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Student leader’s arrest reignites India’s intolerance debate

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(DIYA TV) — A mass protest erupted over the weekend at New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), after the president of its student union was arrested under a colonial-era sedition law. Teachers, students and alumni, alongside civil-society activists formed a human-chain, stretching nearly 2 km to protest the “arbitrary charges” under which student president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested.

The Indian Express newspaper first reported the story.

Faculty and student bodies of the university, widely considered one of the best in the country, called for an indefinite strike until

Jawaharlal Nehru University teachers and students form a human chain inside the campus in New Delhi on Feb. 14, 2016, in protest against the arrest of JNU students'-union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested on sedition charges in connection with an event organized on the campus against the hanging of Afzal Guru

Jawaharlal Nehru University teachers and students form a human chain inside the campus in New Delhi on Feb. 14, 2016, in protest against the arrest of JNU students’-union president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested on sedition charges in connection with an event organized on the campus against the hanging of Afzal Guru

Kumar’s release. His arrest began last Tuesday, when a group of university students held an event to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of Afzal Guru — a terrorist who was hanged in 2013 for his alleged role in a 2001 attack on India’s parliament.

The execution of Guru has long been criticized, several have made claims he was unjustly implicated and prosecuted for being from the disputed region of Kashmir, which India and its contentious neighbor Pakistan both claim and have fought two wars over since 1947.

The protests drew offense from a right-wing national student association of the university called ABVP — the student association is affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Representatives of the association called for the events immediate disbursement and filed a police complaint after they claimed to have overheard members of the procession shouting slogans which denounced India.

Kumar’s arrest came on Friday, soon after Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned “antinational” activities on the JNU campus. His arrest, and the topic, have since become a heated political debate — opposition parties, several other universities, and many sections of the media have aligned themselves with Kumar’s camp, condemning what they allege is a crackdown on free speech by Prime Minister Modi’s administration.

“JNU is inclusive, and anyone who doesn’t like inclusion is branding JNU antinational,” Ajay Patnaik, head of the JNU Teacher’s Association, told the Indian Express.

Kumar has maintained his innocence in the matter.

“I dissociate myself from slogans that were shouted during the event,” he reportedly said in court on Friday. “I have full faith in the constitution of the country and I always say that Kashmir is an integral part of India.”

The entire event has reignited fears among the country’s youngest citizens that an establishment of right-wing extremism will exist in a Modi government, an issue which has gathered steam during the last year amid several instances of perceived intolerance.

 

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Trump impeachment inquiry hearings begin

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Trump Impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — On the first day of the public Trump impeachment inquiry hearings over the President’s dealings in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, the acting US ambassador to Ukraine, testified one of his aides heard from EU ambassador Gordon Sondland that the President was focused on triggering investigations into Joe Biden and his son. The aide, David Holmes, reportedly also overheard a conversation between Trump and Sondland, where they discussed ‘the investigations.’ Holmes will appear for a closed-door deposition with impeachment investigators Friday. Republican allies of Trump painted the testimony of Taylor and George Kent as hearsay.

More than 100 Indian CEOs, political leaders and even Bollywood stars like Deepika Padukone will head Davos in January for the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting to discuss making ‘cohesive and sustainable world.’ President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also expected to be there.

The Food and Drug Administration granted Shreis Scalene Sciences (Shreis), an American company, a ‘Breakthrough Device Designation’ for the CYTOTRON, a cancer treatment, developed in India, by scientist Dr. Rajah Vijay Kumar in Bengaluru.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India, Pakistan trade quips at UNESCO

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UNESCO

PARIS (Diya TV)  — At UNESCO’s general conference in Paris, both Pakistan and India traded quips over Kashmir. Pakistan’s Minister of Education and newly elected President of UNESCO’s Education Commission Shafqat Mehmood efforted to convince UNESCO leadership to confront India over their recent constitutional change affecting Jammu and Kashmir, claiming 1.5 million Kashmiri students who have not been able to attend schools since August 5th. In response, India’s UNESCO delegate Ananya Agarwal countered that “Pakistan is the world’s largest producer and exporter” of terrorism, calling Pakistan’s charges “fabricated falsehoods.”

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Notable executives from the worlds of private investing, industry and nonprofits came together to talk about impact investing at Akshaya Patra’s TAP Forum in the Bay Area. The goal is to take the diasporas success to build a foundation for the next generation.

The Indian women’s hockey team will get the chance to go for the gold in Tokyo, qualifying for the 2020 Olympics after beating team USA in a qualifying match.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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House holds hearing on human right violations in Jammu & Kashmir

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Jammu

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, examined the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal was among those on hand hearing testimony from experts offering widely different narratives. The commission plans to take these perspectives into account before offering recommendations for action by Congress.

In a line of questioning during the impeachment inquiry lauded by many political analysts, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi focused on the timeline of the Ukraine affair, confirming through witness testimony that once Congress began investigating quid pro quo by the Trump administration, security funds were released to Ukraine two days later.

American tech firms are increasingly sponsoring green cards, or permanent US residency, for their employees from India and elsewhere in an effort to hold on to their skilled talent at a time when work visa extensions have become unpredictable.

India will fund at least 250 defense startups over the next five years as it seeks new technologies for their armed forces. The plan is obtain at least 50 ‘tangible innovations’ by the startups for military use.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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