Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

(This article is courtesy of India’s Hindustan Times)

 

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

INDIA Updated: Sep 14, 2019 14:20 I ST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, on Set 13, 2019.(AP)

With Pakistan getting no traction for its efforts to raise the Kashmir issue at least four times at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Islamabad is at its wit’s end about forcing an urgent debate or introducing a resolution at the session in Geneva.

Diplomats based in Geneva and New York said, barring China, other countries in the 47-member UNHRC haven’t expressed a demand for a debate on Kashmir while European nations have maintained radio silence on the issue.

Pakistan, as a coordinator of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), issued a joint statement that claimed all 58 members were supporting Islamabad and standing against New Delhi for revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. While OIC members haven’t castigated the coordinator for issuing a statement on their behalf or challenged the document, an influential section of the grouping has made it privately known to Indian counterparts that it has little to do with the statement.

WATCH | Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?

Pakistan’s UNHRC bid on Kashmir: Playing Russian roulette with diplomacy?
“Pakistan’s bid to internationalize the Kashmir issue again, this time at the UNHRC will come to a naught,” opines Hindustan Times’ Executive Editor Shishir Gupta in HT Conversations.
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To date, Pakistan has not named the 58 countries, apart from China and other Arab non-members, who are backing the statement on the changes in Kashmir and alleged human rights violations.

“The fact that Pakistan, despite raking up the issue four or five times in Geneva, has got no overt support in the UNHRC shows that the council has no appetite to discuss Kashmir,” said a top UN diplomat.

“I would say a debate over the issue without any outcome is possible as European nations are silent on the issue and feel there is no harm in debating Kashmir. However, the possibility of Pakistan forcing a resolution in Geneva is very unlikely,” the diplomat added.

Apart from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua’s statements, Islamabad has made two “right of reply” interventions on the Kashmir issue since the council’s session began on September 9.

Pakistan battles to push for UN debate on Kashmir amid lack of support. It is understood Pakistan had got support on the Kashmir issue from a 22-member Arab group, though only a couple of them are members of the UNHRC.

Pakistan has so far not moved the UNHRC for an urgent debate and Indian diplomats are keeping their powder dry to scuttle any such move. Ajay Bisaria, who was till recent India’s envoy to Islamabad and was sent to Geneva to help counter Pakistan’s efforts, will stay on till the UNHRC session ends on September 27, people familiar with developments said.

“If the statements by Pakistan on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir have no support from UNHRC members, it will be very difficult for Pakistan to muster the numbers to force a debate, what to talk of a resolution in Geneva,” said a senior diplomat.

First Published: Sep 14, 2019 00:56 IST

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pakistan claims backing of 60 countries on its Jammu and Kashmir statement

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2019 09:52 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

Hindustan Times,
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019.
Security personnel and police at a barricade in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on Friday, September 06, 2019. (Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)

Pakistan has submitted to the UNHRC a “joint statement” on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir which it said was supported by some 60 countries that it didn’t publicly identify, triggering questions about the backing for the move.

The text of the statement was posted on the website of the Foreign Office after it was delivered to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, but Pakistan did not identify the nations purportedly supporting it.

A member of the Pakistani delegation at the UNHRC in Geneva said a list of these countries would be handed over to the Indian delegation but people familiar with developments said this hadn’t happened.

The people cited above said the statement reportedly had the backing of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Pakistan’s all-weather ally China.

However, diplomats from several OIC member states, such as Indonesia, distanced themselves from the move during their interactions with their Indian counterparts, the people said.

“The fact that the list hasn’t been made public means there is something amiss. Pakistan could have sounded out the countries privately but these countries haven’t publicly spoken on the issue,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also watch | ‘False, concocted’: India’s stinging rebuttal to Pak at UN meet

‘False, concocted’: India’s stinging rebuttal to Pak at UN meet | J&K-Art 370
India delivered a stinging riposte to Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.
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The Indian side is keeping a close eye on Pakistan’s efforts to present a resolution or push for an “urgent debate” on Kashmir at the UNHRC but the prevalent view in New Delhi is that Islamabad won’t be able to muster the numbers to take either of them forward, the people said.

