Terrorism, sedition charges framed against Asiya Andrabi

Agencies
February 23, 2021

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Srinagar, Feb 23: Terrorism and sedition charges have been framed against Kashmiri separatist and Dukhtaran-e-Millat Chief Aasiya Andrabi for allegedly conspiring to commit terror acts and waging war against the country with support from Pakistan.

On February 20, Andrabi and two of her associates -- Sofi Fehmeeda and Nahida Nasreen -- were put on trial by Special Judge Parveen Singh of Patiala House Court for offences punishable under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Indian Penal Code.

The Special Judge framed charges for offences such as criminal conspiracy, waging war against the government, conspiracy to wage war against government, sedition, promoting enmity, imputations prejudicial to national-integration and public mischief under the IPC.

It further framed charges for attempts to commit, or incite terror act, being member of terrorist gang, support to a terrorist organisation under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Andrabi accused of being involved in conspiracy and acts to severely destabilize the sovereignty and integrity of India, along with her two other women associates. The trio was arrested in 2018.

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Agencies
February 19,2021

Image result for India, China complete disengagement in Pangong lake; to hold military talks on Feb 20 on further withdrawal

New Delhi, Feb 19: After completing the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the north and south banks of Pangong lake, India and China will hold a fresh round of high-level military talks on Saturday to take forward the disengagement process in Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang in eastern Ladakh, official sources said on Friday.

The tenth round of Corps Commander-level talks are scheduled to start at 10 am at the Moldo border point on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control, and will be the first engagement between the two sides at a senior level after conclusion of the disengagement process in Pangong lake areas, they said.

Sources said pulling back of troops, weapons and other military hardware as well as dismantling of bunkers, tents and temporary structures in north and south banks of Pangong lake were completed on Thursday and both sides have carried out a verification of the same.

"Both sides will also carry out a comprehensive review of the disengagement process in Pangong lake areas," said a source.

Also on Friday, China for the first time officially acknowledged that four of its e soldiers were killed in the fierce clash with the Indian Army in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June last year. India had lost 20 soldiers in the fierce hand-to-hand combat.

Sources indicated that during Saturday's talks, India will insist on a faster disengagement process in remaining areas to bring down tension in the region, which has witnessed a tense standoff between the two militaries for over nine months.

On February 11, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament about an agreement between India and China on disengagement in the north and south banks of Pangong lake that mandated both sides to "cease" forward deployment of troops in a "phased, coordinated and verifiable" manner.

Under the agreement, he said China will pull back its troops to east of Finger 8 areas in the northern bank of Pangong lake while the Indian personnel will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3 in the region. Similar action would take place on the south bank of the lake, he said.

The sources said troops of both sides have retreated to positions that were agreed to by both sides.

The disengagement process began on February 10.

The Indian delegation at Saturday's talks will be led by Lt Gen PGK Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps while the Chinese side is expected to be headed by Maj Gen Liu Lin, the commander of the South Xinjiang military district of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

In his statement in Parliament, the defence minister also said that it was agreed to convene the next meeting of senior commanders of both sides within 48 hours of completion of the disengagement in the Pangong lake areas so as to resolve all other remaining issues.

Days later, the defence ministry said other outstanding "problems" including in Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra will be taken up at the upcoming talks between military commanders of the two countries.

The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 following a violent clash in the Pangong lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry even as the two sides continued military and diplomatic talks.

Last year, the Chinese military built several bunkers and other structures in the areas between Finger 4 and 8 and had blocked all Indian patrols beyond Finger 4, triggering strong reaction from the Indian Army.

In the nine rounds of military talks, India had specifically insisted on withdrawal of Chinese troops from Finger 4 to Finger 8 on the north bank of Pangong Lake. The mountain spurs in the area are referred to as Fingers.

On its part, the Chinese side was insisting on withdrawal of Indian troops from several strategic peaks on the southern bank of the lake.

Around five months back, Indian troops occupied a number of strategic heights in the Mukhpari, Rechin La and Magar hill areas around the southern bank after the Chinese PLA attempted to intimidate them in the area.

