U.S. Has Postponed The ‘2 + 2’ (Security And Defense) Talks With India

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

 

Why US postponed the 2+2 talks with India

The 2+2 dialogue scheduled for July 6 – the first simultaneous meeting of the Indian defence and external affairs ministers and their US counterparts – was postponed by the US on Wednesday citing “unavoidable reasons”.

INDIA Updated: Jun 29, 2018 07:21 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Philippines in November 2017.
US president Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Philippines in November 2017.

It was the sudden “classified travel” of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo that resulted in the last-minute deferral of the so-called 2-plus-2 dialogue between India and the US originally scheduled for July 6, senior Indian officials involved in talks with the US said.

Indeed, the US is keen on the talks and could even be open to shifting the venue for the discussion between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries to India, they added.

The officials, none of whom wished to be identified, said the dialogue had been postponed because Pompeo has to travel either to North Korea or Russia.

They dismissed theories that it was US concern over Iran (and India’s oil purchases from that country), the purchase of S-400 missiles from Moscow, or bilateral trade issues that resulted in the deferment. A report in the Financial Times said Pompeo was likely to travel to North Korea to discuss the country’s denuclearisation plans.

The Indian embassy in Washington was informed about the postponement of the dialogue by the state department on Wednesday morning with an assurance that secretary Pompeo would himself conveys his regrets to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj later over phone. Before the state department communication, both countries were preparing for the meeting, with US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster meeting foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale on Tuesday afternoon.

Indian diplomats in the US echoed these views. They, and the Indian officials, pointed to US ambassador Nikki Haley’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which she said the US would not tolerate Pakistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists. They also pointed to the fact that a US trade delegation led by assistant US trade representative Mark Linscott is currently in Delhi negotiating the way to address bilateral trade concerns. India,for its part, the officials said, has decided to address the Trump administration’s concerns by buying oil and gas worth $4 billion a year from the US and also facilitating the purchase of 300 civilian jets worth $40 billion.

During his meetings with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington this month, commerce minister Suresh Prabhu agreed with his hosts that the only way to address trade concerns was through a comprehensive dialogue.

On US concerns over India buying the S-400 missile systems from Russia, South Block officials agreed that “this was not an ideal situation” but said that both sides were open to having a candid discussion given India’s legacy issues.

Although US sanctions against Iran will kick in on November 4, senior Indian diplomats said the US is not threatening India over purchase of crude oil from Tehran; Washington is aware that New Delhi had already cut down its oil intake from the Islamic Republic to 6% of the total oil it imports before the sanctions were lifted when Iran signed its deal with the US when Barack Obama was in power.

Even now, India imports only 18% of its crude oil from Iran. Before the dialogue was postponed, the talks on Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) had recorded forward momentum towards closure by the end of this year and hardware acquisition through the foreign military sales route had been finalized with the two countries involved in advanced Malabar and RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) naval exercises.

It has also been decided that both India and the US will closely collaborate on a maritime security architecture through the Indo-PAC Command of the US Navy.

“ India-US relations are multi-faceted and on a vast canvass. It is normal to have differences over some issues. But saying US is threatening India (and that the postponement of the talks is one embodiment of this) is an overexaggeration of the facts on ground,” said a top Indian diplomat dealing with US.

Shutdown in Kashmir to protest against civilian deaths

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

 

Shutdown in Kashmir to protest against civilian killings, heavy contingents of forces

The Joint Resistance Leadership of separatists said that in the name of crackdown, security forces are “creating a 90s-like situation” and common people are being harassed without any reason.

INDIA Updated: Jun 26, 2018 00:01 IST

Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A paramilitary soldier stands guard in a closed market during a strike at Maisuma in Srinagar on Monday.
A paramilitary soldier stands guard in a closed market during a strike at Maisuma in Srinagar on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi/ Hindustan Times)

A shutdown was observed in Kashmir on the call of separatist leadership to protest civilian killings and excesses by security forces during Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) launched in different parts of the Valley in the last one week since ceasefire was revoked.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of separatists said that in the name of crackdown, security forces are “creating a 90s-like situation” and common people are being harassed without any reason.

