The Statesman – Man attacked, house set on fire in Jharkhand after cow found dead outside

New Delhi. 28 June 2017. A man was severely beaten up and his house was set on fire by a mob on Tuesday after a dead cow was allegedly found outside his place in Jharkhand’s Giridih district.

A frenzy mob attacked the dairy owner Usman Ansari and his house was set on fire after some people spotted a dead cow outside his house.

The police immediately rushed to the site and Ansari was taken to a nearby hospital. “Our men braved the crowd and immediately rescued Ansari and his family members.

When the police tried to take him to hospital, there was resistance from the crowd. There was heavy stone-pelting. We had to open fire in the air,” Jharkhand police spokesperson and ADG (Operations) RK Mullik said.

“About 50 policemen were also injured in the stone pelting,” Mullik added.

Heavy security has been deployed in the village, which is around 200km from Ranchi, to maintain the law and order.

The Tribune – State attempt to bypass SC liquor ban challenged

It is pleaded that the state has shown a ‘narrow pedantic approach’ for the sake of revenue

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 28 June 2017. Just about a week after Punjab came out with an amendment Bill to permit the supply of liquor at hotels, restaurants, clubs and other notified places, a Vacation Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today put the state on notice.

The Bench of Justice Anita Chaudhry and Justice Harminder Singh Madaan also issued notice regarding stay on the petition filed by NGO Arrive Safe Society through its president Harman Singh Sidhu.

The Bench fixed July 24 as the next date of hearing for the state and other respondents to respond to the averments raised. Sidhu contended that the Supreme Court had directed all states and union territories to forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways.

It directed: “No shop for the sale of liquor shall be visible from a national or state highway; directly accessible from a national or state highway and situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of a service lane along the highway.”

But the state brought the “impugned” amendment to the Punjab Excise Act to dodge the orders. He added that the state government, instead of recognising the Supreme Court’s concern in trying to remedy the mischief of drunken driving from the highway, has shown a “narrow pedantic approach just for the sake of revenue”.

Sidhu argued liquor vends camouflaged as a restaurant, hotel or club would be found everywhere along the highways without any consideration for public health, public morality, and public peace, if the impugned amendment was allowed to operate. It would resultantly lead to traffic chaos, health hazard and frequent road accidents.

He added that the amendment was “nothing short of a political response with an ulterior motive to dismantle the foundation of the verdict given by the Supreme Court”.

Dubbing the term “notified place” as “vague”, he submitted that the expression would definitely be misused to mean “tavern” and the Supreme Court judgment in national interest would be diluted.

Dawn – India stops over 300 Sikh pilgrims from visiting Pakistan

Lahore, 29 June 2017. The Indian government on Wednesday stopped over 300 Sikh pilgrims, who were due to attend the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, from crossing over to Pakistan, citing refusal by the External Affairs Ministry to clear their names.

The pilgrims, who had reached Atari early in the morning, a bordering railway station from where they are picked up by the Pakistan Railways, protested against the Indian government and some violence was also reported.

Chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Siddiqul Farooq kept trying for six hours talking to the Indian embassy in Pakistan but in vain. Frustrated, he held a press conference in the afternoon to allege “fundamentalism is creeping into Indian state institutions”.

The Indian government has refused pilgrims a second time in June alone. On June 8, it disallowed over 200 visitors for Shaheedi Jor Mela, celebrations for the fifth Guru of the Sikh religion. After some hectic efforts, only 14 were allowed to cross the border on foot.

“Given the stubbornness of the Indian government, the fear now is about November when birthday celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak are due,” says an ETPB official. That is the holiest pilgrimage for the Sikh community and a big event for Pakistan. In all probability, those celebrations were in danger, at least for the Indian Sikh community, he feared.

ETPB chairman Siddiqul Farooq said: “While Pakistan is routinely accused of fundamentalism, none of its state organ has acted in such a manner. By stopping the yatrees, the Indian ministry has also violated the UN charter, which forbids a decision hurting religious feeling. This visit was purely religious and should not have been hampered.”

Tara Singh, head of the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, was present at the press conference.

Mr Farooq said Pakistan had gone the extra mile in facilitating the visitors. “Though the agreement binds the visitors to apply for a visa at least 45 days before the visit, applications that arrived only five days before the visit were entertained.

The Pakistan High Commission issued over 300 visas and the ETPB held meetings with 34 departments to finalise arrangements for the visit. The Indian side kept us and pilgrims waiting for more than six hours. But all ended up in vain,” he regretted.

