AAP Councillor Tahir Booked For Killing Intel Officer

An FIR was registered against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain for allegedly murdering Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer Ankit Sharma.

The FIR was registered at Dayalpur Police Station based on the complaint of Sharma’s father Ravinder Kumar.

Along with Section 302 (punishment for murder), the FIR also mentions Section 201 (disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Delhi Police have also sealed a factory belonging to Hussain in the North-East Delhi’s Khajoori Khaas area.

Earlier, family members of Sharma had alleged that a few people who were pelting stones from the building belonging to Hussain in Chand Bagh, had killed Sharma.

His body was recovered from North-East Delhi’s Chand Bagh area here on Wednesday.

Ankit’s father Ravinder Kumar has stated that his son was attacked while he was returning from duty.

At least 38 people including a police Head Constable and Sharma have died while around 200 people sustained serious injuries in the violence that raged for three days in the North-East Delhi.


HC Judge Who Ordered FIRs Against BJP Leaders Shifted

Delhi High Court judge Justice S Muralidhar was on Wednesday transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A government notification about the transfer was issued on Wednesday which said that after consultation with Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday transferred Justice S Muralidhar, judge of Delhi High Court, as Judge of Punjab and Haryana High court.

The notification further said the President has directed Muralidhar to assume charge of his office in Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Supreme Court Collegium had in its meeting held on February 12 recommended to transfer Justice Muralidhar from the Delhi High Court to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) last week condemned the transfer recommendation and also passed a resolution unanimously regarding this.

The Bar Association had expressed shock and dismay at the transfer of one of the finest judges by the collegium of the Supreme Court.

Condemning his transfer, the Bar Association had said: “Such transfers are not only detrimental to our noble Institution but also tend to erode and dislodge the faith of the common litigant in the justice dispensation system.”

The Delhi High Court Bar Association had requested for the revisit of the issue and to recall the move to transfer Muralidhar.

The Delhi High Court Bar Association also abstain from work last week as a token of protest against the transfer and said: “It is a rarest of rare case, the majesty of our revered institution is at stake.”

On Wednesday a division bench of Justice Muralidhar and Justice Talwant Singh, while hearing a plea seeking a judicial enquiry into the violence and registration of FIR against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Pravesh Verma for allegedly making hate speeches, adjourned the matter till tomorrow.

The bench on Wednesday afternoon also directed the Delhi Police to examine the videos related to hate speeches by political leaders, which allegedly led to violence in northeast Delhi, and take a decision in the matter.

Justice S Muralidhar along with Justice Anup J. Bhambhani also heard a matter related to Delhi violence on Tuesday midnight. They heard a plea seeking safe passage of injured victims of violence in New Delhi to medical institutions with adequate facilities.

The Bench had than directed the Delhi Police to ensure safe passage of the injured victims by deploying all resources, as well as to make sure they receive immediate emergency treatment.

After completing his law practice, Justice Muralidhar shifted to the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court in 1987. He was appointed judge of Delhi High Court in 2006.


Pak Reports 2 Cases Of Coronavirus, Stops Flights To Iran

Pakistan on Thursday announced the suspension of all flights to and from Iran — the Middle Eastern country which has reported the most fatalities from novel coronavirus.

The suspension will come into force from the midnight of February 27 and will remain in place till further orders, Pakistan’s Aviation Division said.

“The Aviation Division has decided to cease all direct flights between Pakistan and Iran with effect from midnight between 27 and 28 February 2020 till further notice,” Dawn reported Joint Secretary of Aviation Abdul Sattar Khokhar, as saying.

The development has come a day after Pakistan reported two cases of the novel coronavirus, involving people who had recently returned from Iran.

It may be noted that the rail and road movement between the two countries had already been suspended earlier this week.

