Sunday, October 4, 2020

District Chief in Afghan Province of Helmand killed in blast: Governor's Spokesman

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 4 (ANI/Sputnik):
Naqibullah Roshan, a district chief in the Afghan province of Helmand, has been killed in a blast, Omar Zwak, the spokesman for the provincial governor, said on Sunday.

Roshan, a leading official in Lashkar Gah district, died in the blast. A law enforcem
ent officer also suffered injuries, Zwak confirmed.

Bomb blasts and violent clashes continue to ravage Afghanistan despite the ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul. The negotiations commenced on September 12 in the Qatari capital Doha. (ANI/Sputnik)

Overtaking China in number of COVID-19 cases, carefree Nepalese now worry about possible lockdown

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Kathmandu [Nepal], October 4 (ANI): The coronavirus barometer of the Himalayan Nation has surged high in recent days with the number of cases reaching 86,823 on October 4. Nepal on Sunday overtook China in the number of infections which has reported 85,450 cases amid speculation that the toll could be higher.

Nepal on Sunday alone logged 2,253 new cases with 1,329 cases of recoveries and seven deaths. Out of new cases, Kathmandu Valley alone contributed 1,373 new cases while Lalitpur registered 187 and Bhaktapur 39 new cases of coronavirus.

Despite the increasing number of cases, the buzz in the market and roads in Kathmandu is as normal as before. Social distancing, sanitisation and other basic health protocols issued by the government are flaunted by shoppers who are all in a festive mood to celebrate the upcoming festival of Dashain.

As Kathmandu is the epicentre, contributing over 50 to 70 per cent of daily infection reported around the nation, people are worried about a possible lockdown.

"Lockdown already has crippled our condition. We should think of alternatives like maintaining distance, avoiding crowds, always wear a mask and adopt other safety measures to protect own self which would really work and control the contagion. If the lockdown is imposed again then people would have to embrace difficult situations like that of before, the lockdown will further worsen the situation," Rajesh, one of the shoppers who came to IndraChowk area which is one of the oldest markets in Kathmandu, told ANI.

Out of 12,784 samples tested using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method 17.62 per cent of the samples tested positive for the virus. Capital Kathmandu alone has active cases of 10,663 while Bhaktapur hosts 1,010 and Lalitpur hosts 1,412.

Brimming market and cases

Stock clearance sales are the most common phenomenon in the market with the arrival of the festive season. The 15-day long Dashain festival starts after mid of October followed by the second largest festival of Tihar, which comes in the fortnight of Dashain.

People have flocked to the markets that are relentless and carefree about basic health protocols and safety measures that should be adopted to prevent infection. Despite the brimming market and onset for business shoppers possibly could be the means of increased infection.

"We faced lockdown for a long period of time and it is not the only solution. People themselves should be aware of it when it comes to discussion about social distancing and sanitisation. The crowd in the market has increased. Some people even don't care to wear masks. Steps undertaken by the government on one side and awareness of people on the other side could help in controlling contagion," another shopper Namrata Baniya said.

Nepal recently ended the seven months-long restrictions imposed to contain the virus infection which was dominant in the Southern Plains of the Himalayan Nation, now eventually turning to capital Kathmandu.

Within a month of relaxation of lockdown imposed by the Central government, Chief Administrative Officers of the valley went on for a three-week restriction which was claimed to help prevent infection. All failed as the government could not increase the rate of tests and efficient contact tracing.

Kathmandu Valley- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur Districts in the last one week reported a total of 6,862 cases of coronavirus which has continued to peak every week. Contagion is now being reported amongst political figures along with the public creating immense surprise and worries.

On Saturday four advisors of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli along with a dozen guards stationed at PM residence tested positive for virus creating panic and surprise among people.

Outbound travellers can act as a super spreader

Festive mood gripped people soon after the relaxation of lockdown and restrictions by the Centre. With long haul vehicles in operation, thousands of people are expected to leave hotspot Kathmandu for their home town.

Keeping in mind the risk of further escalation of virus infection throughout the nation, the Ministry of Health and Population on Sunday requested people to celebrate Dashain in current residence rather than travelling out of the valley.

"Dashain is approaching, so it is requested to all to celebrate the festival in the current place of residence. Dashain comes next year too and this year's Dashain it is appealed to be celebrated in incumbent location," said Dr Jageshwor Gautam, Spokesperson for Ministry of Health and Population in a daily press briefing.

Nepal first had confirmed the virus infection in early February after suspecting a Wuhan returnee Nepali student in January of contracting virus. It went into a nationwide lockdown from the end of March. Since then the number of cases has increased significantly.

A total of 27,019 cases have been detected after the three district administration offices in Kathmandu Valley imposed prohibitory orders starting from August 19 midnight.

The nation saw 68,829 infections and 495 deaths since July 22. There were 17,994 cases and 40 COVID-19 related deaths until July 21 when the government decided to end the nationwide lockdown after four months. (ANI)

US condemns arrest of over 80 Hong Kong protesters for 'participating' in National Day protest

US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. 

