAA protests that followed. 195 countries are ranked out of 100 using 25 indicators within seven categories:electoral processes, political processes and pluralism, functioning of government, freedom of expression and belief, association and organisational  rights, rule of law, personal autonomy and individual rights. India, which is ranked ‘Free,’ dropped from 75/100 in 2019 to 71 in 2020. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are ranked 38, 39 and 58 respectively. China is ranked 10. “Indian govt has taken its Hindu nationalist agenda to a new level with a succession of policies that abrogate the rights of different segments of its Muslim population, threatening the democratic future of a country long seen as a potential bulwark of freedom in Asia and the world,” Sarah Repucci, Freedom House’s Senior Director of Research and Analysis, writes in the report. On Kashmir, the score declined in 14 of the 25 categories on which the ranking is based. It was zero in categories like freedom of assembly and whether people are able to make free political choices. On whether Kashmir has an independent judiciary, the report said, “Courts are politicised and act as an extension of Indian executive and military authority. The government and security forces frequently disregard court orders.”Kashmir, the report said, “experienced one of the largest single-year score declines of the past 10 years in Freedom in the World, and its freedom status dropped to Not Free.”The report also mentions the implementation of NRC in Assam as an example of the Modi govt’s Hindu nationalist policies.In addition to NRC, CAA and the suppression of protests, the report says there is rising intimidation in the academic space and educational system, with the government aiming to control the discussion of politically sensitive topics.huffingtonpost
Report on democracy setbacks singles out US, India

‘Adjournment for a month unjustified’: SC asks High Court to hear Delhi riots pleas on Friday
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi High Court to hear matters related to the northeast Delhi violence on March 6 while observing that the one-month adjournment by the HC was “unjustified”.CJI SA Bobde, heading a bench that also comprised Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, requested the Delhi High Court to deal with the matter expeditiously while asking it to explore the possibility of peaceful resolution of the dispute. “We think that adjournment (in Delhi HC) of such a long period is unjustified. We also do not want to assume jurisdiction when HC is seized of the matter. All other connected matters in the same subject which have been adjourned to a later date may be advanced and taken up along with this matter,” CJI Bobde said.Replying to CJI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the situation was not conducive. “We have received 7000 videos. We said right now the situation is not proper. We will when the situation is conducive,” Mehta said.“We don’t think that violence can be curbed by court orders. In an injunction, there are specific people. But in a matter like this, there are not specified people,” CJI Bobde shot back.Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who is representing the petitioners, said there would have been no riots had the “main persons” been jailed while referring to alleged hate speeches made by BJP leaders.“We also have some experience of riots. Your statement is not absolutely true. Sometimes when you catch leaders and jail them, it flares up,” CJI said, citing Mumbai riots. On Feb.27, while hearing a plea seeking registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Sahib Singh, and Kapil Mishra and others for allegedly making provocative statements that sparked mob attacks in northeast Delhi, Delhi HC had adjourned the hearing to April 13.indianexpress

Won’t hear activist Harsh Mander until he clarifies his alleged ‘justice on street’ remark: SC
During a hearing of a petition against hate speech by BJP leaders in Delhi, the Supreme Court Wednesday asked activist Harsh Mander if he had made remarks against the top court. The court said it won’t hear him unless he clarifies on the matter. Mander’s counsel, however, denied that he made any such statement. The apex court’s reaction came after a video of Mander speech went viral in which he is allegedly saying “there is no trust left in the courts and that ultimate justice has to be on the streets”.Mander had filed a petition seeking registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Sahib Singh and Abhay Verma for their alleged hate speeches in the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections.The top court declined to hear Mander’s petition after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta produced transcripts of his reported speech at Jamia.“Many have violated the majesty of law. Are you also one of them? Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked Mander’s lawyer Karuna Nundy as the Supreme Court made it clear that he won’t be heard today.indianexpress
Harsh Mander also made hate speech, Solicitor General claims at SC Hearing on FIR against Mishra
Delhi violence: High Court dismisses plea against AAP govt’s compensation to victims
Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition challenging AAP’s decision to provide compensation to two victims of the violence that rocked the national Capital last week, PTI reported. “The compensation is being awarded on a no fault basis,” a bench of Justices DN Patel and C Hari Shankar said. “There is nothing wrong with it.” The court added that it cannot interfere because providing the compensation is a policy decision of AAP govt. However, it asked the state to ensure that compensation is paid only to the victims of the riots.scroll
Delhi Riots: Tahir Hussain Moves Court For Anticipatory Bail As Police Flip-Flops On His Rescue
As Delhi Police went back and forth on whether it had rescued Tahir Hussain during the riots last week, the suspended AAP councillor on Tuesday moved a Delhi court seeking anticipatory bail in the case lodged in connection with alleged killing of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma.On Tuesday, Delhi Police ACP Ajit Singla had said at press conference that Hussain had been rescued, corroborating the statements made by the councillor last week.“On the intervening night of Feb.24-25 some people told us that a councillor was stuck and feeling insecure, he was then rescued from the lane,” Singla said.Hours later, the police issued a statement, saying “Tahir Hussain did not require rescuing”. “He was named as accused... upon recovery of the body of Shri Ankit Sharma. His house was searched and he was found absconding. Efforts are being made to arrest him,” the statement said, according to NDTV.Hussain has denied any involvement in Ankit Sharma’s death after the IB employee’s family alleged that his supporters were involved in the case.Delhi police has named Hussain as an accused in the case, charging him with murder, rioting and arson.Today, a Delhi court deferred the hearing on the anticipatory bail plea of Hussain, who is currently absconding, in connection with an FIR lodged against him.