Since ceasefire was revoked, the CASOs were being launched on a daily basis, especially in south Kashmir, and security had been beefed up in Srinagar city.

At least four civilians were killed in different parts of south Kashmir during clashes with forces near encounter sites where eight militants have been killed.

“We can’t be spectators to the brutal killings of unarmed protesters,’’ the JRL leadership said in a statement.

They also highlighted the injuries caused allegedly by use of pellets and bullets by security forces to disperse protesters.

Although shops and business establishments remained closed in the Valley, normal transport was plying on the roads.

To prevent untoward incidents, additional forces were deployed at sensitive spots in Srinagar.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was put under house arrest and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman (JKLF) Yasin Malik was detained at Kothibagh police station on Monday, on apprehension that they will try to take out protest demonstrations in the city.

Meanwhile, defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and army chief Bipin Rawat visited the base camp of Amarnath Yatra at Baltal in Sonmarg Ganderbal district. Sitharaman reviewed security along the yatra route and directed officials to maintain high level security during the yatra which will start later this week.

19 of India’s 25 dirtiest cities are in West Bengal

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

 

19 of India’s 25 dirtiest cities are in West Bengal, Darjeeling on the list

The cities, which include Darjeeling, Siliguri, Serampore, Madhyamgram, North Barrackpore, Bankura, fared abysmally on all sanitation indicators such as waste collection, open defecation, solid waste processing and disposal

INDIA Updated: Jun 24, 2018 17:56 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata, India, April 9, 2017.
A man cleans garbage along the banks of the river Ganges in Kolkata, India, April 9, 2017. (REUTERS File Photo)

Nineteen out of the 25 dirtiest cities in India are from West Bengal, with Bhadreshwar in Gujarat at the bottom of the list of 500 cities with a population of over one lakh, a nationwide cleanliness survey by the union housing and urban affairs ministry has found.

The cities, which include Darjeeling, Siliguri, Serampore, Madhyamgram, North Barrackpore, Bankura, fared abysmally on all sanitation indicators such as waste collection, open defecation, solid waste processing and disposal, the survey found.

Three cities each from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are also among the dirtiest, figuring in the bottom of the list.

In all, 4203 urban local bodies were surveyed between January and March and ranked under different categories, based on their population. Besides, for the first time all the cantonment boards, run by the army, were also included in the survey.

West Bengal also fared among the bottom four dirtiest states in the country, followed by Nagaland, Puducherry and Tripura.

Jharkhand is the cleanest state in India followed by Maharashtra and Chattisgarh, according to the report, which was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Indore on Saturday. Among the cities, Indore is the cleanest — second year in a row — followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh. The PM also gave away the award to the cleanest states and cities at a function. Varanasi, PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency, was ranked 29 among the list of 500 cities. Last year it was ranked 32.

Read: Indore the cleanest city, followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh: Swachh Bharat survey

Cities were ranked on the basis of their performance in six parameters including collection and transportation of municipal solid waste, their processing and disposal, sanitation related progress, innovation and best practices adapted by cities.

A senior ministry official said that West Bengal had not participated in the earlier two cleanliness survey conducted by the ministry in 2016 and 2017.

Subrata Gupta, West Bengal principal secretary (urban affairs and municipal affairs department) said, “I am not aware of any such survey. I have not seen the survey report and won’t be able to comment on it. The state, however, runs its own cleanliness program called Nirmal Bangla as part of which we rank our cities.”

Yamini Aiyar, president and chief executive, Centre for Policy Research, feels that while such data and ranking are useful and important exercise as they act as a periodic check and puts the spotlight on the issue, but the real devil lies in the detail.