“A simple majority of UNHRC members present and voting is required for a resolution or an urgent debate. Abstentions will reduce it further,” said a person who didn’t want to be named.

The UNHRC has 47 members from across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and Indian diplomats have mounted an extensive outreach programme in New Delhi and key capital to shore up support for the country’s position on the Kashmir issue.

The people said out of the UNHRC’s members, only China and Pakistan had mentioned the Kashmir issue in their national statements while others made no reference to it at all, reflecting greater understanding for India’s position.

Pakistan’s joint statement referred to the “worsening” rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated several of the demands raised by foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his speech at the UNHRC on Tuesday.

It said the world community should seek the protection of fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people, immediate ending of the communications shutdown and release of detained people, immediate halt to use of force, access for human rights groups and international media and setting up of a UN commission of inquiry to probe alleged rights violations.

It also sought the “peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions”.

There was no response to the joint statement from Indian officials. However, the Indian delegation at the UNHRC said on Tuesday that Pakistan is using the Kashmir issue to support jehad and cross-border terrorism. It also said the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and reorganisation of the state were “entirely internal to India”.

Also read | ‘Created a lot of terror’: Lashkar terrorist who shot at Kashmiri toddler killed

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 00:00 IST

India: Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Jaish chief Masood Azhar secretly released from Pakistan jail: Intelligence report

According to an intelligence input, Pakistan has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks.There are also reports of a Pakistan plan to carry out a “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days.

INDIA Updated: Sep 09, 2019 09:43 IST

Neeraj Chauhan
Neeraj Chauhan

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar(AFP file photo)

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has alerted the government about the deployment of additional Pakistani troopers along the border near Rajasthan and said Islamabad has released Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to carry out terror attacks, according to two officials aware of the developments. HT has also accessed an input issued in this regard.

According to the input, Pakistan is planning “big action” in Sialkot-Jammu and Rajasthan sectors in the coming days in response to the government’s move to revoke Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir some autonomy and prevented non-residents from buying property and getting government jobs in the state. The input warned that Pakistan has started deploying additional troops near the Rajasthan border as part of the plan.

The input has been conveyed to the respective Border Security Force and army field formations in Jammu and Rajasthan sectors “to avoid any surprises” from the Pakistani army and the troops have been asked to remain alert, the officials cited above said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday threatened “fullest possible response” to India’s moves in Jammu and Kashmir. Khan added the global community would be responsible for any “catastrophic” aftermath as he continued his rhetoric amid rising tensions with New Delhi since the government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

The comments by Khan, who last week said there was a risk of India-Pakistan war, came on a day Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said they were prepared to “go till any extent”. Bajwa added they were ready to “give sacrifices for our Kashmiri brothers, fulfil our duty till the last bullet, last soldiers and last breath”.

Amid rising tensions between the two countries, the IB input said Pakistan has “secretly” released Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar to plan terrorist operations while other terror organisations were also working openly. There were uncorroborated reports after the February 14 car bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that Pakistani agencies had taken Azhar into protective custody.

Also watch: Navy chief reveals intel of Jaish-e-Mohammad training ‘underwater wing’

Navy chief reveals intel of Jaish-e-Mohammad training ‘underwater wing’
Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh, revealed that intelligence alerts suggest that Jaish-e-Mohammad is providing training to its ‘underwater wing’.
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JeM took responsibility for the attack in which 40 paramilitary troopers were killed and prompted India to carry airstrikes on the group’s camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.

One of the officials cited above said Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had no inkling that the Indian government would revoke Article 370 on August 5. “It is being considered the ISI’s biggest intelligence failure in history and now they are under pressure to act,’’ the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official added while the Pakistani army will try to play mischief, militants like Azhar have been unleashed to carry out terror attacks in India. “Pakistan may try to use the current situation and the Indian government’s focus in Jammu and Kashmir to target somewhere else.”

