Taliban Pushing Itself Into A Corner

The latest international conference to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan and also review the response of the neighbouring and regional countries to the latest Taliban decisions, took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, last week.

National security advisors from Tajikistan, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and China, with Pakistan abstaining – as it currently has no NSA, attended the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan.

It is believed that all the NSAs highlighted the need to find constructive ways to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and combating risks from terrorism emanating from the region and particularly ensure that Afghanistan doesn’t become a terror hub again.

This has been a primary concern for India since the Taliban took over the country, besides the rights of Afghan citizens, especially women and minorities. India has already closed down its diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, which the Taliban keenly wants to be reopened.

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) at the meeting said certain countries in the region and beyond are transferring Takfiri terrorists to Afghanistan, Ali Shamkhani said terrorism and extremism are among the main causes of insecurity in Afghanistan.

Talibani Diktats

However, what concerns the international community more is the series of Talibani diktats on social issues, targeting women and specific Muslim sects in particular.

On May 9, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) ordered women and older girls to cover their faces when in public. The order further said that punishments for violating the decree would be inflicted on their male family members. Taliban leaders responded to public outcry by insisting that the decree is not mandatory, but so far their own enforcement efforts contradict those statements.

Further, on May 21, the IEA’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue ordered all women television presenters to cover their faces, stating “the decision was final and that there was no room for discussion.”

Heather Barr of the Human Rights Watch described these new diktats as blatantly violating women’s rights to freedom of expression, as well as personal autonomy and religious belief.

ALSO READ: UN Envoy Calls Upon Taliban To Allow Girls’ Education

In response to the order, male presenters at several major news channels in Afghanistan started wearing face masks on air in solidarity with their female colleagues – an act that prompted the #FreeHerFace campaign on social media. As one women’s rights activist wrote, “Afghan men showing up for Afghan women is not just a gesture. It’s a turn in the story that will change everything. Brave brothers.”

This latest order is part of a steady flow of Taliban actions that have blocked girls’ secondary education, pushed women out of most employment, curtailed women’s freedom of movement, obstructed women’s access to health care, and abolished the system designed to protect women and girls from violence.

They have gradually imposed more restrictions on Afghan women and Shia community. After banning them from acquiring certain government jobs, getting education, and travelling alone outside their cities, they have now ordered them to wear the burqa or to cover themselves from head to toe in public.

Talibani Rationale

All these developments perplexes one to wonder as to why the Taliban-led IEA is hell-bent on imposing those restrictions, which were introduced in its earlier stint also and to which they had vowed not to revert again.

It seems that Taliban have no intentions of transforming them into a modern-day political entity and change their views. In fact they have slowly started implementing their real agenda, based on skewed political motives and controversial ideological beliefs.

Afghanistan of present might become a nation with contradictory notions of personal freedom as viewed by them in contrast to internationally recognised definition of personal freedom. They very well understand that international recognition will bind them to certain western norms and obligations, on human rights in particular, and as those would completely contradict their self-defined ideology or interpretation of Islam, they are ready to ignore it for the time being. 

They might have thought that they would be able to deceive the international community by making shallow promises regarding female education and introducing an inclusive political structure. With US unfreezing their sovereign funds and after some key Islamic states formally recognised them, they would go about enforcing their actual agenda.

The international observers’ hope was that the members of the Afghan Delegation based in Doha-Qatar might be able to influence their counterparts in Afghanistan, to follow the international demands. But in reality these moderate elements were sidelined in the new government and the hawks amongst them took control based on their ideological beliefs. Justifying their initial actions, some supporters pointed that their conservative mindset would take time to adjust to global realities. But the truth is that they have even failed to address the security concerns of their immediate neighbours.

So far they have even been unable to control the militant Islamic organisations like ISIS-Khorasan, which is present in some key Afghan provinces. This inaction on their behalf gives goose bumps to their immediate and regional neighbours, both. Similarly, they have been unable to reign-in Tehreek-i Taliban Pakistan, which in fact enjoys full support of the IEA regime.

The irony is that Taliban’s supporters, who were sincerely ready to offer them a second chance are dismayed by the double meaning actions or inactions by the IEA, as it puts the future of a vast majority of common Afghani on the block and does not bode well for the country’s future. Besides pushing those supporters into a tight corner.

(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on issues related to Muslims, education, geopolitics and interfaith)

Satyendra Jain interim bail

Delhi Minister Satyendra Jain Sent To ED Custody

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge on Tuesday granted Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain to Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s custody in a money laundering case.

This is based upon a case registered by the CBI in the Prevention of Corruption Act in August 2017.

Special CBI Judge Geentanjali Goyal of Rouse Avenue Court granted nine days of ED custody to Jain for interrogating him in a money laundering case. He was arrested by the agency on Monday. He is to be produced before the court on June 9.

