World Newsletter

12 January 2020


The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday passed a resolution
demanding a rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which was notified by
the Home Ministry on January 10, and stopping the process of updating the
National Population Register (NPR). The meeting was attended by Congress
president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and party
General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi among other members.
The CWC, the party's highest decision-making body, said the ill-conceived
Act had led to spontaneous nationwide protests and the Centre used brute
power to suppress the voice of students and youth.
"CAA has raised bonafide questions regarding its Constitutional validity and
political morality. The CAA and proposed NRC have created an environment of
fear and anxiety in the country especially among the religious and
linguistic minorities, tribals, poor and the vulnerable sections of the
society," a CWC statement read.
"The CWC demands that Citizenship Amendment Act should be withdrawn and the
process of NPR be stopped forthwith," the statement said.
Taking a strong stand on the violence against students in the universities,
the CWC said, "Modi Government has unleashed the entire might of the brute
State power to suppress, subjugate and stifle the voice of the youth and
students across the country. Prime Minister and the BJP Government have
betrayed the trust of the youth."
In her opening remarks at the meeting, Sonia Gandhi said the National
Population Register (NPR) exercise was a disguised attempt at implementing
the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to stoke religious tensions in
Indian society.
"At first, the government thought that the NRC exercise could be carried out
throughout the country. After the disastrous results of the Assam NRC, the
government has hit upon the idea of NPR. Let us not be under any illusion
that the NPR is a benign exercise. In form and content, NPR 2020 is a
disguised NRC," she said.
Calling the CAA a discriminatory and divisive law, Gandhi said, "The
sinister purpose of the law is clear to every patriotic, tolerant and
secular Indian: it is to divide the Indian people on religious lines."
The leaders also deliberated on other issues of national importance at the
meet, such as economy, Kashmir shutdown, and implications of US-Iran
tensions on India.


Black flags and angry chants of "Modi, go back" greeted Prime Minister
Narendra Modi as he arrived on a 2-day visit to Kolkata on Saturday but
nicety was not abandoned as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shared dais with
him while remaining insistent on annulment of the CAA.
Banerjee, arguably the most bitter critic of the prime minister on the CAA,
met him at Raj Bhavan, after deciding not to receive him at the airport, and
also shared stage at a colourful programme to celebrate 150 years of the
Kolkata Port Trust.
"I told him that we are against CAA, NRC and NPR. I told him there should be
no discrimination among masses and no citizens are left out and tortured,"
she told journalists after meeting Modi at Raj Bhavan.
Moments later, she was present at an anti-CAA protest nearby. Banerjee, who
called her meeting with Modi a "courtesy visit", said the prime minister had
asked her to come to New Delhi to discuss the vexatious issues.
Hundreds of protesters staged demonstrations at the crossing outside airport
gate number one despite strict security.
The politically significant meet, which had exposed chinks in the opposition
unity, came just two days after the TMC chief had declared to boycott an
opposition meeting called by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on
January 13 over the JNU violence, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and other
"anti-people" policies of the Centre.
The meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Banerjee drew sharp reactions
from the Congress and CPI(M), which said Trinamool Congress' "double
standard" is now exposed.
Banerjee tried to clarify by saying the decision to meet the PM was her
"constitutional obligation" and tried to pacify the protesting students. "I
am the only leader who met Narendra Modi and told him that CAA, NRC and NPR
cannot be implemented," Mamata told the students.
"We have been protesting from the day one against CAA. The issue of both of
us is the same. So please don't deviate from it. I would request you all to
protest in a democratic way," she
Modi will also participate in the sesquicentenary celebrations of the
Kolkata Port Trust on Sunday.
The prime minister and the chief minister will share dais at the programme
at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Sunday. West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar
will also be present.


The United States state department on Saturday reacted to the recent visit
to Jammu and Kashmir by a group of foreign envoys, including the US
ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, and termed it an "important step". The
same tweet by the state department, however, added that it remained
"concerned" by the continued detention of political leaders and residents
along with the restrictions on the internet.
A group of 15 envoys and diplomats had interacted with security officials,
politicians and civil society representatives over a recent two-day visit to
Jammu and Kashmir organised by the government since Jammu & Kashmir's
special status was revoked on August 5, 2019, and restrictions on movement
and communication were imposed along with detention of several political


