NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – THURSDAY, AUGUST 30, 2018
- DISSENT IS SAFETY VALVE OF DEMOCRACY, SAYS SC IN CASE OF ACTIVISTS’ ARREST
Observing that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy… if it is not allowed, the pressure cooker will burst”, the Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to the Maharashtra government and directed that five rights activists and lawyers arrested by Pune police be placed under house arrest in their own homes, until the matter is heard next on September 6.
Probing an alleged Maoist link to a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on the eve of the January 1 violence in Bhima Koregaon, Pune police Tuesday searched homes of nine rights activists and lawyers and arrested five: Varavara Rao in Hyderabad; Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai; Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad; and, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi. Rao, Gonsalves and Ferreira were taken to Pune while Navlakha and Bharadwaj were awaiting word from the high courts on petitions moved on their behalf.
Hearing a separate petition moved by Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Prabhat Pattnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maja Daruwala on behalf of the arrested activists, Justice D Y Chandrachud, on the bench with Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar, directed Maharashtra to file a response by September 5: “There are wider issues raised by them (petitioners). Concern raised is that you are quelling dissent. Democracy is not safe if you quell dissent and that is what they are worried about.”
The petitioners sought immediate release of the five activists, saying the arrests and searches by Maharashtra police were an “exercise to silence dissent, stop people from helping the downtrodden and marginalised people across the nation and to instil fear in the minds of the people”.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said they had “impeccable educational qualifications” and the “FIR has no mention of these people”. Two retired judges, he said, were admittedly part of the group which organised the Pune gathering. The five persons picked up by police were not present at the event, he said, adding they have been detained after nine months of the incident.
- CONG’S ANTI-RAFALE DRIVE FALSE: JAITLEY
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday spoke on the issue of Rafale jets and termed the accusations of Congress president Rahul Gandhi a “false campaign”.
In a Facebook post, Jaitley went on to ask 15 questions from the Congress. “A false campaign based on untruth has been launched by the Congress, casting a cloud on the inter-governmental agreement,” he said.
He said it was the UPA (2004-2014) that delayed the deal by over a decade and seriously compromised national security. “Every fact that Rahul and the Congress has spoken on pricing and procedure are completely false,” Jaitley said, adding: “Its (Congress’) effort of raising these issues is to further delay defence procurement so that India’s defence preparedness suffers further.”
He asked 15 questions: “Was it not the UPA that suffered from a decision-making paralysis and delayed this for over a decade? Did this delay seriously compromise national security? Was this delay and eventual abatement of the purchase by the UPA based on collateral considerations as had been witnessed in earlier transactions such as the purchase of the 155 mm Bofors gun?” He questioned how Gandhi had quoted a different price of the Rafale on separate occasions.
An in-principle approval for acceptance of necessity of procurement of 126 fighter jets was recorded by the Defence Minister in June 2001. The UPA approved the necessity of procuring 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft and issued a tender in 2007 to six global plane makers. It took the UPA five more years to commence the negotiations and in January 2012, Dassault was determined to be lowest bidder.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to respond to Jaitley. He posted: “Mr Jaitley, thanks for bringing the nation’s attention back to the GREAT #RAFALE ROBBERY! How about a Joint Parliamentary Committee to sort it out? Problem is, your Supreme Leader is protecting his friend, so this may be inconvenient. Do check & revert in 24 hrs. We’re waiting.”
- INDIA NOT GUARANTEED US SANCTIONS WAIVER FOR RUSSIAN MISSILES
The United States cannot guarantee that it will provide India a waiver from sanctions if it purchases major weapon and defence systems from Russia, a top Pentagon official said on Wednesday, ahead of a high-level dialogue between Washington and New Delhi. The United States has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia, under which any country engaged with its defence and intelligence sectors could face secondary US sanctions. However, a new defence bill gives the president the authority to grant waivers in case of national security interests.
Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top Asia official, said there was an “impression that we are going to completely protect the India relationship, insulate India from any fallout from this legislation no matter what they do”. Media reports from the region have suggested that India would get a waiver.
“I would say that is a bit misleading. We would still have very significant concerns if India pursued major new platforms and systems (from Russia),” Schriver said at a think tank event. “I can’t sit here and tell you that they would be exempt, that we would use that waiver, that will be the decision of the president if he is faced with a major new platform and capability that India has acquired from Russia,” he added.
- TRUMP WARNS OF ‘VIOLENT’ CHANGE IF DEMOCRATS WIN MID-TERM POLL
US President Donald Trump warned evangelical leaders that if Republicans lose control of Congress in the midterm elections, Democrats will institute change “quickly and violently”, a media report said.
At a meeting with those leaders at the White House on Monday, Trump said everything was at stake for his conservative agenda if his party loses in November, according to an audiotape of the meeting obtained by The New York Times.
Democrats “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently,” Trump said, according to the Times report published last night. “They will end everything immediately.”
