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Power politics at play on Bal Thackeray’s death anniversary



Bal Thackeray-

Mumbai, Nov 17 Amidst the tussle to form the government in Maharashtra, power politics was in full swing on the seventh death anniversary of Shiv Sena founder late Balasaheb Thackeray, here on Sunday.

For the first time, leaders of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) paid homage to Bal Thackeray, both through messages and by making personal visits to Shiv Tirth, the memorial at Shivaji Park in Dadar west.

The leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Sena’s former ally, also joined in to pay rich tributes to the late Sena supremo.

The day started with thousands of Shiv Sainiks from across Maharashtra queuing up at the Shiv Tirth to offer tributes to the charismatic leader, who passed away on this day in 2012.

NCP President Sharad Pawar, who was in Pune for a party meeting, paid rich tributes to Bal Thackeray with whom he shared a warm and personal friendship.

“Balasaheb Thackeray raised his voice for the self-respect and pride of ‘Marathi Manoos’. He was a courageous personality and a unique orator who enjoyed the endless affection of his followers. We bow down to him,” Pawar said.

Later, NCP state President Jayant Patil, former Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and senior leader Jitendra Awhad paid their respects at Shivaji Park.

An erstwhile close confidante of the late leader, Bhujbal was seen getting emotional and he later recalled the relationship he enjoyed with the late Thackeray.

Congress leaders, including Bhai Jagtap, came and paid homage and recalled Bal Thackeray’s services to the state and the people of Maharashtra.

Subsequently, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, his wife Rashmi, sons Aditya and Tejas, other family members and top party leaders visited Shivaji Park and offered floral tributes at the statue of Bal Thackeray.

Sometime later, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis — who earlier tweeted “Balasaheb has taught us self-respect” with a video — accompanied by his former ministerial colleagues Vinod Tawade and Pankaja Munde paid floral tributes.

They did not go inside the Shiv Tirth memorial where several Sena leaders were present, but quickly left as some Shiv Sainiks were seen shouting ‘Mee punha yaeen’ (I will return), the poll slogan of Fadnavis, and ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai’, Sena’s war cry.

Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said that Bal Thackeray had shown the path of ‘Hindutva’ to the party and the country. “Shiv Sena had promised its own CM to him (Bal Thackeray), and you will see that dream being realised soon,” Raut said.

The Congress-NCP and Sena are currently engaged in finalising their upcoming alliance before forming the state government.

A stunned BJP is still hoping that the Sena will have a change of heart and come around, but is simultaneously claiming that it will form the government despite having 105 MLAs, plus reportedly the support of 14 others, including Independents.

To give final touches to the alliance with Sena, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and NCP President Sharad Pawar are scheduled to meet in New Delhi on Tuesday, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said.

Signalling a formal split, the Sena did not attend a crucial NDA meet on Sunday, while the party’s MPs in the Parliament have been given a new seating arrangement with the Opposition for the winter session starting Monday.

Revered in the state as ‘Balasaheb’, the late Bal Thackeray was a cartoonist-turned-politician who founded the Shiv Sena in 1966 to raise the voice of the Marathi people. He became one of the biggest political figures in the state for the next five decades till his demise in 2012 at the age of 86.


AIIMS JPNATC MS replaced after report on journo’s death filed

The journalist worked for a Hindi daily and lived with his wife and two children in northeast Delhi”s Bhajanpura.




Harsh Vardhan

New Delhi, July 11 : Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan ordered immediate replacement of Medical Superintendent of AIIMS Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre (JPNATC) after a 4-member inquiry committee constituted to examine the suicide of journalist Tarun Sisodiya submitted its reported.

The report submitted by the committee on Friday said that no malafide intent was found in the death of the journalist.

“Directed that an expert committee be constituted to suggest suitable changes in administration, for AIIMS as well as JPNATC. The report, along with its recommendations, shall be submitted before me by July 27, 2020,” Harsh Vardhan tweeted.

“The committee did not find any malafide intent in the death of Mr Sisodiya. It also did not find any lapses in the treatment protocol of #Covid19,” he said.

Earlier, a 37-year-old journalist undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at the AIIMS Trauma Centre in Delhi since June 24 died after allegedly jumping off the fourth floor of the hospital building on July 6.

The journalist worked for a Hindi daily and lived with his wife and two children in northeast Delhi”s Bhajanpura.

Following the incident, Union Health Minister then asked the AIIMS Director to set a panel to probe the matter.

He was making significant recovery from COVID symptoms. He earlier underwent a surgery for frontal lobe meningioma (a type of brain tumour) at the G B Pant hospital in March 2020.

