KLF-BACKED TERROR MODULE BUSTED IN PUNJAB - The Daily Guardian
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KLF-BACKED TERROR MODULE BUSTED IN PUNJAB

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Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta on Tuesday said that Police has busted another targetted killing module backed by Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) handlers based abroad with the arrest of its 4 operatives, including a former Indian Army Sepoy, who had managed to escape from Patiala Jail in April 2021.

Gupta said that accused Jaspreet Singh alias Noopi, who had joined the Indian Army as a Sepoy in 2012, was lodged in jail in a murder case in 2017. “After escaping from Jail, Noopi came in contact with foreign-based KLF handlers who motivated and induced him to raise a terror module to carry out targeted killings in the state,” he said.

The other three arrested persons have been identified as Jaswinder Singh, a resident of village Fatehpur Bunga in Ropar, Gaurav Jain alias Minku of village Kaliawala in district Sirsa and Parshant Silelan alias Kabir, a native of Meerut UP and presently staying at Dhanas in Chandigarh, the DGP added.

Sharing details, SSP Khanna Gursharan Singh Grewal said that, following inputs, the Khanna Police had stopped an Etios car during special checking at GT Road Khanna, and three persons, who got out of the car, tried to flee after opening fire at the Police Party. However, the Police party managed to nab Jaswinder and Minku on the spot, while Noopi was arrested later, along with Kabir, his other accomplice.

The Police also recovered two .32 bore Pistols, along with 4 magazines and ammunition from the possession of accused persons besides an Etios car bearing a fake registration number, which had been snatched by Noopi at gunpoint from Zirakpur last month] he added.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said that, during investigations, Noopi confessed to having snatched the Etios car, besides looting Rs 50000 from a Petrol pump in Kharar on July 3, 2021, with the help of his associates.

“Noopi disclosed that he had come in contact with militant anti-India individuals and elements based abroad with links to KLF terrorist outfit, who had funded him from abroad for carrying out target killings in Punjab and also arranged Pistols for him from UP to carry out terror acts in Punjab,” said DGP Dinkar Gupta, while adding that Noopi also did recce of sensitive targets in Punjab towards in pursuance of his violent intentions.

SSP Khanna said that preliminary investigations had revealed that the module had received funding from abroad via various digital platforms including Western Union, Paytm, etc and foreign handlers also provided three weapons to the module from Rudrapur in Uttrakhand. Further investigations are on, he added.

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INDIA WANTS BLINKEN TO HIGHLIGHT INDO-PACIFIC CONCERNS IN TALKS WITH WANG

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Even as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi prepare to speak face-to-face in Bali on the sidelines of the G-20 Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM), India wants Blinken to highlight Washington’s concerns over China’s “growing aggressiveness” in the Indo-Pacific region. “Blinken should use the upcoming bilateral meeting with Wang in Bali to raise some key issues related to Chinese challenges in the Indo-Pacific,” sources said. Top sources told The Daily Guardian Review that India through diplomatic channels has apprised the US of what it expects in terms of the upcoming bilateral talks between Blinken and Wang.  

“The message that the diplomats in Washington have shared with the Biden administration is that if Blinken refers to some of the issues pertaining to Chinese aggressive agenda, it will help mount pressure on Beijing,” sources said. “With Jaishankar set to give a strong message on the Indo-Pacific and LAC during his talks with Wang in Bali, Blinken’s tough talk on the same will add to pressure on Beijing,” sources added.  

There is no denying Blinken will focus on Russia’s military operation against Ukraine and China’s close ties with Moscow. “But what India expects is that Blinken should not ignore the Indo-Pacific issues completely, as it will give a wrong message, with the US being a key member state of the QUAD,” says an official. Sources told TDGR that Jaishankar and Blinken will also meet on the sidelines of the G-20 FMM in Bali, during which China-specific issues will also come up.

The US seeks to dissuade Beijing from deepening ties with Moscow, and Blinken will pitch for it during the meeting with Wang Yi. However, China is not going to give Washington any good news on the same, sources said. Since this is going to be the first face-to-face between Blinken and Wang since last October, the meeting acquires tremendous significance. India will keep a close eye on this meeting, says a diplomat.    

