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Citizenship Amendment Bill to ethnically cleanse Northeast: Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi, Dec 11: Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday called the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 “an attempt by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah government to “ethnically cleanse the Northeast”, calling it a “criminal attack” on the people.

“The CAB is an attempt by Modi-Shah govt to ethnically cleanse the North East. It is a criminal attack on the North East, their way of life and the idea of India. I stand in solidarity with the people of the North East and am at their service (sic.),” Gandhi tweeted.

On Tuesday, Gandhi described the Bill that seeks to provide refuge to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains fleeing religious persecution from the officially Islamic Pakistan and Afghanistan and Muslim-majority Bangladesh — as an attack on the Constitution and said that anyone who supports the Bill is attempting to destroy the foundation of India.

The Bill was tabled for discussion in the Lok Sabha on Monday by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and was passed late on Monday night.

The opposition parties had objected its nature and described it “against Muslim community”, which the government rejected saying it does not affect the community residing in the country.

The Bill will be debated upon in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

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Assam flood situation worsens; 13 lakh affected, toll at 44

In all, at least 8.03 lakh domestic animals and over 4.24 lakh poultry were affected due to the current wave of floods.

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Assam Flood

Guwahati, July 12 : The flood situation in Assam worsened further on Sunday with two more persons losing their lives in the deluge in Nagaon district, taking the death toll to 44 in the state, while the situation deteriorated across 24 of the 33 districts, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said.

The flood waters have submerged 2,015 villages affecting 13 lakh people and 82,546 hectares of crop area across the state.

The district administrations have set up 224 relief camps and distribution centres in 16 districts, where 21,071 people have taken shelter, the ASDMA officials said.

Besides several other rivers, the mighty Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark in Dibrugarh, Neamatighat in Jorhat, Tezpur in Sonitpur and Dhubri town, an ASDMA bulletin said.

The ASDMA officials said that in the current wave of floods over the past four weeks, at least 27 persons have died in Morigaon, Tinsukia, Dhubri, Nagaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts, taking the state’s death toll to 44, while 26 people have been killed in separate landslides since May 22.

Though the 24 of the state’s 33 districts are affected by the floods, the worst affected 16 districts are Dhemaji, Udalguri, Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Chirang, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Dibrugarh,West Karbi Anglong and Tinsukia.

Embankments, roads, bridges, culverts and other infrastructure have been damaged at various places in 18 districts, the ASDMA officials said adding that around 810 houses were fully or partially damaged due to the floods.

In all, at least 8.03 lakh domestic animals and over 4.24 lakh poultry were affected due to the current wave of floods.

The National Disaster Response Force, Assam State Disaster Response Force personnel, along with the local administration, are continuously working to rescue the affected people and render relief services, including distribution of relief material to the marooned villagers.

Meanwhile, with several rivers in many northeastern states are in spate due to constant monsoon rain, huge low-lying areas in the other states wof the region were inundated on Sunday even as the Meteorological Department forecast more downpours in the next couple of days.

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India needs ‘a Manmohan Singh’: Sharad Pawar

He felt that instead of hitting back, the Centre should exert global pressure on China through diplomatic channels and negotiations and resolve pending issues like the Galwan valley clash.

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Mumbai, July 12 : Given the current financial crisis, India needs an economic expert like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said here on Sunday.

Pawar recalled how he was a Union minister when Singh was the Finance Minister and the country was passing through a financial crisis in the early 1990s.

“However, it was Manmohan Singh who gave the country a new direction and pulled the country out of the economic problems. For this I give full credit to Manmohan Singh, and also (then Prime Minister) P.V. Narasimha Rao. Today, the country needs him (Singh). I feel Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saheb should take the initiative to seek help of economists. I am confident the country will support him,” said Pawar.

The NCP chief urged Modi to confabulate with knowledgeable people from different parties, take the help of whosoever possible or feasible, take everybody along, as in the Prime Minister’s current set-up, “there are some persons who have no such experience.”

Pawar’s comments came in the second instalment of his marathon interview with ”Saamana” and ”Dopahar Ka Saamna” Group Executive Editor and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Asked whether he had discussed the current scenario with the current Finance Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman), Pawar, 79, replied in the negative.

“No. I never met her even once, nor had any discussions with her. At times of financial crisis confronting such a big country with a huge population there are many challenges, and a dialogue with others (parties) is necessary, but that”s not happening now,” the NCP supremo said.

