The Hindu – Kulbhushan Jadhav files mercy petition before Pakistani military chief

Kulbhushan Jadhav had earlier appealed to the Military Appellate Court which was rejected

Mubashir Zaidi

Karachi, 22 June 2017. The Pakistani military announced on Thursday that former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav had filed a mercy petition with Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Mr Jadhav was sentenced to death by a military court in April for espionage and terrorism. The International Court of Justice in May halted the execution on India’s appeal.

In a statement by the Inter Services Public Relations, military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said Mr Jadhav had filed the mercy plea with a confessional statement that he was involved in subversive activities in Balochistan.

Mr Jadhav was said to have been arrested last year from Balochistan. “Today, I genuinely feel, after the time spent in Pakistan, very ashamed and seek pardon of the acts and sins and crimes I have committed here against the nation and people of Pakistan,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr Jadhav’s second ‘confessional’ video was posted on the Facebook page of the military’s public relations wing, ISPR.

India lashed out at Pakistan for the “lack of transparency” in Mr Jadhav’s trial and mercy petition process, and indicated that Pakistan’s release of the video was an “attempt to introduce prejudice” in the ongoing International Court of Justice appeal.

“India is determined to pursue the matter in ICJ and is confident that justice will be done without being affected by these unwarranted and misleading steps taken by Pakistan,” official spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.

The Hindu – Suspect in Belgium train station blast confirmed dead

Brussel, 21 June 2017. The Latest on the explosion at a train station in Brussels:

4 a.m. (IST)

A spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office says the suspect in the explosion at a train station in the Belgian capital has died.

Prosecutor’s spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch said early Wednesday the man had been lying still since soldiers shot him on Tuesday night. She says medics were unable to attend to him for several hours out of fear he could be carrying explosives.

Van Wymersch says authorities only could confirm his death once a bomb squad had finished its work.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt says soldiers “neutralized” a suspect at the Central Station immediately after a small explosion there.

2.55 a.m. (IST)

Belgian authorities say they foiled a “terror attack” when they shot a suspect at one of the nation’s main train stations.

Federal prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt said soldiers “neutralised” a suspect at the Central Station immediately after a small explosion there on Tuesday night and “we do not know if the man is still alive or that he is dead”.

Van der Sypt added that “this incident is considered as a terrorist attack”.

Belgium’s Crisis Center, which monitors security threats in the country, says based on initial information it doesn’t see a need to raise the terror threat in the country to the highest level.

1.45 a.m. (IST)

Belgian authorities say soldiers “neutralised” a person at a main Brussels train station amid media reports of explosion-like noises there.

Belgium’s Crisis Center, which monitors security threats in the country, said via Twitter that “soldiers had to neutralise an individual” at the Central station on Tuesday.

Brussels prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch tells VRT network there was a small explosion at the station, one of the nation’s busiest, but the damage was limited.

Van Wymersch said authorities were on the scene quickly and a person was shot. She says at first sight no one else appears to have been wounded.

Photos posted on social media showed a small fire in the station, which was evacuated along with the main Brussels square.

1 a.m. (IST)

Belgian media are reporting that explosion-like noises have been heard at a Brussels train station, prompting the evacuation of a main square.

Broadcaster RTL quoted Fires Services spokesman Pierre Meys confirming that some kind of an explosion had happened in the city’s Central station on Tuesday. Meys could not say what had caused the blast.

Brussels police said via Twitter that there was “an incident with an individual at the station. The situation is under control.”

They asked the public to follow police instructions.

The Belgian capital’s Grand Place, a major tourist site, was evacuated along with the station about 200 meters (656 feet) away.

Belgium has been on high alert since suicide bombers killed 32 people on the Brussels subway and at an airport in March 2016.

The Hindu – One arrested after vehicle rams worshippers near London mosque

Van “intentionally” runs over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan, according to head of Muslim Council of Britain

London, 19 June 2017.

One person has been arrested after a vehicle hit pedestrians in north London, injuring several people, police said on Monday. Muslim leaders said worshippers were mown down after leaving a mosque.

Police said in a statement that there were “a number of casualties”, and added that they were called to reports of “a vehicle in collision with pedestrians” at 00:20 am (4.50 am IST).

“We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left Finsbury Park Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter.

Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had “intentionally” run over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan.

An AFP reporter could see a helicopter and many emergency vehicles at the scene, which was closed off by a large police cordon.

Traffic was shut down on a section of Seven Sisters Road, where the incident happened.