“The entire staff of the board was at the border to receive them. I myself travelled from Islamabad to Lahore to welcome the yatrees. A train from Pakistan Railways was waiting at the Zero Line to fetch the visitors.

The situation unfolded only when the pilgrims were stopped and the Pakistani side tried to find a way out. I have never travelled abroad in the last three years, but now I plan to go to India and try to convince people concerned there.

On its part, Pakistan has also inducted four Yatra promoters from the private sector to facilitate visitors from all over the world,” he concluded.

The Hindu – China may be giving a diplomatic message via tri-junction

Dinakar Peri and Josy Joseph

New Delhi, 29 June 2017. The Army chief is expected to visit Sikkim as early as Thursday to review the tense standoff between Indian and Chinese troops, even as military officers said that such standoffs were not unprecedented.

Army sources said General Bipin Rawat could visit Sikkim at the earliest to review the situation where standoff between troops of both sides is believed to be continuing.

According to reliable sources, Indian Army troops objected to the Chinese soldiers carrying out construction on a road stretch through the disputed Dolam Plateau (Donglang or Doklam), triggering the confrontation. In response, Chinese authorities denied entry to pilgrims for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via the Nathua La pass.

In a rebuff, Bhutan refutes China’s claims on Doko La road construction

Former Army chief General Shankar Roychowdhury told The Hindu that such incidents were not new and date back to 1967 when the first such clash took place at Nathu La between Indian and Chinese troops.

“This is a flashpoint. These take place from time to time,” General Roychowdhury said. However, he said the question to ask is why are such incidents taking place with such frequency.

“Is it because our Prime Minister is perceived to be too close to the USA or is it to assist its best ally Pakistan? Or is it a combination of all these factors plus history. Add to that is the fact they have turned the pilgrims away.”

Keeping India engaged

A recently retired Army officer who has served on the Sikkim border with China said he too believed that the timing of the Chinese action, not just in provoking a border standoff but to send back Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrims, was a diplomatic message to coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the USA.

Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses said these incidents were a continuum of maintaining stability at a strategic level while “keeping India engaged at the tactical level through political, diplomatic and military means.” He said the standoff would take sometime but would be resolved.

‘China used bulldozer to remove Indian bunker in Sikkim section of border’

“It could be said to be Chinese manifestation of the choices India has made in the recent past,” he said in the context of the recent disputes between the two countries and the timing of the incident.

Army sources pointed out that the standoff at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction was not unprecedented. “It is almost an annual affair,” one officer who had served there said.

“The Chinese believe that the Dolam Plateau belongs to them, and have been constructing a road through the disputed area to Bhutan for a long time,” he pointed out.

And the present standoff must also be seen against recent diplomatic unease between the two sides, including India’s stand on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Border on the boil

There were repeated skirmishes on the Indo-China border ever since the 1962 war

September 1967: Chinese troops fired at Indian posts close to Nathu La and Indian Army retaliated with full force. Both sides suffered casualties with China significantly higher. A ceasefire was declared later.

June 1986: Indian Army launched exercise Chequerboard after China amassed thousands of troops in the Thandrong pasture on the banks of the Somdurong Chu (river). The situation was diffused diplomatically by August 1987.

November 2008: Chinese troops destroyed makeshift Indian army bunkers at Doko La near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.

April 2013: Chinese troops intruded in Daulat Beg Oldi in Eastern Ladakh and set up camps in Depsang valley. These came ahead of Premier Li Keqiang’s India visit.

August 2014: Chinese troops enter 25 to 30 km deep into Indian territory in Burtse area in Ladakh and pitched their tents and the standoff continued for three weeks.

September 2014: About 1,000 troops intruded 3 km inside Chumar in Eastern Ladakh. The incident lasted for a week and coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India.

March 2016: A platoon of PLA soldiers came about 5.5 km inside the Indian territory near Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh. Incident resolved in a few hours.

June 2017: China removed an old bunker of the Indian Army located at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan in Sikkim by using a bulldozer after the Indian side refused to accede to its request to dismantle it.

Beijing’s stance

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang touched upon a slew off issues while addressing the media in Beijing Donglang’s status

‘Donglang is part of China’s territory. This is indisputable. The Donglang area belonged to China since ancient times and it doesn’t belong to Bhutan’.

Road project

‘Chinese construction of the road project is legitimate and normal action on its territory. No other country has the right to interfere’

Kailash-Mansarovar yatra

‘The suspension of the same is an emergency response to the situation there. I want to stress that the resumption of pilgrims pass requires necessary atmosphere and conditions’

Bhutan’s sovereignty

‘If any third party, out of hidden agenda, interferes it is disrespect of the sovereignty of Bhutan. We don’t want to see this as Bhutan is a country entitled to sovereignty by the international community’.