Washington [US], October 3 (ANI): The United States has condemned the Hong Kong government's arbitrary arrest of more than 80 people for allegedly participating in an "unauthorised" pro-democracy demonstration on China's National Day that was held on Thursday.

According to an official statement by the US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, "We are outraged at the Hong Kong government's arbitrary arrest of more than 80 people on October 1. A stable and prosperous Hong Kong depends on honoring the rights of assembly, free speech, and other fundamental freedoms. By repressing peaceful public opinion, the Hong Kong government once again shows its complicity with the Chinese Communist Party's evisceration of Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms of its people."

She condemned the Hong Kong authorities for their "continued use of law enforcement for political purposes, which is contrary to the preservation of the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights to assembly and free expression".

These arrests again underscore Beijing's complete dismantlement of One Country Two Systems that the PRC promised to uphold, the Spokesperson added.

On October 1, the Hong Kong Free Press reported that the protesters participated in an "unauthorised" pro-democracy demonstration on China's National Day on Thursday and around 20 were fined for alleged violations of COVID-19 social distancing regulations.

Several protesters raised anti-police slogans and "revolution of our times," the second half of a popular protest slogan that begins with "Liberate Hong Kong."

Anti-government protests have been rocking Hong Kong since last year. The enactment of draconian national security law in Hong Kong in June to stop people from protesting has intensified the demonstrations.

The national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1. (ANI)

Donald Trump likely to be discharged tomorrow: White House physicians

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump

Washington [US], October 4 (ANI): The medical team treating US President Donald Trump, who was tested positive for coronavirus, on Sunday said that he had experienced two episodes of blood-oxygen drops during his illness but he is likely to be discharged on October 5.

Speaking at a briefing, White House physician Dr Sean Conley said, "The president experienced two episodes of blood-oxygen drops during his illness, has remained without fever since Friday morning and vital signs are stable."

Dr Brian Garibaldi, head of the Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit and a member of the team treating Trump, said, "The president has completed a second dose of remdesivir, and his kidney and liver functions were normal."

He further stated that Trump could be discharged to the White House as early as Monday.

"Today Trump is doing well. He is up and around. If we see that he is doing well like he is today then we can plan for discharge as early as tomorrow [Monday]," Dr Garibaldi added.

On Thursday (local time), President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were tested positive for coronavirus. (ANI)

French President Emmanuel Macron accepts result of New Caledonia Independence Referendum with 'humility'

French President Emmanuel Macron.

Paris [France], October 4 (ANI/Sputnik): French President Emmanuel Macron has said on Sunday that he accepts with "humility" the result of an independence referendum in the overseas territory of New Caledonia, which has seen voters choose to stay as part of France.

New Caledonia held its second independence referendum in the space of two years on Sunday, and the French Ministry of the Overseas has said that 53.26 percent of votes were against independence.

"I accept these results with humility. I hear the voices of those who want independence, and I want to tell them that only together, with you, will we build the New Caledonia of the future," Macron said in an address.

The French president noted the high turnout of more than 85 percent, adding that a third referendum on New Caledonia's independence could be possible in the future.

"It is up to the members of the [New Caledonian] Congress. The state, true to its word, is ready to organise it [a third referendum] if they wish," Macron remarked.

The Noumea Accord, a de-colonization agreement signed in 1998, established the framework for holding independence referendums in New Caledonia, a series of islands in the South Pacific that has been part of France since 1853.

The island archipelago has its own government, although matters of defense, justice, and foreign affairs are managed by Paris. An independence referendum held in November 2018 saw more than 56 percent vote in favor of prolonging the status quo. (ANI/Sputnik)

Balrampur gang-rape case will be tried in a fast track court: Avnish Awasthi

Avnish Kumar Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Uttar Pradesh (Photo/ANI)

Balrampur (Uttar Pradesh) [India], October 4 (ANI): Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi and Director General of Police (DGP) HC Awasthi on Sunday met the family members of the 22 -year-old who died after being allegedly gang-raped by two men in Balrampur village of Uttar Pradesh and assured them that the case will be tried in a fast track court.

Speaking to media after meeting with members of the family of the victim, Awasthi said that the Director-General of Uttar Pradesh Police (DIG) has directed the Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) of Balrampur to investigate the matter more closely.

"We have assured the family that stringent action will be taken against the guilty. This case will be tried in a fast-track court. If required, action will be taken under the National Security Act (NSA). So far four accused have been arrested - Shahid, Sahil, Sagir, Mohammad Rafiq. The DIG and DSP have been directed to investigate the matter more closely," he said.

Awasthi was accompanied by Prashant Kumar, ADG (Law & Order), Uttar Pradesh visited the family of the victim on the directive of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Dev Ranjan, Balrampur Superintendent of Police, said her family had lodged a complaint of rape against two men. (ANI)

The 22-year-old woman, working in a private firm, failed to return home to Gaisari village in time on September 29 evening according to a complaint filed in the police station in Balrampur. According to Dev Ranjan, Superintendent of Police (SP), Balrampur the woman returned in a rickshaw with glucose drip inserted in her hand. The woman died on her way to the hospital. (ANI)

Quad countries to focus on steps needed to thwart China's aggression in Indo-Pacific

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Tokyo [Japan], October 4 (ANI): Amid the surge in China's illegal activities in the Indo-Pacific region, the upcoming quad meeting of the foreign ministers of India, Japan, Australia and the United States will focus on the next steps to be taken to thwart Beijing's moves.

