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HomeWeekly Top NewsTop news of the week from 1.7.2021 to 7.7.2021

Top news of the week from 1.7.2021 to 7.7.2021

‘Planted game from Home Minister’s office’: Mamata accuses BJP of defaming Bengal govt

July 1, 2021

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that there is a discussion about the on national television everyday, accusing the Home Minister’s office of hatching conspiracy to “defame” her government.

She further said that the state government is taking strong action against the fake vaccine scam.

“Every day there is a discussion about West Bengal on national TV, BJP is dictating TV and they are giving misinformation. They want to defame us. It’s a planted game from Home Minister’s office, I am sure about it,” she said.

The Chief Minister further said that states that are smaller than West Bengal have got more vaccine doses.

“We got 1.99 crore vaccine doses and we have administered 1.90 crore doses. Today we don’t have vaccines so we are giving only second dose in Kolkata,” she said.

Banerjee’s outburst against the Centre came hours after the Union Health Ministry asked her government to inquire into instances of COVID-19 vaccination camps being organised allegedly by unauthorised people in some areas of Kolkata and submit a report in the next two days.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to Hari Krishna Dwivedi, Chief Secretary of West Bengal, sought a factual report on the matter.

Bhushan referred to a letter written to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan by Suvendu Adhikari, Leader of Opposition in West Bengal, on June 25 in which attention has been drawn to the instances of COVID-19 vaccination camps being organised allegedly by unauthorised people.

It is also pointed out that in some of these camps, and notably in Kasba locality of Kolkata Municipal area, none of the beneficiaries have received any vaccination certificates generated from Co-WIN, giving rise to apprehensions about the genuineness of these vaccination camps, Bhushan said in his letter.

“It is requested that the matter may be urgently enquired into and the factual position about the serious allegations raised in the letter referred to above, clarified immediately and that, suitable and strict action may be taken in the matter, if necessary. It is also requested that a factual report on the matter may be sent to this ministry in the next two days,” he said. Timesnownews.com

Pakistan rubbishes Indian claims about drone being spotted over high commission in Islamabad

July 2, 2021

Islamabad: The Foreign Office on Friday dismissed allegations by India’s External Affairs Ministry regarding a “drone” being spotted over the Indian High Commission in Islamabad as “patently false”.

The statement came after the Indian foreign ministry claimed that a drone was sighted over the premises of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on June 26.

“This has been taken up officially with Pakistan. We expect Pakistan to investigate the incident and prevent recurrence of such breach of security,” NDTV quoted the Indian Ministry of External Affairs as saying in a statement.

Responding to the claims, FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said: “We have seen the Indian MEA’s statement and reports in certain sections of the Indian media alleging a drone flying over the premises of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.”

He said these “preposterous” claims were contrary to the facts and “no proof whatsoever has been shared with Pakistan to substantiate these allegations.”

Chaudhri pointed out that “this propaganda campaign by India” was happening at a time when evidence gathered in the recent Lahore blast was largely pointing to “external forces with a history of perpetrating state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan”.

“Pakistan rejects these patently false allegations and diversionary Indian tactics and will continue to stand by the people of [Indian-occupied Kashmir] in their just struggle for the right to self-determination, as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions.”

Two days ago, the FO had also rejected the Indian allegations about Pakistan’s role in a drone attack in occupied Kashmir and termed them “irresponsible”.

“Pakistan categorically rejects the irresponsible and misleading statement by Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy regarding an alleged drone attack in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” it had said. Reddy had earlier said that Pakistan’s role could not be ruled out in the Jammu Air Force station attack.

“The use of Pakistan card either to win an election or to divert attention from an electoral defeat has also unfortunately become a standard practice,” the FO statement had added. APP

Spat between IAF Chief & CDS Bipin Rawat accelerates

July 3, 2021

New Delhi: The bitter spat within the Indian armed forces has accelerated with the Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria rejecting Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat’s views that the IAF remains a supporting arm just as artillery or engineers support the fighting forces.

According to Indian media, IAF Chief reiterated that Airforce has not a supporting role alone as air power has a huge role to play. In any of the integrated battle areas, it’s not an issue of support alone a whole lot of things go into any air plan that’s made.

