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India drops to 84 in Passport Index, Asian countries lead

In a statement released last week, Henley Passport Index said Asian countries have firmly established their lead.

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New Delhi, Jan 13 : India has dropped 10 places to 84 in the latest update of the Henley Passport Index, sharing the spot with tiny countries like Mauritania and Tajikistan.

India’s ranking fell from a decade-high ranking of 74 to a low of 84 in 2020. The Henley Passport Index is the ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

The Henley Passport Index website provides comprehensive lists of the countries one can access visa-free, with an electronic visa (e-Visa), with a visa on arrival, or with a normal visa.

In a statement released last week, Henley Passport Index said Asian countries have firmly established their lead.

For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top spot on the index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 191.

Singapore holds on to its 2nd place position with a score of 190, while South Korea drops a rank to 3rd place alongside Germany, giving their passport holders access to 189 destinations worldwide.

The US and the UK continue their downward trajectory on the index’s rankings. While both countries remain in the top 10, their shared 8th place position is a significant decline from the number one spot they jointly held in 2015.

In the top 10, Finland and Italy share 4th place, while Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain together hold 5th place.

The statement said that the index’s historic success story remains the steady ascent of the UAE, which has climbed a remarkable 47 places over the past 10 years and now sits in 18th place.

On the other end of the travel freedom spectrum, Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with its nationals able to visit only 26 destinations visa-free.

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India

Supreme Court to hear Shaheen Bagh matter on March 23

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to expand the scope of petitions in the Shaheen Bagh matter and look into the recent violence in Delhi.

Justice SK Kaul said the environment was not conducive for even hearing the Shaheen Bagh matter and adjourned it till March 23 after the Holi vacation. Let the situation cool down first, the Supreme Court bench said, disposing off applications relating to Delhi violence.

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Army should be called to curb Delhi violence: Arvind Kejriwal

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that police is “unable” to control violence in northeastern part of the national capital where horrific clashes between pro and anti-citizenship law protesters since Sunday have killed 20 people, including a policeman.

A day after Kejriwal met Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the clashes and said that “police could not do anything” to prevent trouble, Kejriwal today suggested that “Army should be called in”.

“I have been in touch wid large no of people whole nite. Situation alarming. Police, despite all its efforts, unable to control situation and instil confidence. Army shud be called in and curfew imposed in rest of affected areas immediately. Am writing to Hon’ble HM to this effect (sic),” Kejriwal tweeted this morning.

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No cognizable offence: Delhi police on ‘goli maaro’ remark

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Anurag Thakur

New Delhi, Feb 26 The Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Wednesday said that “no cognizable offence is made out” against BJP lawmakers Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for their alleged inflammatory remarks.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat had filed a complaint against the leaders on charges of outraging religious feelings, intending to provoke breach of trust and criminal intimidation.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vishal Pahuja had, earlier this month, directed the police to file an Action Taken Report (ATR) in the complaint.

In the report filed on Wednesday, the police stated, “On the basis of allegations levelled in the complaint, no cognizable offence has been found to be committed.”

It said that the subsequent violence in the national capital have “no connection to the speeches mentioned in the complaint”.

They further sought more time to file a final ATR in the matter. “Situation in Delhi is such that police is busy and hence we want more time.”

The court heard the arguments from both sides and slated the matter to March 2 for pronouncement of order.

During the course of proceedings, counsel representing Karat, contended that the statements had “springboard effect”.

“We filed the complaint before the police commissioner but no action has been taken so far. Had it been taken on time, subsequent incident would not have happened,” advocate Tara Narula said.

The application was filed under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which empowers a magistrate to direct the police to conduct investigation into any matter.

An inflammatory slogan “desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaro s*** ko” was chanted at a public rally addressed by Thakur on January 27 in Delhi’s Rithala area. Thakur had allegedly egged on his audience to respond to the slogan.

Verma was reported as saying that mosques and graveyards had come up in over 500 government properties in the national capital, including hospitals and schools.

He said that the land where these “illegal structures” have come up belong to the Delhi Development Authority, Municipal Corporations of Delhi, Delhi Jal Board and many other government agencies.

Thakur and Verma were then barred from campaigning by the Election Commission for 72 hours and 96 hours respectively in the run-up to the February 8 Delhi Assembly polls.

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