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Credible proof linking MBS to Khashoggi killing: UN expert

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi
There is credible evidence that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials are individually liable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a UN special rapporteur said in a report on Wednesday.
 
A report by UN extrajudicial executions investigator Agnes Callamard said the evidence merits further investigation by an independent and impartial international inquiry, the BBC reported.
 
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the Saudi Crown Prince, was killed and reportedly dismembered in October 2018 at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul by a team of 15 agents sent from Riyadh. His body has not been found till now.
 
While Riyadh initially denied any knowledge of the incident, Saudi officials later claimed that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to the Crown Prince's inner circle, were responsible for the journalist's death.
 
The murder caused international outrage and provoked condemnation of the 33-year-old Crown Prince, also known as "MBS". Saudi authorities, however, insist they were not acting on the Crown Prince's orders.
 
In a 101-page report into Khashoggi's murder, Callamard urged the UN to "demand" a follow-up criminal investigation.
 
She did not make any conclusions on the guilt of the Saudi Crown Prince and the King. Instead, Callamard said that there was "credible evidence meriting further investigation by a proper authority" as to whether the "threshold of criminal responsibility has been met".
 
Callamard said it was her conclusion that Khashoggi was "the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution" and an "extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law".
 
There was no immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia.
 
"There is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's. Indeed, this human rights inquiry has shown that there is sufficient credible evidence regarding the responsibility of the Crown Prince demanding further investigation," she said.
 
According to Callamard, there was "no reason why sanctions should not be applied against the Crown Prince and his personal assets". She went to Turkey earlier this year with a team of forensic and legal experts and said she received evidence from Turkish authorities.
 
She said she obtained access to a recording of the killing and had received information about a "financial package" offered to Khashoggi's children.
 
Her report revealed gruesome, nearly minute-by-minute accounting of the events surrounding the killing. It also cited sounds of a buzzing saw that could have been used to dismember Khashoggi's body, media reports said.
 
Callamard said she received no response to her request to travel to Saudi Arabia.
 
Eleven people are on trial in Saudi Arabia over the murder in secret proceedings and five could face the death penalty.
 
Callamard named 15 suspects in the case, while the US State Department publicly identified 16 people for their alleged roles in the killing.
 
IANS
 

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26 injured in Japan earthquake

 
Strong quake strikes northwest Japan
At least 26 people were injured after an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale struck Japan's northwestern region, causing landslides and power outages in some areas, authorities said on Wednesday.
 
Seventeen people were injured in Yamagata prefecture, four each in Niigata and Miyagi prefectures, and one in Ishikawa Prefecture, according to the Kyodo News Agency. 
 
There were no reports of missing people, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.
 
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned of potential collapses of buildings and more landslides as there is a chance of more quakes of similar levels hitting Yamagata and Niigata prefectures facing the Sea of Japan over the following week while rain is expected in parts of the region on Wednesday.
 
The earthquake occurred at 10.22 p.m. on Tuesday at a depth of about 14 km, with its epicenter located off Yamagata, according to the meteorological agency. A tsunami warning was issued but lifted hours later.
 
A 10 cm tsunami was observed in the city of Niigata with smaller ones in other locations including Sakata and Wajima.
 
Multiple landslides occurred in Tsuruoka, according to the Yamagata prefectural government. 
 
Some vehicles were trapped in mud as the temblor caused soil liquefaction in parts of Tsuruoka, and the roof over a sumo ring at an elementary school in the city collapsed, according to the local governments.
 
Over 9,200 houses in Niigata and Yamagata prefectures were hit by power outages but electricity services were restored by 6.44 a.m. on Wednesday, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co.
 
East Japan Railway Co. said the quake caused some delays to its bullet train services Tuesday, affecting around 10,000 people. It began Wednesday's services normally.
 
IANS
 

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12 dead, 125 injured in magnitude 6.0 earthquake in China's Sichuan province

 
Death toll from China quakes rises to 11
At least 12 people died and 125 others suffered injuries after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit the Sichuan province in southwest China on Monday night, Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency said on Tuesday, quoting the Ministry of Emergency Management.
 
The quake struck Changning County of Yibin City at 10:55 pm local time on Monday, the China Earthquake Networks Centre (CENC) said.
 
Its epicentre was located at latitude 28.34 degrees North and longitude 104.90 degrees East and it occurred at a depth of 16 km, the report said.
 
Most of the deaths were caused by damaged houses, the report quoted rescue workers as saying.
 
Fifty-three people are receiving treatment in two hospitals in Changning. Among them, two are in critical conditions and six others are severely injured.
 
Rescue and relief teams have been rushed to the affected areas, along with food and other emergency supplies, tents, folding cots, quilts and so on.
 
A major highway connecting Yibin and Xuyong county of Sichuan's Luzhou city was closed and some other roads were also blocked, the report said.
 
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Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi dies in courtroom during trial

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Egypt's former President Mohammed Morsi, ousted by the military in 2013 after one year in office, has collapsed in a courtroom and died, officials said.
 
A top figure in the now-banned Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi had just addressed the court from a cage at a hearing on charges of espionage, the BBC reported.
 
Morsi, 67, had been in custody since his removal after mass protests.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood said the death was a "full-fledged murder" and called for crowds to gather at the funeral.
 
Activists and his family had long complained about his prison conditions, saying Morsi was not receiving treatment for serious health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and was constantly being held under solitary confinement.
 
Morsi collapsed moments after addressing the court in Cairo at a hearing related to charges of espionage emanating from suspected contacts with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which had close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
He spoke for five minutes from a soundproof glass cage which officials said was designed to prevent him disrupting proceedings. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed but Egypt's public prosecutor said an initial report showed no signs of recent injuries on the body.
 
