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SC to hear Lakhimpur violence case today

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The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear the case relating to the 3 October violence in Lakhimpur Kheri where eight persons, including four farmers, were killed during a farmers’ protest.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli will hear the matter tomorrow as two lawyers had written a letter seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, in the incident. The apex court had on October 8 expressed dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in the killing of eight persons. Ten people, including Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ajay Kumar Mishra ‘Teni’, have been arrested so far in connection with the case.

The top court had said it is “not satisfied” with the action taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and also questioned the State on why accused Ashish Mishra was not arrested so far. Ashish Mishra had allegedly mowed down farmers with his car. The police had served a notice to Mishra and summoned him for questioning.

The top court had said that Uttar Pradesh government is not proceeding in manner in which it should proceed against accused while adding that killing of eight people in Lakhimpur Kheri is a “brutal murder” and law must take its course against all accused.

The top court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government whether in other murder cases the police issue summons instead of arresting the accused. Not arresting the accused is sending a “wrong message”, the Bench had observed as the police has not arrested Ashish Mishra. The Bench had further observed that transferring the case to CBI for investigation is also not a solution. The apex court then ordered the DGP of Uttar Pradesh government to protect evidence and other materials in the case and not destroy all in interim by the time another agency takes it over.

The Bench had said it hopes the State government will take necessary steps due to the sensitivity of the issue and it expects responsible government, system and police. During the hearing of case on violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, the top court had expressed apprehension over the fair probe in the case because of officers involved in the case, saying that it has seen details of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up to probe the matter, and the DIG, Superintendent of police, Circle Officers etc. all are local people.

The Bench was hearing a letter petition by two advocates—Shiv Kumar Tripathi and C.S. Panda—seeking punishment for politicians allegedly involved in the ghastly incident. The letter has stated, “Having regard to the seriousness of the killing of the farmers at district Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, it is incumbent upon this Court to intervene in the matter as flashed in the press.”

A single-member Commission of Enquiry with headquarters at Lakhimpur Kheri has been constituted to investigate the death of eight persons in Lakhimpur Kheri. Uttar Pradesh government has appointed retired Allahabad High Court judge Pradeep Kumar Srivastava as single member Commission to inquire into the incident and enquiry to be completed within a period of two months.

Earlier, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, party MP Deepender Hooda and Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu, reached the village and visited the victims’ families.

Local farmers blame Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra ‘Teni’ and his son for the violence that left eight dead, including four farmers a local journalist and others. They were mowed down by a vehicle which was part of the convoy of Minister in Lakhimpur Kheri in north-central Uttar Pradesh. Videos are also being circulated on social media where a Mahindra Thar was seen knocking down protesters from behind. The Minister and his son deny the charges. Ashish Mishra and 20 others have been booked for murder but not arrested yet. The government gave Rs 45 lakh as compensation for each family and announced a judicial probe. Channi and Baghel also announced Rs 50 lakh compensation each to the victims’ families.

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PAK ENVOY MEETS TALIBAN’S ACTING FM, DISCUSSES BILATERAL COOPERATION

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KABUL: Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan met Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation between both countries.

“Pakistan Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan met with acting FM Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation, Khan said.

Pakistan has decided that wheat and emergency medicine provided by India can be transported from Wagah port in Pakistan on Afghan trucks to Afghanistan,” Tolo News reported.

Earlier, Pakistan’s envoy and the Taliban acting foreign minister met in the month of September where both sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation particularly facilitating humanitarian, economic and people-to-people exchange.

Pakistan, along with China were among the first countries that began engaging with Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August this year.

The meeting came amid the Taliban’s repeated appeal for wider international recognition. Pakistan is among the very few which seem to have started engaging with the outfit. Other members of the international community are taking a wait and watch approach.

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TLP expanding after release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi

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Formerly banned organisation Tehreek-E-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is on a surge after the release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi and revoking of its ban by the Imran Khan government.

According to the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), there was a rather secret deal between TLP and the Imran Khan government reached on October 31 to end the latest round of protests. The deal was not made public and on November 7, Khan’s cabinet revoked the declaration of the TLP as a banned group. The TLP benefitted mainly from the divisions between the PML-Nawaz government and the military establishment deep state’, IFFRAS said, adding that Pakistan military establishment’s effort to prop up different religious groups to deteriorate the PML-Nawaz government permitted the TLP to increase greater political space. Earlier, Rizvi was released on the eve of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s death anniversary on November 19 who was the founder of TLP.

