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India shocked as 26/11 mastermind Lakhvi gets bail, asks Pakistan to reverse decision

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India shocked as 26/11 mastermind Lakhvi gets bail, asks Pakistan to reverse decision

Islamabad/New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) An anti-terrorism court in Islamabad Thursday granted bail to Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a key mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, triggering shock and indignation in India which asked Pakistan to take steps to reverse the decision.

Lakhvi’s lawyer Rizwan Abbasi appeared before the court and sought bail for his client. Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) prosecutor disagreed with the bail plea, Dawn online reported.

The court directed Lakhvi, among the seven people charged with planning and helping to carry out the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attack which left at least 166 people dead, to pay surety bonds worth Pakistani Rs.500,000 before he can be released on bail.

At the time of the 26/11 attack, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of the banned Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) that is accused by India of carrying out the attack in its financial capital.

The news about Lakhvi’s bail led to expressions of shock in India, especially as it came a day after parliamentarians and school children across India observed two minutes silence over the Peshawar school terror attack and many also held candle light marches to denounce the killing of over 130 children.

On Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pronounced that Islamabad would henceforth not differentiate between “good” terrorists and “bad” terrorists. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendara Modi spoke to Sharif to condemn the attack and offered to provide all assistance.Home

Minister Rajnath Singh, reacting to the news of the bail, said it was “very unfortunate, and believe it should not have happened,” and added that the evidence provided by India to Pakistan on the Mumbai terror case was “more than enough to nail him”.

He said the Pakistan government should appeal in a higher court and get the bail cancelled.

The external affairs ministry, in a strong statement, said the bail granted to Lakhvi would “serve as a reassurance to terrorists who perpetrate heinous crimes” and called up Pakistan to immediately take steps to reverse the decision.

It said “Given the scale of the tragedy that Pakistan itself has faced in recent days, it is incumbent on it to realise that no compromise can ever be made with terrorists”, and that “There can be no selective approaches to terrorism”.

Indian political leaders, cutting across party lines, Thursday condemned the bail to Lakhvi and expressed doubts whether Pakistan was “serious enough” in its fight against terror.

“The fight against terror cannot be duplicitous, seeking to differentiate between the ones who operate in India and others who attack in Pakistan,” BJP leader Nalin Kohli told IANS.

“The case of Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi confirms complete non-serious approach by which Pakistan seeks to deny justice for the victims of Mumbai terror attacks,” he said.

Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani also termed the bail order “very shocking”, especially coming after the Peshawar attack.

The Congress said it was the responsibility of Pakistan to “ensure justice” to the victims of Mumbai attack.

“We have given all evidence against the perpetrators of the 26/11 attack to Pakistani establishment and it is imperative that the prosecutor ensure justice to the victims,” said the party’s Sanjay Jha.

“It is Pakistan government’s responsibility to ensure that people like Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed, who roam freely there making speeches against India are stopped and immediate action is taken against them,” Jha told IANS.

Former union minister Shashi Tharoor also termed the bail “truly shocking”.

The Aam Aadmi Party also said Pakistan should get Lakhvi’s bail cancelled.

Ujjwal Nikam, public prosecutor in the Mumbai terror attack case, termed it as “very shocking” news. Nikam said that Lakhvi was being tried in the case since 2008 and “when the court says no evidence it means that our case has not been properly represented in the court”.

“If Pakistan wants to fight terrorism, they should fight terrorist who are inside the state,” he added.

Former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, G. Parthasarathy told IANS he is not surprised in least” at the development.

“The LeT enjoys not only patronage of the Pakistani army but also Prime Minister (Nawaz) Sharif, who has had a long time relationship with Hafiz Saeed extending for years; and he received patronage I know when I was high commissioner from then prime minister Sharif, and even now in his third term, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, is funding the Lashkar.”

“You can draw your conclusions from this,” he said.

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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