Delhi violence was well-planned, outsiders were brought in as part of conspiracy: Delhi Minorities Commission
Delhi Minorities Commission has alleged that last week’s communal violence in North East Delhi was well-planned and one-sided, The Hindu reported. The commission made the remark in an assessment report after visiting the affected areas.  “We have said that the violence was one-sided as that’s what we felt from what people told us,” Zafarul-Islam Khan, the commission’s chairperson, told the newspaper. “They said that it was not possible for outsiders to pinpoint shops and houses owned by Muslims. So there had to be insiders who were helping the outsiders.”Khan told The Wire that nearly 1,500 to 2,000 outsiders were brought to North East Delhi and most of them were kept in schools for nearly 24 hours before launching the attacks as part of a planned conspiracy. He claimed it had now been established that police presence was minimal on Feb.24 and Feb.25, when most of the violence took place.“Our revelation is that this was planned violence,” Khan told the news website. “For this people had been brought from outside. It is for the police and intelligence to find from where they had come.”Khan alleged that the police did not “save anything” and instead “allowed properties and people to be burned, allowed the rioters to damage houses and even to blast them”. “It was only after 2 days that the police became active,” he said. “The violence lessened on Feb.26 and ended the following day. Police will have to answer for its acts – there are no two ways about this.”According to The Hindu, the commission said it had found extensive damage to Muslim homes and shops everywhere its delegation went.The commission also said that compensation announced by the Delhi government was inadequate and should be doubled. Khan said a fact-finding committee would be formed, comprising journalists, human rights activists and civil society members.scroll
Over 2,000 Outsiders Occupied Two Schools to Carry out Delhi Riots, Says State Minorities Panel Report
Delhi riots international conspiracy, CIA & NIA should investigate: National Minority panel member
NIA and CIA should jointly investigate the Delhi communal riots that killed over 45 people, a member of National Commission of Minorities, Atif Rasheed, has said, suggesting an international conspiracy. He was part of the NCM delegation that visited the riots-affected areas in Delhi and had met the injured in hospitals on 29 Feb.“This is a well-organised crime but it will be wrong to call it communal riots. I think there is a possibility of international links and the timing is suspect,” Rasheed, who is also BJP leader, told ThePrint.
UNHCHR plea may leave India embarrassed on global platforms over CAA: experts
New Delhi: CAA continues to be a bane for India on the global stage with the latest embarrassment coming in the form of an intervention plea filed by UNHCHR in the Supreme Court.According to experts and foreign diplomats, the move will result in a major loss of face for India at the global stage. “Since Parliament passed CAA, there have been a host of leaders and organisations that have spoken out against it calling it discriminatory. Even internally, the government has faced backlash from citizens in the form of protests,” a senior researcher at the Indian Council for World Affairs said.“The government has been trying to explain to the world that CAA is in people’s best interest but the loss of face the Centre is facing due to it is something which it was not prepared for. Now with the UN human rights body also expressing concern over CAA, India will have to answer a lot of questions on the global platform,” Ajit Singh, a research scholar at the Institute of Conflict Management said.A former ambassador to China said, “At the global level, India is known to uphold values of human rights and is often cited as an example. But with UNHCHR’s concerns, India’s image will definitely take a beating.” newindianexpress
UK expresses concern over potential impact of CAA
London:UK government has reiterated its concern over the potential impact of CAA and said it is continuing to follow the events in India closely.In response to an urgent question on “Recent Violence in India” tabled by Pakistani-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Khalid Mahmood in House of Commons on Tuesday, UK’s Minister of State in Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Nigel Adams said UK engages with India at all levels, including on human rights, and also referred to the country’s “proud history” of inclusive government and religious tolerance.“UK government also have concerns about the potential impact of the legislation (CAA),” said Adams, Minister for Asia who was standing in for UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is on a visit to Turkey.“It is because of our close relationship with the government of India that we are able to discuss difficult issues with them and make clear our concerns where we have them, including on the rights of minorities. We will continue to follow events closely and to raise our concerns when we have with them,” said minister.While Mahmood, who had tabled the urgent question for an FCO statement, described the govt response as “facile”, another Pakistani-origin MP Nusrat Ghani called on the government to relay UK Parliament’s concerns to the Indian authorities.British Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said the violence had brought back “painful personal memories” from the 1984 Sikh riots while he was studying in India and fellow Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill also referenced 1984 in her intervention. Other MPs sought to highlight the steps taken by the Indian authorities to restore “peace and tranquillity” in Delhi.PTI
Iranians in Tehran stage protest against “massacre of Indian Muslims”
