News and views across the globe.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

18 AUG. NEWS : SC turns down plea to direct transfer of money from PM CARES Fund to NDRF. Collusion between Facebook and BJP: Congress takes battle to US, asks Zukerberg to take action.

 

NEWS DIGEST AFTERNOON 
 

18 AUG 2020. 27 ZU AL HIJJAH 1441. Vol-12, No-280

www.newsdigestdaily.in  

*INDIA- ISLAMOPHOBIA, HUMAN RIGHTS & OTHERS*

SC turns down plea to direct transfer of money from PM CARES Fund to National Disaster Response Fund

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/sc-turns-down-plea-to-direct-transfer-of-money-from-pm-cares-fund-to-national-disaster-response-fund

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to direct the transfer of money collected under PM CARES Fund set up for COVID-19 relief to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subshash Reddy, and MR Shah also held that contributions to PM CARES Fund are voluntary, and that there was no statutory prohibition on contributions made to NDRF, legal news website BarandBench.com has reported. Further, the Bench clarified that funds collected under the PM CARES Fund are entirely different from NDRF, and were funds of a charitable trust. On the petitioner's prayer to set up a National Plan for COVID-19, the court held that plan prepared by the Centre is sufficient to cater to the pandemic. The petitioner claimed that the new Fund created circumvents the National Disaster Management Act. MHA had argued before the Court that PM CARES fund was a public charitable trust and whoever wants can voluntarily donate in it. CPIL, in the plea claimed that in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic, NDRF is not being utilized by the authorities, and establishing PM CARES Fund is outside the scope of Disaster Management Act. This submission was contested by Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, representing the petitioner, who highlighted that while nobody's bona fides were under the scanner, the only question was pertaining to the circumventing of the law for setting up of PM CARES Fund. The audit mechanism of PM CARES was also questioned, with Dave pointing out that NDRF has to be audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) while “PM CARES is audited by some private auditor". A strong argument was made for the PM CARES Fund to at least be audited by CAG. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing in a connected matter related to drawing up a National Disaster Management Plan, said that since contributions to PM CARES are eligible for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) benefits, corporates and others would not have incentive to donate to NDRF. The petition filed by CPIL also raised the issue of drawing up a National Plan under Disaster Management Act in the face of COVID-19. 

 

Collusion between Facebook and BJP: Congress takes battle to US, asks Zukerberg to take action

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/alleged-collusion-between-facebook-and-bjp-congress-takes-battle-to-us-asks-zukerberg-to-take-action

Upping the ante against the alleged collusion between Facebook and BJP, Congress party on Tuesday shot off a letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg and asked him to initiate a time-bound inquiry against the company’s India leadership. On behalf of party, AICC general secretary KC Venugopal addressed Zukerberg and put forth a 3-point suggestions-cum-demands: (1)Congress repeatedly raised issue of bias with many Facebook executives. Would suggest setting up a high-level inquiry into Facebook India leadership team and submitting report to Facebook Inc. within a reasonable period of time. (2)Publish and make transparent all instances of hate speech posts since 2014 that were allowed on the platform. WSJ article mentions hate speech of 3 other politicians that were wilfully permitted by Facebook. On a closer perusal, you will find thousands of such insidious posts. (3)Until the completion of the internal probe and submission of the report; please consider letting the Facebook India operations to be led by a new team so as not to influence the investigation.Referring to the report published in the Wall Street Journal, Venugopal said in his letter, “We are sure you would have read the front page story in the WSJ on Aug.14, 2020 about Facebook India’s blatant biases and dubious practices in content regulation...This is a damning and serious allegation of Facebook India’s interference in India’s electoral democracy”.

 

FIR against Facebook policy head Ankhi Das for 'hurting religious sentiments, inciting communal animosity’

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/facebook-policy-head-ankhi-das-fir-inciting-hurting-community-1712478-2020-08-18

Acase has been registered against a senior Facebook India executive and two others by the Chhattisgarh Police.The Chhattisgarh Police filed an FIR against Ankhi Das, Facebook's Director, Public Policy, India, South and Central Asia, and two users of the social media platform for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, police said on Tuesday.Police said the case was lodged late Monday night following a complaint by Raipur-based journalist Awesh Tiwari.Along with Facebook’s Ankhi Das, other two who have been booked were identified as Ram Sahu from Mungeli of Chhattisgarh and Vivek Sinha of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, PTI reported.Tiwari reportedly lodged the case after he was named in a complaint by Ankhi Das to Delhi Police, alleging that she had been receiving threats to her life through online posts.The Raipur-based journalist, in his complaint, said on August 16, he put up a post on his Facebook account related to an article published in the Wall Street Journal.

 

Delhi Assembly panel says it will summon Facebook over hate post allegations

https://scroll.in/latest/970647/delhi-assembly-panel-says-it-will-summon-facebook-over-hate-post-allegations

A panel of the Delhi Assembly has said it will summon Facebook officials, especially the company’s Public Policy Director for India, South and Central, Asia Ankhi Das, after allegations that the social media giant ignored hate posts by BJP leaders in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls, PTI reported.

 

Digvijaya asks Facebook CEO Zuckerberg why BJP's anti-Muslim posts were not stopped

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/digvijaya-asks-facebook-ceo-zuckerberg-why-bjps-anti-muslim-posts-were-not-stopped/articleshow/77594342.cms

Bhopal: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has asked Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to clarify why hate speech against Muslims by BJP leaders is not being stopped by the social media giant. 2 days ago, Singh posted a news article in the Wall Street Journal that said Facebook had not taken down instigating posts against Rohingya Muslims by BJP legislator from Telegana T Raja and two others of the saffron party.

 

WSJ report: BJP spread religious hatred on social media, benefitted electorally, says Shiv Sena

https://scroll.in/latest/970725/wsj-report-bjp-spread-religious-hatred-on-social-media-benefitted-electorally-says-shiv-sena

Shiv Sena on Tuesday alleged that BJP benefitted the most electorally from Facebook by spreading religious hatred since it came to power in 2014. The statement came amid a controversy over an August 14 article in The Wall Street Journal which reported that Facebook ignored incendiary posts by BJP leaders in the run-up to 2014 Lok Sabha elections.In an editorial published in Saamana, Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece, the party said that Facebook can be used to express opinions but action should be taken against those who spread hatred. “Facebook cannot turn a blind eye to the person spreading hatred because he is from the ruling party,” it said, urging foreign companies to function according to Indian laws.

 

US Rights Bodies Seek Congressional Probe into Facebook Scandal

https://clarionindia.net/us-rights-bodies-seek-congressional-probe-into-facebook-scandal/

New Delhi:“Coalition to Stop Genocide in India”, a broad coalition of Indian American and US-based civil rights organisations and activists on Monday urged US House of Representatives to launch a Congressional probe into the functioning of Facebook and the organisation’s role in amplifying hate and bigotry around the world, especially in South Asia.There exists ample evidence in the public domain that hateful rhetoric online especially by influential groups and individuals, has led to actual violence that has destroyed countless lives in India, Myanmar and other countries.The coalition has also called on Facebook to fire Ankhi Das, company’s policy chief in India, as an immediate remedial step. By blocking punitive action against some Facebook accounts belonging to high ranking politicians from ruling BJP, Das allowed the accounts to continue their hateful and violent rhetoric,  acting as an enabler for them to incite hate and mass violence against social and religious minorities.