The meeting takes place at a time when China is showing its willingness to use its military and economic heft to dominate the Indo-Pacific region and Eurasian areas.

In recent months, the stance on China has hardened, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in Wuhan.

On July 23, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivered a remarkable speech where he proposed the formal termination of 40 years of US policy of engagement with Beijing, which had been premised on the hope that China would change from within, as it integrated with the global economy.

"We, the freedom-loving nations of the world, must induce China to change, just as President (Richard) Nixon wanted. We must induce China to change in more creative and assertive ways because Beijing's actions threaten our people and our prosperity. We must start by changing how our people and our partners perceive the Chinese Communist Party," Pompeo observed.

On September 16, US Congressman Tom Tiffany introduced a bill urging Washington to put an end to the "one China" policy, resume formal relations with Taiwan, and begin negotiations on US-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement. In a press release, the Congressman criticised former US President Jimmy Carter for suddenly severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, "without legislative approval".

India-China relations hit a new low with the military stand-off in the Galwan Valley after some PLA soldiers attacked Indian Army personnel resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers.

In recent weeks following Shinzo Abe's resignation from the post of Prime Ministership, Japan has hardened its stance on China.

After he stepped down, Abe visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's war dead. The visits by Japan's leaders to the shrine have previously interpreted as a lack of remorse for Tokyo's militaristic past, which included invasion into China.

Abe's brother, Nobuo Kishi, who is the Defence Minister in Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet, told reporters after his appointment that China's "rapid military build-up is a serious concern".

His appointment has upset China, as Kishi is known for his deep and extensive links with Taiwan.

In the past, Kishi has viewed that Japan should consider arming itself with nuclear weapons if needed due to the changing international security landscape. (ANI)

Salman Khan resumes shooting after over 6 months, makes smashing entry on sets of 'Radhe'

Salman Khan (Image courtesy: Instagram)

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], October 4 (ANI): Showing off his smashing entry on the sets of 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai,', megastar Salman Khan on Sunday shared a picture from the shooting of the upcoming film as he bounces back to work after over six months.

The 54-year-old star posted an intriguing shot from the set of his much-anticipated flick on Instagram and announced that he has resumed shooting. In the photograph, Salman is seen sporting a black denim jacket and matching denim pants.

The actor is seen making his 'Bhai style' entry on a highway, which is filled with smoke. The frame also captures a cheerleader with a leader who enthusiastically welcomes the actor.

The 'Sultan' actor captioned the post as, "Back to shoot after 6 1/2 months ... feels good #Radhe."

With the post hitting the photo-sharing platform, celebrity followers including Bobby Deol and more than 30 thousand fans showered love in the form of likes.

Earlier, sources reported that the shooting for Salman Khan starrer film will kick off on October 2 at ND Studios in Karjat. This 15-day schedule was reported to be followed by a final shoot at Mehboob Studios in Bandra for the patchwork.

Along with adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) laid down by the government, the team has also taken some additional precautions to ensure the safety of the cast and crew.

Apart from Salman and his leading lady, Disha Patani, the Prabhudheva directorial features Randeep Hooda as the antagonist and Jackie Shroff. (ANI)

People in Nepal learn to survive COVID-19 on their own due to govt instability

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Kathmandu [Nepal], October 4 (ANI): The constant rifts in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have taken people to a point where they have learnt to survive the ill-effects of COVID-19 on their own, reports Mizzima.

"Constant rifts in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) due to lack of coordination between the party organisation and government have complicated matters to a point where the people have learnt to survive the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their own, without recourse to any government assistance," Maung Mya Thar said in an article in Mizzima.

The scribe went on to say that in the last two years, no step was taken to "cement political stability" and address the demands of the people.

"The tragedy is that the Oli-led government has failed to bring about the requisite policy and governance changes. This has been compounded by widespread corruption in government and the frequent transfer of officials and bureaucrats on the basis of their political loyalty has wrecked the administrative system," Thar wrote.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, it was projected (August 2020) that the country's economy would grow at 2.27 per cent this fiscal year and a massive deceleration from the government's projected 8.5 per cent target. But in contrast, Nepal's economy has been hit and unemployment has also increased.

"The World Bank's country report for Nepal (12 April 2020) predicts that economic growth is expected to fall in Nepal to a range between 1.5 and 2.8 per cent in FY2020 reflecting lower remittances, trade and tourism, and broader disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. A prolonged outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to affect growth significantly with a further deceleration or contraction in services and industrial production," the scribe wrote.

The Nepal government had announced a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country which has affected industrial and agricultural production resulting in a more than a 25 percentage point decline in capacity utilisation of the industry by early June 2020 and a 64.7 per cent (y/y) drop in credit provision to the private sector during the two-month lockdown period.

