Scroll.in - The Latest https://scroll.in A digital daily of things that matter. http://www.rssboard.org/rss-specification python-feedgen http://s3-ap-southeast-1.amazonaws.com/scroll-feeds/scroll_logo_small.png Scroll.in - The Latest https://scroll.in en Sun, 23 Feb 2020 03:43:54 +0000 Sun, 23 Feb 2020 00:00:00 +0000 The big news: Rajnath Singh hopes Abdullahs, Mufti will be released soon, and nine other top stories https://scroll.in/latest/954027/the-big-news-rajnath-singh-hopes-abdullahs-mufti-will-be-released-soon-and-nine-other-top-stories Other headlines: Manmohan Singh said nationalism is being misused, and the Geological Survey of India denied reports of discovery of gold deposits in UP.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. Rajnath Singh says he’s praying for early release of Abdullahs, Mehbooba Mufti from detention in J&K: The Union defence minister added that he hopes that once the politicians are released, they will contribute to normalising the situation in Kashmir.   
  2. Nationalism, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ being misused to build a ‘militant idea of India’, says Manmohan Singh: The former prime minister said such as idea excludes millions of residents and citizens.   
  3. Geological Survey of India denies reports about discovery of 3,000 tonne gold deposits in UP: The earlier claim had been made by Sonbhadra district mining officer KK Rai.   
  4. ‘Modi is a versatile genius who thinks globally and acts locally’, says Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra: The judge described the prime minister as an ‘internationally acclaimed visionary’. 
  5. Punjab police chief claims his remarks against corridor have been misunderstood: On Wednesday, Dinkar Gupta had said that the corridor is a potential threat to national security. On Saturday, he claimed he rejoiced at its inauguration.   
  6. Uddhav Thackeray needs a ‘briefing’ to understand how NPR is the basis of NRC, says ally Congress: The Maharashtra chief minister had expressed support for the National Population Register on Friday. 
  7. India advises against non-essential travel to Singapore, will expand airport screening for coronavirus: The government said it was planning to start screening passengers arriving from Kathmandu, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.   
  8. Road reopened by a section of protestors, closed again by another, claim police in Shaheen Bagh case: On Friday too, the Uttar Pradesh Police had reopened a road connecting Noida and Faridabad for about 40 minutes.   
  9. Private WhatsApp groups visible on Google search, making it easy for anyone to join them, say reports: The website ‘Vice’ found that it was possible to join such groups and access the contact numbers of their members.   
  10. Delhi gangrape convict’s mental illness claim a ‘bundle of distorted facts’, Tihar jail tells court: The court dismissed Vinay Sharma’s request for medical treatment for mental illness and schizophrenia.   
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https://scroll.in/latest/954027/the-big-news-rajnath-singh-hopes-abdullahs-mufti-will-be-released-soon-and-nine-other-top-stories Sun, 23 Feb 2020 03:07:44 +0000 Scroll Staff
Kartarpur: Punjab police chief claims his remarks against corridor have been misunderstood https://scroll.in/latest/954025/kartarpur-punjab-police-chief-claims-his-remarks-against-corridor-have-been-misunderstood On Wednesday, Dinkar Gupta had said that the corridor is a potential threat to national security. On Saturday, he claimed he rejoiced at its inauguration.

Punjab Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta on Saturday said his remarks on the Kartarpur corridor have been “willfully misconstrued” or misunderstood, The Indian Express reported. At an event hosted by the newspaper in Panchkula city on Wednesday, Gupta had claimed that the corridor poses a “potential threat to national security”.

“Kartarpur offers a potential threat,” Gupta had said on Wednesday, adding there were reasons why the government chose not to throw open the corridor all these years. “You send somebody in the morning as an ordinary chap and by evening he comes back as trained terrorist. You are there for six hours, you can be taken to a firing range, you can be taught to make an IED [improvised explosive device].”

On Saturday, however, Gupta said he had rejoiced at the opening of the corridor. “Their [the devotees] daily ardas [prayer] for ‘khulle darshan-deedaar’ of religious shrines that remain in post-Partition Pakistan, was finally answered,” he said. “It was a matter of even greater happiness that it coincided with the 550th Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”

The Punjab police chief said that the state government and all its agencies worked very hard towards the opening of the corridor on November 9. “As the state DGP, I assure that we will continue to strive to work towards facilitating trouble-free access to the holy shrine of Sri Kartarpur Sahib,” he said.

Gupta clarified his earlier remarks, saying that as the police chief of Punjab, a border state, he faced the problem of violent extremism emanating from Pakistan. Gupta said that he had merely highlighted the potential for misuse of the corridor by elements that are hostile to India.

He said his concern was only for the security of Punjab and India and that his remarks were not directed against any religious community. However, he added that the people of Punjab have suffered a lot due to cross-border extremism in the past, and therefore the agencies must remain vigilant.

The Kartarpur Corridor connects the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district, which is believed to be the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev. The corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian side and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan across the border on November 9.

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https://scroll.in/latest/954025/kartarpur-punjab-police-chief-claims-his-remarks-against-corridor-have-been-misunderstood Sun, 23 Feb 2020 02:50:18 +0000 Scroll Staff
J&K: Rajnath Singh says he’s praying for early release of Abdullahs, Mehbooba Mufti from detention https://scroll.in/latest/954026/j-k-rajnath-singh-says-hes-praying-for-early-release-of-abdullahs-mehbooba-mufti-from-detention The Union defence minister added that he hopes that once the politicians are released, they will contribute to normalising the situation in Kashmir.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday that he “prays” for the early release of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti from detention, IANS reported. Singh made the remark during an interview with the news agency.

Singh also said he hopes that the three former chief ministers will contribute to normalising the situation in Kashmir. “I also pray that once they are out, they work and contribute towards improvement of the situation in Kashmir.”

India had on August 5 last year stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, divided it into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, and imposed a lockdown, including detaining several prominent political leaders. Though some leaders have been released, the two Abdullahs and Mufti continue to be in detention.

“Kashmir has been peaceful. The situation is improving rapidly,” Singh told IANS. “Along with the improvement, these decisions [release of politicians from detention] will also be finalised. The government has not tortured anyone.” Singh defended the Centre’s decision to abrogate the special status of Kashmir, and added that everyone should welcome it.

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https://scroll.in/latest/954026/j-k-rajnath-singh-says-hes-praying-for-early-release-of-abdullahs-mehbooba-mufti-from-detention Sun, 23 Feb 2020 02:15:20 +0000 Scroll Staff
The big news: Top court judge calls PM Modi a versatile genius, a visionary, and 9 other top stories https://scroll.in/latest/954006/the-big-news-top-court-judge-calls-pm-modi-a-versatile-genius-a-visionary-and-9-other-top-stories Other headlines: A road at Shaheen Bagh was opened briefly by protestors, and a Delhi gangrape convict’s claim of mental illness was rejected by a court.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. ‘Modi is a versatile genius who thinks globally and acts locally,’ says Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra: The judge described the prime minister as an ‘internationally acclaimed visionary’.
  2. Shaheen Bagh road reopened by a section of protestors, closed again by another, claim police: On Friday too, the Uttar Pradesh Police had reopened a road connecting Noida and Faridabad for about 40 minutes.
  3. Delhi gangrape convict’s mental illness claim a ‘bundle of distorted facts’, Tihar jail tells court: The court dismissed Vinay Sharma’s request for medical treatment for mental illness and schizophrenia.
  4. Nationalism, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ being misused to build a ‘militant idea of India’, says Manmohan Singh: The former prime minister said such as idea excludes millions of residents and citizens.
  5. Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia left out of Melania Trump’s school visit in Delhi, say reports: The US first lady is expected to attend a class on the ‘happiness curriculum’, which is a flagship scheme of the AAP-led Delhi government, on Tuesday.
  6. Uddhav Thackeray needs a ‘briefing’ to understand how NPR is the basis of NRC, says ally Congress: The Maharashtra chief minister had expressed support for the National Population Register on Friday.
  7. India advises against non-essential travel to Singapore amid coronavirus outbreak, will expand airport screening: The government said it was planning to start screening passengers arriving from Kathmandu, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
  8. Donald Trump will discuss religious freedom in India with PM Modi during visit, say reports: A senior White House official made the comment when asked if the US president planned to talk to Modi about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC.
  9. FIR filed against AIMIM leader Waris Pathan in Karnataka for ‘15 crore Muslims’ remark: Last week, Pathan allegedly said Indian Muslims could dominate other communities. The comments were made in the context of protests against the citizenship law.
  10. Geological Survey of India denies reports about discovery of 3,000 tonne gold deposits in UP: The earlier claim had been made by Sonbhadra district mining officer KK Rai.
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https://scroll.in/latest/954006/the-big-news-top-court-judge-calls-pm-modi-a-versatile-genius-a-visionary-and-9-other-top-stories Sat, 22 Feb 2020 15:10:40 +0000 Scroll Staff
Geological Survey of India denies reports about discovery of 3,000 tonne gold deposits in UP https://scroll.in/latest/954011/geological-survey-of-india-denies-reports-about-discovery-of-3000-tonne-gold-deposits-in-up The earlier claim had been made by Sonbhadra district mining officer KK Rai.

The Geological Survey of India on Saturday denied news reports that around 3,000 tonnes of gold deposits had been discovered in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. The earlier claim had been made by district mining officer KK Rai.

“Such data was not given by anybody from GSI,” Director General M Sridhar told PTI hours after Rai’s claim. “GSI has not estimated such kind of vast resource of gold deposits in Sonbhadra district.”

Sridhar said the organisation shares its findings about any resources with state units after conducting its surveys. The northern wing of the GSI had carried out the work in the region between 1998 and 2000 and had shared its report with the local authorities for further action, he said. In that report, the GSI estimated around 160 kg of gold in the district, he said.

If the gold deposits were around 3,000 tonnes indeed, they would be almost five times India’s current reserve and the country would end up having the highest gold reserve after the United States. Rai had claimed that the deposits, worth Rs 12 lakh crore, were found in the district’s Son Pahadi and Hardi areas.

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https://scroll.in/latest/954011/geological-survey-of-india-denies-reports-about-discovery-of-3000-tonne-gold-deposits-in-up Sat, 22 Feb 2020 14:57:14 +0000 Scroll Staff
Nationalism, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ being misused to build a ‘militant idea of India’: Manmohan Singh https://scroll.in/latest/954008/nationalism-bharat-mata-ki-jai-being-misused-to-build-a-militant-idea-of-india-manmohan-singh The former prime minister said such as idea excludes millions of residents and citizens.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that nationalism and the “Bharat Mata ki Jai” slogan were being misused to construct a “militant and purely emotional idea” of India, PTI reported. Singh said this idea excludes millions of residents and citizens.

The Congress leader was speaking at the launch of a book about the works and speeches of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Hailing Nehru’s contributions to independent India, Singh said: “With an inimitable style, and a multi-linguist, Nehru laid the foundation of the universities, academies and cultural institutions of Modern India. But for Nehru’s leadership, independent India would not have become what it is today.”

He added: “But unfortunately, a section of people who either do not have the patience to read history or would like to be deliberately guided by their prejudices, try their best to picture Nehru in a false light. But I am sure, history has a capacity to reject fake and false insinuations and put everything in proper perspective.”

Singh quoted Nehru as saying that “Bharat Mata”, or “Mother India”, was ultimately the people of India, “spread out all over vast land”.

The former prime minister’s remarks were an apparent criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led regime.

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https://scroll.in/latest/954008/nationalism-bharat-mata-ki-jai-being-misused-to-build-a-militant-idea-of-india-manmohan-singh Sat, 22 Feb 2020 14:37:00 +0000 Scroll Staff
Uddhav Thackeray needs a ‘briefing’ to understand how NPR is the basis of NRC, says ally Congress https://scroll.in/latest/954001/uddhav-thackeray-needs-a-briefing-to-understand-how-npr-is-the-basis-of-nrc-says-ally-congress The Maharashtra chief minister had expressed support for the National Population Register on Friday.

The Congress on Saturday said Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray needed a “briefing” to understand how the National Population Register was the basis of the National Register of Citizens. Thackeray, who formed a government with the Congress in Maharashtra in November, had expressed support for the NPR on Friday but had said his state would reject the NRC.

On Friday, the Shiv Sena chief met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a visit to New Delhi. After the meeting, he said the proposed National Register of Citizens would not be implemented in Maharashtra. However, he also said that nobody needs to be afraid of the Citizenship Amendment Act and that the National Population Register would not “throw anyone” out of the country. He made it clear that the NPR exercise would be stopped in the state if there were objections raised against the questionnaire for the register.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari on Saturday said: “Uddhav Thackeray requires a briefing on Citizenship Amendment Rules 2003 to understand how NPR is basis of NRC. Once you do NPR, you can not stop NRC. On CAA, [he] needs to be reacquainted with design of Indian Constitution that religion can not be basis of citizenship.”

The Congress has opposed all three – the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens. As critics have noted, the NRC, in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act, could be used to render many Indian Muslims stateless since the citizenship law excludes Muslims. The National Population Register is said to be the first step towards creating an all-India National Register of Citizens.

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https://scroll.in/latest/954001/uddhav-thackeray-needs-a-briefing-to-understand-how-npr-is-the-basis-of-nrc-says-ally-congress Sat, 22 Feb 2020 13:35:05 +0000 Scroll Staff
Shaheen Bagh: Road reopened by a section of protestors, closed again by another, claim police https://scroll.in/latest/954000/shaheen-bagh-road-reopened-by-a-section-of-protestors-closed-again-by-another-claim-police On Friday too, the Uttar Pradesh Police had reopened a road connecting Noida and Faridabad for about 40 minutes.

A section of protestors in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality on Saturday briefly opened a road that has been blocked due to an anti-Citizenship Act protest going on since December 15, PTI reported. Another group of protestors closed the road soon after it was opened, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) RP Meena said.

On Friday too, the Uttar Pradesh Police had reopened a road connecting Noida and Faridabad for about 40 minutes in an effort to ease heavy traffic congestion between Delhi and Noida due to the ongoing protest.

The protestors have occupied a stretch of GD Birla Marg, an arterial road that connects Delhi and Noida, which still remains closed. Residents of nearby localities have complained that the blockade is causing them inconvenience, and commuters on this route say it has added to their travel time. A petition was filed in the Supreme Court to get the road blockade removed.

Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors have been meeting the protestors every day since Wednesday to convince them to move their protest elsewhere. The demonstrators showed the mediators – lawyers Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran – the blockades that they said were set up by the police.

