Thursday, October 8, 2020

Vijay Mallya has exhausted all options against extradition; in touch with the UK to bring him back: MEA

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya has exhausted all appeals against his extradition orders and the Indian government is in constant touch with its United Kingdom counterpart to bring him back, the Ministry of External Affairs said Thursday.

"After the dismissal of Vijay Mallya's appeal against (the) extradition orders, he tried to appeal to (the) Supreme Court, which rejected it too," said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava at a weekly briefing on Thursday.

He added, "We're in constant touch with the UK government. We have been told a legal matter has to be resolved, without which he can't be extradited."

On Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs had submitted before the Supreme Court that the extradition of fugitive businessman Mallya was ordered by the highest court of the United Kingdom but it did not come into effect so far.

The central government said that it is not aware of the "secret" ongoing proceedings in the UK, which is delaying Mallya's extradition.

The court has now deferred the hearing of the case to November 2. (ANI)

India will always support our Afghan sisters and brothers in their quest for peace: PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi post his interaction with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation said that India will always support "our Afghan sisters and brothers" in their quest for peace amid the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha.

The Prime Minister recalled the conversation between him and Abdullah earlier on Thursday morning as productive and said that it was based on the "various aspects" of the "strong India-Afghanistan friendship".

"Happy to have met you my friend, @DrabdullahCE. We had productive talks on various aspects of the strong India-Afghanistan friendship. India will always support our Afghan sisters and brothers in their quest for peace and in meeting their developmental aspirations," PM Modi wrote on Twitter.

Abdullah also wrote about the meeting saying that he spoke to PM Modi on the peace process in Afghanistan and the talks in Doha.

"Pleased to meet HE (His Excellency) Narendra Modi the Prime Minister of Republic of #India. In our friendly discussion we took stock of the latest developments on the #AfghanPeaceProcess, the talks in Doha, & India's support for the peace efforts," he wrote.

He further wrote that the Prime Minister assured him of India's "continued support" in the peace process.

"PM assured me of India's continued support for the peace process, & Afghanistan. I thanked him & the people of India for the invitation, & generous hospitality. I also thanked India for its principled position on the Afghan Peace Process," Abdullah added.

This is the first visit of Abdullah to India after the formation of a new government in Afghanistan.

His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha. (ANI)

Dates for India-US 2+2 meet yet to be decided: MEA

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): The "process of working out mutually convenient dates" for a two-plus-two meeting between India and the US, which is scheduled for later this year, is on, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday.

However, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, at the weekly briefing here, did not comment on the agenda of the meeting.

Earlier in September, the United States and India held bilateral inter-sessional meetings wherein they agreed to further strengthen consultation through US-India-Australia-Japan Quadrilateral consultations.

During the virtual discussion, the US highlighted the importance of India's status as a major defence partner, growing military-to-military cooperation, and other defence priorities. (ANI)

Centre approves Rs 4 crore for upgrading soil testing labs in Jammu & Kashmir

Syed Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, Director, Agriculture Kashmir (Photo/ANI)

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], October 8 (ANI): Aiming at boosting the agriculture sector and the farmers' income in Jammu and Kashmir, the central government sanctioned Rs 4 crore to upgrade soil testing labs in the valley.

Thanking the Union government, Syed Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, Director, Agriculture Kashmir, said that the funding will strengthen the soil testing facility in the newly formed union territory (UT).

"This grant will strengthen our mission of sustainable agriculture," Andrabi said.

Mohamad Yaqoob, Assistant Agriculture Chemist in one of the 10 soil testing labs across the UT, said the grant will help in purchasing more and better equipment.

"We have 10 soil testing labs in Jammu and Kashmir, and if each lab gets Rs 40 lakh, then we'll be able to purchase more sophisticated equipment that will help with timely testing, and subsequently doubling the farmer's income," he said.

Local resident also welcomed the move of the Union government and said that the grant will help in boosting the agriculture sector in the state.

"Upgradation of soil testing labs in Jammu and Kashmir will help farmers to determine which nutrients are missing in their soil. Now it's up to the farmers to utilise these facilities for their own benefit," said Shakoor Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar. (ANI)

India 'among lead countries' facilitating peace restoration in Afghanistan: Abdullah Abdullah

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan at the ISDA.

