Dawn – India under Modi is moving systematically with a supremacist agenda, says PM Imran Khan

Islamabad Capital Teritority – Pakistan, 12 December 2019. Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been moving systematically with a Hindu supremacist agenda.

The prime minister was referencing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill passed by India’s upper house amid protests on Wednesday.

The bill will let the Indian government grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants who entered India from three neighbouring countries before 2015, but not if they are Muslim.

Modi’s government, re-elected in May and under pressure over a slowing economy, says Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are excluded from the legislation because they do not face discrimination in those countries.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Imran stated that the bill was the latest of Modi’s attempts to promulgate his supremacist agenda, “starting with illegal annexation and continuing siege of IOJK [Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir].

Then stripping 2 million Indian Muslim in Assam of citizenship, setting up internment camps; now the passage of Citizenship Amendment Law; all this accompanied by mob lynchings of Muslims and other minorities in India”.

He warned that bowing down to a “genocidal supremacist agenda”, propagated by Nazi Germany, had once before lead to World War II.

“Modi’s Hindu supremacist agenda, accompanied by threats to Pakistan under a nuclear overhang, will lead to massive bloodshed and far-reaching consequences for the world,” he warned. “As in Nazi Germany, in Modi’s India dissent has been marginalised and the world must step in before it is too late to counter this Hindu supremacist agenda of Modi’s India [that is] threatening bloodshed and war.”

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh “because of religious persecution” before 2015. It does not, however, extend to Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar.

Home Minister Amit Shah said it was not anti-Muslim because it did not affect the existing path to citizenship available to all communities.

Amnesty India, however, said the legislation legitimised discrimination on the basis of religion and stood in clear violation of the India’s constitution and international human rights law.


The Hindustan Times – Protests escalate in northeast against citizenship bill, army called out, internet suspended

Mobile Internet services were also suspended in 10 districts of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday.

Sadiq Naqvi and Priyanka Deb Barman

Guwahati / Agartala / New Delhi – India, 12 December 2019. A curfew was enforced in Guwahati, the principal city in Assam, where the army was called in on Wednesday night after tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, clashing with the police and paramilitary troopers, as protests raged in the northeast.

Mobile Internet services were also suspended in 10 districts of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday. An army spokesperson said the army had deployed two columns in Tripura, one column consisting of 70 personnel.

“Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati. We have also called in the army,” Assam’s additional director general of police Mukesh Agarwal said, as in New Delhi the Rajya Sabha debated the legislation that seeks to fast-track Indian citizenship for members of persecuted minorities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis from the Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday.

An army spokesperson in Guwahati said two columns of the Army had been deployed in the city and will be performing a flag march. Earlier in the day, the spokesperson said three Army columns, two for Tripura and one for Assam, had been requisitioned.

The Centre on Wednesday also airlifted over 5,000 paramilitary personnel to northeastern states, including Assam, in the wake of the violent protests against CAB, a senior home ministry official said.

The curfew was clamped in Guwahati after protests of a scale reminiscent of those that took place during the six-year movement against illegal immigrants in the state that ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985.

Post-noon, as the contentious bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha, the roads of Guwahati started filling up with protestors. Hundreds of protestors including students marched to Janata Bhawan, the Assam secretariat, chanting slogans against CAB and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hundreds gathered spontaneously at several other places in the city and blocked roads with burning tyres.

Protesters fought pitched battles with security forces across Assam, including in front of the secretariat. By the evening, the government announced that it was suspending mobile internet services in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup districts for 24 hours till 7 pm Thursday.

A similar shutdown was ordered in Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

Protesters pulled down barricades on the arterial Guwahati-Shillong Road, prompting the police to burst tear-gas shells and take recourse to a baton-charge. Protesters burned tyres and blocked highways and rail lines.

Anti-CAB protesters also clashed with police in Dibrugarh, where security forces fired rubber bullets and tear-gas shells to disperse the demonstrators.

