India on Friday at the United Nations (UN) said that as peace process and violence cannot go together, therefore for durable peace in Afghanistan there must be “an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line”.
Speaking at the UN on the theme “What can the Security Council do to support the peace process in Afghanistan”, Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, said: “It is important to ensure that no one provides sanctuary to terrorists who threaten Afghanistan or any other country in the region. Those who do so must be held accountable.”
The recent targeted attacks on Afghan security forces, universities, women in positions of responsibility and youth “only serve to highlight the concerted effort by terrorists and their sponsors to erode the gains of the last two decades”, he emphasised.
The Ambassador said, “The international community, simply cannot, afford to lose the gains of the last two decades. The progress achieved so far is hard-won. The future which we seek should have a place for every Afghan and should have space for everyone’s aspiration.”
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, who spoke earlier, said that terrorism continues despite Taliban’s assurances to break away from Al-Qaeda and other terror groups. “I would request the Council to stress the effective and thorough implementation of sanctions regimes as a key instrument for the success of the negotiations with Taliban,” he said, adding: “Even as we meet today, fighting continues in Afghanistan in several areas across the country. Reports are coming in of civilians, including children and women, killed or injured in the violence. Terrorist attacks continue to target innocents and institutions of learning.”
He further said, “It is our view that peace process and violence cannot go hand in hand, and we call for immediate comprehensive ceasefire. For durable peace in Afghanistan, we have to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line. The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team under the Al-Qaeda/Da’esh Sanctions Committee has also highlighted the presence of foreign fighters in Afghanistan. For violence to end in Afghanistan, these terrorist supply chains must be broken.”
He urged the Security Council to speak “unequivocally against violence and terrorist forces” and act against the terrorist sanctuaries and safe-havens.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
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Tejashwi cries foul over voice vote in Bihar Speaker election
The RJD-led Mahagathbandhan has raised strong objections over the election process for Speaker in the Bihar Assembly that took place here on Wednesday. Tejashwi Yadav, the leader of Opposition, called the pro-tem Speaker’s decision against the rules.
“As per the Vidhan Sabha rules manual, the voting can either be conducted through voice or secret poll and elected MLAs are entitled to stay inside the house. It is the duty of pro-tem Speaker to ask non-members to go out of the house and ensure that all doors are closed before voting,” Tejashwi said.
“On Wednesday, CM Nitish Kumar who is a member of the legislative council, was present in the house and so was cabinet minister Ashok Chaudhary besides Mukesh Sahani, who is not a member of the Bihar legislative Assembly at the time of voice voting,” alleged Tejashwi.
“I have reports about their numbers being low in the House. There were many so-called MLAs who sat in the rear side of the House who participated in voting. We have strong doubts over their identities. Hence, we have demanded that voice samples, signatures and facial recognition of every individual MLA be taken to confirm their identity,” Tejashwi said.
Ajit Sharma, the leader of the Congress in Bihar Assembly said: “Leaders like CM Nitish Kumar, Ashok Chaudhary and Mukesh Sahani openly participated in voice voting. It is completely against the rules. Moreover, so many persons whose identity was not established sat on the rear side. It is a complete loot of voting.”
“They formed the government through the back-door. They did the same during voice voting in Assembly. As per the rules manual, if anyone is not a member of house, he/she must be sent out of the House. It is not fair especially when three leaders who are not members of the House were present inside,” said Mahboob Alam, leader of CPI (ML) in Bihar Assembly.
The leaders of Mahagathbandhan alleged that the so-called members sitting in the rear of the house were wearing face masks and it is not easy to establish their identities.
“If anyone not entitled, how could they allowed entry for voice voting for selection of Speaker. They were wearing face masks,” said Chitranjan Gagan, spokesperson and general secretary of the RJD.
“Tejashwi Yadav is living in nostalgia for a time when he used to watch Tom and Jerry. So he is cooking up stories to launch false allegations for survival in politics. The false claim of the RJD has been defeated with the election of Vijay Kumar Sinha as the Speaker. Tejashwi should apologise for demeaning the status of the legislative assembly,” said Dr Nikhil Anand, chief spokesperson of BJP’s Bihar unit.