 

Thousands of Protesters Take to Streets as Anti-CAA, Anti-EIA Agitations Erupt in Assam

https://thewire.in/rights/thousands-of-protesters-take-to-streets-as-anti-caa-anti-eia-agitations-erupt-in-assam

Guwahati: Thousands of protesters hit the roads across Assam on Monday, demanding the repeal of CAA and draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020.Assembled under the aegis of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP), the protestors warned of more intense protests in the future. The AJYCP supporters also demanded the release of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, who is in jail and is being probed by the National Investigation Agency for his alleged role in the violent anti-CAA protests that rocked the state last year.“We will not stop till the CAA and EIA are repealed. It is also unfortunate how this government has vindictively kept Akhil Gogoi inside jail just to derail the anti-CAA movement,” said AJYCP’s Guwahati unit president Pradip Kalita, while taking part in a human chain in Narengi area.In Dibrugarh, hundreds of protestors were detained by police as they assembled to form a human chain, an official said.PTI

 

Anti-CAA protest: UP CM gives nod to set up property damage claim tribunals

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/anti-caa-protest-up-cm-gives-nod-to-set-up-property-damage-claim-tribunals-11597727364807.html

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has approved setting up property damage claim tribunals in Meerut and Lucknow, an official spokesperson said.While the Lucknow tribunal will accept claim applications from Jhansi, Kanpur, Chitrakoot Dham, Lucknow, Ayodhya, Devi Patan Prayagraj, Azamgarh, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Basti and Vindhyachal Dham divisions; the Meerut tribunal will have the jurisdiction over Saharanpur, Meerut, Aligarh, Moradabad, Bareilly and Agra divisions, the spokesperson said on Monday.PTI

 

Jamiat Hands Over 52 New/Repaired Houses to Delhi Riot Victims

https://clarionindia.net/jamiat-ulama-e-hind-hands-over-52-new-repaired-houses-to-delhi-riot-victims/

New Delhi: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) on Monday said that it had handed over 52 new and repaired houses to Delhi riot victims. The frenzied mobs had targeted and burnt down Muslim houses as well as several mosques.JUH said it had been engaged in relief and rehabilitation work in the affected areas since Day One. In this regard, the houses which were burnt down and the mosques which were deliberately damaged were duly surveyed by JUH which had then announced to rebuild and repair them.At that time, Maulana Arshad Madani, JHU President, had said that JUH had been carrying out its social duty of helping and rehabilitating people in the affected areas, irrespective of religion and caste, and had promised to rebuild damaged properties.Clarion India

 

Delhi violence: Police get extension till Sept.17 for probe into conspiracy angle

https://scroll.in/latest/970677/delhi-violence-police-get-extension-till-september-17-for-investigation-into-conspiracy-angle

Delhi Police special cell, probing the alleged conspiracy angle behind Feb.violence, has got an extension for investigation as well as the judicial custody of the 10 accused. On August 13, Karkardooma court judge Amitabh Rawat had granted the special cell time till Sept.17 to file chargesheet in connection with a first information report in which the anti-terror UAPA has been invoked among other charges. Among the 10 accused are former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, and former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan. While the judicial custody of most of the accused have been extended till almost Dec., that of accused Khalid Saifi and Ishrat Jahan ends on Sept.17. This is the second time the Delhi Police have got an extension to file the chargesheet.

 

Delhi Riots: Gulfisha, Booked For Terrorism, Is Quiet, Studious And Has A Strong Sense Of Justice, Says Family

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/delhi-riots-gulfisha-fatima-anti-caa-protests_in_5f3ac140c5b670ab17ae5a91

New Delhi: Atiq Hussain was asleep when his phone rang at eight in the morning. A policeman was on the line, telling him that his sister Gulfisha Fatima had been arrested. The policeman handed her the phone.They spoke for 10 seconds. Hussain said, “Her voice was calm. Baaji has never been one to get emotional about things. All she said was to tell abba and ammi.”25 days passed before Hussain mustered up the courage to break the news to their father, a kirana store owner in northeast Delhi, and mother, a homemaker. Both of them suffer from depression, he said. Hussain laid the groundwork by telling them about the arrests of other students and activists who had protested against CAA and were getting arrested in connection with the Delhi riots in Feb. Hussain tried explaining away why she wasn’t visiting or phoning home, but eventually ran out of excuses and told them the truth. “It was a terrible shock but what can one do?  What do you do after you stop crying? You try and cope with it. This is the only thing on their minds but they have stopped talking about it.” he said in a recent conversation with HuffPost India. “My father is silent. My mother too but she still bursts into tears all the time,”

 

Problem With CAA Won't Go Away Because One Activist Joins BJP: Shaheen Bagh Women

https://thewire.in/politics/shaheen-bagh-anti-caa-bjp-shahzad-ali

New Delhi: On Sunday, Neelkant Bakshi, head of media relations of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit, released a statement that said, “Shaheen Bagh social activist Shahzad Ali has joined BJP Delhi in presence of state BJP president Adesh Gupta and vice president national BJP and in-charge Delhi BJP, Shyam Jaju.”“The enthusiasm with which Muslim brothers and sisters are joining BJP clearly shows that people of all religions have faith in the Modi govt,” Gupta said on the occasion at the Delhi BJP office.“Social worker Shahzad Ali, gynaecologist Dr Mehreen, former AAP worker Tabassum Hussain along with a large number of Muslim brothers and sisters joined BJP,” said Delhi BJP statement. “If somebody who was part of anti-CAA protests has joined the same party that he was protesting against, he is just confused and doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong,” said a protester, requesting anonymity. In the release, Ali introduces himself as a “social activist.” To The Wire, he said, “I have been in the profession of mobile industry, in sales.” He added that he gave up his job and started full time activism some years ago.Ali claims that more than 200 people from the neighbourhood have so far joined BJP. Asked for his opinion on the fact that he has joined the very party that brought the controversial CAA gainst which the protests all over the country had erupted and in which he had participated as well,he said, “Congress and AAP have both done less to explain things to people and more to lead them astray. Everybody just wanted to enhance their own politics. The conversation [on CAA] is only possible through dialogue.”Ali insisted that his plan was to sit with [senior] leaders of BJP and “clear the confusions” that Muslims have on CAA.Shoaib Jamai, who has been actively involved in the Shaheen Bagh protests since their beginning said, “There were many people who used to come to the Shaheen Bagh for tea. Even Gunjan Kapoor came to the protest, wearing a burkha. Does that mean she was a protester? Maybe he was part of the public, but he was not involved in any of the main meetings that some of us used to hold.”Gulbano, an elderly woman visible in the Shaheen Bagh protests and often referred to as one of the “dadis” (or grandmothers) of Shaheen Bagh, said that there were supposed to be no politicians in the protest. “There weren’t any politicians in the protests, you know. People would come, speak, perform poetry and leave, ” she said.

 

Bombay HC allows Varavara Rao to talk to family via video call, seeks Sudha Bhardwaj’s fresh medical report

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/bombay-hc-allows-varavara-rao-to-talk-to-family-via-video-call-seeks-sudha-bhardwajs-fresh-medical-report

Bombay High Court on Monday directed Nanavati hospital authorities to again allow Varavara Rao's family to interact with him via video call after the family expressed anxiety for not receiving any updates on his health by hospital authorities, BarandBench.com reported. Division bench of Justice AA Sayed and Justice Abhay Ahuja heard the petition and appeal filed on behalf of 81-year-old Rao who is one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. The same bench also heard an appeal filed by another accused in the case Sudha Bharadwaj. Varavara Rao's lawyer Advocate Sudeep Pasbola submitted that family spoke to him last on July 31. He submitted, "We still do not have any information or update about his health after that. So we are seeking that a copy of the medical report be given and matter may be adjourned to later in the week to be argued on merits."

