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Protesters take to streets against Chinese anthem law in Hong Kong

According to local media reports, security forces were preparing to deploy some 3,000 anti-riot officers in the city in the face of calls for mass protests by pro-democracy organizations.

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Hong Kong Protest

Hong Kong, May 27 : Hundreds of protesters on Wednesday gathered on the streets here against a contentious law criminalizing disrespect towards the Chinese national anthem, leading to the police making arrests and using tear gas on demonstrators.

State media RTHK said the protesters raised slogans such as “Disband the police immediately,” and “Five demands not one less,” one of the most repeated ones since the protests began last year.

They also tried to block traffic on the streets with items such as trash cans, amid the riot police warning them that they risked being arrested for illegal assembly if they did not disperse, Efe news reported.

Some shops in the area decided to ask their customers to leave and closed down over fears of the unrest escalating.

Shortly after 2 p.m. (local time), police issued a statement that the protesters were disrupting traffic and urged them to leave as soon as possible, while warning it would use minimum necessary force to enforce the law.

The Legislative Council (the Hong Kong parliament) on Wednesday was scheduled to debate a draft law seeking to penalize “disrespect” to the March of the Volunteers, or the Chinese national anthem.

If approved, anyone found to be misusing or showing disrespect to the anthem would face sentences of up to three years in prison and fines of up to HK$50,000.

According to local media reports, security forces were preparing to deploy some 3,000 anti-riot officers in the city in the face of calls for mass protests by pro-democracy organizations.

Earlier during the day, a few hundred protesters came out on the streets in different parts of the city, leading to the arrest of at least 16 people, and three of them were carrying Molotov cocktails.

Unrest has been fostering again in Hong Kong in recent days due to Beijing’s announcement that it was preparing a national security law for the semi-autonomous city, which is likely to be passed on Thursday.

According to Chinese National People’s Congress (legislature), the national security law will prohibit “any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion” against the central government, in addition to the “theft of state secrets and the organization of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political organizations,” terms that the Chinese Executive has previously used to curb dissent.

This move comes after nearly a year of pro-democracy mobilizations that have severely jolted Hong Kong’s economy and also resulted in clashes between the police and several violent protesters.

Article 23 of the Basic Law (which governs Hong Kong) stipulates that the city must endorse legislation on security made by Beijing, something that has always been extremely controversial among the population for fear that it would result in a reduction of freedoms.

Hong Kong has been gripped for several years by political unrest and demonstrations, which had been gaining momentum in the months leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, which led to them being suspended.

The territory was returned to Chinese control in 1997 after a century and a half of British rule, after London and Beijing signed a joint declaration in 1984 under which the UK renounced its last Asian colony.

This deal established a series of freedoms in the city for 50 years, many of which do not exist on mainland China.

India

Congress raises issue of students in US affected by change in policy

According to the IIE, F-1 students participate in academic course work while M-1 students are students of ”vocational course work.

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Abhishek Manu Singhvi

New Delhi, July 8 : After the US Department of Immigration and Custom Enforcement said that students whose classes are going completely online will not be issued visas for the next semester nor will such students be allowed to stay, the Congress has lashed out at the government for not paying heed to the sufferings of these students.

The Congress said the government should have settled the issue with their “so called friend Donald Trump.”

The US had more than one million international students enrolled in various graduate and undergraduate programmes in 2018-19, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE). That”s about 5.5 percent of the total student community in the country.

Out of these, nearly three-quarters were from Asia – 48 percent Chinese and 26 percent Indians.

According to the IIE, F-1 students participate in academic course work while M-1 students are students of ”vocational course work.

The Congress has also hit out at the government over the law passed in Kuwait which can make 8.5 lakh Indians jobless in the country.

Kuwait has approved the draft of a migrant quota bill and 8 lakh Indians may have to leave the country. The Indian community is the largest expatriate community in Kuwait, with a total population of about 1.45 million. Kuwait has a population of 4.3 million.

Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi asked what was the government doing when such a law was passed while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting these states frequently.

