India Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
28 December 2019

SHAH DARE ON CAA, SILENCE ON NRC 

Amit Shah on Friday adopted an aggressive posture on the Citizenship 
(Amendment) Act for the second day running, accusing the Congress of 
spreading fear among minorities and daring Rahul Gandhi to show one clause 
in the new law that strips anyone of citizenship. 
Information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar too attacked Rahul, 
calling him the “biggest liar of 2019” for his description of the National 
Register of Citizens and the National Population Register as a “tax on the 
poor people”. 
“No one will be stripped of their citizenship. Congress and company are 
spreading rumours that the citizenship of the minorities will be taken away 
through the CAA,” the home minister said at a party event in Shimla, 
Himachal Pradesh, on Friday. “I challenge Rahul baba to show even one clause 
in the CAA that has a provision to take away anyone’s citizenship.” 
Shah, however, refrained from reaffirming his promise of a nationwide NRC to 
identify “infiltrators”. 
Earlier, Shah had got into election mode and accused the previous UPA 
government of having pursued a soft security policy and allowed infiltration 
from Pakistan. 
Shah listed the scrapping of Article 370 and the Supreme Court decision that 
the paved way for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya among the 
achievements of the BJP government at the Centre. 


CONGRESS ACCUSES BJP GOVT OF EVADING TOUGH QUESTIONS, RESORTING TO PERSONAL 
ATTACKS 

In a retort to BJP leader Prakash Javadekar’s “liar of the year” jibe at 
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, his party Friday said the ruling dispensation 
resorts to personal attacks whenever it is unable to answer Gandhi’s “tough 
questions” on issues such as country’s economy and women’s safety. 
“Rahul Gandhi from every platform asks tough questions. The government of 
the day is either too arrogant to respond to these questions, which the 
people want answers to, or the government has no answers to cover their 
failures. They hide behind abuse, very low, very petty level of narrative, 
to make it a personal attack,” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera. 
In a veiled reference to the conflicting remarks of Prime Minister Narendra 
Modi and Union Home minister Amit Shah on the citizenship law and National 
Register of Citizens, he alleged “star wars” was on among the top leadership 
of the saffron party, with one’s statement in Parliament contradicting the 
other’s at Ramlila Maidan. 
Khera said the Congress, as an Opposition party, had the responsibility to 
voice the concerns of all victims of bad economic policies, demonetisation 
and a flawed GST, and raise the questions of unemployed youths, small 
traders, of the women who do not feel safe in this country. 


GOVT GETS CRITICS ON BOARD FOR IMPROVING QUALITY OF ECONOMIC DATA 

Faced with increasing questions about the credibility of official economic 
data and the abrupt shelving of official reports, the Ministry of Statistics 
and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) has made a move to overhaul the system 
for reviewing statistics related to economic activity. 
It has constituted a broad-based 28-member “Standing Committee on Economic 
Statistics” (SCES) headed by India’s first Chief Statistician, Pronab Sen, 
which includes three academicians who had, earlier in March this year, 
signed a joint statement of 108 economists and social scientists that 
flagged concerns over “political interference” in influencing statistical 
data in the country. 
Incidentally, Sen, too, has been critical of the way the government has 
handled data and reports. 
The new, broad-based panel, which has a sweeping mandate to review key data 
sets that track economic activity and labour force participation trends, 
will have representatives from the United Nations, Reserve Bank of India, 
Finance Ministry, NITI Aayog, two industry chambers, Tata Trust, and 
economists and statisticians from several educational institutions. CP 
Chandrasekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Hema Swaminathan, 
Professor, IIM Bangalore, and Jeemol Unni, Professor, Ahmedabad University 
are the three members of the new panel who were signatories to the March 
joint statement against the alleged “suppression of statistics”. 