Scroll.in has mapped the roads in the area and found that the public inconvenience was not merely because of the closure of GD Birla Marg. Two alternative routes that could have been used by commuters have been barricaded by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police. The traffic could have passed through the narrower Kalindi Kunj-Mithapur Road that runs parallel to GD Birla Marg, and could have functioned as an alternative route. However, Uttar Pradesh Police have blocked access to this road by placing barricades around the Kalindi Kunj Bridge that connects Uttar Pradesh to Delhi.

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https://scroll.in/latest/954000/shaheen-bagh-road-reopened-by-a-section-of-protestors-closed-again-by-another-claim-police Sat, 22 Feb 2020 13:21:00 +0000 Scroll Staff
Uttar Pradesh: BJP MLA cleared of rape charges after police find no evidence, nephew arrested https://scroll.in/latest/953997/uttar-pradesh-bjp-mla-cleared-of-rape-charges-after-police-find-no-evidence-nephew-arrested Ravindra Nath Tripathi, the Bhadohi legislator, was among seven men booked for gangrape earlier this week.

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Saturday cleared Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ravindra Nath Tripathi and five others who were booked in Bhadohi district for allegedly raping a woman multiple times over a month in 2017, PTI reported. However, the police arrested his nephew in the case.

The woman, who is 40 years old, had filed a complaint on February 10, police said.

“During investigation, no evidence was found against the Bhadohi MLA and five others,” Superintendent of Police Ram Badan Singh told reporters. “They have been given a clean chit. Tripathi’s nephew Sandeep Tiwari has been arrested on charge of rape.”

Another member of the family, identified as Neetesh, has been booked for manhandling and abusing the woman, Singh said.

The officer added that a two-member team was formed after the woman’s statement was recorded before a magistrate. Singh claimed they failed to find any evidence to corroborate her charges and the woman refused to undergo medical examination.

The complainant had claimed that Tripathi’s nephew Sandeep Tiwari, who is one of the accused, first raped her in 2016, and continued to sexually exploit her. However, she did not approach the police then as Tiwari had promised to marry her.

Ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the woman was allegedly kept in a hotel for a month and raped repeatedly by the seven accused. The complainant claimed she got pregnant and was forced to go through an abortion, police said.

The incident occurred in the same year when expelled BJP leader Kuldeep Singh Sengar allegedly raped a teenager in Unnao district. A court in Delhi had on December 20 sentenced the former legislator to life imprisonment and also ordered him to pay Rs 25-lakh compensation to the complainant. On January 15, Sengar challenged his conviction in the Delhi High Court, which has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to respond. The court will hear the matter again on May 4.

Former BJP MP Chinmayanand was on February 5 released from Shahjahanpur prison in Uttar Pradesh, two days after the Allahabad High Court granted him bail in a case of alleged sexual harassment of a law student.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953997/uttar-pradesh-bjp-mla-cleared-of-rape-charges-after-police-find-no-evidence-nephew-arrested Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:50:29 +0000 Scroll Staff
‘Modi is a versatile genius who thinks globally and acts locally’: Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra https://scroll.in/latest/953994/modi-is-a-versatile-genius-who-thinks-globally-and-acts-locally-supreme-court-judge-arun-mishra The judge described the prime minister as an ‘internationally acclaimed visionary’.

Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra on Saturday described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an “internationally acclaimed visionary” at a function in Delhi, PTI reported. He praised the “versatile genius” of Modi to “think globally and act locally”.

Mishra, the third most senior judge in the Supreme Court, was delivering his vote of thanks at the International Judicial Conference 2020. Modi, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana and Attorney General KK Venugopal were among those who spoke at the event. Judges from over 20 countries attended the conference.

“Dignified human existence is our prime concern,” Mishra said. “We thank the versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally, Shri Narendra Modi, for his inspiring speech which would act as a catalyst in initiating the deliberations and setting the agenda for the conference. India is a responsible and most friendly member of the international community under the stewardship of internationally acclaimed visionary Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.”

The judge also praised Prasad for doing away with 1,500 obsolete laws and emphasised the need to strengthen the judicial system. “Now we are in the 21st century,” he added. “We are looking for modern infrastructure not only for the present but also for future. To strengthen judicial system is the call of the day as it is the backbone of democracy whereas legislature is the heart and executive is the brain. All these three organs of the state have to work independently but in tandem to make democracy successful.”

Mishra added that India is committed to constitutional obligation and is also dedicated to a peaceful world free from terrorism, IANS reported. “As the country moves on the path of development, the preservation of environment is also given high importance,” he said.

Addressing the same conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 1.3 billion Indians had disregarded apprehensions and “wholeheartedly” accepted critical Supreme Court verdicts. He was apparently referring to the top court judgement that paved the way for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said governance must be left to elected representatives and delivering judgements should be left to judges.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953994/modi-is-a-versatile-genius-who-thinks-globally-and-acts-locally-supreme-court-judge-arun-mishra Sat, 22 Feb 2020 12:15:00 +0000 Scroll Staff
Delhi gangrape convict’s mental illness claim a ‘bundle of distorted facts’, Tihar jail tells court https://scroll.in/latest/953991/delhi-gangrape-convicts-mental-illness-claim-a-bundle-of-distorted-facts-tihar-jail-tells-court The court dismissed Vinay Sharma’s request for medical treatment for mental illness and schizophrenia.

Tihar jail authorities on Saturday said that the claim of one of the death-row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case that he has mental illness was “bundle of distorted facts”, PTI reported.

The convict, Vinay Sharma, had reportedly banged his head against the wall of his prison cell on February 16 and approached a court to seek medical treatment for “grievous head injury, fracture in his right arm, mental illness, and schizophrenia”. The court rejected his request on Saturday.

Public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, representing the jail authorities, told Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana that Sharma had inflicted “superficial” injuries and was not suffering from any psychological disorder. “These claims are all a bundle of distorted facts,” he said. “Doctor attended to him and found there was an injury. They gave him medicine. All injuries are self-inflicted and superficial in nature.”

“The medical records say he is not suffering from any such mental illness and his checkup in any hospital is not required,” Ahmed said. “He is under regular check by the jail doctor.”

A psychologist, who appeared on behalf of the prison authorities, said medical checkups of all four convicts in the case are done on a daily basis and all of them are fine.

Sharma’s lawyer in his plea for medical aid had also claimed that he had been unable to recognise people, including his mother. “He talked to his mother and lawyer,” the prosecutor argued on Saturday. “So it’s wrong to say that he is not able to recognise them.”

However, the defence counsel cited a plaster on the convict’s hand to claim that he has a fracture and not “superficial” injuries. “Why did the jail conceal the fact about his injuries from the court,” Sharma’s lawyer AP Singh asked. “Why are documents not being filed?”

The prosecutor claimed it was not a fracture but “only a slab around his hand”.

The case

The four convicts in the case – the other three being Akshay Thakur, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta – are scheduled to be executed at 6 am on March 3.

During Monday’s hearing on the death warrants, the court was informed that Sharma had declared on February 11 that he was on a hunger strike. His counsel had then argued that he could not be hanged since he was suffering from mental illness, adding that he was assaulted in jail and had head injuries. The court had instructed Tihar officials to take appropriate care of the convict.

The execution of the four convicts has been postponed twice. The death warrants were first issued for January 22, and then postponed to February 1 because of the mercy pleas filed by two of the convicts.

On February 14, the Supreme Court dismissed convict Vinay Sharma’s petition challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by the president. Sharma had filed the mercy petition on January 29, and it was rejected by President Ram Nath Kovind on February 1.

The four convicts, and two others, raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. The woman succumbed to her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. The gangrape triggered huge protests in the Capital and across the country. One convict died in prison, while a minor convict was sent to a detention home for juveniles and was released in December 2015.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953991/delhi-gangrape-convicts-mental-illness-claim-a-bundle-of-distorted-facts-tihar-jail-tells-court Sat, 22 Feb 2020 11:48:36 +0000 Scroll Staff
Private WhatsApp groups visible on Google search, making it easy for anyone to join them: Reports https://scroll.in/latest/953985/private-whatsapp-groups-visible-on-google-search-making-it-easy-for-anyone-to-join-them-reports The website ‘Vice’ found that it was possible to join such groups and access the contact numbers of their members.

Google has been found to have indexed invitation links for private WhatsApp groups, which makes them discoverable and available for anyone to join, Vice reported on Friday. The Facebook-owned messaging app’s “invite to group via link” feature is meant to allow people to share access to their private groups with others.

Deutsche Welle journalist Jordan Wildon first wrote about the bug. “Your WhatsApp groups may not be as secure as you think they are,” he tweeted. “Point is, any group link that is shared it outside of secure, private messaging can relatively easily be found and joined.”

Vice found private groups using specific Google searches, and most of them included porn-sharing groups. The website also joined a group of non-governmental organisations accredited by the United Nations and got access to all the details of the 48 participants and their phone numbers.

WhatsApp spokesperson Alison Bonny told Vice that invitation links that are posted publicly on the internet can be found by other users of the messaging application. “Links that users wish to share privately with people they know and trust should not be posted on a publicly accessible website,” Bonny added.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, said the company offers tools that allow sites to block content that can be listed in search results. “Search engines like Google and others list pages from the open web,” he tweeted. “That’s what’s happening here. It’s no different than any case where a site allows URLs to be publicly listed.”

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https://scroll.in/latest/953985/private-whatsapp-groups-visible-on-google-search-making-it-easy-for-anyone-to-join-them-reports Sat, 22 Feb 2020 11:47:11 +0000 Scroll Staff
Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia left out of Melania Trump’s school visit in Delhi: Reports https://scroll.in/latest/953970/arvind-kejriwal-and-manish-sisodia-left-out-of-melania-trumps-school-visit-in-delhi-reports The US first lady is expected to attend a class on the ‘happiness curriculum’, which is a flagship scheme of the AAP-led Delhi government, on Tuesday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia will not accompany United States First Lady Melania Trump to a government school in the national Capital during President Donald Trump’s two-day trip to India next week, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. The Trumps will be in Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24 and 25.

On Tuesday, Melania Trump is expected to attend a class on the “happiness curriculum” – a flagship scheme of the Delhi government that was introduced by Sisodia in July 2018 – at a school in South Delhi. The curriculum focuses on the mental health of children, and involves 40 minutes of meditation, and other relaxing and outdoor activities.

“The chief minister and deputy chief minister have been dropped from the list of people who will be present at the school when Melania Trump visits,” an unidentified official told the newspaper. According to the original schedule of the hour-long event, Kejriwal and Sisodia were expected to welcome Melania Trump at the school, NDTV reported.

The Narendra Modi government’s decision to include the Aam Aadmi Party’s flagship scheme in the Trumps’ programme comes weeks after the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed during the Delhi Assembly election campaign that public schools in the national Capital were in poor condition.

In 2018, the education ministers of Afghanistan and UAE, along with officials from several other Asian countries, had attended a happiness class in a school in Central Delhi.

Trump will land in Ahmedabad around noon on February 24 and attend an event at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, which is the world’s biggest cricket stadium. The US president will address the event along with Modi.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953970/arvind-kejriwal-and-manish-sisodia-left-out-of-melania-trumps-school-visit-in-delhi-reports Sat, 22 Feb 2020 11:29:32 +0000 Scroll Staff
Coronavirus: India advises against non-essential travel to Singapore, will expand airport screening https://scroll.in/latest/953982/coronavirus-india-advises-against-non-essential-travel-to-singapore-will-expand-airport-screening The government said it was planning to start screening passengers arriving from Kathmandu, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

India on Saturday advised its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The government said it was planning to start screening passengers arriving at Indian airports from Kathmandu, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Passengers from China, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and Japan are already being screened at 21 airports in the country for possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. So far, over 3.97 lakh flight passengers and 9,695 travellers at sea ports have been screened, the government said.

India has so far reported three positive cases of coronavirus infection. Eight Indians have tested positive on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined off the coast of Japan. The ship has more than 630 cases, accounting for the biggest cluster of infection outside China. There are 138 Indians – six passengers and 132 crew members – on the ship.

South Korea reports huge spike in cases

The number of infections in South Korea has jumped eight times within the last four days. Most cases were traced to a church and a hospital in and around the city of Daegu, AP reported. Of the 433 cases, the city and nearby areas had 352 by Saturday morning, with two deaths.

South Korea now has the most cases outside China, where the outbreak began. Health workers are trying to screen more than 9,000 people from a church in Daegu, to which 230 of the total cases have been linked.

A 61-year-old woman who attended two services at the church before she tested positive for the virus is believed to be the source of the infection. President Moon Jae-in on Friday called for a “thorough investigation” of everyone who attended a funeral and services at the church in the past few weeks.

Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said virus patients showing signs of pneumonia were transferred from the Cheongdo Daenam hospital in Daegu to other facilities. The government declared Daegu and its surrounding areas a “special management zone” and is channeling support to ease a shortage in hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment.

Cases in China

In China, the National Health Commission said on Saturday that there were 397 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total number so far to 76,288. The toll in mainland China had reached 2,345 as of the end of Friday.

The number of cases outside China was 1,200 by Friday, with eight deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Italy on Saturday confirmed that a 78-year-old man died of the disease. The country said the number of people infected has more than quadrupled due to an emerging cluster of cases from the northern region.

On Saturday, the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games postponed training for their volunteers. However, local organisers and the Switzerland-based International Olympics Committee have said repeatedly the games will not be cancelled or postponed.

In the United States, 35 people have tested positive for the virus, including 18 who returned home from the quarantined cruise ship in Japan. One new case was reported on Friday in California.

In Iran, two more people died after testing positive for the virus, taking the number of deaths to four, AP reported on Saturday. Saudi Arabia barred travel to Iran and said anyone coming from there can enter only after a 14-day quarantine.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953982/coronavirus-india-advises-against-non-essential-travel-to-singapore-will-expand-airport-screening Sat, 22 Feb 2020 11:28:04 +0000 Scroll Staff
Kolkata: Krishna Bose, three-time Lok Sabha MP and Trinamool leader, dies at 89 https://scroll.in/latest/953983/kolkata-krishna-bose-three-time-lok-sabha-mp-and-trinamool-leader-dies-at-89 She was suffering from heart-related ailments.

Former Lok Sabha MP Krishna Bose died in Kolkata on Saturday at the age of 89, PTI reported. She was suffering from heart-related ailments and breathed her last at a private hospital in the city at 10.20 am, her family said.

“She suffered her second stroke a few days ago and was admitted to the ICU,” her son Sumantra Bose said.