“The biggest limitation of such survey is what we do after, to what extent the result is used as a diagnostic tool to address the problem cities are facing. Unfortunately, we have not been able to take the next step, to see to what degree our municipalities have the capacity and technology to process solid waste, etc.”

The urban affairs ministry had last month announced the winners of the 2018 Swachhata Sarvekshan but had not released the list of dirtiest city. A senior ministry official said that over 2700 assessors from Karvy Data management services Limited visited the 4203 Urban Local Bodies as part of the survey, which was completed in 66 days.

Read: Smaller cities better at waste management than bigger ones like Delhi

The methodology involved giving 35 % weightage to service level progress, which included checking if municipalities documents are physically verified to assess whether systems and processes are in place to implement Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) in the most efficient way, 30% weightage was given to direct observation to ascertain general cleanliness in the cities by making random field visits in different parts of the city and public conveniences covering community/public toilets.

China Wants To Mediate Between India And China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India-Pakistan ties purely bilateral, no space for third country, says India after China suggests trilateral summit

The Chinese Ambassador said “some Indian friends” had suggested trilateral cooperation comprising India, China and Pakistan under the aegis of the SCO, which was a “very constructive idea”.

INDIA Updated: Jun 18, 2018 22:14 IST

Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain and China's President Xi Jinping at a signing ceremony during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, on June 10, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and China’s President Xi Jinping at a signing ceremony during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, on June 10, 2018. (Reuters)

India on Monday said matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and that there is no scope for involvement of any third country, reacting to Chinese envoy Luo Zhaohui’s comments endorsing trilateral cooperation among India, China and Pakistan to resolve such issues.

The opposition Congress party also condemned the Chinese ambassador’s statement.

Endorsing the idea of trilateral cooperation between India, China and Pakistan under the aegis of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Luo said it could “in the future” help resolve bilateral issues between New Delhi and Islamabad and help maintain peace.

In response to queries on the comments made by the Chinese Ambassador to India on a possible trilateral summit between India, China and Pakistan, ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India had not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government.

“We have seen reports on comments made by the Chinese Ambassador in this matter. We have not received any such suggestion from the Chinese government. We consider the statement as the personal opinion of the Ambassador. Matters related to India-Pakistan relations are purely bilateral in nature and have no scope for involvement of any third country,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the Government of India should also strongly condemn the “unwarranted suggestion” of the Chinese Ambassador and that all issues between India and Pakistan would be resolved as per the Shimla Agreement.

The Chinese Ambassador said “some Indian friends” had suggested trilateral cooperation comprising India, China and Pakistan under the aegis of the SCO, which was a “very constructive idea”.

“Security cooperation is one of the three pillars of the SCO. Some Indian friends suggested that China, India and Pakistan may have some kind of trilateral cooperation under the SCO,” he said in his keynote address on ‘Beyond Wuhan: How Far and Fast can China-India Relations Go’ at an event organised by the Chinese Embassy here.

Responding to a question on whether a trilateral meet between the Asian neighbours will help in solving the India-Pakistan dispute, he said he personally considered it “a good and constructive idea”.

Saudi women can now start their own business without male permission

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Saudi women can now start their own business without male permission

Saudi Arabia is pushing to expand the country’s private sector, including an expansion of female employment under a reform plan for a post-oil era.

WORLD Updated: Feb 18, 2018 19:59 IST

Agence France-Presse, Riyadh
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading the drive to expand the role of women in the workforce in recent months.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading the drive to expand the role of women in the workforce in recent months. (AFP File Photo)

Women in Saudi Arabia can now open their own businesses without the consent of a husband or male relative, as the kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.

The policy change, announced by the Saudi government on Thursday, also marks a major step away from the strict guardianship system that has ruled the country for decades.

“Women can now launch their own businesses and benefit from (governmental) e-services without having to prove consent from a guardian,” the ministry of commerce and investment said on its website.