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will pay a two-day visit to Indonesia beginning Thursday to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the G20 countries. Foreign ministers of China and Russia are also likely to attend the meeting that is set to discuss pressing global challenges, including the food and energy security arising out of the Ukraine crisis. Announcing Jaishankar›s visit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Tuesday that he is expected to hold several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other G20 member states.

The G20 is a leading grouping that brings together the world›s major economies. Its members account for more than 80 per cent of the global GDP, 75 per cent of global trade and 60 per cent of the population of the planet. Indonesia is holding the meeting in its capacity as its current chair. Italy held the G-20 Presidency in 2021 while Indonesia is playing the role in 2022 and India will assume the charge in 2023. Italy, Indonesia and India are the troika countries at present.

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Fadnavis clears the air, says he chose Eknath Shinde

While making the revelation, Devendra Fadnavis admits that he was not mentally prepared for the post of Deputy Chief Minister.

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Making an attempt to clear the confusion over the last-minute surprise by the BJP to make Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde as the chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, who is now the deputy of Shinde, said he had proposed to BJP leadership to make the rebel leader the new CM.

Fadnavis also admitted that he was not mentally prepared to assume the post of deputy chief minister, but changed his decision after a discussion was held with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and intervention by BJP president JP Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah.

Fadnavis said that the BJP leadership believed that he should be part of the government as it was not right to run the government through an “extra-constitutional authority”.

Talking to reporters in Nagpur, Fadnavis said the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had won the 2019 elections, but the mandate was “stolen”. So his party and the Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction came together for a “common ideology and not for power”.

“Our leaders Narendra Modi ji, Amit Shah and JP Nadda ji, and with my approval (the decision to make Shinde the chief minister was taken)…. It will not be wrong if it is said that I took this proposal (to the BJP leadership) that Shinde is made the chief minister and they (the leadership) accepted it,” Fadnavis said.

Shinde was sworn in as the chief minister on June 30 with Fadnavis as his deputy, a day after Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the CM ahead of the floor test.

“It was also decided that I will stay out of the government. But BJP president JP Nadda called me and said the party has decided to make me the deputy chief minister. Even Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to me,” Fadnavis said. “I changed my decision obeying the orders of my leaders,” he added.

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In face-off with Centre, Twitter moves Karnataka HC

Ashish Sinha

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Twitter Inc. on Tuesday moved a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging Centre’s orders directing the social media platform to take down content critical of government policies. The social media giant’s move came after the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in June 2021 issued a last notice warning Twitter of penal action if the company failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code that the Ministry had issued in February last year.

The guidelines mandated all social media platforms, with more than 50 lakh users in the country, to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person. The ministry had given all social media platforms 90 days to comply with the guidelines. In the event of failure in compliance, protections provided to them under Section 79 of the IT Act would stand withdrawn, the ministry had warned. However, Twitter did not comply with the Centre’s notice.

The ministry had in January last year asked the U.S. micro-blogging site to block around 250 tweets and Twitter accounts that were making allegedly “fake, intimidatory and provocative tweets” against the government during farmers’ protest in Delhi, setting off a confrontation with blogging platform, even though the social media platform suspended over 500 accounts in February 2021. Twitter also took down accounts belonging to some BJP ministers and RSS leaders, which were restored following an uproar.

In its petition to the High Court seeking a judicial review of government order, Twitter has argued that in several cases, there were demands for entire accounts to be blocked, which were arbitrary. According to Twitter, several accounts might carry content posted by official handles of political parties and blocking of such information was a violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizens using the platform. Reacting to Twitter moving the High Court challenging the Centre’s guidelines to tame social media, Union Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday said, “Be it any company, in any sector, they should abide the laws of India. This is the responsibility of everyone to abide by the laws passed by the Parliament.” The minister said that the government will make social media accountable for its content. “Social media accountability has become a valid question globally. It is important to hold it accountable, which will first start with self-regulation, then industry regulation, followed by government regulation,” Vaishnaw added.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Tuesday the Union government has issued notification for the amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Also on the card is setting up of a Grievances Appellate Committee for the resolution of grievances against officials. According to the draft proposals, the committee shall have to dispose of complaints within 30 days.

