The Hindu – India-Pakistan situation has impacted Afghanistan, says Hamid Karzai

Dinakar Peri

New Delhi – India, 16 January 2020. We are the best of friends with India, but how do we convey to Pakistan that we can be the best of brothers at the same time, asks the former Afghan president, the India-Pakistan situation has impacted Afghanistan at the Raisina Dialogue.

The unfortunate situation between India and Pakistan had impacted Afghanistan “tremendously”, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday. “We are the best of friends with India,” Mr. Karzai said adding, “but how do we convey to Pakistan that we can be the best of brothers at the same time.”

Speaking at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue jointly organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation, he said there was no other way for Afghanistan, “we need the peace process to be successful.”

Asked about the troubled relationship with Pakistan, Mr Karzai said there were two sides to it. “Pakistani people received us as refugees with open arms, we’re grateful for that.

On the other hand, we have serious complaints with the Pakistan government and military on the issue of terrorism,” he stated adding they too in Afghanistan perhaps made some mistakes in managing the relationship.

Terming Iran and Pakistan the most consequential relationships for Afghanistan, he said, “We cannot have peace in Afghanistan, unless we have the best of relationships in Pakistan.”

On the issue of continued USA military presence in Afghanistan, Mr Karzai said a vast majority of people would agree with a USA presence in Afghanistan as long as the “Afghan people are given the legitimacy to live in a dignified way, and politics and institutions in Afghanistan are not interfered with.”

The Hindu – Akali Dal suspends rebel Rajya Sabha MP and his son

Party to issue charge sheet to explain their conduct: spokesman

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 January 2020. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday suspended rebel Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his son, former Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, for “anti-party” activities.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the core committee which was presided over by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

The party has decided to suspend them with immediate effect and has also resolved to issue them a charge sheet to explain their conduct.

According to party spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema, after due discussion it was decided to issue a charge sheet to the duo, following which they would be given two weeks to explain their conduct. “The party will take its next course of action after receiving the reply of the two leaders,” he said.

Former Minister Sikander Singh Maluka, who is party’s observer for Sangrur district, disclosed to the core committee that at a recent meeting of the Sangrur district body it was unanimously decided to recommend the expulsion of both Mr Sukhdev Dhindsa and Mr Parminder Dhindsa for indulging in anti-party activities.

Last week, Mr Parminder Dhindsa had quit the post of leader of the SAD legislature party. Earlier, Mr Sukhdev Dhindsa had rebelled against the top party leadership, demanding Mr Badal’s resignation as the party president to restore to its “lost glory”.

The Hindu – India caught in the crossfire as Trump invokes Delhi post Soleimani killing

But Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni denies allegation that Soleimani was behind terror attacks.

Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi – India, 04 January 2020. India got caught in the crossfire between the United States and Iran after President Donald Trump blamed assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani for a spate of terror attacks, including one in Delhi, a charge Iran’s envoy to India has denied.

In a statement in Washington, Mr Trump justified the killing of Mr Soleimani in a missile attack on his convoy outside the Baghdad airport, saying that the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) international operations or “Quds force” was responsible for several terror attacks and was planning more.

“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London,” Mr. Trump said.

Iran’s Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni denied the allegations. “Mr Trump can say anything he likes, he can give any list of attacks that he likes. But this is a big lie. General Soleimani was a soldier, he was not involved in the targetting of innocents anywhere,” Mr Chegeni said in an interview to The Hindu.

The Ministry of External Affairs declined to comment on Mr Trump’s statement, which brought New Delhi into the rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Mr Trump is believed to have referred to the car bombing of an Israeli diplomat in Delhi in February 2012. The diplomat, who was also the wife of the Israeli defence attaché, was injured in the attack along with three others.

At the time, the Delhi Police’s special cell that investigated the case believed it was connected with attacks on Israeli diplomats in Tbilisi, Georgia as well as Bangkok, Thailand, and was reportedly carried out by IRGC agents at the time in retaliation for attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists.

