Archive for ‘Rajasthan’

03/06/2019

World’s 15 hottest places are in India, Pakistan as pre-monsoon heat builds

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India warned of severe heat in northern and central areas on Monday, following similar extreme weather on Sunday.

Of the 15 hottest places in the world in the past 24 hours, eight were in India with the others in neighbouring Pakistan, according to weather monitoring website El Dorado.

Churu, a city in the west of the northern state of Rajasthan, recorded the country’s highest temperature of 48.9 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) on Monday, according to the Meteorological Department.

Churu has issued a heat wave advisory and government hospitals have prepared emergency wards with extra air conditioners, coolers and medicines, said Ramratan Sonkariya, additional district magistrate for Churu.

Water is also being poured on the roads of Churu, known as the gateway to the Thar desert, to keep the temperature down and prevent them from melting, Sonkariya added.

A farmer from Sikar district in Rajasthan died on Sunday due to heatstroke, state government officials said.

Media reported on Friday that 17 had died over the past three weeks due to a heatwave in the southern state of Telangana. A state official said it would confirm the number of deaths only after the causes had been ascertained.

The temperature in New Delhi touched 44.6C (112.3F) on Sunday. One food delivery app, Zomato, asked its customers to greet delivery staff with a glass of cold water.

Heat wave warnings were issued on Monday for some places in western Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state.

The monsoon, which brings down the heat, is likely to begin on the southern coast on June 6, the weather office said last month.

The three-month, pre-monsoon season, which ended on May 31, was the second driest in the last 65 years, India’s only private forecaster, Skymet, said, with a national average of 99 mm of rain against the normal average of 131.5 mm for the season.

Source: Reuters

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18/05/2019

Narendra Modi attends first press conference but takes no questions

Mr Modi said the Congress should be ashamed of the 1984 anti-Sikh riotsImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Mr Modi said he will not forgive Pragya Thakur

India is in full election mode: voting began on 11 April, and the final ballot will be cast on 19 May with results out on 23 May. Every day, the BBC will be bringing you all the latest updates on the twists and turns of the world’s largest democracy.

What happened?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attended first ever press conference at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) head office in Delhi – days before Indians take part in the final stage of voting.

But journalists were left disappointed as he did not take any questions, and instead largely talked about his government’s achievements.

“I have come to thank the country for blessing me. I have seen a lot of ups and downs but the country stayed with me,” he said.

Mr Modi also spoke of his pride in India’s democratic process and said he needs to show the world “how diverse our democracy is”.

Mr Modi was seated next to party president Amit Shah. He said he would not take questions because the press conference was Mr Shah’s.

Earlier, the prime minister said he would “never be able to forgive” those who have “insulted” Mahatma Gandhi.

Mr Modi’s statement comes after controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Pragya Thakur called Nathuram Godse – the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi – a “patriot”.

Ms Thakur apologised after several leaders, including those from the BJP, criticised her.

“Such statements should be condemned. There is no place in society for such comments. She [Ms Thakur] may have apologised, but I will never be able to forgive her,” he said in an interview to News24 TV channel.

Why does this matter?

This is the first time Mr Modi has attended a press conference as prime minister while in India. Most of his press conferences have been on state visits to other countries and often involved little more than reading out an official statement.

He has given some one-on-one interviews to Indian media, though critics say that these have largely been tightly controlled and given to journalists seen as sympathetic to him. However in recent weeks he has given a flurry of interviews to several leading publications and television channels, including those that have been critical of him.

But if people were expecting a complete about-turn in his media policy this time, they would have been disappointed.

This caused some frustration among journalists on Twitter.

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Also on Friday, a BJP candidate apologised for calling Gandhi’s killer a patriot

Hindu activist Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur leaving for Simhastha in Ujjain under heavy police protection on May 18, 2016 in Bhopal, India.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

What is happening?

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Pragya Thakur has apologised after calling Nathuram Godse – the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi – a “patriot”.