The Centre is gearing up to finalize the proposed amendments to the social media rules by July end, said government sources. According to Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the government is planning to put in place a mechanism for self-regulation to better address complaints with regard to social media use.

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One day, two incidents: SpiceJet flight diverted to Karachi, pane cracks

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Low cost carrier SpiceJet’s Delhi-Dubai flight was diverted to Karachi on Tuesday as the fuel indicator started malfunctioning. Hours after, SpiceJet reported a glitch in its Kandla-Mumbai flight as the windshield outer pane of got cracked during the cruise.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered a probe into the incident relating to Delhi-Dubai flight. More than 150 passengers are onboard. “On July 5, 2022, M/s SpiceJet B737-8 Max aircraft VT-MXG while operating flight SG-011, Delhi – Dubai, the crew observed unusual fuel quantity reduction from the left tank. They carried out a relevant non-normal checklist, however fuel quantity kept on decreasing. PIC decided to divert the aircraft to Karachi (KHI). Aircraft diverted in coordination with ATC and landed safely at KHI,” said DGCA statement.

India’s low-cost carrier SpiceJet said the flight was diverted when it was on the way to Dubai and flying on 5000 ft.

The conversation between the SpiceJet pilot and ATC Karachi which has been accessed by ANI, shows that the pilot has asked for a precautionary landing after suspected fuel leakage in the aircraft.

“The SpiceJet pilot is heard telling ATC Karachi that the fuel leakage in the aircraft, requesting it for precautionary landing,” ATC conversation read.

“Karachi ATC confirming him whether any dangerous good on board. The pilots responded negatively. Later Karachi ATC confirms SpiceJet for landing after two

minutes,” the conversation further read.

The plane landed safely at Karachi airport at around 8 am (local time), 53 minutes after being airborne.

“SpiceJet has been on-ground for the past four hours. Passengers are being looked after. The plane has been parked in the designated area where engineers are assessing the problem,” Pakistan’s civil aviation authority (CAA) official said.

According to SpiceJet, no emergency was declared and the aircraft made a normal landing at Karachi airport. “No emergency was declared and the aircraft made a normal landing. There was no earlier report of any malfunction with the aircraft. Passengers have been served refreshments. A replacement aircraft is being sent to Karachi that will take the passengers to Dubai,” SpiceJet spokesperson said.

In the second incident related to Kandla – Mumbai flight, SpiceJet said P2 side windshield outer pane of SpiceJet Q400 aircraft operating as SG 3324 Kandla – Mumbai flight got cracked during the cruise on Tuesday. Thankfully, the aircraft landed safely in Mumbai.

“On July 5, 2022, SpiceJet Q400 aircraft was operating SG 3324 (Kandla – Mumbai). During cruise at FL230, P2 side windshield outer pane cracked. Pressurization was observed to be normal. The aircraft landed safely in Mumbai,” SpiceJet spokesperson said.

Earlier on Saturday, a domestic flight made an emergency landing after its cabin filled with smoke soon after take-off for the central city of Jabalpur, the airline said.

A senior DGCA official said that they are investigating all six incidents on SpiceJet aircraft reported in the last 17 days.

“We are concerned over passengers’ safety and a team has been formed to investigate all the incidents thoroughly and submit the report at the earliest,” he said.

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SC COMMENTS ON NUPUR CROSS THE ‘LAXMAN REKHA’: RETIRED JUDGES TO CJI

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A group of retired judges, bureaucrats and armed forces on Tuesday sent an open letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana condemning the observation made by the bench of Justices of Supreme Court for “surpassing the Laxman Rekha” while hearing former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s case in the Supreme Court, terming the remarks as “unfortunate and unprecedented”.

The letter sent to CJI Ramana was signed by 15 retired judges, 77 retired bureaucrats and 25 retired armed forces officers against Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala, who heard the Nupur Sharma’s case. The letter stated: “We, as Concerned Citizens, do believe that the democracy of any country will remain intact till all the institutions perform their duties as per the constitution. Recent comments by the two judges of the Supreme Court have surpassed the Laxman Rekha and compelled us to issue an open statement.”

