Acting swiftly on Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s orders, the Punjab Police presented the challan in the Hoshiarpur rape-murder case of a six-year-old Dalit girl in court on Friday, after completing investigations into the gruesome incident in less than 10 days.
A special prosecutor has been appointed for expeditious proceedings in the case, in which the state government has sought a fast-track trial to ensure speedy justice for the 6-year-old victim.
Both the accused in the case were arrested on the night of 21 October, hours after the minor girl was raped and murdered before being burnt in Tanda village.
Taking serious note of the Hoshiarpur incident, Captain Amarinder, who also holds the Home portfolio, had directed the Punjab Police to submit its charge sheet in court within 10 days. In strict compliance of the Chief Minister’s directive, the police on Friday submitted their final report in the special court in a record time of 9 days after completing the probe in just 8 days of the incident.
Giving details of the investigations, DGP Dinkar Gupta said the utmost vigil was practiced during the investigation, which was carried out expeditiously without compromising on quality at any stage. Forensic teams were called in to collect evidence from the scene of the crime, while technical evidence and DNA samples were taken for forensic examination to state-of-the art laboratories. The post-mortem examination of the deceased has been conducted by a board of medical officers, he added.
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Pakistan continues assault on civil liberties by attacking press
As Pakistan continues to stifle freedom of speech, the country is pursuing an unrelenting assault on journalism as scribes are fired, harassed and assaulted for their critical reporting.
Umer Ali writes for DW news agency that the military and its intelligence services are among the more “sensitive” entities in Pakistan and so they don’t like being named. Due to that, the journalists use a range of phrases, such as ‘the establishment’ for the military, the ‘agriculture department’ for the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and ‘trips for northern areas’ for enforced disappearances. Highlighting the brutal assault on Pakistani journalist Asad Ali Toor and the shooting of Absar Alam outside his home for criticising the military, Ali noted that no progress has been made to arrest the culprits despite Islamabad being known for its extensive surveillance camera system.
In July 2020, another prominent journalist, Matiullah Jan, was abducted from outside his wife’s school. However, his kidnapping was caught on camera and he was released later after a severe backlash.
The attacks on journalists are part of a broader assault on civil liberties in Pakistan, as several human rights activists and opposition politicians face arrests and ‘treason’ charges, Ali wrote for DW.
Moreover, the Imran Khan-led government has continued a policy of gaslighting the journalists, which was noticeable when during an interview, Pakistan’s minister for information bragged about taking notice of the latest attack on Toor. He also alleged that it’s “fashionable” in the western media to accuse the ISI and that individuals about Pakistan’s intelligence agencies “lie” to “get immigration”. According to Umer Ali, Khan’s government is pursuing a journalist protection bill, in a similar duplicitous fashion, as well as an ordinance to establish a “media development authority”, which has been unanimously condemned by journalist and rights bodies as “draconian in scope and devastating in its impact.”
CHINA CHALLENGES U.S. POSITION AS THE VITAL PARTNER FOR MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES
Following the US policy shift to disengage from the Middle East region, which started under President Barack Obama and continued and accelerated under Donald Trump, China stepped in to fill the vacuum created and now plays a wider role in the region. China’s growing influence in the Middle East is a real challenge to US dominance in the region. With the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, the Chinese government decided to expand its influence in the Middle East and the world in general and to provide an alternative source of financial assistance to some cash-strapped governments, helping them develop their infrastructure.
China is now the primary buyer of Middle Eastern oil, as about 72 percent of oil consumed in this vast country comes from overseas imports. As oil consumption in the rest of the world is declining and may decline further, China’s oil imports are becoming increasingly significant for Middle Eastern oil producers and so China’s geopolitical importance is growing fast.
Already China has developed comprehensive strategic partnerships with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, while its influence in Iran has increased significantly, following the signing of a 25-year cooperation plan with Tehran.
In the wake of the “Arab Spring”, China gradually expanded its engagement in the Middle East and has become the largest investor in the region and the most significant trading partner with the Arab League.
Chinese tech-companies are involved in the most important technological projects in the region such as Smart Dubai 2012 and Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program 2030.
As Beijing is becoming increasingly alienated by Western countries, which are trying hard to agree on a policy to halt China’s global expansion and prevent its domination of world trade, it has turned its attention to the Middle East, a region that has been neglected by Washington in the past decade.
Jonathan Fulton, assistant professor of political science at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, writes: “China has established comprehensive strategic partnerships with Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, as well as strategic partnerships with Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Turkey. Coinciding with the expansion of the BRI, this flurry of diplomatic activity indicates that Chinese leaders increasingly perceive the Middle East as important to their political and strategic goals.”
Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a more assertive Beijing seeks to put China at the center of global trade and at the same time place the Digital Silk Road in the leading position of technological innovation, helping jumpstart digital development in the region. Telecommunication companies in Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have all partnered with Huawei to build 5G networks.
The Belt and Road Initiative envisages the creation of a vast network of railways, highways, energy pipelines and the building of 50 special economic zones. More than 60 countries have signed on BRI projects.
Putin denies cyberattacks on US, seeks evidence
In an interview with NBC broadcast on Monday ahead of his summit with President Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed accusations that Moscow was behind cyberattacks against the United States as “farcical”. He also said he was open to a prison swap with the United States—the fate of prisoners is set to be on the agenda when the two meet in Geneva on Wednesday—and said that jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny would “not be treated any worse than anybody else.”
