Who killed India’s most talented and courageous photojournalist Danish Siddiqui? Taliban denies role

News Network
July 17, 2021

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The Taliban has denied any role in the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was killed while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and the insurgents.

“We are not aware during whose firing the journalist was killed. We do not know how he died," Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN-News18.

“Any journalist entering the war zone should inform us. We will take proper care of that particular individual... We are sorry for Indian journalist Danish Siddiqui’s death," he said.

Siddiqui, an Indian national and Reuters staff journalist, was embedded with the members of Afghanistan’s elite special forces in Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold. He was killed on Friday morning when Afghan commandos, attempting to retake a district surrounding a border crossing with Pakistan, came under Taliban fire, according to Reuters.

The slain journalist’s body was handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) around 5 pm on July 19, according to the publication.

Afghanistan has long been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. Officials blame the Taliban for the murders although some assassinations have been claimed by the jihadist Islamic State.

Siddiqui is a mass communication graduate from Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi. Before making his foray into photojournalism, he had worked as television correspondent. 

As a photojournalist, Danish has covered several important stories in Asia, Middle East and Europe. Some of his works include covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Rohingya refugees crisis, Hong Kong protests, Nepal earthquakes, Mass Games in North Korea and living conditions of asylum seekers in Switzerland. He has also produced a photo series on Muslim converts in England.

In India, Danish Siddiqui’s covered the anti-CAA protests, farmer protests, COVID-19 and lock-down struggles. His pictures are called iconic, for they showed the truth.

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News Network
July 28,2021

Bengaluru, July 28: Newly-appointed Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday assured an efficient, honest and people-friendly government, as he asserted that there will be no multiple power centres in his administration and rejected suggestions about him being likely a "rubber stamp CM".

"My government will have the stamp of being a pro-people administration in the history of Karnataka and I will ensure it," Bommai told reporters here in response to a question on him being perceived in some quarters as a rubber stamp Chief Minister as he is a confidant of his predecessor B S Yediyurappa.

Responding to a question on power centres being created in the state with Yediyurappa still around in active politics, Bommai said in his administration the centre of power will be in the team not with individuals.

"In our system and the constitution there is the position of the Chief Minister, there is a Cabinet, there is bureaucracy, executive and judiciary. The Chief Minister is first among equals, he is the team leader and I want to take everyone together," he said.

Bommai on Wednesday took oath as the new Chief Minister ending months of speculation about the change of guard in the state.

The Chief Minister said he will be visiting flood-ravaged Karwar on Thursday and was waiting for the Prime Minister's appointment for Delhi visit.

He also clarified that his first visit to Delhi is for meeting PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP national president J P Nadda to thank them, and thereafter he will discuss with leaders on the Cabinet expansion.

Asked about his statement on working under Yediyurappa's guidance, Bommai said, "When I say I will work under the guidance of Yediyuyrappa it means, following the strong and pro-people decisions taken by him during Covid. Despite coronavirus and financial distress, he had formulated several schemes in the Budget and has given a good administration."

The Chief Minister, who held a single-member Cabinet meeting and meeting with Additional Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries of various departments, said officials have been given a "broader picture on the orientation" of his government. "There should be efficient, honest and people-friendly administration and with effective administration we should make people feel that the government is in favour of the last person of the society, the poor, the farmers, backward, women, and the downtrodden. Not by mere orders, but by its effective implementation." He stressed the need for micro-level management, owning responsibility for effective implementation of department's programmes, inter-department coordination and time bound implementation.

"We should work as a team." Warning officials against "chalta hai" attitude, Bommai stressed the need for financial discipline, and asked officials to reduce unnecessary expenditure in departments to less than five per cent by March 31 next year, without affecting programmes.

To lessen the delay in file movements a new system will be introduced, and a file clearance drive will be held and detailed order will be issued in this regard, he said.

"Intention is to bring in an updated file clearance system, where files are cleared within 15 days."

Speaking on improving the state's financial condition, the Chief Minister said discussions will soon be held with the finance department on reducing committed expenditure along with planned expenditure, aimed at bringing in financial discipline.

"The immediate priority is Covid and floods management," he said, adding, steps that need to be taken on controlling the possible coronavirus third wave and vaccination, will be given utmost importance. 

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News Network
July 25,2021

Bengaluru, July 25: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Sunday that a decision on whether he will continue in office or not will be known by tomorrow, but asserted that he would continue to work for the BJP for the next 10-15 years.