Both sides had rushed a large number of battle tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy equipment to the treacherous and high-altitude areas of eastern Ladakh region after tension escalated following a deadly clash in the Galwan Valley in June last.

On Tuesday, the Indian Army released short videos and photographs showing thinning down of troops and dismantling of bunkers, camps and other facilities by the Chinese military in the areas around the Pangong lake.

The visuals also showed Chinese military using a bulldozer to flatten some structures, and vehicles with troops and equipment preparing to retreat to rear bases as part of the infantry disengagement.

The photos and videos largely depicted fast-paced disengagement process in both north and south banks of Pangong lake that included withdrawal of troops, removal of machinery and dismantling of temporary structures like bunkers, posts and tents.

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News Network
February 12,2021

New Delhi, Feb 12: Karnataka - which is expected to have a debt of over Rs 4 lakh crore at the end of this fiscal year -  will become a revenue deficit state if the Centre does not extend the GST compensation period, Congress MP G C Chandrashekar said on Friday in the Rajya Sabha.      

6Participating in a debate on Budget 2021, Chandrashekar pointed out that the GST compensation provided to Karnataka since 2018-19 was very low despite the state being the third highest tax generator in the country.

At the time of implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on July 1, 2017, the Centre had promised to compensate states for loss of revenue for five years at an agreed formula.      

Chandrashekar said Karnataka is in a bad financial situation as its debt is rising every year and is expected to cross Rs 4 lakh crore this fiscal year from Rs 3.27 lakh crore in 2019-20.

The state's transportation department is struggling to pay salaries of its staff and could pay half salary in December 2020 and is yet to decide for January, he said, adding that in the current situation it can only afford fuel for buses.  

Even the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is considering borrowing Rs 250 crore, while the transportation department has already mortgaged BMTC head office and is mulling mortgaging more assets, he added.      

"If this situation continues and the GST compensation period is not extended, then Karnataka will move from revenue surplus state to revenue deficit state. Then money will have to be borrowed to pay salaries and administrative costs leaving development activities," Chandrashekar noted.    

Expressing concern over low GST compensation given to Karnataka, the Congress leader said the state had contributed Rs 79,000 crore GST revenue in 2018-19 but in return got only Rs 10,754 crore as compensation. Similarly in 2019-20, the state contributed Rs 84,000 crore GST revenue and received Rs 16,628 crore compensation.    

For 2020-21, the revised estimate shows GST compensation to Karnataka at Rs 7,900 crore, less than Rs 28,000 crore budgeted as GST divulsion, he said.    

Further, he said the government has not given the special grant of Rs 5,495 crore for 2020-21 despite being recommended by the 15th Finance Commission to offset the losses.    

While noting that the Centre has failed to fulfill the promises it made, the Congress leader said suburban rail project to ease Bengaluru traffic was announced in 2018 but work has not yet commenced. The promise of conducting banking exams in regional languages has also not been kept. 

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Agencies
February 23,2021

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New Delhi, Feb 23: Shantanu Muluk, a suspect in the ongoing 'Toolkit' document case related to the farmers' protest, moved a bail plea in a Delhi court on Tuesday.

The court is set to hear Shantanu Muluk's plea tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Shantanu Muluk joined co-accused 21-year-old "climate activist" Disha Ravi at the Delhi Police Cyber Cell office in the national capital for further probe in the ongoing case.

A Delhi Court yesterday granted one-day police remand of Disha Ravi to the Delhi Police.

Delhi Police had sought five-day remand in yesterday's hearing at Patiala House Court.

A Delhi court is also scheduled to pass the order on the bail plea of Disha Ravi today.

The 21-year-old activist was arrested from Bengaluru in connection with the formulation and dissemination of the 'toolkit' document, in the ongoing farmers' protest. She was one of the editors of the 'toolkit' document.

On February 3, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg had shared this 'toolkit' in a tweet, which she later deleted. Greta had also extended support to the protest by farmer unions on the borders of Delhi against the new farm laws.

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