The former Trinamool Congress MP was married to Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew Sisir Kumar Bose. She taught for 40 years at the City College in Kolkata where she was the head of the English department for several years and also served as the principal. The well-known academician has written several books, including Netaji: A Biography for the Young, Ek Nambar Bari and An Outsider in Politics.

Bose was also the chairperson of Netaji Research Bureau and headed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs during her third term as the MP.

Bose was elected from the Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat in 1998 and 1999 on a Trinamool Congress ticket. In 1996, she was elected from the same seat on a Congress ticket.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her condolences. “I lost someone respected, loved and admired by me,” she tweeted. “Saddened and shocked to hear about the demise of Krishna Bose, ex-TMC MP and wife of freedom fighter Dr. Sisir Bose. Being a part of Netaji’s family, she was a revered social reformer, renowned poet & a courageous educationalist.”

“Krishna di was a mother to her sons Sumantra and Sugata, daughter Sarmila as well as the whole Trinamool family,” Banerjee added. “Her immense contribution to Indian society and Bengali culture will be revered for times to come.”

The final rites will be performed in the evening, the family said.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953983/kolkata-krishna-bose-three-time-lok-sabha-mp-and-trinamool-leader-dies-at-89 Sat, 22 Feb 2020 10:35:35 +0000 Scroll Staff
The big news: Kejriwal, Sisodia dropped from Melania Trump’s school visit, and 9 other top stories https://scroll.in/latest/953979/the-big-news-kejriwal-sisodia-dropped-from-melania-trumps-school-visit-and-9-other-top-stories Other headlines: Punjab Police chief said Kartarpur corridor poses security problems, and RS Prasad criticised social media campaign to influence judiciary.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia left out of Melania Trump’s school visit in Delhi, say reports: The US first lady is expected to attend a class on the ‘happiness curriculum’, which is a flagship scheme of the AAP-led Delhi government, on Tuesday.
  2. Kartarpur Corridor is a ‘potential threat’ to national security, says Punjab Police chief: Dinkar Gupta told ‘The Indian Express’ that Pakistani agencies and terrorist groups could attempt to radicalise people travelling to Kartarpur from India.
  3. Governance must be left to lawmakers and delivering verdicts to judges, says Ravi Shankar Prasad: The Union law minister voiced concern about a ‘sinister campaign’ on the social media to influence the judiciary.
  4. Donald Trump will discuss religious freedom in India with PM Modi during visit, say reports: A senior White House official made the comment when asked if the US president planned to talk to Modi about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC.
  5. FIR filed against AIMIM leader Waris Pathan in Karnataka for ‘15 crore Muslims’ remark: Last week, Pathan allegedly said Indian Muslims could dominate other communities. The comments were made in the context of protests against the citizenship law.
  6. 3,000-tonne gold deposits found in Sonbhadra – almost five times India’s current reserve: The deposits, worth Rs 12 lakh crore, were unearthed by the Geological Survey of India in the district’s Son Pahadi and Hardi areas.
  7. Assam NRC data back online after 10 days, says report: The data disappeared after the government agency that conducted the exercise did not renew the contract of Wipro, which was responsible for cloud storage.
  8. Two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants killed in Anantnag encounter, say police: The gunfight broke out during a cordon-and-search operation in Bijbehara town on Friday night.
  9. Ayodhya Ram temple’s construction will start within six months, says trust president: The date and the name of the builder will be decided at the organisation’s next meeting in Ayodhya on April 3 and 4.
  10. Plea filed in Supreme Court to get FIR quashed in Bidar sedition case, prevent misuse of law: The petition claimed that the police had questioned students without the presence of any child welfare officials.
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https://scroll.in/latest/953979/the-big-news-kejriwal-sisodia-dropped-from-melania-trumps-school-visit-and-9-other-top-stories Sat, 22 Feb 2020 09:05:00 +0000 Scroll Staff
Governance must be left to lawmakers and delivering verdicts to judges: Ravi Shankar Prasad https://scroll.in/latest/953977/governance-must-be-left-to-lawmakers-and-delivering-verdicts-to-judges-ravi-shankar-prasad The Union law minister voiced concern about a ‘sinister campaign’ on the social media to influence the judiciary.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said governance must be left to elected representatives and delivering judgements should be left to judges, PTI reported.

Speaking at the International Judicial Conference 2020 at the Supreme Court, Prasad expressed concern about the “sinister campaign” on the social media to influence the judiciary. The minister said this was a serious concern as the judiciary was independent. He said populism should not infringe upon the settled principles of law.

Prasad said the right to privacy was very important, and must be protected. “But, terrorists and corrupts cannot claim right to privacy,” Prasad said.

The theme of the conference was “Judiciary and the Changing World”.

1.3 billion Indians welcomed critical verdicts, says PM Modi

Addressing the same conference, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 1.3 billion Indians had disregarded apprehensions and “wholeheartedly” accepted critical Supreme Court verdicts. He was apparently referring to the top court judgement that paved the way for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“In recent times, there have been some critical judicial judgements and decisions which have been the subject of global discussion,” he said. “Before these judgements were delivered, several apprehensions were being expressed about the consequences. But look what happened! 1.3 billion Indians wholeheartedly accepted the judicial verdicts.”

Modi referred to laws on the transgender community, triple talaq and rights of persons with disabilities. He said the government had also taken steps to give rights to women in military services and in providing paid maternity leave for 26 weeks to women. He added that no country can achieve complete development without ensuring gender justice.

The prime minister praised the Indian judiciary for redefining environmental jurisprudence to strike a balance between development and ecological protection. “Respecting each other’s jurisdiction and dignity, the judiciary, legislature and executive have resolved various challenges faced by the country on several occasions,” he added. “We are proud of having developed such a rich tradition in India. In the last five years, various institutions of India have further strengthened this tradition.”

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said India is a “melting pot of cultures” and has assimilated traditions of the Mughals, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the English. “Constitution has created a strong and independent judiciary and we have strived to keep this basic feature intact,” Bobde added.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953977/governance-must-be-left-to-lawmakers-and-delivering-verdicts-to-judges-ravi-shankar-prasad Sat, 22 Feb 2020 09:03:14 +0000 Scroll Staff
Ayodhya Ram temple’s construction will start within six months, says trust president https://scroll.in/latest/953973/ayodhya-ram-temples-construction-will-start-within-six-months-says-trust-president The date and the name of the builder will be decided at the organisation’s next meeting in Ayodhya on April 3 and 4.

The president of the trust entrusted with the construction of a Ram temple in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on Friday said the process would begin in the next six months, PTI reported. Nritya Gopal Das is the president of the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, whose temple construction committee is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s former Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra.

The date of the construction, and the name of the builder will be decided at the trust’s next meeting in Ayodhya on April 3 and 4, Hindustan Times reported. A member of the trust, Kameshwar Chaupal, told the newspaper that construction could begin any day around Akshaya Tritiya, which is on April 25. He added that several firms, including construction giant Larsen & Toubro, were vying to get the contract.

Chaupal said the proposal to start the construction on Ram Navami was rejected at the trust’s first meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. “Since Navami is celebrated on a large scale, starting temple construction on the same day could have posed a law-and-order challenge to the district authorities,” he added. “Hence we have decided to pick another feasible date.”

Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesperson Vinod Bansal said “Ram bhakts” were “waiting eagerly for the moment when the construction will begin after Ram Navami”.

On November 9, the Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution bench had asked the Centre to set up the trust within three months to oversee the construction of the temple at the site where the Babri Masjid stood till 1992 before it was demolished by Hindutva activists. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of the 15-member organisation in Parliament on February 5.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953973/ayodhya-ram-temples-construction-will-start-within-six-months-says-trust-president Sat, 22 Feb 2020 08:25:36 +0000 Scroll Staff
J&K: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants killed in Anantnag encounter, say police https://scroll.in/latest/953965/j-k-two-lashkar-e-taiba-militants-killed-in-anantnag-encounter-say-police The gunfight broke out during a cordon-and-search operation in Bijbehara town on Friday night.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday claimed two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district the night before. Security personnel were not injured in the gun battle, they added.

The gunfight took place during a cordon-and-search operation in the Sangam area of Bijbehara town. The security forces recovered weapons, including a AK-47 rifle, a pistol, and ammunition from the site. The suspected militants have not yet been identified.

Earlier this week, three Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district. The militants – Jangeer Rafiq Wani, Raja Umar Maqbool Bhat and Uzair Amin Bhat – were allegedly involved in a series of terror acts, including the killing of two civilians in Tral, between November 2019 and February 2020.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953965/j-k-two-lashkar-e-taiba-militants-killed-in-anantnag-encounter-say-police Sat, 22 Feb 2020 07:03:14 +0000 Scroll Staff
Assam NRC data back online after 10 days: Report https://scroll.in/latest/953967/assam-nrc-data-back-online-after-10-days-report The data disappeared after the government agency that conducted the exercise did not renew the contract of Wipro, which was responsible for cloud storage.

The data of Assam’s National Register of Citizens is back online 10 days after it disappeared from the official website, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. The data has been accessible since Friday midnight, NRC State Coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma told the newspaper.

Till Friday, users were being redirected to an invalid page when they tried to check their inclusion or exclusion status on the website. The data had disappeared on February 12. The following day, Sarma said a case had been filed against a former NRC project manager under the Official Secrets Act. He added that the woman had resigned on November 11, but did not share the password of the two official email IDs – cpm.nrc.assam@gmail.com and pm.spmunrc@gov.in. Sarma claimed his office did not get any response from her despite sending multiple mails.

Technology company Wipro had been given the contract to maintain the NRC data online and provide cloud storage. The contract expired in October 2019, but the company continued to pay the data hosting service fee as a “goodwill gesture” until January 2020. After the data became inaccessible, the Congress said it was mysterious and a “malafide act”. However, the Union Home Ministry claimed the data was safe and cited “some technical issue in visibility on cloud”.

The final NRC list – an exercise to update the citizens’ database – in Assam was published on August 31. It excluded more than 19 lakh people, or around 6% of the state’s population. The government now wants to conduct the exercise across India to identify undocumented immigrants.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953967/assam-nrc-data-back-online-after-10-days-report Sat, 22 Feb 2020 06:55:24 +0000 Scroll Staff
Karnataka: FIR filed against AIMIM leader Waris Pathan for ‘15 crore Muslims’ remark https://scroll.in/latest/953964/karnataka-fir-filed-against-aimim-leader-waris-pathan-for-15-crore-muslims-remark Last week, Pathan allegedly said Indian Muslims could dominate other communities. The comments were made in the context of protests against the citizenship law.

The police in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district have filed a first information report against All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Waris Pathan for suggesting that Indian Muslims could dominate other communities, ANI reported.

Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha member Dhananjay Deshpande filed the complaint, according to The Hindu. The police booked Pathan under Sections 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, etc), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

“To those saying we have only put our women at the forefront – only the lionesses are out and you’re already sweating,” Pathan had allegedly said at a rally last week in the context of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Imagine what would happen if we all came together. We are 15 crore, but that can outweigh 100 crore, remember that.”

On Friday, the party’s Maharashtra chief and Aurangabad MP Imtiyaz Jaleel said the party does not support Pathan’s comments. “The party will seek an explanation from him over the remarks,” he added. “If needed, we will come out with a set of dos and don’ts for the party workers while giving speech.”

Pathan, a former MLA from Byculla in Mumbai, claimed he had been quoted out of context. “I hereby wish to reiterate that I can never say anything intentionally or unintentionally that hurts the sentiments of any caste, community or gender,” he tweeted on Friday. “I am a proud Indian and respects the plurality of this country.”

The politician claimed he was angry “just like many other Indians” about the citizenship law. “Neither me nor my party supports anything that creates a divide between people on the basis of caste, creed and religion,” he added.

Watch: ‘15 crore can outweigh 100 crore,’ said AIMIM leader Waris Pathan in controversial CAA speech

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https://scroll.in/latest/953964/karnataka-fir-filed-against-aimim-leader-waris-pathan-for-15-crore-muslims-remark Sat, 22 Feb 2020 06:24:04 +0000 Scroll Staff
Kartarpur Corridor is a ‘potential threat’ to national security, says Punjab Police chief: Report https://scroll.in/latest/953962/kartarpur-corridor-is-a-potential-threat-to-national-security-says-punjab-police-chief-report Dinkar Gupta told ‘The Indian Express’ that Pakistani agencies and terrorist groups could attempt to radicalise people travelling to Kartarpur from India.

The police chief of Punjab has raised questions about the Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan, saying it poses security problems, The Indian Express reported on Saturday. Dinkar Gupta made the comment at an event hosted by the newspaper in Panchkula city on Wednesday.

“Kartarpur offers a potential threat,” Gupta said, adding there were reasons why the government chose not to throw open the corridor all these years. “You send somebody in the morning as an ordinary chap and by evening he comes back as trained terrorist. You are there for six hours, you can be taken to a firing range, you can be taught to make an [improvised explosive device].”

The Kartarpur Corridor connects the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district, which is believed to be the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev. The corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Indian side and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan across the border on November 9.

Gupta said all security concerns were shelved for the sake of Sikh devotees. “I was in the Intelligence Bureau for eight years,” he added. “The feeling was that it [the corridor] will be a huge security challenge. But after that as the community wanted it, the diaspora wanted it, it was decided why cannot this dream be realised. So, all those security concerns were put on the back-burner.”

Gupta said the matter was also discussed at a “brainstorming session” in the national Capital last week. “They [Pakistan-backed terror groups and agencies] have already tried to find potential [people for radicalisation],” the police chief claimed. “People [Indian pilgrims] who are going there... they are trying to woo them, making overtures to them.” At the meeting, concerns were also raised about cellular phones with Indian numbers being used in Pakistan, he added.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has expressed similar concerns in the past, questioning Pakistan’s intention regarding the Kartarpur project. Singh said despite his happiness as a Sikh he had maintained all along that “India cannot afford to ignore the ISI threat that was attached to it”. The Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is Pakistan’s external intelligence agency.

The chief minister has also repeatedly warned the government that Islamabad is trying to use the corridor to win the sympathies of Sikhs and promote the ISI-backed 2020 Khalistan Referendum. Sikhs for Justice, a United States-based separatist group leading the campaign, was banned by India in July.

“This had been quite evident from various facts, most notably that General Bajwa had disclosed the Pakistani decision to build the corridor to then Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu at the time of Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony,” the Congress leader has said. “Imran had not even taken over then, yet their Army chief had spoken about this to Sidhu. How was it possible unless General Bajwa was the one behind the corridor decision?”

