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India not prosecuting cow protection vigilantes: US

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New York, May 30: The US has accused Indian authorities of not prosecuting cow protection vigilantes attacking Muslims suspected of slaughtering the animals or consuming beef amid “reports of hundreds of religiously motivated killings.”

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report released on Tuesday said: “Authorities often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes against persons, mostly Muslims, suspected of slaughtering or illegally transporting cows or trading in or consuming beef.”

It added, “There were reports of hundreds of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, restrictions on the right to practice religion and proselytise, discrimination, and attacks on property. Groups most frequently targeted were Muslims and Christians.

“Cow protection groups, many of whose members believed cow slaughter and eating beef were an attack on the Hindu deities representing motherhood, carried out several violent attacks, including killings, beatings, harassment, and intimidation against consumers of beef or those involved in the beef industry,” according to the report.

“Members of civil society and religious minorities said, under the current government, religious minority communities felt more vulnerable to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and places of worship,” the reported said.

The report, however, also noted that the Supreme Court directed state governments to appoint a senior police officer in each district to prevent and respond effectively to incidents of “cow vigilantism” and chief secretaries to report on actions taken to prevent them.

The annual report was a long compilation of mainly news reports about legislative measures considered against minority interests or incidents of violence against or harassment of minorities.

At a news conference on the report for foreign journalists, the State Department official in charge of the report, Samuel Brownback, denounced India, alleging that “there have been unfortunately a lot of religious violence that has taken place in various communities.”

“We have asked the Indian government to pursue more safety to see justice taking place in these cases where these arise and we will continue to pursue that with the Indian government as with all government all around the world,” he said.

“I get reports directly from individuals that are coming from India (about) violence they have experience because of who they are in their faith, and that is wrong,” said Brownback, who is a convert to Catholicism from a fundamentalist Christian sect.

He holds the title of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and previously as governor of Kansas he took controversial positions reflective of his faith by legislating measures restricting abortions and opposing gay rights.

He said that within 90 days after the publication of the report a list for “countries of particular concern” would be issued for possible sanctions or other action.

“Religious minority communities stated, while the national government sometimes spoke out against incidents of violence, local political leaders often did not, and at times made public remarks that individuals could interpret as condoning violence,” the report said.

The report brought up the Supreme Court ruling the “triple talaq” divorce illegal, including it in a list of matters of concern.

“On August 22, the Supreme Court ruled the practice through which a Muslim man could divorce his wife instantly by saying the word “talaq” (Arabic for divorce) three times was unconstitutional,” the report said.

The report noted that in Andhra and Telengana, “authorities may prohibit proselytising near another religion’s place of worship”.

It raked up the case of a Christian organisation, Compassion International, which shut down its multi-million-dollar operation in India after the Indian government revoked its permission for distributing funds in India because of violations of law.

The report said, “Compassion International maintained that the government used the law to restrict the work of Christian charitable organisations”.

IANS

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No boundary dispute with China: Nepal Foreign Minister

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Pradeep Gyawali

Kathmandu, Sep 23 : Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Wednesday said that there is no boundary dispute with China, referring to recent media reports that said China had encroached on Nepalese territory and built 11 buildings in Humla district on the Nepal-China border.

Later in the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement and denied any encroachment by the Chinese side. These clarifications came amid media reports that China has unilaterally constructed 11 cemented buildings in Nepalese territory recently and locals of the Lapcha area where the buildings were constructed brought it to the notice of the local Humla district administration and protested the move.

But the Nepal Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that its attention has been drawn to the media reports about the alleged construction of buildings by China within Nepalese territory between the Nepal-China boundary pillars 11 and 12 at Humla district.

“The Department of Survey, Government of Nepal, based on the official records, reports of the joint field inspection and boundary maps, has verified and confirmed that the said buildings are not located within the Nepalese territory,” the statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of people had protested in front of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and chanted slogans against the land encroachment by the Chinese in Humla. The issue of Chinese buildings in question had also surfaced in 2016, the ministry added, an inter-ministerial team after the field inspection had concluded that the said buildings were located approximately one kilometre inside the Chinese territory from the Nepal-China border.

The ministry stated that the boundary between Nepal and China was delineated and demarcated based on the Boundary Treaty and Boundary Protocols signed between the two countries. Nepal and China have always maintained close communication on border matters, it said.

Addressing a press conference Gyawali who is also the spokesperson of Nepal government said that a probe committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Land Reform had later shown that the Chinese side had constructed buildings some 1 kilometre away from the Nepal-China border. New buildings were constructed by Chinese authorities for their border security personnel in the same area now.

Gyawali also said that a team led by Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla district is currently in the Limi village and further details will be available once the team returns to the district headquarters. The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu also refuted the media reports stating that the buildings mentioned by the media are on the Chinese side and urged the Nepal to verify the construction.

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France’s Macron urges UN mission to visit China’s Xinjiang region

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,”

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PARIS : France’s president on Tuesday called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit China’s Xinjiang due to concerns over the Muslim Uighur minority.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

“Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference … these are the principles of our organisation, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect,” Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,” he said.

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Israel reports 2,445 new Covid-19 cases; 193,374 in total

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Jerusalem, Sep 23 : Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 2,445 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 193,374.

The total count of deaths from the coronavirus in Israel rose by 12 to 1,285, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 653 to 668, out of 1,352 patients currently hospitalised, Xinhua news agency reported.

The number of recoveries in the country increased by 3,971 to 140,751, while the number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 51,338.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli government approved a plan to expand the national economic safety net to deal with the pandemic’s impact.

“Expanding the plan will enable immediate economic assistance for businesses and wage-earners who are expected to be hurt by the current Covid-19 nationwide lockdown,” said a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry.

The expansion includes the lowering of damage threshold for businesses to receive fixed expenditure grants to 25 per cent, providing advances against the fixed expenditure grants, a comprehensive worker retention plan, and deferring the reduction in unemployment benefits.

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