“We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured,” David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident, told AFP.

The London Ambulance Service said it had sent “a number of resources” to the scene.

The mosque is near Seven Sisters Road and was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed under new management.

Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015. He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.

In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired attacks in Paris.

Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The Hindu – How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate

New DNA evidence is solving the most fought-over question in Indian history. And you will be surprised at how sure-footed the answer is.

Tony Joseph

June 16, 2017. The thorniest, most fought-over question in Indian history is slowly but surely getting answered: did Indo-European language speakers, who called themselves Aryans, stream into India sometime around 2,000 BC – 1,500 BC when the Indus Valley civilisation came to an end, bringing with them Sanskrit and a distinctive set of cultural practices?

Genetic research based on an avalanche of new DNA evidence is making scientists around the world converge on an unambiguous answer: yes, they did.

This may come as a surprise to many, and a shock to some, because the dominant narrative in recent years has been that genetics research had thoroughly disproved the Aryan migration theory.

This interpretation was always a bit of a stretch as anyone who read the nuanced scientific papers in the original knew. But now it has broken apart altogether under a flood of new data on Y-chromosomes (or chromosomes that are transmitted through the male parental line, from father to son).

Lines of descent

Until recently, only data on mtDNA (or matrilineal DNA, transmitted only from mother to daughter) were available and that seemed to suggest there was little external infusion into the Indian gene pool over the last 12,500 years or so.

New Y-DNA data has turned that conclusion upside down, with strong evidence of external infusion of genes into the Indian male lineage during the period in question.

The reason for the difference in mtDNA and Y-DNA data is obvious in hindsight: there was a strong sex bias in Bronze Age migrations. In other words, those who migrated were predominantly male and, therefore, those gene flows do not really show up in the mtDNA data.

On the other hand, they do show up in the Y-DNA data: specifically, about 17.5% of Indian male lineage has been found to belong to haplogroup R1a (haplogroups identify a single line of descent), which is today spread across Central Asia, Europe and South Asia.

The Pontic-Caspian Steppe is seen as the region from where R1a spread both west and east, splitting into different sub-branches along the way.

The paper that put all of the recent discoveries together into a tight and coherent history of migrations into India was published just three months ago in a peer-reviewed journal called ‘BMC Evolutionary Biology’.

In that paper, titled “A Genetic Chronology for the Indian Subcontinent Points to Heavily Sex-biased Dispersals”, 16 scientists led by Professor Martin P Richards of the University of Huddersfield, UK, concluded: “Genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society.

This was part of a much wider process of Indo-European expansion, with an ultimate source in the Pontic-Caspian region, which carried closely related Y-chromosome lineages… across a vast swathe of Eurasia between 5,000 and 3,500 years ago”.

In an email exchange, Professor Richards said the prevalence of R1a in India was “very powerful evidence for a substantial Bronze Age migration from central Asia that most likely brought Indo-European speakers to India.”

The robust conclusions of Professor Richards and his team rest on their own substantive research as well as a vast trove of new data and findings that have become available in recent years, through the work of genetic scientists around the world.


The Hindu – India ratifies core conventions to clamp down on child labour

International Labour Organisation conventions relate to the worst forms of child labour, and admission of age to employment

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 13 June 2017. In a historic move, India on Tuesday ratified two core Conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) on child labour, a global commitment to end the worst form of child labour and to ensure minimum basic education for children.

Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya handed over the Instruments of Ratification to the ILO in Geneva as a part of the ceremony.

“It is a historic moment for India as we are going to take another giant step to affirm our commitment for a child labour-free India by ratifying the two Core Conventions of International Labour Organization (ILO), Convention 138 regarding admission of age to employment and Convention 182 regarding worst forms of child labour,” Mr. Dattatreya said on the sidelines of the International Labour Conference 2017 in Geneva.

The Central government had enacted a new law, Child labour (Prohibition and Prevention) Amendment Act, 2016, banning employment of children below 14 years of age in all occupations and processes. It further prohibits employment of adolescents (14-18 years of age) in hazardous occupations.

However, children were allowed to “help” families in running their domestic enterprises only after school hours.

The new law linked the age of employment for children to the age of compulsory education under Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009.

“From today, Convention 182 will cover more than 99 percent of the world’s children and the coverage of Convention 138 will leap from approximately 60 percent to almost 80 percent,” ILO Director General Guy Ryder said at the Geneva event.