Pakistan’s efforts

‘China thinks that the international cooperation against terrorism should be enhanced and stepped up. The international community should give full recognition and affirmation to Pakistan’s efforts in this regard’

The Times of India – Dalai Lama angle to China stopping movement of Kailash yatris

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

New Delhi, 27 June 2017. China has hardened its stand on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by stopping movement of Indian pilgrims for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nathu La Pass.

Beijing hasn’t given any reasons for its action, but Delhi suspects that it could be a reaction to Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April, sources here said.

The Chinese move came ahead of a meeting between PM Modi and Trump in Washington. The two leaders are expected to put in place an arrangement for strengthening economic partnership in the Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific region, sources said ahead of the meeting scheduled for early Tuesday India time.

China is emerging as a leading power in the region through an aggressive policy involving territorial claims and arm twisting.

The action in the Nathu La Pass area in Sikkim comes within weeks of an airspace violation by Chinese choppers in Uttarakhand. The situation has been further complicated with Chinese troops entering the Sikkim sector and jostling with the Indian Army personnel guarding the LAC besides destroying two bunkers.

The face-off has been going on in the Doka La general area in Sikkim for the past 10 days. A flag meeting was held between senior Army officers from both sides on June 20, but tension still persists.

It is not the first time that such a transgression has happened at the Doka La, located at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. Beijing had earlier warned India about the consequences of Dalai Lama’s trip to Arunachal Pradesh, whose entire territory, in particular the Tawang area visited by the Tibetan leader, is claimed by China.

On Monday, Beijing said the foreign ministry authorities of both countries were in “communication” on the suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) through the Nathu La Pass, but didn’t give any specific reasons. This raised suspicion that there is more to meet the eye than mere landslides which Beijing initially claimed as the reason for suspending KMY through Nathu La.

The annual Yatra was suspended over the weekend and pilgrims have returned to Gangtok after the denial of permission. “There are some difficulties being experienced in movement of Kailash Mansarovar Yatris via Nathu La. The matter is being discussed with the Chinese side,” a foreign ministry official said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said “the two foreign ministries are communicating on this issue”. There are unconfirmed reports of certain internal troubles in the region through which KMY occurs. At least seven batches of 50 pilgrims each were expected to cross over to Tibet through the Nathu La Pass.

The Tribune – Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] kitchen to soon go solar

G S Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 26 June 2017. The SGPC plans to switch over to solar energy soon to cook langar in the world’s largest kitchen at the Golden Temple. At present, at Sri Guru Ramdas Langar Hall, free food is prepared through LPG and some amount of wood is also used as fuel to prepare food for about 60,000 devotees daily. The number increases during weekends and special occasions.

The langar preparation sourced through solar energy would not only reduce the use of wood, which is the main source of pollution, but would also help in reducing the expenses on LPG cylinders. Around 5,000 LPG cylinders are used in the kitchen every month.

A team of Punjab Energy Development Authority led by its director Balor Singh today explored the area where the solar energy plant was to be installed.

PEDA has been working on a plan to prepare langar at the shrine with a solar steam cooking system for long. A solar plant has been proposed. Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] manager Sulakhan Singh said, “This plant will not only be eco-friendly but will also be efficient in cooking vegetables, daal, chapattis etc.

Other sources of fuel like the LPG system will also be kept as backup in case of cloudy weather or a snag,” he said.

Meanwhile, the work on modernising the new langar hall is in full swing. The new building would have four floors, including the basement.

The new facility will boast of an ultramodern cooking facility, air-conditioned sitting place, lifts, separate provision for washing the vegetables, basement for storage of vegetables and ration, apart from a conveyor system.

The Hindu – Junaid murder: Gloom descends on Khandawali

No Eid celebration in Faridabad village following last week’s brutal attack on young Muslim students at Ballabgarh railway station

Ashok Kumar

Faridabad-Haryana-India, 26 June 2017. With four of his sons studying in different Madrasas in Gujarat and Mewat, Eid every year was a reunion time for Jalauddin and his family. But with the murder of teenager Junaid on Thursday, a couple of days before the festival this year, Eid will never be the same again for this family.

Seventeen-year-old Junaid was stabbed to death and his two brothers Hasib (21) and Shakir (23) injured when a group of people attacked them inside a crowded train following a dispute over a seat. The incident took place at Ballabgarh railway station in Haryana on Thursday evening.

While Junaid was studying at a Madrasa in Nuh, Hasib and two of his brothers had been studying at separate Madrasas in Gujarat for several years.