Gupta also said the matter should be viewed through the prism of Referendum 2020, and claimed Pakistan’s offer to not ask Sikh pilgrims for passport was a security concern. “Earlier the traffic to Pakistan was only a few jathas at Baisakhi and Gurpurab,” he added. “The footfall [now], the numbers are huge. This is huge potential. So, it is a security challenge.”

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https://scroll.in/latest/953962/kartarpur-corridor-is-a-potential-threat-to-national-security-says-punjab-police-chief-report Sat, 22 Feb 2020 06:06:50 +0000 Scroll Staff
NRC will not be implemented in Maharashtra, says Uddhav Thackeray after meeting PM Modi https://scroll.in/latest/953914/maharashtra-cm-uddhav-thackeray-meets-pm-narendra-modi-in-delhi The chief minister said the National Population Register will not be implemented if new questions asked by the Centre seem problematic.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said the proposed National Register of Citizens would not be implemented in Maharashtra. The exercise intends to identify undocumented immigrants across India. “NRC is problematic to every citizen, irrespective of caste, creed, religion any which way, and won’t let it come to Maharashtra,” he added after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday during his first visit to New Delhi after taking oath in November, PTI reported.

After the meeting, Thackeray told reporters at a press conference that he discussed the Citizenship Amendment Act, the citizenship register, and the National Population Register with Modi.

Thackeray asserted that nobody needs to be afraid of the Citizenship Amendment Act. “The oppressed minorities will be benefitted,” he added, according to NDTV. “The central government has said NRC will not be implemented across the country. If we see any dangers befalling the citizens, we will oppose it then.”

However, the Centre still needs to answer questions about the implementation, practicality and settlement of refugees granted citizenship under the amended law, he added.

“The National Population Register [is] not going to throw anyone out of [the] country,” Thackeray said. He also made it clear that the NPR exercise would be stopped in the state if there were objections raised against the questionnaire. “If there are new columns proposed in the NPR, they will be scrutinised by our government and if it seems problematic we won’t take it ahead,” he tweeted.

“The NPR is proposed along with the Census,” Thackeray added. “It happened in 2010 too. Census happens every 10 years in our country.”

The National Population Register is the first step towards creating an all-India National Register of Citizens. As critics have noted, the NRC, in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act, could be used to render many Indian Muslims stateless since the citizenship law excludes Muslims.

Earlier this month, the Shiv Sena chief had expressed support for the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Population Register, while clarifying that the National Register of Citizens would not be implemented in the state. His position is at odds with that of the Congress, which has opposed all three.

The chief minister added that he also discussed state problems with Modi. He added that Modi had promised to extend all cooperation necessary in the performance of its functions.

Thackeray was accompanied by his son and Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray. The Shiv Sena chief met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani at their residences later in the evening, ANI reported.

Formerly an ally of the BJP, the Shiv Sena formed an alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress after the BJP rejected its demand for a shared chief minister’s post in October, following the Maharashtra Assembly elections. However, recently, there have been problems within the alliance.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar earlier this month expressed his displeasure over the Maharashtra government allowing the National Investigation Agency to take over the probe into the Bhima Koregaon case, a move initiated by the BJP-ruled Centre. Pawar also claimed that he had “heard” that the state government would initiate its own probe, and two days later, Uddhav Thackeray announced an inquiry.

However, Thackeray said on Friday that there is no friction in the Maharashtra government, and that it will complete its five-year term, PTI reported.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday sought to downplay Uddhav Thackeray’s meeting with Modi. “Yes, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi tomorrow,” Raut tweeted. “This is a usual meeting. There is no need to speculate. Jai Maharashtra!”

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant met Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia to talk about the education model in the city. “We have thought to collaborate in future as well as start this pattern in Maharashtra,” he told ANI.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953914/maharashtra-cm-uddhav-thackeray-meets-pm-narendra-modi-in-delhi Sat, 22 Feb 2020 06:02:49 +0000 Scroll Staff
UP: 3,000-tonne gold deposits found in Sonbhadra – almost five times India’s current reserve https://scroll.in/latest/953959/up-3000-tonne-gold-deposits-found-in-sonbhadra-almost-five-times-indias-current-reserve The deposits, worth Rs 12 lakh crore, were unearthed by the Geological Survey of India in the district’s Son Pahadi and Hardi areas.

The Geological Survey of India has discovered gold deposits of around 3,000 tonnes in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district – almost five times India’s current reserve, PTI reported on Friday. The deposits – worth Rs 12 lakh crore – were found in the district’s Son Pahadi and Hardi areas, said district Mining Officer KK Rai.

The work on finding gold in Sonbhadra started in 1992-’93, Rai said. The deposits in Son Pahadi is estimated to be around 2,943.26 tonnes, while the one at Hardi is around 646.16 kg. If these estimates turn out to be true, India will have the highest gold reserve after the United States. According to the World Gold Council, the US has 8,133.5 tonnes of gold, followed by Germany with 3,366 tonnes, and the International Monetary Fund with 2,814 tonnes.

The geology and mining department of the state government has sent a team to the district to map and geo-tag the area. The exercise is expected to be completed by Saturday, The Times of India reported. “After the completion of mapping, we will submit the report to the directorate for further action, like auctioning of gold blocks for mining,” Rai told the newspaper.

District Magistrate S Rajalingam said the geological survey and the directorate of geology and mining had sought permission to survey the area. “The team will submit the report to the directorate for further action,” he added.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953959/up-3000-tonne-gold-deposits-found-in-sonbhadra-almost-five-times-indias-current-reserve Sat, 22 Feb 2020 04:31:18 +0000 Scroll Staff
The big news: Trump and Modi likely to discuss religious freedom in India, and 9 other top stories https://scroll.in/latest/953955/the-big-news-trump-and-modi-likely-to-discuss-religious-freedom-in-india-and-9-other-top-stories Other headlines: Another nun accused former bishop Franco Mulakkal of sexual misconduct, and Uddhav Thackeray defended his stand on the citizenship law and NPR.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. Donald Trump will discuss religious freedom in India with PM Modi during visit, say reports: A senior White House official made the comment when asked if the US president planned to talk to Modi about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC.
  2. Another nun accuses former bishop Franco Mulakkal of sexual misconduct: The nun has accused Franco Mulakkal of hugging and forcibly kissing her on the forehead in April 2017, as well as sending her lewd messages.
  3. Uddhav Thackeray meets Modi, says no one should be afraid of Citizenship Act, NPR: The Maharashtra CM’s position is at odds with that of alliance partner Congress, which has opposed the CAA, NRC and National Population Register.
  4. FATF keeps Pakistan in ‘grey list’ for now, gives four more months to avoid blacklisting, say reports: The global watchdog reportedly said Pakistan was found ‘fully or close to fully compliant’ on more than half of the 27 targets of the action plan.
  5. Shaheen Bagh protestors tell interlocutors that other roads too connect Delhi and Noida: The demonstrators said they want a Supreme Court order on their security if the road adjoining the protest site is opened.
  6. Bengaluru woman detained for holding ‘Kashmir liberation’ sign: She was sitting at a protest in Town Hall against Amulya Leona, who was arrested a day earlier and charged with sedition for shouting a pro-Pakistan slogan.
  7. Plea filed in Supreme Court to get Bidar sedition case FIR quashed, prevent misuse of law: The petition claimed that the police had questioned students without the presence of any child welfare officials.
  8. Madhya Pradesh scraps order warning health staff of action for not meeting male sterilisation target: The order was withdrawn soon after news reports about it led to a controversy earlier in the day.
  9. Mangaluru police commissioner among 176 personnel summoned by inquiry panel: Two people were shot dead by the police, and a third suffered bullet injuries during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 19.
  10. Women trainee clerks at Surat civic body made to stand naked for physical test, inquiry ordered: They were reportedly subjected to a finger test and asked personal questions to check for pregnancy.
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https://scroll.in/latest/953955/the-big-news-trump-and-modi-likely-to-discuss-religious-freedom-in-india-and-9-other-top-stories Sat, 22 Feb 2020 03:02:38 +0000 Scroll Staff
CAA: Donald Trump will discuss religious freedom in India with PM Modi during visit, say reports https://scroll.in/latest/953953/caa-donald-trump-will-discuss-religious-freedom-in-india-with-pm-modi-during-visit-say-reports A senior White House official made the comment when asked if the US president planned to talk to Modi about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC.

United States President Donald Trump will discuss the matter of religious freedom in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India next week, the White House said on Friday, according to media reports. Trump will be in India with a 12-member delegation on February 24 and 25, and visit Ahmedabad and New Delhi.

“President Trump will talk about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom both in his public remarks and then certainly in private,” PTI quoted an unidentified senior official as saying at a conference call. “He will raise these issues, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration.”

The official was responding to a question about the president’s plans to speak to Modi about the ongoing all-India protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens, ANI reported. “We do have this shared commitment to upholding our universal values, the rule of law,” the official added. “We have great respect for India’s democratic traditions and institutions, and we will continue to encourage India to uphold those traditions.”

The official pointed out that religious freedom, respect for religious minorities and “equal treatment of all religious” are protected by the Indian Constitution. “So this is something that is important to the president and I’m sure it will come up.”

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, offers a fast track to citizenship for non-Muslim undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The government’s critics fear that the law, along with the citizens’ register – which will be used to identify undocumented immigrants – will be used to harass and disenfranchise Muslims.

Last year, a report by the United States Congress’ think tank had said the citizenship law and the NRC might affect the “status of India’s large Muslim minority of roughly 200 million”. “Its [Citizenship Amendment Act] key provisions allowing immigrants of six religions from three countries a path to citizenship while excluding Muslims may violate certain Articles of the Indian Constitution,” said the two-page report by the Congressional Research Service, referring to Articles 14 and 15.

“Proponents say that Muslims do not face persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan, and that the CAA is constitutional because it addresses migrants rather than Indian citizens,” it added. “Yet it is not clear why migrants from other neighbouring countries with state [or favoured] religions, such as Sri Lanka [where Buddhism is the official religion and Tamil Hindus face persecution] and Burma [where Buddhism enjoys primacy and Rohingya Muslims are persecuted], are excluded from a path to citizenship. In addition, oppressed Muslim minority communities such as Pakistan’s Ahmadis and Shias enjoy no protection under the CAA.”

It noted that the United Nations, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom, and other independent human rights groups had expressed concerns about the citizenship register.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953953/caa-donald-trump-will-discuss-religious-freedom-in-india-with-pm-modi-during-visit-say-reports Sat, 22 Feb 2020 02:47:54 +0000 Scroll Staff
Bidar sedition case: Plea filed in Supreme Court to get FIR quashed, prevent misuse of law https://scroll.in/latest/953937/bidar-sedition-case-plea-filed-in-supreme-court-to-get-fir-quashed-prevent-misuse-of-law The petition claimed that the police had questioned students without the presence of any child welfare officials.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday against the sedition case involving a school in Karnataka’s Bidar town, where students staged a play critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PTI reported.

The plea, filed by activist Yogita Bhayana, sought the quashing of the case against the school staff and directions for a proper mechanism to deal with the misuse of the sedition law. The plea claimed that the police had questioned students without the presence of any child welfare officials.

The petition said that the proceedings violated Article 21 of the Constitution and abused the process of law. Article 21 grants citizens the right to life and personal liberty.

“Issue an order directing the Centre to constitute a committee to scrutinise complaints under Section 124A IPC [Indian Penal Code] and adhere to judgements by the apex court before registering the FIR [first information report] under the Section 124A IPC,” the petition said. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code deals with sedition.

The police claim the play, which was staged by children at a school in Bidar on January 21, was seditious and inflammatory. The police have drawn flak for filing sedition charges on the basis of a complaint by an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The police have alleged that students of Class 4, 5 and 6 insulted Modi.

The head teacher of the Shaheen Urdu Medium Primary School and the mother of one of the students were arrested on January 30. They were granted bail two weeks later.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953937/bidar-sedition-case-plea-filed-in-supreme-court-to-get-fir-quashed-prevent-misuse-of-law Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:56:30 +0000 Scroll Staff
‘Constitution in hand, Waris Pathan in heart’: BJP on ‘liberals’ after AIMIM leader’s remarks https://scroll.in/latest/953920/constitution-in-hand-waris-pathan-in-heart-bjp-on-liberals-after-aimim-leaders-remarks The Congress and the Shiv Sena also lashed out at the AIMIM after Pathan suggested that India’s Muslims could dominate other communities.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress on Friday criticised All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Waris Pathan for his controversial remarks suggesting that India’s Muslims could dominate other communities.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Pathan’s remarks showed the “conspiracy” going on in the name of anti-Citizenship Act protests, PTI reported. “No one from these liberal brigades is making an issue of the divisive comments made by Waris Pathan,” Patra said. “All of them are the same. Haath mein samvidhaan, dil mein Waris Pathan [the Constitution in hand, Waris Pathan in the heart].”

Patra said other political parties would have come out in the streets to protest if a BJP leader had made similar remarks. He claimed there was a conspiracy to defame the government and mislead Muslims.

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “AIMIM and BJP are two sides of the same coin. AIMIM is pushing the agenda of communal polarisation at BJP’s instance.”

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said strict action should be taken against Pathan. “Congress has always fought against fundamentalist ideology,” he said. “BJP and AIMIM complement each other and both spread hatred through religious sentiment.”

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused the Asaduddin Owaisi-led party of repeatedly misleading Indian Muslims and trying to poison their minds, PTI reported. “Who has given you the right to become leader of Muslims in the country?” Raut asked. “The Shiv Sena is in power in Maharashtra and hence it is exercising restraint...If such comments are repeated, Shiv Sena will respond in the same language.”

Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik condemned Pathan’s remarks and called them “divisive and inflammatory”. “Is there a fixed match between AIMIM and BJP for making communal remarks?” he asked.

The Congress and the NCP are partners in the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra. Pathan is a former member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Watch: ‘15 crore can outweigh 100 crore,’ said AIMIM leader Waris Pathan in controversial CAA speech

What Waris Pathan said

Speaking at a rally in Karnataka last week, Waris Pathan had purportedly said, in the context of protests against the amended Citizenship Act: “To those saying we have only put our women at the forefront – only the lionesses are out and you’re already sweating. Imagine what would happen if we all came together. We are 15 crore, but that can outweigh 100 crore, remember that.”

After a video of his speech began doing the rounds on Thursday, Pathan said that he could “never say anything intentionally or unintentionally that hurts the sentiments of any caste, community or gender”. He said he was angry “just like many other Indians” about the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Neither me nor my party supports anything that creates a divide between people on the basis of caste, creed and religion.”

