Newsletter 15th June, 2018





Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid announced that Eid will be celebrated on June 16 (Saturday), as there was no sight of moon anywhere across the country on Thursday.





India reacted angrily after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) sought “establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir” and asked the governments of India and Pakistan to “fully respect the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir as protected under international law”.

“The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018 over which period allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations were received, notably excessive use of force by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties,’’ the report stated.

The report also took up human rights violations in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and asked Islamabad to “fully respect international human rights law obligations”.

India reacted sharply to the report, calling it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”, and lodged a strong protest with the United Nations, saying the government is “deeply concerned that individual prejudices are being allowed to undermine the credibility of a UN institution”.

“The report violates India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Pakistan is in illegal and forcible occupation of a part of the Indian state through aggression,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a strongly-worded statement.

The Opposition Congress came out in support of the government: “We reject the UN human rights report as a prejudiced attempt by vested interests to hurt India’s sovereignty and national interests. The Congress supports the government’s stand in dismissing the report. UNHRC has prepared the report remotely with zero understanding of the situation in J&K. How does the report justify terrorism by self-styled militants of JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen? Should the UN overlook the state-sponsored terrorism being exported to Indian soil by Pakistan?” Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said.





Editor Shujaat Bukhari had had several brushes with death during a two-and-a-half-decade-old journalistic career, enduring abductions, an attempt on his life and a brain haemorrhage. His luck ran out on Thursday.

The 52-year-old editor of English daily Rising Kashmir was shot dead inside his car moments after stepping out of his office at the busy and well-guarded press enclave in Srinagar to travel to an iftaar. His two personal security officers were killed too.

Bukhari was considered close to the power centres in the state. He was a globe-trotter, travelling frequently even to Pakistan, and is believed to have engaged in some “peace initiative” on Kashmir. He was also the younger brother of People’s Democratic Party minister Basharat Bukhari.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the attack.

The assassination has triggered fear among journalists, who have lost several colleagues to suspected militants’ bullets in the past and many of whom are perceived through the prism of the hyper-nationalist propaganda run by some national television channels.





The sit-in protest at Raj Niwas by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues entered its fourth day on Thursday as several Aam Aadmi Party leaders marched to LG Anil Baijal’s residence and chanted slogans such as “LG sahab, Delhi Chhodo (LG, quit Delhi)”.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal alleged that Baijal is doing “nothing” to break the impasse despite repeated requests from the party and sought the PM’s intervention in the case.

Meanwhile, several regional parties, including the Trinamool Congress, backed the Kejriwal-led protest. Appealing the Centre to resolve the crisis immediately, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted, “Elected Chief Minister must get due respect. May I appeal to the government of India and the LG to resolve the problem immediately so that people do not suffer.” Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary also called the situation in Delhi a “governance failure”.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also requested PM Modi’s intervention in the ongoing tussle between the Delhi government and the LG. In a letter addressed to the PM, Vijayan said, “I write to you in hope that the spirit of the Constitution will be upheld. I request your personal intervention to ensure that the work of the Delhi Government should proceed without hindrance,” he said.





Two government wings – the ministries of home and foreign affairs – on Thursday sought to blame each other after a media report said that fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi had visited three countries in March on an Indian passport Delhi had supposedly revoked in February.

The bank scam accused had travelled between the US and the UK and to Hong Kong on his passport between March 15 and March 31.

Interpol had recently informed Delhi that Nirav, accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore, had travelled four times on his passport – on March 15, 28, 30 and 31.

The foreign ministry had revoked Nirav’s passport in February after he failed to respond to a notice. Neither the ministry of external affairs nor the home ministry contested the report but did not give any formal explanation either.

Senior foreign ministry officials remained tight-lipped on Thursday on how Nirav could travel around the world using a passport that had been revoked. Sources claimed “the communication of revocation of passport to foreign immigration was within the home ministry’s ambit”.

Home ministry officials, however, blamed the MEA, saying it should have alerted all international airports.

The Congress expressed outrage over the issue and virtually accused the government of helping fraudsters who had fled the country.









Tough sanctions will remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearisation, the US secretary of state said on Thursday, apparently contradicting the North’s view that the process agreed at this week’s summit would be phased and reciprocal.

“President Trump has been incredibly clear about the sequencing of denuclearisation and relief from the sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after meeting South Korea’s president and Japan’s foreign minister in Seoul. “We are going to get complete denuclearisation; only then will there be relief from the sanctions,” he said.