Several political parties had criticised her comment and her own party demanded that she should publicly apologise.

“It was my personal opinion. My intention was not to hurt anyone’s sentiments. If I’ve hurt anyone, I do apologise. What Gandhi Ji has done for the country cannot be forgotten. My statement has been twisted by the media,” Ms Thakur said on Thursday evening.

She made the comment after actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan said Godse was India’s first Hindu “extremist” earlier this week.

Why does this matter?

The BJP as well as opposition parties immediately reacted to her comment, which also caused a storm on social media.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said that the party does not agree with her statement, and asked her to publicly apologise.

The main opposition Congress party demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that the BJP should take “punitive action” against Ms Thakur.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that “insulting martyrs is in the BJP DNA” and that the “soul of the nation” has been hurt by her remarks.

Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi also lashed out at the BJP.

Political analysts also say that her comments have put the BJP in a tough spot, since Mr Modi and BJP president Amit Shah defended their decision to field her as a candidate despite terror charges against her.

Her candidature caused outrage as she is an accused of involvement in a blast that killed seven people and injured 100 others. Ms Thakur denies all charges against her.

However, Ms Thakur’s comments do reflect the views of some right-wing Hindus who support the BJP and have long seen Gandhi as too moderate.

Godse, who shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range on 30 January 1948, was also an activist with nationalist right-wing groups, including those closely associated with the BJP.

Hindu hardliners in India accuse Gandhi of having betrayed Hindus by being too pro-Muslim, and even for the division of India and the bloodshed that marked Partition, which saw India and Pakistan created after independence from Britain in 1947.

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On Thursday, a ruling party candidate called Gandhi’s killer a patriot

What happened?

Controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Pragya Thakur made headlines again. This time it was for calling Nathuram Godse – the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi – a “patriot”.

Her comment was made in response to a statement by southern actor-turned politician Kamal Haasan who had said India’s first “extremist” was a Hindu”, referring to Godse.

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His statement, made on Monday, was heavily criticised by the BJP, which accused him of indulging in “divisive politics” and filed a complaint against him with the Election Commission of India.

Why does this matter?

The BJP responded by criticising Ms Thakur and asking her to publicly apologise.

“BJP does not agree with this statement, we condemn it. Party will ask her for clarification, she should apologise publicly for this statement,” party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told reporters.

Mahatma Gandhi (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,1869 - 1948), Indian nationalist and spiritual leader, leading the Salt March in protest against the government monopoly on salt production.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES

Ms Thakur has seen her fair share of controversy. Her candidature caused outrage as she is an accused of involvement in a blast that killed seven people and injured 100 others. On 18 April, she said that police officer Hemant Karkare had died in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks because she had “cursed” him. She was then banned from campaigning for 72 hours as a result.

A team led by Mr Karkare had arrested her for questioning in connection with the Malegaon blast.

During her campaign, she also said she was “proud” of her part in the demolition of the 16th Century Babri mosque. In 1992, right-wing Hindu mobs razed the mosque to the ground, claiming it was built on the site of a temple destroyed by Muslim rulers. The site, which is in the city of Ayodhya, has been a religious flashpoint for Hindus and Muslims for decades.

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Campaigning ended in West Bengal a day before deadline

What happened?

The Election Commission (EC) told political parties to end their campaigning in West Bengal state, a day before the deadline in the wake of poll-related violence.

The campaign will end on Thursday at 10pm local time, and voting will be held on Sunday.

The decision comes after clashes broke out between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and protesters believed to be from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) on Tuesday.

It happened during a roadshow of BJP chief Amit Shah. Several people were injured and vehicles were set on fire. A statue of renowned Bengali reformer Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was also vandalised in the clashes.

Both parties have accused each other of starting the violence.

Why does this matter?