Iran has reported over 20 deaths for novel coronavirus — the highest outside of China, which has been the epicentre of the outbreak. (ANI)

Capital Communal Violence: Toll Mounts To 20 On Wed

The death toll in the violence between pro and anti CAA protestors in the areas of North-East Delhi has risen to 20 on Wednesday, according to GTB Hospital authorities.

“Out of the people that were brought to the hospital 189 are injured and 20 are dead,” said Sunil Kumar Gautam Medical Superintendent, Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital.

On Tuesday, the death toll was 13. Curfew was imposed last evening in violence-hit areas of the North-East district to bring the situation under control.

With sporadic incidents of violence being reported from the area, government sources have told ANI that the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval has been given the charge of bringing normalcy in the capital.

Sources also said that Doval is also likely to brief Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Cabinet about the prevailing situation.

Notably, the NSA last night had visited Jafrabad, Seelampur and other parts of North-East Delhi where he held talks with leaders of different communities. (ANI)

Delhi Riots: Police File 18 FIRs, Arrest 106 People

Delhi Police have registered 18 FIRs and 106 people have been arrested in connection with the communal violence in northeast Delhi, Delhi Police spokesman MS Randhawa said on Wednesday.

“Till now Delhi Police have registered 18 FIRs and 106 people have been arrested in connection with the incidents in northeast Delhi. Miscreants are being identified. We have CCTV footage and strong evidence. No untoward incident took place today,” said Randhawa while addressing a press conference.

“We have deployed sufficient force today including additional companies of paramilitary forces. Senior officers were also monitoring closely. Senior officers were themselves monitoring PCR calls in different areas,” he added.

Randhawa added that drones were also used for surveillance. The rooftops from where people had pelted stones were also scanned through drones today.

“Public can call on 011-22829334 and 011-22829335 for any help or information. I would like to appeal to the public to not pay heed to rumours. The situation is under control today,” said Randhawa.

At least 20 persons, including a police head constable, have died while around 200 people have sustained serious injuries in the communal violence that raged for three days in the northeast Delhi. Properties worth crores of rupees have been damaged in the arson.

People have blamed the Delhi Police for inaction while the violence was raging. (ANI)

‘We Lost Our Child To Delhi Communal Riots, Save Others’

Rahul Solanki, 25, an engineer, was allegedly shot by a violent mob in Karawal Nagar area in Northeast Delhi. His uncle Sanjeev S Solanki recounts how police inaction was responsible for their loss

Ours is the only Hindu house at a Muslim-majority locality in Karawal Nagar. We always wanted to relocate as many Hindus of the locality sold their houses over a period of time and moved. We remain the only Hindu family there. It seems we failed to sell our house in time and it is too late now.

The tension in Karawal Nagar began from Sunday. There were incidents of stone pelting in the neighborhood and some violent clashes between pro- and anti-Citizenship Act groups. There was no police presence in our area and possibly that emboldened the miscreants.

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We were cautious as we are the only Hindu family in the area. On Monday, when Rahul went to his job, we saw escalation of violence near our area on news channels. The family called him and asked him to be home early and stay safe.

When Rahul reached home, we heaved a sigh of relief. But after a few minutes, he went out to buy grocery from a nearby shop and a few gunshots were heard. We were informed that Rahul had been shot by a group of protesters from close range. We rushed to the spot and took him to GTB (Guru Teg Bahadur) hospital where he was declared dead. His father and mother are inconsolable.

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What was the fault of Rahul? He was not part of any protest, he was targeted because of his religion. He had no political affiliation. He was just a breadwinner for his family. We had high hopes from him and were planning to fix his marriage soon.

Over last two days every time we heard commotion outside our house, we called at police control room for help and reassurance. But there was no response. Police came only after Rahul was killed. What good is this force now for us?

We don’t want any violence; we don’t want any revenge; we have lost a son and; we don’t want others to face what we are facing today. But justice should be delivered to us.

I appeal our politicians to come out of their houses and visit the affected areas. All of them should witness what happened to us and call upon people not to indulge in violence. They were out making speeches during election campaigning. Where are they holed up now when the vote needs them?