 

Delhi HC rejects emergency parole plea of GN Saibaba

https://scroll.in/latest/970717/delhi-high-court-rejects-emergency-parole-plea-of-gn-saibaba

Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected the emergency parole plea of former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, PTI reported. Saibaba had filed the plea saying that he wanted to attend his mother’s post-funeral rituals.However, the court ordered the Nagpur jail authorities to make necessary arrangements for Saibaba to talk to his family via video conferencing on the day of the rituals.

 

UP Police arrests journalist Prashant Kanojia in Delhi over ‘objectionable’ tweet on Hindu Army

https://theprint.in/india/up-police-arrests-journalist-prashant-kanojia-in-delhi-over-objectionable-tweet-on-hindu-army/484274/

New Delhi: Journalist Prashant Kanojia was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police Tuesday from his residence in Delhi in connection with a tweet, his wife Jagisha Arora confirmed to ThePrint.A journalist with Transcontinental Times and formerly with The Wire, Kanojia was arrested around 1.30 pm, Arora said, adding, “There were five-six people. Only one of them was in uniform. The rest were in civil clothes. At first, they gave us no reason as to why he was being arrested, except to say that orders had come from above.” She also said, “I reached Vasant Vihar police station around 3 pm to ask for Kanojia but the police said he was not there. Last thing I was told is that the men along with Kanojia have crossed Noida and were en route Lucknow.” It was filed in Lucknow Monday by one Dinesh Kumar Shukla who accused Kanojia of disrupting communal harmony via social media.

 

SC ruling against Prashant Bhushan ‘speaks poorly of judiciary,’ say former judges, bureaucrats

https://scroll.in/latest/970649/sc-ruling-against-prashant-bhushan-speaks-poorly-of-judiciary-say-former-judges-bureaucrats

Over 3,000 members of civil society including former judges, retired bureaucrats, journalists and lawyers, on Monday criticised the Supreme Court’s order to hold advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of contempt for his tweets on the judiciary. The signatories said that expressing concern about the functioning of the judiciary was the fundamental right of every citizen.The signatories include former Supreme Court judges Ruma Pal, B Sudershan Reddy, Madan B Lokur, human rights activist Harsh Mander and historian Romila Thapar.They said in their statement that the Supreme Court should have taken Bhushan’s criticism in spirit. “The intention of that expression was to urge the apex court to restart physical hearings, particularly of matters of national importance,” the signatories said. “The intention was also to engage with the concerns articulated by many regarding the reluctance of the judiciary to play its constitutionally mandated role as a check on governmental excesses and violations of fundamental rights by the state.”The signatories added that the top court’s judgement against Bhushan was “disproportionate” and could damage its reputation. “If a tweet by an individual is perceived by the judiciary as destroying public confidence in the institution, it speaks poorly of the judiciary’s confidence in itself,” the signatories said in their statement.

 

Contempt action sought against Swara Bhasker for Ayodhya judgment remarks

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/contempt-action-sought-against-swara-bhasker-for-ayodhya-judgment-remarks/story-945W1vgEczzoPGRQoIxjoK.html

A petition was filed before the Supreme Court on Monday seeking initiation of criminal contempt of court proceedings against Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker for her statements criticising the top court and its judgment in the Ayodhya dispute. The plea, filed by Usha Shetty from Karnataka, was placed before the Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal, for his consent to list the matter before the court. As per Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act and Rule 3 of Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of Supreme Court, the consent of Attorney General is required before the apex court can hear a criminal contempt petition filed by a private individual.

 

Congress itself doesn't know if Rajiv Gandhi opened the locks of Babri Masjid or not: Jyotiraditya Scindia

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/congress-itself-doesnt-know-if-rajiv-gandhi-opened-the-locks-of-babri-masjid-or-not-jyotiraditya-scindia/638432

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP and BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday launched a scathing attack the grand-old party saying that Congress itself doesn't know whether former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi opened the locks of Babri Masjid or not. "On one hand, he (former MP CM Kamal Nath) is saying he (Former PM Rajiv Gandhi) got the locks of Babri Masjid opened while on the other hand, Shashi Tharoor said that he didn't open the locks. Congress itself doesn't know what their leader did and didn't," Scindia said."Scindia also held the former Kamal Nath government responsible for the current coronavirus situation, which is now under control. "Shivraj Singh has managed to control the situation by working 18 to 20 hours after taking the oath," he added.

 

Bengaluru riots: Karnataka to approach HC to recover damages from rioters

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bengaluru-riots-karnataka-to-approach-hc-to-recover-damages-from-rioters/story-NK83Ucmv6A7c8B1Pex8ExK.html

Karnataka government has decided to approach the state high court for appointing a commissioner for the purpose of assessment of damages caused to private and public property as well as to recover the same from the culprits. At a meeting conducted by CM BS Yediyurappa in which home minister Basvaraj Bommai, DGP Praveen Sood, ADGP (Law and Order) Amar Kumar Pandey and Chief Secretary TM Vijaya Bhasker, as well as other senior officials, were present it was decided to take stringent action against the culprits of DJ Halli and KG Halli violence by invoking UAPA.The police have detained till date nearly 370 people for the Bengaluru riots. Till now, DJ Halli police have registered 49 FIRs against the numerous accused while KG Halli police have registered 19 FIRs. The police on Monday also arrested K Wajid Pasha, president of Tipu Sultan Alfath trust. Sources in Bengaluru police who did not want to be named said Wajid, who claims to be a JDS worker was also one of the masterminds of the riots.

 

NIA Arrests Bengaluru Doctor for Allegedly Conspiring with Syria-based IS Operatives

https://www.news18.com/news/india/nia-arrests-bengaluru-doctor-for-allegedly-conspiring-with-syria-based-islamic-state-operatives-2798355.html

NIA on Tuesday arrested an ophthalmologist for his alleged links with Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).Abdur Rahman, a 28-year-old doctor with an M.S. from Ramaiah Medical College in Bengaluru, has been accused of using his knowledge of medicine to help ISIS."He was in the process of developing a medical application for helping the injured ISIS cadres in the conflict zones and a weaponry-related application for the benefit of ISIS fighters," said an NIA statement. NIA officials raided three premises in Bengaluru after Rahman's arrest and seized digital devices, a mobile phone and a laptop containing what the probe agency said was incriminating material. Rahman will be produced in a Delhi court and NIA will seek further custody to interrogate him.Confirming that Rahman had just completed his MS Ophthalmology course in July, the college fought shy of being aware of his activities.Rahman appears to have been a merit student. Incidentally, 2014 was also when he had apparently visited Syria, according to NIA authorities.Rahman came under the scanner after the NIA arrested two Pune residents earlier in the case. Pune student Sadiya Anwar Sheikh and gym owner Nabeel Siddick Khatri were allegedly in touch with ISKP accused Jahanzaib Sami Wani and his wife Hina Bashir Beigh from Okhla Vihar in Delhi's Jamia Nagar area.