With ratification of the two core ILO conventions, India has ratified six out of eight core ILO conventions. Four other conventions were related to abolition of forced labour, equal remuneration and no discrimination between men and women in employment and occupation.

Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi had told The Hindu last week that the Central government’s move to ratify ILO Conventions on child labour will ensure compliance of the government’s new law.

“Countries which ratify any of the ILO conventions have to go through a periodical reporting system every four years. So the government has to prove they are making progress,” Mr. Satyarthi had said.

The Hindu – States will have to bear farm loan waivers from their own coffers: Jaitley

On bad loans, he says the RBI is preparing a list of debtors whose cases will be considered for speedy resolution

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 12 June 2017. The States going in for farm loan waivers will have to generate funds from their own resources, Finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday came after a meeting he had with public sector bank (PSB) chiefs, where among other things, the situation on bad loans was discussed.

Mr Jaitley’s comments come in the backdrop of farmers’ agitations across the country as well as State governments such as Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, both BJP-ruled, announcing farm loan waivers.

There are also similar demands for farm loan waiver in States, including in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana (both BJP-ruled), Punjab (Congress-ruled), Tamil Nadu (AIADMK government).

This is the second time that Mr Jaitley has spoken on these lines. In March, he said in the Rajya Sabha, “This issue of loan waiver has cropped up in several States. The Centre has its policies for the agriculture sector, under which we provide interest subvention and other support.

We will continue to give all that. If a State has its own resources and wants to go ahead in that direction, it will have to find its resources. The situation where the Centre will help one State and not the others will not arise.”

On bad loans, Mr Jaitley said the Reserve Bank of India is at an advanced stage of preparing a list of debtors whose cases would be considered for speedy resolution through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) process.

Mr Jaitley, who was speaking to reporters, said, “Under the new ordinance issued, the RBI is at a fairly advanced stage of preparing a list of those debtors where a resolution is required through IBC process. You will be shortly hearing about it.”

The meeting, he said, also discussed the challenge regarding weak credit growth as well as the state of resolution of Non Performing Assets (NPA) and the state of finances of the PSBs. “There are already about 81 cases filed under the IBC, of these 18 cases have been initiated by financial creditors.

These are already before the National Company Law Tribunal and since the bulk of the NPAs – about 70% – are either in consortium or in multiple banking arrangement, a speedy resolution is required,” he said.

RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra, who attended the meeting, said the RBI was discussing the issue of bad loans with banks and that “information has already been collected on such accounts from banks”.

The RBI is learnt to be looking at certain large stressed accounts. Guidance from an internal advisory panel is expected soon on the accounts that would be referred to the IBC.

Officials said the National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) may also be roped in to help the banks in the sale of a portion of their stressed assets.

“The NIIF has options of take out financing, and discussions were also held on providing last mile finance to stalled projects,” a senior official said, adding that telecom was among the sectors discussed for stressed assets resolution.

At the meeting, a detailed presentation was made and it emerged that in FY17, the banks have made stable operating profit of Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Subject to various provisioning requirements, there has been a net profit of Rs 574 crore.

Mr Jaitley said though PSB consolidation was not on the meeting’s agenda, “We are actively moving in that direction. I can’t give you further details as these are price-sensitive information. But you can take it that there is movement in that direction.”

The meeting also reviewed all financial inclusion schemes, the Stand Up India initiative, cyber-security and Goods and Services Tax related issues.

The Hindu – Dutch accused stymies efforts at justice for murdered British tourist

Doctors term De Wit mentally unwell; lawyers say he is manipulating judiciary

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 10 June 2017. The trial in the 2013 murder of 25-year-old British tourist Sarah Groves, has been stalled once again with lawyers and doctors divided on the condition of the accused, Richard De Wit from the Netherlands.

De Wit, 47, has been accused of stabbing Sarah Groves over 40 times on the intervening night of April 5- 6 in 2013 in a houseboat belonging to her boyfriend, Saeed Ahmad Shoda.

After 93 scheduled hearing the case remains inconclusive.

A team of psychiatrists, who examined De Wit on April 12 and April 15, 2013 were convinced that he was mentally unstable. The medical records, accessed by The Hindu, diagnose him with “paranoid schizophrenia with substance misuse”, “delusional disorder with substance misuse” or paranoid personality with substance misuse.

“The diagnosis is provisional and needs to be confirmed by corroborative history (from Netherlands),” the doctors said.

Courts misled

However, legal experts disagree and contend that De Wit is an extremely clever criminal who is exploiting the system to his advantage.