In this context he pointed out he had observed persons like Pranab Mukherji, P. Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh spending hours with experts and leaders of other political parties, seeking their suggestions as India is a huge country with diverse viewpoints.

“I don’t know if something similar is happening now. If its being done, there has to be some outcome of that, which is not visible,” Pawar said, implying that a political dialogue at the national level seems to be missing.

Dwelling on questions pertaining to security vis-a-vis India’s neighbours, Pawar said that “when we think of the enemy, the first name that crops up is Pakistan.”

“But we should not worry about Pakistan. In the long-term, it is China that is detrimental to India’s interests, it is 10 times more powerful than us militarily, it has systematically created all this after years of planning, vision and programmes besides economic strength to act against us. China is the real worry and poses a bigger threat to India,” Pawar asserted.

Recounting his meeting as Defence Minister with the Chinese Premier at a private sea resort in that country, Pawar said at the time (over 25 years ago), China was only concerned about giving a challenge to the USA and Japan.

“When I asked him what China’s policy vis-a-vis its neighbours, he said they were not thinking of them, maybe after around 25 years. Today, that danger has arisen, China is economically strong. Now, its target is India. Modi became friends with President Xi Jinping, hugged and shook hands, sat on a swing, gave gifts. An impression was conveyed that we have achieved something big with this camaraderie. But problems between two countries cannot be solved in such a manner, now we realise that,” Pawar pointed out.

On the tendency of the BJP government to blame Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi for all problems related to China and Pakistan, Pawar said we must also consider the situation whereby all our neighbours like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are now siding with China. “These sullied relations are the contribution of the present times”.

He felt that instead of hitting back, the Centre should exert global pressure on China through diplomatic channels and negotiations and resolve pending issues like the Galwan valley clash.

Pawar also touched upon various other issues pertaining to the lockdown and how Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government has fared well in the first half and is working hard.

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Varavara Rao’s family appeals to government to save his life

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Varavara Rao

Hyderabad, July 12 : Family members of Telugu poet and writer Varavara Rao, who is currently lodged in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail in the Bhima Koregaon case, on Sunday appealed to the government for his immediate release in view of his deteriorating health.

Rao’s wife P. Hemalatha and their three daughters urged the government to save his life by shifting him to a hospital or allow them to provide him with immediate medical care.

We want to remind the government that it has no right to deny the right to life of any person, much less an undertrial prisoner,” they said.

His family members said they were very much worried about his deteriorating health. They said his health condition had been scary for over six weeks, ever since he was shifted in an unconscious state to JJ Hospital on May 28.

“Even as he was discharged from the hospital and sent back to jail three days later, there has been no improvement in his health and he is still in need of emergency healthcare,” Hemalatha said.

“The immediate cause of concern now is that we are very much perturbed at the routine phone call we received from him on Saturday evening. Though the earlier two calls on June 24 and July 2 were also worrying with his weak and muffled voice, incoherent speech and abruptly jumping into Hindi. But the latest call, on July 11 is much more worrisome as he did not answer straight questions on his health and went into a kind of delirious and hallucinated talk about the funeral of his father and mother, the events that happened seven decades and four decades ago respectively,” Rao”s wife said.

She said her husband’s co-accused companion took the phone from him and informed her that he is not able to walk, go to the toilet and brush his teeth on his own.

“We were also told that he is always hallucinating that we, family members, were waiting at the jail gate to receive him as he was getting released. His co-prisoner also said he needs immediate medical care for not only physical but also neurological issues. The confusion, loss of memory and incoherence are the results of electrolyte imbalance and fall of Sodium and Potassium levels leading to brain damage. This electrolyte imbalance may be fatal also.”

Stating that Taloja Jail Hospital is not well equipped to handle this kind of serious ailment, they demanded that he be shifted to a fully equipped super specialty hospital to save his life and prevent possible brain damage and risk to life due to electrolyte imbalance.

“At the present juncture we are leaving aside all the pertinent facts like, that the case against him is fabricated; he had to spend 22 months in jail as an undertrial with the process turned into punishment; his bail petitions got rejected at least five times now and even the bail petitions with his age, ill-health and Covid vulnerability as grounds were ignored. His life is the top most concern for us right now. Our present demand is to save his life,” the family said.

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