India has key security role in Indian Ocean: MoS Muraleedharan
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan on Wednesday said India has a key role as a net security provider and a first responder to disasters in the Indian Ocean region. He also said in a tweet that he had spoken on India’s emergence as a global pharmacy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Spoke on India’s role as a net security provider & first responder to disasters in the Indian Ocean Region; its emergence as a ‘global pharmacy’ during the Covid-19 pandemic,” tweeted Muraleedharan.
In another post, the Minister said that he had called for joint efforts in the development and diversification of supply chains, bringing in business stakeholders, promoting Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) tourism, and more scientific efforts on challenges faced by the IORA region.
Called for Joint efforts in development & diversification of supply chains, bringing in business stakeholders, promoting Intra-IORA tourism and more scientific efforts on challenges faced by IORA region,” he tweeted.
The Indian Ocean region recently witnessed two phases of the 24th edition of the multilateral Malabar Naval Exercise between India, Australia, Japan and the US.
The second phase of the naval exercise concluded on 20 November.
Night curfew in Punjab towns & districts as CM announces fresh curbs from 1 December
Amid the grim Covid-19 situation in Delhi-NCR and apprehensions of a second wave in Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ordered a series of fresh restrictions in the state, including re-imposition of night curfew in all towns and cities as well as doubling of fine for not wearing masks or following social distancing norms, with effect from 1 December.
The curbs, which will be reviewed on 15 December, also restrict opening timings of all hotels, restaurants and marriage palaces till 9.30 pm. Night curfew will remain in force from 10 pm and 5 am, announced the Chief Minister, warning people against letting their guard down under any circumstances.
Giving details of the new restrictions after a high-level state Covid review meeting, an official spokesperson said that fine for now following Covid-appropriate behaviour shall be hiked from the present Rs 500 to Rs 1,000.
Given the in-flow of patients from Delhi for treatment in Punjab, it has also been decided to review and optimise the beds availability in the state’s private hospitals. The Chief Minister has asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to work with the concerned departments to encourage more private hospitals to come on board and earmark beds for Covid care.
To further strengthen the availability of oxygen and ICU beds, Captain Amarinder has ordered strengthening of the L II and L III, with constant monitoring of districts that are not equipped with L III facilities. The management practices in GMCHs and Civil Hospitals should also be examined in light of the recommendations of the report received from the Expert Group, he said.
The Chief Minister has also directed the Health and Medical Education departments to make emergency appointments of specialists, super-specialists, nurses and paramedics, to further augment the manpower which was recently strengthened with the recruitment of 249 specialist doctors and 407 medical officers. The departments have also been asked to consider preparing 4th and 5th year MBBS students as reserve and back-up, in case needed in the future.
To ensure that no deaths take place in home isolation, Captain Amarinder said the agency hired to look into these cases should keep close tabs on such patients. While mortality audit was ongoing, it was a matter of satisfaction that the department was now collecting reasons for placing patients on ventilator by private hospitals, and there was a referral group available to monitor these patients, he added.
They will use grenades, guns in coming polls: Mehbooba on BJ
SRINAGAR: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who is also vice president of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), on Wednesday levelled serious allegations against the BJP, saying that the party “will use grenades and guns” in the coming elections to save their face. She claimed that the BJP is unnerved and now it wants to do anything to win the coming DDC elections by force.
The PDP chief told reporters at Zainapora, Shopian, in South Kashmir that she had come to meet the PAGD candidate who was not allowed by the police to come out of his home in the past 15 days to campaign in his favour.
“LG Manoj Sinha and SEC K.K. Sharma are making false claims that every candidate is allowed to go for campaigning. That’s why today, I came here myself to tell people of Zainapora and Shopian to vote for only PAGD candidates for God’s sake so that BJP is kept away,” Mehbooba told reporters.
“They (BJP) will use Grenades and guns to bag seats, but people should defeat BJP this time and ensure victory of PAGD candidates,” she said.
Meanwhile, the NIA on Wednesday formally arrested close party colleague of Mehbooba and PDP youth wing president Waheed Parra in connection with a case related to ‘separatism’ in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehbooba, in a series of tweets on the land grabbing charges and also on the arrest of Waheed Parra, levelled serious charges against the BJP. Incidentally Waheed got the summons from the NIA on the same day in the evening when he filed his nomination for the upcoming DDC elections. Responding to the arrest of Waheed, Mehbooba said in a tweet, “Waheed has no connection whatsoever with this man and is being falsely charged. All just to blackmail and intimidate PDP and other mainstream political parties in J&K.”