TEHRAN:A group of Iranians, including university students, rallied in front of the Indian embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, to protest against the brutal violence against Muslims in India and the global media's silence over the ongoing crisis.The protesters voiced their deep concern over what is happening in India and the recent eruption of violence against Muslims in the country. The protesters urged India government to respond about its anti-Muslim measures.mehrnews
In UP's Bulandshahr, 2 Muslim Men Thrashed On Video, Allegedly Over Delhi Violence
Bulandshahr: 2 Muslim men were brutally assaulted in western Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr district on Monday. One of the men who was assaulted has also claimed the attackers abused them with religious slurs and accused them of cow slaughter. They were also threatened acid attacks, he further alleged.In shocking videos that emerged online today, a group of 6 to 7 men can be seen surrounding the two victims and repeatedly kicking and punching them, even as they cry out in pain and beg for mercy; at one point one of the attackers, a man wearing yellow pants and an orange jacket, grabs a lathi and attacks a man cowering near the rear wheel of a silver car parked by the side of the road.Continuing to beg for mercy and addressing their attackers as "bhai" (brother), the two men then back up against the car, where they are fenced in and threatened with more violence.It is unclear who shot the video of the attack, in which some other men can be seen sitting on motorcycles and casually observing the horrific assault. "We were on our way to the market to buy carrots...you can ask the store. They (attackers) parked bikes in front of us and dragged us away. There were around 6 or 7 men. They asked us, "You think this is Delhi?" one of the men told reporters after the attack.He also said that his friend and he had been dragged to a location where others were waiting with chains and weapons."We had nothing to do with the Delhi violence," he said, adding, "We're all brothers here".ndtv
Over 1,000 riot-affected people moved to Delhi’s Mustafabad relief camp since Monday; helpdesks set up to assist with compensation claims
New Delhi: Over a 1,000 riot-affected people moved into a Delhi government's relief camp in Mustafabad in the past 24 hours and they are being provided with all basic facilities, officials said on Tuesday.According to a statement, the relief camp has witnessed a massive response from the riot-affected victims from the adjacent areas.In this camp, the Delhi govt has set up all the essential facilities and providing doctors, medicines, food, clothing, bedding and toilet facilities, the statement said. "To provide medical treatment to the victims, the Delhi government and various NGOs have set up medical help desks with doctors and a full stock of medicines," it stated."Over a 1,000 people moved to this Mustafabad relief camp in the last 24 hours from the areas like Shivpuri, Mustafabad and Karawal Nagar," it stated.PTI
Cops told us to throw stones towards Muslims, says resident who took part in communal violence
Members of the Hindu mob have confessed that Delhi Police has helped them pick stones and throw them towards Muslims, reveals video evidence released by BBC.“We did not have enough stones here, so the police brought some and told us to throw them,” said Himanshu Rathor in the video.The video also details incidents of violence by the cops against the Muslims.nationalheraldindia
Delhi Police Contradicts Its ACP's Claim, Says Tahir Hussain Lied About Being Rescued

Delhi Man in Viral Clash Image Angry with IS Exploiting Crisis for Revenge:news18
As Mohammad Zubair sits nursing his head injuries and swelling on his hands and feet caused during the recent Delhi riots, his face breaks into a smile on seeing guests pouring in to enquire about his health.The only time he frowns is when he is informed about how his viral image is being used by the Islamic State to establish itself in India. He has no idea how to deal with it."'Zulm hai yeh hum par' (this is cruelty on me)," says Zubair, who is recovering at his relative's place in Delhi's Inderlok. Hitting out at the terror group for sharing his image and calling for retaliatory action in 'Wilayat Al Hind' (province in India), Zubair sought to be left alone at this hour of crisis.An image of Zubair has been widely circulated in which he is seen bowing down helplessly as a mob using stumps, swords and rods rages at him at Bhajanpura market in northeast Delhi that witnessed one of the worst communal riots in decades.He says the photo has become synonymous with Delhi riots, but he feels as much helpless with what IS is trying to do with the same.news18
Parliament proceedings adjourned for the day amid ruckus over Delhi violence
Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned on Wednesday after witnessing an uproar from the Opposition over the Delhi violence. The government on Tuesday said it was ready for a discussion on the communal violence in Delhi in both Houses after Holi. Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma gave suspension of business notice under Rule 267 over Delhi violence. Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien also gave suspension notice to discuss the “healing needed after deaths in Delhi”.scroll
Assam: Gauhati High Court sets aside Foreigners’ Tribunal order, calls it ‘a perversity’
Gauhati High Court has set aside an order by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Jorhat district of Assam that declared a 65-year-old man foreigner, stating that proof beyond all reasonable doubts is not required for establishing one’s citizenship, Indian Express reported. The court made the observation while delivering the verdict on a writ petition filed by Mohammad Iddrish Ali challenging the order passed by the Foreigners’ Tribunal.