Common people have little to do with CAA or NRC. Rahul was targeted because police presence was not there. There shall be no space and no support for violent protests in the country. Why can’t the police shoot back to those who are shooting at innocent residents? What is stopping them? I feel Delhi needs rule of an iron hand to deal with such murderous mob. Or else many more innocents will die.


IAF Special Flight To Evacuate Indians Reaches Wuhan

An Indian Air Force (IAF) special flight carrying around 15 tonnes of medical assistance comprising masks, gloves and other emergency medical equipment, landed in the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

“Consignment (15 tonnes) of Indian medical relief for #COVID19 lands in Wuhan. Strong expression of our solidarity with the Chinese people at this difficult time. Thank you @IAF_MCC and @EOIBeijing for your efforts,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted.

The medical supplies will help augment China’s efforts to control the outbreak of this infection which has claimed more than 2700 lives in the country and has been declared as a Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“This assistance has been provided in the wake the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in China and the request by China to provide supplies such as masks and medical equipment,” the MEA said in an earlier statement.

The IAF flight will also bring back Indian and foreign nationals from some of the neighbouring countries, who had sought assistance in travelling to India, in keeping with New Delhi’s neighbourhood first policy.

The development comes more than two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to Chinese President Xi Jinping, offering assistance to China amid the outbreak of the disease.

“The assistance being sent today is also a mark of friendship and solidarity from the people of India towards the people of China as the two countries also celebrate 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year,” the statement read. (ANI)

India Trip Was Great, Very Successful, Says Trump

United States President Donald Trump has described his India visit as “great” and “very successful.”

“Just landed. India was great, trip very successful. Heading to the White House. Meetings and calls scheduled today. @CDCgov, @SecAzar and all doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus! Briefing this afternoon,” Trump tweeted.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, who was part of a 12-member delegation accompanying the US President to India, also took to Twitter to write: “We just landed in DC after a very productive 36 hours in India! President @realDonaldTrump reaffirmed the strong strategic partnership, vibrant economic ties & expanding security relationship between our two countries. Wonderful trip, but glad to be home! Thank you India!”

Over the course of his nearly-36-hour-long trip, the US President participated in a host of engagements including a roadshow, visit to the Taj Mahal, addressing a mammoth crowd at the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at Ahmedabad, among others.

During the visit, India and the United States further strengthened their defence cooperation, with the two countries giving a nod to an agreement under which India will get USD 3 billion of advanced military equipment including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters. (ANI)

Is Hindutva Hanging By A Thread In Bengal?

Hindutva is no longer the rabble rouser vote bank as it was in the last national election. When the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party won an emphatic victory in the recent Delhi assembly election, opposition leaders were quick to point that the Bharatiya Janata Party will have to recalibrate its strategy of polarisation now that it had been roundly rejected by the electorate of yet another state.

However, it would be extremely difficult for the saffron party to abandon its majoritarian agenda in the forthcoming state elections. For the BJP, hardline Hindutva, strident nationalism and communal talk is an article of faith.

Hindutva seems to have worked for BJP in the last election. It probably sees the current run of defeats as aberrations. Besides the Hindutva strategy helps divert attention from bread and butter issues at a time when the economy is tottering. An election is the occasion for the BJP to propagate its ideology.

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In fact, the BJP’s high-decibel poll campaign in Delhi with its focus on the Shaheen Bagh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act was meant not just to consolidate the Hindu vote in the Capital but also to send out a message across the country that this agitation is led by minorities and that the amended citizenship law actually enjoys popular support.

Among the opposition leaders, West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee appears most vulnerable in this regard. Determined to add West Bengal to its kitty, the BJP has opted for a brazenly communal narrative to dethrone Banerjee. Having met with remarkable success in the last Lok Sabha election when it surprised everyone by winning 18 seats and increased its vote share to 40 percent, the BJP has every reason to persist with this strategy. It remains undeterred by the fact that its attempts to focus on Article 370 and triple talaq did not cut much ice with the voters in Haryana, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.