In a series of tweets, she blamed the BJP for using the Gujarat model of persecuting Muslims in Kashmir. She said, “Gujarat model of persecuting Muslims is in full swing since August 2019 in J&K. This is the Naya Kashmir they want us to live in.”
In another tweet she said, “PDP’s @parawahid applauded by then HM @rajnathsingh for strengthening democracy in J&K has been arrested on baseless charges by NIA today. No coincidence that he filed his nomination for DDC on 20th Nov & received NIA summons next day itself.”
Let BJP rope in Donald Trump for Hyderabad campaign, mocks K
TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao targets the BJP, saying it has done nothing for Hyderabad’s development; he also calls Narendra Modi the ‘PM of Gujarat’.
TRS working president K.T. Rama Rao (KTR) has been heading the whole of his party’s campaign in Hyderabad, while BJP has roped in many national leaders from Smriti Irani to Yogi Adityanath for the election campaign for municipal polls.
KTR told The Daily Guardian, “What is this BJP. These are Hyderabad municipal polls. All national leaders of BJP are campaigning. We will more seats than last time. We had no alliance with MIM, we are not aligning with them. Why are issues like Pakistan, Bangladeshis, Afghanistan, surgical strikes being raised? These are local body elections. BJP is speaking about Osama bin laden, Babar; we are speaking about progress of Hyderabad.” He further said that the Union government has not given a paisa for Hyderabad flood victims and gave money to Karnataka and Gujarat. He said that Modi is the PM of Gujarat.
KTR questioned what the BJP has done for Hyderabad so far, no funds from the Centre has been provided even for the flood victims of Hyderabad. He said that the TRS has transformed the city and brought many companies. He told TDG: “My father is talking about federal front and we are going to be successful in that effort.” He questioned whether Babar, Osama bin Laden and Akbar are voters of Hyderabad? Why does the BJP talk about them, he asked. He said “let the BJP call Donald Trump also for election campaign since he is the friend of Narendra Modi. TRS is fighting the elections on decisive politics, not division politics, he said, adding: “As we supported the BJP on some issues, the MIM supported like that only. There is alliance like that. We are not B team of anyone; we are the A team of Telangana. Let the BJP speak about the progress of Hyderabad.”
KTR said, “From state leaders to Central ministers, everyone in the BJP is spreading hatred and lies. The BJP is trying to hide their inefficiency behind lies. The BJP is desperate, my friends in BJP don’t have anything really to speak about in terms of work that they have done for the people of Telangana.” KTR further said that BJP comes and talks about everything, except development. He asked if there are illegal immigrants in Hyderabad, what is the Central government doing—”is it sleeping?” KTR also said that the BJP government at the Centre sanctions money only to Bangalore and Ahmedabad, but not to Hyderabad.
A marine commando recounting 26/11 attacks from ground zero
A minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, how a team of MARCOS entered the Taj, and how one of its bravehearts confronted the terrorists and was nearly killed.
Decorated with the Shaurya Chakra for his role in rescuing hostages, Praveen Kumar Teotia was one of the MARCOS—Marine Commandos of the Indian Navy—who fought the terrorists holed up in the Taj during the 26/11 attacks, suffered near-fatal injuries and, in the end, saved hundreds of lives. Teotia, in his book, narrates a minute-by-minute account of that fateful night, how his team entered the Taj, how he confronted the terrorists and how he was nearly killed. Excerpt:
It was a usual Mumbai evening. Walking past the Leopold Café, I was headed towards the Gateway of India. The majestic Taj stood gazing at the Arabian Sea, overwhelming the tourists below. Bewildered by its imposing structure, I looked at the Taj and marvelled at its beauty. The people inside must be living such a luxurious life, I thought to myself and sighed.
It was 8 pm and the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea looked calm. Heading towards my naval base, I had one final look at the area. Some pigeons fluttered past, a policeman whistled and a hawker packed his belongings for the day. The neon-lit surrounding would now illuminate some late-night lovebirds, looking for their private space in this insomniac city. Life looked picturesque and undisturbed. Who would have known that an hour from then, death would spread its dirty tentacles, choking life out of this picture? Who would have imagined that ten men from Pakistan would come sailing through the Arabian Sea in a small boat and would launch the most dastardly attack on the city? And hardly would have I imagined that few hours from now, I will be facing these fidayeen, inside the Taj, eye to eye, and my life would change forever.