Last month, his family said authorities had repeatedly denied access to him and that they knew little about his health conditions, a situation that "violated constitutions applied all over the world".
 
In March last year, his youngest son, Abdullah, said officials were "doing this on purpose, since they want to see him dead 'from natural causes' as soon as possible".
 
IANS
 

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4 Indian-American family members found dead inside house in Iowa

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Four members of an Indian-American family were found dead with gunshot wounds inside a house in the US state of Iowa, authorities said.
 
Officers with the West Des Moines Police Department were sent at around 10 a.m. on Saturday to the 900 block of 65th Street, where they found the bodies, reports the local KCRG News.
 
Police identified the bodies as those of Chandrasekhar Sunkara, 44, Lavanya Sunkara, 41, a 15- and a 10-year-old boy.
 
The police said they all died of apparent gunshot wounds but an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.
 
"This tragedy will impact family, friends, co-workers, anyone that knew this family," Sgt. Dan Wade said in statement. 
 
"We are continuing to work through this investigation. We will follow through until we have answered as many questions as the evidence allows. We are confident, though, that there is no continuing threat to the community."
 
Authorities said other family members -- two adults and two children -- were staying at the home as guests, KCRG News quoted the police as saying. 
 
When the victims were discovered, one of the survivors ran outside looking for help.
 
IANS
 

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Tech firms can't dodge responsibility for chaos they create: Cook

Tim Cook (File photo: IANS)
Tim Cook (File photo: IANS)
Taking a dig at tech giants like Facebook over privacy violations and the unabated spread of fake news, Apple CEO Tim Cook has asked fellow technologists to start taking responsibility for their actions.
 
During a speech at the Stanford University on Sunday, Cook said that whether you like it or not, what you build and what you create defines who you are.
 
"It feels a bit crazy that anyone should have to say this. But if you've built a chaos factory, you can't dodge responsibility for the chaos. Taking responsibility means having the courage to think things through," Cook told students.
 
"We see it every day now, with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech. Fake news poisoning our national conversation. The false promise of miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood. Too many seem to think that good intentions excuse away harmful outcomes."
 
"If we accept as normal and unavoidable that everything in our lives can be aggregated, sold or even leaked in the event of a hack, then we lose so much more than data. We lose the freedom to be human," Cook noted.
 
His concerns came in the wake of several users' data violation being reported almost on a daily basis. Silicon Valley has faced fierce criticism in recent years over disinformation, privacy breaches and the misuse of data.
 
According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice is set to probe Google while the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take on Facebook and Amazon, seeking greater scrutiny from tech companies related to users' privacy and unfair market practices.
 
Facebook is already under investigation by the US FTC over its handling of user data. The social networking platform is expecting a fine of up to $5 billion.
 
"Here's a plain fact -- Silicon Valley is responsible for some of the most revolutionary inventions in modern history. But lately, it seems, this industry is becoming known for a less noble innovation: The belief that you can claim credit without accepting responsibility," Cook told students.
 
According to Cook, in a world without digital privacy, even if you have done nothing wrong other than think differently, you begin to censor yourself.
 
"Not entirely at first. Just a little, bit by bit. To risk less, to hope less, to imagine less, to dare less, to create less, to try less, to talk less, to think less. The chilling effect of digital surveillance is profound, and it touches everything".
 
He said that if we believe that freedom means an environment where great ideas can take root, where they can grow and be nurtured without fear of irrational restrictions or burdens, then it's our duty to change course.
 
"Don't waste your time living someone else's life. Don't try to emulate the people who came before you to the exclusion of everything else, contorting into a shape that doesn't fit," he said.
 
IANS
 

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3 Indian labourers killed in Nepal building collapse

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Three Indian labourers were killed and three others injured when a part of an under-construction building collapsed in Nepal's Dang district on Saturday, officials said.
 
Chief of the Dang District Administration Govinda Prasad Rijal told Xinhua news agency the part of the under-construction Samrat Cement Factory collapsed at 1 a.m. The deceased Indians were from Jharkhand, officials said.
 
Those injured were rushed to local hospitals.
 
Remanta Dhakal, factory's General Manager, said the accident occurred when the labourers were working to set up the sixth floor of the building.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Xi says China wants Indo-Pak ties to improve

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday that Beijing was for the improvement in ties between New Delhi and Islamabad but at the same time pushed for the expansion of the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), a multi-billion dollar connectivity project that has caused tensions among the three Asian nations.
 
On the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Xi met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and told him "China supports India and Pakistan to improve relations" that nosedived after 40 CRPF troopers were killed in a terror attack by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
 
"We support Pakistan in carrying out the national anti-terrorism action plan and will help Pakistan strengthen its counter-terrorism capacity building. China supports Pakistan and India to improve relations," Xi was quoted as saying by a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing.
 
At the same summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raked up the issue of terrorism and slammed Pakistan in an oblique reference. 
 
Xi also stressed on the need to expand the CPEC, the crown jewel of China's ambitious Belt and Road project. India has sternly opposed the corridor project that plans to connect China's Kashgar with Pakistan's Gwadar through the disputed Kashmir region.
 
"We must expand and enrich the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with new focus on industrial parks, agriculture and people's livelihood," Xi was quoted as saying by the statement.
 
"It is necessary to seize the opportunity of the escalation of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement and vigorously expand bilateral trade. China is willing to provide assistance to Pakistan within its ability," Xi said. 
 
China is Pakistan's close ally and refuses to chide the South Asian nation for harbouring anti-India terrorists.
 
Beijing has also invested billions of dollars in CPEC Pakistan that has come under attack for alleged corruption. The Chinese engineers working on the project have been attacked by militants who are against it.
 