"A domestic outbreak of COVID-19 in May 2020 prolonged the lockdown and imposed substantial human and further economic costs. Growth in the service sector is now estimated at 1 per cent, the lowest since FY2002, while growth in the industrial sector is estimated at 3.2 per cent, a four-year low, due to the deceleration in overall growth," Thar added.

The pandemic also brought about a major impact to the tourism sector in the country as well "with arrivals from China dropping by around 70 per cent in February 2020 and a full stop to the issuance of visitor visas taking effect in early March 2020, which has effectively dropped tourist arrivals to zero".

"The government should have by now ended the political uncertainty and focused on combating COVID-19. But party leaders have invested more time and energy to settle internal rifts than tackle the pandemic," the scribe wrote.

"What China has done is to take advantage of the inadequacy of government delivery systems for essentials and medicines and tapped the commodity shortage crisis by opening two of its land border crossings with Nepal to transport medical equipment and other essentials to Nepal, "Thar added.

The current tussle within the NCP is "at the heart" of Nepal's ongoing crisis but this is not the first time since the Himalayan Nation's government has seen trouble due to internal party conflict.

"This is not the first time in Nepal's political history that a government has been in trouble because of inner-party conflict. All governments, after the restoration of democracy in 1990, have collapsed due to rifts in the party...The challenge for Nepal today, therefore, is two-fold; mis-governance and instability. Both are recipes for disaster. It is hoped that Nepal will see the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later," Thar wrote. (ANI)

Foreign diplomats praise Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina for her efforts to change course of national progress

Diplomats speaking at Awami League's international Affairs Sub Committee.

Dhaka [Bangladesh], October 4 (ANI): The diplomats in Bangladesh have praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her "able and prudent" leadership and tireless efforts in changing the course of national progress, braving a sea of challenges and setbacks along her way.

Speaking during a webinar organised by Awami League's international Affairs Sub-Committee on Saturday, the diplomats reiterated their commitments to help Sheikh Hasina in fulfilment of Vision 2041, set out by the Bangladesh Prime Minister.

Impressed by the overwhelming course of development under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the diplomats and heads of foreign missions in Dhaka came up with the remarks for the Bangladesh Prime Minister terming her as a champion of human security.

Referring to the message sent by Prime Minister, Bishwadip Dey, acting Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, said PM Modi has lauded the social-economic transformation that Bangladesh has achieved in recent years.

"Bangladesh has consistently grown at a rate of 7 per cent and despite the pandemic, has logged the growth rate of 5.2 per cent in the last fiscal year. The progress achieved by Bangladesh in social indicators is also remarkable," he said.

"India is a committed development partner of Bangladesh and we look forward to building a shared and prosperous future on the foundation of our shared history, culture and our deep people to people linkages," said the Indian envoy.

Terming Sheikh Hasina as a champion of human security, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki said the Bangladesh Prime Minister has been trying to build a society free from hunger and poverty.

Due to her respect for human rights and offering of humanitarian assistances, giving protection to people, she has become a real champion of human security, he added.

In a tribute to her leadership in taking the bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Japan to a new dimension, Ito Naoki referred to the launching of Big B (The Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt) initiative following exchange of visits between the Premiers which laid the foundation for achieving Vision 2041 that includes infrastructure building, including Dhaka Metro rail.

"Japan will continue to provide assistance so that Bangladesh would achieve this dream Vision 2021. When Sheikh Hasina goes to Japan on her sixth visit, she will have the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate a cherry blossom in spring," Naoki added.

European Union Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink appreciated Sheikh Hasina's intervention during the recently held United Nations General Assembly and other sideline events saying she has expressed some of the major priorities and values that Bangladesh has been defending on the international scene.

While a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crises lies with Myanmar, the EU along with the UK, the USA, UNHCR and other partners involved in this issue will organise an international conference to underscore continued commitment to the humanitarian assistance and response for the Rohingyas and the host community, she added.

UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo said that anyone who meets the Bangladesh Prime Minister and also has the opportunity to listen to her would be struck by her "incredibly deep knowledge" of the country.

She praised the Prime Minister's "tireless efforts" to move the country forward and said she is a "role model" for her incredible hard work, discipline and determination.

Extending his wishes to Sheikh Hasina on her birthday (September 28), Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa O Turan said, Bangladesh PM has an outstanding political career full of major achievements despite the struggles she had to go through.

"She has become a role model for women, not only in her country but also for others around the world," he said.

On her able leadership, the Turkish diplomat said Bangladesh has become a model for sustainable and inclusive development.

"Under Sheikh Hasina's leadership, Turkey, as a partner, has been collaborating with Bangladesh on many fields and in the years to come we hope to develop further this close ties and will continue to stand by her country in achieving the goals set by Bongobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his daughter Sheikh Hasina," the diplomat said.

Charge d'affaires at the UAE Embassy in Dhaka Abdulla Ali Al-Hamoudi credited the leadership of Hasina for the current march forward of Bangladesh at a stable pace while pinning hope that the Bangladesh Prime Minister would be able to turn her country into 'Sonar Bangla'.

