World en Sun Jan 02 22:41:17 IST 2022 taliban-free-popular-afghan-professor-critical-of-government <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Taliban have released a popular university professor and outspoken critic of successive Afghan governments who was arrested over the weekend, a family member said Tuesday.</p> <p>Hasina Jalal, Faizullah Jalal's daughter, said her father was freed from Taliban custody. The group had accused him of nonsense remarks on social media, which were provoking people against the government and playing with people's dignity.</p> <p>Jalal had been detained Sunday by the Taliban's intelligence arm.</p> <p>TOLO TV, Afghanistan's largest station on which Jalal was a frequent commentator, tweeted that Jalal was arrested reportedly for making allegations against government departments, a security source said.</p> <p>After Jalal's detention, he received an outpouring of support on social media, with many users posting Jalal's photos. A small group of women protested in Kabul, demanding his release.</p> <p>The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August ahead of America's chaotic Aug 31 departure after nearly 20 years of war. The Islamic militant guerrillas-turned-rulers previously held power from 1996-2001.</p> <p>Afghanistan faces a major humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning that 90 per cent of the country's 38 million people are in dire need. The arrest of a prominent political activist threatened to complicate humanitarian aid efforts.</p> Tue Jan 11 21:24:47 IST 2022 north-korea-fires-possible-missile-into-sea-amid-stalled-talks <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>North Korea on Tuesday fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile into its eastern sea, its second launch in a week, following leader Kim Jong Un's calls to expand its nuclear weapons program in defiance of international opposition.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp; The launches follow a series of weapons tests in 2021 that underscored how North Korea is continuing to expand its military capabilities during a self-imposed pandemic lockdown and deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired what likely was a ballistic missile from the area of its northern Jagang province. It said the weapon flew 700 km (434 miles) at a maximum speed of around Mach 10 before landing in waters off its eastern coast.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It said the launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and demonstrated a more advanced capability than North Korea's previous launch last week. The North's state media described that launch as a successful test of a hypersonic missile, a type of weaponry it claimed to have first tested in September.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>South Korean officials didn't provide a specific assessment of the missile type, but some experts said North Korea may have tested its purported hypersonic missile again in response to the South Korean military playing down its previous test.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>North Korea didn't immediately comment on Tuesday's test.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Japan's Defence Ministry said the suspected ballistic missile landed outside the country's exclusive economic zone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said officials were checking the safety of ships and aircraft around Japan, but there were no immediate reports of disruptions or damage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is extremely regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles so soon after the UN Security Council discussed its response to the North's earlier launch, Kishida said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Security Council held closed-door consultations on Monday on last week's launch, but took no action. Ahead of the talks, the US and five allies issued a statement urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>South Korea's presidential office said Tuesday's launch was discussed at an emergency National Security Council meeting, which expressed strong regret&quot; over North Korea's continuing tests and urged it to return to talks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies but underlined the destabilising impact of North Korea's weapons programmes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The launch came six days after North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea in what it later described as a successful test of a hypersonic missile.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seoul's Defence Ministry said after that test that North Korea had exaggerated its capabilities and had tested a conventional ballistic missile the South was capable of intercepting. The ministry said it doubts that North Korea has acquired the technologies needed for a hypersonic weapon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, said the North's leadership would have been enraged by South Korea's assessment of last week's launch and may have planned a series of tests in a push to make its threat credible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose a crucial challenge to missile defence systems because of their speed and maneuverability. Such weapons were on a wish-list of sophisticated military assets Kim unveiled early last year along with multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, solid-fuelled long-range missiles and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Experts say North Korea is likely years away from acquiring a credible hypersonic system.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>North Korea's previous test on Jan 5 came days after Kim vowed during a key political conference to bolster his military forces, even as the nation grapples with pandemic-related difficulties that have further strained its economy, crippled by US-led sanctions over its nuclear programme.