On Friday, AIMIM’s Maharashtra unit chief Imtiyaz Jaleel said his party does not support Pathan’s statement, Hindustan Times reported. “The party will seek an explanation from him over the remarks,” he said. “If needed, we will come out with a set of dos and don’ts for the party workers to be while giving speech.”

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https://scroll.in/latest/953920/constitution-in-hand-waris-pathan-in-heart-bjp-on-liberals-after-aimim-leaders-remarks Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:40:17 +0000 Scroll Staff
Shaheen Bagh: Protestors tell interlocutors that other roads too connect Delhi and Noida https://scroll.in/latest/953932/shaheen-bagh-protestors-tell-interlocutors-that-other-roads-too-connect-delhi-and-noida The demonstrators said they want a Supreme Court order on their security if the road adjoining the protest site is opened.

Advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran spoke to anti-Citizenship Act protestors in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality for the third straight day on Friday. Protestors at the site asked the two Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors why they were being asked to vacate the area when there were other roads too connecting Delhi and Noida, PTI reported.

The protest, which is going on since December 15 and is led by women and children, has been challenged in the Supreme Court by petitioners claiming that the demonstrators have blocked traffic. Protestors claim it is the Delhi Police who has blocked some roads. On Monday, the Supreme Court appointed Hegde and Ramachandran as mediators to convince the protestors to move their demonstration elsewhere.

The two advocates had checked all the roads connecting Delhi to Noida late on Thursday. Ramachandran told the protestors on Friday: “When we checked the roads, we noticed that you were right. Many roads are open, which were blocked by the police. I am very upset to say that the Noida-Faridabad road, which was opened on Friday, was again closed by the police. Whoever has done this is now answerable to the Supreme Court.”

A woman at the site told the interlocutors: “When several adjoining roads are open, why are they insisting us to move from this road? This is not the only road connecting Delhi to Noida.”

The protestors told the two advocates that the police had barricaded the road parallel to their tent. The advocates called the police to the spot to discuss the matter. A police official told them that the parallel road as well as some other roads were kept barricaded to give protection to the protest site.

A protestor said: “We want in writing that if there is a single incident of attack or firing, the police officials, from the SHO [station house officer] to the police commissioner, should be shunted out. Home Minister Amit Shah has said the NRC [National Register of Citizens] is not coming soon, so ask him to issue a circular, saying they are not bringing the NRC now. We want the Supreme Court to pass an order on our security if the road adjoining the protest site is opened.”

Also read: Why have Delhi and UP police blocked alternative routes around Shaheen Bagh?

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https://scroll.in/latest/953932/shaheen-bagh-protestors-tell-interlocutors-that-other-roads-too-connect-delhi-and-noida Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:21:57 +0000 Scroll Staff
FATF keeps Pakistan in ‘grey list’ for now, gives four more months to avoid blacklisting https://scroll.in/latest/953889/fatf-keeps-pakistan-in-grey-list-for-now-gives-four-more-months-to-avoid-blacklisting-reports The global watchdog reportedly said Pakistan was found ‘fully or close to fully compliant’ on more than half of the 27 targets of the action plan.

Global anti-terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force on Friday decided to retain Pakistan on its “grey list” and gave the country four more months to achieve full compliance with its 27-point action plan to avoid being put into the “black list”, The Hindu reported.

“All deadlines in the action plan have expired,” the task force said. “While noting recent and notable improvements, the FATF again expresses concern given Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the terror financing risks emanating from the jurisdiction.”

The announcement was made at the end of the group’s plenary meeting in Paris. The Pakistani delegation was led by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar.

Unidentified officials from the global watchdog told Pakistani newspaper Dawn that Islamabad was found “fully or close to fully compliant” on more than half of the 27 targets of the action plan. It asked the country to continue to address its strategic deficiencies and achieve 100% compliance by June 2020. “We are satisfied with the progress so far,” it added.

The watchdog warned Pakistan of stern action if it fails to check the flow of money to terror groups, PTI reported. Pakistan’s performance will be judged in the next plenary of the watchdog in October 2020.

In June 2018, Pakistan was put on FATF’s “grey list” and given a 27-point action plan to implement in order to be taken off the list. In October 2019, the watchdog indicted Pakistan for failing to deliver on 22 out of 27 targets. The task force also warned Pakistan that it would be blacklisted if it failed to achieve the targets by February 2020.

At present, the Pakistan government is finalising amendments to at least a dozen of its laws to meet the task force’s requirements. The matter was discussed in two back-to-back meetings at the Federal Board of Revenue the National Counter Terrorism Authority, and the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday and Thursday. An implementation strategy was also shared with the Pakistani delegation in Paris. New laws include the Anti-Terrorism Act, which is already pending in Parliament, and the Mutual Legal Assistance Act.

The global watchdog on Monday said several terrorist groups continue to benefit from funds raised through illegal activities and from supporters worldwide despite tight standards on the flow of money.

Without naming Pakistan, it said terrorists use various methods to launder money, including social media, identify new followers for financing, and other forms of material support. It added that individuals sympathetic to humanitarian causes or vulnerable to violent messaging are often targeted.

“The FATF has tightened its standards on terrorist financing, which has helped disrupt access to funds for groups such as ISIL and Al-Qaeda,” the watchdog added. “However, various groups still benefit from funds raised through illegal activity and from supporters worldwide.”

The global body said it was also monitoring illicit financing through new payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies.

In January, Pakistan submitted a 650-page review report to the global watchdog outlining steps taken by the country between October 2019 to January 2020 to implement the group’s recommendations.

India, which is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, has repeatedly asked Pakistan to take necessary steps to meet international standards in stopping financial crimes. Being on a blacklist of the financial watchdog has the potential to severely cripple and isolate a country financially, which could lead to a downgraded credit rating and denial of loans and developmental assistance. Islamabad’s economy is already struggling with a balance of payment crisis.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had on February 14 said he would help Pakistan stay off a terrorism financing blacklist. A minimum of three votes are required for any country to escape the blacklisting.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953889/fatf-keeps-pakistan-in-grey-list-for-now-gives-four-more-months-to-avoid-blacklisting-reports Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:09:22 +0000 Scroll Staff
Kerala rape case: Another nun accuses former bishop Franco Mulakkal of sexual misconduct https://scroll.in/latest/953929/kerala-rape-case-another-nun-accuses-former-bishop-mulakkal-of-sexual-misconduct-say-reports The nun has accused Franco Mulakkal of hugging and forcibly kissing her on the forehead in April 2017, as well as sending her lewd messages.

A nun who is a witness in the rape trial against former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, has accused him of hugging and forcibly kissing her on the forehead in April 2017, The Indian Express reported on Friday, citing her statement. Mulakkal has been out on bail since October 2018.

In her statement, which is part of a chargesheet filed by the Kerala Police last year, the nun alleged that the incident took place in Mulakkal’s room at a convent at the end of a two-hour conversation. The police had filed the chargesheet in April 2019.

The nun also alleged that during video chats in 2015, Mulakkal used lewd language with sexual undertones to address her. She said she did not have the courage to oppose him as he was the head of the diocese.

“I had to contact the bishop over the phone for some official needs since 2015,” the nun said in her statement, according to The New Indian Express. “But, shortly after the bishop started talks with sexual connotations over the phone, which was disgusting for me. He also talked about sexual acts and later started describing various body parts of me and the bishop.”

Defending the decision to not file a case in the incident, Kollam Rural police chief Hari Sankar said police made all efforts to file one but the nun was not willing to go ahead with a complaint. “Since the place of occurrence of the crime was in Kannur, we had passed the information to Kannur Police,” he said. “Though Kannur district police chief had approached her for registering a case, she was not interested in prosecution.”

The police had filed a case against Mulakkal in June 2018 after a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a complaint accusing him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. The congregation is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar district but it runs two convents in Kerala – in Kottayam and Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.

Mulakkal, who was arrested in September 2018, has repeatedly denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He was removed as the bishop after the allegations.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953929/kerala-rape-case-another-nun-accuses-former-bishop-mulakkal-of-sexual-misconduct-say-reports Fri, 21 Feb 2020 15:42:08 +0000 Scroll Staff
The big news: Uddhav Thackeray sticks to pro-CAA stand after meeting Modi, and 9 other top stories https://scroll.in/latest/953925/the-big-news-uddhav-thackeray-sticks-to-pro-caa-stand-after-meeting-modi-and-9-other-top-stories Other headlines: Pakistan remained in FATF’s grey list and got four months to meet goals, and a woman was detained in Bengaluru for a ‘Kashmir liberation’ sign.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. Uddhav Thackeray meets Modi, says no one should be afraid of Citizenship Act, NPR: The Maharashtra CM’s position is at odds with that of alliance partner Congress, which has opposed the CAA, NRC and National Population Register.
  2. FATF keeps Pakistan in ‘grey list’ for now, gives four more months to avoid blacklisting, say reports: The global watchdog reportedly said Pakistan was found ‘fully or close to fully compliant’ on more than half of the 27 targets of the action plan.
  3. Bengaluru woman detained for holding ‘Kashmir liberation’ sign: She was sitting at a protest in Town Hall against Amulya Leona, who was arrested a day earlier and charged with sedition for shouting a pro-Pakistan slogan.
  4. India hitting US hard with tariffs, will talk business with Modi, says Donald Trump on trade deal: The US president said India has some of the highest tariffs in the world.
  5. Mangaluru police commissioner among 176 personnel summoned by inquiry panel: Two people were shot dead by the police, and a third suffered bullet injuries during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 19.
  6. US, Taliban agree to reduce violence from tonight, set to sign peace deal next week: The truce is a step closer to end the United States’ longest conflict and fulfil President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to bring troops back home.
  7. J&K Police arrest two youths for allegedly spreading rumours on social media: A press note issued on Friday asked people not to believe rumours and fake news, or to ‘fall prey to the propaganda of such elements inimical to peace’.
  8. UP Police briefly reopen key road blocked due to Shaheen Bagh protests: The road connecting Noida and Faridabad through Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj neighbourhood was reopened for about 40 minutes, and avoids Shaheen Bagh.
  9. Madhya Pradesh scraps order warning health staff of action for not meeting male sterilisation target: The order was withdrawn soon after news reports about it led to a controversy earlier in the day.
  10. Women trainee clerks at Surat civic body made to stand naked for physical test, inquiry ordered: They were reportedly subjected to a finger test and asked personal questions to check for pregnancy.
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https://scroll.in/latest/953925/the-big-news-uddhav-thackeray-sticks-to-pro-caa-stand-after-meeting-modi-and-9-other-top-stories Fri, 21 Feb 2020 14:57:55 +0000 Scroll Staff
CAA: Kerala governor claims sitting on roads in protest is a form of terrorism https://scroll.in/latest/953923/caa-kerala-governor-claims-sitting-on-roads-in-protest-is-a-form-of-terrorism Arif Mohammad Khan’s remark was an apparent reference to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Friday claimed that sitting on roads and disrupting normal life to get one’s demands met is a form of terrorism, PTI reported.

Khan made the remark at the Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad event in New Delhi. His remark was an apparent reference to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Shaheen Bagh, where women have organised a sit-in since December 15. The Supreme Court had earlier this week set up a mediation team to speak to the protestors.

“Aggression doesn’t come in the form of violence only,” Khan said. “It comes in many forms... [such as] ‘If you won’t listen to me, I will disrupt normal life’.”

The Kerala governor said that there is no problem with dissent as it is the essence of democracy. “But five people sit outside Vigyan Bhawan [in Delhi] and say that we shall not move from here unless this Parliament adopts a resolution which we would like them to adopt,” he added. “This is another form of terrorism.”

Khan said people should not try to impose their views on others in the name of freedom of expression.

The Kerala governor also backed the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, saying the Article had been rendered empty long before the Centre’s decision on August 5 last year. “But when the house gets empty, and when there is no one to live inside, then many ghosts wander in that house,” Khan said. “This is how the ghost of terrorism has come in.”

Khan also claimed that things were progressively becoming normal in Kashmir.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953923/caa-kerala-governor-claims-sitting-on-roads-in-protest-is-a-form-of-terrorism Fri, 21 Feb 2020 14:28:54 +0000 Scroll Staff
Top news: Uddhav Thackeray, after meeting PM Modi, says CAA should not be a cause of concern https://scroll.in/latest/953850/top-news-america-first-says-donald-trump-as-he-hints-at-tremendous-deal-with-india The biggest stories of the day.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray meets PM Narendra Modi in Delhi

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, in his first visit to New Delhi after taking oath, PTI reported. Thackeray was accompanied by his son and Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray.

J&K: Police arrest two youths for allegedly spreading rumours on social media

The Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested two youths on Thursday and Friday from Srinagar and Handwara for alleged rumour-mongering on social media. The Kupwara Police arrested Imtiyaz Ahmad Kawa, a resident of Saida Kadal in Srinagar city on Thursday from his home for posting allegedly fake photographs on Facebook accusing security forces of vandalism in North Kashmir last year, the Hindustan Times reported.

Surat: Women trainee clerks at civic body made to stand naked for physical test, inquiry ordered

Ten women trainee clerks employed by the Surat Municipal Corporation were allegedly made to stand naked in a state-run hospital on Thursday while women doctors subjected them to a finger test and asked personal questions to check for pregnancy, The Times of India reported on Friday. This incident came to light days after 68 undergraduate students at a college in Bhuj town were forced to remove their undergarments to prove they were not menstruating.

Mangaluru police firing: Commissioner among 176 personnel summoned by inquiry panel

Mangaluru Police Commissioner PS Harsha, and 175 policemen have been listed as witnesses by a panel conducting a magisterial inquiry into the violence that erupted in the coastal city during anti-Citizenship Act protests on December 19, PTI reported on Friday. Two persons were shot dead by the police, and a third suffered bullet injuries during the demonstrations, which forced the authorities to impose a curfew in several areas of Dakshina Kannada district and suspend mobile internet for 48 hours.

Bhim Army gets court permission for gathering near RSS headquarters in Nagpur

The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the Bhim Army to hold a meeting of its workers at a venue close to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur, PTI reported. The police had earlier denied permission for the gathering, citing law and order risks as the two organisations have opposing ideologies.

Restraining order against man of Indian origin for allegedly stalking Apple CEO Tim Cook

United States multinational technology company Apple has filed a suit and obtained a restraining order against a man of Indian origin who made threatening phone calls to the firm last year, and claimed that Apple mocked and tried to kill him when he was in the hospital, News18 reported on Friday. Rakesh “Rocky” Sharma also trespassed on Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s residence twice.

