Archive | May, 2017

Massive Kabul truck bomb kills 49, wounds hundreds

Posted on 31 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday 01st June 2017

Kabul, May 31 (AFP) At least 49 people were killed and hundreds wounded today when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital.

Bodies littered the scene and a towering plume of smoke rose from the area, which houses foreign embassies, after the blast blew out the windows in several missions and residences hundreds of metres away.

Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety, with men and women struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones.

It was not immediately clear what the target was. But the attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where a military beset by soaring casualties and desertions is struggling to beat back the insurgents. Over a third of the country is outside government control.

More than an hour after the explosion, ambulances were still taking the wounded to hospital as firefighters struggled to control blazes in several buildings.

Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said at least 49 people had been killed and 320 wounded, with the figures confirmed by a second health official and the government media office.

Authorities warned the toll could yet rise. “They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals,” senior health ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi told AFP.

The interior ministry was calling on Kabul residents to donate blood, saying hospitals were in “dire need”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack came as the resurgent Taliban step up their annual “spring offensive”.

The Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting an armoured NATO convoy that killed at least eight people and wounded 28 on May 3.

Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, said initial findings showed it had been a truck bomb.

Manpreet Vohra, India’s envoy to Afghanistan, told the Times Now television channel the bomb went off around 100 metres from India’s embassy, one of several in the area.

“We are all safe, all our staff, all our personnel are safe. However, the blast was very large and nearby buildings including our own building have considerable damage in terms of broken glass and shattered windows and blown doors etc,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “We strongly condemn the terrorist blast in Kabul. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.”

The explosion also shattered windows at the Japanese embassy. “Two Japanese embassy staffers were mildly injured, suffering cuts,” a foreign ministry official in Tokyo told AFP.

France also reported damage to its own embassy and the German one.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has warned of “another tough year” for both foreign troops and local forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan troops are backed by US and NATO forces, and the Pentagon has reportedly asked the White House to send thousands more troops to the country to break the deadlock in the fight against the Taliban.

US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies. They mainly serve in an advisory capacity — a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago.

The blast was the latest in a long line of attacks in Kabul. The province surrounding the capital had the highest number of casualties in the first three months of 2017 due to multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

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India, Spain sign 7 agreements during PM’s visit

Posted on 31 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday 01st June 2017

Madrid, May 31 (PTI) India and Spain today signed seven agreements, including on cyber security and technical cooperation in civil aviation, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the European country.

The agreements were signed after Prime Minister Modi held wide-ranging talks with Spanish President Mariano Rajoy at the Moncloa Palace in the Spanish capital.

The two sides agreements on transfer of sentenced persons and visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports.

Five MoUs were signed between the two countries on cooperation in organ transplantation, cyber security, renewable energy, civil aviation and one between India’s Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain.

Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Spain since 1988, praised the Spanish president saying under Rajoy’s leadership the country has undergone economic reforms “which is also the biggest priority of my government.”

Spain is India’s seventh largest trading partner in the European Union. Two-way trade totalled USD 5.27 billion in 2016.

Modi encouraged Spanish infrastructure, tourism, energy and defense companies to invest in priority sectors in India, saying “It’s a great time for Spanish companies to invest in India.

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Advani, Joshi, Bharti appear before CBI court in Babri case

Posted on 30 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 31st May 2017

Lucknow, May 30 (PTI) BJP stalwarts L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti today appeared before a special CBI court here for framing of charges of criminal conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

BJP leader Vinay Katiyar and one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Ritambara too presented themselves before the court in the politically sensitive case.

Special CBI judge S K Yadav had said on May 26 that no application for an adjournment or exemption from personal appearance would be entertained.

The court, which is hearing two cases relating to the demolition of the masjid, would also frame charges against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das, Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Satish Pradhan.

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Cyclone Mora hits Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands evacuated

Posted on 30 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 31st May 2017

Dhaka, May 30 (PTI) Cyclone Mora made landfall in Bangladesh today damaging several houses and packing winds of up to 117 kilometres per hour after authorities evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from the coastal areas.

In a special bulletin, Bangladesh Meteorological Department said the severe cyclonic storm ‘Mora’ moved northwards over North Bay and started crossing Cox’s Bazar- Chittagong coast at 6:00 AM (local time).