During his meeting with Xi, Khan said: "The Pakistani side will firmly promote the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and will take effective measures to provide security.
 
"China is an all-weather strategic partner of Pakistan. The Pakistani side thanks the Chinese side for its valuable support and assistance for a long time. It highly values China's positive role in promoting international and regional peace and security and is committed to continuously deepening its strategic relationship with China."
 
IANS
 

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China, India should not pose threat to each other: Xi

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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the two countries should not pose a threat to each other and step up cooperation in various fields, including the construction of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor.
 
After Xi met Modi for the first time after the Indian leader was re-elected Prime Minister, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Thursday evening, giving details about the meet between the two leaders, who also discussed the US' protectionist trade policy.
 
Xi, who congratulated Modi on his re-election, said both countries needed to accept their differences and expand their cooperation in various spheres.
 
He pointed out that China and India are the only two emerging market countries with a population of one billion in the world, and they are at an important stage of rapid development. 
 
"The cooperation between China and India will not only help each other's development, but will also contribute to peace, stability, and prosperity in Asia and the world," he said. 
 
Xi also emphasised that "the two sides should adhere to the basic judgment that China and India... do not pose a threat to each other. They must persist in deepening mutual trust, focusing on cooperation, and accepting differences so that China-India relations become a more positive asset and positive energy for promoting the development of the two countries".
 
He stressed the need to step up cooperation in investment, production capacity, tourism, and among others, expand benefits of common interests to jointly promote regional interconnectivity -- including the construction of the BCIM, and better realise cooperative development and common development.
 
BCIM is also one of the major six corridors of China's Belt and Road connectivity project. It aims to connect China's eastern city of Kunming with India's Kolkata through Bangladesh's Dhaka and Myanmar's Mandalay. India had not opposed the BCIM but its response to the project was tepid as it said to have concerns about China expanding its influence in its eastern neighbours.
 
India also fears the project would expose its northeastern region.
 
Xi also told Modi "that it was necessary to make good use of mechanisms such as the meeting of special representatives on the border issue, strengthen the building of confidence measures, and maintain stability in the border areas of the two countries".
 
The two countries have a dispute over their 3,448 km long border, which is also the ninth largest boundary in the world. 
 
Xi also said that "as important representatives of developing countries and emerging market economies, China and India must jointly safeguard free trade and multilateralism and safeguard the legitimate development rights of developing countries".
 
The US has turned up the heat on Indian and China as it in May took its trade spat with China to the next level by slapping tariffs on its goods worth $200 billion and ended the preferential status for Indian goods earlier this month.
 
Modi told Xi that the Indian side was willing to maintain close high-level exchanges with China, strengthen strategic communication, promote bilateral relations in a wide range of fields, expand new areas of cooperation, and properly handle their differences.
 
"India and China should jointly plan the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year and enhance cultural exchanges between the two countries," Modi was quoted as saying by the statement.
 
IANS
 

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Pakistan must take action against terror, Modi tells Xi Jinping

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said Pakistan must take concrete action against terrorism affecting India to create an atmosphere for peaceful bilateral relations, as the issue came up during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyz Republic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Chinese President  Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on June 13, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on June 13, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said Pakistan must take concrete action against terrorism affecting India to create an atmosphere for peaceful bilateral relations, as the issue came up during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping here.
 
The Prime Minister said India had made efforts to build cordial relations with Pakistan but those were "derailed", Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told journalists after the meeting between Modi and Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
 
"There was a brief discussion," Gokhale said when asked whether Pakistan and terrorism emanating from there figured in the talks between Modi and Xi.
 
The Prime Minister stated that India's position has been consistent that it wants peaceful relations with Pakistan, the Foreign Secretary said. 
 
Modi underlined to Xi that Pakistan "needs to create an atmosphere free of terror, but as of now we don't see it happening."
 
The clear message given by Modi to Xi assumes significance against the backdrop of the consistent efforts made by China, which considers itself as an "all-weather friend" of Pakistan, to stall an international attempt to proscribe chief of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad Masood Azhar by the UN Security Council till recently.
 
China, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, finally relented to allow the world body to sanction Azhar on May 1.
 
IANS
 

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Pompeo to visit Delhi before Modi-Trump meeting

United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo speaking to reporters at the StateDepartment of State in Washington on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Photo: State Department/IANS)
United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo speaking to reporters at the StateDepartment of State in Washington on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Photo: State Department/IANS)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that he will be visiting India later this month to build on "an incredibly important relationship" that is "closely tied economically".
 
Pompeo's visit will take place as the two countries get ready for a meeting between newly re-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump during the G-20 Summit on June 28 and 29 in Osaka, Japan.
 
In preparation for his visit, Pompeo will be outlining to Indian business leaders in Washington on Wednesday "what we've been working on for my entire time here in the Indo-Pacific", he told reporters at the State Department on Monday.
 
Pompeo's focus on economic ties comes amid stresses in trade relations from Trump's America First policy and priority to cut trade deficits.
 
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity both to give the set of remarks about how it is our relationship is so closely tied economically, but also importantly the things that the United States and India can continue to do to build out what is an incredibly important relationship for both countries," he said.
 
Pompeo described India as "an important part of President Trump's strategy in the Indo-Pacific".
 
His visit to the region starting on June 24 will "broaden and deepen our partnership with key countries to advance our shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific", State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Monday.
 
"Prime Minister Modi's recent election victory provides an excellent opportunity for him to implement his vision for a strong and prosperous India that plays a leading role on the global stage," she added.
 
After India, Pompeo is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka.
 
Pompeo is to deliver the keynote address on Wednesday to the two-day India Ideas Summit of the US-India Business Council on "The US and India: An Economic Foundation for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific".
 
