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India our biggest friend, but Indian media comments not ok: Bangladesh FM

The Indian media claimed that China has given such a duty-free export opportunity to Bangladesh only to put pressure on India. Several Indian media outlets, including Anandabazar, mocked it as a “charitable” act.

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AK Abdul Momen
Bangladesh Foreign Minister, A.K. Abdul Momen

Dhaka, June 23 : Bangladesh Foreign Minister, A.K. Abdul Momen, said on Tuesday that India is his country’s biggest friend, as he expressed hope that the border tensions between India and China will be solved diplomatically.

“Bangladesh is the pioneer of peace. Dhaka is always for peaceful coexistence with neighbours. We believe on solution by discussing each and every problem, as we achieved lots with Indo-Bangla mutual discussions through understanding on both sides,” Momen said in an exclusive interview with IANS.

“India is our biggest friend indeed from our liberation war days… India-China, both are our good friends and close neighbours. Both are our development partners,” he said.

However, the minister ruled out any role of his country in the dispute.

“I don’t think Bangladesh needs to interfere in resolving the long-standing issues between India and China. New Delhi and Beijing have shown commitment to a peaceful resolution. They started meetings at the level of defence officers and Foreign Ministers… it is the ray of hope. We hope for a diplomatic solution,” he said.

The Minister extended deepest condolences for the lives lost as a result of the recent confrontation between Indian and Chinese soldiers.

About Indian commentators and the news published in the Bengali daily Anandabazar Patrika which caused a social media uproar, Abdul Momen said: “Who described the zero-tariff bilateral agreement for 97 per cent of exports to China as ‘charity’ for ‘least developed’ Bangladesh… for this, many are disappointed. This word (‘Khoyraati’/charity) is not acceptable to me, I said on Sunday.”

However, he welcomed the paper’s apology.

“Anandabazar has apologised unconditionally by admitting its mistake today, that’s good. Lots of thanks to them from my side for their realisation. Hope they also realize that India is a very good friend of Bangladesh.

“Many had said to protest officially, but I refused. Because, it does not reflect the real scenario at all. That’s why we don’t think there is a need to protest (officially) on these news reports,” he told IANS.

Anandabazar Patrika, a Kolkata-based Bengali daily, on Tuesday apologised for stating that the zero-tariff bilateral agreement for 97 per cent of exports to China was “charity” for Bangladesh.

On the fourth page of Tuesday’s print version, it admitted its mistake and apologised unconditionally.

On June 20, in a report titled “Beijing taking Dhaka to its side after Ladakh”, Anandabazar wrote: “China’s recent decision of providing 5,161 Bangladeshi products duty-free access after the clash with India is a ‘charitable’ act.”

The Indian media claimed that China has given such a duty-free export opportunity to Bangladesh only to put pressure on India. Several Indian media outlets, including Anandabazar, mocked it as a “charitable” act.

This was the second response from the Minister in two days after certain Indian news publications alleged that “China used the agreement to get Bangladesh on its side as tension with India simmers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Ladakh”.

Abdul Momen said he was quoted wrongly by some media on Sunday.

Bangladesh media reports on Sunday reported that the Foreign Minister said that the representation of Bangladesh in a demeaning manner in certain sections of Indian media was “not welcome”. He indicated that Dhaka took serious note of the negative reports of Indian media about Bangladesh and said, “It appears that they (the government) are very upset.”

The minister told IANS that “we are so happy that the Indian government said nothing about the agreement with China. We are thankful to India”.

He also said that India will have also economic benefits through the bilateral agreement with China. If Bangladesh is developed, India will get the benefit, he said.

However, the Foreign Minister also admitted that Bangladesh-China trade balance is “imbalanced”, the same as Indo-Bangladesh trade. “We export to India only one billion dollars of products, but import huge in multiple billion dollars product. At the same time, Bangladesh imports huge from China, exports less.”

On the impact of Covid-19, he said: “It is a big shake for our economy in this pandemic… our major export is RMG sector and remittance also in crisis. We are urging all neighbouring countries to be our development partners… it will help us to overcome the challenge of the pandemic period. We are very grateful to China they have moved on with Bangladesh in this crucial period, which we tried for long time. Hope India also will come forward.”

India

‘Free speech, not hatred’: SC says media self-regulation system toothless

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed broadcast of subsequent 5 episodes of “UPSC Jihad” by Sudarshan TV stating that the intent and purpose of the program is to vilify the Muslim community.

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Sudarshan News Suresh C

New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Supreme Court on Friday, citing the Sudarshan News programme “UPSC Jihad”, said there are many gaps in the self-regulation model of media, and as a consequence, the TV programme implicated the whole Muslim community as attempting to destabilise and take over the civil services.

A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and K.M. Joseph expressed concern over the stereotyping and vilification of the Muslim community through the TV programme.

Justice Chandrachud said if there would have been a viable self-regulation method, then the courts would not have intervened.

“This part becomes a real issue, whenever you say joining the civil services is a deep-rooted conspiracy, that is the problem. Media targets the whole segment of the community. How do you deal with that?” he asked senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing Sudarshan News.

After going through the TV programme, the bench highlighted several critical issues with its content and the deplorable projection of the Muslim community.

“We do not want to come in the way of journalism. But we have a constitutional duty to protect human dignity,” it observed.

The top court said the court espouses free speech and citing the stay on the broadcast of the TV show, insisted that the court does not favour the injunction to be law of the land.

The bench said it has no problem with investigative journalism, but it has problems when claims are made that every member of the community will join ISIS.

“This is the element where it goes from free speech to hatred. To brand everybody in the community becomes a problem… you alienate them with a divisive propaganda,” it said.