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The economic setbacks have left Kim with little to show for his diplomacy with former US President Donald Trump, which derailed after their second meeting in 2019 when the Americans rejected North Korea's demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Biden administration, whose policies have reflected a broader shift in US focus from counterterrorism and so-called rogue states like North Korea and Iran to confronting a near-peer adversary in China, has said it's willing to resume talks with North Korea anywhere and at any time without preconditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But North Korea has so far rejected the idea of open-ended talks, saying the US must first withdraw its hostile policy, a term the North mainly uses to describe the sanctions and joint US-South Korea military drills.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even with North Korea's pandemic border lockdowns restricting trade and diplomacy, Pyongyang is determined to run an arms race against Seoul and deny Washington the luxury of focusing on Russia and China, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>North Korea's advancing nuclear arsenal is at the core of Kim's rule and what he clearly considers his strongest guarantee of survival.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During his 10-year rule, he has conducted a large number of weapons tests in a push to acquire the ability to launch nuclear strikes on the American mainland.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But his country's economy has faltered severely in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sanctions imposed over his nuclear ambitions and his government's own mismanagement.&nbsp;</p> Tue Jan 11 16:29:06 IST 2022 the-queens-platinum-jubilee-what-are-the-celebrations-in-store <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>February 6 2022 marks the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's reign in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The Queen came to power in 1952. She becomes the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. The Buckingham Palace is all set to celebrate in all grandeur. There will be year-long celebrations to commemorate the Queen’s reign. The celebration plans were formally announced by Buckingham Palace earlier this week.</p> <p>The Emblem for the Platinum Jubilee was announced in August 2021 after conducting a competition judged by industry experts. The winner of the competition was Edward Roberts, a 19-year-old graphic design student. The emblem he designed is regal purple in colour and has a crown drawn with an unbroken line, including the number 70. The colour purple matched closely to the purple in the Queen's Robe of Estate, that she wore at her Coronation in 1953. The font used for the letters is 'perpetua' which means &quot;forever&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What are the festivities?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Queen's Green Canopy: </b>The campaign launched in May 2021 urges people across the United Kingdom to 'Plant a Tree for the Jubilee'. The campaign aims to help the environment. Around 60,000 trees have already been planted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On January 10 the Platinum Pudding Competition kicked-off. The public can bake a pudding dedicated to the Queen's reign. The winner will get a chance to be a part of the Jubilee Celebrations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Royal Mint released a 50p coin and a £5 crown designed to depict her Majesty's royal reign.</p> <p>In February 2022, as part of Winterlude 2022 Canada, an Ice sculpture will be unveiled to honour the Platinum Jubilee.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A four-day weekend:&nbsp;</b>A public holiday has been declared from June 2 to June 5. This will allow people to fully participate in the celebrations of this historic moment, which includes a range of public events and community activities.</p> <p>June 2 will witness The Queen's Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour) that will begin at Buckingham Palace. This year's parade will be more vibrant and grander. UK's tradition of lighting beacons on Jubilees, weddings and coronations will be continued throughout the UK, Channel Island, Isle of Man and UK overseas territories. Over 1500 beacons will be lit and this year to mark the Platinum Jubilee celebrations a beacon will also be lit in the capital city of all Commonwealth Countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On June 3 a service of Thanksgiving will be held at the St Paul's Cathedral in honour of the Queen's reign.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A Platinum party has been organised at Buckingham Palace on June 4. It will feature performances by world-renowned artists. Also, Her Majesty the Queen along with Members of the Royal Family will be attending the Derby at Epsom Downs that day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On June 5 the Big Jubilee Lunch will be organised, where people have been invited to share friendship, fun, love and food with their neighbours. Over 1400 people have registered to host Big Jubilee Lunch across the country. Another notable event, The Platinum Jubilee Pageant, will also be conducted on the same day. It will combine all art forms, technology and talent to tell the story of The Queen's 70-year reign. 'River of Hope' is an important section of the pageant. Over 200 silk flags decorated with images of hope drawn by children will be paraded through the mall outside Buckingham Palace.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Celebrations will also take place at the Queen’s private estates, Sandringham and Balmoral so that the residents and their visitors can also be part of the milestone.</p> <p>The Royal Family has announced that other events and further details for the celebratory weekend will be revealed soon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jan 11 16:37:37 IST 2022 moderna-working-on-booster-for-omicron <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said people may need another shot this fall, as booster efficacy is expected to drop over the next few months. Some countries have been obliged to consider another booster dosage because of an Omicron-driven increase in COVID-19 cases, but early indicators show that repeat immunisation may be necessary.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla, on Monday, indicated that a revised vaccine for COVID-19, targeting the Omicron coronavirus strain is likely needed and that Pfizer company could have one ready by March. We're working on higher doses. We're working on different schedules. We're doing a lot of things right now, as we speak," he said. He also said that Pfizer might be ready to submit for regulatory approval in the US.