The Hindu – China has moved troops in significant numbers: Rajnath Singh

Important dialogue between senior military leaders on 06 June, he says

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 03 June 2020. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday acknowledged that China had moved troops in “significant numbers” in the ongoing stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

There was an important dialogue between the two countries scheduled on 06 June to resolve the issue, he stated.

Separately, sources said a dialogue was held on Tuesday at the Major General level.

“It is true that there have been differences on the border at this time. A significant number of Chinese troops have come in. India too has done what it should,” Mr Singh told CNN News18.

“As of now, negotiations are going on at the military level. On 06 June, there will be talks between senior military officers. I discussed this with the Army Chief today,” he said.

Dialogue between military commanders had been going on daily, sources said, including at the level of Major Generals and on Tuesday too. No concrete resolution had been achieved, it had been learnt and the talks would continue, the sources said.

Mr Singh observed that China should also think seriously in this regard so that the issue was resolved completely.

Referring to the differences in perception between the two countries on the alignment of the LAC, he said there was something constantly going on between India and China regarding the border.

“There will hardly be a year when there is no face-off on the border between both the Indian Army and the Chinese Army,” he said. Sometime there had been such tensions that firearms had been snatched, he noted.

Specifically asked to comment on reports of Chinese troops moving inside Indian territory, he said without getting into specifics, “India will not infringe on anyone’s sovereignty and at the same time India will let not anyone infringe on its sovereignty.”

For close to a month now, Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in stand-offs at several locations along the LAC after Chinese troops moved into Indian territory at Pangong Tso, Galwan Nalah, Hot Springs in eastern Ladakh and Naku La in Sikkim.

Chinese troops have set up tents and brought in equipment inside at some places while also building up presence close to Indian positions on their side of the border.

Mr Singh later said on Twitter quoting the interview that India’s negotiation with China was on and so he “would not like to express doubts.”

“If the issue is resolved through dialogue then what else can be a good thing,” he said and added that the ‘forehead of India’ would not bend under any circumstances.

The Hindu – No immediate Supreme Court relief for anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Imam

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 26 May 2020. Bench seeks replies from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh; hearing adjourned for two weeks

Anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) activist Sharjeel Imam on Tuesday failed to get any immediate relief from the Supreme Court despite arguing that several First Information Reports (FIRs) registered against him in different States were politically coloured and a ruse to silence his right to dissent.

Appearing before a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, senior advocate Siddharth Dave, for Mr Imam, urged the court to club the cases against his client and transfer them to Delhi.

Mr Dave referred to how the top court had intervened with alacrity in the case of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. Mr Goswami too had faced multiple FIRs for making communal comments on his show. The Supreme Court had, in a recent judgment, quashed all the FIRs except the one that was transferred from Nagpur to Mumbai.

Mr Dave sought parity for Mr Imam, who is lodged in a Guwahati jail. However, the Bench said the petition filed by Mr Imam seemed to be “politically motivated”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that several States such as Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh needed to be heard first before any decision was taken on the plea for clubbing the FIRs.

He said the FIRs registered in Mr Goswami’s case were carbon copies of each other. They were identical. In Mr Imam’s case, the FIRs were varied and the facts and circumstances differed in each of them. Drawing parity in the cases of both men would be a stretch.

The Bench finally adjourned the hearing for two weeks. It sought replies from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh on Mr Imam’s appeal.

Earlier in May, the Supreme Court had asked the Delhi government to respond to Mr Imam’s plea to club the five sedition cases registered against him in different States and to have them investigated by a single agency.

At that time, the court even orally remarked that there was nothing wrong in the registration of a FIR if police had information about a cognisable offence.

Mr Imam was arrested by the Delhi Police’s crime branch on January 28 from Jehanabad in Bihar for allegedly making inflammatory speeches in Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh.

He has been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Purported videos of his alleged inflammatory speeches made during protests against the CAA were circulated on social media.

The Hindu – Maharashtra returnees with COVID-19 in Karnataka outnumber Tablighi Jamaat attendees

Afshan Yasmeen

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 21 May 2020. Till the first week of April, Tablighi Jamaat attendees made up a major chunk of the COVID-19 positive cases in Karnataka. However, from 12 April onwards, the trend changed and those returning from Maharashtra have been contributing to the spike in numbers.

While 118 Tablighi Jamaat attendees and their primary contacts have tested positive so far, over 500 of the 1,040 persons who tested positive from 01 May are those who returned from Maharashtra. The first case of a person who returned from Maharashtra testing positive was on 12 April in Vijayapura. The 60-year-old woman spread the infection to 29 others.

Mandya, which is witnessing an influx of Mumbai returnees, recorded the first such positive case on 27 April. Then on, the number of positive cases in the district has increased to 201, with Mumbai returnees making up 90% of this number.