INDIAN FORCES PROTECT RIGHTS OF ENEMIES TOO: GEN RAWAT 

Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Friday that the armed forces have 
utmost respect for laws related to protection of human rights, including 
those of India’s adversaries. 
“The Indian armed forces are much disciplined and have the utmost respect 
for human rights laws and international human rights laws... The Indian 
armed forces not only ensure protection of human rights of our own people 
but also of adversaries and deal with the prisoners of war as per the Geneva 
Conventions,” Rawat said while addressing the senior officers and interns of 
the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on ‘Preserving Human Rights in 
Times of War and Prisoners of War’. 
Meanwhile, a day after the Army Chief triggered a controversy by condemning 
those leading violent protests, asserting that leadership wasn’t about 
guiding people to carry out arson and violence, Union minister and former 
Army Chief General (Retd.) VK Singh defended General Rawat and asked the 
opposition not to politicise everything. 
“...the opposition can turn anything into a controversy... I don’t see any 
politics in it. If I tell students don’t unnecessarily damage property, is 
it politics? Search your heart and ask this question. Cross-check with Army 
Chief and in what context he might have said it,” he said. 




4 U.S. SURVEILLANCE PLANES FLY OVER KOREAN PENINSULA ON SAME DAY 

A U.S. maritime patrol plane made a late-night flight over the Korean 
Peninsula, only hours after three American surveillance aircraft flew above 
the same area, it was reported on Friday. 
According to Aircraft Spots, an aviation tracker, a P-3C plane of the U.S. 
Navy flew over the peninsula at around 11 p.m. on Thursday, Yonhap News 
Agency reported. 
Earlier on Thursday, a RC-135S Cobra Ball plane was presumed to have carried 
out a surveillance mission over South Korea's East Sea after taking off from 
the Japanese territory of Okinawa. 
An RC-135S aircraft and E-8C plane or JSTARS were also spotted flying in the 
same route later in the day, the aviation tracker said. 
Thursday's flights came after the US flew four spy planes at the same time 
over the Peninsula earlier this week in an unusual move to intensify its 
surveillance on North Korea amid concerns that Pyongyang could test-fire an 
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). 
The North has threatened to take a "new way" if the US does not show 
flexibility in the deadlocked negotiations by Pyongyang's self-imposed 
year-end deadline. 
With the deadline drawing closer, the North earlier said that it was 
entirely up to Washington what "Christmas gift" it wants to get, spawning 
speculation that it might be preparing a major provocation during the 
holiday season this week. 


ISLAMIC STATE SAYS IT BEHEADED CHRISTIAN CAPTIVES IN NIGERIA 

Islamic State released a video purporting to show its militants beheading 10 
Christian men in Nigeria, saying it was part of a campaign to avenge the 
deaths of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its spokesman. 
The militant group posted the footage on its online Telegram news channel on 
Thursday, the day after Christmas, with Arabic captions but no audio. 
The video showed men in beige uniforms and black masks lining up behind 
blindfolded captives then beheading 10 of them and shooting an 11th man. 
An earlier video seen by Reuters said the captives had been taken from 
Maiduguri and Damaturu in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, where 
militants have been fighting for years to set up a separate Islamist state. 
In that video, the captives pleaded for the Christian Association of Nigeria 
and President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene to save them. 
Reuters could not verify the authenticity of either video. 


UP HAS A QUIET FRIDAY 

With security drones flying overhead and police and paramilitary personnel 
keeping tight vigil on the ground to snuff out any fresh protest against the 
new citizenship law, Uttar Pradesh remained peaceful Friday with people 
offering prayers at mosques across the state and dispersing quietly. 
Internet services remained suspended in 14 districts since Thursday night 
and were to resume late Friday. 
Director General of Police O P Singh said the law and order situation was 
totally under control and no incident had been reported from any part of the 
state. Since morning, Singh and senior police officers were in regular touch 
with district police chiefs, and there was special focus on the districts of 
Lucknow, Bijnor, Sambhal, Muzaffarnagar, Firozabad, Kanpur, Mau and Varanasi 
where protests turned violent last week. At least 19 people were killed 
during the protests in the state. 
Security drones kept watch on groups of people moving on roads and senior 
officers led police patrols. In Lucknow, roads wore deserted looks with 
heavy police bandobast in areas of the old city which was rocked by violence 
on December 19. People were not allowed to assemble at any place for long 
after the Friday prayers. 