Azhar, who is wanted in India for several attacks, including the 2016 Pathankot airbase attack, was among four people declared as individual terrorists on August 4 under a new anti-terror law passed in August.

In an interaction with journalists on Saturday, national security adviser Ajit Doval said Pakistan is trying to create trouble and some 230 terrorists have been spotted across the border.

There have been sporadic skirmishes along the India-Pakistan border since August 5. Army chief General Bipin Rawat told HT last week that Pakistan has reopened terror training camps and attempted to push infiltrators. He said that the Indian Army is ready for any eventuality.

Internal security expert Ajay Sahni said Pakistan sees the abrogation of Article 370 as a provocation and has to be seen doing something about it, saying: “Also, Pakistan is under tremendous pressure from the international community over terrorism, failing the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] yardsticks, the economic situation, and others, which are limiting its capacity to respond. It is difficult to predict how Pakistan will respond.” Sahni, however, cautioned against taking all the IB inputs at face value.

First Published: Sep 09, 2019 05:27 IST

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

India Just Found Its Lost Vikram Lander on the Moon, Still No Signal

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.
(Image: © India Space Research Organisation)

India’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter circling the moon has spotted the country’s lost Vikram lander on the lunar surface, but there is still no signal from the lander, according to Indian media reports.

K Sivan, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said today (Sept. 8) that the Vikram lander was located by Chandrayaan-2 and efforts to restore contact the probe will continue for at least 14 days, according to a Times of India report.

“We have found the location of Lander Vikram on [the] lunar surface and Orbiter has clicked a thermal image of Lander,” Sivan told the ANI news service in an interview, adding that attempts to communicate with the lander are ongoing.

Video: The Moment India Lost Contact with the Vikram Moon Lander
Related: 
India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

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Communications Lost With India’s Lunar Lander During Descent
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The Vikram lander went silent Friday (Sept. 6) while attempting a first-ever landing near the moon’s south pole. ISRO lost contact with Vikram when the lander was just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the lunar surface, raising fears that it may have crashed on the moon. The Vikram lander is India’s first moon lander, and is carrying the country’s first lunar rover, called Pragyan.

ISRO officials have not yet released the Chandrayaan-2 image of Vikram on the lunar surface or described the potential condition of the lander. But they have said that despite the lander’s presumed failed moon landing, the craft has already demonstrated key technologies for future missions.

The Vikram Lander followed the planned descent trajectory from its orbit of 35 km (22 miles) to just below 2 km above the surface,” ISRO officials wrote in an update Saturday (Sept. 7). “All the systems and sensors of the Lander functioned excellently until this point and proved many new technologies such as variable thrust propulsion technology used in the Lander.”

Related: We Came Very Close:’ Indian PM Modi Lauds Chandrayaan-2 Team

As ISRO tries to regain contact with the Vikram moon lander, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is doing well in lunar orbit, the space agency said. In fact, the orbiter could last well beyond its planned one-year mission.

“The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community,” ISRO officials said in the Sept. 7 statement. “The precise launch and mission management has ensured a long life of almost 7 years instead of the planned one year.”

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter is shown studying the lunar surface from above in this still image from a video animation.

(Image credit: India Space Research Organisation)

The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is equipped with eight different science instruments to study the moon from above. Those instruments include: a high resolution camera, a lunar terrain mapping camera; a solar X-ray monitor; an imaging infrared spectrometer; a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar for studying moon water ice and lunar mapping; a sensor to study the moon’s thin exosphere; and a dual frequency radio science experiment to study the moon’s ionosphere.

Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon after the Chandrayaan-1 mission of 2008 and 2009. An instrument on that first mission discovered the spectral signature for water across wide swaths of the moon, with big concentrations at the lunar poles, where permanently shadowed craters allow water ice to stay frozen.

Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launch and Land on Moon in New Animation
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The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter aims to pick up where its predecessor left off.

“This was a unique mission which aimed at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission,” ISRO officials said in the update. “The Orbiter has already been placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and shall enrich our understanding of the moon’s evolution and mapping of the minerals and water molecules in the Polar Regions, using its eight state-of-the-art scientific instruments.”

Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Team Modi looks to foil Pakistan designs on Kashmir at UNHRC

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

INDIA Updated: Sep 08, 2019 09:03 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Singapore
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.
The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

With a crucial UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session beginning on Monday, New Delhi’s aim is to ensure that Pakistan does not secure any outcome on Kashmir. Pakistani foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi personally leads the charge against India in Geneva from September 9 to 12.

The session lasts from September 9 to 27. If Pakistan wants to move a resolution, it needs to do so before September 19, which explains the intensity of its efforts as well as that of New Delhi’s preemptive measures.

According to diplomats and security officials based here, Geneva and New Delhi, while foreign minister S Jaishankar has personally contacted or visited each and every member of the 47-member UNHRC, national security adviser Ajit Doval has managed the internal situation in Kashmir. The government will stress the fact that not a single life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces. The vital political aspect of Kashmir is being handled by home minister Amit Shah.

The Indian counter at UNHRC, Geneva, will be led by secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh along with high commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria apart from other officials.

Also Watch | Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move

 

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Hindustan Times’ executive editor Shishir Gupta explains how the trio of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval orchestrated the move to bring about this landmark decision on Kashmir of revoking the contentious Article 370.
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According to diplomats, Pakistan will first assess the situation before it either calls for an urgent debate or resolution at the UNHRC. If Pakistan moves for an urgent debate by writing a letter to the UNHRC president, then the matter will be put to a simple majority vote with absentees or abstentions not being counted. The other option for Pakistan is to move a resolution citing alleged human rights violations in Kashmir, but this will also be put to vote. However, the matter is tedious as China and the UK (in the first round) took Pakistan’s side on August 16 at the UNSC. The eventual result, though was a knockout totally in favour of India with the US, France and Russia against the outcome.

Since the August 5-6 resolutions and laws that scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Jaishankar has been on the move, travelling to China, Indonesia, the Maldives, Belgium, Poland, Russia and Hungary explaining the Indian position on Jammu and Kashmir. He has engaged Indian Ocean rim countries and others including South Africa, Fiji, Australia and the Philippines over the phone to defeat Pakistani designs. He is currently in Singapore working away the phones as he has been tasked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince UNHRC members that Kashmir is an internal matter of India.

On Friday, speaking at the HT-MintAsia summit in Singapore, Jaishankar said most countries accepted that the Indian move to nullify Article 370 was an internal issue. “They think it’s an Indian issue. They are aware, in part from the reactions, that Pakistan is saying some pretty strong things about it. The general sentiment is that if there are issues at all, India and Pakistan should sit down and sort it out,” the minister said.

Doval bears the onerous task of handling the internal security situation in Kashmir and ensure that innocents are not used as cannon fodder by Rawalpindi general headquarters (GHQ) to project alleged human rights violations in Kashmir. Interacting with reporters in Delhi, Doval made it clear that more than 230 jihadists were waiting across the Line of Control (LoC) to infiltrate India and spread mayhem in the Valley at the behest of their Pakistani handlers.

Reeling out the figures, Doval, who handled the J&K internal security on the ground till August 15, said that contrary to some reports, medical services in the region haven’t been hit: at least 400,000 people have been treated, 35,000 admitted and 11,000 operated upon for a variety of ailments since August 5, he explained. He said all landline connectivity has been restored in Jammu and Kashmir with some amount of mobile connectivity in Jammu, Ladakh and two districts ( Kupwara and Handwara) in Kashmir. Internet kiosks have been opened in all 10 districts of Kashmir with a minimum five terminals apart from 12 counters with internet access also available at the tourist reception centre in Srinagar. There are eight internet terminals working at the media centre in Srinagar.

According to the NSA, restrictions on movement have been lifted from 92% of the state and are in place now in only 11 out of 199 police station areas in the region. More than 1.67 metric tons of apples have been transported and ~98 crores disbursed through ATMs in the state to date, he added, listing two other issues that have been highlighted — the status of the apple trade and the availability of cash. Schools too are open, he told reporters.