The order was passed by the court on Tuesday night.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta and Naveen Kumar Matta appeared on the behalf of ED. ED has moved an application seeking remand of 14 days of custody. The Court after hearing the submission of the prosecution and defence counsels granted nine days of custody to ED.

SG Tushar Mehta had argued before the court that there is material evidence and reasons to believe that the said accused is guilty of the offence of money laundering. The accused is in possession of the proceeds of crime generated through criminal activities.

It was alleged that Jain during his tenure as minister in the Delhi government between February 2015 to May 2017 acquired assets in the form of movable and immovable properties in his name and in the name of his family members, which are disproportionate to his known source of income.

SG Mehta Submitted that it is a case of money laundering through shell companies. It was submitted that during the check period of February 14, 2015, to May 31, 2017 accommodation entries against cash totalling Rs 4.81 crore (approximately) were received in the four companies from Kolkata based entry operators through shell companies.

The four companies namely Akinchan Developers Pvt. Ltd, Prayas info solutions Pvt. Ltd., Mangalayatan Projects Pvt. Ltd.

He also submitted that the custodial interrogation of the accused to unearth the source of cash, establish a money trail, extract the exact quantum of tainted money involved to determine the role of various other persons, to ascertain the modus operandi involved in the commission of the offence of money laundering in the instant case.

It was also submitted that the custodial interrogation is required for the confrontation with the voluminous incriminating material and with the statements of various persons recorded in the case.

On the other hand, the application was opposed by Senior Advocate N. Hariharan. He submitted that it is not a case of custody, it is a case of bail. No new facts have emerged now. The application for custody remand is a replica of the charge sheet filed by the CBI and is under consideration before the court.

Hariharan also submitted that “What the prosecution is trying to do is that it is holding me responsible for the acts of other accused persons. I am not responsible for the acts done by others.”

The defence counsel urged the court to direct the investigation agency to provide medicines to Jain. They also requested a direction from the agency to allow him to have ‘Jain’ food.

During the hearing of the case, family members including the wife, daughters and son of Jain were present in the court. (ANI)

‘No Entry’ For BJP In 2024 General Elections: Mamata

Slamming the BJP-led central government for using the central probe agencies against the opposition leaders, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed Bharatiya Janata Party will not return to power in 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

She added that she will fight with all her might to defeat the BJP in the 2024 general election.

“The soil of Purulia and the soil of Bengal gave me the strength to fight for people. I fear nobody and when it comes to ensuring people’s welfare, I will fight with all my might! – @MamataOfficial. In 2024, @BJP4India’s politics of hate & violence will find NO ENTRY in India,” said Mamata as quoted by All India Trinamool Congress on Twitter.

Speaking during an administrative meeting at Purulia, Mamata said, “Remember BJP government, despite how much you try in 2024, it (victory) will not happen. No entry means you can’t enter. From now on, people are saying ‘2024 no entry for BJP”.

Alleging the Central government of misusing central probe agencies against political opponents, the TMC supremo said, “The Union Government MUST STOP using central agencies to disrupt governance in states ruled by Opposition. What about @BJP4India leaders who are knee-deep in corruption? What about the surge in fake Rs 500 notes detected in FY-22 owing to demonetisation? Care to respond, Mr. Busy PM?”

According to the Bengal CM, the BJP-led Central government has toyed with the lives of the people after demonetisation.

“On the issue of demonetisation, The @narendramodi-led Union Govt has completely destroyed the lives of all Indians. They began their journey with a bunch of FAKE PROMISES and this journey has been nothing but 8 years of FAILED EXPERIMENTS. @BJP4India has toyed with the lives of Indians”, she said Mamata.

She called for a united fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by all regional parties in the 2024 elections.

The Trinamool Congress is also seeking to increase its footprint nationally ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee had earlier given a clarion call to the Opposition to get united against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2024 Lok Sabha election and asserted that the day the people will find an alternative to the BJP government will be ousted.

“The BJP is still in power as there is no alternative. The day there is one, it will be ousted. We have to be active….we have to give a call for 2024 general elections to remove BJP,” she had said. (ANI)

COVID Cases Surpass 100MN: Johns Hopkins Univ, US | Lokmarg

Covid Variants BA.4, BA.5 Are Quite Mild: Expert

As India has been witnessing the subvariants of Omicron, Dr Tarun Kumar Sahni, Internal medicine and hyperbaric Oxygen therapist at Indraprastha Apollo hospital on Tuesday clarified that the BA.4 and BA.5 sublineages are quite “mild” because they are behaving like other mutants of COVID-19.

“The sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are behaving the same as other mutants of COVID-19 variants. We have observed that it is quite mild. A few months ago, WHO said that BA.4 and BA.5 are variants of concern. The European countries have also recently called it a variant of concern,” Dr Kumar told ANI.
He further said the variant of concern means a particular mutant that can quickly convert and become more serious and progressive than the other variants.