It is likely to move in a northerly direction further, it said.

Under its influence, gusty or squally wind with rain or thunder showers were continuing over North Bay and the coastal districts and maritime ports of Bangladesh., the Daily Star reported.

Maximum sustained wind speed within 64 km of the cyclone centre was about 89 kph rising to 117 kph in gusts or squalls, it said.

As many as 300,000 people had been taken to shelters in more than ten districts most vulnerable to the cyclone, Additional Secretary Golam Mostafa, a spokesman for the disaster management ministry’s control room, was quoted as saying by B D News.

At least 2.5 million people in ten districts risk falling in the way of the severe cyclonic storm.

The districts at risk were Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Barisal and Pirojpur.

Under the influence of the cyclonic storm, ‘the low- lying’ areas of the coastal districts and their offshore islands were likely to be inundated by storm surge of 4-5 feet height above normal astronomical tide, the Met office said.

All fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay and deep sea have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice.

Habibur Rahman, a member of Saint Martin’s Island Union Parishad, told Bangla daily Prothom Alo that several houses were damaged in Saint Martin’s Island in the morning.

Bangladesh is often hit by bad storms between April and December that cause deaths and widespread destruction.

Cyclone Roanu hit the southern coast of Bangladesh last year, leaving 20 people dead and forcing half a million to flee their homes.

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SC refuses to stay conviction of IPS officer in Bilkis case

Posted on 30 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 30th May 2017

New Delhi, May 30 (PTI) The Supreme Court today refused to stay the conviction of an IPS officer in the sensational 2002 Bilkis Bano case.

A vacation bench of Justices A K Sikri and Deepak Gupta said that there is no urgency for hearing the matter as the convicted officer has already undergone the sentence.

The bench, however, listed the matter for hearing in the second week of July, observing the fine is of Rs 15,000 only.

IPS officer R S Bhagora, currently serving in Gujarat, has been convicted along with four other policemen by the Bombay High Court recently after the trial court had acquitted them.

The counsel appearing for Bhagora said if the conviction is not stayed, then he will be terminated from the service as per service rules.

He said the court should grant stay on the conviction.

The Bombay High Court had on May 4 reversed the trial court verdict acquitting Bhagora and others and had upheld the conviction of 11 people (one convict is dead) in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case.

Along with five policemen, two doctors were also convicted by the HC.

The High Court bench had said that the seven persons — doctors and the policemen– are convicted under sections 218 (not performing their duties) and section 201 (tampering of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A special court had on 21 January, 2008 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men for raping Bilkis and murdering seven of her family members in the aftermath of the Godhra riots while acquitting seven persons including the policemen and doctors.

The convicts later approached the Bombay high court challenging their conviction and sought for the trial court’s order to be quashed and set aside.

The CBI had also filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted persons on the ground that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.

According to the prosecution, on 3 March, 2002, Bilkis Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the post-Godhra riots and seven members of her family were killed.

Bilkis, who was five months pregnant at the time, was gang raped while six other members of her family managed to escape from the mob. The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad.

However, after Bilkis expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered, the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

The convicts had challenged the order on three main grounds that all evidence in the case was fabricated by CBI, that Bilkis gave birth to a child after the incident, thus, the same proved that she could not have been gang raped, and the failure to find the bodies of some of her family members proves that they were not killed.

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Charges to be framed tomo against Advani, Joshi in Babri case

Posted on 30 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 30th May 2017

Lucknow, May 29 (PTI) BJP stalwarts L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti will appear before a special CBI court here tomorrow for framing of charges in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Besides them, Special CBI judge S K Yadav had asked BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia and a one-time firebrand Hindutva preacher Sadhvi Ritambara to present themselves before the court in person.

While directing the accused to present themselves in person, the judge had said no application for adjournment or exemption from personal appearance shall be entertained.

The court, which is hearing two separate cases relating to the demolition of the Babri masjid, would also frame charges against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Mahant Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan in the second matter.

The Supreme Court had on April 19 ordered prosecution of Advani (89), Joshi (83), 58-year-old Bharti, and other accused for criminal conspiracy in the politically sensitive case. It had also ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years.