However, Doval added that Indian agencies have intercepted messages that point to efforts to disrupt the movement of the trucks carrying apples. This is the peak apple season and the trade in Kashmir is worth around Rs 15,000 crore a year.

First Published: Sep 08, 2019 05:38 IST

Kashmir on agenda during President Kovind’s visit, says Swiss government

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Kashmir on agenda during President Kovind’s visit, says Swiss government

Ahead of the presidential visit, the Swiss government in a release said the situation in Kashmir will be among the issues that will be on the agenda during the meetings between the top leadership and Kovind.

INDIA Updated: Sep 07, 2019 06:18 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

New Delhi
President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”
President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”

President Ram Nath Kovind will embark on a visit to Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia from Monday during which he is expected to brief the top leadership in those countries on India’s “national concerns”, especially in view of terror incidents this year, including the Pulwama attack.

Asked if President Kovind during his talks with the leaders there will also brief them on Kashmir, ministry of external affairs secretary (west) A Gitesh Sarma did not give a direct reply and said “when leaders meet, there is a structure in which regional, international, global, multilateral and issues of national concern” are discussed.

Ahead of the presidential visit, the Swiss government in a release said the situation in Kashmir will be among the issues that will be on the agenda during the meetings between the top leadership and Kovind.

Briefing reporters on the nine-day visit, Sarma said, “We always use these opportunities to brief each other. Just as we have issues, each of these countries have their own concerns. So this is a very good setting to hear it at the highest level what our perspective is and what is theirs. So, we will certainly use these opportunities as we can to acquaint them of our concerns.”

On J&K, these countries are very sympathetic to India with respect to the terror incidents earlier in this year, he said and added that they all understand that we all need to work together.

“This year also in the context of the Pulwama attack, their sympathies have been with India. Even though they have themselves not faced such challenges as we continue to face, they are nevertheless aware that they need to work closely with india,” he said. There is a very good understanding on most of these issues, he said.

President Kovind will first arrive in Iceland on September 9 and will hold talks with Iceland President Gudni Johannesson and Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdottir. The President’s next stop will Switzerland from September 11-15 where he will meet President Ueli Maurer and members of the Swiss cabinet, Sarma said. He will arrive in Slovenia on September 15. During his visit there, Kovind will hold extensive discussions with Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Slovenian PM Marjan Šarec.

First Published: Sep 07, 2019 05:18 IST

India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

Indian Space Research Organization employees react as they learn that mission control lost communication with its unmanned landing module moments before it touched down on the moon’s south pole Saturday (local time.)

Aijaz Rahi/AP

India’s attempt to become the first country to land a robotic mission at the Moon’s south pole has failed, after engineers lost contact with the Vikram lander — part of the Chandrayaan-2 probe.

Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation lost signal from the lander as it hovered over the surface, moments away from what would have been a successful soft-landing.

In a statement ISRO’s Mission Control Center provided a brief explanation of what went wrong, saying the unmanned landing module’s “descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost.”

“Data is being analyzed,” ISRO added.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi — who watched the final moments of the attempt — offered words of encouragement to the Chandrayaan team, which has been working on the $150 million project.

“India is proud of our scientists!” wrote Modi on Twitter. “They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!”

Scientists were hoping to land the robotic spacecraft between two craters about 375 miles from the moon’s unexplored south pole.

The lander was supposed to release a small solar-powered rover equipped with instruments to collect and analyze the moon’s 4-billion-year-old soil.

A successful touchdown would have vaulted India into an exclusive club of countries that have successfully completed a soft landing on the lunar surface. So far, only the former Soviet Union, the United States and China have accomplished it.

Several of the early U.S. and Soviet attempts at a soft, robotic, landing on the moon in the 1960s were unsuccessful.

Part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, an orbiter, remains in operation.

Saturday’s disappointing lunar mission comes a little more than a decade after India launched the Chandrayaan-1, a satellite that fired a projectile into the moon’s South Pole in search of water.