“De Wit is playing with the court. Many lawyers have failed to earn his confidence all these years. He bothers judges in the court. He is so particular about every detail, especially money matters. He is extraordinarily clever. He knows what he is doing,” lawyer Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, amicus curiae in the case, told The Hindu.

In his latest instance of refusal to cooperate with the courts, De Wit last week began a hunger strike and has stopped taking medicine for his psychiatric condition, seeking immediate hospitalisation at the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital in Srinagar.

Chequered past

According to the statement recorded by doctors after the murder, De Wit was married to a Thai woman with whom he had two children “but was unemployed and on disability benefits”. He was allegedly a member of a right-wing party in the Netherlands and elected as a councillor and served as such for three years.

“He first ran away to Switzerland then to Kenya, where he started a relationship with a Kenyan national, who after five weeks claimed that she was pregnant. But Mr Richard said he could not father a child as he was being poisoned by the Dutch government for quite some time, which had rendered him impotent,” the report said.

He later left for Tanzania and then travelled to Malawi, Mozambique, Harare, Dubai and Nepal before reaching Srinagar. His passport corroborates this time line.

Apparently delusional, he told doctors that the Dutch government “continues to monitor and follow him and engage spies from his friends and relatives to keep a watch”.

On the fourth day of his Srinagar stay, De Wit met the victim Sarah Groves for the first time on the New Beauty houseboat. “He believed she might have been a part of plot and the Dutch government might have hired her to keep an eye on him. He admitted using cannabis and heroine during the stay,” the report says.

He also insisted that he “would not be given a fair trial in his country” and would be “sentenced even if proved not guilty”.

The Dutch government has denied following him.

An online campaign for justice for the victim, run her family and friends has called into question the whole.

After the hearing on Thursday, with De Wit’s latest obstruction, the family wrote: “…there have been many occasions when the trial has been called into question and could have totally collapsed. Many times, we have said ‘Can it possibly reach a safe conclusion?’.

Along the way there have been many factors that made us think that way, Richard de Wit’s physical and mental health being one of them. Current indications, once again, must call the trial into question in its current form. The consequences for us as a family of the trial collapsing are very serious indeed.”

The Hindu – Are cattle trade rules good in law?

Question before Supreme Court is if they override animal cruelty Act

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi, 9 June 2017. One of the primary questions the Supreme Court will have to settle when it starts hearing the challenge to the government’s new notifications banning the sale and trade of cattle in livestock markets for slaughter and animal sacrifices is whether these rules override the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

The court has agreed to hear Mohammed Abdul Faheem Qureshi, a Hyderabad-based lawyer and president of All-India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee, who contended that the restrictions are “unconstitutional” and outside the purview of the 1960 Act.

He has argued that the Centre is only empowered by the Act to notify rules which are in furtherance of the purposes of the 1960 Act, cardinally that no animal, not just cattle, is caused unnecessary pain and suffering.

The Supreme Court has consistently said that rules that contravene or rewrite the parent law, in this case the 1960 Act, should be rendered invalid for arbitrariness and unreasonableness. However, the burden to disprove the presumption that these rules are constitutional and valid lies with the petitioner.

Mr. Qureshi has to prove that the government lacked legislative competence to make the subordinate legislation. That the rules are a violation of the guaranteed fundamental and constitutional rights.

Caution required

“Where a Rule is directly inconsistent with a mandatory provision of the statute, then of course the task of the court is simple and easy. But where the contention is that the inconsistency or non-conformity of the Rule is not with reference to any specific provision of the enabling Act, but with the object and scheme of the Parent Act, the court should proceed with caution before declaring invalidity,” the Supreme Court observed in its State of Tamil Nadu versus P Krishnamoorthy judgment.

In the Indian Express Newspapers case, the court held that “a piece of subordinate legislation does not carry the same degree of immunity enjoyed by a statute passed by a competent legislature”.

In the Employees Welfare Association case, it held that Rules are liable to be declared invalid if they are manifestly unjust, oppressive, outrageous, violative of the general principles of the law, vague, unreasonable or discloses bad faith.

The Hindu – Young leaders seek an end to mob lynching

Warn of nation-wide protest if government fails to act

New Delhi, 05 June 2017. A group of young leaders with varied political affiliations and social ambitions, divided by their differing economic world views but, as they stressed, united by their commitment to the Constitution, came together on Monday to seek an end to mob lynching in the country and a new law that will make this possible.