On Thursday, the number of active cases in Mandya was 176, which is higher than that in Bengaluru (122). While inter-State travellers contributing to the spike was expected, the State health authorities are now worried about the increasing number of Maharashtra returnees testing positive.

Districts such as Haveri, Yadgir, Koppal and Raichur, which had not reported any cases till April-end, are now doing so with migrants returning from Maharashtra testing positive. On Thursday, 96 of the total 143 positive cases were linked to travel from Maharashtra.

Terming the contribution of Maharashtra returnees to the spike in numbers a “worrisome” trend, C N Manjunath, director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said, “Maharashtra returnees’ contributing in such big numbers was not expected.

All our early interventions have now been washed away because of the influx of people from Maharashtra.” Dr Manjunath is the nodal officer for lab testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force.

143 new cases

On Thursday, 143 new cases were reported in the State, and 121 of them were inter-State travellers. As many as 43 of the 143 patients were minors.

While 96 were travellers from Maharashtra, six were from Tamil Nadu, three from Jharkhand, five from Telangana, two from Rajasthan, one each from Chhattisgarh and Kerala, and seven from the United Arab Emirates.

With this, the total number of positive cases in the State is 1,605. This includes 41 COVID-19 deaths, one non-COVID-91 death, and 571 people discharged.

Mandya reported the highest number of cases on Thursday. As many as 29 of the 33 new cases there had a travel history to Maharashtra. Udupi followed with 28 cases. However, two of these had been quarantined at Sirsi in Uttara Kannada and have been shifted to a COVID-19 hospital in Karwar.

The Hindu – Coronavirus lock-down – Police cane migrant workers near Vijayawada

Nearly 500 labourers were walking towards their home States from Tamil Nadu

Staff Reporter

Vijayawada – Andhra Pradesh – India, 17 May 2020. In yet another incident, police used force on migrant labourers, who were walking towards their home States. A few workers suffered injuries in the lathi-charge.

More than 500 labourers who were trekking on the national highway were provided shelter in Vijayawada Club. When the labourers came to Kanakadurgamma Varadhi on Saturday, police warned them to go back, and when the workers tried to continue their journey, the police caned them.

The labourers from Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and other States had migrated to Tamil Nadu a few months ago. The COVID-19 pandemic put them out of work forcing them to return to their home States.

On the directions of Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, the labourers were shifted to shelter homes and provided food. On Friday, they were shifted to Vijayawada Club.

“We will never return to Andhra Pradesh again. Hundreds of workers are walking on roads for more than a month, and the officials did not even offer us a packet of biscuit. Instead of helping the poor labourers, the police are beating us mercilessly,” a woman labourer said.

Earlier, incidents of police beating the migrant workers were reported at Mangalagiri, Kovvur, Polavaram and other places in the State during the lock-down period.

The Hindu – No violation of air space at Pangong Tso lake: IAF

No ongoing face-off or build up of armed troops: Army

Dinakar Peri

New Delhi – India, 12 May 2020. Helicopters of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came close to the border during the face-off with the Indian Army near Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh last week, but there was no air space violation on either side, Indian Air Force (IAF) sources said on Tuesday.

Separately, Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said there was no ongoing face-off at the Pangong Tso lake or any “build up of armed troops in the area.”

“There was no border violation on either side. IAF SU-30MKI fighters were airborne in Ladakh on routine flying and were not scrambled in response to the helicopters,” IAF sources said.

Locally resolved

Stating that incidents of face-off and aggressive behaviour occur on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Colonel Anand said patrols disengage after local level interaction and dialogue.

“Temporary and short duration face-offs occur as boundary is not resolved. Troops resolve such incidents mutually as per established protocols,” he said in response to reports of an ongoing stand-off at the site.

There were two incidents of face-off between Indian and Chinese troops last week which resulted in injuries to several soldiers on both sides. The first incident occurred on 05 May near Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh while the second face-off occurred on 09 May at Naku La in Sikkim.

Army sources stated that the face-off at Pangong Tso occurred on the intervening night of 05 May patrol teams came across each other and was resolved by the morning of 06 May. Pangong Tso has seen such several incidents in the past including in 2017 and in 2019.

Aircraft restricted

As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC. According to the ‘Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC in India-China Border Area’ of 1996, “combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.”

The Hindu – Trade unions may move ILO against labour law changes

This move was the second phase of anti-worker policies, they allege.

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 11 May 2020. Ten central trade unions on 11 May said they were considering lodging a complaint with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) against the “anti-worker” changes in the labour laws in some States, which they said was at the “instance of the Central government”.

In a joint statement, they said the recent blanket exemption given to establishments from the employer’s obligations under several labour laws for three years by the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh governments was a retrograde and anti-worker move.

While the UP government had brought an ordinance for this, the MP government had reportedly said it would also do the same. The Gujarat government was also reportedly working on a similar exemption.