The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma stating that her outburst is responsible for an unfortunate incident in Udaipur, where a tailor was murdered.

The apex court further blamed the suspended BJP leader and said that she and “her loose tongue” has set the entire country on fire and she is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country and said she

should “apologise to the whole country”.

Responding to the Supreme Court order, the group said, “Unfortunate and unprecedented comments emanating from the two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court-Justice Surya Kant and Justice J. B. Pardiwala, while being seized of a petition by Nupur Sharma, have sent shockwaves in the country and outside. The observations, simultaneously relayed by all news channels in high decibel, are not in sync with judicial ethos. By no stretch these observations, which are not part of the judicial Order, can be sanctified on the plank of judicial propriety and fairness. Such outrageous transgressions are without parallel in the annals of Judiciary.”

They said that the observations that “have no connect jurisprudentially with the issue raised in the petition, transgressed in an unprecedented manner all canons of dispensation of justice.”

“Perceptionally the observations- Nupur Sharma is adjudged with severity guilty in a proceeding where this was not an issue at all – Reflection-she is “single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country” has no rationale. By such observation perceptionally there is a virtual exoneration of the dastardliest beheading at Udaipur in broad daylight. The observations also graduate to most unjustifiable degree that this was only to fan an agenda,” the letter reads.

They further said that the legal fraternity is bound to be surprised and shocked at the observation that an FIR should lead to arrest adding that the observations on other agencies in the country, without notice to them, are indeed worrisome and alarming.

“In the annals of the judiciary, the unfortunate comments have no parallel and are an indelible scar on the justice system of the largest democracy. Urgent rectification steps are called for as these have potentially serious consequences on democratic values and the security of the Country. Emotions have flared up extensively on account of these observations that in a sense dilute the barbaric dastardly beheading in broad daylight in Udaipur – a case under investigation. The observations, judgmental in nature, on issues not before the Court, are crucification of the essence and spirit of the Indian Constitution. Forcing a petitioner by such damning observations, pronouncing her guilty without trial, and denial of access to justice on issue raised in the petition, can never be a facet of a democratic society,” the group wrote.

They said a rational mind is bewildered not only at the jurisprudential transgressions but also the sweep of the same as Judges hit out no holds ‘barred’ at agencies and making innuendo reflections about her “clout”.

The observations are too serious to be overlooked if rule of law, democracy has to sustain and blossom and deserve to be recalled with stance that soothes minds that care for justice, the group added.

Notwithstanding the unwanted, unwarranted and uncalled for verbal observations of the Judges of the Apex Court, there is another crucial aspect of the matter.

The group said that the petitioner had approached the Supreme Court for the transfer of various FIRs registered against her in different States in respect to the alleged remarks made by her during a TV debate.

“The allegations constitute only one offence for which separate prosecutions (FIRs) were launched. Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of India prohibits prosecution and punishment more than once for the same offence. Article 20 falls under Part III of the Constitution and is a guaranteed fundamental right. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in a number of cases including Arnab Goswamy vs. Union of India (2020) and TT Anthony vs. State of Kerala clearly laid down the law that there can be no second FIR and consequently there can be no fresh investigation in respect to the second FIR on the same issue. Such an action is violative of fundamental rights as guaranteed under Article 20(2) of the Constitution of India,” the letter reads. They said that the Supreme Court instead of safeguarding the fundamental right of the petitioner refused to take cognizance of the petition and forced the petitioner to withdraw the petition and approach the appropriate forum (High Court) knowing fully well that High Court does not have jurisdiction to transfer or club the FIRs or cases registered in other States.

“One fails to understand, why Nupur’s case is treated at a different pedestal. Such an approach of the Hon’ble Supreme Court deserves no applause and impacts the very sanctity and honour of the Highest Court of land,” they added.