It will not be surprising if the BJP’s polarising and divisive rhetoric gets more shrill as it begins preparations for next year’s assembly election in a state which has a 27 percent Muslim population.

The very fact that the BJP has re-elected Dilip Ghosh as president of the party’s West Bengal unit, is a clear message that the saffron party has no intention of going back on its communal agenda. Known for using vitriolic language, Ghosh is constantly stoking controversies with his inciting statements. Ghosh was in the eye of a storm recently when he described the anti-CAA protesters as “illiterate and uneducated” who are being fed biryani and “paid with foreign funds” to continue with their agitation. He constantly refers to the issue of infiltration in his speeches and has, on several occasions, thundered that all Bangladeshi Muslims in the state will be identified and chased out of India!

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Not only has the BJP campaign reopened the old wounds inflicted in the communal riots during the state’s partition of 1905, it has also been helped by the fact that Mamata Banerjee is seen to be appeasing the minorities. The Trinamool Congress chief who is personally leading the prolonged protests against the amended citizenship law as well as the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register, has given the BJP enough fodder to push ahead with its communal agenda.

Undoubtedly the Delhi defeat came as a rude shock for the BJP but, at the same time, its leaders believe the party increased its tally from three to eight seats and improved its vote share from 32 to 38 percent because it made the anti-CAA protests as the centre piece of its campaign.

It’s still too early to say if the BJP’s strategy will succeed but, at present, Mamata Banerjee has the first mover advantage over her political rival. While the saffron party lacks a strong party organisation in West Bengal and has no credible chief ministerial candidate, the Trinamool Congress chief is already in election mode.

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Like Kejriwal, she has stopped taking personal potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is instead emphasising her governance record. She has also taken the lead in articulating the dangers of the amended citizenship law, the NPR and NRC. Mamata Banerjee is taking no chances as she realizes she can ill-afford to underestimate the BJP as she had done in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

But before it goes for broke in West Bengal, the BJP will test the waters in Bihar which is headed for polls later this year. Not only does the state have a 17 percent Muslim population, the opposition (the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress) has staunchly opposed the CAA, reason enough for the saffron party to polarise the electorate on religious lines.

Besides, the BJP is banking on its alliance partner, Bihar chief minister and Janata Dal (U) president Nitish Kumar to act as a buffer against its strident campaign. Though Nitish Kumar has endorsed the CAA, he has not framed his support for the law on communal lines. Moreover, the Bihar chief minister measures his words carefully and is not known to use extreme language. This, the BJP feels, should help the alliance offset any possible adverse repercussions of the saffron party’s high-pitched tirade against those opposing the CAA.

However, if Mamata Benarjee can repeat AAP’s massive success in Bengal, voices in Bengal may start questioning Hindutva. Hindutva may be hanging by a thread.

10 Dead, 186 Injured In Delhi Communal Violence: Police

At least 10 persons have died and 186 are injured in the communal violence that erupted in North-East Delhi on Monday, police said here on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately 10 deaths have occurred including the death of Head Constable Ratan Lal. DCP Shahdara also sustained head injuries in the violence. 56 police personnel and 130 civilians have been injured in the riots,” Delhi Police PRO MS Randhawa told reporters here.

“Section 144 has been imposed in the affected areas. We appeal to the people to maintain peace and not to believe in rumours. I appeal to people especially in North East Delhi to not take law in their hands. We are taking the help of drones also. The situation is now under control,” he added.

Randhawa denied that there is a shortage of police force in the affected areas.

“I deny that there is any deficiency of the Police force. Sufficient forces have been deployed in the North-East district. CRPF, RAF and additional resources of Delhi police are also active. 11 FIRs have been registered and a few persons have been detained,” he said.

Earlier today, Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and other political leaders regarding the violence and the prevailing situation in Delhi.