Under Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, women are required to present proof of permission from a male “guardian” — normally the husband, father or brother — to do any government paperwork, travel or enrol in classes.

Long dependent on crude production for economic revenue, Saudi Arabia is pushing to expand the country’s private sector, including an expansion of female employment under a reform plan for a post-oil era.

While women still face a host of restrictions in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor’s office this month said it would begin recruiting women investigators for the first time.

The kingdom has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, a historic first that the government said drew 107,000 female applicants.

Read more

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful heir to the Saudi throne, has been leading the drive to expand the role of women in the workforce in recent months.

His father, King Salman, in September approved the end of a decades-long ban on driving, which goes into effect in June.

The 32-year-old prince pledged a “moderate, open” Saudi Arabia in October, breaking with ultra-conservative clerics in favour of an image catering to foreign investors and Saudi youth.

Prince Mohammed is widely seen as the chief architect behind Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” reform programme, which seeks to elevate the percentage of women in the work force from 22 percent to nearly one-third.

Al Qaeda threatens attacks in Delhi, Mumbai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Al Qaeda threatens attacks in Delhi, Mumbai for ‘victory’ in Kashmir

In a video interview with al Qaeda’s mouthpiece, released on jihadi online networks, Usama Mehmood, spokesman of al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent, said there could be no easy solution to the Kashmir issue which needs “blood and sweat” of Muslims.

INDIA Updated: Dec 27, 2017 21:51 IST

Indo Asian News Service, New Delhi
Calling for attacks in Delhi and Mumbai, the al Qaeda said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.”
Calling for attacks in Delhi and Mumbai, the al Qaeda said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.”(PTI Photo)

Global terror network al Qaeda that formally announced its affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year has said targeting Indian cities and sidelining Pakistan and its army were key to jihadi success in the state.

In a video interview with Al Qaeda’s mouthpiece, released on jihadi online networks, Usama Mehmood, spokesman of al Qaeda in Indian sub-continent, said there could be no easy solution to the Kashmir issue which needs “blood and sweat” of Muslims.

Mehmood, in the 42-minute video recorded in Urdu, said it was necessary for “the jihadi movement to strengthen and expand its activities in the region and target Indian interests.

“India has protected itself by deploying 600,000 troops in a small place like Kashmir. We will target it and its interests in Kolkata, Bangalore and New Delhi, it will come to its senses, its atrocities will be controlled and its grip on Kashmir will weaken by the will of Allah,” said the group’s second-in-command in the sub-continent.

This is the first detailed al Qaeda talk on its activities in Kashmir since July 27 this year when the group announced it was establishing an affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir called Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, headed by the 23-year-old former Kashmir commander of the pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen, Zakir Musa.

The al Qaeda announcement was promptly rejected by militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen. Even the Hurriyat Conference dismissed it, saying the Kashmir issue was political and had nothing to do with global Islamist jihad even as the longstanding militant outfits also espouse an Islamist outlook for Kashmir.

Mehmood called on all Muslims in the sub-continental region, including from India, to “stand behind the Kashmiri people and perform their duties for jihad in Kashmir”.

“It is imperative to wage jihad against India. It can only happen when jihadi activities are strengthened in the entire region.

“We should help our Kashmiri brothers first, defend our jihad from apostatic forces like Pakistan Army and its policies and then expand the jihadi activities,” he said, terming the Pakistan Army “an obstacle in the path of victory, is an enemy of the sharia and a slave of global infidels”.

“It fights only for its salary, personal aggrandisement and plots of land. It is the same army that spills the blood of the mujahideen for American dollars.”

Citing al Qaeda’s attacks against the US within and outside America, he said: “Look at America. Securing itself has become difficult for America throughout the world. We will make it difficult for the Indian Army and Indian government the same way and make its peaceful world a war zone.”

The video also shows clips of slain al Qaeda military commander Illyas Kashmiri and frequently cites quotes from the book of Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack.