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Afghanistan leader and Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation, Dr Abdullah Abdullah on Thursday said that India has been amongst the countries that helped Afghan in its journey towards peace and stability.

"In our journey in the past two decades, many countries have helped us, contributed and made sacrifices alongside our own people. India has been amongst those lead countries in this regard," Abdullah said in his address to the ''Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses' (IDSA) in the national capital today.

The chief negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace process further said that there is a chance to "look at the light at the end of the tunnel" if everyone "works towards restoring peace, stability" of Afghanistan.

"We know that now we have a chance to look at the future -- a future of peace. Afghanistan was peaceful. Despite the tensions, we enjoyed a higher degree of connectivity, trade, transit, people to people relation in all types of exchanges. We might have been on the trail for tourism but no one had to worry about terrorism at that time," he added.

Things soon changed, he said when his country was invaded by the Taliban 40 years ago: "We now have a chance to rebuild the new region, deeper ties and wider connectivity if we can work towards restoring peace, stability of Afghanistan."

Abdullah earlier today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and re-affirmed the long-term commitment to further deepen India-Afghan ties.

This is the first visit of Abdullah to India after the formation of a new government in Afghanistan.

His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha. (ANI)

Union Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan passes away

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Union Minister and founder of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan passed away on Thursday following illness.

He was 74. Chirag Paswan, MP, paid condolences to his father.

"Papa, you are no more in this world now but I know that wherever you are, you 
are with me. Miss you Papa," Chirag Paswan said in a tweet.

Ram Vilas Paswan was Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in the Narendra Modi government. He was also a minister in the previous NDA government.

He had undergone heart surgery in a Delhi hospital.

Paswan was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977 on a Janata Party ticket from Hajipur in Bihar. (ANI)

7 Indians kidnapped in Tripoli safe, India in touch with Libya Govt for their safe return

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): The government has confirmed that seven Indian nationals were kidnapped in Libya last month and that it is working to free them.

The seven Indian nationals, hailing from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, were kidnapped (at a place called Asshwerif.. doubtful) in Libya on September 14. They were working at a construction and oil field supplies company and were kidnapped on their way to the Tripoli airport to catch a flight to India.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson on Thursday said that kidnapped workers are safe and the Indian mission in Tunisia is in touch with the Libyan government for efforts to free them.

"Our Embassy in Tunisia, which handles matters relating to the welfare of Indian nationals in Libya, has reached out to the Libyan government authorities concerned, as also the international organisations present there, to seek their help in rescuing the Indian nationals. The employer has been contacted by the kidnappers and shown photographs as proof that the Indian nationals were safe and keeping well," MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in his weekly press conference.

"The government is in touch with their family members and would like to assure them that we are making all possible efforts, in consultation and coordination with Libyan authorities and the employer, to trace our nationals and secure their release from captivity at the earliest," he said.

In September 2015, an advisory had been issued for Indian nationals to avoid travelling to Libya in view of the security situation there.

Later, in May 2016, the Government imposed a complete travel ban irrespective of the purpose in view of the much-deteriorated security situation. This travel ban is still in force. (ANI)

India slams Pakistan for failing to address core issues in Kulbhushan case

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava


New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): India on Thursday once again hit out at Pakistan for failing to provide unimpeded, unconditional access to Kulbhushan Jadhav saying that Pakistan has failed to address the core issues in the case.

Earlier, Pakistan rejected India's demand that an Indian lawyer or 
a Queen's counsel be appointed for Jadhav to ensure a free and fair trial, whereas the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had in July 2019 ruled that Pakistan must undertake an "effective review and reconsideration" in the Jadhav case and also grant consular access to India

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava in his weekly media briefing today said "Pakistan has failed to respond on the core issues pertaining to the (Kulbhushan Jadhav) case. The core issues are the provision of all documents related to this case and providing unimpeded, unconditional and unhindered counselor access to Kulbhushan Jadhav"

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson further added "These issues have to be addressed if we have to have an effective review & reconsideration, as ordered by the International Court of Justice. Pakistan must show its intention to deliver on these issues".

Pakistan claims that Jadhav was arrested from Balochistan in 2016 on charges of espionage. India has rejected Pakistan's allegations and said he was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar. In early 2017, a Pakistani military court sentenced him to death.