Delhi Police officials say the case has not moved since 2013, when the lone suspect, an Indian journalist with an Iranian news agency, was granted bail, a decision that was upheld in the Supreme Court.

Mr Chegeni said that by raising the issue, Mr Trump was attempting to cover the USA’s action in killing the Iranian official while he was visiting Iraq after travelling to Syria for “anti-terrorism consultations”.

“General Soleimani fought against the ISIS, Jubhat Al Nusra, Al-Qaeda. He was invited to Syria and Iraq by their governments for advice and assistance on fighting these terror groups. So anyone who assassinated him, is for the terrorists. And if this was ordered by their President, as the USA says, then this is an act of state terrorism,” he noted.

New Delhi expresses concern

On Friday, India issued a statement that expressed concern over rising tensions between the USA and Iran, and “noted” the USA’s killing of the senior Iranian official.

When asked, Mr. Chegeni said he expected India would also “condemn the assassination of an official who was on a visit to another country on official invitation.”

He stated, “We expect India as our reliable friend to advise the United States to follow international norms and not destabilise the region. We have the right to retaliate, but Iranians are patient, we will choose the time and place of our response to this killing.”

Tougher language is expected from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is due in Delhi on 14 January to address the Raisina dialogue. The 3-day event, where USA Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger will also speak, could see India, which has attempted a “tightrope walk” in ties with both countries, caught in the middle again.

With inputs from Saurabh Trivedi

The Hindu – Five Kashmiri political leaders released after four months of detention

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 30 December 2019. The leaders released belong to the National Conference, the PDP and the Congress, and were kept under preventive detention, officials said.

The J&K administration started a phased release of detained mainstream leaders on Monday. Five politicians and former legislators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Peoples Conference (PC) and the National Conference (NC) were released after five months of detention.

According to an official, the NC’s Ishfaq Jabbar, a former legislator from Ganderbal, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, PDP’s Bashir Mir from Kangan and Zahoor Mir from Pampore, also a former minister; and Peoples Conference’s Yasir Reshi, also a former legislator, were released on in the afternoon.

They are among the over 270 political leaders who were detained during the clampdown launched on mainstream regional parties on 05 August, the day the Centre revoked J&K’s special status. The politicians were initially held in the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar and later shifted to the MLAs Hostel, a former legislators’ residence-turned-sub-jail in Srinagar.

Top official sources said more political leaders are likely to be released in the first fortnight of the new year “as Kashmir has by far remained peaceful”.

An official said around 27 political detainees, including senior NC leader Ali Muhammad Sagar, PDP’s Naeem Akhtar, PC chief Sajad Lone and J&K Peoples Movement president Shah Faesal, continue to remain behind bars, under Section 107, an apparent threat to peace and public tranquillity.

However, NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah, and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti remain in detention in separate sub jails in the city.

Monday’s release of politicians comes more than a month after the November 25 release of two mainstream regional leaders.

None of the detained leaders have been charged with any crime or trespass, not even those who are detained under section 107. Very odd, not very legal, no justice !
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Emphasis of NPR launched by Congress was on ‘residency’ and not ‘citizenship’, says P Chidambaram MP

Sobhana K Nair

New Delhi – India, 26 December 2019. Congress MP P Chidambaram dares BJP government to unequivocally say that they had no intention to link the NRC with the NPR

Former Home Minister and Congress MP P Chidambaram asserted that the emphasis of the National Population Register (NPR) launched in 2010 by the UPA government was on “residency” and not “citizenship”.

The BJP had on Wednesday released a video clip of the launch of the NPR in 2010 where Mr Chidambaram had said that an exercise like this had not been attempted anywhere in the world. He sought to highlight the differences in the UPA-era NPR and the present version through a series of tweets.

“We were enumerating the ‘usual residents’ of the country. The emphasis is on residency not citizenship,” he said.

He added that the NPR was to aid the preparation of the 2011 census. “Every usual resident was to be enumerated irrespective of his or her religion or place of birth,” he said.