The health expert also stressed following the COVID-19 protocols including wearing masks.

He said ” We all know these viruses will undergo mutation, that’s why we are still telling people to wear masks so that the replication factor can be kept very low. The more it replicates, the more mutations will happen and more the possibility that one of the mutants can become more serious.”

After Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Hyderabad and Maharashtra have also detected the BA.4 and BA.5 cases.

BA.4 and BA.5 are subvariants of the Omicron variant circulating globally. These were reported first from South Africa earlier this year and are now reported from several other countries. These variants have not been associated with disease severity or increased hospitalization. (ANI)

Govt Aims To Increase Janaushadhi Kendras To 10,000 By March 2024

As part of efforts to provide quality medicines at an affordable rate for the common man, especially the poor, the government has set a target to increase the number of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) to 10,000 by March 2024.

The number of stores has increased to 8,735 by May 31. An official release said 739 districts of the country have been covered under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP).
It said Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Bureau of India (PMBI) is committed to ensure uninterrupted availability of essential medicines at PMBJKs.

In its journey of last eight years, starting from the annual turnover of Rs 8 crore in year 2014-15, PMBI has clocked its highest monthly sales turnover of Rs 100 crore in May 2022 which in turn has helped citizens save around Rs 600 crore, the release said.

“In May, 2021, total sales were Rs 83.77 crore and that was COVID-19 second wave period. People have been able to reduce their out-of-pocket expenditure on medicines with the government intervention of this noble scheme. At present, these kendras make available more than 1600 medicines and 250 surgical devices including nutraceuticals, Ayush products and Suvidha Sanitary pads which are sold at one rupee per pad,” the release said.

Under PMBJP, new applications have also been invited to cover 3,579 blocks of 406 districts to provide generic medicines through Jan Aushadhi Kendras.

The release said residents of small towns and blocks headquarters can now avail the opportunity to open Jan Aushadhi Kendras. The scheme provides for incentive of Rs 5 lakh and special incentives of up to Rs 2 lakh for various categories.

The release said that PMBI has strengthened the supply chain system by setting up of four warehouses at Gurugram, Chennai, Guwahati and Surat. In addition, there is a strong distributor network of 39 distributors across India to ensure timely supplies in every part of India. (ANI)

World No Tobacco Day: Dr Nene Advises Fans To Quit Smoking

On this year’s ‘World No Tobacco Day’, actor Madhuri Dixit’s husband, Dr Shriram Nene, shares a video, wherein explaining to his fans the advantages of quitting smoking, on his social account, on Tuesday.

Taking to his Instagram handle, Dr Nene shared a short video in which he explained the ‘Benefits of quitting smoking’ to all his fans and admirers.

Sharing the video, he wrote, “Commit to quitting this World No Tobacco Day!

#QuittersAreWinners #WorldNoTobaccoDay”

Dr Shriram Nene and Madhuri Dixit married in 1999. Arin, the couple’s first child, was born in 2003, and Ryan, the couple’s second child, was born in 2005. (ANI)

Punjab Jalandhar

Hyderabad: TV Actress Maithili Attempts Suicide, Rescued By Cops

A television actress Maithili who attempted suicide by consuming Breezer and sleeping pills in Hyderabad is out of danger now.

According to the police, she called Panjagutta police station on Monday and asked police to take action against her husband.
Police rushed to the spot by tracking Maithili’s telephone signal and she was immediately shifted to the hospital.

“Yesterday she called sub-inspector (SI) over the phone and said to take action against her husband. She disconnected the call saying that she is going to die. Immediately we rushed to the spot by tracking her location and shifted her to the hospital. Now she is doing fine,” said Niranjan Reddy, Inspector Punjagutta police station.

Police said Maithili filed a case against her husband and in-laws for allegedly harassing her in 2021.

“In 2021, Maithili filed a case. The complainant stated that her in-laws used her gold and her husband is using her car. A chargesheet is registered on the basis of complaints,” Reddy said.

The complainant also filed the same complaint against her husband in the Mothey police station of Suryapet district. The case was registered under section 498A in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), informed the police.

Police officials are investigating the matter. (ANI)

Nepal Plane Crash: All Bodies Retrieved From Crash Site

Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of all 22 people on board a plane that crashed in the Himalayas as well as the black box from the crash site was recovered.

Tara Air twin-otter aircraft which was more than two decades old crashed onto the hillside of Mustang District on Sunday morning, killing all 22 people on board which included 13 Nepali, 4 Indians, 2 German nationals, and 3 crew members.
“We have recovered all the dead bodies yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday). All 22 bodies have been carried to Kathmandu in the Nepal Army MI-17 helicopter. Yesterday we brought 10 and today we carried 12 dead bodies to Kathmandu and we dispatched all the dead bodies to Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu for further postmortem and forensic tests,” Tek Nath Sitaula, Spokesperson at Tribhuwan International Airport told ANI.