 

Amanatullah set to be re-elected as member-MLA of Delhi Waqf Board

https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/delhi/2020/aug/18/amanatullah-khan-set-to-be-re-elected-as-member-mla-of-delhi-waqf-board-2184916.html

NEW DELHI: Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan is set to get elected unopposed as a member-MLA of Delhi Waqf Board as no other legislator has filed nomination for the election scheduled on Aug.25.Monday was the last date of filing nomination papers. Shinde Deepak Arjun, returning officer for the election and who is also DM (north), confirmed that only Khan had filed nominations so far.“Today was the last day for submitting papers. We have received only one nomination that is of Khan. After the scrutiny of his papers, a decision will be taken whether the election is required to be conducted or not,” he said.Another official of the board, said that if Khan’s nomination is found valid after scrutiny, he would be declared elected unopposed.

 

Muslim leaders give 2 weeks’ ultimatum to Telangana govt

https://www.siasat.com/muslim-leaders-give-two-weeks-ultimatum-to-telangana-government-1950266/

Hyderabad: Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, secretary All India Muslim Personal Law Board in a press statement said a meeting of Board members, Muslim scholars and representatives of Muslim organisations was held under the chairmanship of Justice Shah Mohammed Quadri on Sunday, at Darul Uloom. Issue of demolition of secretariat mosques and their restoration was discussed during the meeting. The leaders expressed ire over the demolition of the mosques. The leaders unanimously declared that any piece of land endowed for mosque remains mosque forever. Waqf administration cannot change its status. The scholars clarified that even if offering of prayer is stopped in a mosque then also it will remain a mosque and will remain so till the day of judgement. Neither the donor, nor the Waqf Board or the government have right to change its status.

 

“India ranks among lowest in terms of Internet quality”

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-ranks-among-lowest-in-terms-of-internet-quality/article32385913.ece?homepage=true

India ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of Internet quality, according to a global research released by online privacy solutions provider SurfShark.As per the “Digital Quality of Life Index 2020”, which researches on the quality of a digital wellbeing in 85 countries (81% of the global population), in terms of e-infrastructure, India occupies 79th place, ranking below countries including Guatemala and Sri Lanka.

 

Rakesh Asthana, at centre of row while in CBI, made BSF chief

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rakesh-asthana-appointed-bsf-dg-v-s-k-kaumudi-special-secretary-internal-security-6558739/

Govt has appointed 1984-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the new chief of BSF.Asthana, until now, was the chief of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, along with holding additional charge of Narcotics Control Bureau, which he continues to hold.Asthana, who as special director in CBI clashed with the agency’s then director Alok Verma, has been cleared in a case of corruption, registered by his former boss — in Feb, CBI cleared Asthana of all charges.

 

Toxic Debate Killed Rajiv Tyagi: Journalists, Activists, Demand TV News Reforms

https://clarionindia.net/toxic-debate-killed-rajiv-tyagi-journalists-activists-demand-tv-news-reforms/

NEW DELHI; Rajiv Tyagi, national spokesperson of the Congress, died of cardiac arrest recently. He suffered an attack soon after an abrasive and venomous debate on a Hindi news channel. His sudden death has triggered a heated debate over the conduct of TV panelists and news anchors.Along with leaders of Congress, senior journalists and activists took to social media for airing their opinions and comments.On the official Twitter account of Congress leader Manish Tewari, urging the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to “decisively intervene” and “cancel the licence” of such television channels which organise wrestling-like debates, he said, “Rajiv Tyagi’s death should become the trigger for TV channels to revisit this debate format. These debates are no longer structured discussions. They only serve to generate TRPs for TV channels which translate into revenue streams.”Senior Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai recalled his conversation with Tyagi and said his death meant the professional demise of journalism. He tweeted, “About a decade ago, Rajiv Tyagi came to me and said, ‘bhaiya, kabhi hamein bhee TV debate pe laya karo!’ (Bro, invite people like us also to tv debate!).. When he did eventually come, it was to join the cockfight format of noise shows with no substance: today, his passing away is a reminder of our own professional demise! RIP”.

 

 

*SOUTH ASIA, INDO-PAK & J&K*

India-China working mechanism meet likely on Aug 20 as PLA refuses to disengage in Finger areas, Depsang

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/india-china-working-mechanism-meet-likely-on-aug-20-as-pla-refuses-to-disengage-in-finger-areas-depsang/638632

New Delhi: As Chinese troops refusing to vacate from Finger areas, Depsang, and Gogra, the meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) is expected to take place on August 20. Besides officials from the ministry of external affairs, defence ministry, home ministry, military and ITBP officers will also take part in the crucial meeting that would be held via video conference owing to COVID-19 pandemic.Giving details of the expected meeting, Times Now’s Srinjoy Chowdhury, said that New Delhi has categorically stated to Beijing that if the border issues are to be solved then Chinese troops have to vacate the territories (Despang, Pangong) where they are camping. He further reported that before May, the Chinese were at Finger 8 and they moved to Finger 4 and later moved to Finger 5. India has made it clear that the Chinese would have to go back to Finger 8. This is is the position that the Indian delegation will press upon during the meeting. PLA troops have moved back from Galwan Valley and Hot Springs area.Meanwhile, China on Monday said that it will continue to work with India to properly manage differences. China will continue to work with India to enhance political mutual trust, properly manage differences, strengthen practical cooperation and jointly uphold the big picture of bilateral relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

 

Delhi, Kathmandu must have sustained talks on all issues, not just border: Nepal envoy

https://theprint.in/diplomacy/delhi-kathmandu-must-have-sustained-talks-on-all-issues-not-just-border-says-nepal-envoy/484230/

Kathmandu and New Delhi should have a “sustained dialogue” on all issues and not just on the border, even as both sides should focus on expediting bilateral projects, Nilamber Acharya, the Nepal Ambassador to India, has said.  In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Acharya said it is a “positive indication” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepali counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli had a phone conversation on 15 August when bilateral issues were discussed. That ws the first time the two leaders spoke after Nepal released a controversial political map in May showing the disputed regions of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of its own territory. The map has been rejected by India. “This is a positive sign that both PMs have spoken after 2-3 months of problems. India and Nepal should begin a dialogue soon. India and Nepal will resolve all issues peacefully if a sustained dialogue is built,” Acharya told ThePrint.“There are many other important matters that need to be settled, the border issue is not the only issue in our bilateral ties,” he added.

 

China wants to know why Nepal's young men are joining Indian Army

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/china-wants-to-know-why-nepal-young-men-joining-indian-army-1712287-2020-08-17

New Delhi: The diplomatic row between India and Nepal seems to have prompted China to commission a study in Nepal on why the youth from the Himalayan nation is lured to join the Indian Army.Intelligence reports suggest China has funded Rs 12.7 lakh (Nepali currency) study to understand the age-old tradition of young boys joining the Indian Army. Those observing developments in India say this is a first-of-its-kind study by China to exert its influence.