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India has been in Trump's trade crosshairs. The US ended tariff concessions to some imports from India under the General Scheme of Preferences earlier this month accusing New Delhi of not giving "equitable and reasonable access" to its markets.
 
India was also hit by Trump imposing 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 aluminium imports last year. India has threatened retaliatory tariffs on agricultural imports from the US.
 
Trump has criticised India several times over import duties on Harley Davidson motorcycles, which are a favourite of a section of his base, and whiskey, a product of Kentucky state that was one of his electoral bastions.
 
India has also criticised the US tightening restrictions on H1-B professional visas that affects technology workers from India and moves to strip the spouses of the visa-holders of work permits.
 
India has also been affected by the harsh oil sanctions on Iran and Washington's refusal to extend the exemption given to New Delhi for buying oil from Teheran.
 
The trade diplomacy baton appears to have been passed on to Pompeo from Trump officials with primary responsibility. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the principal negotiator, did not make an expected visit to India last year and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross cancelled a visit in February.
 
Although Trump's Indo-Pacific strategy that places democracies India and the US as "bookends of stability" for the region is girded by shared defence interests, the economic factor has also been introduced into it.
 
Late last month, the Quad countries -- India, Australia, Japan and the US that are the key players in balancing China in the Indo-Pacific -- discussed leveraging the power of the private sector by encouraging "transparent, principles-based investment in quality infrastructure". 
 
This would be a strategy to counter China's economic diplomacy that promotes infrastructure development in its quest for global influence.
 
The US wants to increase military hardware sales to India and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper, who oversees defence sales, visited India days after the Indian elections.
 
The State Department said before his visit that the agenda was to focus on "expanding our security cooperation, and furthering opportunities for American industry" and noted that US-India bilateral defence trade has risen from virtually zero in 2008 to $15 billion now.
 
But India buying the Russian S-400 anti-missile defence system could be a roadblock to the US expanding military sales to India.
 
The US has retaliated against NATO partner Turkey over its planned purchase of the system denying the sale of F-35 stealth jets and restricting training for its air force.
 
While Washington opposes India's purchase of the S-400, it has not directly threatened sanctions. Pompeo is expected to try to persuade India to drop the purchase and offer alternatives.
 
IANS
 

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Terrorism a joint threat, needs collective action: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena for the second time in 10 days and agreed that terrorism was a "joint threat" that needed collective and focussed action. The two leaders had last week met at Modi's swearing-in ceremony.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at St. Anthony’s Church, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on June 9, 2019. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also seen.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at St. Anthony’s Church, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on June 9, 2019. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also seen.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday met Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena for the second time in 10 days and agreed that terrorism was a "joint threat" that needed collective and focussed action. The two leaders had last week met at Modi's swearing-in ceremony.
 
Modi is the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after the horrible terror attack of April 21 that killed over 250 people and was claimed by the Islamic State. His visit is being seen as India's affirmation of solidarity with the neighbouring country in its hour of crisis.
 
The Prime Minister's Office described his visit as "important, signifying the strong bonds of friendship with a valued neighbour".
 
"Met President @MaithripalaS, our second meeting in 10 days. President Sirisena and I agreed that terrorism is a joint threat that needs collective and focussed action. Reiterated India's commitment to partner with Sri Lanka for a shared, secure and prosperous future," Modi tweeted after his meeting.
 
The Prime Minister also met his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe and Leader of Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa during the short trip to the island nation. 
 
Modi, who arrived here from the Maldives, started the day with a visit to one of the sites of the April 21 attacks, the St Anthony's church.
 
"I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. My heart goes out to the families of the victims and the injured," he later tweeted.
 
Before his departure, the Prime Minister interacted with members of the Indian Community in Sri Lanka at India House and emphasised the important role played by them in strengthening bilateral relations. 
 
The Prime Minister said the Indian democracy had been strengthened by the sweeping mandate in the general elections.
 
"The results of the Lok Sabha elections are a matter of study for the world as to how mature the Indian democracy is. We have seen people's respect for democracy and their commitment to it," Modi said.
 
He said that although the Indian elections saw a lot of attacks and counter-attacks among the rivals, Indians became one "from Kashmir to Kanyakumari" once the vote count was over, triggering applause in the crowd.
 
Stating that women voters turned out in record numbers, Modi said: "The message of this election is that as a democracy we have matured. Democracy is our tradition and there is democracy in our ethos."
 
The Prime Minister also appealed to the diaspora to contribute to India's development. India's image, he said, had changed a lot in the last few years. 
 
"Today India's image in the world is getting stronger. A large part of the credit for this goes to the Indian diaspora. Wherever I go, I am told about the successes and accomplishments of the Indian diaspora," the Prime Minister said.
 
"I have been travelling around the globe and have never come across any complaint about Indians residing in various countries. This is due to Indian culture and tradition. 
 
President Sirisena presented Modi with a statue of meditating Buddha. The PMO called the statue "a special gift from a special friend". 
 
India is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner globally, and it also accounts for the largest FDI in the island nation.
 
IANS
 

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Indian democracy strengthened by poll verdict: Modi

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Indian democracy has been strengthened by the sweeping mandate in the general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here on Sunday, adding that democracy is a part of Indian culture.
 
"The results of the Lok Sabha elections are a matter of study for the world as to how mature Indian democracy is. We have seen people's respect for democracy and their commitment to it," Modi told the Indian community in Sri Lanka gathered at the India House.
 
He said that although the Indian elections saw a lot of attacks and counter-attacks among the rivals, Indians became one "from Kashmir to Kanyakumari" once the vote count was over, triggering applause in the crowd.
 
Stating that women voters turned out in record numbers, Modi said: "The message of this election is that as a democracy we have matured. Democracy is our tradition and there is democracy in our culture."
 