Recalling the good old days, Hasib said that Eid was the only time of the year when all the brothers would spend time with each other. “Now with Junaid gone, it does not feel like Eid today [Monday]. The Eid now will be marked by his haunting memories and pain every year,” said Hasib, choking with emotion.

But the pain and mourning is not confined to this one family in Khandawali village in Faridabad. It feels like the entire village has lost its loved one.

“The usual hustle-bustle on the eve of Eid was missing at the nearby Ballabgarh market the previous night after the moon was sighted. A shopkeeper told me that the turnout was low this year with several villages around being Muslim dominated,” said Saddam Hussain, one of the villagers.

Nassir Khan, another villager, added: “Even the children did not burst crackers and no one in the village bought new clothes this time around. The traditional fervour associated with Eid is missing. Even those visiting their relatives in the village have actually come to express sympathy to the family.”

The villagers said the streets swarmed with revellers and children all through the day on Eid, but wore a deserted look today, and the shopkeepers had also downed the shutters.

Wearing a black band around his arm, Ushman Khan, a customer executive with a private company in Faridabad, said there was a sense of fear, and many of his Hindu friends who usually visit him on the occasion of Eid had preferred not to come to the village.

Ushman said the village youth, in a meeting on Sunday, had decided to wear black armbands, against the advice of elders, in a silent protest against the incident.

“The elders did not want us to do so, but the youth decided to wear black bands as a mark of resentment and protest against the brutal murder. We are not happy with the response of the government towards the incident and the investigation in the case.

“It has been four days, but only one person has been arrested. No government representative has visited us,” said Ushman, adding that the Muslims were too scared to proudly proclaim their identity.

Around 300 young Muslim men from several villages in the region visited the family under the aegis of Mewat Yuva Sangathan on the occasion of Eid to express their sympathy.

“It is a serious matter and not an isolated incident. Similar incidents are happening across the country. Be it [Mohammad] Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, DSP Mohammad Ayub, Dingerheri gang-rape or the murder of Junaid, the Muslims are being targeted across the country.

We plan to hold a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar later this week and devise a strategy for the next course of action,” said Javed Khan, one of the members of the Mewat Yuva Sangathan.

The News – Bahawalpur: Tragedy as nearly 150 burnt alive in oil tanker explosion

Bahawalpur, 25 June 2017. At least 149 people were burnt alive and dozens injured when an oil tanker caught fire and exploded near Bahawalpur where a large number of people had gathered to collect petrol from the overturned tanker, rescue services said.

According to details, people from nearby areas were collecting fuel from the oil tanker which had skidded off the national highway and overturned in Ahmed Pur Sharqia on Sunday morning. A large number of motorcycles and vehicles can be seen burnt in the huge fire.

The injured were moved to Bahawalpur Victoria Hospital and other health facilities. The death toll may rise as the affected are said to be in critical condition.

The police said that oil tanker carrying 50,000 liters of oil was on its way from Karachi to Lahore when it slipped from the road and overturned in Kachi Pul area, some eight kilometers off Ahmedpur Sharqia city.

“People living in roadside villages, carrying domestic pots rushed to the scene to collect oil and they also made phone calls to their relatives living in other villages to immediate come to collect oil,” they said.

They said that Motorway Police reached the scene and urged the people to keep away from the tanker as fire could erupt in the vehicle, but people including women and children did not respond to the request and continue collecting oil into pots.

Hospitals on high alert

Emergency was declared in the hospitals and doctors and paramedical staff were called in from other districts to cope with the calamity.

Ahmedpur Sharqia Health Center and Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital have no burn wards while the injured have suffered burn injuries on 80 percent part of their bodies. A major such facility is available in Multan’s Nishtar Hospital.

“According to the initial reports, somebody tried to light a cigarette, and when the spilt fuel caught fire, leading to the tanker´s explosion,” Jam Sajjad Hussain, spokesman for the rescue workers service said.

Firefighters fought the flames for over two hours before extinguishing the fire.

Bodies were badly burnt and beyond identification. Punjab Minister Rana Sanullah said DNA tests are being conducted for identification.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed grief on the tragedy and sought immediate report into the incident. The CM directed officials concerned to make all the necessary arrangements for the treatment of the injured.

Punjab government spokesperson Malik Ahmed Khan said the chief minister have deputed his helicopter for rescue work.

Pakistan Army rescue

According to a statement from the ISPR, army’s military wing, COAS General Qamar Bajwa expressed grief on the losses in oil tanker incident and directed provision of full assistance to civil administration in rescue/relief effort.