DELHI: POLICE FILM PROTESTS, RUN IMAGES THROUGH FACE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ramlila Maidan rally on December 22 — where 
he said there was no talk of NRC — was the first political rally where Delhi 
Police used a facial recognition software to screen the crowd. 
This was also the first time Delhi Police used a set of facial images 
collected from footage filmed at the city’s various protest events to filter 
“law and order suspects” at the Prime Minister’s rally. 
Following a Delhi High Court order in a case related to missing children, 
the Delhi Police had acquired Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) 
software in March 2018 as a tool to identify lost and found boys and girls 
by matching photos. 
Before December 22, AFRS was used only thrice — twice at the Independence 
Day parade and once at the Republic Day parade. 
The use of AFRS by police assumes significance given ongoing protests across 
the city against the new citizenship law and the National Register of 
Citizens — events where police were seen videotaping proceedings. 


RECORD-BREAKING WINTER WORSENS, CAPITAL SHIVERS 

Delhi recorded the season’s lowest temperature at 4.2° Celsius on Friday as 
the India Meteorological Department (IMD) declared cold wave conditions in 
several parts of north India, predicting that the Capital and surrounding 
areas could witness “cold day to severe cold day conditions” over the next 
two days. 
Some places in the desert state of Rajasthan witnessed near-zero 
temperatures, with fog in some places delaying at least 21 trains in the 
region. 
Delhi is experiencing one of its worst winters, with an intense cold spell 
of 14 days and possibly the second lowest day temperatures for December 
recorded in a century. 


AFTER UP, K’TAKA GOVT SAYS IT WILL SEIZE PROPERTY OF VANDALS 

Sending out a stern warning, Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka on Thursday 
said the state government would emulate Uttar Pradesh and confiscate 
properties of those who caused damage to public properties during protests 
against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. 
“Everyone has to obey the law of the land and not give an opportunity for 
such an action by the government,” he told mediapersons here. 
“...the way in which the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to confiscate 
the properties of those indulging in violence — if such things (violence) 
happen again (here), it will be brought in Karnataka also,” Ashoka said. 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said properties of those 
involved in the violence would be seized and auctioned to compensate 
destruction of public and private assets during the protests over the 
amended citizenship law. 


IAF'S MIG-27 ROARS THROUGH THE SKIES FOR THE LAST TIME 

Indian Air Force (IAF) decommissioned Mikoyan-Gurevich 27 (MiG-27), the 
fighter aircraft that played a stellar role during the Kargil war with 
Pakistan 20 years ago, on Friday when the last squadron of seven planes 
roared through the skies for the last time. 
The fighter aircraft took to the skies one last time at the Jodhpur airbase 
where the only IAF squadron that operates the MiG 27 is based. 
The MiG-27, code named ‘Bahadur’ in India, has had an impeccable track 
record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation. 
“These aircraft have made immense contribution to the nation, both during 
peace and war. The fleet earned its glory in the historic Kargil conflict 
when it delivered rockets & bombs with accuracy on enemy positions. The 
fleet also took active part in Op-Parakram,” the Ministry of Defence said. 


125 CRORE RESIDENTS NOW HAVE AADHAAR: UIDAI 

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Friday said that 125 
crore residents of India now have Aadhaar. 
“The achievement comes along with the rapidly increasing use of Aadhaar as 
the primary identity document by the Aadhaar holders. This is evident from 
the fact that Aadhaar-based authentication services have been used close to 
37,000 crore times since inception,” an official statement said here. 
The UIDAI said a new milestone has been achieved by the Aadhaar project, 
that of crossing of the 125 crore mark. 
The UIDAI receives about 3 crore authentication requests every day. 