Responding to statement of Bipin Rawat, whose appointment is considered political by most sectors of the society, IAF’s RKS Bhadauria said he would not like to go to the media and describe what his concerns are, what the Air Force has said or what somebody else has said.

Earlier, Bipin Rawat had made a controversial statement and said “Do not forget the IAF continues to remain a supporting arm just as artillery support or engineers support the combatant arm in the Army. They will be a supporting arm.” Web Desk

25 killed in Myanmar clashes between army and anti-junta fighters

July 5, 2021

Yangon: Twenty-five anti-junta fighters and civilians were killed during clashes with the military in central Myanmar, villagers said as locals increasingly take up arms against the regime in the coup-wracked country.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since a February coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi s government, with 890 people killed in a junta crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

In some areas civilians have formed “defence forces” to combat the State Administration Council, as the junta dubs itself, often using hunting rifles or makeshift weapons cobbled together from household items.

The central Sagaing region has been the site of multiple skirmishes between defence forces and the military, and on Friday fighting broke out in Depayin township.

Residents told AFP that military trucks entered their area and opened fire on a village near the jungle hoping to flush out members of the local defence force.

“We heard the shooting of artillery 26 times,” said a villager, who added that anti-junta fighters tried to retaliate but could not fend off the attack.

“They shot everyone who they saw on the road and in the village. They did not just have one target,” he said. Civilians were among the dead, he added.

Villagers waited until Saturday to venture out of their homes to assess the casualties, said a member of the local defence force who helped to organise the collection of bodies.

“We firstly got nine dead bodies and buried them,” he told AFP, adding that eight more were found by a different team and also buried the same day.

On Sunday, they found eight more bodies.

“I noticed from their bodies that most of them were shot in the head,” he said — an observation that another man who helped move the dead confirmed to AFP.

The anti-junta fighter said the security presence around Depayin was increasing, displacing thousands of residents who had fled in fear of further military action.

“The army has been hunting us in the jungle since this morning,” he said.

BBC News Burmese — the BBC s Myanmar language service — reported a similar death toll.

State-run media offered a different account of the skirmish, saying the military was patrolling the area when they were ambushed.

Soldiers fended off “armed terrorists” and later found “four mortars and six percussion lock firearms”, reported the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, which did not give a death toll in the village.

In another attack in a different part of Sagaing one member of the security forces was killed and authorities were “working to stabilise the area”, the paper added.

Despite the threat of crackdowns, protesters in Myanmar are still taking to the streets daily in defiance of the military regime. AFP

Corruption in Indian Rafale deal starts shaking Modi’s rule

July 6, 2021

New Delhi: Authorities in France have initiated a judicial probe into allegations of corruption in the sale of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to India, according to French website Mediapart.

On Friday, Mediapart, which ran a series of reports in April this year on the 2016 inter-governmental deal, reported that a judge had been appointed for a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into alleged “corruption and favouritism” in the deal.

According to Mediapart, a “judicial probe into suspected corruption has been opened in France over the 7.8-billion-euro sale to India in 2016 of 36 Dassault-built Rafale fighter aircraft”.

It said the “highly sensitive probe into the inter-governmental deal signed off in 2016 was formally opened on June 14th”. The probe, Mediapart said, had been initiated by the national financial prosecutors’ office (PNF).

According to the report, the PNF initially refused to investigate the sale, and Mediapart had accused it of “burying” the investigation.

Mediapart said the French anti-corruption NGO Sherpa filed a complaint with the Paris tribunal, alleging “corruption”, “influence peddling”, “money laundering”, “favouritism” and undue tax wavering surrounding the deal.

It said that the PNF, the financial crimes branch of the French public prosecution services, confirmed to Mediapart Friday that the “newly opened investigation is focussed on all four of the alleged crimes”.

“The criminal investigation, opened on June 14th and led by an independent magistrate, an investigating judge, will, among other elements, examine questions surrounding the actions of former French president François Hollande, who was in office when the Rafale deal was inked, and current French president Emmanuel Macron, who was at the time Hollande’s economy and finance minister, as well as the then defence minister, now foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian,” Mediapart reported.