The webinar was moderated by PM's special assistant Barrister Shah Ali Farhad with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen as the chief guest.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam, Chairman, International Affairs Sub-Committee, Bangladesh Awami League Ambassador Muhammad Zamir and Secretary of International Affairs Committee Dr Shammi Ahmed, among others, spoke at the event. (ANI)

Ethnic Mongolians protest against new educational policy of China, which endangers their language, culture

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Beijing [China], October 4 (ANI): Ethnic Mongolians in China's Inner Mongolia region have come out in protest against a new educational policy under which Inner Mongolia students will be taking classes in language, history and politics entirely in the Chinese language. They believe it endangers the Mongolian language and attempts to assimilate all ethnic minorities in a united "Chinese nation".

Introduced on September 1 by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the new policy plan states that from 2022 onwards, Inner Mongolia students will be taking classes in language, history and politics entirely in the Chinese language. This policy has worried protesters, who believe that it will lead to the diminishing of Mongolian culture and language in the region,

According to a report by Mizzima, the latest move by the CCP to 'Hanize' Inner Mongolia is part of the drive by the state to unify the entire country ethnically and ensure that China has a single language and culture.

Even though nearly 80 per cent of the population in Inner Mongolia is Han Chinese, Inner Mongolia also contains around 4.2 million ethnic Mongols, who account for nearly 70 per cent of the total ethnic Mongol population of China.

Chen further mentioned an April 2019 Report of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), titled "Sinification of China" by Jyrkio Kallio, which asserted that "The Communist Party of China is obsessed with national unity. According to the traditional and still largely prevailing understanding of history in China, without unity, there would be chaos, as was always the case during periods of disunity."

Chinese scholars often state that the minorities in the country have historically remained on the periphery and therefore require to be unified with the Chinese nation, to justify the use of this process.

"The historical narrative of China as perceived by the CCP is that of the country always has been a single, unified nation. The reality in fact is quite different when it comes to regions/provinces like Xinjiang, which literally means "new frontier", Chen's article in Mizzima said.

Muslim Uighurs in China are forbidden to practice their religion and are sent to re-education camps for the slightest violation of rules. According to a White Paper issued by the State Council of China, which aimed to defend the training programme, noted that the regional Xinjiang government provided vocational training to averagely 1.29 million urban and rural workers every year from 2014 to 2019.

Out of these workers, around 451,400 occupants of the camps came from southern Xinjiang - an area it said had struggled with extreme poverty, poor educational access, and lack of job skills because the residents were influenced by "extremist thoughts".

China has received widespread criticism from the world over for its rigorous persecution of Uighurs.

Recently, over 300 people had gathered at the Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris to protest against the human rights violations in China and join the global resistance against the Chinese Communist Party. (ANI)

China formally confirms death of Uyghur man who was held in Xinjiang camp

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London [UK], October 4 (ANI): As the worldwide condemnation against China over human rights violation grows, Beijing has confirmed to the United Nations the death of a Uyghur man whose family says that he was held in the Xinjiang internment camp since 2017, The Guardian reported.

In April 2019, Abdulghafur Hapiz's disappearance was registered with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). However, China didn't respond to any of the formal enquiries until this month.

When it did respond, in a document seen by The Guardian, it told WGEID that the retired driver from Kashgar had died almost two years ago, on November 3 in 2018 of "severe pneumonia and tuberculosis".

"I don't believe it," his daughter, Fatimah Abdulghafur, told The Guardian. "If he died of anything it would have been diabetes."

"I know my father's health and I've been talking about his health issues. He had a (tuberculosis) shot," she added.

She believes that her father was sent to the Xinjiang camp in March 2017.

Abdulghafur, a poet and activist residing in Australia, was further quoted as saying that her father had left her a voice message on WeChat: "'I have something urgent to tell you please call me'."

"However, when I called him back he wasn't there..."I was frantically looking for my father, when he was already gone. It's also really sad because I couldn't speak to him before his death," she said while adding that the authorities gave her no information about her father's burial or even the location of his body.

With China finally officially confirming the death of her father, Abdulghafur told The Guardian that this will bring hope and potentially legal recourse.

"This is an official letter from the government given to the UN, so I can take this letter to maybe an international court to say this is my evidence, and let the Chinese government show their evidence."

"To me it's a major personal success. I'm not sure who can help me but I'm searching."

Meanwhile, upon the WGEID enquiring about Abdulghafur's mother and two younger siblings, who are also missing, Abdulghafur said authorities reported back that her 63-year-old mother was "leading a social, normal life".

"I haven't been able to speak to her at all. That's another lie," she said. "She is at home, I'm sure of it. But she's not living a normal life. I think she is under house arrest."

Abdulghafur had applied anonymously to the WGEID to probe into her family's mysterious disappearance. She further highlighted that when her sister living in Turkey had called up the Chinese Embassy in Istanbul, she was harassed and intimidated and made to give her personal details.

China put a million or more Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons in Xinjiang over the last three years, according to reports in US media.

However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training.

Uyghur activists and human rights groups have countered that many of those held are people with advanced degrees and business owners who are influential in their communities and have no need for any special education.