India: A year after 377 verdict: Long battle for civil rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

A year after 377 verdict: Long battle for civil rights still ahead

It’s been a year since the Supreme Court read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code

INDIA Updated: Sep 06, 2019 07:09 IST

Dhamini Ratnam and Dhrubo Jyoti
Dhamini Ratnam and Dhrubo Jyoti

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The bill, first moved by the government in 2015, has been mired in controversy with many activists complaining it falls short of safeguarding their rights.
The bill, first moved by the government in 2015, has been mired in controversy with many activists complaining it falls short of safeguarding their rights.(Sushil Kumar/HT FILE PHOTO)

A year ago, the Supreme Court handed victory to 34 people from across India who challenged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a British-era law that criminalized consensual, adult, same-sex relationships and fostered a climate of fear and discrimination against the entire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Now, petitioners and other members of the community say that although Section 377 was read down on September 6, 2018, the legal battle for their civil rights has only just begun.

According to them, the right to own and inherit property, nominate their same-sex partners on hospital and insurance forms, and receive legal recognition of same-sex relationships and marriage were some of the main demands. Other petitions pertaining to reservations for trans persons in government jobs and educational institutions, and seeking the formation of Transgender Welfare Boards, among other things, are in the works.

“When I get calls from young people all over India, they want marriage, insurance, civil and economic rights. The cap on the bottle has been removed. It will be a multi-pronged fight,” said Menaka Guruswamy, senior Supreme Court advocate and one of the lawyers in the main Section 377 case titled Navtej Johar versus Union of India.

Analysis | 377: What we won, what remains

The preparations have already begun. Lucknow-based petitioner Arif Jafar said he and his lawyers were finalizing a petition to ask for same-sex partners to be allowed to nominate each other in insurance and property documents. Hotelier Keshav Suri said he was working on a petition asking for spousal recognition and benefits — such as joint bank accounts.

“We may not immediately ask for marriage equality, because that is a longer battle but start on the lower-hanging fruit,” said the 34-year-old, who is married to a French man. “My marriage is recognised in France but not here, I want to change that,” he added, but cautioned that consultations and strategising had not happened yet.

Another petitioner, Suma, a trans woman, will soon petition the Karnataka administrative tribunal over reservations for a government position.

Bengaluru-based activist Akkai Padmashali said the past year had seen greater recognition of LGBT rights by bureaucrats, but raised issue with the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019, which was recently passed by the Lok Sabha. “If it passes in its current form, I will have no choice but challenge it in the SC,” she said.

The bill, first moved by the government in 2015, has been mired in controversy with many activists complaining it falls short of safeguarding their rights.

The Human Rights law Network (HRLN) will soon file public interest litigation’s for several transgender petitioners asking states to take steps for framing social welfare schemes, including setting up Transgender Welfare Boards, providing identity cards, toilets, and free medical care, a lawyer at HRLN said.

In July, trans activist Grace Banu filed a public interest litigation in the Madras high court seeking reservation for trans persons in education and public employment. Currently, Tamil Nadu allows reservation in the Most Backward Classes category. The petition seeks separate reservation for those persons who identify as trans.

“After the Section 377 verdict, people expected things to change much faster than they have on the ground, with problems of lack of shelter homes/safe houses, sensitive police machinery, lawyers and judges still very much present. In fact, the real struggle begins after the positive court orders where the courts have reaffirmed their right to choice, and people struggle to find jobs, rented houses while facing constant emotional pressure from families to come back,” said Delhi-based lawyer Amritananda Chakravorty.

On September 6, the Delhi high court will hear a habeas corpus case involving a lesbian in her 30’s, who was allegedly separated from her partner by her family. The woman who is married and is reportedly a victim of domestic violence, has been staying at a city shelter home in the city.

Over the past 12 months, judgments in various high courts around the country expanded the scope of human rights for LGBT people. In October 2018, a trans man named Jeeva petitioned the Karnataka high court to change his name and gender on his school and college certificates. The judge directed the state’s education department to ensure that other trans persons are able to do the same without the court’s further intervention in this matter.