Rajasthan murder caught on video: Cops say ‘premeditated killing’

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

 

Rajasthan murder caught on video: Cops say ‘premeditated killing’, family wants accused to be hanged publicly

Video clips showed the accused hitting and stabbing a man, burning his body and warning “jihadis” to leave India or meet a similar fate.

INDIA Updated: Dec 07, 2017 22:53 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur/Malda
The clips, circulated on WhatsApp, emerged from the western state’s Rajsamand district on Wednesday, police said.
The clips, circulated on WhatsApp, emerged from the western state’s Rajsamand district on Wednesday, police said.(Video screengrab )

Rajasthan police on Thursday arrested an unemployed man purportedly seen in a series of video clips hitting and stabbing a man, burning the body and warning “jihadis” to leave India or meet a similar fate.

The accused, Shambhu Lal Regar, allegedly told police he killed 50-year-old Afrazul Islam, a migrant worker from West Bengal, to save a woman from ‘love jihad’, a term used by right-wing Hindu groups to describe inter-faith marriages which they claim is an Islamist conspiracy to convert Hindu women through marriage or coercion.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the “inhuman” act while Islam’s distraught family demanded a public hanging of the accused.

We strongly condemn the heinous killing of a labourer from Bengal in Rajasthan. How can people be so inhuman. Sad

Besides Regar, police also arrested his nephew who is believed to have shot the videos in a wooded area in the western state’s Rajsamand district. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the videos.

The video clips, circulated on WhatsApp, sparked outrage across the country and several rights organisations demanded the resignation of chief minister Vasundhara Raje and home minister Gulab Chand Kataria.

“The video is gut-wrenching. Strict action will be taken against him (the perpetrator) once caught,” Kataria told a news agency before Regar was arrested.

A special investigation team (SIT) has been set up to probe the case, he added.

“Prima facie, it appears that Regar killed the man and the man was dead when he set the body on fire,” Rajsamand superintendent of police said Manoj Kumar said.

The charred body was found on Wednesday afternoon by a passerby who informed the police.

In one of the clips, Regar — dressed in a red shirt, a pair of white trousers and white shoes — attacks the man with an iron rod and stabs the man when he falls to the ground.

In another one-minute footage, Regar pours a liquid, most likely petrol, over the body in a deserted area lined with trees amid chirping of birds.

“Jihadiyo hamare desh se hat jao (jihadis, leave our country),” he is heard shouting before he lights a match stick and throws it on the body.

In another clip, a man who looks like Regar rants about launching a war against “Islamic jihad in Mewar”.

Read more

“This day, 25 years ago Babri Masjid was razed but nothing has happened even 25 years later,” the man can be heard saying.

In Islam’s native village Saidapur in Malda district — more than 310 km from Kolkata – grief turned to anger overnight as the brutality of the crime sunk in among shocked family members and neighbours.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), we got the news that he was murdered. I am sure he had no love affair with anyone. I want the culprits to be hanged publicly,” Islam’s wife, Gul Bahar Bibi, said on Thursday.

“The government should hang my father’s killer. If they can’t do it, they should bring him back to life,” said Rezina Khatun, Afrazul’s daughter.

She added: “I don’t know how I will arrange money for the marriage of my daughter”, whose marriage was scheduled within a couple of months. Islam was working in Rajasthan for the past 12 years.

Rajasthan director general of police, OP Galhotra, said the prosecution will demand death for the “cold-blooded” and “premeditated killing” which he described as a rarest of rare case.

“No normal human being can do such act. Such person can only be insane,” he said.

In a joint statement, several rights groups said the chief minister and home minister allegedly giving impunity to the accused of a series of hate crimes against Muslims.

The statement mentioned the lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan on April 3 in Alwar, the lynching of Zafar Khan in Pratapgarh by municipality chairperson and sanitary staff on June 16 and murder of Umar Mohammad by alleged gau rakshaks on November 10 in Alwar.