They also gently warned the Modi government that if this did not happen by 11 July, the first anniversary of the brutal attack on Dalits in Gujerat’s Una, they would launch a countrywide protest starting in Una.

They would also ensure that cattle traders and dairy farmers camped outside the Prime Minister’s residence in the national capital with their cattle.

On Monday, former JNU president and CPI member Kanhaiyya Kumar; JNU vice president Shehla Rashid; AISA member, Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani; and businessman Tehseen Poonawala, whose brother Shehzad is in the Congress, came together on a common platform at the Constitution Club here to make this announcement.

The group even announced the names of the members of the committee they have formed to draw up a draft law, they include lawyers Sanjay Hegde and Rebecca John, academics Apoorvanand, Nivedita Menon V Geetha and Manoj Jha (the last named is from the RJD), actress Swara Bhaskar, and sister of missing JNU student Najeeb, Sadaf Musharaf.

A real danger

“We are already in touch with the Opposition parties and chief ministers on the law that we have proposed,” said Mr. Poonawalla, who presided on the occasion. “We want it passed by 11 July”.

Kanhaiyya Kumar, clearly the star of the show, said it was sometimes important to throw stones into still water. “…It gets stagnant… we want to stress that this is not a communal issue, but one that concerns every citizen.

People are being attacked in the name of identity, on the basis of the food they eat or because of whom they choose to love. They need protection”.

Just as it was important to preserve biodiversity, it was equally important to preserve social diversity. “Look at Tehseen, he gives jobs, and look at me, I need a job. Yet we have come together on a common platform,” he said.

Jignesh Mewani explained why they were campaigning for a new law. “People might say that this could be dealt with by the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, which is true. But there are precedents: there was a special law enacted to protect Dalits and tribals (the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act); similarly, we need a special law now”.

The Hindu – Deadly explosions rock funeral in tense Kabul

The burial was of a victim of violent clashes between the police and protesters on Friday

Kabul, 3 June 2017. At least six people were killed and dozens wounded as explosions rocked the funeral of an Afghan politician’s son who died during an anti-government protest over spiralling insecurity in Kabul, raising tensions in a city already on edge.

Witnesses reported three blasts at the burial site of Salim Ezadyar, who was among four people killed on Friday when the protest degenerated into street clashes with police, fuelling anger against the government.

The hilly, wind-swept site was littered with bloodied corpses and dismembered limbs, local television footage showed, with one witness telling AFP that “people were blown to pieces” due to the impact of the blasts.

“So far six dead bodies and 87 wounded people have been brought to Kabul hospitals,” Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh told AFP.

The funeral of Salim Ezadyar, the son of an Afghan Senator, was attended by senior government figures including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, but his office told AFP that the latter was unhurt.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombings, saying on Twitter: “The country is under attack. We must stay united”.

The fresh killings are likely to further polarise a city that has been on edge since a truck bombing on Wednesday in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter killed 90 people and wounded hundreds of others, in the deadliest attack on the Afghan capital since 2001.

The bombing highlighted the ability of militants to strike even in the capital’s most secure district, home to the presidential palace and foreign embassies that are enveloped in a maze of concrete blast walls.

Hundreds of angry demonstrators calling for Mr Ghani to step down over spiralling insecurity clashed with police on Friday, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds in the air, tear gas and water cannon.

City on lockdown

Kabul city was on lockdown on Saturday with armed checkpoints and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets to prevent a repeat of Friday’s protests.

Before the blasts at the funeral, authorities had sealed off roads in the centre of the city, citing the threat of new attacks on large gatherings of people.

“We have intelligence reports that our enemies are trying again to carry out attacks on gatherings and demonstrations,” Kabul garrison commander Gul Nabi Ahmadzai said earlier Saturday. “We hope that people will stay away from protests.”

But dozens of people still gathered on Saturday under a tent close to the presidential palace calling for Mr Ghani’s government to resign, but the assembly was largely peaceful.

“Any government attempt to disrupt our fair and just demonstration will show their complicity with terrorist groups and the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attack,” said Asif Ashna, a spokesman for the protesters.

“It is the duty of the government to ensure security to the protesters… and the government will be held responsible for any violence.”

The United Nations and a host of international allies have urged the protesters for restraint.

“The enemy seeks to manipulate the people’s anger and sadness to create division and sow instability,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

“Now is the time to stand unified and announce to the enemies that Afghans… will not allow cowards to break the resolve to achieve a stable and peaceful nation. The enemies of Afghanistan cannot win. They will not win.”