Protests also rocked Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Bongaigaon, Nagaon, Sonitpur and many other districts. In view of the protests, the Northeast Frontier Railway cancelled many trains and rescheduled some that originate from the state.

At least 14 trains have either been cancelled, shortened or diverted anticipating “disruptions in train movement,” NF Railway chief public relations officer Subhanan Chanda said.

A motorcycle rally was organised against the CAB in chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s hometown, Chabua. Gauhati University, Cotton University and Dibrugarh University had to postpone examinations scheduled for Wednesday.

Student organizations, civil society groups and opposition parties in Assam have been at the forefront of the protests against the CAB, saying it would lead to an influx of religious minorities from Bangladesh and hurt the interests of indigenous communities.

A large section opposing the bill, which proposes a cutoff date of December 31, 2014, also says it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants in the state irrespective of religion.

The protesters organized an 11-hour shutdown in the northeast on Tuesday saying they oppose the bill out of concern that more migrants who came to the country illegally will move to the border region and dilute the culture and political sway of indigenous tribal people.

“The people are determined and we are determined against CAB. The CAB must go,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief advisor of All Assam Students Union, said.

“People of Assam are against CAB, yet they {Centre} are imposing it on us. Whatever happened is government’s fault. Top government ministers have provoked people. The chief minister has totally failed in maintaining law and order,” said R Konwar, Assam Congress spokesperson.

“People who talk about democracy are engaging in vandalism. Is this democracy? Organisations who are leading this agitation did not appeal for peace. They should go to the Supreme Court,” said Rupam Goswami, a spokesperson for the BJP.

Meanwhile, in Tripura the internet shutdown continued amid clashes between anti-CAB protesters and security forces.

Additional director general of police Rajiv Singh said skirmishes took place in Ambassa, Kamalpur of Dhalai, and Teliamura of Khowai, among other places. Singh said the situation was under control. Chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb appealed to all parties to maintain peace.


The Indian Express – Panjab expo: Their visas rejected for last 2 years, Pakistan traders say they won’t participate

This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. Discouraged by their visas being rejected for the last two years, Pakistani traders have not sent any names for participation in the Punjab International Trade Expo (PITEX), 2019, which is set to begin in Amritsar on Thursday.

“In the past we had participation of more than 150 traders in this annual international trade festival. We organise PITEX in Amritsar to encourage trade between East and West Punjab. But our efforts are falling apart since the last two years as the Ministry of External Affairs does not give visa to Pakistani traders,” R S Sachdeva, mentor, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, told The Indian Express.

The 14th edition of PITEX is being organised here by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

“This year too we had sent an invitation to Pakistan traders. But they replied that they will not apply for visa as they might be rejected again. They were discouraged as MEA didn’t approve any visa for last two years. It is the first time they have decided not to apply due to expected response of MEA,” said Sachdeva.

He further said, “On one side the Kartarpur Corridor has been opened and Pakistan government has set-up a market alongside gurdwara where devotees love to shop. But the same traders cannot sell their goods by crossing the border.

We have asked Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to send a fresh note to the Union government to allow Punjab trade with Pakistan in a changed scenario after the opening of Kartarpur Corridor. Punjab has great trading opportunities with Pakistan. Punjab and Indian government must think about exploring these.”

However, Pakistani products will also be on display and for sale during the event. Five traders have been attending the event as they have SAARC visas.

This time, exhibitors from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand and Egypt are also participating in PITEX. States like Jharkhand, J&K, Madhya Pradesh and the North-Eastern states will also be part of the event.

Sachdeva said, “PITEX will be inaugurated on December 12 by Punjab Industries and Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora. Apart from leading corporates, PITEX will see participation from PSIEC, GMADA, Punjab Agro Industry Corporation, PEDA, Milkfed, Markfed, amongst others. A number of central government departments are also participating.”

Karan Gilhotra, chairman, Punjab State Chapter, PHDCCI, said there will be a session on ‘Tourism: Fuelling growth and goodwill’ which will be attended by the tour, travel and hospitality industry. Over 400 stalls have been set up in over 20,000 sq mts. Organisers said that there were around 3 lakh visitors last year and this year number is expected to cross 3.5 lakh.