Violence took place during BJP chief Amit Shah's rally in Kolkata on TuesdayImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Violence took place during BJP chief Amit Shah’s rally in Kolkata on Tuesday

The BJP welcomed the decision, saying it validated their argument that the state had “descended into anarchy” under the leadership of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

Ms Banerjee said that the move was “undemocratic” and “it had insulted the people of Bengal”.

“Tomorrow, [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi has two meetings in Bengal. When he finishes, the campaigning also ends… Instead of punishing Amit Shah, the Election Commission has given a gift to the BJP,” she said.

This photo taken on May 14, 2019 shows supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) facing off with Indian police next to torn down barricades during clashes between rival groups during a campaign rally event held by BJP president Amit Shah in KolkataImage copyright AFP
Image caption Several people were injured and vehicles were set on fire during the violence

Both parties are locked into a fierce election battle to win most out West Bengal’s 42 seats. Ms Banerjee has ambitions of becoming the prime minister in case a nationwide coalition of regional parties wins enough seats.

The state has also become crucial for the BJP as it’s trying to expand its reach in the eastern state. It won only two seats in the 2014 election.

The BJP performed well in northern states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in 2014, but this time it’s expected to suffer loses against a coalition of regional parties and the main opposition Congress.

So the party is trying to make up for the losses in West Bengal.

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On Wednesday, the TMC and the BJP accused each other of poll violence

West Bengal chief minister Mamata BanerjeeImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

What happened?

The war of words between West Bengal state chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intensified ahead of voting on Sunday.

The latest verbal duel comes after violence was reported during BJP chief Amit Shah’s roadshow in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) on Tuesday.

Clashes broke out between BJP supporters and protesters who were holding “Amit Shah go back” posters.

Some people suffered minor injuries and a few vehicles were set on fire.

The BJP said the protest was “orchestrated” and called it an “attempt to strangulate democracy”.

Why does this matter?

The eastern state has become politically crucial for the BJP as it has intensified campaigning in the past few days.

And that has sparked a feverish electoral battle between the BJP and Ms Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC).

“What does Amit Shah think of himself? Is he above everything? Is he god that no one can protest against him?” Ms Banerjee said.

In reply, Mr Shah accused the TMC of not following democratic norms during elections.

“Have faith in the people of Bengal that they’d face the TMC goons,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to hold more rallies in the coming days, so one can expect more verbal fireworks from the two leaders.

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On Tuesday, the saga of the morphed Mamata meme continued

What happened?

India’s top court stepped in to release an activist belonging to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who was sent to prison for sharing a doctored image of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Priyanka Sharma was sentenced to two weeks in prison on 10 May after she shared a picture of Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas at the Met Gala – but with Ms Banerjee’s head superimposed on to Chopra’s body.

Earlier the court had said Ms Sharma could be released only if she apologised to Ms Banerjee, but later waived this condition.

Why does this matter?

The battle for West Bengal in this general election has been absolutely bruising.

The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, has been campaigning hard for votes in the state. This has brought them toe-to-toe with the state’s feisty chief minister. The fact that voting for West Bengal’s 42 seats has been split across all nine phases of voting has meant that the battle has been long and drawn-out.

And with just one phase to go before voting finally ends, the gloves are well and truly off. The two parties have traded insults on the campaign stage, their workers have attacked each other, and the violence on the ground has intensified. And now the battle has spread to cyberspace as well.

The country’s finance minister Arun Jaitley jumped at news of Ms Sharma’s release to call Ms Banerjee a dictator.

Analysts say that this political row is so bitter because the BJP has clearly identified West Bengal as one of the states where they may be able to make gains this election. This becomes more important for the party in the context of their fight in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends the most number of MPs (80) to parliament.

They are up against a powerful coalition of regional parties there, and many expect them to lose seats as a result.

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And PM Modi said Rahul Gandhi should be ashamed of 1984 riots

What happened?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that main opposition Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi should be “ashamed of himself” over his colleague’s remark on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Mr Modi was replying to a controversial statement made by Sam Pitroda, who is a strategist of the Congress party.