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bancel, in a CNBC interview, said that Moderna is working on developing a booster targetted at the Omicron variant and can deliver 2- 3 billion boosters by end of this year. Bancel also said that the company was working on developing a vaccine targeted at the Omicron variant. The booster vaccine candidate is called mRNA-1273.529.“We need to be careful to try to stay ahead of a virus and not behind the virus,” Bancel said. An advance purchase agreement has been signed by Moderna with nations like the UK, South Korea and Switzerland with upfront payments worth $18.5 billion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to data from the UK, booster shots are 75 per cent effective in protecting against Omicron symptoms, while, two-dose vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer are about 10 per cent effective in protecting against Omicron symptoms.</p> Tue Jan 11 14:56:59 IST 2022 panjshir-rebels-can-return-to-afghanistan-taliban <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers held talks over the weekend with senior leaders of an anti-Taliban alliance, the Taliban said Monday. The meeting, held in Tehran, was the first of its kind, underscoring Taliban efforts to&nbsp; ring their former opponents into the fold. During the meeting, the alliance leaders were told they could return to Afghanistan and were promised their safety would be guaranteed, Taliban-appointed foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a short video released Monday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The alliance, known as the National Resistance Front, is led by Ahmed Massoud, the son of the anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated in 2001.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The group coalesced after the Taliban swept into Kabul in mid-August as the Afghan government fled and Afghan forces offered little or no resistance to the Taliban takeover. Ahmed Massoud was joined by former governor of western Herat province, Ismail Khan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the Taliban push into Kabul and capture of the Afghan capital on Aug 15, in the last weeks of the chaotic US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, a smattering of anti-Taliban fighters fled north to the Panjshir Valley to set up a base there, vowing to fight the Taliban. Battles raged for several weeks before the Taliban overran the area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since then, there have been reports of Taliban reprisals against ethnic Panjshiris, who dominate the region and are the backbone of the resistance alliance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sunday's meeting in Tehran is one of the first signs of rapprochement between the Taliban and their opponents. Several prominent leaders of previous US-backed Afghan governments, including former President Hamid Karzai and the ex-head of the National Reconciliation Council, Abdullah Abdullah, remained in Kabul following the Taliban takeover.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"They can return to Afghanistan without any worries, Muttaqi said in the video footage distributed to the media. There was no immediate comment from the anti-Taliban alliance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Islamic Emirate is trying to ensure that the future of the country is secure for all and that there would be no reason for opposition, said Bilal Karimi, deputy Taliban spokesman.</p> Tue Jan 11 13:15:18 IST 2022 no-progress-seen-after-russia-us-talks-over-ukraine-tensions <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;No progress seen after Russia-US talks over Ukraine tensions the United States and Russia locked horns over Ukraine and other security issues on Monday with no sign of progress from either side at highly anticipated strategic talks.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Low expectations from both Washington and Moscow about the&nbsp; high-stakes session in Geneva appeared to have been met as senior diplomats from the two countries emerged without offering any hint of success.</p> <p>Neither side characterised the meeting as a complete failure, but neither did they offer any prospect of easing the increasingly worrisome standoff over Russia's military buildup on its border with Ukraine that the West sees as a fundamental threat to European security.</p> <p>Nor was there any indication of movement on other, perhaps less-explosive matters that have vexed the US-Russia relationship.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moscow insists on guarantees to halt NATO's eastward expansion and even roll back the military alliance's deployments in Eastern Europe, while Washington firmly rejects the demands as a nonstarter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With both sides dug in on their positions and Ukraine's future hanging in the balance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said no progress was made on the central demand on NATO expansion, although he insisted: We have no intention to invade Ukraine.</p> <p>US officials openly questioned that comment.</p> <p>Ryabkov spoke following talks with his US counterpart, Wendy Sherman&nbsp; part of a flurry of diplomatic activity in Europe this week aimed at defusing the tensions.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sherman called the talks a frank and forthright discussion" but would not, or could not, point to any progress.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It was not what you would call a negotiation," she told reporters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"We're not to a point where we're ready to set down texts and begin to go back and forth.</p> <p>We were firm, however, on pushing back on security proposals that are simply nonstarters for the United States, Sherman said, adding we will not allow anyone to shut NATO's open-door policy that extends to countries seeking to join the alliance.</p> <p>She said Washington will not forgo bilateral cooperation with sovereign states that wish to work with the United States.