The ICJ had upheld India's claim that Pakistan has committed an egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations on several counts. (ANI)

PM Modi assures Abdullah Abdullah of India's commitment to sustainable peace in Afghanistan

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava speaking to the Media on Thursday. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, on Thursday, of India's commitment to sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Abdullah, the chief peace negotiator met Modi at his official residence to brief him on the peace process and the talks currently being held by the Afghan government and the Taliban at Doha in Qatar, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

"The Prime Minister reiterated our commitment to sustainable peace in Afghanistan and welcomed efforts to a permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan," the ministry's spokesperson Anurag Shrivastava said at the weekly briefing here.

He added that during the meeting with Prime Minister Modi, the chief negotiator appreciated India's development commitment of USD 3 billion "under which projects have been undertaken to benefit the Afghans".

"During the meeting, Prime Minister reaffirmed India's long term commitment to further deepening the historical ties between India and Afghanistan," he added.

Abdullah also tweeted after his visit with Modi.

"Pleased to meet HE Narendra Modi @narendramodi, the Prime Minister of Republic of #India. In our friendly discussion we took stock of the latest developments on the #AfghanPeaceProcess, the talks in Doha, & India's support for the peace efforts," Abdullah said on Twitter.

"HE PM assured me of India's continued support for the peace process, & Afghanistan. I thanked him & the people of India for the invitation, & generous hospitality. I also thanked India for its principled position on the #AfghanPeaceProcess," he said.

On Wednesday, Abdullah, held extensive talks with national security advisor Ajit Doval.
This is the first visit of Abdullah to India after the formation of a new government in Afghanistan. His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha. (ANI)

Photo-sharing app Instagram brings new change to Threads application

Representative Image

Washington [US], October 8 (ANI): Photo-sharing application Instagram on Wednesday (local time) rolled out an update to the Threads application.

According to The Verge, the new update allows users to use the Threads application to message any Instagram user.

The application earlier only allowed user
s to message the users added to their close friends' list. (ANI)

17.2 lakh Indians repatriated through different modes under Vande Bharat Mission: MEA

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): As many as 17.2 lakh Indians have been repatriated through different modes under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM), said the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday.

"As of October 7, 17.2 lakh Indians have been repatriated through different modes under this Vande Bharat Mission (VBM). The modes include, Air India, Air India-Express, Private and foreign carriers, chartered flights, naval ships and land-border crossing," Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson of the External Affairs said at the weekly briefing.

He added, "Under Phase-VII of VBM -- which is presently operational since October 1 -- 873 international flights have been scheduled from 25 countries to be operated during the course of this month. These include flights from 14 different countries with which India has a bilateral air bubble arrangement."

"The air bubble arrangements have been working satisfactory and adding to the capacity. These flights -- which have been scheduled -- will reach 24 countries across India repatriating an estimate of 1.7 lakh people," said further.

As of October 7, 210 of these flights have already been operated from 18 countries, Shrivastava said further adding that the ministry "continues to assess demands of repatriation from other countries" and projects the demands to Air India.

The Vande Bharat Mission started in early May to evacuate Indians stranded abroad due to coronavirus-induced travel restrictions. (ANI)

100 kg ganja, 3 kg hashish oil seized in Thiruvananthapuram, 4 held

A visual of the seized ganja and hashish oil in Thiruvananthapuram. (Photo: ANI)

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], October 8 (ANI): Kerala State Excise Enforcement Squad on Thursday seized 100 kilograms of ganja and three kilograms of hashish oil worth around Rs 4 crores from two vehicles near Attingal in Thiruvananthapuram.

As per the Excise officials, four persons have been arrested.

The arrested accused are Riyaz and Jasim from Attingal, Faisal from Thrissur and Nias from Konni.

According to excise officials, ganja and hashish oil brought to Coimbatore from Andra Pradesh and from there it was brought to Kerala. The accused people used two vehicles to carry ganja and hashish oil.

The drugs seized by a team led by Excise Circle Inspector T Anikumar, who is in charge of the Excise enforcement squad. (ANI)

IWIL India to empower one million women in technology by 2025

Deepa Sayal, Chief Patron and President of IWIL India

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI/BusinessWire India): Indian Women Institutional League, otherwise known as IWIL India was founded with the primary goal of building skills and helping women scale their businesses through technology. In a similar vein, the non-profit organization has been following the diligent goal of mentoring and incubating one million Women Entrepreneurs by 2025.