Delhi violence: Congress team makes first visit, Rahul Gandhi says hate won’t benefit anyone
A Congress delegation led by former party chief Rahul Gandhi visited North East Delhi on Wednesday to assess the damage caused by last week’s communal violence, PTI reported. The delegation, whose first visit came six days after the violence died down, went to a school that was burnt and a nearby mosque in Brijpuri locality. Gandhi said India was being divided and no one was benefiting from this. He said hate and violence were enemies of development and had destroyed the school that was to be the future of India. “Violence benefits no one, it only harms people and Bharat Mata,” he said. “Everybody has to work together and take India forward at this time,” Gandhi added, according to ANI. The delegation included party leaders KC Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, K Suresh, Mukul Wasnik, Kumari Selja, Gaurav Gogoi and Randeep Surjewala.scroll

*anti-CAA,NRC-NPR stir*
200 New Foreigners Tribunals In Assam To Hear Pending Cases Till NRC Appeals Start
After six months of no work since they were appointed, the members of the 200 new Foreigners Tribunals in Assam will be soon disposing off the pending cases till the process of National Register of Citizens appeals starts, a state government official said. The Ministry of Home Affairs has given its nod to the state government’s proposal.“We have got the approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs,” said a senior state government official referring to the state’s request that members who were appointed to lead the 200 new FTs should be allotted the pending cases since NRC appeals are yet to start. These members had no work since September 2019, when they were appointed.The state government is also expected to shortly appoint around 1,600 additional employees for the new FTs who have already been selected.The existing 100 FTs have around 1.3 lakh pending cases, some of which are expected to be allotted to the new tribunals till the NRC appeals process starts.“MHA communicated its endorsement to our proposal on Thursday. We will soon write to the Special DGP (Border) to distribute the pending cases in foreigners tribunals among the new members so that they start work,” said a second state government official.outlookindia
From March 20, those 'excluded from NRC', will start getting 'rejection slips' along with 'cause of exclusion'

Gauhati HC Comes to Rescue of Man Declared 'Foreigner' in Spite of Inclusion in 2 Voters' Lists
Gauhati high court has denounced as ‘perversity’ an order by a Foreigners’ Tribunal in Assam’s Jorhat, which had ruled that a man whose name had appeared in voters’ lists of 1985 and 1989 was a foreigner.In its report, The Indian Express has noted Mohammad Iddrish Ali, who has been in a Jorhat detention camp since September 21, 2019, had submitted 11 documents to the foreigners’ tribunal. These included the voters’ lists of the above two years, which bore his name, along with those of 1965 and 1970, which had his father and uncle’s names.However, the court had not been convinced and had pointed out that if Ali had been born in 1953, as he has claimed, then his name should have appeared in the 1975 voters’ list.“We have no doubt that the Tribunal has committed an error while appreciating Exhibits 6 & 7 [voters’ lists of 1985 and ‘89],” Gauhati high court Justices Manojit Bhuyan and P.J. Saikia said in their order.Ali can now apply for bail.Ali reportedly, is originally a resident of Nagaon village but moved to Golaghat with his family after a flood submerged the Dhing village in 1983.Being declared a D-voter is a common action preceding the final act of detention by a Foreigners’ Tribunal. The process itself is mired in arbitrary decisions. In many cases, like Ali’s, the particular geography of the Brahmaputra Valley makes it impossible for residents to prove their citizenship considering that their homes are inundated by floods often.
Gauhati High Court sets aside Tribunal order on ‘foreigner’, calls it ‘perversity’


Gujarat: Petition in HC after police deny permission to anti-CAA protest
Ahmedabad:Gujarat chapter of Association of Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) moved a petition in Gujarat High Court (HC) last month after the Limbayat police station denied permission to hold public meeting “to protest against CAA, NRC and NPR…” at a private property twice last month.The petition further claims that while the petitioner is otherwise not required to seek any permission from the police as the public meeting is at a private place and usage of loudspeakers is allowed between 6 am and 10 pm, the association was constrained to obtain police permission after “…police inspector of Limbayat police station threatened the petitioners with shutting down of the public meeting…”The petition has submitted that the police’s reasoning for rejection of their first application dated Jan.28, was on the ground of alleged stone pelting in the area of Limbayat during the nationwide strike against CAA on Jan.29. The rejection had come on Jan.30. A second application for permission was moved on Feb.5, which too was rejected on Feb.8, citing the same ground of alleged stone-pelting.ACPR comprises advocates and members of the civil society. Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, the second petitioner, is an affiliated wing of Bharat Mukti Morcha with youth and student members.The petition has also submitted that police stations under jurisdiction of Surat Police Commissioner has been denying permissions to hold public meetings and protests, particularly if the said meeting or protest is for withdrawal of CAA-NRC-NPR. The matter is now expected to be heard next on April 8.Meanwhile, another group of women have also started staging a protest in Amlipura area in Rander for the last few days. As number of protesters grew, a tent has been put up by the organisers.indianexpress
Anti-CAA protesters allege harassment by Delhi police once again
In another incident of the unruly behaviour of Delhi Police, several activists of All India Railway Apprentice Association were allegedly detained and assaulted by Delhi Police as they came to participate in a march against CAA, NRC, NPR on Tuesday. The call for the march was given by a group of organisations against the Citizenship Act called Young India.Former President of Jawahar Lal Nehru University and AISA National President N Sai Balaji said, “Delhi Police had detained around 500 activists, assaulted and kept without phone yesterday when they came to participate in the Young India march from Ramlila Maidan. Ashish Mishra, their convenor's phone was taken away. They were arrested not from Ramlila but from Jantar Mantar. We couldn't contact them throughout the day. We got to know about their whereabouts only when they got released in the night.” He tweeted about it too. Ashish Mishra, convenor of All India Railway Apprentice Association said, “ we were detained from New Delhi railway station at 9 am. We were subjected to unruly behaviour and our phones were seized. We were first taken to Parliament Street police station and then later on to the one at Barakhamba Road. We were only freed by 11 pm in the night.”nationalheraldindia
