Indian Army shoots down Pakistani quadcopter along Line of Control

Agencies
October 24, 2020

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New Delhi, Oct 24: The Indian Army on Sunday shot down a Pakistani army quadcopter along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Keran sector, reported news agency.

The Pakistani quadcopter, made by Chinese company DJI Mavic 2, was shot down around 8am while it was flying near the Indian positions.

Indian Army has been on a high alert against Pakistani attempts to infiltrate terrorists or carry out Border Action Team (BAT) attacks against Indian positions.

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane had recently said that Pakistan has been trying to continue with its nefarious designs of pushing terrorists into the Indian territory.

He, however, added that these attempts have been successfully foiled by the Indian troops.

Pakistan has been trying to push across terrorists before the snowfall closes all possible routes of infiltration on the border.

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Agencies
November 22,2020

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Washington, Nov 22: A federal judge in the US state of Pennsylvania has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump seeking to block millions of mail-in ballots.

Trump's campaign has so far declined to announce the President's defeat to his rival, former vice President Democrat Joe Biden in te November 3 presidential election, saying a large number of mail-in ballots were cast illegally, reports Xinhua news agency.

The lawsuit claimed that some counties in Pennsylvania allowed mail-in voters to fix problems with the ballots by casting provisional votes.

Saturdays ruling by US District Court Judge Matthew Brann was made on the grounds that the lawsuit provided "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence".

He said the Trump campaign went too far.

"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state," wrote the judge, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

In his scathing and lengthy opinion, Brann said the Trump campaign asked him to "disenfranchise almost 7 million voters", and that he could not find any case in which a plaintiff "has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election".

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 Electoral College votes, surpassing the 270 votes needed to clinch the presidency.

The watershed moment came on November 7, when Pennsylvania was called for Biden, who now leads Trump in the state by over 81,000 votes, a margin believed to be insurmountable even if those erroneously cast ballots were excluded.

While Biden has claimed victory, Trump launched a slew of litigations challenging the results in states that, in addition to Pennsylvania, also include Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.

Most of those efforts have either been withdrawn by the campaign itself or rejected by the courts, which cited the lack of proof as the reason.

On Friday, Georgia certified the results of the election following the full hand recount, making it official that Biden won the state's 16 electoral votes.

The recount of roughly five million votes found that the former Vice President received 12,284 more votes than the President in the traditional Republican stronghold.

Most counties saw only minor changes in their tallies, with the recount vote totals differing by single digits.

A federal law sets what is called the "Safe Harbor" deadline, falling on December 8 this year, the day by which states must submit the winner of the presidential election if they are to be insulated from legal disputes.

Electoral College representatives will meet six days later, on December 14, to formally select the next US President.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 21: Overt and covert ideologies are seeking to segment India on an imagined criteria of "us and them", former vice president Hamid Ansari said on Friday, asserting that even before COVID-19, society became a victim of two other pandemics -- religiosity and strident nationalism.

Ansari said that as against religiosity and strident nationalism, patriotism is a more positive concept as it is defensive both militarily and culturally.

Speaking at the virtual launch of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's book 'The Battle of Belonging', Ansari said that in a short space of four years, India has made a long journey from its founding vision of civic nationalism to a new political imagery of cultural nationalism that appears to be firmly embedded in the public realm.

The former vice president said that "there is a passionate plea for an ideal of India (in the book), an India that was taken for granted by our generation" and now is seemingly endangered by "overt and covert ideas and ideologies that seek to segment it on imagined criteria of us and them".

"Hitherto, our core values were summed up as an existential reality of a plural society, a democratic polity and a secular state structure. These were accepted in the freedom movement, they were incorporated in the Constitution and encapsulated in the preamble of the Constitution," said Ansari, who was vice president from 2007-2017.

The plurality of Indian society is evident from the sociological evidence of 4,635 communities, he said, adding that every fifth Indian belongs to a recognised religious minority.