The party alleged that 120 million jobs were lost in April due to the lockdown imposed to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

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India

RGF has nothing to hide, why holy cows not questioned: Congress

The official said that a Special Director of the Enforcement Directorate will head the committee.

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Rajiv Gandhi Foundation

New Delhi, July 8 : After the Centre set up an inter-ministerial committee to probe alleged violations of legal provisions by the Gandhi family”s Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, the Congress on Wednesday hit back saying the RGF had nothing to hide.

Party Senior spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “RGF has nothing to fear, you have every ”yantra” and ”tantra”, we are here as law abiding persons.”

“But you have to be ”exposed fully”, you are not asking similar questions to any holy cows, like the Vivekananda Foundation, India Foundation, the Overseas Friends of the BJP and for that matter the RSS,” said Singhvi.

He said, “Whose blue eyed boys and girls are these organisations, which are never asked anything.”

Singhvi said, “There are two laws, for that matter there were many sets of rules for different entities for the government.”

Singhvi said the RGF was not going to be cowed down and will continue its work as an NGO and was prepared to give truckloads of papers.

The Ministry of Home Affairs constituted committee will coordinate investigations into the violation of provisions like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Income Tax Act and Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) by these foundations, a Home Ministry Spokesperson tweeted on Wednesday.

The official said that a Special Director of the Enforcement Directorate will head the committee.

The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was established on June 21, 1991. The foundation works on a range of issues, including literacy, health, disability, empowerment of the underprivileged, livelihood and natural resource management. Its current focus areas are education, disability and natural resource management.

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi is the Chairperson of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram are members of the board.

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India

Kerala gold smuggling: Brother not in talking terms with accused Swapna Suresh

Speaking to a Malayalam TV channel from the US on Wednesday, her brother Bright Suresh said that was not in talking terms with Swapna.

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Kerala gold smuggling

Thiruvananthapuram, July 8 : Swapna Suresh, the high-profile lady who moved in the corridors of power, rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in Kerala, was reportedly not in talking terms with her elder brother.

Swapna Suresh, a consultant with the Kerala IT department, is reportedly on the run after her name came up in the investigation into the gold smuggling scandal, which links her with top smugglers operating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Speaking to a Malayalam TV channel from the US on Wednesday, her brother Bright Suresh said that was not in talking terms with Swapna.

“We are three siblings, and I am the eldest one. We were all in the UAE and when I turned 17, I left for the the US from where I graduated. Now I am settled in the US and work with a telecom company. Swapna is the second sibbling while our youngest brother is settled in India,” said Suresh.

Their parents are settled in the suburbs of the state capital.

“When I went home a few years back, she had threatened me and warned me that if I didn’t return to the US, my hands and legs will be chopped. She was upset because she felt that I would get a share of the property, which she didn’t want. Me and my brother occasionally speak, and that’s it. I interact with my mother. My parents will decide on the property. I earn my own living,” said Suresh.

On Sunday, the Air Customs attached to the Thiruvananthapuram airport had seized 30 kg gold that arrived on a cargo flight and was kept in a warehouse for release. The baggage had arrived from Dubai and is understood to have been marked to the UAE Consulate which has its office in the heart of the state capital.

The Consulate’s PRO, Sarith, has been arrested, while the prime suspect in the smuggling racket, Swapna, a woman who wears many hats, is on the run. She also happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state.

She had worked in the Consulate office here for a while and was in good terms with Sarith.

It was only after the arrest of Sarith that the revelations turned murky as Swapna, who is presently a consultant with the Kerala IT department, was very close to senior IAS officer and Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, M. Sivasankar, who was also the IT Secretary.

With both the Congress and the BJP demanding that Vijayan should come clean, Sivasankar was on Tuesday removed from his office as well as from the post of IT Secretary.

Sivasankar later applied for a year”s leave, which has been sanctioned.

With the case getting huge media attention, the Union government has taken it up at the highest level, even as Vijayan on Tuesday night said that he was ready to face any probe.

“We have no say in the matter. We are ready to face any probe and the Centre can decide which agency should probe the matter,” said Vijayan.

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