The most important difference between the two was that there was no mention of a National Register of Citizens (NRC).

“The BJP-led government has a larger and more sinister agenda and that is why the NPR approved by them yesterday is very dangerous and different in terms of the TEXT as well as the CONTEXT of NPR 2010,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

He dared the BJP government to unequivocally say that they had no intention to link the NRC with the NPR.

“If the BJP’s motives are bona fide, let the government unconditionally state that they support the NPR form and design of 2010 and have no intention of linking it to the controversial NRC,” he added.

The Hindu – Jharkhand Assembly election results live – Congress-JMM crosses majority mark in leads

The Hindu Net Desk

Ranchi – Jharkand – India, 23 December 2019. The exit polls indicate an edge to JMM and Congress alliance. BJP, however, is confident of returning to power.

Ranchi: The counting for the 2019 Jharkhand assembly election results began amidst tight security at 8 am across 24 districts of Jharkhand on Monday morning.

The counting started at 8 am in all the 24 district headquarters. The maximum rounds of counting will take place at Chatra with 28 rounds and lowest round at two seats, Chandankyari and Torpa.

The Election Commission has made arrangements for counting at all the districts headquarters. The first result is expected around 1 pm.

To read the full article :

The Hindu – All four accused in Hyderabad vet rape and murder case shot dead

According to police sources, the exchange of fire took place between 5.45 am to 6.15 am

Abhinay Deshpande

Hyderabad – Telangana – India, 06 December 2019. The four accused in the case of rape and murder of a woman veterinarian have been killed in an exchange of fire with the police at Chatanpally of Shadnagar, 50 km from Hyderabad.

According to police sources, the exchange of fire took place between 5.45 am to 6.15 am near the Chatanpally underpass, where the charred body of the vet was found. The accused tried to flee when they were taken to Chatanpally to reconstruct the crime scene, the sources said.

The accused killed in the encounter are Md Arif (26), the lorry driver and Jollu Naveen, Jollu Shiva and Ch Chennakeshavulu, all 20 years of age.

The accused allegedly threw stones at policemen escorting them, snatched the weapons from them and started firing.

Speaking to The Hindu, Cyberabad Commissioner of Police V C Sajjanar said Arif and Chennakeshwalu snatched two 0.9 mm short pistols from the special party and started firing. Meanwhile, Naveen and Shiv started pelting stones at the policemen.

They also got hold of iron rods found in the vicinity, when they were taken to the crime spot for recreating the crime scene. The police had to fire in retaliation, and killed all four of them, he added.

Two policemen were injured and are being treated at a private hospital in Hyderabad. Forensic experts have reached the spot.

The encounter took place barely within 400 metres from where the body of Disha was found.

The entire area has been cordoned off after locals gathered on the spot as the news spread. People distributed sweets and hailed the police for their action.

On November 27 the veterinarian who was on her way home after a medical check-up at Gachibowli was abducted near Tondupally toll gate of the Outer Ring Road near RGI Airport. Later, her charred body was found at the underpass near Chatanpalli.

The Cyberabad police are yet to make an official announcement on how the encounter took place. Senior police officials said they would announce details soon.

Cyderabad Commissioner of Police V C Sajjanar addresses the media at the spot on December 6, 2019.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to Telangana Police on Friday’s encounter.

Is there something ‘fishy’ behind this encounter or is it a case of extreme incompetence by the police ?
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Country shares Rahul Bajaj’s sentiment: Congress

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 02 December 2019. In the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah at an event in Mumbai, Mr. Bajaj said people feared criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Industrialist Rahul Bajaj’s remark on the atmosphere of fear is a sentiment shared by the entire country across all sectors, the Congress said on Sunday.

In the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at an event in Mumbai on Saturday, Mr Bajaj said people feared criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During the second term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), one could criticise the government without fear, he said. “if we criticise you, there is no guarantee that you will appreciate that.”

