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Friday,03-December-2021

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The two Congressmen who paid the political price of 26/11

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As the nation mourns the bravehearts and civilians who lost their lives in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and a controversy rages on Congress leader Manish Tewari’s new book, ’10 Flashpoints; 20 Years’, where he has targeted the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government for not taking any decisive action, two names of two Maharashtra Congressmen — Shivraj Patil and Vilasrao Deshmukh — stand out as the first political heads to roll in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The mild-mannered Patil, who was known for more for his sartorial sensibilities than for his administrative capabilities had to resign as Union Home Minister a day after the NSG’s Operation Tornado brought an end to the three-day siege on India’s commercial capital by Pakistani terrorists.

In secret U.S. Embassy cables exposed by Wikileaks, the then American ambassador, David Mulford, had described Patil as “spectacularly inept” and reported to the State Department that in his last four years as Union Home Minister, “he has been asleep on the watch” and each time there were calls to remove him, “Sonia Gandhi has protected him”.

But no one could stop Patil from being singed by the 26/11 attacks. The joke doing the rounds about him was that he was getting a change of clothes ironed for television appearances even as Mumbai was in the grip of terror. He was promptly replaced by the then Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram.

Interestingly, Patil, who represented Latur (Maharashtra) in the Lok Sabha and held ministerial positions in New Delhi off and on since 1980, airbrushed the 26/11 attacks from his autobiography, ‘Odyssey of My Life’, although he wrote at length about the 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814.

In 2010, Patil was rehabilitated and appointed the Governor of Punjab and Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, an office he demitted after completing his term in 2015. For a man who was Lok Sabha Speaker and Union Home Minister, it was evidently a demotion. And he has not been able to make a political comeback since then.

Following Patil, another politician from Latur, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, who had become Maharashtra’s chief minister for the second time in November 1, 2004 (his first term was cut short by factionalism in the party and he to make way for Sushilkumar Shinde in January 2003).

Deshmukh lost his job on December 6, 2008, along with the state’s then home minister, R.R. Patil. He was succeeded by another Congressman, Ashok Chavan, who is at present Maharashtra’s PWD Minister in the Maha Aghadi government.

The then chief minister was under fire, but no action was taken against him immediately after the terror attacks. What tilted the scales against him was the “conducted tour” he gave to the noted film director Ram Gopal Verma around the devastated Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai. Deshmukh’s architect son, Riteish, is a well-known Bollywood actor known for playing comic roles.

Verma went on to make a film titled ‘The Attacks of 26/11’ (2013), starring Nana Patekar, who played Rakesh Maria, Mumbai’s former top cop who was given the charge of investigating the event and interrogating the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab.

The Congress gave Deshmukh a Rajya Sabha ticket and he moved to New Delhi in May 2009 as a minister in Manmohan Singh’s second UPA government. He died in harness in Chennai in 2012.

Thirteen years after 26/11, its repercussions are still felt within the Congress as the BJP has found a new issue to flog after the sensational observations of Manish Tewari in his new book, which is to be officially released on December 2.

“For a state that has no compunctions in brutally slaughtering hundreds of innocent people, restraint is not a sign of strength; it is perceived as a symbol of weakness,” Tewari writes in his book. “There comes a time when actions must speak louder than words. 26/11 was one such time when it just should have been done. It, therefore, is my considered opinion that India should have actioned a kinetic response in the days following India’s 9/11.”

These words will haunt the Congress for some time, but they offer little solace to the families and friends of the more than 160 people killed by terrorists from Pakistan on November 26, 2008.

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Clash at Afghanistan-Iran border a misunderstanding: Taliban

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Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has confirmed a clash between the border forces of Iran and Afghanistan and described the incident as a “misunderstanding.”

According to media reports, a clash broke out between the forces of the two countries at a border point between Iran and Afghanistan’s western Nimroz province.

“The clash in border area of Kang district in Nimroz province between border forces of Afghan and Iran was a misunderstanding at local level and has been solved,” Mujahid tweeted on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“To prevent such incidents in future, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has issued necessary directives,” Mujahid said.

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Global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties

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A new report documents hundreds of cases of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) international harassment campaign against Taiwanese nationals via deportations and extraditions.

The report by Safeguard Defenders presents the fullest picture to date of this alarming trend. “This international persecution of Taiwan nationals amounts to an assault on Taiwanese sovereignty, and is part of the larger global campaign under Xi Jinping to exploit extradition treaties, mutual law enforcement agreements, and other multilateral institutions for the Chinese Communist Party’s political objectives,” it said.

China has increasingly shown that it has no regard for the rule of law, and will violate international norms without hesitation in pursuit of its opponents around the world. Through transnational repression and formal extraditions, China is pursuing economic fugitives, Uyghur refugees, human rights defenders, and fleeing Hong Kongers. But one group that has received far less attention to date: hundreds of Taiwanese nationals have been detained and forcibly extradited to mainland China from around the world, the report said.

International extradition and human rights norms set out clear conditions on acceptable extraditions and grounds for automatic rejections. At the core of these international norms is the principle of non-refoulement, which simply dictates that no country is to send anyone to another country where they are at risk of persecution or gross human rights abuses.

Conditions in China are such that fundamental human rights are wantonly denied, with impunity. These human rights abuses are both widespread and systematic as Safeguard Defenders has reported elsewhere.

The extradition of Taiwanese nationals to the PRC under pressure from Beijing should very much be seen as a violation of their human right to a fair trial, and their right to be free from torture, the report said.

Safeguard Defenders has documented over 600 cases between 2016 and 2019 of Taiwan nationals abroad who have been extradited or deported from countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. However, they have not been returned to Taiwan.

Under increasing pressure from Beijing, foreign governments are instead forcibly sending them to China where they have no roots and no families. These forcible transfers are also often taking place following the denial of access to Taiwanese consular support or communication in the sending country, and sometimes followed by ongoing denial of contact with Taiwanese officials or family members once they are in China.

These forced transfers put Taiwanese nationals at risk of severe human rights abuses. This pressure from Beijing is furthermore a direct refutation of China’s obligations under the Cross-Strait Agreement on Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement. Just as much as it is being used to bolster Beijing’s influence abroad, it is being used as a tool to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty.

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Why is India not banning int’l flights, Kejriwal asks PM

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Arvind-Kejriwal

In the wake of emergence of a new Covid-19 variant — Omicron, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban international flights as most of them land in the national capital.

“Many countries have stopped incoming flights from Omicron-affected countries. Why are we not following their suit? In the first wave also, we had taken time to stop foreign flights,” Kejriwal said in a tweet, adding that most of the foreign flights come to Delhi, which is the most affected state.

He requested the prime minister to “kindly stop flights immediately.” The AAP leader had quoted a media report: “A South Africa returnee has tested positive for COVID-19 in Chandigarh. One of his family members and domestic help are also positive for the disease. The samples of positive cases will be sent for whole-genome sequencing to NCDC, Delhi to ascertain a variant of coronavirus”.

With the news of Omicron, being detected in South Africa, scientists and health experts in India have said that new waves of infection are anticipated and unless we act quickly and efficiently, the country will possibly see repeat waves. The variant has also been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Sunday, Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to stop international flights from regions witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile,

Meanwhile, Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital has been designated to treat patients testing positive for the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.

The hospital has been asked to earmark wards for isolating and treating such patients.In order, the Health Department has directed the hospital not to deny admission to patients infected with the new variant on any ground.

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