“We would also like to state that there have been many incidents where Muslims have been attacked as part of hate crimes and not been killed so the number of incidents are huge,” the statement said.

“The BJP, which is in power with 160 MLA out of 200, needs to stop giving protection to these killers,” the statement added.

Raje has been accused by opposition and critics of not condemning such hate attacks, a charge she denies.

(With agency inputs)

BJP candidate sparks row, says ‘need to reduce population of topi and dadhiwalas’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

 

Gujarat elections: BJP candidate sparks row, says ‘need to reduce population of topi and dadhiwalas’

Shailesh Sotta also said that he wanted to “instil fear” and that if sporadic communal clashes were not stopped, a “befitting reply” would be given.

GUJARATELECTION2017 Updated: Dec 07, 2017 21:18 IST

PTI, Vadodara
Screengrab of Shailesh Sotta addressing a crowd in Dabhoi.
Screengrab of Shailesh Sotta addressing a crowd in Dabhoi.

BJP contestant from Dabhoi assembly seat in Gujarat, Shailesh Sotta, on Thursday courted controversy by allegedly saying the population of “topi and dadhiwalas”, an apparent reference to Muslims, should be “reduced”.

He also said that he came to Dabhoi to “instil fear” and that if sporadic communal clashes were not stopped, a “befitting reply” would be given.

“If any ‘topi, daadhiwala’ (anybody wearing a cap and sporting beard) is sitting here (in the crowd), then pardon me, but there is a need to reduce their population. Many leaders asked me not to say this, as it may go against me but if 90% of people are supporting me, then why shall I stop speaking about the 10% people?” Sotta purportedly said at what appeared to be a small gathering in Dabhoi town in Vadodara district.

The video of the speech he made in Gujarati has been circulating online.

@shailesh_sotta can you specify your “kaum” as you mentioned in this speech? Should Dalits, adivasis and OBCs and be afraid of you?

“(They say) don’t talk about the community in which you are born (Hindu), and if you want to talk about that (the community), then don’t contest election. But I will fight election for the religion in which I am born,” Sotta purportedly said.

Sotta, a Vadodara councillor who is contesting Assembly polls for the first time, said they (Muslims) will have to stop sporadic clashes (communal incidents) or they will get ‘eent ka jawab pathhar se (tit for tat response).

Dabhoi is going to polls in the second phase on December 14.

“There was a meeting of a peace committee in which a ‘tadipaar’ (externed criminal) said that he is scared of the BJP candidate (Sotta). There is nothing wrong in this,” he said.

He said he came to Dabhoi to “scare people” and not the other way round.

“I came here to scare people. I am here not to get frightened, but to make others frightened. And if anti-social elements remain scared, then it is required for this place,” he said.

Sotta could not be contacted on phone for his reaction.

He is pitted against senior Congress leader Siddharth Patel.

After Sotta’s video was aired by some news channels, Ahmedabad-based social worker Nishant Varma filed a complaint with the State Election Commission against Sotta over his “highly communal and instigating” comments against the Muslim community and for “violating the poll code”.

“He (Sotta) is clearly heard saying that Muslim population must be reduced in the area, and that Muslims will face ‘eent ka jawab pathhar se’. He is saying all this to appease 90% (Hindu) voters and not the rest 10%,” Varma said in his complaint.

“He (Sotta) is referring to Muslims as ‘topi and daadhiwala’ which is completely unacceptable and a clear violation of the model code of conduct as well as various provisions of the CrPC and IPC,” he said.