Army Aviation helicopters have been sent for evacuation of casualties to hospitals and burn centres, while military hospitals were placed on high alert, it added.

Warnings ignored

Mohammad Shabbir, another villager, said the driver was shouting for people to stay away as the petrol could erupt at any time, but no one listened. “What is the use of this petrol, what will you do it with now?” he asked, pointing at a bucket in his other hand.

Pakistan Motorway Police spokesman Imran Shah told AFP residents also ignored police warnings to stay away.

Previous incident

Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

At least 62 people including women and children were killed in southern Pakistan in 2015 when their bus collided with an oil tanker, starting a fierce blaze that left victims burnt beyond recognition.

Leaders shocked

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were shocked over the incident and directed government officials to help the victims in every possible way.

PM Nawaz expressed his grief and directed the government of Punjab to provide “full medical assistance”.

The Times of India – 300 Sikh pilgrims head to Pakistan for Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 25 June 2017. As many as 300 Sikhs will leave for Pakistan to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 28 even as Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) cancelled its plan to send the jatha (group of pilgims) to the neighbouring country after the Union government refused to take responsibility for their security.

Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society president Harpal Singh Bhullar told TOI on Saturday that Pakistan high commission had issued more than 300 visas to Sikhs going to Pakistan in jathas sent by various Sikh bodies, including Khalra Mission Committee, Nankana Sahib Sikh Yatree Jatha and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee besides their society.

He said SGPC should have sent its jatha to Pakistan respecting sentiments of Sikh devotees.

Earlier, in wake deteriorating relations between the two countries, SGPC was informed by the Indian government that the jatha could go to Pakistan at its own risk. To this, president Kirpal Singh Badungar had objected and had demanded that the matter be taken up with the Pakistan government at a diplomatic level.

Meanwhile, according to the programme chalked out by Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) the bhog of Akhand Path will be performed on June 29 at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. The Sikh devotees will also visit other historical Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan before returning on 7 July.

Bhullar said the Society had demanded from ETPB to allow Sikh devotees to visit memorial of Bhai Mani Singh, situated inside the Lahore fort.

Dawn – Parachinar twin blasts toll rises to 67

Hussain AfzalPublished about 15 hours ago

Parachinar-Kurram Agency-FATA, 25 June 2017. Amidst mourning and people mostly in a state of shock, the death toll of devastating twin blasts targeting a crowded market on Friday rose to 67 as more injured persons lost their lives overnight, official sources said on Saturday.

Political authorities confirmed to media persons that the number of killed people increased to 67 with several other injured persons also in a critical condition.

Forty-one people were killed and over 200 persons were wounded in one of the worst acts of terrorism in Parachinar, the capital of Kurram Agency, on Friday. By Saturday evening, 26 more people had died during treatment in different hospitals.

A splinter group of outlawed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi claims responsibility.

Initially, a blast took place at the busy Turi Market moments after an Al Quds Day rally had concluded at some distance from the place of occurrence.

When people rushed to the spot to remove the injured and bodies the second blast, which was more powerful, took place resulting in widespread death and destruction.

Victims were mostly people who were busy in routine as well as Eid shopping.

Keeping in view the magnitude of this tragedy the Agency Headquarters Hospital was not equipped to that standard also lacking medicines and other necessary items.

The affected areas mostly remained cut off from the rest of the country because of disruption in communication networks including cellular phones.

The aggrieved people had also staged a sit-in which continued on Saturday. Personnel of security forces had fired at some protesting mourners which had left several persons injured. Officials said that some charged mourners were trying to ransack government properties due to which they had to resort to firing.

Moving scenes were witnessed when multiple funerals took place in Parachinar city and adjacent areas.

Debris of destroyed items was strewn across the Turi Market. Sandals and shoes of victims littered with blood were also scattered around the area.

In Peshawar, a spokesman for public sector Lady Reading Hospital, Zulfiqar Babakhel, said that they had received 24 wounded and one dead on Friday night from Parachinar. He said that the injured did not include any women or children.

Due to security reasons journalists were not permitted to visit the injured persons and talk to them.

The Friday twin blasts were third major bomb attacks to hit the Parachinar city during this year.

Twenty-five people were killed and 87 others injured when an IED targeted busy vegetable market of the city earlier in January this year, while 23 others were killed and 73 wounded when an explosive-laden vehicle tore through a busy market on March 31.

The proscribed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami on Saturday claimed responsibility for twin bombs that hit a market in Parachinar, adds Reuters.

It said in a statement it was targeting Shias and threatened more attacks over “Pakistanis fighting against Sunni militants in Syria’s civil war”.