People in the internment camps said they are subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, and denial of food and medicine, and have been prohibited from practising their religion or speaking their language.

Now, as Beijing denies these accounts, it also refuses to allow independent inspections into the regions, at the same time, which further fuels reports related to China's atrocities on the minority Muslims.

"As long as he stays in power it will continue, and the world will watch all the Uighur people disappear one by one," said Abdulghafur.

"They are fully armed to either completely get rid of us or completely make us one of them, like complete assimilation. There is no in-between pathway," she added. (ANI)

Israeli Police detains nearly 40 people during illegal anti-govt protests in Tel Aviv

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Tel Aviv [Israel], October 4 (ANI/Sputnik): The Israeli police have detained 38 protesters during an illegal anti-government rally in Tel Aviv, the police press service said on Sunday.

Israel has been gripped by anti-government demonstrations since July, with citizens calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down, citing public dissatisfaction with the authorities' response to COVID-19 and consequences of the pandemic, primarily the ongoing economic crisis. The tensions have been exacerbated by the second infection-related lockdown introduced on September 18.

"During the demonstrations on Saturday night, the police detained 38 people involved in disturbing public order in the Tel Aviv area," the police said in a statement.

Israeli media reported earlier that thousands of people protested against the government across Israel on Saturday. Mounted police units were deployed in Tel Aviv, where protesters clashed with police, who reportedly punched some protesters.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was lightly injured during clashes.

At the end of last month, fresh coronavirus restrictions came into force in Israel, building upon the new lockdown introduced on September 18. The new lockdown measures will be in force until October 14, with a possibility of extension.

Last week, Israel's Knesset approved an amendment to the coronavirus law allowing to limit protests: now, no more than 20 people, who live within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of a rally scene can participate in the demonstration. (ANI/Sputnik)

Reports emerge of ISI's involvement in car bomb explosion in Afghanistan's Nangarhar

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Kabul [Afghanistan], October 4 (ANI): Reports have emerged of the ISI's involvement in the car bomb explosion in Nangarhar even as the Afghan govt accused the Taliban and other terrorist groups of continuing crimes against the people of Afghanistan.

"The Taliban and other terrorist groups in collusion with them continue their terrorist activities and, like today's terrorist attack in Nangarhar, kill civilians every day and destroy public infrastructures," according to a Presidential Palace statement reported by Tolo News.

Ahmad Shuja, DG for international affairs & regional cooperation, Office of the National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan tweeted, "Images of dead and injured children in Taliban's car bomb in Nangarhar are too gruesome to share, but the toll today is a stark reminder of the real cost of the Taliban's daily acts of terrorism. The group is using the lives of civilians to bargain for more power. Unconscionable."

He added, "Time for Taliban to admit that this is a morally bankrupt way to build a so-called Islamic government. You are using terrorism to reinstate tyranny. Where's the jihad in that?"

In reply, one user said, "Only because of Pakistan we are facing these days."

One user also said that Pakistan is playing a dangerous game in Afghanistan. "Days after @DrabdullahCE visited #Pakistan & was assured that Pak will use its influence over #Taliban to ensure reduction in violence, a car-bomb today in Nangarhar province killed at least 15 people & wounded 34 others. Pakistan is playing a dangerous game in Afghanistan," the user wrote.

At least 15 people were killed and more than 30 wounded in a car bomb explosion near the district governor's compound in Ghanikhil district in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Saturday afternoon, TOLO news reported.

Abdullah Orakzai, the key leader of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province's (ISKP), who was responsible for the recent Jalalabad prison attack, was killed in an operation by Afghan forces, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) announced in August.

Assadullah, a Pakistan-origin terrorist operating in Afghanistan as the head of intelligence for the ISIS Khorasan branch, was killed in an operation by Afghan security forces early this month. (ANI)

Kannada film industry drugs probe: 5 pubs searched in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], October 4 (ANI): Five pubs were searched in Bengaluru on Saturday night in connection with an ongoing probe into the usage of drugs in the Kannada film industry, said Joint Commissioner of Police Sandeep Patil.

Earlier, Kannada actor Ragini Dwivedi was arrested for her alleged involvement in a drug case. The case was initiated a few weeks ago on the basis of a complaint by Kannada filmmaker Indrajit Lankesh registered with the Central Crime Branch (CCB). Lankesh had earlier claimed that some budding actors consumed banned substances.

Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakarthat had said that celebrities are ambassadors of art and culture and if they fall prey to such vices, it will mislead the people who look up to them. (ANI)

City of Ganja under fire by Armenian armed forces: Azerbaijani Defence Ministry

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Moscow [Russia], October 4 (ANI/Sputnik): The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said on Sunday that the city of Ganja has come under fire by the Armenian military.

"Urgent! The Azerbaijan city of Ganja has come under fire by the Armenian armed forces," the ministry wrote on Twitter.

It added that the Aze
rbaijani cities of Terter and Horadiz were also shelled by the Armenian army.