In his reply to a question about the Congress’ role in the riots, Mr Pitroda had said “so what?”.

“I don’t think so, this is also another lie, and what about 1984? You speak about what you [Mr Modi] have done in five years. It [the riots] happened in 1984, so what?” he said.

Mr Gandhi said he was “ashamed” of Mr Pitroda’s statement, and asked him to apologise.

Mr Pitroda later said his statement was “twisted” and he did not mean to hurt sentiments.

But Mr Modi said the Congress chief “must apologise”.

“I was watching that naamdar [the dynast] told his guru that he should be ashamed of what he said. I want to ask naamdar, you pretended to scold your mentor for what? Because he exposed what was always in the Congress’s heart, and in the discussions of the naamdar family? Because he made public a family secret? Naamdar, it is you who should be ashamed,” Mr Modi said.

Why does this matter?

The controversy matters because it comes days ahead of voting for the 13 seats in the northern state of Punjab.

The BJP, which has formed a coalition with regional Shiromani Akali Dal, is locked in a bitter electoral battle with the ruling Congress in the state.

Sikhs are a majority in the state and the 1984 riots is still an emotional issue for many of them.

More than 3,000 Sikhs were killed in 1984 after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

They were angry at her decision to send the army into the Golden Temple – Sikhism’s holiest shrine – to flush out militants earlier in the year.

The killing of Mrs Gandhi, who belonged to the Congress, saw mobs attack and murder members of the Sikh community across the country.

And both parties appear to be trying to come across as pro-Sikh ahead of the vote on 19 May.

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On Sunday, Delhi voted but not enthusiastically

A voter in Delhi in the general electionImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Delhi’s voter turnout was lower than in 2014

What happened?

Sunday saw India’s capital Delhi vote along with several other states in the polls – the penultimate phase of the country’s mammoth general election.

Voters turned out to vote, but in fewer numbers than they did in 2014. The election commission said that around 60% of the capital’s registered voters had actually cast ballots, which was about a five percent drop from 2014.

Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh expressed disappointment, saying that the turnout did not match expectations.

Why does this matter?

The election commission is right to be disappointed – it had run a series of campaigns in the city, encouraging more people to vote.

But it was not as though polling in Delhi was an entirely smooth process. Some voters complained that their names were missing from electoral lists even though they had all the necessary documents. There were also reports that around 1,200 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had malfunctioned across the city, delaying the polling process.

The fact that Delhi became a three-cornered contest after the main opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which controls the Delhi state assembly, failed to stitch up an alliance may also have put voters off. Many analysts believe that this failure will only split voters who were against prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and effectively hand them victory.

So they may have decided to just stay home, and not bother queuing up in the blistering heat – it touched 40C on Sunday.

Source: The BBC

12/03/2019

Two dead after Chinese navy plane crashes

  • No other injuries reported following accident on southern island of Hainan
  • Military is currently intensifying training for pilots as it looks to strengthen capabilities

Mobile phone footage believed to be taken from the crash site. Photo: Handout
Mobile phone footage believed to be taken from the crash site. Photo: Handout
A Chinese navy plane crashed in Hainan province on Tuesday killing two crew members, the military said.
A short statement said the crash happened during a training exercise over rural Ledong county in the southern island province.
No one else was reported to have been injured after the plane hit the ground and the cause of the incident is being investigated.
Footage that purported to be taken from the crash site started circulating on social media after the accident.
Footage apparently taken at the crash site. Photo: Handout
Footage apparently taken at the crash site. Photo: Handout

The PLA’s official statement did not specify the type plane that crashed, although unverified witness account online said it was a twin-seat Xian JH-7 “Flying Leopard”.

The JH-7, which entered service with the navy and air force in the 1990s, has been involved in a number of fatal accidents over the years.

The country’s worst military air accident in recent years happened in January 2018. At least 12 crew members died when a PLA Air Force plane, believed to be an electronic reconnaissance aircraft, crashed in Guizhou in the southwest of the country.

