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US honours Indian democracy for robust debate on CAA: Pompeo

So far, President Donald Trump’s administration has not taken a stand on the CAA, although the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said last week that it was “deeply troubled” by it, adding that Washington should sanction Home Minister Amit Shah.

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Resolution against CAA

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has noted that there was a “robust debate” within India over the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and that Washington honours Indian democracy.

Asked by a reporter about Washington’s reaction to the CAA, Pompeo said: “We honour Indian democracy as they have a robust debate inside of India on the issue that you raised, and the US will be consistent in the way that we respond to these issues, not only in India but all across the world.

“We care deeply and always will about protecting minorities, protecting religious rights everywhere.”

At a joint news conference attended by Pompeo, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister after their 2+2 Strategic Dialogue in Washington on Wednesday, the reporter asked Jaishankar: “Why make religion a factor in deciding who gets fast-tracked for citizenship?”

Defending the CAA, Jaishankar explained: “If you had followed the debate on that particular legislation carefully, you would see that it is a measure which is designed to address the needs of persecuted religious minorities from certain countries.

“If you look at where – what those countries are, and therefore what the minorities are, perhaps you’d get – you’d understand why certain religions were identified in terms of categorising those who had come across.”

So far, President Donald Trump’s administration has not taken a stand on the CAA, although the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said last week that it was “deeply troubled” by it, adding that Washington should sanction Home Minister Amit Shah.

https://twitter.com/USCIRF/status/1230146257890480128?s=20

But the Commission does not have the power to sanction anyone or any government but can make recommendations that can be followed up by the government or Congress.

The CAA aims to give refuge and faster citizenship to give refuge to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains fleeing religious persecution from the officially Islamic Pakistan and Afghanistan and Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

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

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UK lockdown could be extended into May: Report

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London, April 9 (IANS) Ministers were said to be preparing to extend the UK lockdown into May, with advisers insisting the coronavirus peak could still be 10 days away, a media report said on Thursday.

In Wednesday’s Downing Street briefing, Indian-origin Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to give any hints on if the restrictions would be eased, adding there would be a Cobra meeting to review the situation on Thursday, chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is currently deputising for the coronavirus-stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the Metro newspaper report.

Johnson was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday, on the advice of his doctor, after continuing to have a cough and high temperature 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

The Prime Minister was given oxygen before being taken to intensive care on Monday. He was currently “responding to treatment” and remained clinically stable.

The government has reportedly been told that the country’s deadliest day could be April 18, meaning that Britons will be told to stay inside until at least next month, according to the newspaper.

The news comes after the UK death toll jumped by 938 people in just one day, taking the total number of fatalities to 7.097, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 61,474.

In the press briefing on Wednesday, Sunak claimed that the government was currently focusing on the “here, the now and the present” rather than when the restrictions will end.

When pressed on the issue by journalists, he responded: “What really matters is that people stay at home.”

Also On Wednesday, the Downing Street said a review of lockdown rules would go ahead next week, but the public must “stick with” the measures at what was a “critical time”, the BBC reported.

A ban on public gatherings of more than two people and the closure of shops selling non-essential goods were among the series of restrictions announced by Johnson on March 23 to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Downing Street said a relaxation of the rules would be considered “on or around” the three-week mark on April 13.

Speaking to the BBC, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I think we’re nowhere near lifting the lockdown.

“We think the peak – which is the worst part of the virus – is still probably a week and a half away.”


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Islamic State launches rocket attack on Bagram air base in Kabul

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New Delhi/Kabul, April 9 (IANS) The Islamic State Khorasan Province launched yet another rocket attack on Bagram air base on Thursday, making it their third such assault this year in Afghanistan.

The ISKP claimed the responsibility for the early morning rocket attack on the base in Parwan, Afghanistan.

Sources said though four to five BM1 rockets were fired at the airfield using a vehicle parked in the village of Dasht-e-Ufian, no casualties were reported. The vehicle was blown up, either by the Islamic State or the Afghan forces in retaliation.

A rocket attack on the Bagram air base last month was the first on NATO forces since the signing of the US-Taliban peace deal.

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Over 800 people stranded in virus-hit Wuhan return to Beijing

More than 61,000 people who work or live in Beijing have returned from Hubei Province since March 25.

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Beijing, April 9 : The first batch of 866 people stranded in virus-hit Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, has arrived in Beijing by a train after Wuhan lifted its outbound travel restrictions on the same day.

Beijing residents who were stranded in Wuhan are required to apply for a return through a mini-program on instant messaging app WeChat. Statistics showed that more than 11,000 people asked for a return to the national capital, said Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, at a press conference on Wednesday, reported Xinhua news agency.

Starting Wednesday, around 1,000 stranded people are expected to return to Beijing from Wuhan each day via train or car. They should undergo nucleic acid testing (NAT) in Wuhan within seven days before departure, Chen said.

The transport of the people will be carried out in a well-organized and spot-to-spot way, and all returned personnel will be brought under closed-loop management, with a two-week mandatory quarantine, either at home or at a designated venue. Another round of NAT is required after the quarantine, Chen noted.

More than 61,000 people who work or live in Beijing have returned from Hubei Province since March 25.

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