"Currently, the Armenian armed forces are inflicting rocket strikes on the Terter city and Horadiz city of the Fizuli region from the territory of Khankendi. The Azerbaijan Army is taking adequate retaliatory measures against the enemy," the ministry told Sputnik.

Earlier in the day, Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that Baku was shelling civilian targets in the capital of the unrecognised republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert.

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out a week ago, with the two sides accusing each other of initiating attacks against civilian population points in the breakaway region. (ANI/Sputnik)

Trump aide Nick Luna tests COVID-19 positive

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Washington [US], October 4 (ANI/Sputnik): US President Donald Trump's personal attendant, Nick Luna, has tested positive for COVID-19, ABC News reported on Sunday, citing informed sources.

Luna is said to have accompanied Trump on most of his recent travels, including a trip that included top White House aide Hope Hicks, whose COVID-19 diagnosis prompted the test that confirmed the US President had the virus.

According to the broadcaster, Luna's diagnosis threatens with further implications, as he is married to Cassidy Dumbauld, who serves as an assistant to Jared Kushner, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law.

Trump announced on Thursday night that he and his wife Melania tested positive for COVID-19. The White House said that both were experiencing mild symptoms.

The next day, the US leader arrived at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center, where he would work from the hospital's offices over the next several days. According to the White House physician, the President is doing "very well" and is responding positively to treatment.

In a four-minute video recorded at the Walter Reed medical center and released on Twitter on Saturday, Trump said he was feeling "much better" and was going to be back soon. (ANI/Sputnik)

Imran Khan turns to recommend books to youth as Pakistan bears brunt of human rights violations

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan], October 4 (ANI): As Pakistan bears the brunt of human rights violations in the country against journalists, in Balochistan and the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region, Prime Minister Imran Khan has now turned to recommend books to the youth of the nation.

According to The News, for the month of October, Khan recommended Elif Shafak's "The Forty Rules of Love" for the youth of Pakistan in an attempt to "bring them close" to Islam.

"This October I suggest our youth to read "The Forty Rules of Love" by Elif Shafak. An inspirational book about divine love, Sufism, Rumi & his Murshid Shams Tabriz. I read it a few years back and was deeply inspired," Khan captioned his post where he shared the photograph of the book on Instagram.

In May, in the wake of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Khan recommended that the youth read the famous book 'Lost Islamic History'.

"A great read for our youth during lockdown days. An excellent brief history of the driving force that made Islamic civilisation the greatest of its time and then the factors behind its decline," he tweeted.

The United Nations Human Rights Office on Tuesday expressed its concern over the increasing instances of threats of violence against journalists and human rights activists in Pakistan.

"We have followed with increasing concern numerous instances of incitement to violence - online and offline - against journalists and human rights defenders in Pakistan, in particular against women and minorities. Especially worrying are accusations of blasphemy - which can put accused individuals at imminent risk of violence," said a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville in a briefing.

With Regard to the GB region, Pakistan is also planning to hold elections to the so-called Gilgit Baltistan legislative assembly on November 15.

India had said that any action by Islamabad to alter the status of the military occupied so-called 'Gilgit-Baltistan' has no legal basis whatsoever and is totally ab-initio. (ANI)

India and China to hold Corps Commander-level talks on October 12

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New Delhi [India], October 4 (ANI): India and China will hold Corps Commander-level talks on October 12 in the Eastern Ladakh sector to address the ongoing military standoff between the two countries, sources said on Sunday.

"India and China to hold Corps Commander-level talks on October 12 in the Eastern Ladakh sector to address the ongoing military standoff between the two countries. So far, the two sides have held six rounds of Corps Commander-level talks," the source said.

The sixth Corps Commander-level meeting between India and China on the issue of Ladakh stand-off concluded on September 21 after 13 hours of marathon talks.

The Corps Commanders of the two sides had met after more than a month as both sides had been engaged in at least three firing incidents that have taken place along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The Corps Commanders met at the Moldo hut opposite Chushul on the Indian side. (ANI)

HDFC Bank's Ravi Santhanam in Forbes list of World's Most Influential CMOs

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] October 4 (ANI/BusinessWire India): Ravi Santhanam, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), HDFC Bank has been recognized in the Forbes list of 'The World's Most Influential CMOs'.

Ranked at Number 39, he is the only CMO of an Indian company to be featured in the illustrious list which includes marketing heads of Apple, BMW, Lego, Adobe, Microsoft, P&G among others.

This is the eighth edition of this annual list released by Forbes with research partners Sprinklr and LinkedIn. This year, 427 global CMOs were eligible for consideration. It is generated using data from news reports, websites, and social networks to measure influence.

"Santhanam is a marketing leader who prioritizes personalized and relevant customer experience and believes that machine learning and data science are critical tools for marketers; he expressed so in a recent blog. And he led the Indian bank's response to the coronavirus outbreak, launching the #HDFCBankSafetyGrid campaign to help people keep a safe distance in public. He also led the creation of the inspirational "Hum Haar Nahi Maanenge" music video about overcoming adversity, featuring Indian musical talent," wrote Forbes in its editorial.