Hafiz Saeed release: Pakistan moving from state sponsor of terror to state run by terrorists

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Hafiz Saeed release: Pakistan moving from state sponsor of terror to state run by terrorists

The failure of the Pakistani government to press a charge against Hafiz Saeed signifies Nawaz Sharif’s decline and the court judgment reflects the military’s ascension

EDITORIALS Updated: Nov 24, 2017 16:27 IST

Hindustan Times
Hafiz Saeed gestures outside a court in Lahore, Pakistan, November 22
Hafiz Saeed gestures outside a court in Lahore, Pakistan, November 22(AP)

It is no surprise that a Pakistani court has allowed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed to walk the streets again. From the start, his detention was little more than an eyewash by the Pakistani administration in response to the fierce global criticism of LeT’s role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Saeed was never formally charged with any terror crimes; his detention was based on minor public order rules. The judges argued that if Islamabad would not charge Saeed with a crime, then it was time to end his four-year long detention.

While there is speculation about whether Saeed’s release was linked to a lack of pressure from Washington, it is more likely that his release is the outcome of a changed domestic political landscape in Pakistan. LeT is the terrorist group most closely associated with the Pakistani military, so any serious action against Saeed was unlikely. The battle over his detention helped highlight Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror to the rest of the world and promoted a broader, long-term policy of isolating Pakistan within the international community. That policy has been successful: Islamabad still has friends, but a lot fewer than in the past.

Read more

What precipitated Saeed’s release is the ongoing power struggle between former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military establishment. One could almost say the failure of the government to press a charge against Saeed signifies Sharif’s decline. The judgment is just as much a reflection of the military’s heightened power. Part of the military’s strategy is promoting a cluster of political parties to undermine Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). These have included a party built around former cricketer, Imran Khan, but today also include a political party structured around LeT. With Pakistani general elections scheduled for next year, it was necessary for Saeed to be released so that the LeT chief could effect the transition from a pretend prisoner to an authentic politician.

While Saeed’s release is reprehensible, it should be recognised that his conviction on terror charges would have meant a fundamental shift in the mindset of the Pakistani military establishment. His release indicates that if there is any change, it is only for the worse. Rawalpindi’s generals seem to have concluded that it makes sense for the future of their country to bring Saeed and his murderous cohorts into the political mainstream. Pakistan may now cease being a state sponsor of terrorism and instead become a state run by terrorists.

Egypt mosque attack: At least 235 killed during Friday prayers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Egypt mosque attack: At least 235 killed in bomb blast, gunfire during Friday prayers

The state media said that the attack on Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed had left more than 125 injured.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2017 23:42 IST

AFP, Cairo
Egyptians walk past bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawda mosque on Friday.
Egyptians walk past bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawda mosque on Friday.(AFP Photo)

Militants killed 235 people at a mosque in Egypt’s north Sinai region on Friday, detonating a bomb and shooting at fleeing worshippers and ambulances, the state television reported, quoting the public prosecutor.

It was one of the deadliest attacks in the region’s Islamist insurgency. No group claimed immediate responsibility, but since 2014 Egyptian security forces have battled a stubborn Islamic State affiliate in the north of the mainly desert Sinai, where militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.

State media showed images of bloodied victims and bodies covered in blankets inside the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, west of the city of El Arish.

State television and the official news agency MENA reported that 235 people had been killed. Another 125 were wounded, according to state media.

“They were shooting at people as they left the mosque,” a local resident whose relatives were at the scene told Reuters. “They were shooting at the ambulances too.”

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former armed forces commander who presents himself as a bulwark against Islamist militants, convened an emergency meeting with his defence and interior ministers and intelligence chief soon after the attack, the presidency’s Facebook page and state television said.

The government also declared three days of mourning.

Militants have mostly targeted security forces in their attacks since bloodshed in the Sinai worsened after 2013 when Sisi, then an armed forces commander, led the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But jihadists have also targeted local Sinai tribes that are working with the armed forces, branding them traitors for cooperating with the army and police.

In July this year, at least 23 soldiers were killed when suicide car bombs hit two military checkpoints in the Sinai, an attack claimed by Islamic State.

Militants have tried to expand beyond the largely barren, Sinai Peninsula into Egypt’s heavily populated mainland, hitting Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims.

In May, gunmen attacked a Coptic group travelling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 29.