Delhi court grants bail to climate activist Disha Ravi in toolkit case

Agencies
February 23, 2021

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New Delhi, Feb 23: A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in connection with the toolkit case.

The Delhi Police had accused Ravi of creating the online toolkit - a Google document - in support of ongoing farmers' protest in the country and claimed she is part of global conspiracy to create unrest and trigger violence in the guise of farmers' stir against the three agriculture laws.

On Monday, she was sent to one-day police custody after a three-day judicial remand and spending five days in police custody. Ravi was arrested on February 13.

The police sought her custody again yesterday saying they want to confront Ravi with other accused in the case - activists Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk. She was brought to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell for the same earlier on Tuesday.

Both Muluk and Jacob were booked for alleged sedition along with Ravi, but got transit bail from Bombay High Court. They were both on Monday questioned at the Delhi Police's Cyber cell office in Dwarka, a senior police officer said. The probe agency said that they may arrest Jacob and Muluk as well in the future if there is a requirement.

Ravi was volunteering for Fridays for Future (FFF) India, an organisation founded by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, and used to help with the organisation's event management work in Bengaluru. The contentious toolkit was first shared by Thunberg on Twitter but later deleted. However, the teen activist extended support to Ravi and tweeted, "Freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest and assembly are non-negotiable human rights. These must be a fundamental part of any democracy." The tweet was posted with the hashtag 'StandWithDishaRavi'.

Meanwhile, Muluk on Tuesday moved a Delhi court seeking anticipatory bail. His application is likely to come up for hearing Wednesday before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana.

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News Network
July 11,2021

New Delhi, July 11: India has pulled out around 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar in Afghanistan in view of the deteriorating security situation and the Taliban gaining control of new areas around the southern Afghan city, people familiar with the development said on Sunday.

A special aircraft of the Indian Air Force was sent on Saturday to bring back the Indian diplomats, officials and other staff members including a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, they said.

India's move to temporarily shut the consulate in Kandahar came in view of Taliban fighters rapidly seizing control of a number of key areas in the region as well as in western Afghanistan triggering huge security concerns.

On Tuesday, the Indian embassy in Kabul said there was no plan to close the embassy and the consulates in Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif.  

Two days back, the Ministry of External said India was carefully monitoring the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its implications on the safety and security of Indian nationals.

"Our response will be calibrated accordingly," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing on Thursday.

Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US looked to complete the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan by August-end, ending a nearly two-decade of its military presence in the war-ravaged country.

There were reports that at least two foreign missions in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, have closed their operation in view of escalating violence in the region.

Amid growing concerns in India over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay on Tuesday briefed Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on the situation in Afghanistan.

The Indian embassy last week asked all Indians visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan to exercise the utmost caution with regard to their security and avoid all types of non-essential travel in view of rising incidents of violence in various parts of the country.

In an advisory, the embassy said the security situation in Afghanistan remains "dangerous" and that terror groups have carried out a series of complex attacks including targeting civilians, adding Indian nationals additionally face a "serious threat" of kidnapping.

India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested nearly USD three billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

In March, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar visited India during which Jaishankar conveyed to him India's long-term commitment towards a peaceful, sovereign and stable Afghanistan. 

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News Network
July 20,2021

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Beirut, July 20: The Israeli military has fired artillery shells into southern Lebanon, shortly after the regime’s aircraft launched a number of missiles at targets near the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Israeli army said in a statement that two rockets had been fired from Lebanon at the northern part of the occupied territories early Tuesday morning, setting off warning sirens in the Western Galilee region.

The statement added one of the rockets was intercepted by the so-called Iron Dome missile system, while the second projectile fell in an open area. There were reportedly no injuries or damage.

The Israeli military said it later fired artillery shells at targets in Lebanon. It gave no details about which targets were hit or who was behind the rocket fire.

Back on May 19 and amid Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, the Lebanese territory was targeted by Israeli artillery shells after rockets were launched from southern Lebanon towards the occupied territories.

Lebanese media outlets said the rockets had been fired from the village of Seddiqine in southern Lebanon.

Avichay Adraee, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said in a post on Twitter at the time that four rockets had been fired from Lebanon, claiming that one was intercepted by Israel’s missile systems, another landed in an open area and two others fell in the sea.

Late on Monday, neighboring Syria’s official SANA news agency said the country’s missile defense systems had confronted Israeli airstrikes near the town of al-Safirah, southeast of Aleppo.

No casualties have been reported so far. An investigation is now underway to determine the extent of damage.

