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Update on Saharanpur Riots – At Least 3 Dead and 24 Injured

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By RAJAT RAI

Western Uttar Pradesh is burning again. Communal tension is simmering in the region, even as the state government offers lipservice against such repeated violence.

On Saturday, at least three persons were killed and over two dozen were injured after two groups belonging to two different minority communities clashed in the Saharanpur district of western Uttar Pradesh.

Besides civilians, a city magistrate and about half-a-dozen policemen were also injured.

Shops, petrol pumps and government properties were burnt, prompting police action and deployment of paramilitary forces.

As the district administration rushed in with more troopers to control the situation, the grim reality of unabated violence clouded Saharanpur. In the end, the entire district was brought under curfew, with fear of more violence looming large over the region.

Saharanpur’s violence has attracted political reactions, more so with the Assembly by-election not far away. The BJP blamed leaders of a particular community for the violence.

“As Assembly by-election will be held in Saharanpur, some community leaders are trying to polarise a particular vote bank in their favour, and that is why they planned such a violent act to disturb the law and order. Also, the district police administration is to be blamed as they were aware of the tension and did not take necessary steps to prevent it,” Saharanpur BJP MP Raghav Lakhan Pal, who was earlier the MLA from the area, told the media.

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Muslim rioters burn a two-wheeler in Saharanpur, which is now under a curfew

Trouble began late on Friday night on Gurudwara Road in the Qutub Sheikh locality of the town, where a group belonging to a particular community decided to build on a disputed piece of land.

Litigation was going on in the High Court over this land, and a few days back the Court had decided in favour of the community which began construction on Friday.

Irked by the move, the other community objected. After a verbal spat, the situation turned ugly and violent. The rival groups soon started pelting stones and firing at each other.

Though the local police tried to control the situation by using mild force, trouble spread to other parts of the district. It forced the district administration to rush in more policemen. On Saturday morning, the police recovered two bodies in the Mandi Police Circle. Both the bodies bore bullet marks.

A policeman in action during violent clashes in Saharanpur. Around half a dozen officers have been injured in the riots.

A policeman in action during violent clashes in Saharanpur. Around half a dozen officers have been injured in the riots.

While one person was identified as Harish Kochar, a local BJP activist, the identity of the other person was yet to be ascertained. As the news spread, miscreants started torching public and government properties, and over dozens of shops and vehicles were set on fire. A petrol pump was also set ablaze.

The police resorted to lathi-charge, and also fired rubber bullets and teargas shells to control the situation. A curfew was imposed in three police circles by Saturday afternoon. However, considering the gravity of the situation, the administration later decided to implement the curfew in the entire district.

By Saturday evening, the administration also roped in the military for assistance.

“Forces from the neighbouring districts have also been roped in to control the situation. As far as the latest information, two persons have died and 17 have been injured. The inspector general of Meerut has taken charge of the situation, and we are monitoring the situation. The situation is tense but under control,” ADG (law and order) Mukul Goel told media persons in Lucknow earlier during the day.

However by evening, a third person, Arif, who was injured in the rioting, died at a Meerut hospital.

With tensions on the ground, the Narendra Modi-led government felt it necessary to step in. Around 600 paramilitary force personnel have now been sent to Uttar Pradesh by the Union government to maintain law and order in the state, in the wake of violence.

The decision to send in the paramilitary forces was taken after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, official sources said. Singh offered all assistance to contain the situation.

Just days ago, communal tension reached a boiling point when the issue of removing a loudspeaker from a temple at a village in Kanth area of Moradabad took on a communal colour. The loudspeaker was removed on the application of local MLA Anees-ur-Rehman. Before the trouble could be controlled, police and BJP activists clashed, adding a political colour to it all.

The situation panicked the local villagers, who have been living in harmony in the area for generations. And their opinions also got divided on whether BJP was welcome to intervene in the trouble.

Clashes over trivial issues – loudspeakers, playing of drums, bursting of crackers – leading to deaths and more violence have become a regular feature in a state that has earned the reputation of being the most riot-affected place in the country.

Last year, UP topped the list of riots with 247 cases of communal violence out of a total of 823 such incidents recorded in India.

It’s a harsh statistic that Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju shared in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha recently.

Observers say the data is an ignominy that Akhilesh’s government cannot deny. Despite the CM’s tough talks against riots and violence, statistics indicate that the state, especially western UP, seems to be on the road to perdition. 

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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