In April 2019, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court upheld the marriage between a man and a trans woman, who approached the court after registration authorities refused to recognize the union, saying that a trans woman couldn’t be considered a bride under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

This was the first judgment in India where the right to marry under Article 21 of the Constitution was affirmed for transgender persons, noted the Bengaluru-based Centre for Law and Policy Research.

There are other challenges, too. In October 2018, the SC dismissed a petition seeking civil rights for the LGBT community and refused to review the decision in July 2019 – saying the issue had already been dealt with in Navtej Johar vs Union of India.

Guruswamy said the next battle for LGBT rights may be a case in a district court that eventually gets bumped up to the apex court on appeal.

“Young people are already approaching district and high courts, police stations and registrars and demanding their rights. That is the way the next big case will come,” she added.

First Published: Sep 06, 2019 05:27 IST

India to Attempt Moon Landing at the Lunar South Pole Today

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SPACE.COM)

 

India to Attempt Moon Landing at the Lunar South Pole Today. How to Watch Live

India is about to land where no one has before on the moon, and you can watch it all online.

The Chandrayaan-2 lunar lander Vikram, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is scheduled to land amid the craters of the moon’s south pole today (Sept. 6). Touchdown is scheduled for sometime between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. EDT (2000-2100 GMT, 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Sept. 7 IST). ISRO will live stream the landing in a webcast beginning at 3:40 p.m. EDT (1940 GMT, 1:10 a.m. IST).

You can watch the Indian moon landing webcast here and on Space.com’s homepage, as well as directly from the ISRO webcast here.

Video: India’s Vikram Moon Lander Explained
Related: 
India’s Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon in Photos

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India’s Lunar Lander ‘Vikram’ – Instruments Detailed
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Chandrayaan-2 is the second to the moon by India, following on the heels of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, but this latest project is tackling lunar exploration in more extensive fashion.Whereas Chandrayaan-1, which explored the moon from 2008 to 2009, was just an orbiter, Chandrayaan-2 has an orbiter, lander and the small rover Pragyan.

The purpose of Chandrayaan-2 is to study the mysterious moon from top to bottom, including its topography, mineralogy, exosphere, elemental abundance and even possible seismic activity. With seven instruments aboard the orbiter, three aboard the lander and a further two attached to the rover, there will be no stone left unturned.

The target landing site for India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission to explore the lunar south pole.

(Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation)

India launched the Chandrayaan-2 mission on July 22 atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The mission entered orbit just under a month later, with the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter placed into orbit 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface.

Once settled, the orbiter’s cameras, spectrometers and radars will get to work in finding the elusive lunar water ice and hydroxyl (molecules containing the oxygen and hydrogen bond) signatures. The Vikram lander, which also contains the Pragyan rover, disengaged from the orbiter on Monday (Sept. 2) to prepare for today’s landing.

US, Russian and Potential Indian Moon Landing Sites Pinpointed in New Animation
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The Vikram lander has a unique science payload. It contains a thermo-physical experiment to measure the surface’s thermal properties, an instrument designed to study the surface’s ionosphere and atmosphere, and lastly a seismic activity instrument, which will allow scientists to delve deeper into the moon than any other instrument before. About four hours after Vikram’s (hopefully) successful landing, the Pragyan rover will be deployed from the lander, releasing the mini-tank of scientific adventure onto the lunar surface.

Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 Launch and Land on Moon in New Animation
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India’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover are designed to last one lunar day (14 Earth days), though Chandrayaan-2 is expected to spend a full year studying the moon from above. The Chandrayaan-2 mission has a full cost of about 10 billion rupees (about $145 million),  ISRO officials have said.’

Visit Space.com today for complete coverage of India’s Chandrayaan-2 Vikram landing on the moon.