Lebanese al-Mayadeen television news network stated that Israel’s target was a factory and research center on the outskirts of al-Safirah. 

Israel frequently strikes various targets in Syria, especially the positions of the resistance movement Hezbollah.

Tel Aviv mostly keeps quiet about the attacks on Syrian territories which many view as knee-jerk reaction to Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism in country.

The regime has been a main supporter of terrorist groups that have been fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad since militancy erupted in Syria nine years ago.

Syrian government forces have taken back many areas once controlled by the terrorist groups. 

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News Network
July 19,2021

Kolkata, July 19: Thirteen years after their small car project was forced out of West Bengal following the anti-land acquisition movement in Singur, Industry and IT Minister Partha Chatterjee has said talks are on with the Tatas for big-ticket investments in the state.

Underscoring job creation as the TMC government's top priority, Chatterjee also said incentives to companies will depend on their ability to generate employment.

He said the Mamata Banerjee dispensation wants two large manufacturing units to be set up by any prominent industrial house at the earliest.

"We never had any enmity with the Tatas, neither we fought against them. They are one of the most respected and biggest business houses of this country and also abroad. You can't blame the Tatas (for the Singur fiasco).

"The problem was with the Left Front government and its forcible land acquisition policy. Tata group is always most welcome to come and invest in Bengal," Chatterjee, also the ruling TMC's secretary general, told PTI in an interview.

Chatterjee said the salt to steel business conglomerate has shown interest in setting up another Tata Centre in Kolkata to house its offices.

"We already have the presence of Tata Metaliks, one Tata Centre besides the TCS here. But if they are willing to come up with big-ticket investments in manufacturing or other sectors, there is no problem. Our IT secretary recently told me they had shown interest in setting up a Tata Centre here," he said.

When asked whether the state government will go the extra mile to reach out to the Tatas, Chatterjee said he is already in touch with group officials to attract investment.

Singur, once known for multiple crop farming, hogged media limelight after Tata Motors set its sight on the land to build its cheapest car Nano in 2006. The Left Front government acquired 997.11 acres along the National Highway 2 and handed it over to the company.

Mamata Banerjee, then in the opposition, called a 26- day hunger strike demanding the return of 347 acres of farmland that was "forcibly" acquired.

Despite several rounds of meetings between the TMC and the Left Front government, the issue could not be resolved and the Tatas eventually moved out of Singur to Sanand in Gujarat in 2008. The land acquired for the project was subsequently returned to farmers in 2016.

When asked whether the government will invite the Tatas to set up a manufacturing unit at Singur once again, the minister said, "Why would Tatas want to return to Singur? The land has already been given back to farmers. We are planning to come up with agro-based industries there as the area's economy is based on agriculture."

Speaking about the government's priority areas for rapid industrialisation and employment generation, Chatterjee said setting up two major manufacturing units, specifically in the iron and steel sector, topped the list.

"Industrialisation and job creation have been the focus areas in our party manifesto. No doubt it's a challenge as the situation across the globe is not conducive due to the Covid situation.

"Our priority right now would be to bring two big manufacturing companies which are job creators. I am speaking to various stakeholders, industry captains and officials about it. We are on the job," he said.

Chatterjee said although information technology does not fall in the category of manufacturing sector, the government is looking for more investments there too.

The minister assured the issue of delay in land acquisition and related approvals, and incentives sought by industry for setting up their units will be addressed promptly.

"We will simplify the process of clearances required for land needed for setting up industries. I will discuss the matter with our chief minister. There will be promptness so that industries don't have any complaints about delay," he said.

"Second is the incentive part. We earlier had an incentive scheme, but we did away with it as the incentives companies were seeking and offers they had for us in terms of job creation and revenue generation, did not balance out. Now incentives will be decided depending on their proposals and the scale of jobs that will be created," he said.

Chatterjee, however, emphatically noted that there won't be any change in the government's land policy of "no forcible acquisition".

The industry, he said, will have to acquire land on its own or from the government's notified land bank and industrial parks.

"It is our stated stand that there will be no forcible land acquisition," he said, adding West Bengal has good connectivity, infrastructure, and law and order conducive for industries. The labour is skilled and inexpensive, he said.

Chatterjee rejected suggestions that the anti-land acquisition agitations in Singur and Nandigram had given the TMC an anti-industry image. "Had it been the case, the party won't have won three consecutive terms in office with a resounding mandate," he asserted.

The minister replied in the negative to a question about whether the constant bickering between the state and the Centre will pose a hurdle in bringing in new investments, but advised the BJP-led government to follow the spirit of federalism. 

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