At Delhi's Anti-CAA Sit-In Protests, Women Continue Their Struggle
New Delhi: Despite the riots across North East Delhi last week – triggered by Hindutva mobs wanting to ‘clear’ anti-CAA sit-in protests – protesters in other parts of the city are standing their ground.“We will keep sitting here till CAA and NRC are withdrawn,” a protestor at Shaheen Bagh told The Wire.Early last week, as the policed ‘cleared’ the sit-in at Khureji Khas, women’s groups called for people to show up in large numbers to protect the remaining sites. On Feb. 26, The Wire sensed confusion at Shaheen Bagh, as one protestor said, “Today is the last day here”, but another refuted the same claim by saying, “No, our protest will continue undeterred.”Literally translating to the reservoir of the queen, Hauz Rani sit-in protest started in the last week of Jan. Right from the very beginning, women here have stood firm against police threats in Hauz Rani’s Gandhi Park. Situated on the road across Max Hospital, Gandhi Park carries a poster of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.One of the protestors, said, “This dark law that they have brought in (referring to CAA), what was the need to bring it? We just want that our prime minister withdraw this law…We are protesting peacefully, please let us. And if you have so much trouble with it, then withdraw it, and we will all go back to our respective houses…Why does RSS keep demanding that we must go back to Pakistan? Why will we go to Pakistan? If we wanted to go, we would have left with Jinnah. India is our birth place. We will live here and die here. We will not move from here. You need to stop dreaming that Muslims will leave India. Modi Ji, stop seeing this dream. Let the country function according to the constitution.”thewire
Supreme Court interlocutors urge Shaheen Bagh activists for Holi gift
Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhna Ramachandran on Tuesday visited the Shaheen Bagh protest site to initiate second round of talks with protestors.Indirectly urging protestors to clear the protest site by Holi, the interlocutor said, "We expect our sisters will send love to India on the occasion of Holi from Shaheen Bagh. Sisters can give Holi gift in advance. We will celebrate Holi this month. We will hug each other on Holi."IANS
* Coronavirus*
Coronavirus outbreak in India: Cases rise to 28, Health Minister says 27,000 people under surveillance
With 22 more novel coronavirus cases confirmed in the country on Wednesday, taking the total number of infections to 28 so far, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the government was proactively engaged in dealing with COVID-19 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was monitoring situation daily.Giving a breakdown of the number of cases, Union Health Minister Harsh Vadhan said, “A total of 28 COVID-19 cases have been detected in India so far. Among them, one person was from Delhi, 6 of his relatives in Agra, 16 Italians and their Indian driver, one in Telangana and 3 earlier cases in Kerala.” Vardhan also said 27,000 people had been placed under community surveillance. Over 3,000 people have died of coronavirus worldwide, while some 90,000 people have been infected.Meanwhile, responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said 17 Indians had been infected with coronavirus abroad — 16 cases were reported from Japan on the cruise ship and one from UAE. indian express
Coronavirus: Modi announces he will not participate in Holi events to avoid spread of infection
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said he will not participate in Holi events this year in light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The number of cases of the deadly virus in India rose to 28 on Tuesday, the health minister said.“Experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus,” Modi tweeted. “Hence, this year I have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme.”scroll
"No Holi Gatherings At Rashtrapati Bhavan": President Kovind Amid Coronavirus Scare
New Delhi: Amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has gripped countries worldwide including India, President Ram Nath Kovind has announced that as a precautionary measure Rashtrapati Bhavan will not hold the traditional Holi gatherings this year. Holi, the festival of colours, will be celebrated on March 10.ndtv
‘Centre creating hype around coronavirus to divert attention from Delhi riots’: Mamata
Kolkata: BJP-led Union government is creating hype around novel coronavirus to divert attention from the Delhi riots, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed while addressing a gathering of party workers on Wednesday. “No one knows how many actually died (in Delhi riots). And to make people forget the real ‘corona’ (the virus), they are using the TV (channels) to create a hype around coronavirus. So that people do not ask how so many people died and how would there would be justice?” Banerjee said in Malda district.“They demand probes by CBI  when a rat bites a person in Bengal. And here there is no judicial inquiry even after so many people were murdered. We demand a judicial probe to be led by a Supreme Court judge,” she said.HT
Iran toll rises to 92 as global outbreak deepens
Governments around the world are scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19, which is growing globally even as transmission in China, where the virus originated at the end of last year, continues to show signs of slowing.There are more than 93,000 cases around the world - the overwhelming majority in China - but as deaths are reported in Italy, Iran and the United States, authorities are considering new quarantine zones and travel restrictions.Friday prayers in Iran have been canceled across all provincial capitals amid the country's growing coronavirus outbreak, state television said. Friday is the main congregational day of prayer in Islam, and traditionally an important event for Iran's clerical rulers.The announcement comes as Tehran and other areas canceled Friday prayers last week over the outbreak.aljazeera
*J&K AND S. ASIA*
Social media curbs removed in J&K after 7 months