North Korean state media reported on Wednesday Kim and Trump had recognised the principle of “step-by-step and simultaneous action” to achieve peace and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

Sceptics of how much the meeting achieved pointed to the North Korean leadership’s long-held view that nuclear weapons are a bulwark against what it fears are US plans to overthrow it and unite the Korean peninsula.

Pompeo insisted North Korea was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one”.





Pervez Musharraf’s hope of staging a political comeback by contesting the July 25 polls was quashed yesterday when Pakistan’s Supreme Court withdrew the conditional permission given earlier to the former dictator after he failed to appear before it.

Musharraf, the former military ruler has not returned to Pakistan since leaving for Dubai in March 2016 on the pretext of medical treatment.

The All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) chairperson had filed his nomination from the northern district of Chitral after the court last week allowed him to contest next month’s General Election but made it conditional on his appearance before it on June 13 in a case linked to his lifelong disqualification by the Peshawar HC in 2013.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had rebuked the former army chief for “cowardice”, taunting him for not appearing in court and had told him to appear by 2 pm yesterday.









In a huge relief to the AIADMK government, the Madras High Court on Thursday gave a split verdict on petitions challenging the disqualification of 18 MLAs loyal to sidelined party leader TTV Dhinakaran, a ruling that would maintain status quo in the corridors of power in Tamil Nadu.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar delivered divergent verdicts on whether the MLAs deserved to be disqualified under the anti-defection law  for seeking the removal of Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

The court ruled that the seniormost judge after the CJ would now pick a judge to hear the matter afresh.

The verdict came as a massive relief for the Palaniswami government as restoration of the MLAs’ membership could have brought it perilously close to losing majority in the event of their joining hands with the DMK-Congress-IUML alliance, which has 98 MLAs in the 234-member House.





The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (Mains) examination scheduled for June 18, saying “Judges are not and cannot be experts in all fields.”

A Vacation Bench headed by Justice UU Lalit, which set aside the Allahabad HC’s March 30 order for re-evaluation of answer sheets of the preliminary test, said judges must exercise restraint in interfering with the opinion of experts.

The verdict comes a day after the top court refused to quash Combined Legal Aptitude Test (CLAT)-2018 and ordered applying “normalisation” formula to compensate 4,690 candidates who were adversely affected by technical glitches in the May 13 test for admission to 19 national law universities.

“When there are conflicting views, then the court must bow down to the opinion of the experts. Judges are not and cannot be experts in all fields and, therefore, they must exercise great restraint and should not overstep their jurisdiction to upset the opinion of the experts,” said the Bench, which also included Justice Deepak Gupta.

The Bench said, “…the high court overstepped its jurisdiction by giving the directions, which amounted to setting aside the decision of experts in the field.”





The IITs on Thursday gave in to the government and revised their cut-off marks for BTech admission even after having declared the results, doing so for the first time since the Joint Entrance Examination Advanced was launched in 2013.

The Joint Admission Board lowered the cut-off for each social category, causing the merit list to swell from 18,138 candidates to 31,680.

This was done to address fears that many of the 12,079 seats on offer would remain vacant because the size of the merit list after the initial cut-offs was too small.

The IITs have a pre-determined cut-off of 35 per cent aggregate marks for general category candidates, followed by 31.5 per cent for the Other Backward Classes and 17.5 per cent for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Apart from this, the general candidates need to obtain 10 per cent marks in each of the individual papers – mathematics, physics and chemistry – while the OBCs need nine per cent and the Dalit and tribal candidates five per cent.





Dhivya Suryadevara, 39, an accomplished Indian-American chartered financial analyst, has been named the Chief Finance Officer of the US’ largest automaker, General Motors, the first woman to get the position in the auto industry.

Chennai-born Suryadevara will report to GM’s CEO Mary Barra, who has been head of the automaker since 2014 and is the only woman to run an automobile company.

Barra and Suryadevara are the first women in their respective positions in the auto industry. GM will join a very short list of S&P 500 companies, including Hershey Co. and American Water Works Co., with women serving as CEO and CFO.





The advent of technology has adversely impacted the lives of the elderly in the country, contributing to abuse and isolation. According to the 23-city report by HelpAge, India released on Thursday, 65 per cent elderly found their families paying a lot of attention to phones and computers disrespectful.