I entered the room. It was dark and silent. Ever since we had entered the Taj, there was death and mayhem around us—in the halls, the corridors, the reception area. The lazy opulence of the place had been disrupted and what stood before us was a shaken Taj. Bullet-ridden bodies were lying amidst the inferno and bloodbath. Some lucky survivors had to be pulled out with corpses lying on top of them, an experience that would torment them for life. Imagine your loved one or a complete stranger lying breathless on top of you. What could you do? Push it as if the person didn’t mean anything to you? Or just lie down with your eyes closed, smelling blood and feeling the unmoving mound of flesh on top of you, waiting to either die or be rescued?
Everything about the majestic Taj that day was pale and morbid, but the atmosphere of the room we had just entered was sinister. Danger was very close and years of my training and times spent in real operations told me that something was not right in this room. I could sense danger lurking somewhere. I became more vigil. But nothing was visible.
I was leading the team and behind me, roughly at a distance of a metre and a half, was my buddy. Third in the line was Sunil Kudiyadi, our navigator for the night. Without him, it would have been very difficult to manoeuvre through the Taj. Behind Mr Kudiyadi, there were two more commandos, Ranjeet and Ashok, and even though our friend, the security manager, had no weapon to himself, he was safely ensconced between the armed commandos. His calm demeanour was noteworthy as it helped us focus more. Mr Kudiyadi was also one of the commandos that day, albeit without an army fatigue.
One more step and I was consumed by complete darkness now. I was carrying my weapon in my right hand and with the left hand, I tried exploring the wall. ‘Where is the light switch?’ I quietly asked Kudiyadi. ‘Should be ahead.’ All of us were groping in the dark.
My left hand was now touching the wall and it provided me with support and acted as my guide while moving ahead. I was taking each step very slowly and quietly, with my eyes ocussing in the darkness. After ten to twelve cautious steps I heard a sound.
These were, in fact, two sounds coming from two different sources. It was the sound of safety catches of two AK-47s being removed. The AK-47 is one of the first true assault rifles and, due to its durability, low production cost and ease of use, the weapon and its numerous variants remain the most widely used assault rifles in the world. To fire, the operator inserts a loaded magazine, moves the selector lever to the lowest position, pulls back and releases the charging handle, aims and then pulls the trigger. In this setting, the weapon fires only once, often called semiautomatic, which requires the trigger to be released and depressed again for the next shot. With the selector in the middle position (full-automatic), the rifle continues to fire, automatically cycling fresh rounds into the chamber, until the magazine is exhausted or the pressure is released from the trigger.
The first click indicated that the attacking weapon was in single shot. The second click meant that it was now in ‘burst’ mode and with a single press of the trigger the entire magazine could be emptied. The standard magazine capacity is thirty rounds, which mean thirty bullets at once racing towards the target. Gauging by the extent of this planned assault, it was clear that the terrorists knew they were facing an army or commandos, and not ordinary citizens. They wanted to ensure maximum damage in minimum time.
I swiftly bent down a bit. They had been in this darkened room for a while, hence they must have adapted. They were able to now see the movement in the dark. With enough time, our eyes can adapt and see the low levels of light present in partial darkness. Human eyes take several hours to fully adapt to darkness and reach their optimal sensitivity to low-light conditions. The quickest gains in vision sensitivity are made in the first few minutes after exposure to darkness. For this reason, many people think that after only a few minutes, their eyes have reached their peak sensitivity. But after several hours of exposure to darkness, the eyes continue to adapt and make small gains in sensitivity. My attackers thus had an edge over me.
I, however, had just entered the room and the surroundings were unfamiliar for me. I felt a table and hid myself behind it, trying to locate the direction of the sound. It was coming from the right side of the room. My cheek placed neatly on the butt of my weapon and my fingers on the trigger, I now aimed towards the direction from where the sound was coming from. With my eyes focussing hard to decipher even an iota of movement, I was ready to take my shot. And suddenly there was a flash. The flash was followed by the sound of burst fire that was directed at me. The staccato of burst shots filled the room, leaving a deafening silence in the room.
My weapon was in single-shot mode and I immediately fired three to four shots. In a split second, it was all over.
I had been shot.
Excerpts from the book, ‘26/11 Braveheart: My Encounter With Terrorists That Night’ (Rupa).
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