They have run several other programs like "Prerna" and "Vivoki" to inspire young women towards bracing their skill sets in technology and helping them become independent.

"Indian Women Institutional League (IWIL India) plans to mentor and incubate a million Women businesses by 2025. It advocates Women entrepreneurship and empowerment through Technology Cohorts, Incubation workshops, networking events, and capacity building," said Deepa Sayal, the Chief Patron and President of IWIL India, who is a serial Entrepreneur and tech Founder of ADG and Vivoki India.

Over the years, IWIL India has conducted several impact workshops in India in partnerships with several prestigious organisations like Election Commission of India, Confederation of Indian Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Indian Institute of Management.

According to a recent report, the GDP of India is predicted to hit more than $13 billion in 2030. Consequently, the country is expected to become the world's third-largest economy, with the government making a concerted effort to promote business-friendly conditions and entrepreneurship. Female entrepreneurs have contributed immensely to the Indian economy, with women-owned businesses employing over 13 million people.

Studies have revealed that 1/3 of Indian women entrepreneurs work in the agriculture sector, followed by manufacturing and retail trade. However, Deepa Sayal and her team at IWILIndia are looking to take it a notch higher by helping women leverage the power of technology to grow their business.

Indian Women Institutional League (IWIL) has already covered approximately 55,000 women, over 400 startups, and 89 colleges across 25 cities in India. The organization's commitment to mentor one million women by 2025 reiterates the goal of stimulating and encouraging women entrepreneurship, capacitating women leaders, and emboldening the women-led business ecosystem to frame a future of socially and economically independent women.

IWIL India is looking to develop the next generation of women entrepreneurs who scale their businesses through technology. Consequently, the organization regularly hosts cohorts, networking events, leadership programs, and technology workshops across APAC, working several programs such as Mission Prerna and Vivoki India to achieve their goal.

For more information about Deepa Sayal and IWIL India and their initiatives, please visit - Deepa Sayal is also available across several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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

Sonakshi Sinha supports PM Modi's #Unite2FightCorona initiative

Actor Sonakshi Sinha

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Joining several other Bollywood celebrities in supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Unite2FightCorona' campaign, actor Sonakshi Sinha on Thursday shared a video of herself.

The 'Dabangg' actor hopped on to Instagram to join the initiative and used Instagram's reels to make a short video about fighting coronavirus.

The video sees Sinha urging people to maintain social distancing and to wear masks.

"2 gaj ki doori aur mask hai zaroori, covid ke khilaaf PM ke jan andolan mei mai shaamil hu aur aap," said Sonakshi in the video.

She is seen dressed in an all-black attire along with a matching face mask.

Several other Bollywood celebrities including Salman Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, and others have taken to the micro-blogging site to support the Prime Minister's initiative.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that India's COVID-19 fight is people-driven and asked the citizens to #Unite2FightCorona.

In his clarion call, the Prime Minister said India's fight against COVID-19 gets strength from COVID warriors, and the country has to continue the momentum and protect the citizens from the virus. (ANI)

India hands over new building of Secondary School in Nepal's Kailali

Shree Saraswati Secondary School Inaugurated in Tikapur, Nepal (Photo Credit: IndiaInNepal Twitter)

Kathmandu [Nepal], October 8 (ANI): A new building of Shree Saraswati Secondary School, Tikapur in Kailali District built with the Government of India's financial assistance of NRs. 33 Million was on Thursday handed over to Nepal authorities.

It was jointly inaugurated by representative of the Embassy of India, Kathmandu, District Coordination Committee, School Management Committee, and local representatives, a release from the Indian Embassy stated.

"The Government of India grant, under 'Nepal-Bharat Development Cooperation', was utilized for construction of the two-floor school building, including 11 classrooms, library, science labs, administrative room, meeting hall, and sanitation facilities," the release added.

The embassy further stated that the project was taken up as a High Impact Community Development Project under an agreement between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal.

"India has already completed 423 HICDPs in Nepal, of which 23 are in Sudur Paschim, including 6 in Kailali District. One project for the construction of multipurpose hall, boys' hostel and teachers' quarter for Regional Police Secondary School, Dhangadi is under progress," the release stated.