Further, the TLP capable of mobilising thousands of supporters, was born in the year 2015 out of a remonstration movement to the Barelvi movement.

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US ready to support Ukraine, help Kiev with defence

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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Washington is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and is ready to support Kiev.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, Austin said that the US is “very concerned” about the alleged buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border and will try to ensure that Kiev “has what it needs” to defend its “sovereign territory.” The Pentagon chief said he was not going to speculate on different scenarios pertaining to the alleged Russian aggression on its borders.

Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and some Western countries have expressed concern about the alleged increase in what they characterise as “aggressive actions” by Russia on their border. However, Russia has refuted the accusations by saying it is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion.

US President Joe Biden plans to discuss the issue of Ukraine, as well as other topics, during the upcoming video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, December 7.

Biden told reporters earlier this week, answering a question about the issue of Ukraine, that he expected a “long discussion” with the Russian President.

Russia has repeatedly said that it stands by its right to move armed forces freely within its territory. On November 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russia does not have any aggressive plans with regard to Ukraine. The Kremlin has also expressed concerns about Kiev having aggregated almost half of all its armed forces on the contact line with the Donbas region in the east of the country.

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EXPLOSIONS HEARD INSIDE US BASE IN SYRIA

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Explosions were heard on Sunday inside a US military base in Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

The blasts were heard in the al-Tanf area in southeastern Syria, Xinhua news agency reported. Back in late October, the US base of At Tanf came under a drone attack. The White House believes that the recent attack on its military base in Syria was “deliberate and coordinated” and the United States reserves the right to respond.

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CHINA CREATES ATMOSPHERE THAT EMBOLDENS MILITARY TO SEIZE POWER IN AFRICA

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As Western powers continue to retreat from Africa, China is busy creating an atmosphere that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power in one of the largest continent in the world, said a media report.

In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Harvard University lecturer Christopher Rhodes said that “backsliding on the part of Western powers, the rise of autocrat-friendly China, have created an atmosphere in Africa that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power.” Rhodes further wrote that the coup, which had been widely rumoured in Sudan but still managed to blindside the United States, remains a source of outrage for Sudanese citizens. But Washington is yet to take a clear stance on the issue, Rhodes said.

According to the lecturer, the reaction from the West has diverged widely from that of Sudanese citizens, who continue to reject military hegemony. The report says that American diplomats have signaled acceptance of the new arrangement and willingness to turn a blind eye to the continued military dominance of the transition government.

This brings focus to the breakdown of the anti-coup coalition that had formed for Africa – a breakdown that has led to military interventions reemerging as a leading method by which power is transferred on the continent, Rhodes added.

Noting that the fight for democracy and against military rule in Africa has seen significant setbacks, Rhodes said while African populations remain overwhelmingly committed to democracy and opposed to military governments, the lack of reliable international pro-democracy partners makes the struggle against military rule much more difficult.

But as the sustained anti-military protests in Sudan demonstrate, local populations are willing to continue the fight for democracy, even if they must go it alone, said the lecturer.

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PROTEST IN COLOMBO AGAINST LYNCHING OF SRI LANKAN EXECUTIVE IN PAKISTAN

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A protest was held outside Pakistan High Commission in Colombo on Sunday by a large crowd, including a group of monks, against the killing of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot city of Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan executive of a garment factory was lynched and his body burnt by angry supporters of a hardline Islamist party that attacked the facility in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations on Friday.

A police official alleged that Kumara tore a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in which Quranic verses were inscribed and threw it in the dustbin. A mob enraged over the alleged blasphemy incident, started gathering outside the factory from adjoining areas, most of them activists and supporters of the TLP.

They dragged the Sri Lankan executive, who was in his 40s, from the factory and severely tortured him. After he succumbed to his wounds, the mob burnt his body before police reached the crime spot. Late on Friday, Punjab police said they have arrested 100 suspects, after identifying them through video footage that went viral on social media.

Expressing grief over the lynching of his country’s citizen in Pakistan, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha said that he was “shocked to see the brutal and fatal attack” on Priyantha Diyawadana by “extremist mobs in Pakistan”.

“My heart goes out to his wife and family”, Rajapaksha said in a tweet.

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