 

Navy commanders to discuss ops in Indian Ocean Region amid Ladakh stand-off with China

https://theprint.in/defence/navy-commanders-to-discuss-ops-in-indian-ocean-region-amid-ladakh-stand-off-with-china/484302/

New Delhi: 3-day Naval Commanders’ Conference begins Wednesday, with key issues like entry and operations of “extra-regional” forces in Indian Ocean Region, operational procurements and tri-services coordination with the maritime theatre command likely to dominate discussions. The biannual event is attended by the top leadership of the Indian Navy, who brainstorm on new security, logistical and administrative issues to plan a roadmap.Officers told ThePrint that Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and the senior commanders will be carrying out major logistical, administrative, training, materials and operational reviews. They are also expected to discuss prioritising projects such as long-pending P75I for 6 submarines, for which tenders are likely to be invited by October. Naval Utility Helicopters and other equipment the Navy plans to buy are also set to be discussed.ThePrint

 

China’s central bank invests in ICICI Bank amid ‘Boycott China’ movement

https://www.indiatoday.in/business/story/china-s-central-bank-invests-in-icici-bank-amid-boycott-china-movement-1712416-2020-08-18

After Chinese central bank's investment in mortgage lender HDFC Ltd created a flutter in Indian market earlier this year, People's Bank of China has now made an investment in ICICI Bank. Chinese bank has emerged as one of the investors in ICICI Bank's Rs 15,000 crore capital raising exercise which ended last week. It signed a cheque of Rs 15 crore in the private bank under qualified institutional placement. People's Bank of China was amongst the 357 institutional investors which included domestic mutual funds, insurance companies and global institutions that subscribed to the issue.

 

India ‘overwhelmingly’ reaches out to Democrats as Biden and Harris woo Indian Americans

https://theprint.in/diplomacy/india-overwhelmingly-reaches-out-to-democrats-as-biden-and-harris-woo-indian-americans/483428/

New Delhi:With a little over 2 months left for US Presidential elections, New Delhi seems to be “overwhelmingly” reaching out to the Democrats whose Presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris are going out of their way to woo the Indian Americans in an unprecedented manner.On 15 August, the Democrats celebrated India’s Independence Day — an unprecedented move, as never before has a major political party celebrated the independence of a foreign country as part of its US Presidential election campaign. A top Indian official told ThePrint: “New Delhi has always done serious business with whoever has come to power in the US. This has always been our stance. Like always, India is reaching out to the Democrats also overwhelmingly.”The official added India has always “enjoyed bipartisan support” in the US and that has been one of the unique aspects of the growing bilateral ties between New Delhi and Washington.

 

Eye on China, DoT to direct full network audit by telcos

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/eye-on-china-dot-to-direct-full-network-audit-by-telcos-6559030/

New Delhi : Dept. of Telecom (DoT) is set to direct all telecom operators to undertake an ‘information security audit’ of their networks and submit the report by October end.The objective of the audit, according to sources in the know of the development, is to specifically check for any ‘backdoor’ or ‘trap door’ vulnerabilities in the telecom networks, which can be exploited to extract information and pass on illegally to agencies around the world. A ‘backdoor’ or a ‘trap door’ is a bug installed in the telecom hardware which allows companies to listen in or collect data being shared on the network.“There have been reports that Chinese vendors have installed back doors and trap doors in telecom networks of other countries where they have worked on 4G and other older technologies. We just want to be doubly sure there are no such gaps in our networks,” an official said.

 

India Today Mood of the Nation Poll: 59% say India should go to war with China over border dispute

https://www.indiatoday.in/mood-of-the-nation/story/motn-india-china-lac-dispute-war-military-1708906-2020-08-07?utm_source=rhs&utm_medium=It&utm_campaign=readthis&t_source=rhs&t_medium=It&t_campaign=readthis

While nearly 60 per cent of the people think India should wage a war against China to resolve the ongoing border tensions, 34 per cent are against the idea. This MOTN survey comes at a time when India and China are engaged in Corps Commander-level talks to review the de-escalation strategy at disputed regions including the Pangong Tso Lake area in Ladakh.

 

Jammu region tense after derogatory remarks on Prophet are aired, 3 men arrested

https://theprint.in/india/jammu-region-tense-after-derogatory-remarks-on-prophet-muhammad-are-aired-3-men-arrested/483679/

Srinagar: Communal tensions continue to prevail in Jammu division’s Doda, Kishtwar, Gool Gulabgarh, Ramban and Reasi areas, despite J&K Police arresting 3 individuals who had allegedly made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad in an interview to a local cable news channel over the weekend. Muslim groups in these areas had called for a complete shutdown Monday in protest, and barring some minor incidents of violence despite a curfew in Kishtwar that were quickly brought under control, the situation remained peaceful in the presence of heavy security. Demonstrations took place in these areas, while in Kashmir region too, small protests were organised.Jammu IGP Mukesh Singh, in a video message, issued a plea asking people to maintain peace and not to share the video in question. He said the circulation of the video causes communal disharmony and peace, adding that strict action will be taken against people sharing the video. In an evening press conference, J&K DGP Dilbag Singh said all three accused had been arrested, and that the individual who recorded the video would also be brought in. According to police officials, 2 men who were seen in the video, named Satpal Sharma and Deepak, were arrested. The third man, Rohit, was on the run for a while longer before being arrested Monday. Officials say all 3 men belong to a group called Rashtriya Suraksha Dal.Local residents across the Jammu region organised scores of rallies in protest, and various Muslim religious and community groups in the region. Majlis-e-Shura and some other groups demanded capital punishment for the accused.

 

J&K: 2 soldiers, 3 suspected militants killed in Baramulla operation

https://scroll.in/latest/970733/j-k-two-soldiers-three-suspected-militants-killed-in-baramulla-operation

Security forces killed three suspected militants in Kreeri area of Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, a statement from the Indian Army said. Two soldiers were critically injured in the operation and later died.The Army said one AK-47 and three pistols were recovered from the militants. The search operation for more militants is still going on.

 

Army Starts Probe Into J&K Encounter After Families Allege 3 Men Missing

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/jammu-and-kashmir-army-initiates-court-of-inquiry-in-julys-shopian-encounter-2281374?pfrom=home-topstories

New Delhi: The army today said it has initiated a high-level Court of Inquiry to probe into an encounter by its troops in which three unidentified terrorists were killed in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district last month. This comes after three families in Rajouri area filed a complaint with the police that their missing sons were killed in a staged encounter and passed off as terrorists."As intimated on 11 Aug, a high-level Court of Inquiry into Op Amshipora, Shopian on 18 Jul 2020 is under progress. Statements of key witnesses are being recorded and progress is being monitored closely," the army said in a statement today. It said the Court of Inquiry will record the statements of civilian witnesses, and DNA samples of the missing men have been collected and sent for matching with those of the terrorists killed in the encounter.

 

India Planning Bilateral "Air Bubble" Flights With 13 Nations; Minister

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/civil-aviation-minister-hardeep-singh-puri-india-negotiating-with-13-countries-to-establish-bilateral-air-bubble-arrangements-2281421?pfrom=home-topscroll

New Delhi: India is negotiating with 13 countries, including Australia, Japan and Singapore, to establish separate bilateral air bubble arrangements for international flight operations, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines of both the countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions.Mr Puri said on Twitter air bubbles have also been proposed with our neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

 

 

*INDIAN POLITICS*

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa resigns, set to join ADB

https://theprint.in/india/governance/election-commissioner-ashok-lavasa-resigns-set-to-join-adb/484219/

New Delhi: Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, who was next in line to become Chief Election Commissioner, resigned Tuesday to join Asian Development Bank. According to sources, Lavasa submitted his resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind, and will be relieved from his duties on 31 August if his resignation is accepted. ThePrint reached Lavasa for a comment, but he refused. An Election Commission of India spokesperson did not confirm the development either. If accepted, Lavasa’s resignation will clear the way for Sushil Chandra to become the CEC once incumbent Sunil Arora retires from the post in April 2021. Last month, ADB appointed Lavasa as vice-president for Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships. He will succeed Diwakar Gupta, whose term will end on 31 August. Sources said the government had recommended a few nominees to the ADB, including Lavasa.