Bengaluru: Now, woman detained for holding ‘Kashmir liberation’ sign

A woman in Bengaluru, Karnataka, was on Friday detained for holding a “free Kashmir” placard at a demonstration in the city to protest against Amulya Leona, who was charged with sedition, for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans a day earlier.

During Trump’s visit, Taj Mahal to be shut on Monday after 12 pm

The Taj Mahal in Agra will be shut for visitors from noon on February 24 during United States President Donald Trump’s first two-day trip to India, ANI reported on Friday. Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintendent of the Agra Division of Archaeological Survey of India, said the iconic monument will be closed due to security reasons. Security checks and other measures have been being taken to ensure that there is no security lapse.

India hitting US hard with tariffs, will talk business with Modi, says Donald Trump on trade deal

United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said the proposed new Indian tariffs have complicated negotiations, but he will “talk business” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24 and 25, PTI reported.

‘I am a proud Hindu’: BJP spokesperson defends comment likening woman to dogs

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal on Thursday defended his comments comparing an Indian author to dogs.

Lucknow: Student stabbed to death outside Gomti Nagar apartment, one accused booked for murder

A student was stabbed to death on Thursday near the gate of an apartment in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar Extension area, The Indian Express reported. The student, identified as 25-year-old Prashant Singh, had reportedly gone to meet an acquaintance in an apartment complex when a group of six to seven men attacked him with knives.

Bengaluru: Student who shouted pro-Pakistan slogan sent to 14-day judicial custody

College student Amulya Leona, who was charged with sedition for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans, was on Friday denied bail and sent to judicial custody for 14 days, ANI reported. She has been charged with sedition, provoking enmity between groups, and intentional insult to provoke breach of peace, said Deputy Commissioner of Police B Ramesh said.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said the woman should not be given bail after shouting such slogans. “Her father has also said he won’t protect her,” he added. “Its proved now that she had contacts with Naxals. Proper punishment should be given.”

Shaheen Bagh: UP Police briefly reopen key road blocked due to protests

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Friday briefly reopened a road connecting Noida and Faridabad in an effort to ease heavy traffic congestion between Delhi and Noida due to ongoing anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in the national Capital’s Shaheen Bagh locality, NDTV reported. The protests had started on December 15 after police violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University.

The road connecting Noida and Faridabad through Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj neighbourhood was reopened for about 40 minutes, and avoids Shaheen Bagh.

Convince at least one man for sterilisation or lose job, Madhya Pradesh tells male health workers

The Madhya Pradesh government has cautioned male multi-purpose health workers that they could lose their jobs or their salaries could be withheld if they failed to convince at least one man for sterilisation.

Unknown group hosting Trump event in Ahmedabad; ‘diplomacy is serious business,’ Congress reminds PM

A group set up by unidentified people is organising the “Namaste Trump [Hello, Trump]” event on February 24 at the Motera cricket stadium in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told the media on Thursday that the Donald Trump Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti, or the Citizen Felicitation Committee for Donald Trump, was the event’s organiser, but did not provide more details.

Ramachandra Guha denies receiving apology from Karnataka minister for police manhandling at protest

Historian Ramachandra Guha on Thursday refuted Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s claim that the latter had apologised to him for police manhandling during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens in Bengaluru in December. The historian said he had received neither a call nor an apology from the home minister.

MEA says British lawmaker Debbie Abrahams sent back ‘with due respect’, calls her views ‘anti-India’

India on Thursday said that British MP Debbie Abrahams, who was recently denied entry into India as she did not “hold a valid visa”, was respectfully sent back to the United Kingdom. The British politician alleged that immigration officials at the Delhi airport on Monday did not give her any reason for denying her entry into India and cancelling her visa, which she said was valid till October 2020.

Donald Trump’s India visit: US president says he may seal a ‘tremendous deal’ during trip

United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said that his country “may make a tremendous deal” with India. The president is expected to travel to at least two Indian cities – Ahmedabad and New Delhi – between February 24 and February 25.

“But we’re going to India, and we may make a tremendous deal there, or maybe we’ll slow it down,” Trump said during the commencement address at an event. “We’ll do it after the [US presidential] election. I think that could happen too. So we’ll see what happens. But we’re only making deals if they’re good deals, because we’re putting America first. Whether people like it or not, we’re putting America first.”

AMU castigates Adityanath for claiming students set out to ‘burn Aligarh city’ on December 15

Teachers and students of Aligarh Muslim University on Thursday castigated Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for claiming that the varsity’s students had hit the roads in large numbers to “burn” Aligarh city on December 15, PTI reported.

The chief minister made the remarks in the state Assembly on Wednesday. “I had alerted the Aligarh administration after the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia university,” he added. “There were 15,000 students of AMU who took to the streets and wanted to burn Aligarh city but their game plan was averted by an alert police.”

Jamia violence: New videos appear to show protestors hurling stones at police from inside campus

A fresh set of videos on the violence in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University during anti-Citizenhsip Act protests in December emerged on Thursday, The Hindu reported. The videos purportedly show protestors hurling stones from inside the campus.

“The videos suggest that the police exercised restraint even as protestors were throwing stones at them,” a member of the Special Investigation Team, looking into the Jamia violence, told The Hindu. On Thursday, five Jamia students recorded their statements in the investigation. Police said notices were sent to 10 students on Wednesday and six more on Thursday.

2012 Delhi gangrape convict now moves Election Commission to challenge rejection of his mercy plea

One of the death-row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case approached the Election Commission on Thursday to challenge the rejection of his mercy plea, and contended that the Model Code of Conduct was in place in the national Capital at that time. This came hours after Vinay Sharma moved a court in Delhi seeking medical treatment for “grievous head injury, fracture in his right arm, mental illness, and schizophrenia”.

Coronavirus: India’s first patient discharged from Thrissur hospital

The first person to test positive for the novel coronavirus in India has been discharged from a government hospital in Thrissur, Kerala on Thursday. The medical student is the last of the three patients, who had contracted COVID-19 in Kerala, to be discharged.

Bengaluru: Sedition case filed against woman for saying ‘Pakistan zindabad’ at anti-CAA event

A woman was charged with sedition by the Bengaluru Police on Thursday for saying “Pakistan zindabad” at an event held to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The woman shouted the slogan in the presence of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi. The Hyderabad MP, however, denounced her action and asserted “we are for India”.

German firm temporarily closes India offices after two employees test positive for swine flu

German software company SAP on Thursday said that it has temporarily closed all offices in India for sanitisation after two of its employees in Bengaluru tested positive for the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

‘Shaheen Bagh can set an example for protests’: SC mediators continue talks on second day

Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran continued their dialogue with protestors in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality for the second straight day on Thursday.

Telecom sector faces ‘unprecedented crisis’ because of payment dues, says Bharti Airtel chief

Bharti Airtel chairperson Sunil Mittal on Thursday said the payment dues related to adjusted gross revenues were an “unprecedented crisis” for the telecom industry. He made the remark after meeting Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and sought cuts in taxes and levies for the sector.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953850/top-news-america-first-says-donald-trump-as-he-hints-at-tremendous-deal-with-india Fri, 21 Feb 2020 13:46:14 +0000 Scroll Staff
Afghan war: US, Taliban agree to reduce violence from tonight, set to sign peace deal next week https://scroll.in/latest/953911/afghan-war-us-taliban-agree-to-reduce-violence-from-tonight-set-to-sign-peace-deal-next-week The truce is a step closer to end the United States’ longest conflict and fulfil President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to bring troops back home.

The United States on Friday said it had reached an understanding with the Taliban to significantly reduce violence across Afghanistan for a week, and if this succeeds, sign a peace deal on February 29. The agreement would be a step closer to end the war in Afghanistan and a retreat of American troops.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is on a visit to Saudi Arabia, tweeted: “After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan. This is an important step on a long road to peace, and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity.”

The temporary truce will come into effect on Saturday midnight local time, according to the BBC. It marks a milestone in efforts to end the US’ longest-running conflict and fulfil President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to bring troops home.

Taliban negotiators said a “suitable security situation” would be created ahead of signing a deal. They said they hoped to “lay the groundwork for peace across the country with the withdrawal of all foreign forces”. Under the deal, no major offensive operations will be launched against the Taliban, Afghan or international forces.

The agreement would provide for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners before the start of the negotiations, an unidentified Taliban official told AP.

The United States has been involved in negotiations on and off with the Taliban to bring the conflict in the country to an end in exchange for withdrawal for its troops and those of its allies.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953911/afghan-war-us-taliban-agree-to-reduce-violence-from-tonight-set-to-sign-peace-deal-next-week Fri, 21 Feb 2020 13:13:15 +0000 Scroll Staff
J&K: Police arrest two youths for allegedly spreading rumours on social media https://scroll.in/latest/953909/j-k-police-arrest-two-youths-for-allegedly-spreading-rumours-on-social-media A press note issued on Friday asked people not to believe rumours and fake news, or to ‘fall prey to the propaganda of such elements inimical to peace’.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested two youths on Thursday and Friday from Srinagar and Handwara for alleged rumour-mongering on social media. The Kupwara Police arrested Imtiyaz Ahmad Kawa, a resident of Saida Kadal in Srinagar city on Thursday from his home for posting allegedly fake photographs on Facebook accusing security forces of vandalism in North Kashmir last year, the Hindustan Times reported.

Kupwara Senior Superintendent of Police Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar said Kawa had uploaded a false Facebook post last year alleging security forces had damaged property worth lakhs in the district. “Some months ago, he updated his status falsely depicting that government forces had gone berserk in Panzgam area of Kupwara district,” Dinkar said. “The motive of the rumour monger was to malign the image of the forces in public and also to disrupt peace and tranquility in the area.”

Dinkar alleged that Kawa had been absconding since then and a couple of previous attempts to arrest him had failed. The accused is now lodged in a sub jail in Kupwara.

On Friday, the Handwara Police arrested and registered a case against a man identified as Waseem Majeed Dar, for allegedly spreading fake news and hatred on social media.

“Police Station Handwara received an information that some youth are circulating fake news and spreading rumours, hatred through social media platform,” a press note by the police said. “After strenuous efforts the culprit namely Waseem Majeed Dar...resident of Waskura, Handwara was apprehended. All sections of society have expressed their satisfaction over the prompt police action.”

The press note also asked the people not to believe rumours and fake news, or to “fall prey to the propaganda of such elements inimical to peace”.

The Indian government had abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 last year, divided the erstwhile state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, and imposed a lockdown. As part of the lockdown, all mobile phone and internet services were suspended.

Mobile 2G internet services were restored in a limited way for both prepaid and postpaid connections after over five months on January 25. However, this access was provided to only 301 “white listed” websites. On February 14, the Jammu and Kashmir administration issued an order banning all social media sites to curb the propagation of “false information/rumours” that would affect “social instability”. The FIR came a day after a video of ailing Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani was uploaded on social media.

On February 17, the police said they had registered a first information report under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against social media users who used VPNs to circumvent the internet ban. Virtual Private Networks, or VPN, allow users to mask their location and browse the internet more securely.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953909/j-k-police-arrest-two-youths-for-allegedly-spreading-rumours-on-social-media Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:50:12 +0000 Scroll Staff
Mangaluru police firing: Commissioner among 176 personnel summoned by inquiry panel https://scroll.in/latest/953899/mangaluru-police-firing-commissioner-among-176-personnel-summoned-by-inquiry-panel Two people were shot dead by the police, and a third suffered bullet injuries during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 19.

Mangaluru Police Commissioner PS Harsha, and 175 policemen have been listed as witnesses by a panel conducting a magisterial inquiry into the violence that erupted in the coastal city during anti-Citizenship Act protests on December 19, PTI reported on Friday. Two persons were shot dead by the police, and a third suffered bullet injuries during the demonstrations, which forced the authorities to impose a curfew in several areas of Dakshina Kannada district and suspend mobile internet for 48 hours.

Udupi Deputy Commissioner G Jagadeesha, who is in charge of the inquiry, said notices asking the police personnel to appear for hearing would be served in a phased manner. So far, 203 members of the public have deposed before the committee, he added. “Former city Mayor K Ashraf, who is under treatment in hospital, has also provided a written statement.”

Ashraf told The Hindu he had deposed in his “capacity as an eyewitness to the police firing”. The former mayor claimed Harsha had called him on December 19, and urged him to pacify the protestors. He claimed he was hit by a hard object seconds after the police opened fire near the city’s State Bank Circle.

Jagadeesha said 12 police personnel would depose on February 25, and submit documents related to the firing. A separate date will be given to Harsha.

Earlier this week, the Karnataka High Court had observed that there was a deliberate attempt to cover up the Mangaluru Police’s excesses by implicating innocent people.

“The records indicate that a deliberate attempt has been made to fabricate evidence and to deprive the petitioners of their liberties,” the court observed while granting bail to 21 people arrested in connection with the violence. “Any criminal antecedents of the petitioners are not disputed... There is no direct evidence to connect the petitioners with the alleged offences. The investigation appears to be mala fide and partisan.” The 21 were arrested on charges of rioting, unlawful assembly and damage to property.

Justice Cunha said the overzealousness of the police was also evident from the fact that first information reports were registered against the two people killed in the police firing under under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (charges related to attempt to murder). “In an offence involving a large number of people, the identity and participation of each accused must be fixed with reasonable certainty,” The New Indian Express quoted him as saying. “In the present cases, the identity appears to have been fixed on the basis of their affiliation to PFI and they being members of the Muslim community.”

The High Court also cited photographs and CCTV footage to point out that the crowd was unarmed, except for one person who was holding a bottle. It also observed that the accused were not directly linked to the protests. “On the other hand, photographs produced by the petitioners show that the policemen themselves were pelting stones at the crowd,” the court added.

On December 19, more than 100 protestors had gathered near a bus stop close to the office of the deputy commissioner. The police beat them with batons and pushed them back after an argument broke out. The police claimed they charged the demonstrators with batons after they started hurling stones. Stone pelting was reported in the city’s Hamilton Circle, Central Market and State Bank areas. Protestors also allegedly hurled stones at the police in the Mukhyaprana Temple and Bunder areas. Shops in these areas were closed amid prohibitory orders. In the evening, the police fired shots in the air and a curfew was imposed in areas under the jurisdiction of five police stations. Large gatherings were also banned.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953899/mangaluru-police-firing-commissioner-among-176-personnel-summoned-by-inquiry-panel Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:32:41 +0000 Scroll Staff
Surat: Women trainee clerks at civic body made to stand naked for physical test, inquiry ordered https://scroll.in/latest/953898/surat-women-trainee-clerks-at-civic-body-made-to-stand-naked-for-physical-test-inquiry-ordered They were reportedly subjected to a finger test and asked personal questions to check for pregnancy.