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Voters must be made aware of healthcare issues

Suravi Sharma Kumar

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Covid 19 pandemic is when we have so clearly understood how broken our health systems are and this has made us contemplate the role that the government should play in ensuring healthcare for all in the country. Surprisingly Indian election manifestos across all parties don’t allow healthcare any decent space. And more curiously, India’s voters appear to place little emphasis on health as they decide whom/ which party to vote into power. For instance, in the state elections in Bihar in October-November 2020, as found in a post-election survey, only a meager about 0.3% of the voters considered health as a priority–even against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Economic factors and general developmental issues loomed much larger to voter priorities against providing good healthcare.

Why do our voters not prioritize health despite their having to pay one of the world’s highest out-of-pocket (at 78% OOP) expenditures and catastrophic spending on health for decades? The reasons for the low prioritization of health in elections seem to be complex and rooted in our psychological imprint. Our people have surprisingly non-existent expectations of government as healthcare provider/s. This most likely is because the health system had been unresponsive and unaccountable for way too long. People’s minds have been turned away from this in their upbringing years while going through the thick and thin of their woes around hospitals and clinics. There is simply no expectation in their minds. 

An expectation is the emotional anticipation or belief of an occurrence that may take place in reality in the future. It’s a potential reality that we look forward to being manifested in our lives. But mindsets primed over many decades are transformed to such a state that it doesn’t allow the emergence of any such expectation in people. The very concept of government providing healthcare doesn’t exist in the minds of the multitude in our country.

The other cause of such reaction in voters may also be because none of the political parties provide the subject of Health any decent place in their election manifestos. They make no promises about improving health care. So this leaves the people to themselves as far as health is concerned and are left with no scope to choose a political candidate or a party on that ground.

Political leaders, on the other hand, stay away from promising improved healthcare, either because they don’t have the answers, or they find it too complex an issue to analyze and come up with an agenda on offer, or because timelines for improving the system are well beyond the life of their political regimes. However, we get to see that where political leaders have delivered well on health, such as in Kerala, it has created an expectation from citizens which compels leaders to offer election agendas prioritizing health. Despite the pandemic, it has been hard to identify any shift in the electoral politics of health provision even in the world’s richest party governing our country. The ruling party under the charismatic leadership of the honorable prime minister has also been stressing other welfare goals even in the backdrop of a pandemic. The ruling party is also seen to garner benefits from maintaining a raft of welfare schemes since 2014 adding several such schemes and promoting them actively during elections. 

Various factors/reasons are under play for this and the most prominent one is because reforms in the health sector are harder to enact and much slower to yield any tangible outcomes for voters to take cognizance of and manifest any impact in terms of votes earned for the party undertaking such a complex agenda. Hence, foregrounding health sector investments have been seen as politically riskier than other result-oriented schemes/ agendas. For instance, improvements in the distribution of food grains or gas cylinders (Ujjwala) are more visible and tangible/measurable for the general public than enabling efficient medical caregiving policy/ scheme which is a far tougher and time-consuming task to undertake. Welfare schemes based on the ‘delivery’ of a product are much simpler and tangible than improving services like health and education, which are much more complex. 

Healthcare depends on a system that includes infrastructure, human resources, medical protocols and resources, high accountability, and capacity. For this reason, perhaps, the main electoral pledge in the health sector in recent years has been on health insurance and a few free treatments offers rather than comprehensive infrastructural reforms within which this product can be effectively utilized.

The social determinants to health that are highly prioritized in the UN sustenance goals must find a place in any discussion on health infrastructure improvement. They are important contributory factors to health status in general and get varying degrees of priority in governments. But there is a need for more focused coordination to ensure optimal allocation of resources across various sectors touching the subjects of safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. Their contribution to good health is unarguably a lot but these need to be adequately recognized, measured, and evaluated.

There is also a need to establish a coordinating body in the country’s highest offices to connect the dots in health and other social determinants of health and coordinate the work of various agencies contributing to health improvement to enhance and better utilize these for the general good.

Experts would agree rebuilding India’s health system requires first and foremost better financial allocation and some policy work around the clarity of roles of the national and state governments. The other area is creating empowered institutions with evidence-based healthcare governance and administration. The motivation for these will emerge from creating (or making more visible) the demands of Indian voters for improved health. Social help groups and non-government organizations should work on voter awareness, their perception of health schemes, and even the politics behind these.

The author is a Consultant Doctor, Moolchand Medcity.

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