Over 2,900 communal violence cases registered in country in last 5 years: Govt data 

News Network
December 7, 2022

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New Delhi, Dec 7: Over 2,900 cases of communal or religious rioting were registered in the country between 2017 and 2021, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said on Wednesday.

Citing National Crime Records Bureau data, Rai said a total of 378 cases of communal or religious rioting were registered in 2021, 857 in 2020, 438 in 2019, 512 in 2018 and 723 in 2017.

An advisory was issued to the states and union territories on July 4, 2018 asking them to keep a watch on the circulation of fake news and rumours having the potential of inciting violence, take all required measures to counter them effectively and deal firmly with persons taking law into their hands, the minister said in a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha.

Further, advisories were issued on July 23 and September 25 in 2018 to the state governments and administrations of union territories asking them to take measures to curb incidents of mob violence in the country, he said.

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News Network
January 19,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 19: The Editors Guild of India yesterday urged the government to "expunge" the draft amendment to the IT Rules asking social media companies to take down news articles that have been deemed "fake" by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

"The Guild urges the Ministry to expunge this new amendment, and to initiate meaningful consultations with press bodies, media organisations and other stakeholders, on the regulatory framework for digital media, so as to not undermine press freedom," a statement issued by the Editors Guild of India said. "At the outset, determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press," the Guild said in a statement here, voicing "deep concern" over the draft amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Rules.

It said that already multiple laws exist to deal with content that is found to be factually incorrect.

"This new procedure basically serves to make it easier to muzzle the free press, and will give sweeping powers to the PIB, or any 'other agency authorised by the Central government for fact checking', to force online intermediaries to take down content that the government may find problematic," the Guild said.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Tuesday released a modification to the draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 it had previously released for public consultation.

The addition, made in the "due diligence section" for social media intermediaries, states that an intermediary shall not be allowed to publish information that "deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation" that has been "identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the PIB of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised by the Central government for fact-checking".

"Further, the words 'in respect of any business of the Central government' seems to give the government a carte blanche to determine what is fake or not with respect to its own work. This will stifle legitimate criticism of the government and will have an adverse impact on the ability of the press to hold governments to account, which is a vital role it plays in a democracy," the Guild said.

"It must be further noted that the Guild had raised its deep concerns with the IT Rules when they were first introduced in March 2021, claiming that they empower the Union Government to block, delete, or modify published news anywhere in the country without any judicial oversight. Various provisions in these rules have the potential to place unreasonable restrictions on digital news media, and consequently media at large," the Guild said.

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News Network
January 19,2023

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sought to woo voters in north Karnataka by showcasing the development and social welfare programmes thereby giving the ruling BJP a launchpad in the run-up to the Assembly elections due in about three months. This is Modi's second visit to Karnataka in less than 10 days after his trip to Hubballi on January 12 where he inaugurated a national youth festival and staged a massive road show.

The visit gains significance, as the ruling BJP prepares for Assembly polls and has set a target of winning a minimum of 150 out of total 224 seats. Though today's events were government programmes, Modi's push for BJP's developmental agenda in his speeches, while targeting the opposition parties, without naming any, and accusing them of vote bank politics, had political connotations attached to this visit.

Modi's visit and BJP government's string of developmental projects and schemes in the two districts of the Kalyana Karnataka region, earlier Hyderabad Karnataka region which is considered to be the backyard of Congress's national president Mallikarjun Kharge (with Kalaburagi his home town and former constituency), are seen with political significance. The BJP aims to improve its tally in the region, where the Congress is a force to reckon with.

In the 2013 polls, Congress bagged 22 seats and BJP shared second place with JD(S) with just 5 seats. While B S Yediyurappa's KJP (Karnataka Janata Paksha), which he later merged with BJP, got 3 and others won 5. In the 2008 Assembly polls too, when "resourceful" mining barons- Reddy brothers- of Ballari held sway, Congress managed to bag 19 seats, leaving 15 for the BJP and 5 for the JD(S), and others 1.

At Kodekal village in Yadgiri district, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone and inaugurated various developmental projects for irrigation, drinking water, and a national highway Later in the afternoon, he launched the 'Hakku Patra' (land title deed) distribution drive to over 52,000 nomadic Lambani (Banjara) tribes at Malkhed in Kalaburagi district. Without naming the Congress, he blamed the party's "vote bank" politics for the backwardness of certain regions of the State. "Earlier governments had declared several districts, including Yadgiri as backward, and had shirked their responsibilities. The reason for this region lagging behind in development is the previous governments here did not spare time on thinking about how to get rid of backwardness from here, leave aside putting in efforts towards it (development)," he said.

Yadagiri is part of the 'Kalyana Karnataka' or the Hyderabad Karnataka region as it was earlier known. These districts that were under the erstwhile rule of Nizams of Hyderabad are among the backward regions of the State. The region, comprising Bidar, Ballari, Vijayanagara, Kalaburagi, Koppal, Raichur, and Yadgir, enjoys special status under the Constitution (Article 371J) owing to its backwardness.

