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Cannot afford to have question marks on people holding positions in public sphere: Khurshid on Zakir Naik

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New Delhi: In an apparent reference to Zakir Naik, Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid today said the country cannot afford to have question marks on people in important positions in public but if there is no culpability of an individual, one should not be continued to be “hounded”.

He welcomed reports about Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher who has been staying abroad to evade arrest in various cases in India, likely to return to the country.

Naik, in a statement through his PRO, has, however, said that he would not return home till he felt “safe from unfair prosecution”.

“As long as there are complaints, charges, accusations, it is good that the matter should get to a sensible conclusion. If there is culpability, then that culpability be punished. If there is no culpability, I don’t think that one should continue to hound someone….

“We can’t afford to have question marks about people who have important positions in public sphere,” Khurshid said here.

Khurshid, who is a former Law Minister, said the “sad thing” about Naik was that he was not available to the Indian authorities and the system.

He, however, said it will be a good thing if he returns.

“The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India till I feel safe from unfair prosecution,” said Naik in the statement.

He added that he would “surely return to my homeland” when he feels “that the government will be just and fair.”

The External Affairs Ministry has not received any communication from the Malaysian government regarding the deportation of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to India, official sources said today.

In January, the MEA had made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik, wanted by India for allegedly inciting youngsters for terror activities through his hate speeches.

Naik is facing various cases, including for hate speech and money laundering, in India and has been staying abroad to evade arrest.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had first registered a case against the 51-year-old Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups.

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CM Amarinder Singh urges Centre to ensure Sikhs’ safety and security in Afghanistan

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Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh | Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today urged the Centre to take all possible steps to ensure the safety, security and well-being of the Sikhs, settled in Afghanistan.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Punjab chief minister expressed concern at the recent bombings in Kabul and earlier terror strikes in Afghanistan, affecting many Sikh families. Singh urged Swaraj to advise the MEA officials concerned and the Indian High Commission in Afghanistan to ensure the safety and security of the Sikhs in the war-torn country.

The Ministry of External Affairs needed to pursue the measures aimed at ensuring the safety, security, relief and rehabilitation of the violence-hit Sikh families in Afghanistan, an official spokesperson quoted the chief minister as saying in his letter.

Pointing out that about 40 families had migrated to Ludhiana from Afghanistan in 2012 with 20 of them returning later but the remaining staying back, the chief minister said the issues concerning these families also needed to be attended on priority. It was essential to address the simmering discontent in the community about the fate of these families, he added.

Urging for a humane approach in resolving the problems of these Sikh families, Singh requested Swaraj to intervene on an urgent basis.

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Discussion on No-confidence motion to be held on July 20: Sumitra Mahajan

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Lok Sabha

New Delhi | Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday said that the Lok Sabha will hold discussions on the Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) no-confidence motion against the centre over the Andhra Pradesh special status row on Friday.

Addressing the lower house, Speaker Mahajan said,”The House will take up the debate (on the motion) on Friday, July 20th. The discussion will be held for the full day, followed by voting on it.”

Speaking to media about the No-confidence motion, Congress leader and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said,”Who says we don’t have the numbers?” Earlier on Tuesday, Congress leader Mallikaarjun Kharge said that all opposition parties have come to a consensus to move the Vote of No Confidence Motion in the Monsoon Session.

Union Minister Ramdas Athawle while responding to the statement of Sonia Gandhi said, “I think such overconfidence will serve no purpose. We will show a clear majority on July 20. We will win comfortably and show our strength to the opposition.”

TDP President and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Naidu on Sunday wrote letters to non-BJP, non-Congress parties’ presidents and Parliamentary party leaders seeking support on a no-confidence motion against the Centre over demand for special category status to Andhra Pradesh. Six-subgroups of the TDP leaders met and handover Chandrababu Naidu’s letter and a booklet explaining the injustice done to the state and seek the support of various parties.

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Maharashtra MP Raju Shetti reaches railway station to block trains carrying milk

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Raju Shetti

Mumbai | The centre of action in the three-day old ‘milk blockage’ stir by dairy farmers in Maharashtra today shifted to a railway station over a 100 km from here as the Raju Shetti spearheading the agitation camped there to stop trains from Gujarat carrying milk to Mumbai.

“The state government seems in no mood to listen to the woes of milk-producing farmers, who will hold a chakka-jam (roadblock) protest on major roads in the state tomorrow. There will be cattle on roads tomorrow,” Swabhimani Paksha MP Raju Shetti said, after reaching Dahanu station in adjoining Palghar district.

Railways have made special arrangements for the supply of milk to Mumbai. A Western Railway official had yesterday said milk tankers will be attached to the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central passenger train to mitigate problems faced by consumers. Three such tankers reached Mumbai yesterday, he added.

On bringing cattle into the agitation, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader Ravikant Tupkar said, “We have used this method to increase the effectiveness of the agitation. You can disperse people easily, but when over 50 cattle gather at a spot, you cannot move them off the road.”

The Kolhapur-based farmers’ organisation has supporters in many districts in Maharashtra. Since Monday, they have started halting milk tankers across the state. They have staged protests in districts like Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune, Ahmednagar, Nashik, Nanded and Aurangabad.

Many private and cooperative dairies in state have also reduced or stopped their milk collection from farmers to avoid any untoward situation, Tupkar said. Some tankers were also emptied on roads by the agitators, he added.

The Gujarat Dairy Development Corporation Limited has asked the railways to make provisions for transportation of additional supply of milk through trains. “Instead of increasing the milk purchase rate by Rs five per litre, the state government is using railways to get milk supply from Gujarat for Mumbai, which is the biggest market of packaged milk,” Shetti told PTI.

“This shows that it wants to protect the interests of urban people rather than those of farmers,” Shetti said. “I will see that no train carrying milk from Gujarat to Mumbai will pass from this station. I am here with my party workers and we are going to stop the trains if we come to know that they are carrying milk,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Western Railway official today said milk supply through train to Mumbai has been rescheduled.

The WR yesterday announced that 88,000 litres of milk would be supplied via train daily for six days to meet the demand of Mumbai city.

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