 

Election Commission to come up with broad guidelines for holding polls within 3 days

https://scroll.in/latest/970724/election-commission-to-come-up-with-broad-guidelines-for-holding-polls-within-three-days

Election Commission on Tuesday said that it will come up with “broad guidelines” for holding polls within the next three days, amid the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported. The poll panel said the matter of issuing guidelines for Assembly elections and bye-elections during the “Covid-19 period” was discussed at a meeting earlier in the day.The commission said it considered the views and suggestions of political parties, and chief electoral officers of states and Union Territories. “After considering all these, commission directed to frame broad guidelines within three days,” it said.

 

Amit Shah, Adityanath were ‘Shakuni’ of northeast Delhi riots: AAP

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/amit-shah-adityanath-were-shakuni-of-northeast-delhi-riots-says-aap/article32382993.ece?homepage=true

NEW DELHI: AAP on Tuesday alleged that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other BJP leaders were behind the riots that happened in northeast Delhi earlier this year. “Each person who understands Delhi will say that the Manthara and Shakuni of Delhi riots were those BJP leaders who made poisonous statements — Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Sahib Singh, Giriraj Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Amit Shah, Kapil Mishra. All these people made communal remarks in Delhi and created hatred for one community in another community,” AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said while addressing a press conference.

 

BJP doing politics in name of Lord Ram, doesn’t  care about law and order in UP: Akhilesh Yadav

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/national/bjp-doing-politics-in-name-of-lord-ram-doesnt-care-about-law-and-order-in-up-akhilesh-yadav

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has said that Lord Ram belongs to all and not just to the Bharatiya Janata Party alone. Talking to reporters in his native village Sefai on Tuesday, he said that "Lord Ram belongs to all, Lord Krishna belongs to all. Lord Ram and Lord Krishna were incarnations of Lord Vishnu, who belongs to all." He further said, "We all seek blessings of Goddesses during Navratri festival. Now tell me, do these Goddesses also belong to BJP?" he asked. Samajwadi Party president attacked Yogi Adityanath government on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, where a minor girl was raped and brutally murdered.IANS

 

indiatoday Mood of the Nation: PM Modi still king of Indian politics with 78 per cent approval rating

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/india/story/20200817-mood-of-the-nation-pm-modi-still-king-of-indian-politics-with-78-per-cent-approval-rating-1708943-2020-08-07?utm_source=rhs&utm_medium=It&utm_campaign=readthis&t_source=rhs&t_medium=It&t_campaign=readthis

A resounding 78 per cent of the people surveyed found the performance of PM Modi to be outstanding/good. Only 5 per cent of respondents found the government's performance to be poor.Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains most popular in western India (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) with a mean score of 3.14 on a 4 point scale. The strong presence of BJP in all states in the region except Chhattisgarh is a booster for the Modi government.North and East India (3.01 and 3.02) fare similarly when it comes to rating the Modi government. PM Modi is only marginally less popular in South India (2.99). PM Modi continues to be most popular among the Hindu community. On a 4 point scale, the mean score of Hindu respondents stood at 3.13. On the other hand, the mean score is low amongst non-Hindus (Muslim and other minorities). Muslim respondents rated PM Modi's performance with a mean score of 2.33. However, when if one analyses the data according to caste groups, PM Modi is most popular among the OBC/MBC community (3.08) followed by the SC/ST community (3.01) and the upper castes (2.99) respectively.

 

Rahul Gandhi best person to revive Congress: India Today Mood of the Nation

https://www.indiatoday.in/mood-of-the-nation/story/rahul-gandhi-best-person-to-revive-congress-mood-of-the-nation-1708989-2020-08-07?utm_source=rhs&utm_medium=It&utm_campaign=readthis&t_source=rhs&t_medium=It&t_campaign=readthis

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi remains the most suitable person to lead the party, the India Today-Karvy Insights Ltd Mood of the Nation (MOTN) poll has found.23 per cent of the 12,021 respondents have voted for Rahul Gandhi to lead the Congress party to a new resurgence.He had quit from his post of the president of the Congress Working Committee in August 2019 after the party performed abysmally in the Lok Sabha elections. However, clamour is growing within the party for Rahul Gandhi to be brought back at the helm of affairs and India agrees. An interesting finding of the MOTN poll is that while Rahul Gandhi remains the most suitable to lead the Congress, former PM Manmohan Singh scores better than both Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi as the next best choice.18 per cent people now believe economist Singh should now lead the Congress party as opposed to 13 per cent in the MOTN poll conducted in January 2020. Both Sonia Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi have gotten 14 per cent of the votes each.

 

Govt jobs for locals only, says M.P. CM Chouhan

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/govt-jobs-for-locals-only-says-mp-cm-chouhan/article32384016.ece?homepage=true

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday announced that government jobs in the State would now be reserved for its youth only.Describing it as an “important decision”, Mr. Chouhan said in a video message,”We are making the required legal provisions for it. Resources of Madhya Pradesh for the children of Madhya Pradesh.”He further said, “From today, the youth of Madhya Pradesh will have the first right over its resources. All government jobs will be reserved for its youth only. Our aim is to include the State’s talent in its development.”

 

*CORONAVIRUS- LOCKDOWN*

Anti-mask group gives ‘wake-up call’ to boycott masks, says it’s a sign of slavery

https://theprint.in/india/anti-mask-group-gives-wake-up-call-to-boycott-masks-says-its-a-sign-of-slavery/484224/

New Delhi: A self-proclaimed ‘doctor’, Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury, has shared a video of an ‘anti-mask’ group on social media in which a group of youths is asking people to boycott masks as they “don’t prevent” the novel coronavirus from entering the human body. Chowdhury shared the video on Twitter on 17 August, but the micro-blogging site took it down as it “violated Twitter rules”. Before it was taken down, the video had garnered as many as 6,17,000 views. The video is, however, still there on his YouTube channel, which was uploaded on 16 Aug. The video features 4 men and one woman. The group says that mask is a sign of “compliance and slavery”. They also challenge the effectiveness of masks, saying there is “mind manipulation” behind it.  The group also claimed that masks have an adverse effect on health and that any doctor would say that they offer no kind of protection. They even made a “wake up” call for ‘freedom from masks’ — mask se azadi. theprint

 

Restaurants, gyms to reopen in Agra, Taj Mahal stays shut

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/national/restaurants-gyms-to-reopen-in-agra-taj-mahal-stays-shut

The district administration from Tuesday allowed gyms and restaurants to reopen, but with a set of conditions.DM PN Singh said the facilities will be allowed to remain open till 10 pm. However, guidelines have been issued which will need to be followed strictly, he said. Masks, sanitisation and social distancing norms will have to be adhered to in all these places. While the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort will have to wait, other smaller historical monuments could be reopened for visitors, the administration indicated.IANS

 

Amit Shah complains of ‘fatigue and body aches’, admitted to AIIMS

https://indianexpress.com/article/coronavirus/amit-shah-complains-of-fatigue-and-body-aches-admitted-to-aiims-6559406/

Days after he tested negative for Covid-19, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was on Tuesday admitted to AIIMS, Delhi after complaining of “fatigue and body aches”. According to a statement issued by the premier hospital, Shah has been hospitalised for post-Covid-19 care. “He has been admitted to AIIMS for post-COVID care. He is comfortable and is continuing his work from hospital,” the statement added. Shah had earlier been admitted to Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon for the treatment. He was the first member of Union Cabinet to test positive for the disease.