Shree Saraswati Secondary School was established in 1978 in Tikapur, Kailali District. The School has 550 students, and more than 60 per cent of them are girls.

The newly built infrastructure of the campus is expected to boost the learning environment for students.

"The project is a reflection of India's development partnership with Nepal and complements the effort of Government of Nepal in augmenting infrastructure in the field of education," the release concluded. (ANI)

NIA arrests 2 accused in connection with Bengaluru-based ISIS module case

Representative Image

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two accused - Ahamed Abdul Cader and Irfan Nasir, in connection with a Bengaluru-based terror outfit Islamic State (ISIS) module case.

According to an official release, Ahmed Abdul Cader is a business analyst in a bank in Chennai and Irfan Nasir is a rice merchant in Bengaluru.

"Yesterday NIA arrested two accused - Ahamed Abdul Cader and Irfan Nasir in connection with Bengaluru-based ISIS module case. Ahmed Abdul Cader is a business analyst in a bank in Chennai and Irfan Nasir is a rice merchant in Bengaluru," said NIA.

"Both the accused were produced before Special NIA Court, Bengaluru and 10-day NIA custody has been granted for interrogation. Further investigation in the case is continued to unearth the larger conspiracy," the agency said.

Accused Ahamed Abdul Cader, Irfan Nasir, and their associates played a very significant role in the radicalization of the members of the group in the country and arranged funds through donations, the agency said.

Further investigation is underway and more information is awaited. (ANI)

Encore's India operation amongst Champions of Inclusion and designated one of the 100 best companies for women in India for third consecutive year

Representative Image

Gurugram (Haryana) [India], October 8 (ANI/BusinessWire India): The Working Mother Research Institute (WMRI), in partnership with the Avtar Group, India's leading diversity advocate and workplace inclusion authority, has awarded Encore's India-based operations, through its subsidiary, Midland Credit Management (MCM), two awards honoring diversity and inclusion at the workplace.

"At MCM, we take tremendous pride in being an equal opportunity employer and we celebrate diversity in all its aspects and drive inclusion in all our practices," said Jaison Thomas, Managing Director of Midland Credit Management in India. "Our goal is to be a workplace where employees can be themselves and discover their full potential. Being chosen as a Working Mother & Avtar "100 Best Companies for Women in India" for three years in a row and winning the "Champions of Inclusion" award in the second annual edition of Working Mother & Avtar Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI) tell us that we are headed in the right direction."

Both awards were announced this week from an array of 321 organizations that participated. Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI), which is also India's largest inclusion index, extends the canvas to acknowledge organizational practices and programs for inclusion of a workforce diverse in gender, generation, abilities, sexual orientation and region.

"The half-decade long journey of Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI), which took us through the deepest alleys of corporate diversity statistics, has indeed been a revelation. From seeing substantial increase in women's representation to companies increasing their intent towards reshaping their workplace to be gender-inclusive, the study has evolved into a handbook of impactful diversity and inclusion strategies. It is heartening to see the efforts of BCWI helping companies unlock an array of potential and growth by enabling their women's workforce consciously," said Saundarya Rajesh, Founder - President, Avtar.

"It is also laudable that these companies are increasingly invested in creating a culture of inclusion and allyship. As per the data from the 2020 Working Mother & Avtar Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI), 33 per cent of investments toward diversity & inclusion in organizations is for D&I learning," explained Dr Rajesh.

"Each year, we look forward to celebrating the 100 Best Companies in India by shining a spotlight on the progress women have made in the workforce. We are also excited to reveal the results from our second annual Most Inclusive Companies Index (MICI) in partnership with Avtar. We applaud these organizations' diversity and inclusion efforts. These trailblazing organizations are paving their way for a more inclusive future," said Subha Barry, President of Working Mother Media.

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

Human rights group hails acquittal of Pakistani Christian on death row for blasphemy

Pakistani Christians protesting in Geneva (file image)

Washington [US], October 8 (ANI): Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) hailed the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict of acquitting Sawan Masih, a Christian man on death row from the last eight years.

Sawan Masih belonged to Joseph Colony Lahore and was a sanitary worker and a father of three children, having a wife and old parents. He was convicted of insulting the prophet Muhammad.