The Prime Minister also appealed to the diaspora to contribute to India's development.
 
"We have to take the country forward together. We have to increase the pace of development. We will try to fulfil the dreams of every Indian. You also contribute to India's development."
 
India's image, he said, had changed a lot in the last few years. 
 
"I have been travelling around the globe and have never come across any complaint about Indians residing in various countries. This is due to Indian culture and tradition. 
 
"Today India's image in the world is getting stronger. A large part of credit for this goes to the Indian diaspora. Wherever I go, I am told about the successes and accomplishments of the Indian diaspora," Modi said.
 
The Prime Minister later shook hands with many members of the Indian community.
 
IANS
 

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Sirisena gifts Buddha statue to Indian PM Modi

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday presented Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a Buddha statue in meditation posture.
 
"This replica of the Samadhi Buddha statue has been hand carved using white teak. This masterpiece has taken almost two years to complete," the Indian Prime Minister's Office said. 
 
"This is considered to be one of the best sculptures in the Anuradhapura era. The original statue was sculptured between the 4th and 7th centuries AD," it tweeted.
 
Modi arrived here from the Maldives on Sunday and held bilateral talks with Sirisena. The PMO called the Buddha statue "a special gift from a special friend". 
 
IANS
 

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Terrorism is joint threat, say India, Sri Lanka

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday agreed that terrorism was a joint threat that needed collective and focussed action.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at St. Anthony’s Church, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on June 9, 2019. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also seen.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at St. Anthony’s Church, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on June 9, 2019. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also seen.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday agreed that terrorism was a joint threat that needed collective and focussed action.
 
Modi tweeted this after holding bilateral talks with Sirisena, shortly after arriving here from the Maldives.
 
Modi pointed out that was his second meeting with Sirisena in 10 days.
 
"President Sirisena and I agreed that terrorism is a joint threat that needs collective and focussed action," the Indian leader said.
 
"Reiterated India's commitment to partner with Sri Lanka for a shared, secure and prosperous future."
 
Modi earlier visited one of the eight sites that was hit by suicide bombers in Sri Lanka on April 21 killing more than 250 people.
 
Paying tributes to the victims of the horrific Easter Sunday suicide bombings, he said "cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka".
 
"I am confident Sri Lanka will rise again. Cowardly acts of terror cannot defeat the spirit of Sri Lanka. India stands in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka," Modi tweeted as he began a packed one-day visit to the island nation.
 
Modi, who arrived here from the Maldives and was ceremonially received by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, began his Sri Lanka visit by going to one of the sites of the Easter Sunday attack, the St Anthony's church. 
 
"My heart goes out to the families of the victims and the injured."
 
Modi is the first foreign leader to visit Sri Lanka after that attack, which was blamed by Colombo on a Sri Lankan Islamist outfit although the mayhem was claimed by the Islamic State.
 
The Indian Prime Minister's Office described Modi's visit as "important, signifying the strong bonds of friendship with a valued neighbour".
 
On his part, Modi tweeted after his welcome ceremony: "Happy to be back in Sri Lanka, my third visit to this beautiful island in four years.
 
"Share the warmth shown by the people of Sri Lanka in equal measure. India never forgets her friends when they are in need. Deeply touched by the ceremonial welcome."
 
After becoming Prime Minister, Modi earlier visited Sri Lanka in March 2015 and May 2017.
 
In his first overseas trip after his re-election now, Modi visited the Maldives on Saturday at the invitation of Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
 
His next halt was Sri Lanka at the invitation of Sirisena.
 
The Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapakse, a former President, and a delegation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), were also scheduled to call on the Indian leader.
 
India is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner globally, and it also accounts for the largest FDI in the island nation.
 
Later, Modi emplaned for India and was expected to pray at the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh before returning to New Delhi.
 
IANS
 
 

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Dubai accident: Repatriation of bodies of Indian victims complete

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The repatriation of the bodies of the Indian victims in Thursday's horrific bus accident in Dubai was finally completed on Sunday.
 
The repatriation of the  bodies of 11 Indians was complete with the last three bodies flown to Mumbai on an Air India flight that left from Dubai at 3.39 a.m. on Sunday, an official told Gulf News. 
 
Meanwhile, the family of 22-year-old Roshni Moolchandani, the youngest Indian victim, performed her last rites at the Jebel Ali crematorium on Saturday evening.
 
Twelve of the 17 people who died when the Muscat-Dubai bus carrying 31 passengers crashed hit a height barrier on a road barred for buses were identified as Indians.
 
Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul had told Gulf News on Saturday that the mortal remains of the Indian victims would be repatriated free of cost by Air India in cases where employers were not bearing expenses.
 
The consulate had issued travel documents for free and also offered to bear the cost of embalming in cases where the families needed support.
 
IANS

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Modi says state-sponsored terrorism biggest problem

Assuring the Maldives that India will remain a "dependable, strong and leading partner" in its progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a veiled attack on Pakistan, saying state sponsorship of terrorism was the biggest threat before the world.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressing the Majlis, the Parliament of Maldives, in Male, Maldives on June 08, 2019.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressing the Majlis, the Parliament of Maldives, in Male, Maldives on June 08, 2019.
Assuring the Maldives that India will remain a "dependable, strong and leading partner" in its progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a veiled attack on Pakistan, saying state sponsorship of terrorism was the biggest threat before the world.
 
He called for a global conference against terrorism to discuss ways to end loopholes that are exploited by terrorists for their nefarious designs. 
 
The first visit by Modi to the South Asian archipelago nation in his new term was marked by rich symbolism on both sides.
 
Modi became the only the second foreign Head of State or Government to address the People's Majlis (parliament) in its 86 year history. He was conferred the Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen - the highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries by Maldives. 
 