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(Image credit: Future)

This story was provided by How It Works Magazine, a Future PLC publication. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at [email protected]

India: ‘J&K move timed to avoid fresh violence, checkmate Pak’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘J&K move timed to avoid fresh violence, checkmate Pak’: Army chief Bipin Rawat

FATF, a multilateral watchdog, placed Pakistan on its “grey list” in June 2018 for failing to counter fund-raising by terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

INDIA Updated: Sep 05, 2019 08:21 IST

Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
New Delhi
Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat visited troops on the Line of Control to review prevailing situation and operational readiness of the units of White Knight Corps. The army chief said he was offering a peaceful gesture towards the terrorists and appealed them to stop the bloodshed.
Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat visited troops on the Line of Control to review prevailing situation and operational readiness of the units of White Knight Corps. The army chief said he was offering a peaceful gesture towards the terrorists and appealed them to stop the bloodshed. (ANI Photo)

One month after the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has backed the timing of the move, and called upon the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the militants to give peace a chance.

“Another phase of violence was going to start and the timing was right because Pakistan was also under pressure of being placed on theblack list by the Financial Action Task Force. I told the government the army would provide the military support it needed to implement the decision,” Rawat said in an interview with Hindustan Times,

FATF, a multilateral watchdog, placed Pakistan on its “grey list” in June 2018 for failing to counter fund-raising by terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Following an assessment meeting in June in Florida, it urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan to counter terror financing by October 2019. “Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress,” the watchdog said, indicating it may place the country on its “black list”, which entails harsher financial sanctions.

Also Watch | ‘When was Kashmir ever a part of Pakistan?’: Rajnath Singh in Leh

‘When was Kashmir ever a part of Pakistan?’: Rajnath Singh in Leh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched a scathing attack on Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. He said that Kashmir has never been a part of Pakistan and hence it has no locus standi to speak on the issue.
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In the interview, the army chief said the people of Kashmir and the militants should give peace a chance.

“There has been violence for 30 years and you have been through difficult times. Leave the anger behind and give peace a chance,’’ Rawat said.

He said he was offering a “peaceful gesture” to the terrorists. “We are not going after the terrorists because we don’t want a gunfight to vitiate the atmosphere. I don’t want to lay cordons and conduct searches, but we have to clap with both hands. Think about it and drop your guns. This generation has not seen peace,” he said.

The general blamed “some instigators” for continuing restrictions, saying the minute the curbs were relaxed, there is trouble and the Valley is locked down again. “The instigators are not allowing the benefits of the process of integration (through the nullification of Article 370) to come in.”

On August 5 and 6, Parliament effectively revoked Article 370 of the Constitution that conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir, and Article 35A that reserved benefits like government jobs and property ownership for people deemed to be permanent citizens of the state. The state is to be divided into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Pakistan has stepped up re-opening terror training camps and attempting to push infiltrators across the line of control. Asked about Pakistan’s continuing war rhetoric, Rawat said, “I am ready for whatever Pakistan wants. If it wants a BAT (border action team) action, I am ready. If it wants limited action with India, I am ready and if it wants war with India, the Indian army is ready.”

Rawat said that Pakistan has only exposed itself through its rhetoric. It was telling the world that it was not sending terrorists to India but by speaking up now, it is in effect owning up to its support of terror.” You cannot prepare terrorists in 15 days. On the line of control, we remain ever prepared and in the Valley, we remain every deployed,” he said.

Asked if the rising anger in the Valley would lead to more local Kashmiris joining the ranks of militants, he said, “Whether there are 300 or 500, we are concerned with their capacity to strike. If they strike, who will it affect? Violence is detrimental to the local Kashmiri and the loss is not of the Indian establishment.”

Firmly denying allegations of torture and of his men telling Kashmiri women that they would now marry them, Rawat said, “Kashmiris are very good at maligning the forces to the media. Our men do not do this. Give me the name of one of my men and I’ll punish that man. We are running goodwill schools and the attendance is better there than in other schools. If we are so bad, why do you come to us?”

Defending the government’s move to nullify Article 370, Rawat said, “The only way to address the alienation was by removing the Article. We want to embrace the Kashmiri by becoming one integrated nation.”

Asked if the battle for the hearts and minds of Kashmiris was being lost, the general said, “Battles are not lost in one month. The government is looking at easing pressure and removing restrictions gradually.”

First Published: Sep 04, 2019 23:33 IST