KERALA GOVT TO GIVE RS 1.3 CR AS COMPENSATION TO FORMER ISRO SCIENTIST 

The Kerala government has in principle decided to give Rs 1.3 crore as 
compensation to former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who was falsely 
implicated in the 1994 espionage case. 
The amount is for settling the case filed by 77-year-old Naryananan against 
the government, seeking enhanced damages for his illegal arrest and 
harassment. 
The compensation is in addition to the Rs 50 lakh provided by the government 
to the former scientist on a Supreme court order and the Rs 10 lakh 
recommended by the National Human Rights Commission. 


NORWEGIAN TOURIST ASKED TO LEAVE INDIA FOR TAKING PART IN ANTI-CAA PROTEST 

A Norwegian tourist was ordered to leave the country Friday by the 
Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Kochi with officials 
saying that she “violated visa rules” by participating in a protest march in 
the city against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). 
Janne-Mette Johannson, 74, a former nurse from Norway who reached India on a 
tourist visa in October, was questioned at the FRRO centre near the Cochin 
International Airport about her participation in a “people’s long march” 
against CAA Monday. 
She had also posted pictures from the protest on her Facebook account 
alongwith a note that the protesters were “singing and chanting with their 
fists up”. “No riots, just people determined, lifting up their voices, 
saying what has to be said,” she wrote. 
The latest action comes days after a German student at IIT-Madras was asked 
to leave India for attending a protest against the new citizenship law. 


TV ACTOR KUSHAL PUNJABI COMMITS SUICIDE 

The television industry and fans on Friday woke up to the shocking news of 
Kushal Punjabi’s suicide. The actor was, reportedly, depressed about his 
failed marriage and health issues. Punjabi tied the knot with Audrey Dolhen 
in 2014, and they have a three-year-old son Kian. Dolhen is currently 
residing in Shanghai with their son, and she is expected to land in India 
for Punjabi’s last rites. 
Born and raised in Mumbai, Punjabi was a dancer trained in dance forms like 
Modern Jazz and Hip Hop. Apart from choreographing music videos, he has also 
choreographed Gladrags Manhunt Megamodel and Mrs. India contestants. 


WAS TARGETED BUT NEVER FELT NEED OR PRESSURE TO CONVERT: DANISH KANERIA 

Pakistan’s banned Test leg-spinner Danish Kaneria on Friday said there were 
a “few players” who targeted him for being a Hindu during his time with the 
national team but he never felt the urge or the pressure to change his 
religion. 
The spinner, who is serving a life ban for spot-fixing, has been brought 
into focus after former pacer Shoaib Akhtar alleged that some Pakistani 
players refused to even share food with him due to his faith. 
Speaking to ‘Samaa’ channel on Friday, Kaneria said a few players made 
remarks about him behind his back. “(But) I never made an issue of it. I 
just ignored them because I wanted to focus on my cricket and bring 
victories for Pakistan,” he said. 
“Look I am a proud Hindu and Pakistani. I would like to make it clear here 
don’t try to portray our cricket fraternity in Pakistan in negative manner 
because there are a lot of people who have supported me and backed me 
regardless of my religion…Pakistan is my janam bhumi and I don’t think 
anyone should politicise this issue or our cricket fraternity because of a 
few players’ behaviour. I request everyone don’t give it a wrong angle,” he 
added. 


KOHLI NAMED IN WISDEN CRICKETERS OF THE DECADE LIST 

India captain Virat Kohli has been named in the Cricketers of the Decade 
list alongside four others by the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac. Apart from 
Kohli, South African duo of Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers, Australia’s Steve 
Smith and women’s all-rounder Ellyse Perry also found a place in the list of 
five cricketers of the decade. 
Kohli, 31, was named captain of the Wisden Test team of the decade, while 
also featuring in the ODI XI. “His genius has been to rise, time and again, 
to the challenge. Between the end of the England tour in 2014 and the second 
Test against Bangladesh at Kolkata in November, Kohli averaged 63, with 21 
hundreds and 13 fifties,” Wisden wrote. “It left him with a unique set of 
statistics — the only batsman to average at least 50 in all the three 
international formats. Since the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar and the 
gradual waning of MS Dhoni, no cricketer in the world has operated under 
such daily pressure as Kohli,” it added. 

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