While maintaining that both Northern and Western frontiers are equally
important for India, Army chief General M.M. Naravane on Saturday said
whenever government gives the go-ahead, his force is ready to take away
Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
Making it clear that accordingly rebalancing of deployment of the forces and
weapons are being carried out, the General commenting on Pakistan occupied
Kashmir said: "If Parliament wants that area should be taken we will
definitely do so and action will be taken accordingly."
The Indian Army chief's comments came at the annual press conference, where
he said there was a parliamentary resolution that entire erstwhile Jammu and
Kashmir is part of India. Whenever the government directs it will be done.
Naravane stressed: "If that be the mandate so be it."
In September 2019, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had said that PoK
is a part of India. "We expect one day we will have physical jurisdiction
over it," he said.
On August 5, 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah had asserted in Lok Sabha that
PoK and Aksai Chin are part of Jammu and Kashmir and that Kashmir Valley is
an integral part of the country.
On border issue with China, India have had several rounds of talks. General
Naravane said their priorities are to maintain peace and tranquility on the
border. "We are conscious of the fact there are threats from the both side,"
he said. On his recent visit to Siachen, General Naravane said: "As far as
land borders are concerned this is where (Siachen) the two countries --
(China and Pakistan) are the closest. So the chance for collusivity is the
most. Here and in Shaksgam valley."


Iran announced on Saturday that its military "unintentionally" shot down the
Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week, killing all 176 aboard,
after the government had repeatedly denied Western accusations that it was
The plane was shot down early on Wednesday, hours after Iran launched a
ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq in
retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani in an American
airstrike in Baghdad. No one was wounded in the attack on the bases.
A military statement carried by state media said the plane was mistaken for
a "hostile target" after it turned towards a "sensitive military centre" of
the Revolutionary Guard.
The military was at its "highest level of readiness", it said, amid the
heightened tensions with the United States. "In such a condition, because of
human error and in an unintentional way, the flight was hit," the statement
said. It apologised for the disaster and said it would upgrade its systems
to prevent future tragedies.
It also said those responsible for the strike on the plane would be
Iran's acknowledgement of responsibility for the crash was likely to inflame
public sentiment against authorities after Iranians had rallied around their
leaders in the wake of Soleimani's killing.
But the vast majority of the plane victims were Iranians or
Iranian-Canadians, and the crash came just weeks after authorities quashed
nationwide protests ignited by a hike in gasoline prices.


Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen declared a landslide win in Saturday's
election as voters delivered a stunning rebuke of Beijing's campaign to
isolate the self-ruled island and handed its first woman leader a second
term. Ms. Tsai, 63, announced her victory as thousands of jubilant
supporters cheered and waved flags outside her party headquarters with the
ongoing vote count revealing an all but unassailable lead.
"Taiwan is showing the world how much we cherish our free, democratic way of
life and how much we cherish our nation," she told reporters.
Her main rival, Han Kuo-yu of the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party, had
conceded defeat shortly beforehand.


The British Queen has reportedly called a private meeting with Prince
Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry to discuss the recent royal
developments that have unfolded since Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and
Duchess of Sussex, announced their decision last week to "step back as
'senior' members of the royal family" and work towards becoming "financially
The Royal family will attend the meeting on Monday at the queen's
Sandringham estate, a Buckingham Palace source told CNN. Meghan is also
expected to call into the meeting from Canada.
The Sussexes said last week that their decision to step back came "after
many months of reflection and internal discussions." The Duchess of Sussex
has since returned to Canada, where the couple spent the holidays with her
mother. It's unclear when Meghan will return to the UK from Canada.


In a major milestone, the naval version of indigenously built Tejas aircraft
Saturday made its first landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier INS
Military officials involved in the "arrested landing" of the aircraft said
the successful test has put India among a select group of nations having the
capability to design a jet that can land on an aircraft carrier.
Congratulating the DRDO and the Indian Navy for the successful test, Defence
Minister Rajnath Singh said that the successful landing of the aircraft on
INS Vikramaditya is a "great event" in the history of Indian fighter
aircraft development programme.
As per officials the successful "arrested landing" of the prototype of the
naval version of Tejas on the deck of INS Vikramaditya is expected to speed
up development of the jet for the Indian Navy.


Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on
Saturday launched the party's campaign song 'Lage Raho Kejriwal' for the
February 8 Assembly election in the city.
Launched in the presence of other senior party leaders, including Rajya
Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, Atishi and Pankaj Gupta, the song speaks about the
Delhi Chief Minister's doggedness in making the lives of Delhi's people
The 2.52-minute song by Vishal Dadlani, is on the lines of the party's
slogan for the Delhi Assembly election: 'Acche Beete Paanch Saal--Lage Raho
Sisodia said the song is the "voice of the people".