“As the mass of the working people have been subjected to inhuman sufferings owing to loss of jobs, loss of wages, eviction from residences etc reducing them to hungry non-entities in the process of 45 days lock-down, the government of the day at the Centre has pounced upon those working people.

Now the government at the Centre has taken the strategy of letting loose their pliant state governments to take such anti-worker and anti-people autocratic measures, many other state governments are expected to follow suit,” the statement said.

This move was the second phase of anti-worker policies after six State governments increased the working hours from eight to 12 hours, it stated.

“Central trade unions consider these moves as an inhuman crime and brutality on the working people, besides being gross violation of the Right to Freedom of Association [ILO Convention 87], Rights to Collective Bargaining [ILO Convention 98] and also the internationally accepted norm of eight hour working day, espoused by core conventions of ILO.

The ILO Convention 144 in regard to tripartism has also been undermined by the government,” it said.

The unions added that they were “seriously considering to lodge a complaint to the ILO on these misdeeds of the government for gross violation of labour standards” and that they would soon give a nationwide call to action.

The statement was signed by representatives of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the All-India Trade Union Congress, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the All-India United Trade Union Centre, the Trade Union Coordination Committee, the Self Employed Women’s Association, the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions, the Labour Progressive Federation and the United Trade Union Congress.

The Hindu – Anti-Muslim incidents bound to attract negative attention abroad, We need to change domestic reality

New Delhi – India, 01 May 2020. The 57-member prominent international Mulim grouping, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), recently accused India of “Islamophobia”.

Asserting that incidents and comments against Muslims were bound to attract negative reactions abroad, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday said it is more important to change the domestic reality than do damage control, while referring to India’s criticism in the Arab states over alleged “Islamophobia”.

What matters is not what the government says but how it is perceived because of what it does, or let others do, Mr Tharoor said, and alleged that the Modi government has “shamefully failed” to curb the appalling behaviour of many of its “most rabid supporters”, including some in high positions.

“Let us not forget that ‘Ramzade/Hara…..’ comment came from a minister, and the latest remark from a BJP MLA in UP telling people not to buy vegetables from a Muslim vendor,” Mr. Tharoor said.

His remarks were an apparent reference to 2014 comments reportedly made by Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, and the recent controversy triggered by Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Suresh Tewari who allegedly asked people not to buy vegetables from Muslim vendors. The BJP on Tuesday issued a show cause notice to Tewari for his remarks.

In an interview to PTI, Mr Tharoor alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, throughout the last six years, been too slow to “condemn his party’s bigotry and has condoned overt expressions of Islamophobia from his own camp”.

“The attitude that India loves Muslims so long as they are outside India, but insults them at home, is not tenable in a world of instant global communications. The mounting number of incidents and statements against Muslims in India was bound to attract negative attention abroad,” the former Union minister said.

His remarks came in the backdrop of angry reactions from UAE royal princess, Kuwait government and other leading citizens from various Arab countries after some people blamed Muslims for spreading COVID-19 in several parts of India following a spurt in corona-virus cases linked to Tablighi Jamaat meet at Nizamuddin.

Also, the 57-member prominent international Mulim grouping, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), recently accused India of “Islamophobia”.

Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday dismissed all such allegations and highlighted Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s regular conversations with their counterparts from the region in the wake of the corona-virus pandemic, to stress the closeness in ties.

Responding to the criticism in Gulf nations and by the OIC, Mr Tharoor said the backlash is not surprising.

“While I welcome the PM’s and the Foreign Minister’s attempts at damage control, it is far more important to change the domestic reality than to issue reassuring statements,” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.

Asked about plea by several Indians stuck in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and his request to the prime minister and the external affairs minister to expedite their evacuation, Mr. Tharoor said every nation has a responsibility towards its citizens.

He claimed that the government’s argument is that a large number of travellers from abroad would place an unsustainable degree of strain on the country’s healthcare and quarantine facilities.

“If that was true 40 days ago, it is no longer true now. We must bring our own citizens back. It is not just a matter of their rights, but of what’s right, morally, emotionally and constitutionally,” the Congress leader said.

Mr Tharoor also demanded that in these difficult times of the pandemic, the Centre must give the State governments their dues.

It is shocking that GST dues have not been paid despite States, and the Congress calling for this for more than two months, he said.

“Give the States their own money, so they don’t have to beg for resources to combat the virus. In addition, yes, extra support will be needed for those states facing a larger COVID-19 burden,” Mr Tharoor said.

“The ordinary people of our country also need financial help so they can help themselves. We have been calling for Rs 7,500 to be put into every Jan Dhan account. This is far from happening, several weeks after we suggested it,” he said.

Asked about Kerala doing well in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and whether other states need to emulate its model, Mr. Tharoor said Kerala has been a model state in terms of its social development indicators for a long time, but the practices and systems it has built up take generations to entrench.