A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged on March 8, 2013, in which the applicant stated that Sawan used derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. He was then arrested and sent to judicial lock-up first in Lahore and then to Faisalabad.

The attached steel market of Badami Bagh's workers in collusion with extremists in the mob attacked Joseph Colony for revenge from Christians and demanded to hand over Sawan Masih for execution at the spot. The residents had no option but to vacate the colony leaving behind their hard-earned valuables.

Most of the families fled, around 200 houses burnt and looted including Sawan's house. Sawan Masih was convicted on March 27, 2014, in the court of Ch. Ghulam Murtaza, Additional Sessions Judge Lahore for offence u/s 295-C PPC and sentenced to death along with a fine was imposed.

Naveed Walter, President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) said that the charges of blasphemy are in fact the results of personal grudges, biased behaviours and discriminatory practices, the verdict on the Sawan Masih case has proved again after Asia bibi's case.

He added, "The blasphemy cases processed slower because in such cases the free and fair trials also become a challenge, the basic principles of criminal justice is ignored as in Sawan's case, the trial court completely ignored a serious lapse in the prosecution case of 33 hours of unexplained inordinate delay of recording the FIR over such a sensitive issue by the complainant, the trial court based on the conviction on second version of the complainant recorded in the supplementary statement of March 15, 2013, after eight days of occurrence in a poor attempt to remove the lacuna earlier pointed out by the Supreme Court on 13th March 2013 in Suo Moto proceedings, the trial court failed to take judicial notice of the false story in which the complainant stated that suddenly the accused started uttering derogatory remarks, the statement of the accused under section 342 CrPC was completely ignored by the trial court in which he stated that he have deep respect for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his own beliefs do not allow him to commit blasphemy of any prophet".

Naveed Walter said that the victims of blasphemy face exacerbated trauma amid delays in their cases reaching trial and justice, bear spitting and abusive arguing like infidels and inhuman insulting behaviours, violent attitudes, sufferings and face extreme hardships. He said the victims of blasphemy need proper diets, health and ensure their safety in prisons and during court hearings, he added.

The HRFP has been raising voice for justice to blasphemy victims and against all discriminatory practices against minorities in Pakistan. (ANI)

Actor Farhan Akhtar and others extend Indian Air Force Day greetings

Actor Farhan Akhtar

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Several Bollywood celebrities like actor-director Farhan Akhtar on Thursday extended greetings to countrymen on the Indian Air Force Day.

Akhtar took to Twitter and said, "A heartfelt salute to our winged defenders in the skies on this #IndianAirforceDay .. Jai Hind. @IAF_MCC."

Actor Vivek Oberoi also took to the platform and shared a video displaying the valour of the Indian Air Force.

"They truly touch the sky with glory every time they fly! So proud of #IAF #JaiHind #HappyIndianAirfoceDay," tweeted Oberoi.

Actor Siddharth Malhotra also took to the microblogging site and extended Amry Day wishes to the country.

"Salute to the brave men always touching the sky with glory, Happy 88th anniversary #IndianAirForce. Thank you for your sacrifices and service to the nation. Jai Hind #AFDay2020@IAF_MCC," tweeted Malhotra.

The IAF was established on October 8, 1932, in undivided India which was under colonial rule. It was given the prefix "Royal" by King George VI for its contribution during the Second World War.

The prefix was later dropped in 1950 when India became a republic. (ANI)

Most of injured in Kozhikode Airport crash have been discharged: Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal

Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Rajiv Bansal speaking to media on Wednesday.

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Almost everybody who were hospitalised after the Air India Express flight crash-landing at Kozhikode Airport have been discharged, said Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Rajiv Bansal on Thursday.

The Air India Express plane coming from Dubai crash-landed on August 7. Out of the 190 passengers, 21 people including the two pilots were killed in the accident.

Giving an update about the accident, Bansal said the insurance agency has paid all the injured and families of the deceased.

"They have already been paid interim compensation. We have also received the first tranche of interim compensation for aircraft that we lost," the Air India CMD said.

"21 passengers, including 2 pilots, died. Almost everybody discharged from hospital, 2 still receiving some treatment; 1 undergoing physiotherapy and another undergoing plastic surgery," he added.