Biden will attend the summit after a week of meeting allies from the G7, European Union and NATO, with tensions between Moscow and Washington at their highest in years over a long list of disputes. Asked if Russia was waging a “cyber war” against the United States, Putin said: “Where is proof? It’s becoming farcical.”
“We have been accused of all kinds of things, election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth, and not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof, just unfounded accusations.”
US companies, including a major fuel pipeline network, have been hit by cyberattacks in recent months, often forcing temporary shutdowns until ransoms are paid.
Any negotiations over prisoners would focus on individuals including former US marine Paul Whelan who was jailed for 16 years by Russia for espionage. Whelan has urged Biden to arrange a prisoner exchange and said in a recent interview he was victim of hostage diplomacy.
Another US citizen, Trevor Reed, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2020 on charges of assaulting Russian police officers while drunk. Moscow could be eyeing the return of the notorious Russian arms dealer imprisoned by the United States, Viktor Bout, and a contract pilot and alleged drug trafficker, Konstantin Yaroshenko.
But the White House moved to quickly tamp down talk of an exchange of “cyber criminals” after Biden appeared open to the idea when speaking at a press conference after the G7 meeting in Britain. “He’s not saying he’s going to be exchanging cyber criminals with Russia,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said. “What he was talking about was accountability and the idea that responsible countries should be held accountable… not harboring cyber criminals, and to bringing cyber criminals to justice.”
When asked about Navalny and accusations of brutal crushing of dissent in Russia, Putin said “you are presenting it as dissent and intolerance towards dissent in Russia… we view it completely differently.” He called for “predictability and stability” in Russian-US relations, saying it was “something we haven’t seen in recent years”.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Delhi High Court issues notice to Instagram, Facebook over content related to Hindu deities
The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to social networking platforms like Instagram and others on hearing a petition seeking to remove certain highly objectionable content related to Hindu God and Goddesses on their platforms.
A Bench of Justice Rekha Palli asked the Centre, Instagram and Facebook to file a reply on the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on August 16. The court was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Aditya Singh Deshwal against
“obnoxious” and “objectionable” posts put by some Instagram users which showed abusive language written about Hindu Gods and Goddesses along with a vulgar representation of Hindu gods and goddesses was made in the form of cartoons and graphics.
Advocate Aditya Singh Deshwal has preferred the petition primarily with a grievance that certain users of the social network platform – Instagram, maintained by respondents, have posted certain highly objectionable content on the said platform which ought to be removed at the earliest.
Senior Advocate G Tushar Rao, appearing for the petitioner submitted before the court
that Instagram has failed to comply with the new IT Rules, 2021 in its true sense and notice should be issued by the court to all the Respondents replying on the legal grounds raised in the petition.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of respondent Instagram and Facebook submitted that the impugned content has already been removed from its platform.
He further submitted that a Grievance Officer, in terms of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, has already been appointed by the respondent.
2 CRORE DOCUMENTS SCANNED IN J&K TO END THE BURDEN OF ‘PHYSICAL FILES’
Jammu and Kashmir administration has been putting efforts to stop the practice of physical movement of files in trunks and trucks from Jammu to Srinagar and vice versa during the Darbar Move.
The administration has successfully implemented e-Office by scanning and digitizing over 2 crore pages from 3.5 lakh files in order to facilitate the concept of e-administration in Jammu and Kashmir.
An official spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir government said that owing to the digitization, for the first time no files were moved from Jammu to Srinagar when the Darbar reopened here.
Already the offices in the civil secretariat of Srinagar have switched over to the e-office and there are no physical files being moved from one table to another.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, on Sunday, while assuring the people of responsive administration has said that Darbar Move this year has been deferred due to implementation of the e-office project of digitalizing the UT’s Civil Secretariat and it has lessened the burden on the state exchequer.
WILL COOPERATE WITH PROBING PROCESS, PARKASH BADAL TELLS SIT
CHANDIGARH: Former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal on Monday categorically reiterated his “intent and commitment to fully cooperating with the law” and said that he had ‘complete faith in the judiciary.’ He has, however, asked the SIT “to reschedule the date for his appearance for the investigations as he is not keeping good health and has been advised complete bed rest for ten days by doctors.”
“As soon as my health gets better, I will be available to join the investigation as per law, at my current place of residence. (MLA Flat No 37, Sector 4, Chandigarh.),” he said. Badal said he hoped that this SIT, unlike the previous one, would respect the law of the land and conduct a fair investigation, withstanding political interference from the ruling dispensation which, he said, had been brazenly subverting the law for petty political gains.
In his two-page response to the summon from the SIT investigating the handling of Kotkapura incidents by the previous government, Badal said, “the entire process of investigations already stands brazenly compromised through blatant and unapologetic political interference and it reeks too strongly of political vendetta to inspire any confidence about a fair process of law being followed.” Despite this, said Badal, he will “cooperate fully” with the investigative process.
The former Chief Minister pointed out that the very need for the present SIT had, “arisen out of the brazen politicization of the case by the previous SIT.” In this regard, Badal came down heavily against one of the members of the previous SIT and said,
“With a callous and contemptuous disregard for all the established procedures and norms, this officer completely usurped and appropriated to himself the entire functioning and designated role of all the other members of the SIT, including its Chairman and rendered them redundant and they were reportedly not even a part of the investigative process.”
The former CM further referred to reports that said that the findings of the previous SIT had been scripted jointly by half a dozen high profile members of the ruling party.“ These reports, Badal pointed out, had never been contradicted.
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