The 78-year-old Lingayat strongman said this evening that he was yet to receive the "message" from the party's central leadership on whether he should continue in his post or quit.

He expressed confidence that the communication may come by tonight or be known on Monday morning.

Yediyurappa said he had offered to resign two months ago and reiterated that he would he would continue in the post if the high command so desired and quit if they asked him to resign and go about doing party work.

"I will work for the party day and night for the next 10-15 years. Let there be no doubt about it", he said.

He said he will speak on the achievements of his government at a function, as planned earlier, on Monday.

"After that, other things you will come to know". On what he would do if the "message" does not come from the high command, Yediyurappa said "I will take a decision then".

Earlier, speaking to reporters at the district headquarters town of Belagavi, he said he would abide by the decision of the high command, that he was "content and satisfied" and would not cross the disciplinary line.

"I got most of the positions in the party, which no one else might have got in Karnataka, for which I express my gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda", Yediyurappa said.

He said he has the "lone target" of toiling for the next two years and bringing the BJP back to power in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due in 2023. Yediyurappa agreed with BJP national general secretary C T Ravi's statement that everyone in the BJP was an ordinary party worker and he would abide by the party's instruction.

"He is 100 per cent right. We will not exceed the disciplinary line. We have been following it and would do so in future as well", the Chief Minister said.

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News Network
July 23,2021

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The opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics began on Friday in a nearly empty stadium after a year-long pandemic postponement and a build-up marred by scandal and controversy.

A video showing athletes training at home during the coronavirus pandemic started the show, with pink fireworks bursting into the air after a countdown.

The ceremony in the 68,000-capacity stadium is taking place before just a few hundred officials and dignitaries, including Japan's Emperor Naruhito, French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden.

The emperor will officially declare the Games open.

The Olympics have faced opposition in Japan over fears the global gathering of 11,000 athletes could trigger a super-spreader event.

Organisers have put strict virus measures in place, banning overseas fans for the first time ever, and keeping domestic spectators out of all but a handful of venues.

Athletes, support staff and media are subject to strict Covid-19 protocols, including regular testing and daily health checks.

Polls have consistently found a majority of Japanese are against the Games, with opinion ranging from weary indifference to outright hostility.

But there was plenty of enthusiasm outside the Olympic Stadium in the hours before the ceremony, as hundreds of people gathered hoping to soak up the atmosphere and watch the fireworks expected during the extravaganza.

Mako Fukuhara arrived six hours before the ceremony to grab a spot.

"Until now it didn't feel like the Olympics, but now we are by the stadium, it feels like the Olympics," she told AFP as people snapped selfies nearby.

'Determined'

Traditionally a highlight of any Summer Games, featuring the parade of nations and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron, Tokyo's opening ceremony has been drastically pared back.

Fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and officials are present at the stadium, and in a sign of how divisive the Games remain, several top sponsors including Toyota and Panasonic are not attending.

A few hundred protestors demonstrated against the Games outside the stadium as the ceremony began.

Tokyo is battling a surge in virus cases, and is under emergency measures that means restaurants must shut by 8:00 pm and cannot sell alcohol.

Dogged by controversy

But Olympic officials have put a brave face on the unusual circumstances, with IOC chief Thomas Bach insisting cancellation was never on the table.

"Over the past 15 months we had to take many decisions on very uncertain grounds," he said this week. "We had doubts every day. There were sleepless nights.

"We can finally see at the end of the dark tunnel. Cancellation was never an option for us. The IOC never abandons the athletes... we did it for the athletes."

There are also hefty financial incentives in play. Insiders estimate the IOC would have been on the hook for around $1.5 billion in lost broadcasting revenues if the Games had been cancelled.

The pandemic has not been the only hiccup in preparations though, with scandals ranging from corruption during the bidding process to plagiarism allegations over the design of the Tokyo 2020 logo.

The controversies kept coming right up to the eve of the Games, with the opening ceremony's director sacked on Thursday for making a joke referencing the Holocaust in a video from 1998.

Back in the sporting arenas, a new generation of Olympic stars are looking to shine after a decade dominated by the likes of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.

US swimmer Caeleb Dressel could target seven gold medals, and in track and field, 400 metre hurdlers Karsten Warholm of Norway and the USA's Sydney McLaughlin are among those hoping to emerge as household names.

Gymnastics meanwhile will see Simone Biles attempt to crown her dazzling career by equalling Larisa Latynina's record of nine Olympic gold medals.

New Olympic sports will also be on display in Tokyo, with surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate all making their debut.

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