“While technology in itself is good and progressive, it also has adverse impacts in the lives of our elderly. It is extremely hurtful for the elderl, as they are unable to cope with this fast-paced technology and feel isolated,” Mathew Cherian, CEO, HelpAge India, said.

The survey revealed while 73 per cent elders felt their adult children were too busy on the phones, even when at home with them, over 60 per cent of them agreed quality time spent with their children and grandchildren had decreased owing to phones and computers. The social media, 78 per cent of the respondents said, had particularly decreased the family time spent together.





The trailer of the Sanjay Dutt biopic, starring Ranbir Kapoor, has become a talking point for several reasons, among which is a toilet scene that has ruffled some feathers. The scene shows the protagonist inside a jail cell, which is flooded with sewage from an overflowing toilet. The footage has reportedly prompted prison activist Prithvi Mhaske to file a complaint with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for showcasing prisons in a negative light.

Mhaske reportedly wrote a letter to Censor Board Chief, Prasoon Joshi, stating that, “As per the information available, the government and jail authorities are taking good care of all the barracks of the jails. We have never heard of any such incidents. This particular scene will make a bad impression about jails and jail authorities.”

The issue has sparked off a debate, with prison reformists agreeing with Mhaske’s objection, while film experts arguing in favour of the film’s makers. Vartika Nanda, a prison reformist, says, “There is no dedicated squad to clean prisons, and the inmates have to clean their cells themselves. But the toilet leakage scene (in the trailer) is an extreme case. The makers are trying to show the prisons in a negative light.”





Soumya Swaminathan is a 29-year-old grand master. She is the number-five ranked chess player in India. She has announced that she will not take part in a competition next month in Iran. She said this week she would not play in the upcoming tournament because of Iran’s law requiring women to wear headscarves. She called the law a violation of her human rights. “It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is to not go to Iran.”

Swaminathan was to be a part of the Indian team in the Asian Team Chess Competition. The event begins July 26 in Hamadan, Iran.





Russia’s Denis Cheryshev struck twice to give hosts an ideal start to their FIFA World Cup 2018 campaign as they beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of FIFA World Cup 2018 in Moscow on Thursday.

Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium erupted as Russia opened their scoreline after 12 minutes of the game with Yury Gazinsky scoring the first goal of the tournament. Cheryshev doubled the lead right before the half-time after coming as a replacement for Alan Dzagoev, who limped off the field due to a hamstring injury.

The second half turned out to be even better for the hosts as Artem Dzuyba made it 3-0. Dzuyba had an instant impact after replacing Fedor Smolov as he sent a header flying into the bottom right corner.

Even though it was no more a contest after Russia’s third goal, late efforts by Cheryshev and Aleksandre Golovin were cherries on top. While Cheryshev sent the ball soaring into the top corner with his left foot, Golovin followed with a brilliant finish, curling the ball to make it 5-0 and ending the Day 1 of the tournament in style.

Ranked 70th, Russia made the most of their relatively weak Group that comprises of Uruguay and Egypt other than Saudi Arabia and home support to set the ball rolling. The visitors failed to get a single shot on taget in the contest between the two lowest-ranked teams at the tournament.

The match took place in front of Russia President Vladimir Putin, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the VIP box. The win comes as a huge boost to the side who will face a comparatively tougher test when they meet Egypt on Tuesday and Uruguay later.

It was the first time that Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was available at a World Cup match, even though it was not used.





It was Afghanistan’s day. Yes, they were indeed thrilled and nervous to begin with; they did concede 280/1 at one stage, in some 51 overs, their pacers looking toothless and their spinners nervous and erratic. But the nerves eventually settled; India played a few false strokes, Afghanistan’s bowlers bowled some good balls and took five wickets for 63 runs in the final session. That halted the Indian charge, and Afghanistan edged back into the game.

At 347/6, India are in control, but Afghanistan are not out of the game.

Shikhar Dhawan became the first Indian, and 6th overall, to score a 100 before lunch on Day 1 of a Test; the previous Indian best being 99 by Virender Sehwag against West Indies in Gros Islet in 2006.





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The basis of insincerity is the idealized image we hold of ourselves and wish to impose on others. – Anais Nin





A man goes to the doctor for a routine check up.

Doctor: All you need is a lot of rest. Here, take these sleeping pills – one in the morning and one in the evening……for your wife!!

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