Punjab expo: Their visas rejected for last 2 years, Pak traders say they won’t participate

Scroll.in – Beware, Amit Shah and Narendra Modi’s ‘normalcy’ could be coming for you next

Internet shutdowns, curfews, army deployment, an economic slowdown: Welcome to the New India.

The Daily Fix: 12 December 2019. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected with a huge mandate in May 2019, he promised to usher in a “new India” by 2022, when the republic will be 75 years old.

On Thursday, we got a glimpse of what that new normal is supposed to look like: An internet shutdown across significant portions of two states and a third that has been turned into a Union Territory, administered by New Delhi.

Angry protests and a curfew in place across an entire region in opposition to a law that would fundamentally alter the country as it was being hurried through Parliament.

The army and paramilitary moved from one zone where Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have lit a legal fire, Jammu and Kashmir, to the North East, where it is sparking new conflicts just as peace had begun to take root.

A Prime Minister who continues to claim that all those opposing his moves could not possibly have the country’s best interests at heart and are, instead, speaking in the same voice as Pakistan.

All this while the government ought to have been pouring all of its efforts into solving the most worrisome economic slowdown India has faced in decades, one that is steadily dimming the futures of millions in a country that remains distressingly poor.

This is Modi and Shah’s new India, one where “normalcy” is a byword for New Delhi doing as it wishes and claiming that the people are on-board, no matter what the situation on the ground is.

India is not alone here. The last half decade has seen countries around the world choosing to be led by right-wing demagogues whose political platforms were built on a combination of social division, manufactured fears about immigrants and attempts to entrench and encourage right-wing bigotry.

From America’s Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orban to Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, this is the age of the democratic despot and the majoritarian tyrant.

But it is in India that the potential to do damage might be the largest, if only because the country represents one-fifth of humanity.

Every year without economic growth and without new jobs makes the path out of poverty harder for millions. Every new policy that rests on further division of people, every move that seeks to belittle the millions who count themselves among India’s minorities, every attempt to suppress dissent is only sowing the seeds of future disaster.

The BJP’s national mandate may not be in question, but democracy doesn’t begin and end at the ballot box. Moreover, results in state elections have proven that the country is not unequivocally behind the right-wing Hindutva project that the BJP draws its ideas from.

It is worth asking the BJP and the millions who voted for it: Is this socially divisive agenda, with nothing in the way of development gains, really the priority of the moment (if at all)? Is this how the BJP ought to use its post-elections political capital, instead of making tougher decisions about the economy?

Are the short-term political victories of these battles worth the danger they pose to India in the long-run? Is there any semblance of a plan to put the economy in order, which doesn’t involve fudged numbers or further distractions? Does the BJP really think that the people of Kashmir, the activists of the North East or the Muslims of this country will eventually come around to their way of thinking?

One question that may have come up in the aftermath of the democratically atrocious move to alter Article 370 earlier this year has been answered: This is indeed the new normal. And you should be worried: Normalcy could be coming for you next.

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The Tribune – Sikh activists barred from entering Kashmir

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 09 December 2019. Citing law and order, activists of the Dal Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) were today barred from entering Jammu and Kashmir. They were scheduled to go to Srinagar to hold a peaceful sit-in at Lal Chowk to observe Human Rights Day tomorrow.

Acting upon the orders of the Kathua magistrate, the police intercepted them at the Madhopur-Kathua interstate border.

The protesters were carrying placards to convey their message and sought release of political prisoners in Kashmir and Punjab.

Dal Khalsa leader H D Dhami said when Home Minister Amit Shah had announced that everything was normal in Kashmir, why were they not allowed to go there? “This prompts us to say that there is no normalcy in Kashmir and Union Government has been telling lies to hoodwink the world,” he said.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, while speaking at the sit-in at the border, said, “It is ironical that even on the occasion of Human Rights Day, we were not allowed to talk and uphold human rights.”