His speech to the Maldives parliament was his first speech on a foreign soil since his re-election. Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih held delegation level talks and jointly inaugurated composite training centre and coastal surveillance radar system.
 
Modi said dealing with terrorism and radicalisation was the biggest challenge for global leaders.
 
"Terrorism is the biggest challenge not only for a country or a region but the entire world. No day goes when terrorists do not strike. They do not have bank accounts but still they have no dearth of money. Where do they get this money from, who gives them. State sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat," Modi said. 
 
He said a mistake was being made by making a distinction between a good terrorist and a bad terrorist. "This is an artificial divide. It has broken all barriers. All forces who believe in humanity, should come together. Dealing with terror and radicalisation is the biggest challenge for global leadership," Modi said. 
 
He said global conventions have been held on climate change and asked why it cannot be held on terrorism. 
 
"I will expect that the world organisations and leading countries hold a global conference against terrorism in a time-bound manner so that the loopholes that are exploited by terrorists and their supporters are plugged. If there was delay, the coming generations will not forgive us," he said. 
 
In his speech at People's Majlis, for which he later received a standing ovation from the members, Modi shared his views on Indo-Pacific, saying it was "our lifeline, trade route and key to our future" and there was need for all countries to work together for "openness, integration and balance" as it will increase trust.
 
He said a rules-based order will help preserve multilateralism.
 
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China has been seeking more influence in the Indian Ocean region and has invested in infrastructure projects in the Maldives. 
 
Amid reports concerning China's "debt trap", Modi said India's partnership is to empower people and not to weaken them or to increase their dependency or to put burden of debt on the coming generations.
 
Modi said 50 per cent of the world population lives in the Indo-Pacific region and he had outlined SAGAR (security and growth for all in the region) as a blueprint for cooperation in Indo-Pacific. 
 
India, he said, will use its resources also for developing capacities of other countries and in dealing with disasters.
 
"This time is full of challenges but challenges also bring opportunities," he said.
 
He said India and Maldives have an opportunity to work for keeping secure  the world's "most important sea lane". 
 
In his speech, Modi referred to the election of Solih in last December. 
 
"And who was most happy and proud over Maldives achievement. The answer is simple. Your most close friend, your nearest neighbour and the world's biggest democracy - India. For strengthening democracy in Maldives, India and every Indian was with you and will remain so," he said.
 
India has been concerned with former Maldivian President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's leaning toward China. 
 
Modi announced India's cooperation in conservation of Friday Mosque, which is made of coral and is unique in the world. 
 
During the visit, Modi gifted Solih a cricket bat, signed by Indian cricketers. India has offered to construct a cricket stadium of international standards near Male and a team of BCCI had visited Maldives to take forward their cricketing ties. 
 
Modi said India and Maldives were "flowers of the same orchard" and said New Delhi will provide assistance in enriching cultural legacy of Maldives, conservation of its manuscripts and development of dictionary of the local language. 
 
Modi said India had firm focus on development of Maldives and this was guided by the needs of the neighbouring country. 
 
"India will be a dependable, strong and leading partner in progress of Maldives. India is determined to further strengthen its unique friendship with Maldives," he said.
 
He also said that India gives highest priority to its relationship with Maldives. 
 
Modi said that the 'Neighbourhood First' policy was a priority for his government and noted that India and Maldives have signed an agreement on ferry service to boost people-to-people ties. 
 
He said the relationship between the two countries is older than history and referred to trade between Maldives and Lothal in Gujarat, his home state.
 
He said India has stood with Maldives in every difficulty and the new and big election mandates have opened new roads to strengthen ties. 
 
He referred to $1.4 billion economic package agreed during Solih's visit to India, which was also his maiden visit after his election as President. 
 
Modi also referred to concerns regarding climate change and said Malidives has taken several initiatives for sustainable development. 
 
Among the agreements signed were on hydrology and passenger services. 
 
IANS
 

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Maldives confers its highest honour on Modi

The Maldives on Saturday conferred its highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries -- Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen -- on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The President of Maldives, Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih presenting the Maldives Highest Honour Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in Male, Maldives on June 08, 2019.
The President of Maldives, Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih presenting the Maldives Highest Honour Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, in Male, Maldives on June 08, 2019.
The Maldives on Saturday conferred its highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries -- Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen -- on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
The award was conferred by Maldives President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih at a ceremonial function held in Male.
 
Modi, who arrived here on a visit -- his first after assuming office for a second term on May 30 -- earlier in the day, jointly inaugurated with Solih a composite training centre and coastal surveillance radar system here.
 
The two sides also signed five memoranda of understanding (MoUs), apart from a technical agreement on sharing white shipping information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force. 
 
The MoUs were signed after delegation-level talks between the two leaders. 
 
Later in the day, Modi will address the Majlis (Parliament of Maldives).
 
IANS
 

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Modi arrives in Maldives on his first foreign visit after re-election

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday arrived in the Maldives on his first foreign visit after being re-elected.
 
During his visit, the Prime Minister will be conferred with the highest honour accorded to foreign dignitaries - Order of the Distinguished Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen.
 
Later in the day, he will address the Majlis (Parliament of Maldives).
 
Modi, along with Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, will also inaugurate two projects.
 
On June 9, Modi is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka where he will meet the top leaders of the island country.
 
IANS
 

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan writes to Modi, offers talks

Imran Khan. (File photo: IANS)
Imran Khan. (File photo: IANS)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi offering dialogue to solve reconcilable problems.
 
In a letter to Modi congratulating him on his second term as the Prime Minister, Khan wrote that Pakistan desires the resolution of all problems, including that of the disputed Kashmir region, the Geo TV reported.
 