The top court had called the destruction of the medieval-era monument a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution” while allowing the CBI’s plea seeking restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the four BJP leaders, including Katiyar (62), and others.

However, the Supreme Court had said BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who is the Rajasthan Governor and during whose tenure as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was razed, is entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he holds the gubernatorial office.

It had transferred the case against Advani, Joshi, Bharti and three other accused from a Raebareli court to Lucknow for a joint trial in the demolition case.

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PM appreciates surveys on his govt’s performance

Posted on 30 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 29th May 2017

New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi today welcomed the analyses being done in various media fora about the performance of his three-year-old government, saying “constructive criticism” strengthens the democracy.

He said some opinion polls and surveys have appreciated his government’s work, some have supported it while some others have highlighted the drawbacks.

Appreciating this exercise being conducted over the last one month in the run-up to completion of his government’s three years on May 26, he said he believes that in a democracy, the government should be answerable.

“Constructive criticism strengthens the democracy. For a lively democracy, such exercises are immensely important,” the prime minister said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

He noted that the surveys have assessed in detail his government’s performance on all fronts and said it was a “great exercise”.

The prime minister said he believes that in a democracy, a government must present its report card to the people.

“Three years back, you (people) had given me the responsibility of the ‘pradhan sevak’ (prime servant). There have been several surveys and opinion polls. I consider this entire exercise healthy,” Modi said.

“I thank those who have given critical and important feedback…. I greatly value such exercises… It provides an opportunity to correct the weaknesses and the drawbacks that may be there,” Modi said.

From the result of these surveys, the government can take lessons and move ahead, he added.

Modi, who led the BJP to a massive victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, was sworn-in as the prime minister on May 26 that year.

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PTI Exclusive: Dirty war has to be fought with innovative ways: Gen Bipin Rawat

Posted on 30 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 29th May 2017

New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) The Indian Army is facing a “dirty war” in Jammu and Kashmir which has to be fought through “innovative” ways, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has said, stoutly defending the use of a Kashmiri as a ‘human shield’ by a young officer.

In an exclusive interaction with PTI, Rawat said the main objective of awarding Major Leetul Gogoi, when a Court of Inquiry was finalising its probe into the incident, was to boost the morale of young officers of the force who are operating in a very difficult environment in the militancy- infested state.

“This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war… That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovations,” Rawat said, in what were the General’s most comprehensive comments yet to the media on the issue.

The Army Chief’s Commendation medal to Gogoi, who had tied a man to an army jeep and used him as a human shield from stone throwers last month was criticised by human rights activists, Kashmiri groups and by a few retired army generals.

A video of the incident had triggered a row with many condemning it.

Gogoi was awarded for his sustained efforts in counter- insurgency operations.

“People are throwing stones at us, people are throwing petrol bombs at us. If my men ask me what do we do, should I say, just wait and die? I will come with a nice coffin with a national flag and I will send your bodies home with honour. Is it what I am supposed to tell them as chief? I have to maintain the morale of my troops who are operating there,” Gen Rawat said.

Talking about the complexity of the security challenge in the state, he suggested it would have been easier for the armed forces if the protesters were firing weapons instead of throwing stones.

“In fact, I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do),” he said.

Gen Rawat, who had served in Jammu and Kashmir extensively, said if people in any country lose fear of the army, then the country is doomed.

“Adversaries must be afraid of you and at the same time your people must be afraid of you. We are a friendly army, but when we are called to restore law and order, people have to be afraid of us,” he said.

At the same time, he asserted that maximum restraint is being maintained while handling the situation in the Valley.

Gen Rawat said that as the Army chief, it was his duty to lift the morale of the army personnel in Jammu and Kashmir and he did it by awarding Major Gogoi.

“As Army Chief my concern is morale of the Army. That is my job. I am far away from the battle field. I cannot influence the situation there. I can only tell the boys that I am with you. I always tell my people, things will go wrong, but if things have gone wrong and you did not have malafide intent, I am there,” he said.

Gen Rawat said there was a ploy to break the trust between various security forces, and Major Gogoi could not have refused to provide security when polling agents had sought security assistance.

“Tomorrow elections have to be held in Anantnag and similar things may happen. If the army does not respond to call for assistance, then the trust between the people whom we are protecting, police and army will break.