Click here to watch Ravi Santhanam talk about the recognition by Forbes:

"I am humbled to be a part of Forbes' list of influential CMOs. This recognition is a reflection of how the bank came together during an unprecedented situation to launch several unique initiatives. When the lockdown was declared we were determined to play our part, as a socially responsible corporate citizen, in ensuring the health and safety of our fellow citizens. We launched #HDFCBankSafetyGrid campaign when social distancing was the need of the hour to fight Covid-19," said Santhanam.

"Similarly, #HumHaarNahiMaanenge was a clarion call to spread hope, positivity, and motivation. None of this would have been possible without the unstinted support from every part of the bank and I'm honoured to accept this recognition on their behalf," he added.

HDFC Bank has been adjudged India's Most Valuable Brand for seven consecutive years by WPP group company Millward Brown. HDFC Bank's marketing campaigns, which have stood out for their social messaging, have also received accolades in the recent past.

To drive awareness on the need for blood donation, the bank launched the campaign #StopMithani as part of its Annual Blood Donation Drive.

This unique campaign was recognized globally at Cannes Lions 2019. It was also awarded at the Spikes 2019 Awards and the APAC Effies 2019 as well as the Indian Effies 2019.

This story is provided by BusinessWire India. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/BusinessWire India)

US concerned over Cambodian naval base hosting Chinese military assets amid Beijing-backed expansion

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Phnom Penh [Cambodia], October 4 (ANI): Preparations for a China-backed expansion at Cambodia Ream Naval Base are underway which the US fears would be transformed into hosting Chinese military assets.

Nikkei Asia, quoting a Cambodian Navy official, reported that the Chinese government was "supporting a project" to expand the port and develop a ship repair facility at the base on the Gulf of Thailand.

According to a study published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, based on satellite image collected on October 1, the Cambodian government has demolished a U.S.-built facility at the country's Ream Naval Base.

"The demolition occurred sometime after September 5 -- likely around September 10-- though imagery of sufficient resolution to confirm was not available at that time. The building was one of several U.S.-funded facilities on the base which were reportedly to be relocated after Cambodia struck a secret deal to grant China access to Ream," reported the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. The AMTI, designed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is a source for information, analysis and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia.

It added, "The recent demolition seems to confirm that changes are underway at the naval base and again raises questions about rumoured Chinese access."

"The report cited unnamed U.S. officials who had seen an early draft of the agreement. It reportedly allowed access for Chinese troops, weapons, and ships for 30 years with an automatic renewal every 10 years thereafter," the CSIS reported further.

Citing The Wall Street Journal, in July 2019, Cambodia and China had "signed a secret agreement" it claimed that the base gives Beijing access to Ream in return for the construction of new infrastructure.

Nikkei Asia, quoting Vann Bunlieng, a three-star vice-admiral, deputy commander and chief of the navy general staff said that the plans include " include dredging work to deepen the waters surrounding the base, which can currently only accommodate smaller vessels".

"The Chinese government helps us to build a port and repair facility for our ships," Bunlieng said adding that the new facilities will save Cambodia money on ship repair should it acquire larger vessels.

"The building demolished last month was the Tactical Headquarters of the National Committee for Maritime Security. Officially inaugurated in 2012, it was renovated and built by the United States and equipped by Australia," the CSIS reported further.

It was after the Wall Street Journal piece that the Cambodian officials "denied" the existence of a deal. Prime Minister Hun Sen had reportedly said that it was "the worst-ever made-up news against Cambodia" further citing the constitution of Cambodia "which forbids the hosting of foreign military bases in the country".

The CSIS reported that large tracts of land all around Ream Naval Base have been leased by Chinese companies, some with connections to Beijing, for resort development.

"Satellite imagery shows that the company began reclaiming land about three miles north of the base in February. It has so far created about 100 acres of new landfill for an unknown purpose," the study reported.

It added, "The dredging, which started just four days after that project was announced, is presumably part of the resort development--perhaps the beginning of port infrastructure."

According to Nikkei Asia, the expansion project was to expand a "navy military base". It included "adding 5,000 tons of dry dock and 1,500 tons of side-launching mechanical slipway".

"The work would also outfit the quay, build a repair workshop and add 7.4 hectares of reclaimed land. The current status of that agreement is unclear," it reported further.

The land reclamation work which covers close to 40 hectares of Ream Bay "has been contracted to" China Harbour -- a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, which was sanctioned by the US for building islands in the South China Sea.

John Blaxland, Professor for International Security and Intel Studies, said that there was a suspected deal between Beijing and Phnom Penh amid the changes underway at the Ream Naval Base.

"Suspected Secret PRC deal with Cambodia as Changes Underway at Cambodia's Ream Naval Base," he tweeted and shared the link of the study.

"The Cambodian government has demolished a U.S.-built facility at Ream Naval Base in a move likely to reignite concerns that Chinese forces will soon gain access to the base," Greg Poling, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia and Director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative tweeted.

He further wrote, "In response to our recent report, Cambodian Adm. Vann Bunlieng says China is helping "build a port and repair facility for our ships" but denies PLA will get access to Ream. The spin keeps changing." (ANI)

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