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Human rights in Kashmir ‘international issue’: UK

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British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

London, Sep 4 (IANS) The new British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the House of Commons that the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the lockdown of the region by the Modi government for over four weeks is “an international issue”.

Britain is a permanent member of the powerful United Nations Security Council, enjoying veto powers in it.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar spoke to Raab on the phone last month. But it appears both he and diplomats at the Indian High Commission in London have been ineffective in convincing the United Kingdom to India’s point of view.

As soon as the UK parliament commenced proceedings on Tuesday after a long summer recess, a barrage of aggressive questions from around 15 MPs greeted Raab from all sections of the house on the Modi administration’s treatment of people in Kashmir following abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the severing of Ladakh from it and the downgrading of both from full statehood to union territory status.

The questioners included Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, who raised the matter of unlawful “detentions” by Indian authorities.

Replying to a question from Steve Baker, Conservative MP from Whycombe, Raab said, “The issue of human rights is not just a bilateral, or domestic issue for India or Pakistan — it is an international issue.”

He added, “We should, with all our partners, expect internationally recognised standards of human rights to be complied with and respected.”

Baker of course represents a constituency with an estimated 10,000 people of Pakistani origin and is likely to have been under pressure from a section of his constituents to put his question.

Anne Main, another Conservative MP, compared the state of affairs in Kashmir to the Rohingya crisis.

However, Raab repeatedly made statements which queried the BJP government’s democratic and human rights credentials.

“We are concerned about the situation in Kashmir…It is important that internationally recognised human rights are fully respected…There are duties owed to the international community at large, and we will certainly be scrutinising the situation carefully to see that those rights are respected…I raised concerns about the situation with Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar on August 7.”

Raab’s comment in the Commons amounted to a distinct ratcheting up of Britain’s concern about the Modi government’s move in Kashmir.

Last month, after Pakistan Prime minister Imran Khan phoned his UK counterpart Boris Johnson – both Oxonians – the latter’s office at 10, Downing Street described the circumstances in Kashmir as “a serious situation”.

After this there was seemingly a softening of stance, with the British Foreign Office clarifying, “The UK did not take sides in the UNSC debate on Kashmir, and did not side with China against India.”

Furthermore, on a telephone conversation between Johnson and Modi, Downing Street’s read-out of it said, “The Prime Minister made clear that the UK views the issue of Kashmir is one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally.”

Clearly, Britain is no longer willing to remain silent on the matter.

India

Pranab Mukherjee continues to be on ventilator support

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Pranab-Mukherjee

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The condition of former President Pranab Mukherjee remains critical but has not worsened, his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee said on Friday.

Doctors attending on the 84-year-old former president at the hospital said his condition remained unchanged on Friday morning.

Mukherjee was admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi cantonment on Monday and was operated for the removal of a clot in the brain. He had also tested positive for COVID-19.

“The condition of Hon’ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee remains unchanged this morning (14 August 2020). He is under intensive care and continues to be on ventilatory support. His vital parameters are presently stable,” the hospital said in a statement.

The former President’s daughter took to Twitter after the medical bulletin, saying his condition has not worsened.

“Without getting into medical jargons, whatever I could understand from the last two days is that though my dads’ condition continues to remain very critical, it hasn’t worsened. There’s little improvement in his eyes’ reaction to light,” she said.

Mukherjee served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017.

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AIIMS doctor found hanging in his house in South Delhi

He was a permanent resident of Panchkula, Chandigarh and had been living alone in this room since 2006.

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AIIMS

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The decomposed body of a 40-year-old AIIMS doctor was found hanging at his house in South Delhi’s Gautam Nagar.

According to the police, the body of Doctor Mohit Singhla was found in a decomposed state in the room, a suicide note was also found later in the evening in which he did not blame anyone for his death.

The police received a PCR call at around 3:10 pm on Friday. The caller informed that a foul smell coming from the house in Gautam Nagar. Immediately a team rushed to the spot, and the police found the decomposed dead body of a person hanging in a room locked from inside, on the second floor of the house.

An investigation revealed that the deceased was a doctor working at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

“Doctor Mohit Singhla was posted in the department of Paediatrics and initial investigation revealed that he last joined his office on Tuesday,” said Atul Thakur, DCP South Delhi.

It is also suspected that Doctor Mohit may have taken the extreme step one or two days before his body was found.

A suicide note has been recovered in which the doctor said that ‘there is no need to live a long life’.

“His parents have told the police that he has attempted suicide earlier too and that he was in depression,” said a senior police officer

He was a permanent resident of Panchkula, Chandigarh and had been living alone in this room since 2006.

“We have initiated the proceedings under section 174 CRPC,” said the officer.

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India

Monitoring committee’s powers clipped, SC deseals residential premises

The bench observed that in the teeth of various statutes, the monitoring committee would act strictly within the four corners of the powers conferred on it by the apex court.

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Supreme Court

New Delhi, Aug 14 : The Supreme Court on Friday said that it would not be appropriate for the monitoring committee to usurp statutory powers and act beyond the authority conferred upon it by the top court.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, B.R. Gavai and Krishna Murari said, “We quash Report No. 149 and other reports submitted subsequently in connection with Report No. 149 and the entire action of sealing pursuant thereto.”

On April 2, 2019, Report No. 149 was submitted by the Monitoring Committee concerning specific unauthorised constructions allegedly carried out in the Vasant Kunj and Rajokari area.

These constructions were not on public land. The respective persons owned the land, and the committee had submitted that a letter was received from the SDM, Mehrauli, on February 22, 2019 regarding unauthorised construction in Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

“The Monitoring Committee could not have sealed the residential premises, which were not misused for the commercial purpose as done vide Report No. 149, nor it could have directed the demolition of those residential properties,” said the top court.

The bench said the property sealed as per report No.149 be deA-sealed, and possession be restored to the owners forthwith.A “Let this order be complied with within three days”, said the top court.

However, the top court clarified that this order does not at all mean to belittle the yeomen service done by the monitoring committee for protection of Delhi.

“No doubt about it that matter of encroachment is a matter of concern, but the Monitoring Committee can act within the four corners of powers conferred upon it and purpose for which the court appointed the Monitoring Committee. It cannot exceed its powers and take any action beyond its authorization by the court,” noted the top court.

The bench observed that in the teeth of various statutes, the monitoring committee would act strictly within the four corners of the powers conferred on it by the apex court.

“When we consider the various orders passed by this Court from time to time, before the constitution of the Monitoring Committee, we find that this Court at no point in time has empowered the Monitoring Committee to take action with respect to residential premises not used for commercial purposea,” observed the top court.

The monitoring committee comprises K.J. Rao, former advisor to the Election Commissioner; Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority; and Major General (Retd) S.P. Jhingon. The committee was set up on March 24, 2006, by the top court.

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