Earlier, the Accident Aircraft Investigation Bureau had constituted a high panel committee to probe the accident. (ANI)

Pakistan PM hoping for an 'all-weather friend', chooses to ignore China's wrongdoings

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chinese President Xi Jinping.. (Photo: ANI)

Washington [US], October 8 (ANI): In the hope to have China as an "all-weather ally", Pakistan has continued to support Beijing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and even looked the other way round in the case of ongoing human rights violation against the Muslims in Xinjiang region.

According to an article titled 'Why China Has the Power to Dictate Pakistan's Future' by William Shriver published in The National Interest, Prime Minister Imran Khan has balanced his criticism of China because Pakistan receives billions of dollars of investment through the Belt and Road Initiative.

To keep the China-Pakistan relations flourishing, Khan even downplayed the early stages of the coronavirus in both China and Pakistan.

In February, Khan had said in a tweet, "Pakistan stands with the people & govt of China in their difficult & trying time and it will always stand by them". After a month, he said in a statement, "In a few days everything would be normal... This virus is a kind of flu. It spreads quickly."

Shriver has highlighted Khan showing willingness to push aside a deadly virus to preserve the China-Pakistan relationship and appease Chinese officials.

Meanwhile, Khan also preferred to turn a blind eye towards the rampant human rights violations on Muslims in the Xinjiang region by the Chinese government.

The author said that in the past year, Khan has looked the other way on the Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang, shown public support for China's controversial Hong Kong security bill, and has now pandered to China during the coronavirus pandemic as China invests some USD 60 billion into Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

As Pakistan continues to raise the so-called human rights violations by the Indian government, William Shriver questioned Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan Ambassador to the US, on why Pakistan--a long time haven for pan-Islamic causes--is ignoring the over one million Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in Xinjiang?

In reply Ambassador Khan said, "We [Pakistan] normally don't comment on the internal situations of other countries, of our friends in particular. To equate our raising of the human rights violations in Kashmir in India is very different because China has never raised those issues with us [Pakistan] . . . We do not talk about these things publically given the state of relationship that we have with China."

While Pakistan continues to defend China in the hope of gaining an "all-weather ally", the author of this article poses a question -- will Beijing will rush to Islamabad's aid during India-Pakistan's skirmish like the US, who gave outright support to India during recent India-China standoff.

The author has opined that if China takes a sudden decision to not help Pakistan in time of need then "Pakistan would be left out in the rain".

However, it stands true to the fact that China's growing relationship with Pakistan is one of the most important developments in the South Asian foreign policy. (ANI)

Maryam, Fazlur to target poor governance of Imran Khan-led government in PDM rally

Moulana Fazlur Rehman. (Reuters)

Lahore [Pakistan], October 8 (ANI): Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Moulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday took a jibe at the Imran Khan-led government over poor governance, which has ruined the country's economy.

He said that the government was formed as a result of the worst rigging in the history of the country proved to be incompetent, reported Dunya News.

Fazl announced, "We will fully participate in the October 16 meeting with the people." He also met Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz at Jati Umra for consultation regarding the PDM rally to be held in Gujranwala on October 16.

The opposition has alleged that Imran's government has belittled the expectations of the general people and has left them in tatters amid the economic havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the pandemic, the common man is crying today and people are forced to commit suicide due to the rising inflation, reported Dunya News.

Nawaz said both she and Maulana Fazlur Rehman had a very cordial and productive discussion today. She said the PDM is aimed at defending the constitution and the people's votes. She also alleged that considering the kind of support the PDM rally would get, the government has changed the Gujranwala city's administration. She also said she would personally invite Bilawal Bhutto to join the Gujranwala rally.

As per the PDM schedule, the Gujranwala first rally will be held on October 16, while the second rally will be held in Karachi on October 18. The third rally will be held in Quetta on October 25, the fourth gathering will be held on November 22 in Peshawar, and the fifth rally will be held on November 30 in Multan, reported Dunya News.