He further added that talks between the two nations were the only solution to help both countries' people overcome poverty and that it was important to work together for regional development.
 
Pakistan, Khan wrote, wished for peace in the South Asian region and that, alongside stability, were required for the states as well as the region to move forward, the report said.
 
Modi had assumed prime ministership for a second consecutive five-year term on May 30.
 
On Thursday, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said no meeting between Modi and Khan was scheduled on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, which both leaders will be attending.
 
"To the best of my knowledge, no meeting is being arranged between Prime Minister Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the SCO meet," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said.
 
Talks about dialogue between Pakistan and India started gaining momentum after Khan had earlier congratulated Modi on the Bharatiya Janata Party's electoral victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
 
Khan had expressed his desire for the two countries to work together for the betterment of their people. In a tweet earlier, he had congratulated Modi, saying he looked forward to working for "peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia".
 
Modi had responded in a Twitter post, thanking Khan for his "good wishes" and saying he, too, wanted peace in the region.
 
IANS
 

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Eight Indians among 17 people killed in horrific bus accident in Dubai

At least 17 people, including eight Indians, died and five others suffered injuries when a bus carrying tourists returning from a break in Oman after the Eid holidays met with a horrific accident in Dubai on Thursday evening, official sources said.
At least 17 people, including eight Indians, died and five others suffered injuries when a bus carrying tourists returning from a break in Oman after the Eid holidays met with a horrific accident here on Thursday evening, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred around 6 pm near the Rashidiya exit on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road in Dubai.
 
The bus, which was carrying 31 people, over ran a traffic signal and crashed into a height barrier on a road that was not meant for buses near a Metro station. The victims belonged to different nationalities but full details were not immediately available.
 
The injured were rushed to the Rashid Hospital here. The bodies of the deceased passengers were also taken to the hospital, the sources said.
 
"We are sorry to inform that as per local authorities and relatives it is so far confirmed that 8 Indians have passed away in Dubai bus accident. Consulate is in touch with relatives of some of the deceased & awaits further details for others to inform their families," the Consulate General of India (CGI) in Dubai said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
According to it, the names of those who died in the accident are: Rajagopalan, Feroz Khan Pathan, Reshma Feroz Khan Pathan, Deepak Kumar, Jamaludeen Arakkaveettil, Kiran Johnny, Vasudev and Tilakram Jawahar Thakur.
 
"Our Consulate expresses sincere condolences to the families of those who passed away in this tragic accident. CG alongwith other officials and community members met the concerned relatives as well as hospital and police authorities late in the night to assure of all help," the consulate added.
 
The consulate also said three Indians were undergoing treatment in Rashid Hospital, while four were discharged after first aid.
 
Local newspapers reported that the bus crashed into a height barrier, which cut into the left side of the bus, killing passengers sitting on that side.
 
Senior police and other government officials rushed to the scene of the accident to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.
 
Meanwhile, Mwasalat, the Omani company that operates the bus service, said it had temporarily suspended its services on the Muscat-Dubai-Dubai route.
 
The Dubai authorities are carrying out investigations to establish the cause of the mishap.
 
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4 killed in Australia shooting, gunman arrested

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At least four persons were killed and several injured in a shooting in Australia's Darwin city on Tuesday. The suspected gunman was arrested by the police.
 
Eyewitnesses said the gunman walked into the Palms Motel on Darwin's Esplanade and opened fire with a pump-action shotgun in a number of rooms just before 6 p.m.
 
The suspected gunman, aged 45, was later arrested, national broadcaster ABC News reported.
 
The police said in a statement that there was "currently four casualties, multiple injuries and multiple crime scenes", but added they did not believe the incident to be terror related.
 
Multiple witnesses told ABC News that the gunman was looking for someone called "Alex".
 
Witness Leah Potter said that a woman was shot multiple times in the legs at the Palms Hotel.
 
"A man came running with a woman in his arms from next door which is the Palms Motel, which is the motel next to my motel, and he just dropped her on the footpath right in front of us.
 
"I ran and got some towels and wrapped up her legs, she had little holes all in her skin on both her legs and she was bleeding everywhere," Potter said.
 
Another witness, John Rose, told The Australian newspaper that he saw the gunman walk into the motel with a sawn-off shotgun.
 
"He shot up all the rooms and he went to every room looking for somebody and he shot them all up, then we saw him rush out, jump into his Toyota pick-up, and rush off," Rose said.
 
According to Australian news site news.com.au, the police were treating the the Palms Motel as the main crime scene but had also cordoned off a social club less than a mile away.
 
IANS

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Indian-origin woman jailed for 22 years for killing stepdaughter

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An Indian-origin woman has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison for strangling her 9-year-old stepdaughter in a bathtub in 2016, a crime described by a US court as a "disturbing" example of "extreme violence".
 
Shamdai Arjun, 55, of Queens, New York, was sentenced on Monday after being convicted in May of second-degree murder for killing Ashdeep Kaur. She will spend 22 years to up to life behind bars for the August 2016 killing.
 
Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder handed down the sentence in a case he described as a "disturbing" example of "extreme violence" and suffering, Queens Daily Eagle reported.
 
Ashdeep Kaur had moved from India to be in the care of her father Sukhjinder Singh and his wife in 2016. Family members said the girl told them about past abuse at the hands of her stepmother.
 
"It's disturbing to consider how you placed your hands around the neck and throat of that child and squeezed without letting up until her body went limp," Justice Holder said at sentencing. 
 
"The suffering this child endured as she was being killed is unimaginable and, to boot, you were the last face she had to look up and see before she died." 
 
Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said: "The defendant in this case goes beyond the tales of evil stepmothers. This defendant committed the unimaginable - she wrapped her hands around her stepdaughter's little neck and squeezed the life out of her. 
 