J&K administration today removed restrictions from social media usage across Union Territory almost 7 months after a communication clampdown on the eve of Centre’s August 5 announcement to scrap the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370.  The directions came after a review of the situation by J&K Home department. The order, that was issued without the requisite whitelisted websites, stated that internet access shall be available across Union Territory of J&K with speed restricted to 2G and “these services shall not be made available on pre-paid sim cards”. Additionally, for fixed-line internet, connectivity shall continue to be made available “with mac-binding at unlimited speeds”.Internet services, landline, and mobile phones were snapped across J&K on the eve of Centre’s announcement last year to scrap the special status. From January, landlines, postpaid mobile services, and internet facilities to essential services like hospitals were restored in phases in Kashmir.indianexpress
J&K: Social media ban revoked after nearly seven months but 2G internet speed remains



J&K HC quashes PSA detention of J&K Jamaat spokesman
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court today quashed the detention order of the chief spokesperson for Jamaat-e-Islami J&K Zahid Ali.The orders in this regard were passed today by a single Bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan, which was hearing a habeas corpus petition challenging the detention of Jamaat spokesman under Public Safety Act.Ali has been under police detention since of Feb.22, 2019. In March 2019, he was ordered to be booked under PSA. Later on, Zahid Ali challenged the detention before the High Court, which quashed the orders.But he was not released and detained again under PSA by the authorities concerned by passing a subsequent detention order against him, which has now been set aside by the High Court, his counsel said.Jamaat spokesman was first detained by the police during midnight raid from his residence in Feb.2019 and was shifted to the Shergari police station in Srinagar. After a week he was shifted to Geanderbal police station where from he was moved to Central Jail, Srinagar, after being booked under PSA.The Tribune
J&K police asked to book ‘killer’ cough syrup maker
Jammu and Kashmir administration has directed the police to register a case against the Himachal-based pharmaceutical company whose cough syrup allegedly killed nine children in Udhampur district.Sources said the move came after the administration Tuesday received a final lab report confirming the presence of a deadly compound in ColdBest-PC syrup that caused the deaths in Ramnagar area.indianexpress
*OTHERS*
SC removes ban on cryptocurrency trading in India
The Supreme Court has struck down a ban on trading of virtual currencies (VC) in India, which was imposed by a Reserve Bank of India order in April 2018. The court in its 180-page judgment said that the ban proposed on trading of virtual currencies was not proportionate and that RBI itself had not found any adverse impact or harm done by the activities of these VC exchanges.The top court allowed a batch of pleas challenging 2018 circular of RBI, which prohibited banks and financial institutions from providing trading services with relation to virtual currencies, which includes cryptocurrencies. Popular forms of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum use blockchain technology and operate independent of a central bank.RBI order had banned trading of all virtual currencies in India. Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) was the petitioner in this case on behalf of all the virtual currency trading companies.“We welcome the SC verdict. The industry is looking forward to work closely with the regulators including RBI to mitigate all possible risks related to virtual currencies and foster the growth of these game changing innovations,”Naveen Surya, Chairman, Fintech Convergence Council of IAMAI said.“We have allowed writ petitions,” a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said while pronouncing the verdict, noted PTI.In the judgment, the bench noted, “While we have recognised elsewhere in this order, the power of RBI to take a pre-emptive action, we are testing in this part of the order the proportionality of such measure, for the determination of which RBI needs to show at least some semblance of any damage suffered by its regulated entities.”According to the judgment, RBI’s circular was not proportionate. It also pointed out the contradiction in the RBI’s stand where it insisted that virtual currencies are not banned in India, but the circular had then gone on to ban all trading around them.indianexpress
NRIs Can Now Own 100% In Air India Via Automatic Route
The government on Wednesday permitted NRIs to acquire up to 100 per cent stake in disinvestment-bound Air India through the automatic route. Briefing the media, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the Cabinet has approved the decision to raise the limit for NRIs to own stakes in the public carrier from the current 49 per cent."Regarding the strategic sale of Air India, NRIs can now acquire 100 per cent stake in the airlines. Earlier it was 49 per cent," he said.The decision comes at a time when the government is looking to sell 100 per cent stake in the national carrier and has set a 17 March deadline for submitting bids.ndtv
Coronavirus impact: Oil at $50/barrel may cut India’s import bill by $17 billion in FY21
India’s crude import bill may decline by a massive $17 billion or 17% year-on-year in FY21 if the Indian basket price remains subdued around the current level of $50/barrel through the next fiscal, in what could give a big relief to the country’s current account.The price of the Indian crude oil basket, which stood at $64 per barrel in January, dropped to $55 in February. Brent crude oil prices rose on Monday, reversing a drop to multi-year lows last week, as hopes of a deeper cut in output by Opec and central bank stimulus countered worries about damage to demand from the spread of coronavirus. According to an FE analysis, the imports may fall to $84 billion in FY21, against $101 billion this fiscal, if the price of domestic crude basket averages $50 per barrel. Similarly, the fall in imports may be to the tune of $25 billion in FY21 to $76 billion, if the price crashes to $45 per barrel. In case, prices again inch up and touch $55 a barrel, the import bill may drop by just $8 billion next year.financialexpress
Rs 446.52 Crore Spent on PM Modi's Foreign Visits in Last Five Year, Lok Sabha Informed
An expenditure of Rs 446.52 crore has been incurred on the foreign visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last 5 year, Ministry of External Affairs said today. Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the expenditure includes cost of chartered flights.According to the data given by him, a cost of Rs 121.85 crore was incurred in 2015-16 while an expenditure of Rs 78.52 crore was incurred in 2016-17.PTI
UP cancels 1,300 appointments by SP govt