Meanwhile, PPP (Pakistan People's Party) had objected to October 18 rally in Quetta, saying that it commemorates the date for the Karsaz bombing incident that had targeted slain party leader Benazir Bhutto. To PPP's objection, the PDM decided to shift the venue of the October 18 rally from Quetta to Karachi, and the opposition's alliance will join the PPP for its Karachi rally and postponed the Quetta rally to October 25, reported Dunya News. (ANI)

1,583 Indians repatriated from Saudi Arabia: Indian Embassy

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Riyadh [Saudi Arabia], October 8 (ANI): The Indian Embassy in Riyadh has reported that a total of 1,583 Indians have returned to India till October 6.

"The third and fourth flights of the second batch of deportees arrived at New Delhi and Lucknow, respectively. With this, the total number of deportees that have been repatriated in the second batch has reached 1,162," a statement from the Embassy of India in Riyadh said.

The total number of Indian deportees repatriated from the Saudi Kingdom stands at 1,583. Out of these 811 were from Riyadh and 351 from Jeddah.

Earlier, in May 2020, 421 deportees were repatriated, out of which 207 were from Jeddah and 214 from Riyadh.

The mission appreciated the cooperation extended by Saudi Arabia, including Saudi airlines and GACA (General Authority of Civil Aviation), state governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

At present, there are 419 deportees in Riyadh and 140 in Jeddah. Indian Mission and Consulate officials are closely coordinating with Saudi Arabia and India to repatriate the stranded deportees.

It said, the mission is facing difficulty due to the uncertainty of flights and COVID-19 health protocols including mandatory quarantine. It is arranging the next flight, tentatively scheduled for next week. (ANI)

Afghan chief negotiator meets PM Modi, re-affirms commitment to deepen India-Afghan relations

Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan chief negotiator, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday. (Photo credit: Anurag Srivastava twitter)

New Delhi [India], October 8 (ANI): Abdullah Abdullah, chief negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace dialogue with Taliban, on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and re-affirmed the long term commitment to further deepen India-Afghan ties.

"Strengthening our commitment to our close neighbour. PM @narendramodi met with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah @DrabdullahCE of Afghanistan, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. He reaffirmed our long term commitment to further deepening India-Afghan ties," Anurag Srivastava, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson, tweeted.

On Wednesday, Abdullah Abdullah had met National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

The Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan who is here on a five-day visit said the meeting with Doval was "constructive" and that the latter had assured him of India is in favour of a "democratic and sovereign Afghanistan, where no terrorists can operate".

"Had a constructive discussion with HE Ajit Doval, the NSA of India. We discussed the Afghan Peace Process, & the talks in Doha. He assured me of India's full support for the peace efforts, & that any peace settlement acceptable to Afghans, will have the support of India," read a tweet from Abdullah.

This is the first visit of Abdullah to India after the formation of a new government in Afghanistan.

His visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.

The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar's capital Doha. (ANI)

Another Uyghur becomes victim of China's repressive regime

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Washington [US], October 8 (ANI): Another Uyghur has fallen victim to the Chinese regime's persistent actions to imprison prominent Uyghurs on false charges, Campaign for Uyghurs has reported.

On September 4, Hursan Hassan, 50-year-old Uyghur, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for separatism. He was earlier detained for more than 20 months.

According to Campaign for Uyghurs, the Beijing authorities level the charge of separatism against Uyghurs in the same way that corruption charges are leveled at Han Chinese officials who express any dissent with Xi Jinping's administration.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping on September 22 said, "We should respect a country's independent choice of development path and model. The world is diverse in nature, and we should turn this diversity into a constant source of inspiration driving human advancement. This will ensure that human civilisations remain colorful and diversified."

Questioning President Xi's statement, Campaign for Uyghurs said, "We are left to ask the very rhetorical question: how does one define civilization? If the way his authoritarian regime defines civilization is as China is at present, the world should seek no part of it. The Chinese Communist Party has turned China into the least civilized place in the world. The mass detainment of Uyghurs and the sentencing of people like Hursan Hassan should never occur in a "civilised" nation."

Demanding an unconditional and immediate release of Hassan, the activist group said that the family was horrified to learn that just a few days after his wrongful arrest, he was treated at the emergency room despite being very healthy before his detention.

Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

About 7 per cent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang, has been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to US officials and UN experts.

Classified documents known as the China Cables, accessed last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, threw light on how the Chinese government uses technology to control Uyghur Muslims worldwide.

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

People in the internment camps have described being subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, and denial of food and medicine, and say they 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. (ANI)

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