Kerala spends a large portion of its state resources on health care and public education, promotes literacy and women’s empowerment, and gives village-level local authorities autonomy and funds, he said.

Other states should emulate it, but it will take them a long time to reorient their current practices to get there, he added.

The Hindu – India lodges protest with Islamabad over Pakistan court’s order on Gilgit-Baltistan

India demarched senior Pakistan diplomat and lodged a strong protest

New Delhi – India, 04 May 2020. India has conveyed its strong protest to Pakistan over an order by that country’s supreme court allowing the conduct of general elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Ministry of External Affairs said Pakistan was told that entire Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India and that Islamabad should immediately vacate the areas under its illegal occupation.

In a recent order, the Pakistan Supreme Court allowed the amendment to the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan Order of 2018 to conduct general elections in the region.

“India demarched senior Pakistan diplomat and lodged a strong protest to Pakistan against Supreme Court of Pakistan order on the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’,” the MEA said in a statement.

“It was clearly conveyed that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of India by virtue of its fully legal and irrevocable accession,” it said.

The MEA said the government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories “illegally and forcibly” occupied by it.

“India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.

“Instead, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” it added.

The MEA said Pakistan’s recent actions can neither hide the “illegal occupation” of parts of union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh by it nor the “grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom” to the people residing in these areas for the past seven decades.

The Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir ruled the mainly Shia area of ‘Gilgit’ Baltistan, actual Jammu & Kashmir, mainly Shia Kargil and mixed Buddhist/Shia Ladakh and Zanskar Valley.

The Hindu – As Punjab relaxes curfew, confusion prevails among shop owners sans clear instructions

Vikas Vasudeva

Kharar – Panjab – India, 30 April 2020. Though shop owners in Kharar town asserted that curfew has been relaxed, the district authorities are yet to issue formal orders

After Punjab permitted opening of shops in a staggered way on rotation for four hours every morning from April 30, a state of confusion was seen among shop owners in many parts of the State.

Several shops in the local markets in Kharar town of Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar district were open, and though the owners asserted that “curfew has been relaxed”, the district authorities are yet to issue formal orders.

Attending to customers, Devinder Pal, owner of the Pal Boot House, said that after most owners opened their shops in his vicinity, he too did so. “I heard yesterday that the government announced relaxation in curfew from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and, therefore, I have opened my shop.

I am not aware that shops are to be opened on rotation basis or after taking permission. If the administration asks me to shut my shop, I’ll do that,” said Mr Pal.

Supporting the government’s move to ease the curfew, Mr Pal said the decision was welcome and the relaxation should continue.

“A few customers came as soon as I opened the shop. For over a month, the business had been at a standstill. I have already suffered losses running into thousands of rupees. How long can one continue to suffer losses.”

Across the road, a man running a dry-cleaning shop and who did not want to disclose his name, said the government should give clear instruction about the relaxations. “There’s a confusion among people about the curfew relaxations. Administration should make public announcements about the situation to clear the confusion,” he said.

Inside the town, at the Gandhi Bazar, most of the shops including those of utensil products, footwear, cloth merchants were open in the morning. Moti Lal, a proprietor of a footwear shop, said most of the shops were open since morning after government’s announcement.

“This will help to get our business back on track. As the lock-down is prolonging, it’s getting difficult to earn a livelihood. For how many days can I sustain on savings?” he said.

Endorsing Mr Lal, the owner of an adjacent watch repair shop said: “This relaxation was urgently needed. I hope the confusion would be cleared soon and we would be able run our business again,” he said, but sought anonymity.

At the construction site of the “Balongi-Khanpur flyover’’ project in Kharar, workers were happy after project’s work started. “I was asked to return back to work at the construction site after many days. I am happy I will start making some money again,” said a worker.

The Hindu – Anti-CAA protests – Sharjeel Imam chargesheeted for giving seditious speech, says police

Sharjeel Imam was arrested for instigating and abetting the Jamia riots, according to an FIR filed.

Staff Reporter

New Delhi – India, 18 April 2020. Delhi Police, on Saturday, said that a supplementary charge sheet has been filed against Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam for giving seditious speech and abetting riots at Jamia Millia Islamia University.

Delhi Police Public Relations Officer M S Randhawa said in an FIR registered in New Friends Colony that “Sharjeel Imam was arrested for instigating and abetting the Jamia riots, due to his seditious speech delivered on 13 December last year.”

“During investigation, on the basis of evidences collected, sections 124 A IPC and 153 A IPC ( Sedition and promoting enemity between classes) were invoked in the case. In this case, first charge sheet was filed against the rioters. A Supplementary charge sheet in continuation of the earlier charge sheet has now been filed in Saket Court,” he said.

On 15 December, violence broke out inside and outside Jamia Millia Islamia University following anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in which many, including students and cops, sustained injuries.