The JNU students' union extended an olive branch to the administration on
Saturday by asking students to resume registering for the new semester, but
insisted they do so without paying any higher fees.
What this means is that the students are free to pay the tuition fee of Rs
120 but not the hiked hostel fees.
"We have taken one step," students' union vice-president Saket Moon told
reporters, six days after a campus rampage by an allegedly ABVP-led mob left
students' union president Aishe Ghosh and a professor with head injuries.
"It is for the VC to take the next step," he added.
But registrar Pramod Kumar said registration was granted only after the fees
had been paid in full, leaving open the possibility of a fresh stalemate.
A student leader said that if registration was not accepted on the payment
of tuition fees, the students' union would consider further agitation and a
legal recourse.
The Left-led students' union had been resisting the registration process in
protest at the hostel fee hike, which has led to a strike that completed 75
days on Saturday. On Saturday, the students' union clarified that its class
boycott would continue. "We want to send out a message that we want to
study, and we don't want further seats to be cut in this university,"
students' union general secretary Satish Chandra Yadav said. "But we also
insist that until the new hostel manual has been rolled back and the
vice-chancellor has resigned, we will continue our strike."
Over the past couple of days, the university has partially softened its
stand on the hostel fee hike, freezing the newly introduced utility and
services charges (Rs 1,000 a month) for this semester but retaining the room
rent hike.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come across an appeal from business leaders
in Calcutta, too, to draw a distinction between business failure and
financial fraud.
Modi, who arrived in the city on Saturday afternoon, squeezed in two
meetings with business figures where the refrain was that the government
needed to stop demonising investors for their failure to pay back debts when
business bets went wrong.
Bankers have been loath to lend to businesses that have racked up unpaid
debts, fearing that any show of accommodation might invite intense scrutiny
and harassment at the hands of federal investigative agencies if the bad
loans piled up.
Businesspersons belonging to the Indian Chamber of Commerce and the
Merchants' Chamber of Commerce met Modi in separate batches at the Raj
Bhavan on Saturday. They urged the government to stop vilifying businessmen
for genuine business failures.
At least one member of the Merchants' Chamber of Commerce delegation, which
was led by Vivek Gupta, who also happens to be a Trinamul Congress MP in the
Rajya Sabha, said the Prime Minister had agreed that there ought to be a
distinction between fraud and failure.
"The PM said he's working with the RBI and others to ensure that business
losses were not penalised," Gupta said.
Last month, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had met the chiefs of
public-sector banks and tried to soothe their fears of repercussions,
including vigilance enquiries, if loans turned bad. Bankers were assured at
the meeting that they would be protected if they had acted in good faith and
observed all the practices of prudential commercial decision-making while
extending credit.


Two of the four apartment complexes found to have violated Coastal
Regulation Zone norms were reduced to debris within seconds of controlled
implosions that brought them down in Kochi on Saturday.
Watched by thousands of onlookers who had arrived from across Kerala, the
high-rises were brought down like a pack of cards, kicking up a thick cloud
of toxic dust over the Maradu neighbourhood, including the picturesque
Vembanad Lake.
The buildings that were 19 floors high each were demolished based on a
Supreme Court order in May 2019 that cited violation of CRZ norms since none
of them had maintained the necessary distance from the lake.
While Holy Faith H20 was the first to be imploded at 11.18am, the two towers
of Alpha Serene apartment complex were reduced to debris minutes later.
The remaining two apartment complexes would be demolished on Sunday by using
the same controlled implosion technique. This would reduce the five towers
of the four high-rise complexes that house 500 flats to 70,000 tonnes of
Alpha 1 crashed within the defined parameters, but some debris from Alpha 2
crashed into the lake.
Ernakulam collector S. Suhas later clarified that was part of the plan to
save a nearby house. "The debris of all the buildings fell inside their
compounds. Even Alpha 1 was contained inside the compound. Only some debris
of Alpha 2 fell in the water, which was deliberately done to save a house
that stood just metres away," he told reporters at the site.


The Delhi High Court on Saturday directed the makers of Deepika
Padukone-starrer 'Chhapaak' to give credit to a lawyer, who represented acid
attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal on whose life the film is based, for inputs
she shared with them.
Justice Prathiba M Singh said the changes be made in the movie slides in
multiplexes by January 15.
The court pronounced the order on a plea by Fox Star Studio, the producer of
the movie, challenging a trial court's Thursday order asking it to
acknowledge the contribution of advocate Aparna Bhat.
The film was released in theatres on Friday.
While hearing the plea on Friday, the court asked the filmmakers as to why
they had not acknowledged the lawyer for inputs she shared with them. It
asked where the difficulty was to acknowledge the advocate and why did the
makers even go to her seeking her inputs.
To this, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for film director Meghna
Gulzar, had said there was no contract between the parties and seeking
inputs did not confer any legal right on her to be acknowledged.

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