The bench observed that National Broadcasters Association (NBA) may have a committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge, but it is toothless, as it can merely impose a monetary fine of Rs 1 lakh maximum.

“If person is not a member, then they (NBA) cannot deal with him. Sudarshan News is not a member. We can use this case as a focal point to improve self-regulation,” Justice Chandrachud told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre.

The bench said no government agency took action against the TV channel and the NBA says this channel is not its member.

“In this situation, we have to take action, when no party is taking action,” said the bench.

Justice Chandrachud also sought to know concrete steps to strengthen the mechanism of self-regulation in the media.

Sudarshan News counsel, however, said that they will submit an affidavit to address the perception of hate speech in the content of the TV programme, so that the court could lift the stay on the broadcast.

“Need to look at the program as a whole, not as a part… I have no objection at all to any community joining the UPSC,” argued Divan for the channel.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed broadcast of subsequent 5 episodes of “UPSC Jihad” by Sudarshan TV stating that the intent and purpose of the program is to vilify the Muslim community.

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Schools, colleges reopening option given to states under Unlock 4.0 guidelines

The Union Health Ministry has already released SOP for opening of schools from September 21.

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Schools Class Rooms

The Union Health Ministry has already released SOP for opening of schools from September 21. Some states have decided to resume schools from September 21 as suggested by the Centre government’s Unlock 4.0 guidelines. The states that have already issued notification for school reopening according to unlock 4.0 guidelines from September 21 include Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

India is in the unlocking process and is currently in the Unlock 4.0. In the process, the Union Home Ministry has already issued Unlock 4.0 guidelines and unlocking of public transport including trains, Metro rail, buses have begun. The Unlock 4.0 guidelines also suggest school college reopening cautiously. Due to Coronavirus, school and colleges have been closed in the country since the last week of March, due to which there has been a lot of loss of students’ education and now everyone is waiting for schools to open.

Uttar Pradesh: Due to rising COVID-19 cases, schools are likely to remain shut there.

Delhi: The Delhi government on Friday announced that all schools will continue to remain closed till October 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic. “All government and private schools will remain closed for all students till October 5. However, online teaching and learning activities will continue as usual,” an official order issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE) said.

School principals are authorised to call “staff as per requirement for smooth conduct of online classes or any other work”, it said.

Earlier, Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had issued a notification stating that students of classes 9 to 12 can visit their schools, in areas outside containment zones, on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers.

Haryana: As per reports, the Haryana government has decided to start classes for students of Classes 10 to 12 in two state-run schools in Karnal and Sonipat districts on a trial basis

Assam: students of classes IX -XII can visit their schools in areas outside the containment zones.

Uttar Pradesh: Due to rising COVID-19 cases, schools are likely to remain shut there.

Delhi: The Delhi government on Friday announced that all schools will continue to remain closed till October 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic. “All government and private schools will remain closed for all students till October 5. However, online teaching and learning activities will continue as usual,” an official order issued by the Directorate of Education (DoE) said.

School principals are authorised to call “staff as per requirement for smooth conduct of online classes or any other work”, it said.

Earlier, Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had issued a notification stating that students of classes 9 to 12 can visit their schools, in areas outside containment zones, on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers.

Haryana: As per reports, the Haryana government has decided to start classes for students of Classes 10 to 12 in two state-run schools in Karnal and Sonipat districts on a trial basis

Assam: students of classes IX -XII can visit their schools in areas outside the containment zones.

Jammu and Kashmir: Schools can open in the union territory on a voluntary basis.

Bihar: Educational institutions have been given the go-ahead to resume classes for students of classes 9 to 12 in Patna outside the containment zones, as per order issued by Patna D. Kumar Ravi.

Uttarakhand: Government has also decided to not open schools till the end of this month.

Kerala: In view of the rising COVID-19 cases, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has decided not to open up schools till the end of this month.

Andhra Pradesh: Schools in Andhra Pradesh are also set to resume normal classes from September 21 for students of classes 9 to 12. SOP has been released by the school authorities for this purpose.

Meanwhile, states like Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, West bengal, Goa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh are yet to take a decision on openig up schools.

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DMRC ridership declined during riots, protests: Govt

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Delhi Metro Violet Line

New Delhi, Sep 18 : The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) has said that there was some decline in cumulative ridership due to protests and riots in Delhi, the Centre has informed Parliament.

Responding to Unstarred Questions, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs told the Lok Sabha in a written reply on Thursday that the DMRC faced loss of an estimated revenue of Rs 1,609 crore due to closure of Metro services in view of Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry said that preparatory work like detailed designing, preparation of tender schedule, and finalisation of tenders were carried out by the DMRC during the countrywide lockdown.

Asked “whether the government has devised any strategy to mitigate the effect of losses incurred by the DMRC”, the Ministry said various innovative means like provisioning of feeder system, property development at stations and on other land, leasing of spaces, Transit Oriented Development and Value Capture Finance are enumerated in Metro Rail Policy, 2017 to enhance revenue of DMRC”.

Ensuring financial sustainability during operations of the Metro rail system is the responsibility of the state government,” it further said.

Responding to the question as to how the DMRC is managing or restructuring loan payments, the Ministry said that payments towards loans have been made by it as per the schedule.

The DMRC resumed its public services from September 7 following the Ministry of Home Affairs’ new guidelines, after more than five months.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centre suspended the Metro rail services in the last week of March.

The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has issued Standard Operating Procedures for the functioning of Metro trains allowed under the ‘Unlock 4’ guidelines.

Communal violence had erupted on the issue of Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Clashes broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 between protesters as well as supporters of CAA, which spiralled out of control to leave at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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