“I just ask you to go out and make sure all of your people vote. Because if they don’t — it’s November 6 — if they don’t vote we’re going to have a miserable two years and we’re going to have, frankly, a very hard period of time because then it just gets to be one election — you’re one election away from losing everything you’ve got.”
- MYANMAR REJECTS UN ‘GENOCIDE’ ALLEGATIONS
Myanmar rejected on Wednesday a report by UN investigators that called for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide, saying the international community was making “false allegations”.
The UN report marked the first time the organisation has explicitly called for Myanmar officials to face genocide charges over a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims last year. “Our stance is clear and I want to say sharply that we don’t accept any resolutions conducted by the Human Rights Council,” the main government spokesman, Zaw Htay, said in an interview published in state media.
The fact-finding mission on Myanmar was established in March 2017 by the UN Human Rights Council.
Zaw Htay said the country has “zero tolerance to any human rights violation” and had set up a Commission of Enquiry to respond to “false allegations” made by the UN and “other international communities”.
- IRAN READY TO ABANDON NUCLEAR DEAL IF NEEDED: KHAMENEI
Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday said the country could abandon its nuclear deal with world powers if it no longer served its interests, even as economic and political pressure mounted on the government.
“Naturally, if we reach the conclusion that (the nuclear deal) is no longer maintaining our national interests, we will put it aside,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with the cabinet, according to his website.
He said Iran must not “pin its hopes” on Europe, despite European efforts to salvage the nuclear deal following the withdrawal of the United States.
Khamenei insisted the political tumult was a sign of the strength of Iran’s democracy.
He praised the tough questioning Rouhani received in parliament as “a glorious show of the power of the Islamic republic and the self-confidence of officials.” Differences between officials are “natural”, he added, though he said they should not be covered by the media “because the people would become worried”.
Tuesday’s grilling in parliament was the first for Rouhani in five years as president, and lawmakers slammed his handling of economic issues.
- J&K POLICEMEN TARGETED AGAIN: FOUR SHOT DEAD
Hours after a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander was gunned down by security forces at Anantnag in J&K, terrorists Wednesday ambushed and killed four policemen outside a vehicle workshop in Shopian.
This marks the third high-profile attack on police personnel this year and comes just a week after an inspector and two constables were shot dead while on leave for Eid.
The four policemen killed Wednesday were part of an officer’s security detail and were out getting a police vehicle repaired when they were fired upon.
After the attack, the militants took away three rifles of the slain policemen and escaped.
The slain policemen were identified as Constable Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, Constable Javid Ahmad Bhat, Constable Mohammad Iqbal Mir and Special Police Officer (SPO) Adil Manzoor Bhat.
Militant attacks on police in the Valley have surged this year and Wednesday’s attack is the third such in 2018. Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid Tuesday had said that 1,660 policemen have been killed by militants since the start of militancy in the Valley three decades ago.
- ACTIVISTS ATTACK GOVT OVER ‘MUZZLING DISSENT’, SEEK REPEAL OF UAPA
Condemning the raids and arrests of five human rights activists on Tuesday, 37 organisations and social groups came together on Wednesday to demand the repeal of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and immediate release of the civil rights activists arrested under the Act.
“State and police should immediately desist from using the draconian UAPA law against human rights activists and public intellectuals.
Taking suo motu cognisance, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Maharashtra DGP, seeking a report on the arrests in four weeks. “The standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights,” the commission observed.
The 37 organisations, including People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, listed seven demands, including immediate release of all arrested activists, speedy investigations into the Bhima Koregaon violence and repeal of UAPA under which all activists have been booked.
- RAHUL GANDHI ALL SET FOR MANSAROVAR YATRA TOMORROW
Four months after he said he would undertake Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has finally decided to go on the trip on August 31.
Congress sources indicated that the journey would commence on August 31 and end on September 12. He has chosen to go privately and not through the MEA and will take Chinese route.
The journey was long anticipated after Gandhi, while addressing the Jan Aakrosh rally at Ramlila Grounds on April 29, attributed his miraculous escape in an aircraft malfunction to the blessings of Lord Shiva and said from the stage that just when his aircraft fell, he thought to himself — “I still have to visit Kailash Mansarovar”. Gandhi’s aircraft had an 8,000 feet fall while he was on his way to Karnataka for campaign, but no one was hurt.
Although the Congress says it’s not making calibrated efforts to peddle soft Hindutva, Gandhi has lately gone all out to establish his credentials as “Lord Shiva worshipper”.
- 99.3% OF DEMO NOTES BACK: RBI
Almost all 500 and 1,000 currency notes rendered illegal in November 2016 have returned to the banking system, the RBI said on Wednesday, prompting the Opposition to question the efficacy of demonetisation in curbing black money. The government, however, insisted that the exercise had achieved the objectives “quite substantially”.
Banks received Rs 15.31 lakh crore (99.3 per cent) of the Rs 15.41 lakh crore worth of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in circulation on November 8, 2016, when the note ban was announced, the RBI said.
This meant just Rs 10,720 crore of the junked currency did not return to the banking system as against initial estimates of Rs 3 lakh crore, presumed to be stashed away illegally to avoid tax.