The agitating Sikh leaders said it would be brought to the notice of the United Nations Human Rights Council how Kashmiri people had been reeling under state repression since the August 5 lockdown.


The Hindu – Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: USA panel considers recommending sanctions against Amit Shah

Sriram Lakshman

Washington DC – USA, 10 December 2019. USA International Commission on Religious Freedom calls the Bill’s passage ‘deeply disturbing’

With the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) having been passed by the Lok Sabha, the USA International Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has expressed concern about the Bill and considered recommending sanctions against Home Minister Amit Shah and other top leaders.

“If the CAB passes in both Houses of Parliament, the United States government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership,” a 09 December statement from USCIRF said.

The commission, which is an independent and bi-partisan federal government body, called the Bill’s passage “deeply troubling” .

“The CAB enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion.

The CAB is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith,” USCIRF said.

“In conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that the Home Minister seeks to propose, USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims,” the commission said.


The Telegraph – CBI registered 14 cases of economic offences against 18 serving, former lawmakers

The ED has registered 82 cases against the public representatives, he added

New Delhi – India, 09 December 2019. The CBI has registered 14 cases of economic offences against 18 serving and former lawmakers, minister of state for finance Anurag Singh Thakur informed the Lok Sabha on Monday.

“Out of these 18 persons, two are sitting members of Parliament; nine ex members of Parliament; five members of Legislative Assemblies and 2 ex members of Legislative Assemblies,” he said in a written reply.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered 82 cases against public representatives, including former public representatives across the country, under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999, he said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) (CBIC) has registered three cases of economic offences across the country against public representatives, he said. Of these cases, two cases have been registered against a former MP and one case againsta former MLA, he added.

He further said that these cases presently are at various stages of investigation and the probes are conducted on the merits of cases without any fear or favour.

“Disclosure of details of these cases at this juncture may not be in larger public interest as the same may hamper the ongoing investigations. Further, disclosure of information in respect of specific assesses is prohibited except as provided under Section 138 of the Income Tax Act, 1961,” he said.

In another reply, Thakur said 15th Finance Commission chairman has presented the first report pertaining to financial year 2020-21 to the President of India on 05 December.

“The recommendations made by the finance commission will be examined in the ministry in consultation with various departments and approval of the cabinet will be sought,” he said.

In accordance with the approval of the cabinet, an explanatory memorandum as to the action taken on the recommendations made by the 15th finance commission will be laid on the floor of both the Houses in Parliament during the Budget Session, he said.

Replying to another question, Thakur said against the Budget estimate of Rs 6.63 lakh crore, the net GST collection between April and November is Rs 3.98 lakh crore.


Sikh24.com – CBI reopens investigation into sacrilege cases of Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 04 December 2019. Around five months after filing a closure report on sacrilege cases, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has reopened three sacrilege cases related to Burj Jawahar Singh and Bargari.

It is learnt that six CBI sleuths reached Burj Jawahar Wala on 03 December and recorded statement of six persons including Gora Singh, the granthi of the gurdwara at Burj Jawahar Singh Wala, cashier Pritam Kaur, one Ranjit Singh and three other villagers.

It is noteworthy here that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a closure report in sacrilege cases on 04 July in three cases pertaining to the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Later, the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has nullified the CBI’s closure report.

These three cases pertain to the theft of a holy saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from village Burj Jawahar Singh in June-2015, pasting of provocative posters in Bargari and committing sacrilege by scattering the sacred Angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Bargari.

On being approached by media, Gora Singh informed that the CBI team repeated all those questions which were asked by different investigating agencies and judicial commissions in the past four years.

While a SIT of the Punjab Police had nominated three followers of Dera Sacha Sauda: Mohinder Pal Bittu (who was killed in Nabha Jail on June 22 this year), Sukhjinder Singh and Shakti Singh, the filing of the closure report by the CBI in this case had led to a lot of political uproar.