In February 2019, The Indian Express had reported that in the fourth week of March 2015, about a fortnight before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, businessman Anil Ambani visited then French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s office in Paris and had a meeting with his top advisors.

The meeting was attended by Le Drian’s special advisor Jean-Claude Mallet; his industry advisor, Christophe Salomon; and his technical advisor for industrial affairs, Geoffrey Bouquot.

Dassault and Reliance have formed a joint venture company, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (51% Reliance Aerostructure and 49% Dassault Aviation), with an industrial plant in Nagpur for discharge of offsets.

In August 2018, The Indian Express reported that Ambani’s film production company had invested money in a film produced by Julie Gayet, the then French President Francois Hollande’s partner, two days before an MoU was signed between the two countries during Hollande’s visit to India on January 26, 2016.

In September 2018, Hollande told Mediapart: “We did not have a say in this. The Indian government proposed this group, and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us.”

Rebutting this claim, Dassault had issued a statement that its partnership with Reliance was its choice. The French government, too, said it was “in no manner involved” in the choice of Indian partners by French defence companies. The Ministry of Defence spokesman said “it is reiterated that neither the Government of India nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision”.

Reacting to the Mediapart report, the Congress demanded formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale deal. It said the stand of the party and its leader Rahul Gandhi, who had raised the issue in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had been vindicated. Congress communication head Randeep Surjewala asked the Prime Minister to “answer the nation” in view of the judicial inquiry ordered in France, and submit his government to a JPC probe.

The BJP hit back at the Congress, citing reports of the CAG and the Supreme Court. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said the apex court had made it clear in its verdict that there can’t be “a fishing and roving enquiry” in the matter. Patra accused Rahul Gandhi of going on another “fishing expedition”.

In December 2018, the Supreme Court had dismissed a bunch of petitions demanding a court-monitored investigation into the deal.

Dismissing the petitions filed by former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, advocate Prashant Bhushan, AAP leader Sanjay Singh, the Supreme Court said it found “no reason for any intervention… on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 defence aircraft by the Indian Government”, and that “perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry… especially in such matters”. It noted that there was “no occasion to doubt the (decision-making) process” leading to the award of the contract. And it refused to get into the question of pricing, stating that “it is certainly not the job of this Court to carry out a comparison of the pricing details in matters like the present”.

In November 2019, a bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi rejected the review petitions filed by Shourie, Sinha, Bhushan and Singh. The Indian Express

Stan Swamy death: India to face heat from human rights bodies

July 7, 2021

New Delhi: The circumstances surrounding Father Stan Swamy’s death are set to generate more discomfort for India before international organisations focusing on human rights, especially after chiefs of at least three of them have made public comments in this regard.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor described the news about the Jesuit priest’s death in custody as “devastating”, noting that he died nine months after his arrest, Lawlor said jailing human rights defenders was “inexcusable”.

Ever since Modi 2.0 took office, the criticism against the government has mounted especially after the controversial CAA law and the lockdown in Kashmir. Barely a fortnight back, India had to refute concerns raised by three UN Special Rapporteurs about the protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to privacy due to the new IT rules.

The criticism from the UN Human Rights Council, which MEA in the past has dismissed as “uninformed”, is bound to get trenchant especially because its chief Michelle Bachelet is a victim of state torture while her father died in prison.

Nadine Maenza, chief of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted that Stan Swamy was an elderly priest and human rights activist imprisoned on “false terrorism charges”. She said the USCIRF had spoken out against his arrest and when he was denied bail as his health deteriorated.

The USCIRF has already downgraded India on the quality of its human rights and has petitioned the US State Government to sanction some officers who framed the CAA and enforced the lockdown in Kashmir.

Of greater concern for India will be the observation from EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore. “I am very saddened to hear that Father Stan Swamy has passed away. A defender of indigenous peoples’ rights, he was held in detention for the past nine months,” he said while revealing that the EU had been raising his case repeatedly with authorities.

India had barely got off the hook from the censure of its actions in Kashmir by the European Parliament and has been attempting to edge closer to major countries in the European Union. Tribune India

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