Between 2016 and 2017, there were at least four accidents involving the navy’s J-15 “Flying Sharks”, one of them resulting in the death of the pilot.

Military commentators have previously said that China’s drive to improve its combat readiness, which includes the building of new aircraft carriers and warplanes, has resulted in a serious shortage of qualified pilots.

To fill the vacancies the Chinese military has started a major recruitment drive and intensive training programme for pilot pilots.

One unverified report said the plane that crashed was a JH-7 “Flying Leopard”. Photo. Xinhua
One unverified report said the plane that crashed was a JH-7 “Flying Leopard”. Photo. Xinhua

Currently China has one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, in service, which can carry a maximum of 24 J-15s as well as other aircraft.

Meanwhile, the new home-grown carrier Type 001A will soon be commissioned, which is designed to accommodate to carry eight more fighters.

In addition, construction is believed to have started on another carrier that will be able to carry heavier and more advanced warplanes.

Chinese navy veteran warns training, not hardware is key to military preparedness
According to figures from the end of 2016, there were only 25 pilots qualified to fly the J-15 while 12 others were in training.
Most of the Chinese navy’s pilots have been redeployed from the air force, which is itself in need of more trained pilots.
This year the navy for the first time began a nation-wide programme to scout out potential pilots.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing legislative meeting in Beijing Feng Wei, a PLA pilot from the Western Theatre, said the military was currently intensifying its pilots’ training as increasing amounts of new equipment entered service.
“Personnel quality is the key to everything,” he added.
Source: SCMP
08/03/2019

IAF’s MiG-21 crashes after bird hit in Rajasthan’s Bikaner, pilot ejects

MiG-21 crash,IAF’s MiG-21,Rajasthan
The plane was on a routine training sortie and hence was unarmed.(Mint/ Representative Image)
A MiG-21 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force crashed in Rajasthan’s Bikaner on Friday. The plane crashed after it reportedly suffered a bird hit.
The plane had taken off from Nal near Bikaner. The pilot is said to have ejected safely.

Bikaner SP Pradeep Mohan Sharma said the MIG aircraft crashed in Shobhasar ki Dhani, 12 km from Bikaner city, news agency PTI reported.

Sharma said police teams have rushed the spot to cordon off the area. No loss of life has been reported.

A statement by the IAF said that the MiG-21 had taken off from the Indian Air Force’s Nal airbase in Rajasthan and that it was on a routine mission.

The IAF statement said, “Today afternoon a MiG-21 aircraft on a routine mission crashed after getting airborne from Nal near Bikaner. Initial inputs indicate the likely cause as bird hit after take off. Pilot of the aircraft ejected safely. A CoI [Court of Inquiry] will investigate the cause of the accident.”

In recent times, the IAF has witnessed a series of crashes involving fighter jets and choppers.

On February 1, a Mirage 2000 fighter jet had crashed during a routine testing flight. Both the pilots in the jet had died after their safety equipment gave way. The pilots were on an “acceptance sortie” of the Mirage 2000 trainer aircraft after it was overhauled by the Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Barely a fortnight later, two Surya Kiran Hawks were involved in a collision that led to the death of one pilot. The crash had taken place barely days before the 12 edition of Aero India.

On February 12, a MiG-27 fighter jet had crashed at the Pokhran firing range after taking off from the Jaisalmer air base. The jet was on a training mission. The pilot managed to eject safely from the jet before it crashed.

More recently, on February 27, a Mi17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force had crashed at Budgam in Kashmir. All six IAF personnel on board the chopper were killed. A civilian was also killed in the crash.

The MiG-21 fighter jet has been in the news recently after Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was flying a similar aircraft shot down a Pakistani F-16 before crashing in Pakistan.

The MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Source: Hindustan Times

26/02/2019

‘India in safe hands’: PM Modi’s assurance after IAF strikes terror camps across LoC

The Prime Minister had earlier in the day chaired the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after India carried out ‘non-military pre-emptive’ airstrikes targeting the JeM camp across the LoC.

Hours after India’s offensive on Pakistan-based terror camps across the LoC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “assured that the country was in safe hands”.

“Today I assure the countrymen, the country is in safe hands,” PM Modi said while addressing a public rally in Rajasthan’s Churu.

“I pledge on this soil, I will not let the country die, I will not let the country stop, I will not let the country bend. It is my promise to Mother India, I will protect your honour,” he added.

Speaking on the One Rank One Pension (OROP), PM Modi said he was happy that the scheme had benefited over 20 lakh military families across the country including thousands of families of Churu and Rajasthan.

The Prime Minister had earlier in the day chaired the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after India carried out “non-military pre-emptive” air strikes targeting the JeM camp across the LoC.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale addressing the media said India had received credible information on JeM attempting other attacks in the country and therefore a pre-emptive strike had become necessary.

Read | India has struck JeM’s biggest training camp, large number of terrorists, jihadis eliminated: Govt

He said the non-military pre-emptive action was targeted specifically at the JeM camp adding that the selection of the target was also conditioned to avoid civilian casualties.

In a 21-minute offensive, 12 Mirage 2000 jets carried out the strike at around 3.30 am and dropped 1000 Kg bombs on terror camps across LOC, completely destroying it.

The IAF jets struck terror camps and launch pads across the LoC in Balakot at around 3.45 am, Muzaffarabad at around 3.48 am and Chakoti at around 3.58 am.

Read | PM Modi chairs CCS meet after India hits terror camps across LoC; over 200 terrorists killed, say reports

The camp in Balakot was led by Maulana Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, brother-in-law of JeM Chief Masood Azhar. Yusuf Azhar was on the Interpol list and among the most wanted in India.

Following the airstrikes, many leaders including that of the opposition lauded the action of the IAF and praised the PM for giving a free hand to the security forces after the Pulwama terror attack.

Over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.

Source: The Statesman
25/02/2019

‘Give peace a chance’: After PM Modi’s ‘Pathan’ dare, Imran Khan says he ‘stands by’ his words on Pulwama

PM Modi said that he told him ‘let us fight against poverty and illiteracy’ and Khan gave his word saying he is a Pathan’s son, ‘but went back on it’.

SNS Web | New Delhi | 

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday asked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to “give peace a chance” and assured him that he “stands by” his words and will “immediately act” if New Delhi provides Islamabad with “actionable intelligence” on the Pulwama attack.

 

Khan’s remarks came a day after PM Modi in a rally in Rajasthan, recalled his conversation with the Pakistan PM during a congratulatory call after he became the country’s premier.

PM Modi had told him “let us fight against poverty and illiteracy” and Khan gave his word saying he is a Pathan’s son “but went back on it”.

“There is consensus in the entire world against terrorism. We are moving ahead with strength to punish the perpetrators of terrorism…The scores will be settled this time, settled for good…This is a changed India, this pain will not be tolerated…We know how to crush terrorism,” PM Modi further said.

A statement released by the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office said, “PM Imran Khan stand by his words that if India gives us actionable intelligence, we will immediately act.”

PM Modi should “give peace a chance”, Khan said in the statement.

In his first statement issued since the February 14 attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Tuesday accused India of blaming his country “without evidence” and warned of retaliation against any military action by India.

However, he assured India that he would act against the perpetrators of the deadly Pulwama terror attack, carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror group and said that the issue between the two countries can be solved through dialogue.

India had called Khan’s offer to investigate the attack if provided proof as a “lame excuse”.

The already sour relations between India and Pakistan have worsened over the past few weeks as New Delhi accused Islamabad of the Pulwama attack.

India has accused Islamabad’s spy agency ISI of being involved in the attack and has maintained that the terror group JeM is a “child of the Pakistan Army”.