It is this diverse mass that a new ideology is seeking to homogenise supposedly on the basis of a faith premised on an "imaginary history", he said.

"The COVID-19 as a pandemic is bad enough, but before it our society became a victim of two other pandemics -- religiosity and strident nationalism. Religiosity is defined as extreme religious ardour, denoting exaggerated embodiment, involvement or zeal for certain aspects of religious activity enforced through social and even governmental pressure," he said.

Much has also been written about the perils of strident nationalism and it has been called an "ideological poison" that has no hesitation in transcending and transgressing individual rights, Ansari said.

"Records world over show that it at times takes the form of hatred as a tonic that inspires vengeance as a mass ideology. Some of it can be witnessed in our own land," he said.

Ansari asserted that patriotism is a more positive concept as it is defensive both militarily and culturally and inspires nobel sentiments, but must not be allowed to run amok.

In the book published by Aleph Book Company, Tharoor makes a stinging critique of the Hindutva doctrine and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which he says is a challenge to, arguably, the most fundamental aspect of Indianness.

He has asserted that Hindutva is a political doctrine and not a religious one.

Speaking at the event, Tharoor said that the BJP has spent its last six years in government contesting the idea of India by arguing that there can be an alternative idea of India.

During the discussion on the book, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah said,"We had the opportunity of joining Pakistan in 1947, it was my father and the others who felt that the two nation theory is not for us."

Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians are not different as they are all human beings and thus "we chose (Mahatma) Gandhi's India, (Jawaharlal) Nehru's India, an India that belong to everyone", Abdullah said.

"That's how I felt till this government came in. They think that only a Hindu can be an Indian and all the others who are there cannot be Indians, they are second class citizens. This I am never going to accept till my dying day," he said.

"My belief is that this is for all of us, this is our motherland, we grew in it, we were educated in it, we have developed in it, our families live here, our ancestors are buried here, this is as good for me as it is for any Hindu. Today we are being divided, divided on religion, on caste on creed on language," the National Conference leader said.

"Tyrants come and tyrants go, nations continue to survive and I am confident that his nation will survive, these dividers will go," he said.

Also part of the discussion, Professor Makarand R Paranjape argued that there was not one idea of India, but many that were being hotly contested.

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Agencies
November 21,2020

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Hathras, Nov 21: A civil rights body on Saturday claimed that members of the Hathras rape victim's family are living in conditions akin to house arrest and they fear for their lives once the CRPF cover given to them is withdrawn.

The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) also released a report on the state of investigation into the case. The organisation demanded security for the family and their rehabilitation through the Nirbhaya fund.

The whole family is in a way under house arrest conditions and their normal social life has been cut off, PUCL members Kamal Singh, Farman Naqvi, Alok, Shashikant and K B Maurya told reporters in Lucknow.

The victim's family members fear for their lives after the CRPF protection is withdrawn, they said.

The PUCL members said cases must be lodged against officials for a hurried cremation of the victim.

Action should be taken against District Magistrate Praveen Kumar, SP Vikram Veer and the area SHO in this regard, they said.

The 19-year-old Dalit woman died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after her alleged rape by four men from her village in Hathras district on September 14.

She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village. Her family members claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without their consent and they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time.

The PUCL members said action should also be taken against those responsible for defaming the woman's family.

They demanded that cases lodged for the alleged bid to incite violence in the name of the incident should be brought under the ongoing CBI investigation. Currently, these cases are being probed by the state STF, they said.

Alok and Farman Naqvi alleged that the name of the Popular Front of India (PFI) has been dragged into the controversy to create a Hindu-Muslim chasm and divert attention.

Kamal Singh said the PFI is not on the list of banned organisations but Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath calls it an extremist body.

If that is so, then why a ban has not been imposed against it, he asked.

Four people, said to be members of the PFI, were arrested in Mathura while on their way to Hathras last months.

The Uttar Pradesh police had said the four, including a journalist, had links with the Popular Front of India.

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