Lucknow:Citing “irregularities” in selection process, BJP govt in Uttar Pradesh has cancelled the appointment of 1,300 people, who were recruited under Samajwadi Party’s tenure in various posts of UP Jal Nigam Department.1,300 appointees include 853 junior engineers, 122 assistant engineers and 325 clerks.Jailed SP MP from Rampur, Azam Khan, was Minister for Jal Nigam during 2016-17 when the recruitments were made. Vikas Gothalwal, MD of UP Jal Nigam, said the appointments were cancelled based on different inquiry reports, including that of SIT formed by the incumbent govt in 2017 to investigate alleged corruption in the recruitment process during the previous govt’s rule. Sources said SIT found that due selection process was not followed and sought permission to chargesheet Azam Khan, then managing director and then chief engineer of Jal Nigam and a private firm, which was hired to conduct the recruitment exams.indianexpress
Uttar Pradesh: Court rejects bail pleas of Azam Khan, his wife and son
A local court here rejected the bail applications of Rampur MP Azam Khan, his MLA wife Tazeen Fatima and son Abdullah Azam Khan in a case related to the alleged forgery of Abdullah’s birth certificate.Additional Advocate General at Allahabad High Court, Vinod Diwakar, said the police also sought 10 days’ police custody of Azam, Tazeen and Abdullah for interrogation in a case related to embezzlement of Enemy Property in Rampur.“In the double birth certificate case, their bail was rejected by the court Tuesday. They will continue to stay in jail. In the Enemy Property case, we have also submitted an application seeking custody remand of Azam, his wife and son for 10 days… The police wanted to question the trio in the case. The court has set the date for hearing on the application for remand on March 7,” said Diwakar, who was present in the Rampur court for the hearing on Tuesday.indianexpress
Uttar Pradesh Congress slams Akhilesh for ‘abandoning’ Azam Khan
A day after Mohd Azam Khan's brother-in-law Zameer Ahmad Khan said that the former was upset with his Samajwadi Party (SP) for not supporting him in his hour of crisis, Congress has stepped in to corner SP for 'abandoning' their leader.Uttar Pradesh Congress minority cell president Shahnawaz Alam has said that by not standing in support of Azam Khan, the SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has sent out clear signals about his future politics."It is shameful that a leader who has given thirty years of his life to a party is being isolated in this manner. If the SP cannot stand behind one of its tallest leaders, then how can the party be expected to protect the minorities who are often implicated in false criminal cases?"IANS
Kuldeep Sengar Held Guilty For Death Of Unnao Rape Survivor's Father In Police Custody
Expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar who is facing life imprisonment for the rape of a woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao has now been held guilty by a Delhi court for the custodial death of the survivor’s father. ANI reported that the Tis Hazari court held seven accused in the case guilty, while acquitting four others. Unnao rape case saw a new twist when the car in which the survivor, her mother and an aunt were travelling in was hit by a truck with covered number plates in July 2019. The survivor, who fought for her life in hospital, had accused Sengar of rape and the family had said that Sengar had use every method of intimidation after she had accused him. huffingtonpost
‘All legal remedies exhausted’: Delhi govt seeks fresh death warrant for Dec 16 gangrape convicts
Delhi government today moved a city court seeking a fresh date for the execution of 4 convicts in Dec.16, 2012 gangrape-murder case.The move came hours after President Ram Nath Kovind dismissed mercy petition of Pawan Gupta, one of the convicts in the case. Delhi govt, while moving the court, stated that convicts have exhausted all of their legal remedies.On Monday, a Delhi court had deferred the hanging of 4 death row convicts pending disposal of Gupta’s mercy plea. The convicts—Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) —were to be hanged together on March 3 at 6 am. This was the third time the death warrants were stayed by the court.On the same day, the Supreme Court had rejected Pawan’s curative petition challenging the rejection of his review petition against the death sentence awarded to him. Gupta was the only one among the convicts who had not filed a curative petition. The curative petitions filed by the other three were already dismissed.indianexpress
Nirbhaya Case: President Kovind Rejects Mercy Petition of Convict Pawan Gupta
 



2012 Delhi gangrape: High Court rejects plea seeking direction to NHRC to check convicts’ health
Delhi High Court today declined to hear a plea seeking direction to NHRC to assess the mental and physical health of 4 convicts in 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case, PTI reported. A bench comprising Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the plea was not maintainable because it was not first moved by NHRC.scroll
MP: 4 MLAs ‘rescued’ from Haryana hotel, rest taken by BJP to Karnataka, alleges Congress
Madhya Pradesh Congress media chief Shobha Oza today claimed that 4 out of eight MLAs allegedly held hostage at a hotel in Gurugram, Haryana, were “rescued” around midnight, The Hindu reported. This came a day after the Congress claimed that its lawmakers were being forcefully kept at the hotel, and accused BJP of being involved.“We have rescued four MLAs, including BSP’s Rambai, the rest have now been taken by BJP to Karnataka,” Oza said. Out of the eight legislators, 4 are part of the Congress, 2 from BSP, one from Samajwadi Party, and the other is an Independent candidate.Oza claimed that senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh along with Madhya Pradesh’s Higher Education Minister Jitu Patwari and Urban Development Minister Jaivardhan Singh had reached the hotel in Gurugram’s Manesar town to meet MLAs but were not allowed entry. However, they reportedly managed to rescue four MLAs. Videos of the episode purportedly showed police in civilian clothes preventing BSP MLA Rambai from exiting the hotel. Congress leader Jitu Patwari claimed that BJP had offered Rs 50 crore to Rs 60 crore to his party’s MLAs, and added that they found the lawmakers had been assaulted, reported ANI.scroll
Law amended in Haryana: Sex with minor wife is rape
Haryana Assembly Tuesday passed a Bill declaring child marriages as ‘void ab initio’ on the pattern of Karnataka, which had introduced such law almost two years back. The move comes more than a year after the Supreme Court criminalized sexual relations between a man and his minor wife.Prohibition of Child Marriage (Haryana Amendment Bill, 2020) was introduced by Women and Child Development Minister Kamlesh Dhanda. It was passed unanimously by the House.The Bill seeks to amend Section 3 (I) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.indianexpress
*WORLD*
Malaysia's new PM delays parliament by two months