Following the attack, India immediately withdrew the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status granted to Pakistan and initiated steps to isolate the neighbouring country from the international community.

Earlier, India had also announced its decision to stop the flow of its share of water from the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in many of his public speeches after the attack, said that the security forces have been given full freedom to decide the future course of action regarding the terrorist attack in Pulwama.

India’s neighbours, including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan—and other countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Russia, Germany, Canada, UK, Australia and Canada came out in strong support of New Delhi following the terror attack.

Over 44 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror strikes in Jammu-Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden vehicle near their bus in Pulwama district.

The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying around 2500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.

Source: The Statesman
23/02/2019

Rakbar Khan: Did cow vigilantes lynch a Muslim farmer?

Members of Nawal Kishore Sharma's cow vigilante gang pictured in 2015Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES (ALLISON JOYCE)
Image captionCow vigilantes in Ramgarh in 2015
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A Muslim dairy farmer was stopped late one night last July as he led two cows down a track in rural Rajasthan, south of the Indian capital, Delhi. Within hours he was dead, but who killed him, asks the BBC’s James Clayton – the “cow vigilantes” he met on the road, or the police?

It’s 4am and Dr Hassan Khan, the duty doctor at Ramgarh hospital, is notified of something unusual.

The police have brought in a dead man, a man they claim not to know.

“What were the police like when they brought him in? Were they calm?” I ask him.

“Not calm,” he says. “They were anxious.”

“Are they usually anxious?” I ask.

“Not usually,” he says, laughing nervously.

The dead man is later identified by his father as local farmer Rakbar Khan.

This was not a random murder. The story illustrates some of the social tensions bubbling away under the surface in India, and particularly in the north of the country.

And his case raises questions for the authorities – including the governing Hindu nationalist BJP party.

Cow-related violence – 2012-2019

IndiaSpend map of cow violenceImage copyrightINDIASPEND
Rakbar Khan was a family man. He had seven children.

He kept cows and he also happened to be a Muslim. That can be a dangerous mix in India.

“We have always reared cows, and we are dependent on their milk for our livelihood,” says Rakbar’s father, Suleiman.

“No-one used to say anything when you transported a cow.”

That has changed. Several men have been killed in recent years while transporting cows in the mainly Muslim region of Mewat, not far from Delhi, where Rakbar lived.

“People are afraid. If we go to get a cow they will kill us. They surround our vehicle. So everyone is too scared to get these animals,” says Suleiman.

Everyone I speak to in the village where the Khans live is afraid of gau rakshaks – cow protection gangs.

Nawal Kishore Sharma's cow vigilante gangImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES (ALLISON JOYCE)
Image captionNawal Kishore Sharma’s cow protection group in 2015
Presentational white spaceThe gangs often consist of young, hardline Hindus, who believe passionately in defending India’s holy animal.

They believe that laws to protect cows, such as a ban on slaughtering the animals, are not being fully enforced – and they hunt for “cow smugglers”, who they believe are taking cows to be killed for meat.

Often armed, they have been responsible for dozens of attacks on farmers in India over the last five years, according to data analysis organisation IndiaSpend, which monitors reports of hate crimes in the media.

On 21 July 2018, Rakbar Khan met the local gau rakshak.

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There are some things we know for certain about what happened that night.

Rakbar was walking down a small road with two cows. It was late and it was raining heavily.

Then, out of the dark, came the lights of motorbikes. We know this, because Rakbar was with a friend, who survived.

Cow vigilantes on motorbikes in Yadavnagar, RajasthanImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES (ENRICO FABIAN)
At this point the details become a little sketchier. There are three versions of the story.

The gang managed to catch Rakbar, but his friend, Aslam, slipped away. He lay on the ground, in the mud and prayed he wouldn’t be found.

“There was so much fear inside me, my heart was hurting,” he says.

“From there I heard the screams. They were beating him. There wasn