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LIVE! US, France & UK in intense discussions with China on Azhar listing at UN

10:49  US, France & UK in intense discussions with China on Azhar listing at UN:  

 The US, France and the UK are believed to be in intense “good faith” discussions with China to arrive at a “compromise”, including on the language on the UN designation of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, according to people familiar with the matter.

On Wednesday, China blocked for the fourth consecutive time a resolution at the UN Security Council Committee on designating Azhar, head of the JeM terror group, as a global terrorist.

The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council was moved by France, the UK and the US on February 27, days after a suicide bomber of the JeM killed 44 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, leading to a flare-up in tensions between India and Pakistan.

If the fresh efforts by the US, France and the UK does not end up in the formal designation of Azhar, the three permanent members are planning to soon move a resolution for his listing in the most powerful wing of the UN which would be preceded by an open debate on the issue, according to people familiar with the matter.

India had expressed disappointment over the Chinese stance and the original co-sponsors of the resolution had warned they will consider “other actions” to achieve their goal.

While the internal consultations of the Security Council committee remain private, this time several Council members, frustrated at China’s unreasonable stance to protect a terrorist, privately spoke to the media the negative role being played by Beijing.

“If China continues to block this designation, responsible member-states may be forced to pursue other actions at the Security Council. It shouldn’t have to come to that,” a Security Council diplomat said on Wednesday in an unusual tough warning to Beijing.

In the last 50 hours, it is believed that the original sponsors of the Azhar resolution are having intense “good faith” consultations with China on what many familiar with the matter describe as a “compromise”. This probably means Azhar would be designated as a global terrorist by the UN body, but the language of designation would include a language acceptable to China.

China is believed to have suggested “certain changes” in the language of the terrorist designation. The US, Britain and France are believed to be currently looking at the suggestions. It is understood that there is back-and-forth exchange of texts on the matter.  

— PTI


10:34  An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.7 on the Richter Scale hit Nicobar Islands region at 9.43 am today.

10:22  Modi urges supporters to take ‘main bhi chowkidar’ pledge:  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged his supporters to take the ‘main bhai chowkidar’ (I too am watchman) pledge, saying he is not alone in the fight against graft and social evils.

  

“Your Chowkidar is standing firm & serving the nation. But, I am not alone. Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt, social evils is a Chowkidar. Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a Chowkidar. Today, every Indian is saying-#MainBhiChowkidar,” he wrote on Twitter.

He also posted a little over three minute video to drive home his message.

Modi has often described himself as a “chowkidar” who would neither allow corruption nor get corrupted himself.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been repeatedly hurling the “chowkidar chor hai”(watchman is the thief) jibe at Modi to claim irregularities and favouritism in the Rafale fighter jet deal, a charge the BJP-led government has rejected.

— PTI

09:47  Imam of attacked New Zealand mosque says ‘we still love this country’:  

An imam who was leading prayers at a Christchurch mosque when a gunman brandishing semi-automatic weapons mowed down his congregation said on Saturday that the Muslim community’s love for New Zealand would not be shaken by the massacre.

  

“We still love this country,” said Ibrahim Abdul Halim, imam of Linwood Mosque, vowing that extremists would “never ever touch our confidence”.

Halim gave a harrowing account of the moment during Friday prayers when gunshots rang out in the mosque, replacing peaceful reflection with screaming, bloodshed and death.

“Everyone laid down on the floor, and some women started crying, some people died immediately,” he said.

But, he said, New Zealand Muslims still felt at home in the south Pacific nation.

“My children live here” he said, adding, “we are happy”.

He said the majority of New Zealanders “are very keen to support all of us, to give us full solidarity”, describing how strangers exchanged hugs with him on Saturday.

“They start to… give me big hug, and give me more solidarity. This is something very important.” 

The attacks on two mosques by a right-wing extremist left 49 people dead. 

09:23  Shashi Tharoor’s relatives join BJP day after Vadakkan’s exit from Congress:  

The BJP welcomed Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s aunt and her husband into the party fold at a function in Kochi on Friday but faced embarrassment as they said they were already supporters of the saffron party.

The development comes a day after congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan joined the BJP.

Tharoors aunt Sobhana Sasikumar and her husband Sasikumar said they had been long time supporters of the BJP and wondered why such a function was organised to welcome them into the party.

Welcoming 14 new members from diverse backgrounds into the party, BJP’s Kerala president P S Sreedharan Pillai called them the cream of Kochi and honoured them with a party shawl in the media’s presence.

Addressing the function, Pillai hailed the historic background of Tharoor’s family in Palakkad district and said people from such backgrounds becoming part of the BJP have to be welcomed.

When reporters approached Tharoor’s relatives, the duo said they had been long time supporters of the BJP and did not know why such a function was organised to welcome them and asked the media to put the question to BJP leaders as to why it was held and left the venue.

08:58  Trust between govt, business community eroded: Manmohan Singh:  

Slamming what he termed as the “wrath of coercive agencies” on the business community, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said trust between the government and businesses has eroded and a hostile narrative has been built that will hurt the economy.