Ten women trainee clerks employed by the Surat Municipal Corporation were allegedly made to stand naked in a state-run hospital on Thursday while women doctors subjected them to a finger test and asked personal questions to check for pregnancy, The Times of India reported on Friday. This incident came to light days after 68 undergraduate students at a college in Bhuj town were forced to remove their undergarments to prove they were not menstruating.

In a complaint, the SMC Employees’ Union told municipal commissioners that when 100 employees went to the Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education and Research for their mandatory fitness test, “female employees were forced to stand naked together in groups of around 10 in a room where they did not have any privacy”. A senior corporation employee said “the door was not properly closed and the only thing blocking the view from outside was a curtain”. Some of the women also accused the doctors who conducted the tests of behaving rudely with them.

“The issue was brought to the knowledge of SMCEU by a few trainee women employees out of the nearly 400 whose services will be regularised this year,” said AA Shaikh, the general secretary of the employees’ union. “On hearing about their trauma, we demanded an immediate halt to such insulting and inhuman tests. I have never heard such a test on women employees anywhere else.”

Shaikh said performing the finger test was demeaning. “If they [doctors] had any doubt about an employee’s health, they should have got tests done in an acceptable manner,” added the union official. “Asking even unmarried women about past pregnancies is downright insulting.” The two-finger test is an outlawed method for determining a woman’s virginity.

Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani on Friday ordered a probe into the allegations, and set up a three-member inquiry committee, and asked it to submit a report in 15 days, PTI reported. The committee comprises former dean of the medical college Dr Kalpana Desai, Assistant Municipal Commissioner Gayatri Jariwala, and Executive Engineer Trupti Kalathia.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953898/surat-women-trainee-clerks-at-civic-body-made-to-stand-naked-for-physical-test-inquiry-ordered Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:23:40 +0000 Scroll Staff
Bhim Army gets court permission for gathering near RSS headquarters in Nagpur https://scroll.in/latest/953903/bhim-army-gets-court-permission-for-gathering-near-rss-headquarters-in-nagpur The court, however, warned of criminal action if the workers’ meeting turned into a protest.

The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the Bhim Army to hold a meeting of its workers at a venue close to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur, PTI reported. The police had earlier denied permission for the gathering, citing law and order risks as the two organisations have opposing ideologies.

The Reshimbagh Ground, where the outfit wanted to hold its event on Saturday, is located in front of the RSS headquarters. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is scheduled to address the meeting. The outfit had moved the High Court’s Nagpur bench after being denied permission.

“Permission granted with conditions,” the bench said in its order on Friday. “It will be a workers’ meet only. It shall not be converted into a demonstration or protest...There should be no inflammatory speeches and the atmosphere should be peaceful. Besides, Chandrashekhar Azad should give an undertaking on the above conditions.”

The bench said any violation of the conditions would invite criminal action and contempt of court proceedings.

The court had on Tuesday issued notices to the Maharashtra government and the Nagpur police commissioner to respond to the Bhim Army’s petition. In its response, the police said the Bhim Army wanted to stage a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens at a location near the RSS headquarters.

“The organisation of the petitioner holds an ideology which is different, contrary and diverse to the ideology being professed by the RSS,” the police said in its affidavit.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, offers a fast track to citizenship for non-Muslim undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.

The National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise to distinguish undocumented migrants from genuine Indian citizens. Critics of the CAA, NPR and NRC fear that the amended act along with the citizens’ register could be combined to disenfranchise millions of Muslims.

Azad has led protests against the Citizen Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens earlier too.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953903/bhim-army-gets-court-permission-for-gathering-near-rss-headquarters-in-nagpur Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:19:11 +0000 Scroll Staff
Restraining order against man of Indian origin for allegedly stalking Apple CEO Tim Cook https://scroll.in/latest/953897/restraining-order-against-man-of-indian-origin-for-allegedly-stalking-apple-ceo-tim-cook Rakesh ‘Rocky’ Sharma also made threatening phone calls to the firm last year, and claimed that Apple mocked and tried to kill him when he was in the hospital.

United States multinational technology company Apple has filed a suit and obtained a restraining order against a man of Indian origin who made threatening phone calls to the firm last year, and claimed that Apple mocked and tried to kill him when he was in the hospital, News18 reported on Friday. Rakesh “Rocky” Sharma also trespassed on Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s residence twice.

In a court filing, Apple’s legal representative said that Sharma has been trying to harass various executives of the company since September 25. The plea alleged that Sharma began by threatening an Apple executive on the phone in September. He followed it up by sending “disturbing” voicemails to the executive, according to the firm’s Global Security Specialist William Burns.

After this, Sharma allegedly called Apple Care and issued similar threats, including gun violence. He then took it further, turning up at Tim Cook’s residence in December. Sharma went there uninvited and unannounced, carrying a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne. He repeated the act in January, evading security.

Subsequently, Sharma demanded a cash settlement from Apple, claiming that an executive laughed at him over the phone and hung up when he was hospitalised. Sharma also falsely claimed that his attorney was US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A court will hear the matter on March 3.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953897/restraining-order-against-man-of-indian-origin-for-allegedly-stalking-apple-ceo-tim-cook Fri, 21 Feb 2020 12:07:00 +0000 Scroll Staff
Bengaluru: Student who shouted pro-Pakistan slogan sent to 14-day judicial custody https://scroll.in/latest/953869/bengaluru-student-who-shouted-pro-pakistan-slogan-sent-to-14-day-judicial-custody Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said the girl should not be given bail and claimed that she has links with Maoists.

A college student in Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru charged with sedition for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans at an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest was denied bail on Friday, and sent to judicial custody for 14 days, ANI reported. The incident occurred the night before. Amulya Lone has also been charged with provoking enmity between groups, and intentionally insulting people to provoke breach of peace, said Deputy Commissioner of Police B Ramesh.

After her preliminary remarks at the protest, Leona suddenly shouted “Pakistan zindabad”. But she was cut off before she could continue with her speech, and police personnel and organisers took her away from the stage. A Facebook post by her on February 16 that came to attention after the incident seems to show that the teenager wanted to make the point that humanity should be placed above the territorial idea of a nation state, and not single out only Pakistan for praise.

“Hindustan zindabad, Pakistan zindabad, Bangladesh zindabad, Sri Lanka zindabad, Nepal zindabad, China zindabad, Afghanistan zindabad, Bhutan zindabad,” Leona had written, according to a translation of the original Kannada message. “Whichever country it may be, zindabad to all countries.”

She pointed out that children were taught that country means territory. “But, we, the children, want to tell you – a country is its people,” Leona added. “Every person is entitled to basic amenities. All the people should have citizenship rights. The governments of all countries should look after its people in a good manner. Zindabad to everyone who works in the service of people.”

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who was the chief guest at the event, immediately distanced himself and his party from the slogan. The Hyderabad MP and the organisers rushed to her and tried to take away her microphone. “Neither me nor my party has any link with her,” PTI quoted Owaisi as saying. “We denounce her. The organisers should not have invited her here. If I knew this, I would not have come here. We are for India and we no way support our enemy nation Pakistan. Our entire drive is to save India.”

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said Leona should not be given bail. “Her father has also said he won’t protect her,” he added. “It is proved now that she had contacts with Naxals. Proper punishment should be given.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit tweeted that the truth was that the protests against the citizenship law were “a joint venture between Pakistan and anti-national forces led by INC India”. It added: “Those who support Pakistan should go there forever.”

Meanwhile, a mob vandalised Leona’s home in Chikmagalur district late on Thursday night, and forced her father to shout “Bharat Mata ki Jai loudly, with affection and without fear”. The woman’s father Vojald Leona appeared visibly shaken, and said he had advised his daughter not to talk like that on several occasions, News18 reported. “Let my daughter rot in a jail,” he added. “Let the police break her legs. I have no objection. She has caused so much misery to my family.”

Also read:

‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan at anti-CAA rally was ill-conceived – but it is not sedition

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https://scroll.in/latest/953869/bengaluru-student-who-shouted-pro-pakistan-slogan-sent-to-14-day-judicial-custody Fri, 21 Feb 2020 11:26:00 +0000 Scroll Staff
Coronavirus: China reports 115 more deaths in Hubei, WHO says no time for complacency https://scroll.in/latest/953852/coronavirus-china-reports-115-more-deaths-in-hubei-who-says-no-time-for-complacency WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged the apparent slowdown in Chinese infections but warned the flu-like virus could still spread.

The toll in the coronavirus outbreak in China rose to 2,233 on Friday after 115 more people died in Hubei province, AFP reported. However, the numbers still confirmed a downward trend which the World Health Organization has called encouraging.

The Hubei health commission said it had counted 411 new cases of the virus in the province, with 319 in Wuhan and the rest spread out across several other cities.

Authorities said they have once again changed the method of counting patients with the novel coronavirus and will now include only those diagnosed by laboratory tests. They changed their criteria for counting cases twice in the past week, a move that could muddle statistics and complicate efforts to track the spread of the virus.

Speaking in Geneva, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged the apparent slowdown in Chinese infections but warned the flu-like virus could still spread rapidly in China and beyond. “We are encouraged by this trend but this is no time for complacency,” he added.

So far, 25 other countries have reported 1,076 cases to the WHO. While that was very low compared to 75,000-plus cases in China, Tedros said: “That may not stay the same for long”.

South Korea has 104 confirmed cases of the flu-like virus, and reported its first death. The mayor of Daegu, South Korea’s fourth-largest city, urged residents to stay indoors after a spike in infections linked to a church congregation.

More coronavirus cases in Iran

Iranian health ministry spokesperson Kianush Jahanpur said three more people had tested positive for the virus. “Two people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Qom and one person in Arak, bringing the total of confirmed cases to five in Iran,” Jahanpur said.

Two Iranians died in hospital after testing positive in Qom, the head of the city’s University of Medical Sciences said on Wednesday. They were the first confirmed deaths from the coronavirus strain known as COVID-19 in the Middle East.

None of the people who were diagnosed with coronavirus were known to have traveled to China or were in contact with anyone who had gone there, Mohammad Mehdi Gouya, the head of the center for the management of communicable diseases at Iran’s ministry of health said.

Iran will hold parliamentary elections on Friday.

Iraqi Airways has suspended flight service to neighboring Iran as a protective measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, Japan reported the deaths of two elderly passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship on Thursday, the first fatalities from aboard the ship where more than 630 cases account for the biggest cluster of infection outside China. The British-flagged cruise ship arrived in Yokohama on February 3 with about 3,700 people onboard after the virus was traced to a man who disembarked last month in Hong Kong.

The Indian Embassy in Tokyo said the condition of eight Indians who tested positive for the virus was improving. There were 138 Indians, including six passengers and 132 crew members, on the ship.

The embassy added that no Indian national on board the ship has been infected with the virus since Thursday. “Indian embassy in Tokyo working with the Japanese authorities and ship management company for safe return of the Indians,” it said.

Hundreds of Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark the ship on Friday. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had on Thursday said the disembarkation process has started and will continue for a few days.

Israel confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on Friday, AFP reported.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953852/coronavirus-china-reports-115-more-deaths-in-hubei-who-says-no-time-for-complacency Fri, 21 Feb 2020 11:23:10 +0000 Scroll Staff
Madhya Pradesh scraps order warning health staff of action for not meeting male sterilisation target https://scroll.in/latest/953863/convince-at-least-one-man-for-sterilisation-or-lose-job-madhya-pradesh-tells-male-health-workers The order was withdrawn soon after news reports about it led to a controversy earlier in the day.

The Madhya Pradesh government on Friday withdrew an order warning male multi-purpose health workers that they could lose their jobs or their salaries if they failed to convince at least one man each to get sterilised, PTI reported. News reports about the circular had led to a controversy earlier in the day.

State Health Minister Tulsi Silawat told PTI: “I have just now nullified the NHM’s [National Health Mission’s] order with immediate effect. The language in it was not proper...Things should be done after proper reasoning.”

He also said, according to NDTV: “No one will be forced to be sterilised. No one is losing jobs and we are just spreading awareness. I will not let anything which can hurt you happen.”

In the original order, the state’s National Health Mission had asked high-level district officials and chief medical and health officers to make a list of male workers with “zero work output” and enforce the “no work no pay” principle if they fail to register at least one case each in 2019-’20. The mission cited the National Family Health Survey-4 report, noting only 0.5% male participation in the programme.

The state government’s circular, issued on February 11, warned that proposals in support of compulsory retirement of the male health workers would be sent through the district collectors if the situation did not improve. The circular said the proposals would be sent to NHM headquarters in Bhopal after which they would be sent to the health directorate for action, The Indian Express reported. The notification added that all male multi-purpose health workers should mobilise at least five to 10 “willing beneficiaries” when camps are conducted in districts.

“We are not saying you use coercive methods,” NHM Deputy Director Pragya Tiwari said earlier. “We want them to strength advocacy. There are many who want to limit their family size but lack awareness. It’s their job. If you can’t motivate even one person in one full year it shows your work output. What’s the use of spending taxpayers’ money on salary?’’ She added that there was negligible participation among men in the state’s family planning programme.

The state has witnessed a progressive decline in the number of male sterilisation cases over the last five years. In the 2019-’20 period, the number was 3,397 – as on February 20, 2020 – compared to 3.34 lakh women. In the 2015-’16 period, 9,957 vasectomies were done in Madhya Pradesh. In the three following years, the numbers were 7,270, 3,719, and 2,925.

The NHM deputy director pointed out that there was no monitoring of the male multi-purpose health workers unlike auxiliary nurse midwives. Tiwari, who took charge of the state’s family planning programme in October last year, said she began its strict monitoring after taking over, and that those who do well are rewarded under the “carrot and stick approach”.

The state’s health officials claimed the decline in male and female sterilisation numbers began in 2015-’16 after a judgement was passed against a coercive approach and the state administration eliminated the concept of “targets”.

Indore’s Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr Praveen Jadia said: “It’s for the first time that such a circular has been issued by the government. Indore’s total target was 22,500 and nearly 19,500 sterilisations have been done but the district is not likely to meet the vasectomy target of 2,250.”

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https://scroll.in/latest/953863/convince-at-least-one-man-for-sterilisation-or-lose-job-madhya-pradesh-tells-male-health-workers Fri, 21 Feb 2020 11:23:08 +0000 Scroll Staff
Bengaluru: Now, woman detained for holding ‘Kashmir liberation’ sign https://scroll.in/latest/953892/bengaluru-now-woman-detained-for-holding-kashmir-liberation-sign She was sitting at a protest in Town Hall against Amulya Leona, who was arrested a day earlier and charged with sedition for shouting a pro-Pakistan slogan.