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And, we will not make decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine, about Europe without Europe or about NATO without NATO.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Russian President Vladimir Putin has described NATO expansion to Ukraine and other former Soviet states as a red line for Moscow, demanding binding guarantees from the West that they wouldn't become members of the alliance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moscow has sought to wrest a string of concessions from the US and its Western allies, and has massed an estimated 1,00,000 troops near Ukraine in steps that have raised concerns about a possible military intervention there.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The situation now is so dangerous, and so -- I would say -- precarious that we cannot afford any further delays in resolution of this very fundamental question," Ryabkov said at a separate news conference at the Russian mission.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"As President Putin said, on many occasions, we cannot backpedal. We cannot go backwards. There is no further space for us to do so.</p> <p>Ryabkov rattled off Russian concerns and demands issued last month on subjects like NATO expansion and wanting Western commitments not to deploy offensive weapons near Russian borders.</p> <p>The American side has treated the Russian proposals seriously and deeply studied them, he said, adding that he characterised Moscow's demand for legally binding guarantees that NATO would not move eastward as an absolute imperative for us. Ryabkov emphasised that it would be hard to work on other issues if the US stonewalled on Russia's key demands.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If now NATO proceeds towards deployment of capabilities that are being developed very rapidly in the US, and will possibly be introduced somewhere in Europe, it would require a military response on the Russian part, that is a decision to counter this threat through means at our discretion," said Ryabkov, speaking in English. "That will inevitably, unavoidably damage security of the U.S. and its European allies. He did not elaborate.</p> <p>After Ryabkov stated that Russia had no intention to invade Ukraine, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, was publicly skeptical.</p> <p>I wish to believe him, I wish that it is true that they have no plans, but everything we've seen so far indicate that they are making motions in that direction, she told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Echoing comments from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sherman said progress could only happen if Russia stays at the table and takes concrete steps to de-escalate tensions."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>De-escalation, she said, would include returning the Russian troops now deployed on Ukraine's borders to their barracks.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We've made it clear that if Russia further invades Ukraine there will be significant costs and consequences well beyond what they faced in 2014, she said. Russia has a stark choice to make.</p> <p>However, neither Sherman nor State Department spokesman Ned Price would say if the US would move ahead with sanctions if Russia opts not to invade but also refuses to withdraw its troops from the border.&nbsp;</p> <p>Monday's meeting was part of Strategic Security Dialogue talks on arms control and other broad issues launched by Putin and US President Joe Biden at a June summit in the Swiss city.</p> <p>Talks between Russia and NATO are planned on Wednesday in Brussels followed by a meeting in Vienna of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday.&nbsp;<br> </p> Tue Jan 11 12:32:48 IST 2022 european-parliament-president-david-sassoli-dies-at-65 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>European Parliament President David Sassoli has died at a hospital in Italy, his spokesman said in a tweet Tuesday.<br> </p> <p>No details were offered in the tweet&nbsp; by spokesman Roberto Cuillo beyond Sassoli's death at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday in Aviano, a city in northeastern Italy.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sassoli had been hospitalized&nbsp; since Dec. 26 due to abnormal functioning of his immune system, Cuillo said in a statement released the day before Sassoli's death.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This hospitalization was necessary because of a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system, Cuillo's statement said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sassoli, 65, was first elected at the European Parliament in 2009. He won another term in 2014 and served as the Parliament's vice president. He had decided not to run for reelection when lawmakers vote to appoint their new president later this month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The European Parliament, headquartered in in Strasbourg, France, represents the 450 million citizens of the European Unoin and refers to itself as the heart of European democracy. It is one of the seven branches of the EU and has more than 700 members directly elected by its member nations.&nbsp;</p> Tue Jan 11 12:04:46 IST 2022 former-xinjiang-official-takes-charge-of-hong-kong-garrison <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>China's military says the former head of internal security in the Xinjiang region will lead the People's Liberation Army's garrison in Hong Kong, in the latest of a series of moves aimed at bringing the semiautonomous city under Beijing's tight control.<br> </p> <p>A brief report on the Defence Ministry's website Monday said Maj Gen Peng Jingtang's appointment had been signed by president, Communist Party leader and PLA commander Xi Jinping.</p> <p>It said Peng had pledged to perform defense duties in accordance with the law, resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and development interests, and firmly safeguard Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Peng met Monday morning with Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who told him her government would work with the garrison to jointly safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the nation and help maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," according to a government news release.