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Friday,26-February-2021

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Sikhs For Justice: Pakistan has banned pro-Khalistan campaign

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Pro-Khalistan group ‘Sikhs For Justice (SFJ)’ has claimed that the Pakistan government has banned the registration of the ‘Khalistan Referendum Team 2020’ on its soil at the behest of the Narendra Modi government.

SFJ legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun claimed on Monday that authorities in Pakistan had stopped the group’s activists from putting up posters and banners of the Khalistan referendum campaign at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassan Abdal where thousands of Sikhs from India were visiting to celebrate the 320th year of Khalsa Sajna Diwas.

A ‘jatha’ of 389 Indian devotees, under the aegis of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), were visiting Pakistan till April 21 to offer prayers at various gurdwaras in that country on the occasion of Baisakhi.

The SFJ had put up hoardings and banners of its separatist activities at Sikh shrines in Pakistan last year during the visit of Indian pilgrims which was objected to by Indian authorities.

“Pro-Khalistan activists were officially invited to launch the registration the president of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on behalf of the Pakistan government. The Khalistan activists from North America and Europe, who reached Pakistan in the first week of April, were not allowed to post banners of Khalistan in Gurdwara Panja Sahib and were forced to stop the scheduled plan to register volunteers for Referendum 2020,” Pannun said in an official statement issued from the SFJ New York headquarters.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and (Pakistan) Army Chief (Qamar Javed) Bajwa, who have been deceptively claiming to be the messiah of the Sikh community have succumbed and bowed down to Modi government’s dictatorial pressure to ban SFJ’s ‘Khalistan Referendum Team 2020’ registration event at Panja Sahib during the visiting Sikh pilgrims from India,” Pannun said.

The SFJ is a secessionist group which is seeking a separate Sikh homeland — Khalistan.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has been critical of the SFJ saying that it is a “one-man army caked by Pakistan’s ISI” (Inter-Services Intelligence).

“Pakistan Army and ISI have treaded the path of alienating the global Sikh community who have continuously supported Pakistan during India’s threat of jingoistic war,” Pannun said.

Reiterating that ‘Punjab Independence Referendum 2020’ is a democratic campaign for “right to self-determination through ballot not bullet”, he claimed that SFJ’s global peaceful movement was being undermined by the Pakistan government.

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India and China begin military talks to de-escalate tension at Hot Springs, Gogra, Depsang

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Indian and Chinese military dialogue to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control started on Saturday morning. The 10th round of Corps Commander meeting started at 10 a.m. at Moldo on Chinese side.

Indian military delegation is led by Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon, Commander of 14 Corps based in Leh. The Corps Commander will discuss disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013.

However, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the current round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake.

However, just a day ahead of the meeting, China began a “psywar”, where it released a video of Galwan Valley clashes on social media accusing Indian Army of being aggressive and leading to the clash.

Indian Army didn’t react to the video of the clash released by China and maintained silence over the issue.

The video was released on a private news channel in China and thereafter it went viral.

It is after eight months that China has released a video of the clash which took place on June 15 last year. India had lost 20 soldiers and China only this week claimed clearly its four casualties, earler it had been evasive.

China, for the first time, has released the names of their soldiers killed in the clashes on Friday.

So far disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake has taken place.

It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing has agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) team are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

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International News

India and China military talks on Saturday for further disengagement

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India and China military delegates will meet on Saturday for the tenth round of talks to discuss disengagement at other friction places at the Line of Actual Control, sources said.

During the tenth round, the Corps Commanders will discuss other friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang Plains. The talks will start at 10 a.m. at Moldo on the Chinese side.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the tenth round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of Pangong Lake.

The disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake is expected to complete till February 20. It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake. “It is a joint inspection team, both from Indian Army and Chinese PLA,” said a senior government officer.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be a temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

The confrontation later spilled over to the southern bank following which Indian Army occupied crucial heights irking the Chinese also leading to incidents of gun shots being fired in the air.

Last year on June 15, India lost 20 soldiers during clash at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh. China back then never revealed about casualties.

For the first time, China on Friday accepted that they lost soldiers and honoured its four People’s Liberation Army soldiers killed and one injured during clashes with Indian Army troops at Galwan.

The China Global Television Network (CGTN), Chinese state media, claimed that five PLA soldiers were honoured with honorary title and first-class merit citation.

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India-Australia partnership to play important role in post-Covid world: Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that a strong India-Australia partnership will play an important role in shaping the post-Covid world.

The statement came a day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to move ahead with his government’s proposed laws that will ensure the US media tech giants like Facebook pay for publishing news media content. Incidentally, the Modi government is also pushing back against the misuse of the US social media platforms for mobilising violence over domestic reforms in India.

On Thursday, Modi had spoken to Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the phone. Both the leaders, while reiterating their commitment to consolidate their comprehensive strategic partnership, discussed regional issues of common interest. The two looked forward to working together for peace, prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific.

In a virtual address on Friday at the award ceremony of the India Australia Circular Economy Hackathon, Prime Minister Modi said that Indian and Australian youth, innovators and entrepreneurs will be at the forefront of strengthening partnership over the circular economy.

In June last year, Prime Minister Modi and Morrison had discussed the possibility of organising a hackathon on circular economy. Modi said he was glad the idea was realised so soon.

“As humanity faces the challenges posed by Climate Change, the theme of this Hackathon is relevant to the whole world. Consumption-oriented economic models have put a great strain on our planet.

“We must never forget that we are not the owners of all that Mother Earth has to offer, but merely its trustees for all the future generations to come. It is not enough to make our production processes more efficient and less polluting. No matter how fast or slow one drives, if the direction is wrong, then one is bound to reach the wrong destination. And so, we must set the right direction,” Modi said.

Circular Economy, he said, can be a key step in solving many of the challenges. “Recycling and reusing things, eliminating waste, and improving resource efficiency must become part of our lifestyles,” he stressed.

The hackathon has seen innovative solutions from Indian and Australian students, startups and entrepreneurs. “I have no doubt that your innovations will inspire our two countries to take the lead in circular economy solutions. And, for that, we must now also explore ways to scale-up and incubate these ideas,” he said.

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