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United Nations chief wants Sathankulam killings in Tamil Nadu investigated




Antonio Guterres

United Nations, July 11 : UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants the death of a father and a son from Sathankulam in Tamil Nadu while in police custody with alleged signs of torture investigated, according to his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“Every death of all these cases as a principle need to be fully investigated,” Dujarric said on Friday when he was asked about the deaths of P Jayaraj and his son J Fennix, allegedly due to torture by police after their arrest on June 19.

Human rights organisations have called for ensuring police accountability in India.

Human Rights Watch South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said, “As the world responds with horror at the killing of George Floyd, it is important for authorities in India to also embark upon robust efforts to ensure police reform, accountability, and putting an end to the culture of impunity.”

The killing of Floyd by police in Minneapolis has sparked a nation-wide movement in the US that has brought out into the open long-standing tradition of police brutality against minorities. The protests have spread to several countries around the world leading to an examination of police conduct, particularly towards minorities, and demands for reforms to end impunity.

Ganguly said about the Sathankulam case, “Despite numerous court directives and arrest procedures, the two recent deaths in Tamil Nadu has exposed yet again how police officers believe not only that they have the right to ‘teach someone a lesson’, but as was reported in the magistrate’s inquiry, that they will not be held accountable.”

Amnesty International India Executive Director Avinash Kumar said, “The deaths of Jayaraj and Fennix once again signal towards India’s continuing failure to hold its police accountable.”

He noted that “according to the 2018 National Crimes Record Bureau data, Tamil Nadu accounted for the second highest deaths in custody”.

“The Tamil Nadu State government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the torture meted out by its police officers. It must show firm resolve by punishing the police officers involved and ensuring that Jayaraj and Fennix’s families get justice.”

Although torture has been outlawed in international law for over three decades, they are still not recognized as distinct crimes under Indian law, he said.

“India signed the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment in 1997, but has not yet passed domestic legislation that will enable it to ratify the Convention,” he said.

The Prevention of Torture Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2010 but has lapsed without the Rajya Sabha passing it.

The arrest of Jayaraj and Fennix, who ran a mobile phone shop, was reportedly related to the COVID-19 regulations on store closings.

They were taken to jail in Kovilpatti and Jayaraj died on June 21 and his son the next morning with signs of torture.

Merchants in Tamil Nadu held a one-day protest and there were other sporadic protests in Tamil Nadu but demonstrations were dampened by COVID-19 restrictions.

The Madras High Court has ordered an inquiry by police and six police personnel have been charged, with at least six arrested.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

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India, China are partners not rivals: Chinese Ambassador



H E Sun Weidong and JP Nadda

New Delhi, July 10 : Amid ongoing tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, Chinese Ambassador to India, H.E. Sun Weidong, on Friday said that India and China should be partner and not rivals.

Weidong released a video message talking about the recent stand-off between the two countries in Galwan region in eastern Ladakh.

The Ambassador said that the June 15 violent clash in Galwan Valley, which caused casualties on both sides, was not seen as coming by either China, or India.

Weidong also said that Chinese frontline troops were disengaging from the ground in accordance with the consensus reached.

On July 5, China”s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and India”s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had talked over the phone and reached a positive consensus on easing the border tension.

The Ambassador added that some quarters in India have raised doubts about the consensus reached by the leaders and have a wrong perception about China-India ties.

These have brought disruptions in the bilateral relations. “In this regard, it is imperative for us to clarify some fundamental points,” he said.

He pointed out that India and China should be partners rather than rivals, and both the countries have a history of friendly exchanges of more than 2,000 years.

He also said that during the Wuhan Informal Summit in 2018, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stressed that the two countries provide each other with development opportunities instead of posing threats, which the two sides should adhere to.

“This is the fundamental judgment on China-India relations charting the course for the development of our bilateral relations,” he said.

The Ambassador pointed out that he has noticed some emerging opinions in recent days, which repudiate the essence of China-India relationship due to the border-related incidents, make false assumptions about China”s intentions, exaggerate conflicts and provoke confrontation.

He said, “It is not the fact. It is harmful indeed and not helpful. China and India have jointly advocated the five principals of peaceful coexistence and uphold independent foreign policies. We should naturally see each other as positive factor in the changing global landscape and as well as partners in realising our respective dream of development.”

The Ambassador said that the two countries should not allow differences to interfere with bilateral relations.

He added that since the boundary question has been left by history, it is now necessary to find a fair and reasonable solution that is acceptable to both countries through consultation and negotiations.

“In the absence of the ultimate solution, both the countries agreed to maintain peace and tranquility in the border area,” he said.

The Ambassador pointed out that for China, peace was of paramount importance.

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