In this political and religious upheaval over the sacrilege incidents and the filing of the closure report by the CBI, in August this year, the agency had taken a U-turn and approached the CBI Special Court in Mohali, saying it wanted to carry on the probe in these three cases.

CBI reopens investigation into sacrilege cases of Burj Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari

Scroll.in – Hindu mandir in Britain hosts politically motivated speech, calling Labour Party ‘anti-Modi’

A clear call to action to the ‘Indian’ vote in the coming UK elections.

In a video from a Hindu mandir in Britain, a man is seen giving a speech urging British Hindus and Sikhs to vote in favour of Britain’s Conservative party, led by current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The National Hindu Council of Temples in the UK has previously come under fire for material on its website and sending out emails to its members that openly praised and supported Theresa May, and expressed strong distaste for Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party.

“The trustees [of NHCT] have assured us that the charity is politically neutral and will not seek to or indicate that it supports a particular political party or candidate,” said a spokesperson for the Charity Commission at the time.

However, the recent speech delivered on the mandir’s premises (above) supports the Conservative Party, and disavows the Labour Party, once again mentioning Jeremy Corbyn.

The speech also asserts that the Labour Party is “anti-Modi,” and are “supporters of separatist jihadis,” apparently drawing upon Indian politics to motivate Hindu voters in Britain. This speech came the same day that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu mandir in London and vowed to support Narendra Modi.


The Print – Over 1,000 scientists oppose citizenship bill, say it violates spirit of Constitution

Read full text of statement signed by more than 1,000 scientists & scholars who say they find it troubling that bill uses    religion as a criterion to determine citizenship.

Bengaluru -Karnataka – India, 09 December 2019. In a statement circulated online, more than 1,000 Indian scientists and scholars from the country and abroad have released a statement opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill tabled Lok Sabha by the Narendra Modi government Monday.

The 2019 bill, which was approved by the Union cabinet on 4 December, seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there.

In the statement, the scientists have argued that the “use of religion as a criterion for citizenship” would be a “radical break” with the idea of independent, post-colonial India. The bill is a proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 and would reduce the residence period in India from 11 years to six years to obtain citizenship.

Drafted over the weekend, tT. These include scientists and research scholars from institutions such as various IITs, the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS, Bengaluru), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR, Mumbai), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Indian Statistical Institute, and different IISERs as well as international institutes such as Harvard University, University of Chicago, University of Toronto, Nikhef Amsterdam, and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.

Signatories also include directors of major research institutions, such as Rajesh Gopakumar of ICTS, Sandip Trivedi of TIFR, and Atish Dabholkar of International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Italy.

We are a group of Indian scientists and scholars

We are issuing this statement in our personal capacity as concerned citizens to express our dismay at the reported plans to table the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 in the parliament. We do not have access to the exact text of the current version of the Bill.

Our statement is based on media reports and the text of the previous version of the Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha in January 2019. Nevertheless, we feel compelled to issue this statement already at this point of time in view of the reports that the Bill may be tabled in parliament early next week and may be taken up for voting in both houses soon after.

We understand that the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The stated intent of the Bill is to provide refuge to persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries.

While we support this laudable objective, we find it deeply troubling that the Bill uses religion as a legal criterion for determining Indian citizenship.

The idea of India that emerged from the independence movement, and as enshrined in our constitution, is that of a country that aspires to treat people of all faiths equally. The use of religion as a criterion for citizenship in the proposed bill would mark a radical break with this history and would be inconsistent with the basic structure of the constitution.

We fear, in particular, that the careful exclusion of Muslims from the ambit of the Bill will greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country.

We note that article 14 of the Indian constitution prohibits the State from denying “to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” While it is the job of legal experts to determine whether this draft bill violates the letter of the constitution, it seems certain to us that it violates its spirit.

For the reasons mentioned above, we call for the immediate withdrawal of this bill and as its replacement request for appropriate legislation that will address the concerns of refugees and minorities in a non-discriminatory manner.

Over 1,000 scientists oppose citizenship bill, say it violates spirit of Constitution