Palpable fear

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera welcomed Mr Bajaj’s comments. “What Mr Rahul Bajaj has said is a sentiment shared by the country across sectors. The atmosphere has been vitiated in the last five years. If there is no harmony in society, how do you expect investors to put up their money,” he asked.

At event on Friday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there was a “palpable climate of fear”.

The Congress said the Modi government could not find a cure for the ailing economy since it was not willing    to acknowledge the “pathogens” that infected it. “They don’t know what are the mistakes which led to this situation. The first fatal blow to the economy was demonetisation, followed by a badly implemented Goods and Services Tax,” Mr. Khera said.

He also asked why the government was patting its back on the GST collection for November, at Rs 1,03,492 crore, after it dipped below the Rs 1 lakh crore mark for three successive months. “This was the collection target in 2017.”

The Hindu – Maharashtra poltics: Aaditya Thackeray and Rohit Pawar the centre of attraction as MLAs take oath

Hugs, selfies and sulks at House

Alok Deshpande

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 27 November 2019. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule welcoming MLAs of her party, the Congress and the Shiv Sena, jubilant supporters hugging each other and sulking Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders exuding confidence that the government won’t last for more than six months.

These were some of the scenes in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday as the newly elected MLAs took oath.

Ms Sule was among the first NCP leaders to arrive at the legislature building. She stood at the entrance and greeted all MLAs coming for the oath-taking ceremony. Her cousin and NCP leader, Ajit Pawar, who had attempted rebellion but backtracked and returned to the party, hugged her before entering the building.

Will do as told

“I am with the NCP and Sharad Pawar is our leader. I will do as Sharad Pawar tells me to do,” Mr Ajit Pawar said. Ms Sule expressed happiness over the fact that three parties were coming together to form the government.

On Wednesday, 287 of the 288 MLAs took oath. Former Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was not present in the Assembly owing to a family function at his native district Chandrapur. Pro-tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar, who was sworn in by the Governor on Tuesday night, administered the oath.

Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray and NCP MLA Rohit Pawar, both elected for the first time and touted as future leaders of their respective parties, were the centre of attraction with a huge crowd surrounding them to click selfies and greet them.

The young leaders posed together showing the victory sign for a special photo session on the Assembly building staircase.

Apart from the two leaders, the new Assembly consists of youngsters such as Dheeraj Deshmukh, Ruturaj Patil, Zeeshan Siddiqui of the Congress, Yogesh Kadam of the Sena, Aditi Tatkare of the NCP, and Ram Satpute of the BJP.

“The mandate of the people is to create a new Maharashtra. We youngsters will all work under the leadership of our senior leaders and for the welfare of common people of Maharashtra,” said Mr Thackeray.

Senior NCP and Congress leaders were however seen cautioning the over enthusiastic supporters that despite Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being the Chief Minister-designate, the real test of the government will be on the Assembly floor after the swearing-in ceremony.

“The election of the Assembly Speaker will be an extremely important move. We have not loosened up. All our MLAs will remain in hotels till the government clears the trust vote,” said Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan.

Meanwhile, sulking BJP MLAs were seen expressing doubts in hushed voices about the stability of the government. “There is going to be internal conflict in this government and we will now wait till one of the three parties breaks away. It won’t take more than three months,” said a former minister and BJP MLA.

Wait for the next instalment: Watch this space !
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Devendra Fadnavis takes oath as Maharashtra CM, Ajit Pawar as Deputy CM

As of Friday night, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray was poised to be the State’s CM

Alok Deshpande

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India, 23 November 2019. In an unexpected turn of events, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar took oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively in Raj Bhavan on Saturday morning.

The move has come as a total shock in the State as a meeting of all three parties on Friday night had unanimously agreed to make Shiv sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the leader of the new government.

“The State is suffering from farmer problems. The instability in the State is not good for the development of the State. It was important to form the government. Ajit dada came with us and we approached the Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and claimed to form the government.

The President’s rule was removed and we decided to take oath today itself,” said Mr. Fadnavis, while talking to news agency ANI at Raj Bhavan.

More background information tomorrow
Man in Blue