QBullet: US Strike Kills Iran’s Soleimani; Fear at Pak Gurudwara
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1. US Kills Iran’s Top Gen & 2nd-Most Powerful Man in Drone Strike; Ayatollah Khomeinei Vows ‘Harsh Revenge’
A cauldron of hostility for aeons, the Gulf and Middle East region is seething with renewed fury and prospects of an expanded war just 72 hours into 2020 after the United States on Thursday assassinated a top Iranian general on President Donald Trump’s orders. The targeting strike was in response to his alleged role in killing “millions of people”, including attacks against American personnel in the region, the US president said, justifying his elimination.
The Iranian commander, Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani, who led the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was blown to bits along with some of his Iraqi allies by missiles fired from an American MQ-9 Reaper drone as they were driving out of Baghdad airport after arriving from Damascus, Syria, where Iran is backing the Russia-supported Bashar al-Assad regime.
2. Unease in New Delhi Over Fallout, Relations With Washington and Tehran
Hours after the killing of Iran’s top military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, in an American drone strike in Baghdad Friday, India said it had “noted that a senior Iranian leader had been killed by the US”, urged restraint, and called for de-escalation.
The terse statement masked the deep unease about how far the ripples from this sharp spike in US-Iran tensions will extend across the region, and impact India.
One part of that question was answered after Iran warned of retaliation, with jitters on Dalal Street over the potential for an oil shock. The stock market fell by over a hundred points, but more telling was the rupee’s 38-paise drop around the same time to Rs 71.74 to the US dollar. India’s oil import bill in 2018-19 was $111.9 billion. And the new geopolitical tensions could not have come at a worse time, when the economy is crawling at 4.5 percent GDP growth in Q2 this fiscal year.
3. Outrage Over Stoning at Nankana Sahib Gurdwara, India Asks Pak to Act
Tension mounted in Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and there was outrage in India after a mob, led by the family of a Muslim man who had married a Sikh teenage girl, hurled stones at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev, and threatened to convert it into a mosque.
Police said the family was protesting the arrest of their relatives for alleged forced conversion of the girl.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to “immediately intervene to ensure that the devotees stranded in Gurdwara Nankana Sahib are rescued and the historic Gurdwara is saved from the angry mob surrounding it”.
4. Vijayan, Amarinder Build Anti-CAA Momentum, Shah Says Won’t Budge
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Friday the government will not change its stance over the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, even as Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to 11 chief ministers to follow his state in passing a resolution against the new law.
Protests have continued across the country against the legislation since Parliament approved it on 11 December. CAA proposes to ease citizenship for minorities from three Muslim-majority countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Several opposition parties have alleged that the law is divisive and against India’s secular values because it differentiates among people on the basis of religion.
“Let all these parties come together. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not going back an inch on CAA,” Shah said at a gathering in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur. “The law is not against the minorities,” he said.
5. Peace Returning to J&K After Article 370: Army Chief
Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Friday asserted that peace was returning to the Kashmir Valley after the Centre’s move in August revoking special status to the region, but Pakistan-backed terrorists were making infiltration attempts every day.
General Naravane is expected to visit the Siachen glacier next week on his first outstation tour after becoming the army chief on 31 December.
“Terror activity and stone-pelting have reduced drastically. The law-and-order situation is improving and we expect it to improve further…There are 200-250 terrorists waiting to cross over into J&K. Infiltration attempts are being made ever day, but we are thwarting them,” Naravane told reporters.
6. Govt Readies Provisions to Protect Jobs and Land Rights in J&K
Five months after the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the Ministry of Home Affairs is likely to finalise provisions to protect jobs and land ownership of people in J&K in the next few days.
“It is almost finalised, we are just discussing the procedure: whether the state administration alone can notify it or we need to approve it,” a top official in the Ministry said.
For protection of jobs in the new UT, a provision to make domicile of at least 15 years in the erstwhile state will be introduced. “Several states have such provisions for protection of jobs for locals,” the official said, adding this provision will also be applicable for admission to educational institutions in J&K.
7. All Hospital Equipment to be Functional by 15 January in Kota: Govt
After having come under severe criticism for running the hospital without adequate infrastructure, Rajasthan health minister Raghu Sharma said on Friday that all equipment at Kota’s JK Lon Hospital, where 104 infant have died since 1 December 2019, will become functional by 15 January.
A political row broke out after initial reports of the deaths of dozens of children at the facility, with several top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders attacking the Congress-led state government over alleged negligence. An inquiry by the state government found infrastructure challenges, but ruled out negligence as the cause of deaths of infants. The Rajasthan health minister blamed the previous BJP-led government in the state for the shortage of beds at the Kota hospital.
8. Storm in UP After SSP’s Report Says Top Officers in Transfer-for-Cash Nexus, DGP Seeks Explanation
The Uttar Pradesh Police finds itself at the centre of a storm with the Director General of Police seeking an explanation Friday from Gautam Buddh Nagar SSP Vaibhav Krishna for allegedly leaking details of a report that levels serious allegations, including bribery for postings, against top police officers of the state.
The details of the report prepared by Krishna were made public after a purported video sex chat featuring him began doing the rounds. Krishna said the video was morphed and was an attempt to tarnish his credibility since he had sought to expose a criminal nexus involving top officers and arrested journalists.
DGP OP Singh told reporters in Lucknow: “Inspector General, Meerut Range has been instructed to seek explanation from Gautam Buddh Nagar SSP for unauthorised communication… (this) is against the All India Service Rules.”
9. BJP Uses Cong Booklet on Savarkar to Prod Sena
In a scathing attack on its friend-turned-foe Shiv Sena, the BJP on Friday asked why it was silent on the vilification of Veer Savarkar by its new ally Congress.
A BJP press release demanded that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress should ban a booklet distributed by the Seva Dal, a Congress subsidiary, in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, on Wednesday.
Titled ‘Veer Savarkar Kitne Veer?’, the booklet speaks of a physical relationship between Savarkar and Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
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