Speaking at Hindu Business Line’s award event, Singh without taking any names said there was no room for authoritarian impositions after the country opted for a democratic path for itself.

“Of late, many negative perceptions have been manufactured about business leaders; the business community, big and small, has been made to feel the wrath of coercive agencies,” he said.

“A hostile narrative has been built; this will sap not only the confidence of our own business leaders, it will also create doubts in the mind of foreign governments and business leaders.

“Honest businessman and genuine entrepreneur must never be allowed to feel harassed by the petty revenue officials. Unfortunately, Trust between the government and the business stands eroded,” he said without elaborating.

There is a need to create an intellectual atmosphere that abets industriousness, innovation and imagination among the business community, he said, adding that the society, the government and the business stand to benefit from conditions of trust, lawfulness and fairness.

Singh noted that no change is permanent and the country has remained alive to the need for change and has progressed and prospered whenever society recognised and promoted change.

He also said it is vital to prepare all stakeholders for the coming change because changes produce some disruption, some pain and considerable discomfort.

— PTI

08:28  Modi shines in UP, Rahul Gandhi soars in Tamil Nadu, finds PSE poll:  

ore than half of voters in the bellwether state of Uttar Pradesh prefer Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a second term, but not down south in Tamil Nadu, where Congress chief Rahul Gandhi surges ahead in popularity, an India Today TV survey has found.

Rahul Gandhi is the choice of 28 per cent respondents in the latest PSE poll, up from 22 per cent five months ago.

Overall satisfaction with the central government grew to 57 per cent in March, up from 54 per cent in January and 53 per cent in October, the data showed.

The Congress president’s popularity has surged in Tamil Nadu over the past five months — from 36 per cent in October 2018, 39 per cent in January to 46 per cent in March this year.

PM Modi, on the other hand, received support of 35 per cent of the respondents in March, from 28 per cent in January and 29 per cent in October last year.

08:03  Charged with murder, New Zealand gunman smirks in courtroom:  

A 28-year-old suspect, identified as Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared before the court on Saturday on murder charges connected with Friday’s terror attacks in Christchurch, which left at least 49 people dead. He was remanded in custody without plea until April 5.

The terror attack suspect, who live-streamed for about 17 minutes his rampage through two mosques, is an Australian-born citizen and is a resident of Dunedin, situated around 360 km south of Christchurch.

The suspect appeared before a Christchurch court on murder charges, in white prison clothing, barefoot and handcuffed. Flanked by two police officers, he smirked when media persons photographed him during the hearing and was seen making the white power gesture, New Zealand Herald reported.

Throughout the hearing, Brenton Tarrant, who had a cut on his upper lip, remained silent and looked at the media persons in the public gallery.

In the worst ever terror attack in New Zealand, multiple gunmen carried out indiscriminate shootings at two mosques in Christchurch during the Friday prayers, leaving 49 people dead and at least 48 wounded, besides giving a scare to the Bangladesh cricket team which had a narrow escape.

Using automatic weapons, the gunmen, four of who were initially taken into custody, launched a “well-planned” attack on the mosques when devotees had assembled for the weekly prayers.

Earlier today, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed that gun laws “will change” in the wake of the worst terror attacks in the country”s history.

Condemning the terror strike, Jacinda Ardern had described it as a terror attack and said it appears to have been well planned. She asserted that New Zealand will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.

00:57  Terror financing: Cash, properties worth crores found in J&K:  

In a major crackdown on terror financing, the Income Tax Department on Friday said it has unearthed undisclosed cash, jewellery and property papers worth several crores in Jammu and Kashmir.

Search operations were conducted at five locations in Kashmir valley and a few places in Jammu on Thursday, the department said in a statement.

“These actions are part of the Department’s continued drive against use of black money by disruptive elements in the state. The operations also send a message of deterrence and obviation to those intending to vitiate the democratic process of free and fair elections,” it said.

The tax department further said one operation was against a prominent Line of Control (LOC) trader who apparently used proxies to conduct large cross-LoC trade in the past six years.

“Large undisclosed profit earned by him has been diverted to allegedly suspect elements in the Valley.

“During the action, documents of transactions in the names of some of the proxies were found. Investigations are in progress to determine the clandestine cross-LOC trade conducted by the tax evader through the Custodian of the Trade Facilitation Centre, Srinagar,” it said.

The tax department also said the preliminary results of the search operation are extremely encouraging. In the aggregate, undisclosed cash of Rs 1.44 crore and unaccounted jewellery of Rs 2.48 crore have been seized.

The documentary evidence collected and examined so far shows undeclared property transactions of more than Rs 41 crore, primarily in the Kashmir valley and concealed financial transactions of nearly Rs 17 crore.

A number of hard disks have also been seized that prima facie corroborate the evidence found in the seized documents, the department said.

The department also covered a hotelier and a retailer of liquor in the Kashmir valley.

Evidence found in search shows that he has been earning large undisclosed profits on the sale of liquor as well as from his hotel business and he has not shown cash receipts in his books of account.  — PTI

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