“That is something I cannot allow to happen. This is what the militants want. It can create a divide between the army and other security forces,” he said.

The Army Chief said he had a broad idea about what was going on in the Court of Inquiry into the Gogoi incident, and that is why he went ahead with awarding the Major. “I know what is happening in the COI. It is being finalised. What do we punish him for.”

He said armed forces have the right of self defence and Major Gogoi could have opted for firing at the crowd but he chose not to resort to it.

Farooq Dar, who was tied to the jeep, says he is not a militant or a stone thrower, and was only returning home after casting his vote in the by-election when he was hauled away.

He says he still suffers from physical and mental trauma after being paraded on the jeep’s bonnet with a sign slung around his neck, warning stone pelters of the consequences.

The Army Chief said just four districts of South Kashmir were disturbed and it was incorrect to say that entire Kashmir has gone out of control.

“It will have to be a composite solution. Everybody will have to get involved. Army’s role is to ensure that violence does not take place and the common man who is not indulging in this (violence) is protected,” he said, when asked about the solution to the Kashmir issue.

He also emphasised on the need for taking harsh measures to stop infiltration and counter-terrorism.

The Army Chief also wondered why not much noise was made when young army officer Lt Umar Fayaz was killed by militants when he was on leave.

Asked whether there should be a political initiative to reach out to the Kashmiri people, the Army Chief said it was for the government to decide, adding such initiatives were taken in the past as well.

“Has political initiative not been taken in the past? What was the result, you had Kargil…,” he said.

To a separate question, the Army Chief said he does not anticipate a “limited war” with Pakistan.

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Ayodhya case: Court asks Advani, Uma, Joshi to appear on May 30

Posted on 27 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday 28th May 2017

Lucknow, May 26 (PTI) A special CBI court today directed BJP stalwarts L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti to appear before it on May 30 for framing of charges in the Babri Masjid demolition case in light of the Supreme Court order restoring the serious offence of criminal conspiracy against them.

Special CBI judge S K Yadav also asked BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, VHP’s Vishnu Hari Dalmia and a one-time Hindutva firebrand Sadhvi Ritambara to present themselves before the court in person on that day.

He said no application for adjournment or exemption shall be entertained.

The judge gave the directions after Vimal Kumar Srivastava and Manish Tripathi, representing the six accused, moved an application seeking their exemption from personal appearance for today only on the ground they had prior commitment.

CBI lawyers Lalit Kumar Singh and R K Yadav opposed the plea contending that the court had yesterday indicated that it may frame charges against the accused today and that they should be present on the May 30.

After hearing the arguments, judge Yadav allowed the application for exemption keeping in view the interest of justice on the condition that they should be present before the court on the next date.

The court which is hearing two separate cases, has already fixed May 30 for framing of charges against Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, Mahant Ram Vilas Vedanti, Baikunth Lal Sharma alias Prem Ji, Champat Rai Bansal, Dharma Das and Satish Pradhan in the other matter.

The apex court had on April 19 directed that Advani (89), Joshi (83), Bharti (58) and other accused in the case would be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy in the politically sensitive 1992 Babri Masjid demolition case. It had also ordered day-to-day trial to be concluded in two years.

The top court, which had dubbed the demolition of the medieval-era monument as a “crime” which shook the “secular fabric of the Constitution”, allowed the CBI’s plea on restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the four BJP leaders, including Katiyar (62), besides Sadhvi Ritambara (53) and Dalmia who is in his late 80s.

However, the Supreme Court had said BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who is the Rajasthan Governor and during whose tenure as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh the disputed structure was razed, is entitled to immunity under the Constitution as long as he holds the gubernatorial office.

It had transferred the case against Advani, Joshi, Bharti and three other accused from a Raebareli court to Lucknow for a joint trial in the demolition case.

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Six militants killed as Army foils infiltration bid

Posted on 27 May 2017 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday 28th May 2017

Srinagar, May 27 (PTI) The Army today foiled a major infiltration bid along the Line of Control in Rampur sector of Kashmir, killing six militants.

Troops noticed suspicious movement along the LoC in Rampur sector in the early hours, an Army official said.

He said a firefight broke out between the infiltrators and the Army, resulting in elimination of six ultras so far.

A search operation was going on in the area, the official said.

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