 

UP minister Atul Garg tests positive for COVID-19

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/live-coronavirus-in-india-updates-covid-19-vaccine-india-world-latest-news-corona-cases-deaths-recovered-news-6558870/

Uttar Pradesh Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Atul Garg, Tuesday said he has tested positive for COVID-19 and requested all those who came in contact with him recently to get tested for the disease. “On August 15, RTPCR test was done and I had tested negative. Yesterday, in the rapid test conducted at around 9 pm, I tested positive. People who came in contact with me from August 16 to August 18 should get themselves tested,” he tweeted. Earlier, 2 UP ministers, Kamal Rani Varun and Chetan Chauhan, succumbed to the pandemic.

 

Differences buried: Muslim body helps in cremation of dead Hindus

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/differences-buried-muslim-body-helps-in-cremation-of-dead-hindus/articleshow/77600638.cms

Nagpur: In a fortnight, ambulance run by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, a leading organization of Islamic scholars, has made six rounds bringing bodies to Hindu crematorium in Kamptee. The town which has emerged as a hotspot of Covid infection has seen 39 deaths so far.In a clockwork precision, Jamiat’s volunteers dressed in personal protection gear get the body out, place it on the pyre, which is later lit by the deceased’s kin. On one of the days, two bodies were brought to the crematorium in quick succession.The Jamiat, which is a century-old body of Muslim clerics, is backed by two other organizations in the work.Earlier, last rites of Covid patients from Kamptee were conducted in Nagpur by Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) officials. This left the kin pained as they did not get even a chance to pay last respects, leading to Jamiat’s intervention.

 

Mumbai: Oxford Covid vaccine trials to start at King Edward hospital | All you need to know

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/oxford-university-covid-vaccine-human-trials-king-edward-hospital-covishield-astra-zenec-1712560-2020-08-18

King Edward memorial Hospital in Parel, Mumbai will soon start phase 2 and 3 human trials on COVISHIELD, the Covid vaccine that is being developed by Oxford University and AstraZenec. India is among the handful of countries where human trials for this vaccine will be carried out, outside of UK. Dr Hemant Deshmukh, Dean, KEM Hospital said the phase 2 and 3 human trials of COVISHIELD will start by the end of August. COVISHIELD hogged global headlines in July after it showed "promising "and "encouraging" results in Phase 1 human trials conducted in UK. The data for these trials were published in The Lancet.In the latest, ICMR has granted approval to Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital in Parel to conduct phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Oxford University's coronavirus vaccine.

 

UK urges Indians, ethnic minorities to sign up for COVID vaccine trials

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/uk-urges-indians-ethnic-minorities-to-sign-up-for-covid-19-vaccine-trials

UK govt on Monday issued an appeal for more people from an ethnic minority background, including those of Indian-origin, to sign up for ongoing clinical trials for a potential vaccine to combat COVID-19. A targeted recruitment programme broadcast in Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali and Urdu is among the measures being deployed to reach out to different communities.Over 1,00,000 people have volunteered to take part in vaccine trials across Britain as part of efforts to speed up the discovery of a safe and effective vaccine that protects against the coronavirus.PTI

 

Indian Embassy in Moscow in touch with developer of Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/embassy-in-moscow-in-touch-with-developer-of-sputnik-v-6559032/                  

Indian embassy in Moscow is in touch with Russian medical research institute that has developed the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine to be cleared for use by the public, top govt sources said.Russian regulators last week greenlighted the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Moscow-based GamaleyaResearch Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and President Vladimir Putin announced that one of his daughters had already been inoculated with it.“Indian Mission is engaging separately with the Russian side through our embassy in Moscow. We are now awaiting the safety and efficacy data of this vaccine for Covid-19,” a source said.indianexpress

 

Pune serosurvey shows 50% have antibodies against Covid

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/pune-serosurvey-results-50-pc-antibodies-covid-19-india-coronavirus-numbers-explained-6559471/

The results of a serological survey in Pune has indicated that over 50 per cent of the population could already have been infected by novel Coronavirus. This is significantly higher than the results of similar serological surveys carried out in some other cities, like Delhi and Mumbai, but not surprising. The sero-survey in Delhi had found 23 per cent of the sampled people to be carrying novel Coronavirus-specific anti-bodies, showing that they would have been infected at some point or the other. In Mumbai, about 40 per cent of the sampled group was found to be infected. The sero-surveys in Delhi and Mumbai were carried out a few weeks earlier, and therefore, the disease spread in the population could actually have been a little lower at that time.

 

Australia to manufacture coronavirus vaccine, will give free doses to citizens: PM

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/australia-to-manufacture-coronavirus-vaccine-will-give-free-doses-to-citizens-says-pm-scott-morrison/story-9EtshGgB1tvD2lQM8bRovN.html

Australia has secured access to a “promising” coronavirus vaccine, the prime minister announced Tuesday, saying the country would manufacture it and offer free doses to the entire population.Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia had reached a deal with Swedish-British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to receive the Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with Oxford University.“If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians,” he said.

 

Argentina: Protesters call on gov't to ease lockdown

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/argentina-covid-19-protesters-call-govt-ease-lockdown-200818092442610.html

Parts of Argentina's capital have been brought to a standstill by protesters calling for an end to months of coronavirus restrictions.The Latin American nation has been under lockdown for more than 150 days, but still has one of the highest rates of infection in the world.

 

*WORLD*

Israel: No policy change on US arms sales to UAE

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/israel-policy-change-arms-sales-united-arab-emirates-200818065531453.html

Israel has not softened its opposition to any American arms sales to UAE that could diminish its military superiority as part of a US-brokered normalisation of their ties,PM Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.The statement followed a report in Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that Trump administration planned a "giant" sale of advanced F-35 jets to UAE as part of the Gulf country's move last week to normalise ties with Israel.Under understandings dating back decades, Washington has refrained from Middle East arms sales that could blunt Israel's "qualitative military edge". This has applied to F-35, denied to Arab states, while Israel has bought and deployed it."In the talks [on UAE normalisation deal], Israel did not change its consistent positions against the sale to any country in the Middle East of weapons and defence technologies that could tip [military] balance," Netanyahu's office said.

 

US’ Kushner: Saudi will benefit from relations with Israel

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-us-kushner-saudi-will-benefit-from-relations-with-israel/

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner claims it would be in Saudi Arabia’s economic interest to normalise ties with Israel as UAE has agreed to do.“It would be very good for Saudi business, it would very good for Saudi’s defense, and, quite frankly, I think it would also help the Palestinian people,” said Kushner.The UAE and Israel announced a US-brokered peace deal last week which would see the two establish diplomatic, trade and commercial ties.According to the agreement, Israel would halt its plans to annex portions of the West Bank from Palestinians, although Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said the plans remained “on the table”.