"The victim was an innocent child and just nine years old. The court has imposed a sentence that will likely guarantee this woman never sees freedom again. The sentence of the Court is more than warranted in this tragic case," Ryan said.
 
According to trial testimony, Arjun left her home in the Richmond Hill section of Queens on August 19, 2016 around 5.30 p.m. with her former husband and two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5.
 
Asked about the 9-year-old victim's whereabouts, she told an eyewitness that the child was in the bathroom and was waiting for her father to pick her up.
 
The eyewitness, who observed that the bathroom light had been on for several hours, called the victim's father Sukhjinder Singh and was instructed to break through the bathroom door. Ashdeep Kaur's lifeless and bruised naked body was later found in the bathtub. 
 
The medical examiner's office determined that the cause of death was strangulation.
 
IANS
 

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India denounces Pakistani sabotage of iftar, lodges protest

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India on Sunday denounced the sabotage of the traditional iftar hosted by India's envoy to Pakistan, saying it violated "all notions of civilized behaviour", and lodged a strong protest with Islamabad.
 
"The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilized behaviour," a statement from the Indian High Commission here said.
 
"Stopping diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India in Pakistan from discharging their diplomatic functions by intimidation and coercion is entirely counter-productive for our bilateral relationship," the statement said.
 
Pakistani security personnel forcibly stopped some 300 visitors, mainly Pakistanis, from attending the iftar hosted by Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria at Hotel Serena here on Saturday. They also misbehaved with Indian diplomats.
 
"The security forces stationed on the main road outside Hotel Serena rudely rebuffed and intimated officers and diplomatic staff of the High Commission of India who tried to ascertain from the security personnel the reasons for harassment of the guests," the statement said.
 
"Some officials were jostled, pushed, abused and aggressively threatened with bodily harm. In some cases, mobile phones belonging to officials were snatched."
 
The statement said: "Guests faced unprecedented harassment and intimidation at the hands of security agencies."
 
It said a concerted campaign was launched by Pakistani security agencies in the days preceding the iftar to reach out to invitees to actively dissuade them from attending the event.
 
"Those guests who did reach the function venue, in some cases from places as far as Lahore and Karachi, were intimidated and physically stopped from attending the iftar by Pakistani security forces, who had virtually laid the Serena Hotel under siege.
 
"Further, many guests from the diplomatic community based in Islamabad were also subjected to harassment.
 
"In complete violation of diplomatic norms, a large Pakistani security detachment, equipped with forklifts, was detailed outside Serena Hotel to aggressively turn away Pakistani civilians.
 
"In some cases, cars used by invitees were lifted and removed using forklifts. The more than 300 esteemed Pakistani guests who were turned away included MPs, government officials, media representatives, retired military officials and businessmen and retired diplomats, in addition to citizens from all walks of life."
 
The High Commission said India "has strongly protested to Pakistan" over "the gross intimidation of guests".
 
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The mission urged the Pakistani government to "urgently investigate these ugly events and share the results of the exercise with it.
 
"Further, we have emphasized to the government of Pakistan the need to ensure that diplomats and officials of the High Commission of India are allowed to discharge their diplomatic functions without fear of coercion or harassment."
 
Later on Saturday, Bisaria told the media: "I want to apologize to all the friends who were subject to some extra scrutiny outside (the venue)."
 
Witnesses said the operation was carried out by Pakistani security agencies including intelligence personnel not in uniform.
 
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi were among those invited to the event but they skipped it.
 
As soon as the guests started arriving at the venue, they were stopped outside and prevented aggressively from going in by the security agencies.
 
Pakistani security officials reportedly also telephoned members of the Karachi Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Faisalabad Chambers of Commerce and the Lahore Chambers of Commerce and told them not to attend the iftar party.
 
The Pakistani media did not report Saturday's incident, which comes days after Islamabad accused Indian security personnel of obstructing Indians from attending an iftar party thrown by the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
 
India-Pakistan relations have been badly hit after an Islamist group based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 40 troopers in Jammu and Kashmir in February. 
 
IANS
 

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Disgruntled employee kills 12 in US state of Virginia

 
Virginia Beach shooting leaves at least a dozen dead
At least 12 people were killed and four others injured when a disgruntled employee opened fire in a municipal centre building in the US state of Virginia. The attacker was shot dead after a police confrontation, authorities said.
 
The shooting suspect identified as DeWayne Craddock, who worked as a certified professional engineer for the city of Virginia Beach in the Public Utilities Department, opened fire on Friday in the Building 2 of the municipal centre, CNN quoted Police Chief James Cervera as saying.
 
Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Centre houses the operations building for the city, which include multiple departments.
 
Cervera said the 40-year-old shooter was confronted shortly after opening fire on multiple floors. There was an exchange of gunfire with officers after which he was shot dead.
 
The police chief confirmed that a .45 caliber pistol and several empty extended magazines were found near the gunman.
 
The suspect is thought to have purchased the firearms legally, according to initial investigation.
 
"This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach," said Mayor Bobby Dyer. 
 
"The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbour, colleagues."
 
According to Virginia Beach Vice Mayor James Wood, people can take guns into public buildings, but not schools or courts in the city.
 
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam described the incident as a "tragic day" for the city and the state.
 
State Senator Tim Kaine tweeted that he was devastated by the news, CNN reported.
 
Singer Pharell Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach, said in a tweet: "We are praying for our city, the lives that were lost, their families and everyone affected..."
 
Friday's incident is the deadliest mass shooting in the US since November 2018.
 
In that shooting, 12 people were killed at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. 
 
Officials said that gunman, Ian David Long, shot an unarmed security guard outside the bar, went in and continued shooting, injuring other security workers, employees and patrons. Long died by suicide.
 
IANS
 

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