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The move follows China's stamping out of political opposition and curtailing free speech in the city, a former British colony that was promised it would keep its civil liberties and independent legal system intact for 50 years following the handover to Chinese control in 1997.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China imposed a sweeping National Security Law on Hong Kong following anti-government protests in 2019, resulting in the imprisonment, intimidation and exile of most opposition voices. Independent media outlets have been raided and forced into closure through seizure of assets or threats of prosecution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Candidates considered insufficiently loyal to Beijing were barred from running in elections for the local Legislative Council.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From 2018, Peng commanded the paramilitary People's Armed Police force in Xinjiang, where China has detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other members of Muslim minority groups in political reeducation camps. The vast region remains enveloped in a security blanket that controls most aspects of the lives of its Muslim residents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The US and others have labelled the campaign as genocide, while China says all participants in what it describes as a push for job training and de-radicalisation have now graduated. (AP)&nbsp; &nbsp;SCY SCY 01102036</p> Tue Jan 11 11:54:44 IST 2022 haridwar-hate-speeches-imran-wants-international-community-to-act <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday alleged that minorities in India were being targeted by extremist groups and warned that such an agenda “is a real and present threat” to regional peace.</p> <p>Khan took to Twitter to make the allegations in the wake of alleged inflammatory and provocative speeches against Muslims at an event in Haridwar in Uttarakhand held in December.</p> <p>On his Twitter handle, Khan also questioned whether the BJP government supports the call for genocide of minorities in India, especially the 200 million Muslim community.</p> <p>“It is high time international community took note &amp; acted,” he further said.</p> <p>In another tweet, Khan accused the BJP-led government of targeting minorities in India.</p> <p>Last month, the Pakistan's Foreign Office summoned India’s Charge d’Affaires and conveyed its concern over the alleged hate speeches made at the Haridwar conclave.</p> <p>Pakistan conveyed to the Indian side that the reported hate speeches were viewed with grave concern by the civil society and a cross-section of people in the country.</p> <p>Held in Haridwar from December 17-20, the Dharma Sansad was organised by Yati Narasimhanand Giri of the Juna Akhada, who is already under the police scanner for making hate speeches and inciting violence against Muslims.</p> <p>At the event, several speakers allegedly made inflammatory and provocative speeches, calling for the killing of people from the minority community.</p> <p>Two FIRs have been lodged against 15 people in the case, including Waseem Rizvi who changed his name to Jitendra Narayan Tyagi after converting to Hinduism recently and organiser of the Sansad Yati Narasimhanand, the head priest of Dasna temple in Ghaziabad.</p> <p>A five-member special investigation team has been constituted to look into the matter.</p> <p>The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking action against those who made hate speeches during the recent conclave.</p> <p>A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana took note of the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal that no action has been taken against those who made the hate speeches despite registration of FIR.&nbsp;</p> Tue Jan 11 09:33:00 IST 2022 taliban-tells-panjshir-resistance-leaders-in-iran-they-are-free-to-return <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a video released on Monday, the Taliban said they met with leaders of the National Resistance Front in Iran. The talks are the first to be held since the Panjshir Valley was overrun by Taliban forces.</p> <p>During the meeting, the alliance leaders were told they could return to Afghanistan and were promised their safety would be guaranteed, Taliban-appointed foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a short video released Monday.</p> <p>“This is the home of all of us. We don’t cause anyone any security or other problems,” a Taliban leader said in the video.<br> </p> <p>The alliance, known as the National Resistance Front, is led by Ahmed Massoud, the son of the anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud (AKA the “lion of Panjshir”), who was assassinated in 2001.<br> </p> <p>The group coalesced after the Taliban swept into Kabul in mid-August as the Afghan government fled and Afghan forces offered little or no resistance to the Taliban takeover. Ahmed Massoud was joined by former governor of western Herat province, Ismail Khan. Former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh also joined the resistance in the valley.<br> </p> <p>However, after a Taliban assault in September appeared to end the resistance’s plans of taking back Afghanistan. Massoud and Saleh were believed to have fled to Turkmenistan.<br> </p> <p>Since then, there have been reports of Taliban reprisals against ethnic Panjshiris, who dominate the region and are the backbone of the resistance alliance.<br> </p> <p>Sunday's meeting in Tehran is one of the first signs of rapprochement between the Taliban and their opponents. Several prominent leaders of previous US-backed Afghan governments, including former President Hamid Karzai and the ex-head of the National Reconciliation Council, Abdullah Abdullah, remained in Kabul following the Taliban takeover.<br> </p> <p>"They can return to Afghanistan without any worries, Muttaqi said in the video footage distributed to the media. Initially, the anti-Taliban alliance denied the meeting ever took place.<br> </p> <p>The Islamic Emirate is trying to ensure that the future of the country is secure for all and that there would be no reason for opposition, said Bilal Karimi, deputy Taliban spokesman.<br> </p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">With inputs from PTI</b><br> </p> Mon Jan 10 22:20:09 IST 2022