Referring to the positive aspect of having a BJP government at both the State and Centre, he said double engine government means double benefit, double welfare and double fast-paced development, and Karnataka is the best example for this. He complimented the Basavaraj Bommai government for the fast-paced development of the north Karnataka region At Malkhed, once the capital city of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, he said, "It's a big day for the people of Banjara (Lambani nomadic) community as over 50,000 people will get their own roof by way of Hakku Patra," as he distributed five 'Hakku Patra' to five nomadic couples on the occasion. This Hakku Patra would secure the future of thousands of people living in the "Thandas" (Lambani habitats) in Kalaburagi, Bidar, Yadgiri, Raichur and Vijayapura districts, he said, adding that it's big step taken by the State government towards social justice.

It is said Karnataka has the second highest population of Lambanis (Banjaras) in the country, who are considered among 101 sub-castes that have been recognised as Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the State. The community, earlier by and large with the Congress, now seems to have veered towards the BJP, which the party wants to keep intact and wants to build upon, party sources said. The community has a considerable presence in Kalyana Karnataka region.

Kharge lost the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, his first-ever electoral defeat in his long political career, to Umesh Jadhav, a Banjara community leader, fielded by the BJP. In 1993, it was recommended to give 'Thandas' revenue village status, but the political party that remained in power for the longest period used the Lambanis as a vote bank and never tried to improve the living condition of these backward families, Modi said in a dig at the Congress. "Those living in Thandas had to wage a long struggle for their rights and face many difficulties. They had to wait for long," the Prime Minister said. "But, now, the depressing atmosphere is changing. I want to assure the Banjara mothers that their son (Modi) is sitting in Delhi."

As Modi distributed title deeds to nomadic Lambani (Banjara) tribes in Kalaburagi district, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah charged the ruling BJP in Karnataka with "feasting on the meals" prepared by the previous Congress government he headed. The senior Congress leader said the BJP was trying to project as if they were giving revenue village status to ‘Thandas’ (this community's habitations), which was "misleading".

According to the State government, the move to distribute these deeds would benefit 52,072 nomads in five districts of north Karnataka, providing them a "permanent roof", and said these 'Thandas' have already been declared as revenue villages by the State government. The fact, according to Siddaramaiah, was that the process to make Thandas revenue villages was initiated during his government from 2013 to 2018. “The then revenue minister Kagodu Thimmappa in my government brought amendments to the Forest Act and the Land Revenue Act with a slogan ‘Those who till the land should own it’. Those were historic amendments,” the opposition leader in the State Asembly, told reporters. The Congress could not give the ‘Hakku Patras’ to the beneficiaries as it lost power later, he said. “The BJP without doing anything in the last four years has suddenly started claiming that they did everything. The BJP is feasting on the meals prepared by us because of impending elections,” Siddaramaiah alleged. 

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News Network
January 16,2023

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Kathmandu, Jan 16: Nepal observed a day of mourning on Monday for the victims of the nation's deadliest aviation disaster in three decades, with 68 people confirmed killed in the plane crash.

The Yeti Airlines ATR 72 plummeted into a steep gorge, smashed into pieces and burst into flames with 72 people on board as it approached the central city of Pokhara on Sunday, police said.

Soldiers used ropes and stretchers to retrieve bodies from the 300-metre (1,000-foot) deep ravine late into the night, with recovery efforts set to resume on Monday.

"We have so far sent 63 bodies to the hospital," said police officer AK Chhetri on Monday.

"Due to fog, the search has been paused. We will continue the search after one or two hours when the weather clears."

There was no word on the fate of the five people still unaccounted for.

Debris from the twin-engine turboprop airliner was strewn across the crash site, including the mangled remains of its wings and passenger seats.

Rescue workers were rushed there after the crash, and tried to put out the raging fires that were sending thick black smoke into the sky.

There were 15 foreigners on board, including five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one passenger each from Argentina, Australia, France and Ireland, Yeti spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula told AFP.

The rest were Nepalis.

"Incredibly sad news out of Nepal of a plane crashing with many passengers on board," Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Monday, adding that his government was seeking information about the Australian national on board.

The ATR 72 was on a flight from the capital Kathmandu and plunged into the gorge between Pokhara's brand-new international airport and the old domestic one shortly before 11 am (0515 GMT) on Sunday.

"I was walking when I heard a loud blast, like a bomb went off," said witness Arun Tamu, 44, who was around 500 metres away and who livestreamed video of the blazing wreckage on social media.

"A few of us rushed to see if we can rescue anybody. I saw at least two women were breathing. The fire was getting very intense and it made it difficult for us to approach closer," the former soldier told AFP.

It was unclear if anyone on the ground was injured.

"Our first thoughts are with all the individuals affected by this," the plane's France-based manufacturer ATR said in a statement on Sunday.

"ATR specialists are fully engaged to support both the investigation and the customer."

Nepal's air industry has boomed in recent years, carrying goods and people between hard-to-reach areas, as well as ferrying foreign mountain climbers.

But it has been plagued by poor safety due to insufficient training and maintenance. The European Union has banned all Nepali carriers from its airspace over safety concerns.

Nepal also has some of the world's most remote and trickiest runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge for even accomplished pilots.

The weather is also notoriously capricious and hard to forecast, particularly in the mountains, where thick fog can suddenly obscure whole mountains from view.

Nepal's deadliest aviation accident was in 1992, when all 167 people on a Pakistan International Airlines jet died when it crashed on approach to Kathmandu.

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