Malaysia's newly-appointed prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has postponed the start of the parliamentary session originally scheduled for March 9 by two months, after his rivals claimed to have more support and threatened his fledgeling coalition with a confidence vote.Muhyiddin was sworn in on Sunday following days of confusion after a power grab among a disgruntled group of politicians in the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition led to the sudden resignation of prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said in a statement that he had received a letter from Muhyiddin stating the session would start on May 18. No reason was given for the delay.aljazeera
Two Turkish soldiers killed in Syria on eve of key Moscow meeting
Turkish defence ministry says two of its soldiers have been killed in northwest Syria in an attack by Syrian government forces, as fighting in the war-torn country's Idlib province continues on the eve of much-anticipated talks between the presidents of Turkey and Russia.Following Wednesday's attack, which also left six Turkish troops wounded, Ankara's forces retaliated by striking Syrian military targets, the defence ministry said in a statement.aljazeera
US conducts first air strike against Taliban since peace deal
US has carried out an air raid against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, a US forces spokesman said a day after President Donald Trump spoke to a senior Taliban leader by phone."US conducted an air strike on March 4 against Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, who were actively attacking an ANDSF [Afghan National Defence and Security Forces] checkpoint," said Colonel Sonny Leggett in a tweet on Wednesday, adding that it was a "defensive strike".The raid, the first against the Taliban in 11 days, comes days after the US and Taliban signed a deal aimed at ending the nearly 19-year-old war in Afghanistan- US's longest.Taliban leadership promised the international community it would reduce violence, Leggett said, referring to the deal signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, on February 29.He said, however, US was committed to peace but called on the Taliban to stop "needless attacks" and uphold their commitments. According to Leggett, Taliban fighters had carried out 43 attacks on checkpoints in Helmand on Tuesday.The Taliban had, earlier on Wednesday, killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and policemen in a string of overnight attacks, government officials told AFP.aljazeera
Want good relations with all including India for rebuilding Afghanistan: Taliban
Taliban wants good relations with all countries, including India, and to work with them for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a spokesman for the group has said.In an interview with Turkey’s Anadolu agency days after the group and US signed an agreement that paves the way for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan in the next 14 months, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said his organisation has “no issue with any country”.Shaheen was responding to a question regarding India, where apprehensions have been raised about US-Taliban deal.He said, “We have no issue with any country, neither want to have an issue with anyone, we want to establish good relations with all countries and work with them together in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan after withdrawal of foreign forces.”Shaheen contended those who didn’t welcome the agreement had “only exposed themselves that they do not want peace in Afghanistan”. He added, “They have to reconsider their policy.” In a related development, Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada has spoken of the group’s plans to have “positive bilateral relations” with regional countries.“The Islamic Emirate believes in maintaining positive bilateral relations with the world and especially with the regional countries and is committed to the principle of good neighbourly relations with its neighbours,” he said in a message posted on the Taliban’s website.The reference to “bilateral relations” has raised eyebrows in Delhi. An official, who declined to be named, said:“Intra-Afghan dialogue is yet to start and the Taliban isn’t part of the government in Kabul and they’re already talking of things like ties with other countries.”Indian government is yet to frame a policy on engaging Taliban, though the Indian envoy to Qatar was present at the ceremony in Qatar when Taliban and US signed the deal.HT
Super Tuesday: Biden wins 9 states, Sanders takes California
A resurgent Joe Biden has scored sweeping victories across the United States with the backing of a diverse coalition and progressive rival Bernie Sanders seized Super Tuesday's biggest prize with a win in California as the Democratic Party's once-crowded presidential field became a two-man contest.The two Democrats, lifelong politicians with starkly different visions for the US's future, were battling for delegates as 14 states and one US territory held a series of high-stakes elections that marked the most significant day of voting in the party's 2020 presidential nomination fight. The winner of the primary season will take on President Donald Trump in the November general election.The other two high-profile candidates still in the shrinking Democratic field, New York billionaire Mike Bloomberg and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, were teetering on the edge of viability. Warren finished in a disappointing third place in her home state and Bloomberg planned to reassess his candidacy on Wednesday after spending more than half-a-billion dollars to score a single victory - in American Samoa.aljazeera
*views, Articles, FEATURES*
Amid Anti-Muslim Riots In Delhi, A Search For Any Concern At US Conservatives' Event Attended By Trump:
Christopher Mathias, huffingtonpost
Young Kashmiris think India and Pakistan can resolve their differences over Kashmir:Samir Ahmad, Yelena Biberman , washingtonpost
Fact Check: Delhi govt advert for riot victims morphed with communal twist
Najeeb Jung: 'LG Baijal, Modi, Shah and Kejriwal Have Let Us All Down With Their Silence'
Delhi violence aftermath: Muslims change their names, avoid Islamic greetings, do away with hijab to stay safe:Ismat Ara, firstpost
Bill to crack down on communal violence languished in Parliament for 9 years:HT
India should return to its secular roots | HT Editorial
Nearly 2,000 People Were Brought in for Riots, Says Delhi Minorities Panel Chief:Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
Defence of CAA exposes the moral emptiness of the ruling dispensation:Alok Rai
Slowdown has bottomed out, but a sustained recovery will require boosting credit flow:Saugata Bhattacharya
Global Pressure Increases Against CAA and Delhi Violence:P.K.BALACHANDRAN
Delhi Riots: Government Sets up Camps, Starts Processing Compensation Claims
 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 11:24 AM).   

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