 

Israel expert: Muhammad Dahlan is main beneficiary of UAE-Israel deal

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-israel-expert-muhammad-dahlan-is-main-beneficiary-of-uae-israel-deal/

Yoni Ben-Menachem, ex Israeli officer in the Military Intelligence Service – Aman, expects dismissed Fatah member, Muhammad Dahlan, to benefit the most as a result of UAE’s normalisation deal with Israel.“The normalisation agreement between UAE and Israel opens the door for Dahlan’s return to Palestinian arena, and renews his attempts to assume the position of the Palestinian Authority president, which may pave the way for talking about the end of the political alliance between Dahlan and Hamas, and the establishment of strongholds for him in West Bank, waiting for the appropriate time to return to Ramallah,”Ben-Menachem wrote in an article published on News One news site.

 

Israel court releases BDS activist Mahmoud Nawajaa

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-israel-court-releases-bds-activist-mahmoud-nawajaa/

An Israeli court yesterday released that Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) in Palestine should be released. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association said in a press statement that the Salem Military Court, in the northern occupied West Bank, released Nawajaa without condition.Nawajaa was arrested from his home in Ramallah on 30 July and charged with belonging to an illegal party and providing services to it, according to Addameer.

 

Palestine PM: Netanyahu’s remarks about ‘peace for peace’ an illusion

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-palestine-pm-netanyahus-remarks-about-peace-for-peace-an-illusion/

Palestinian Authority (PA) PM Mohammed Shtayyeh slammed Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks about “peace for peace” in reference to UAE-Israel normalisation deal.Speaking to his cabinet, Shtayyeh said: “The centre of the conflict is the land. Which peace is Netanyahu seeking? Any peace must be built on the basis of the withdrawal from the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967.”He added: “Netanyahu’s remarks about peace for peace are a kind of illusion. The principle that peace is achieved through power does not make peace. Peace must be achieved based on logic, justice and international legitimacy.”

 

Gaza's lone power plant shuts down amid tensions with Israel

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/gaza-lone-power-plant-shuts-tensions-israel-200818100514633.html

Gaza's lone power plant has shut down, less than a week after Israel suspended fuel shipments to the Palestinian enclave over the launching of incendiary balloons that caused brush fires in southern Israel.Gaza, run by Hamas, relies on Israel for most of its energy needs. Its population of two million currently receives about six hours of electricity followed by a 10-hour power cut."The power feed may now decline to only four hours [per day]," said Mohammad Thabet, an official at Gaza's main power distribution company, after fuel ran out at the plant.Gaza homes and businesses rely on generators to make up for the lengthy power cuts, increasing the financial pressure on its largely impoverished people.

 

Controversial UAE cleric apologises to Israelis for past remarks

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-controversial-uae-cleric-apologises-to-israelis-for-past-remarks/

An Emirati preacher of Jordanian origin, Wasim Yousef, has apologised to Israelis for hateful remarks issued by him in the past.“When I saw some Palestinians burn my country’s flag because of the peace treaty with Israel, I decided to apologise to every Israeli man if I had offended him in the past,” Yousef wrote on Twitter.“The Emirati people were so happy with the agreement [for normalisation with Israel], they forgot about the coronavirus pandemic,” Yousef claimed, adding that “the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Fatah and [Islamic] Jihad have been trading in the Palestinian cause for 70 years, and now time has come for peace and an end to the death dealers and thieves of money and donations.”Yousef’s tweets sparked widespread controversy, especially after he claimed that the conflict between Arabs and Israel is purely religious.

 

UN-backed court: Hezbollah leadership not involved in Hariri murder

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-un-backed-court-hezbollah-leadership-not-involved-in-hariri-murder/

There is no evidence that the leadership of the Iran-backed Shia Muslim group Hezbollah, or the Syrian government, were involved in the 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, Reuters reported a judge saying today. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is reading the verdict in the trial of four Hezbollah members charged with conspiracy to kill Hariri and 21 others.“The trial chamber is of the view that Syria and Hezbollah may have had motives to eliminate Mr Hariri and his political allies, however there is no evidence that the Hezbollah leadership had any involvement in Mr. Hariri’s murder and there is no direct evidence of Syrian involvement,” said Judge David Re, reading a summary of court’s 2,600 page decision. However, according to the Jerusalem Post, the tribunal will likely convict three senior Hezbollah members – one of whom is deceased, and acquit two other Hezbollah officials. The paper named the men as Salim Ayyash, Hussein Hassab Oneissi and Mustafa Amine Badreddine.

 

Turkey and Qatar sign military cooperation deal with Libya government

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200818-turkey-and-qatar-sign-military-cooperation-deal-with-libya-government/

Turkey and Qatar have signed a tripartite deal with the Libyan government for military cooperation, in a new development set to enhance the government’s defence against the forces of Khalifa Haftar.The agreement, which was announced by Libya’s Deputy Defence Minister Salam Al-Namroush yesterday, will establish military facilities and training programmes within the country. This cooperation will include Qatar’s funding of military training centres and the establishment of a trilateral coordination centre and Turkish naval base in the city of Misrata. Consultation will also be provided to Libyan govt forces as part of the agreement.

 

More state-controlled firms join strike against Belarus president

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/state-controlled-firms-join-strike-belarus-president-200818113145275.html

More state-controlled companies and factories have joined the strike in Belarus, turning up the pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to step down after winning an election they say was rigged.Tuesday's walkouts strengthened the strike that began on Monday, encompassing several large tractor factories in Minsk, a huge potash factory in Soligorsk that accounts for one-fifth of the world's potash fertilizer output and is the nation's top cash earner, state television and the country's most prominent theatre. The development marked 10th day of unprecedented mass protests against election results that handed Lukashenko his sixth term with 80 percent of the votes, while his top challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya apparently only received 10 percent.

 

UK's lead role in 1953 Iran coup d'etat exposed

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/uk-lead-role-1953-iran-coup-exposed-200818072007050.html

A recently discovered transcript of an interview with a British intelligence officer who played a leading role in the 1953 coup that restored powers to the shah of Iran claims that Britain was the driving force behind the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.On the anniversary of UK-US-led coup d'etat that removed Iran's democratically elected leader, an interview with Norman Darbyshire - head of the MI6 spy agency's "Persia" station in Cyprus at the time - was published. In his account, Darbyshire said Britain had convinced the US to take part in the coup. Darbyshire's comments came from an interview with the creators of an episode of 1985 British series End of Empire. His interview was not used directly in the programme, as he did not want to appear on camera.The transcript, long forgotten, was recently unearthed during the making of a new documentary called Coup 53, scheduled for release on Wednesday, the 67th anniversary of the coup.Darbyshire died in 1993. The transcript of his interview was published on Monday by the National Security Archive at George Washington University in the US.

 

*views, Articles, FEATURES*

India’s geopolitical interests are in close alignment with moderate Arab centre:C. Raja Mohan

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-arab-gulf-countries-middle-east-relations-c-raja-mohan-6558876/

indian express Explained Ideas: Why New Delhi must stand up for Arab sovereignty

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/india-gulf-arab-ties-c-raja-mohan-6559161/

India’s double standard for apps: Ban all apps that take data out of nation, irrespective of country of origin:Prabir Purakayastha/IPA

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/indias-double-standard-for-apps-ban-all-apps-that-take-data-out-of-nation-irrespective-of-country-of-origin

 

 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:14 PM)