A woman in Bengaluru, Karnataka, was on Friday detained for holding a “free Kashmir” placard at a demonstration in the city to protest against Amulya Leona, who was charged with sedition, for shouting pro-Pakistan slogans a day earlier, PTI reported.

The woman, identified as Arudra, was sitting among the participants of the protest organised by the Hindu Jagaran Vedike. The placard held by her said “Muslim, Kashmiri, Bahujan, Adivasi, Trans liberation now”.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said she was escorted out of the place as the members of the group asked her to leave and people gathered around her. “She has been now been taken into custody for her own safety along with the placard... we will find out her background, where she has come from and who are behind her among other things,” Rao told reporters, adding she did not shout any slogan.

The police booked a suo moto case against the Arudra under Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code for disturbing peace and harmony, according to IANS.

Meanwhile, Amulya Leona was on Friday denied bail and sent to judicial custody for 14 days for shouting “Pakistan zindabad”. After her preliminary remarks at a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens, Leona suddenly shouted “Pakistan zindabad”. The student said she wanted to differentiate between “Hindustan Zindabad” and “Pakistan Zindabad”, but a posse of police personnel and organisers took her away from the stage.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953892/bengaluru-now-woman-detained-for-holding-kashmir-liberation-sign Fri, 21 Feb 2020 11:21:23 +0000 Scroll Staff
Unknown group hosting Trump event in Ahmedabad; ‘diplomacy is serious business,’ Congress reminds PM https://scroll.in/latest/953864/unknown-group-hosting-trump-event-in-ahmedabad-diplomacy-is-serious-business-congress-reminds-pm Gujarat officials involved in the preparation of the February 24 ‘Namaste Trump’ event said they were unaware of the Donald Trump Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti.

A group set up by unidentified people is organising the “Namaste Trump [Hello, Trump]” event on February 24 at the Motera cricket stadium in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, according to media reports.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told the media on Thursday that the Donald Trump Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti, or the Citizen Felicitation Committee for Donald Trump, was the event’s organiser, but did not provide more details. Top officials and other agencies involved in the preparations for the event said they were not aware of such a committee, reported The Hindu. An official from Ahmedabad told the newspaper that he learnt about existence of the committee “only today”.

The chairperson of the Gujarat State Non-Resident Gujaratis’ Foundation, Dhananjay Dwivedi, also pleaded ignorance. “I am unaware of any such committee,” he told Ahmedabad Mirror. “We deal with district level delegates and participants for the event.”

State BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said it was important to give Trump a “warm welcome” rather than give importance to the organiser of the event. “This visit will increase cultural and business relations between the two nations,” he added. “Lakhs of Gujaratis live in the US and the Namaste Trump event will increase their importance in the US.”

The Congress asked the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi why the state government was spending “Rs 120 crore for a three-hour event organised by an unknown private entity”. The Opposition party’s spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala asked Modi who heads the felicitation committee. “When was the invitation extended to US president, and accepted?” he asked. “Why is President Trump then saying you have promised him a grand event with seven million people?”

Surjewala said “India values its visiting dignitaries” but asked the prime minister to note that “diplomacy is a serious government business, and not a series of photo-ops and event management tactics”.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953864/unknown-group-hosting-trump-event-in-ahmedabad-diplomacy-is-serious-business-congress-reminds-pm Fri, 21 Feb 2020 10:40:10 +0000 Scroll Staff
During Trump’s visit, Taj Mahal to be shut on Monday after 12 pm https://scroll.in/latest/953885/during-trumps-visit-taj-mahal-to-be-shut-on-monday-after-12-pm Vendors in the city have been asked to provide their Aadhaar card as a part of the verification process.

The Taj Mahal in Agra will be shut for visitors from noon on February 24 during United States President Donald Trump’s first two-day trip to India, ANI reported on Friday.

Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintendent of the Agra Division of Archaeological Survey of India, said the iconic monument will be closed due to security reasons. Security checks and other measures have been being taken to ensure that there is no security lapse.

Local vendors in the city said police have asked them to provide their Aadhaar card as a part of the verification process. “All the houses, shops, restaurants and hotels on the main route and near the Taj Mahal area have been identified,” Superintendent of Police (City) Botre Rohan Pramod said.
“The verification process is about to finish. Some teams have also been put for getting the verification done.”

Trump and his wife Melania Trump are expected to leave Ahmedabad at 3.30 pm on Monday after attending the “Namaste Trump” event. They will visit Taj Mahal before sunset.

In the city, authorities are on a clean-up drive, including of the polluted waters of the Yamuna river, which is behind the monument complex. The Uttar Pradesh Irrigation Department has released 500 cusecs of water into the Yamuna in order to improve its “environmental condition”. Workers have scrubbed walls and fountains at the monument, which was commissioned in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953885/during-trumps-visit-taj-mahal-to-be-shut-on-monday-after-12-pm Fri, 21 Feb 2020 09:53:18 +0000 Scroll Staff
India hitting US hard with tariffs, will talk business with Modi, says Donald Trump on trade deal https://scroll.in/latest/953880/india-hitting-us-hard-with-tariffs-will-talk-business-with-modi-says-donald-trump-on-trade-deal The US president said India has some of the highest tariffs in the world.

United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said the proposed new Indian tariffs have complicated negotiations, but he will “talk business” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visits Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24 and 25, PTI reported.

“I’m going to India next week and we’re talking trade,” Trump said at a rally in Colorado. “They’ve been hitting us very hard for many, many years but I really like Prime Minister Modi. We’ve got to talk a little...We’ve got to talk a little business. It’s been hitting us hard. They give us tariffs, one the highest in the world is India.”

Both India and the United States have repeatedly resolved to strengthen trade ties but attempts at working out an agreement failed even during Modi’s visit to Houston in September.

Trump also said the United States “may make a tremendous deal” with India, but also simultaneously indicated that the talks on this might slow down if he did not get a good deal. Earlier, on Tuesday, the president said they were “not treated very well” by India and that he was saving the trade deal for later on.

In New Delhi, an Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday that India will not “rush into” a trade deal with the United States, saying there needed to be a balanced outcome.

The US President also referred to reports that a turnout of nearly 10 million is expected at Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. “I hear around six to 10 million people are going to show along the road to one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world, which is brand new and beautiful,” he added. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi said we will have 10 million people greet you that is my problem. We have a packed house. We have thousands of people who will not be able to get in. It’s going to look like peanuts from now on. How can we be satisfied if we fill a stadium of only 60,000 people,” he asked.

India-US trade deal

A report by United States Congress’ think tank Congressional Research Service, released on February 14, noted that the trading relationship between the two countries is “more consequential for India”. It said that in 2018, the US was India’s second-largest goods export market with a 16.0% share with the European Union in first place (17.8%). The US was also the third largest goods import supplier (6.3%) after China (14.6%) and the European Union 28 (10.2%) in the same year.

Negotiations between India and the US have centred around preferential access to the Indian market for American makers of stents and other medical devices as well as dairy farmers. India has offered the United States partial access to its poultry and dairy markets in an effort to sign a limited trade deal, a report said on February 14.

India is the world’s largest milk-producing country. However, it has hesitated to open its dairy market in order to protect the livelihoods of eight crore rural households engaged in the industry.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953880/india-hitting-us-hard-with-tariffs-will-talk-business-with-modi-says-donald-trump-on-trade-deal Fri, 21 Feb 2020 09:23:31 +0000 Scroll Staff
‘I am a proud Hindu’: BJP spokesperson defends comment likening woman to dogs https://scroll.in/latest/953874/i-am-a-proud-hindu-bjp-spokesperson-defends-comment-likening-woman-to-dogs On Wednesday, a religious leader in Gujarat had said menstruating women who cook for their husbands would be reborn as dogs.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal on Thursday defended his comments comparing an Indian author to dogs.

His comments came hours after writer Shunali Khullar Shroff mocked a religious leader in Gujarat – Krushna Swarup Das – for saying menstruating women who cook for their husbands would be reborn as dogs. Shroff posted a picture of her dogs on Twitter and told Krushna Swarup Das: “Here is a picture of two fallen women who became she-dogs because they cooked for their husbands while on their period in their last life. You can tell they’re sorry from their body language.” In response, Agarwal asked Shroff which of her two pets she identified with.

The BJP leader’s tweet invited widespread condemnation on Twitter. Actor Swara Bhaskar said Agarwal’s comment was tantamount to an abuse. “This is the [Bharatiya Janata Party’s] national spokesperson basically abusing a woman on a public platform!” she wrote. “You should be ashamed of yourself Agrawal ji!”

However, Agarwal claimed he was merely responding to Shroff’s absurd claims. “I don’t like quoting out of context and demeaning Hinduism,” he added. “I am a proud Hindu. ”

In a series of tweets, the BJP leader accused Shroff of insulting Hinduism. “I never called women [by] any name,” Agarwal added. “Don’t manipulate things. Your tweet neither condemned any baba’s statement or quoted it. I respect women.”

Krushna Swarup Das is associated with a temple in Gujarat’s Bhuj town that runs a college where undergraduate students were allegedly forced to remove their undergarments to prove they were not menstruating. The incident reportedly took place on February 13 at the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute. The college’s principal, hostel rector, and peon have been suspended.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953874/i-am-a-proud-hindu-bjp-spokesperson-defends-comment-likening-woman-to-dogs Fri, 21 Feb 2020 08:49:39 +0000 Scroll Staff
Lucknow: Student stabbed to death outside Gomti Nagar apartment, one accused booked for murder https://scroll.in/latest/953876/lucknow-student-stabbed-to-death-outside-gomti-nagar-apartment-one-accused-booked-for-murder Police said the victim had an argument on Wednesday night with some people at a restaurant in Safedabad town.

A student was stabbed to death on Thursday near the gate of an apartment in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar Extension area, The Indian Express reported. The student, identified as 25-year-old Prashant Singh, had reportedly gone to meet an acquaintance in an apartment complex when a group of six to seven men attacked him with knives.

Singh dropped out of an engineering course at Babu Banarasi Das University and was preparing for competitive exams. Another student of the university, Arpan Shukla, has been booked for his murder.

Police said the victim had an argument on Wednesday night with some people at a restaurant in Safedabad town, around 25 km from Lucknow. “We have found that two groups of youth had an altercation at a restaurant last night,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Somen Barma said. “This incident is suspected to be a result of it. We are probing it.”

Witnesses said as soon as Singh arrived in a car with his driver and stopped at the gate of Alaknanda Apartments, the assilaints stabbed him in the chest. The security guard of the apartment, Ashok Kumar Soni, told the newspaper four people arrived at the gate around 4 pm. “They said they have been invited to a birthday party at house No 506 in M block,” he added. “I rang at the house and was told there is no party there. I again asked them where they wanted to go and they threatened me.” He added that his supervisor then came and that the visitors started arguing with him.

“Minutes later, a car from the society came and I opened the gate,” Soni said. “As I was closing the gate, a speeding car reached the gate. I asked it to stop and started noting down the number. Before I could understand anything, the four men shouted “yehi hai woh [he is the one]” and took out knives. One of them broke the window and the rear windshield of the car. They then pulled the man out and stabbed him. They fled on bikes.”

He said that the victim ran after the attack and fell in the corridor and died.

Singh’s driver said he was also beaten up by the accused. “When I reached here, around 10-15 people were waiting,” he added. “As soon we came, they pulled Prashant out and stabbed him.”

Lucknow Police Commissioner Sujit Pandey told PTI a team has been formed to investigate the case. “We are going through CCTV footage and hope that the accused will be arrested soon,” he said.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953876/lucknow-student-stabbed-to-death-outside-gomti-nagar-apartment-one-accused-booked-for-murder Fri, 21 Feb 2020 08:20:07 +0000 Scroll Staff
Trump’s former advisor jailed for over three years for obstructing Russia collusion inquiry https://scroll.in/latest/953865/trumps-former-advisor-jailed-for-over-three-years-for-obstructing-russia-collusion-inquiry Roger Stone was arrested last year for lying to the US Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

United States President Donald Trump’s former advisor Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison on Thursday for lying to the US Congress and obstructing an investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, Reuters reported.

Stone was arrested in Florida in January 2019. The charges against him stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who issued the order, said Stone’s lies to the House Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact Wikileaks – the website that released damaging emails about Trump’s opponent and Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton – amounted to a threat to American democracy, BBC reported. “Stone was not prosecuted for standing up for the president,” she added. “He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”

Jackson also sentenced the political strategist to two years of probation after his time in prison, and fined him $20,000 (Rs 14.39 lakh). The judge said Stone’s crimes demanded a significant time behind bars, but she said the seven to nine years originally recommended by the Department of Justice were excessive. Stone’s lawyers had asked for probation, citing his advanced age – he is 67 years old – his health, and lack of criminal history.

At the hearing, which lasted for over two hours, Jackson called Stone an “insecure person who craves and recklessly pursues attention”, according to CNN. She said the politics surrounding the case did not inform her ultimate decision.”The truth still exists. The truth still matters.”

Delivering a rebuke to Trump, the judge cited the president’s words and said: “There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution.”

Jackson accused Stone of engaging in “threatening and intimidating conduct” towards her. She said he knew “exactly what he was doing” when he posted an image on social media last year in which a gun’s cross-hairs were positioned over her head. “The defendant engaged in threatening and intimidating conduct toward the court,” she added. “This is intolerable to the administration of justice.”

The judge noted that Stone was not charged with or convicted of having any role in conspiring with Russia. “But Stone’s effort to obstruct a congressional investigation into Russian election meddling was deliberate, planned [and] not one isolated incident,” she added.

The political strategist did not have an immediate reaction in court when the sentence was announced. His attorney Bruce Rogow said Stone and his team would “have no comment.” He was met with chants of “Lock him up” and “Pardon Roger Stone” as he emerged from the courthouse later, Time reported.

Reacting to the conviction, Trump said he would not do anything about it yet, and added that he wanted the process to play out before taking a decision, CNN reported. “I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States, I want the process play out, I think that’s the best thing to do,” Trump said in Las Vegas. “Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”

On Tuesday, Trump had granted clemency to prominent white-collar criminals such as financier Michael Milken and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Stones is the sixth Trump aide convicted on charges linked to a justice department inquiry that uncovered Russian attempts to aid Trump’s 2016 campaign.

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https://scroll.in/latest/953865/trumps-former-advisor-jailed-for-over-three-years-for-obstructing-russia-collusion-inquiry Fri, 21 Feb 2020 08:10:27 +0000 Scroll Staff