The bodies will be handed over to the families after performing the postmortem and completion of other procedures, the official said.

The twin-otter aircraft, which took off from Pokhara for Jomsom in Mustang at 9:55 am (NST) on Sunday, lost contact shortly after takeoff and was later found at Sansure Cliff of Thasang Rural Municipality-2 in Mustang on Monday morning.

In a further statement, “We are in the process of closing the search and rescue mission since all the dead bodies have been recovered and the flight data recorder- cockpit voice recorder already been recovered from the accident site. It is being carried to Kathmandu by the concerned authorities and the government already has constituted an accident investigation commission,” the officer informed.

A five-membered committee has been formed on Monday to probe the crash under the directions of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Bahadur Ale.

Headed by senior aeronautical engineer Ratischandra Lal Suman, other memerbers of the committee include captain Dipu Jwarchan (aeronautical engineer), senior maintenance engineer Upendra Lal Shrestha, senior meteorologist Mani Ratna Shakya and Ministry joint-secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, those on the plane were Captain Prabhakar Prasad Ghimire, co-pilot Utsav Pokhrel, air hostess Kismi Thapa, passengers Indra Bahadur Gole, Purushottam Gole, Rajan Kumar Gole, Basant Lama, Ganesh Narayan Shrestha, Raveena Shrestha, Rashmi Shrestha, Rozina Shrestha, Prakash Sunuar, Makar Bahadur Tamang, Rammaya Tamang, Sukamaya Tamang, Tulasa Devi Tamang, Vaibhawi Bandekar (India), Ashok Kumar Tripathi (India), Dhanush Tripathi (India), Ritika Tripathi (India), Mick Grat, (Germany) and Yuvi Wilner (Germany).

Mustang is one of the mountainous and fifth-largest districts of the Himalayan nation which hosts the pilgrimage of Muktinath Temple. The district, also known as “Land beyond the Himalayas” is located in the Kali Gandaki Valley of the Himalayan region of Western Nepal. (ANI)

Ayesha Shares Mega-Throwback Pics

Bollywood actor Ayesha Takia shared a series of throwback pictures of her teenage years, marking her early days in the entertainment industry.

On Monday, Ayesha Takia trips down her memory lane and dropped a sequence of pictures on her Instagram story. Moving further to her IG story, she shared a picture when she was 18-years-old when bagged her first Bollywood film,’ Taarzan: The Wonder Car’ opposite Vatsal Sheth and Ajay Devgn.

From her childhood picture collection to her early days in the entertainment industry, amongst the collection of pictures Ayesha shared from her teenage days, was one rare picture of her on the sets of Falguni Pathak’s hit music video ‘Meri Chunar Udd Udd Jaye’.

Actor Ayesha Takia marked her Bollywood debut in 2004, opposite Vatsal Sheth starrer ‘Taarzan: The Wonder Car’.

The 36-year-old actor was last seen in her 2011 film ‘Mod’. (ANI)

Sidhu Moose Wala Cremated At His Native Village Moosa

Late Punjabi Singer and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala was cremated on Tuesday at his native village Moosa in the Mansa district of Punjab.

His body was taken from Mansa Civil Hospital at his residence on Tuesday morning where a huge crowd gathers outside his house.
The singer-turned-politician was shot dead on Sunday by some unidentified assailants in Punjab’s Mansa district, a day after Punjab Police curtailed his security cover.

The 28-year-old Punjabi singer had fought the recent assembly election in Punjab on a Congress ticket from Mansa and was defeated by the AAP’s Vijay Singla. He joined Congress in December last year.

On Monday, Punjab Police detained six people from Dehradun’s Peliyon Police Chowki area in connection with Moose Wala’s murder, said STF sources.

The Special Cell of Delhi Police has also begun questioning Lawrence Bishnoi in Tihar jail in connection with Sidhu Moose Wala’s murder case after Canada-based Goldy Brar claimed responsibility for the murder. Brar is a close aide of Bishnoi, who is also said to be involved in the singer’s murder.

Meanwhile, Punjab Police in their preliminary investigation linked the murder to an inter-gang rivalry.

Punjab Police have registered an FIR against unknown persons after Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Jawaharke village of Mansa district. The FIR has been registered under sections 302, 307, and 341 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act at City-1 at Mansa Police Station.

Amid the outrage over the death of the singer, Punjab High Court on Monday issued a notice to the state government, seeking a detailed report on the number of people whose security was reduced or withdrawn and the reason for the decision.

“Court has issued notice to Punjab government asking for a detailed report on the number of people whose security was taken away and reason for curtailing the security. Reply has to be filed by Punjab government on June 2,” Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor General of India informed. (ANI)