Economic Affairs Secretary SC Garg said the objectives, like checking black money, terror-financing, promoting digital transaction and weeding out fake notes had been achieved. “I think demonetisation has achieved its objective quite substantially,” he said.
Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram was quick to attack the government, saying the “country paid a huge price for demonetisation” as every rupee barring a small sum had come back to the RBI. “Remember who had said that Rs 3 lakh crore will not come back and that will be a gain for the government?” he tweeted.
The Congress demanded an apology from PM for committing “a monumental folly that claimed the lives of 100 people”. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari asked: “What did this tuglaqi farman of the PM achieve?
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the RBI report vindicated TMC’s fears on demonetisation. She wondered whether the exercise was meant to allow black money holders to “quietly convert their money into white”.
- CENTRE TO ASK JOHNSON & JOHNSON TO PAY UP IN HIP IMPLANTS CASE
Stung by criticism over inaction against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in cases involving faulty hip implants, the government is launching a mammoth exercise to identify the affected patients across the country and ensure they receive compensation.
Once the patients are identified, the government will decide on the quantum of compensation in each case and then approach J&J for claim settlement.
While a total of 4,700 surgeries were conducted in India using J&J subsidiary DePuy’s ASR hip replacement system, only 882 patients (accounting for 1,056 implants) could be traced through the ASR Helpline. DePuy set up a helpline and initiated the reimbursement process for ASR patients in India through Puri Crawford, insurance surveyors and loss assessors, in September 2010.
- SWAPNA BARMAN WINS INDIA ITS FIRST EVER HEPTATHLON GOLD
The girl with a tape on her right chin slumped on the tracks after the finish. Swapna Barman finished fourth in the final competition of the women’s heptathlon event. And yet she won the gold medal as she finished ahead of Wang Qingling of China, her only serious competitor in the event.
The purple coloured tape on her chin was to control a toothache that threatened her participation at the Games. The girl has a sweet tooth and excess of chocolate intake took a toll on her tooth.
The Bengal girl is also a rare athlete who has six toes on each of her feet. And as a result it is a struggle for her to even train. She has to fit her six toes in shoes designed for athletes with five.
Born to a rickshaw-driver father Panchaman and tea estate worker mother Basana from Jalpaiguri, Swapna spends most of her time at the Sports Authority of (SAI) centre in Kolkata. Her father is bedridden since 2013 after suffering a stroke. “I will talk about the family some other time,” she said when asked about their wellbeing.
Going into the last completion, Swapna was leading the Chinese by 63 points and all she needed was to finish ahead of her to win. She did exactly that and finished fourth to garner 808 points to make history for India. The total of 6026 points was her best performance in the competition. Wang finished with second with an aggregate total of 5954 points, while the bronze was won by Yuki Yamasaki of Japan.
- ARPINDER SINGH ENDS INDIA’S 48-YEAR WAIT FOR ASIAD GOLD IN TRIPLE JUMP
A dehydrated Arpinder Singh yesterday ended India’s 48-year long wait for a gold in triple jump at the Asian Games with an effort of 16.77m even as he had aimed at shattering the national record here.
India’s last Asian Games gold medal in men’s triple jump had come in 1970 from Mohinder Singh Gill. Arpinder, who has been without a medal in multi-sporting events since winning a bronze in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, produced his best jump of 16.77m in his third attempt.
Ruslan Kurbanov of Uzbekistan took the silver with a best jump of 16.62m while Shuo Cao of China was third with an effort of 16.56m.
Arpinder said he had come into the Asian Games looking to break the national record which is in the name of Renjith Maheshwary (17.30m).
- WOMEN’S HOCKEY: INDIA IN FINAL AFTER 20 YEARS
The Indian women’s hockey team made its first Asian Games final in 20 years, outlasting three-time champions China 1-0 in a fiercely-contested battle. Gurjit Kaur’s strike from a penalty corner in the 52nd minute was the difference between the two sides in a match that lacked the quality of a high-profile semifinal.
India will make their first appearance in the final since the 1998 Bangkok Games. India’s only title at the Asiad came way back in 1982 when women’s hockey made its debut.
India will now face Japan, who upset five-time champions South Korea 2-0 in the other semifinal.
- SHARATH-MANIKA WIN BRONZE
The Indian table tennis contingent’s dream run at the Asian Games got better today when the mixed doubles pairing of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra exceeded its own expectations to win a historic bronze. The Kamal-led men’s team had secured a bronze on Tuesday, ending India’s 60-year-wait for a maiden medal at the Asiad.
In the semifinals, Kamal and Batra made life tough for China’s Yingsha Sun and Wang Sun before going down 9-11, 5-11, 13-11, 4-11, 8-11.
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- THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. – Blaise Pascal
- OFF TRACK
Doctor to Female Patient: You are looking so weak & exhausted… Are you taking 3 meals a day as I had advised you?
Female patient: Oh… Suddenly getting angry… “That idiot!“.. Your assistant typed 3 Males a day.!