July 21, 2018

Tripura troopers to be deployed for Punjab, Uttar Pradesh polls

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For representational purpose | PTI

AGARTALA: Two battalions of Tripura State Rifles (TSR) will be deployed in the upcoming Punjab and Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, an official said here on Saturday.

“Two battalions of TSR personnel led by Commandants Pinaki Samanta and Kerry Marak left here on Friday for Punjab,” a Tripura home department official told IANS.

He said “The TSR personnel would be posted in Punjab according to the direction of the Election Commission and after the Punjab assembly elections they would move to Uttar Pradesh.”

The official said that following the request of the union home ministry the counter-insurgency trained force has been sent to the two states.

Assembly elections in Punjab will take place on February 4 while Uttar Pradesh would go to the polls in seven phases between February 11 and March 8.

“Besides providing security during Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010, the India Reserve (IR) battalions of TSR were earlier sent to Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Nagaland and Mizoram to provide security during polls,” the official said.

The TSR battalions, trained in anti-insurgency operations, were constituted in March 1984 to deal with terrorism. Seventy five per cent of the troopers are from Tripura while the remaining are from across the country.

There are 12 TSR battalions in the state, of which nine are India Reserve battalions, which means they can be deployed anywhere in India by the Home Ministry. The central government has approved the raising of three more TSR battalions.

“The TSR has been modelled on the pattern of Border Security Force and Assam Rifles. It has played an important role in curbing four and a half decades old terrorism in Tripura,” the official added.

Bangladesh arrests another plotter behind cafe siege

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The back garden of an upscale cafe in Dhaka, a day after a bloody siege ended in July. (File Photo | AFP)

DHAKA: Bangladesh police Saturday said they have arrested an Islamist extremist accused of being one of the “masterminds” of last year’s deadly siege at a Dhaka cafe where 22 hostages were killed.

A police spokesman said Jahangir Alam was detained Friday night by counter-terrorism forces in Elenga, a town some 120 kilometres (63 miles) north of the capital.

“He is one of the main masterminds of the Holey Artisan Bakery (cafe) attack,” Yusuf Ali, an additional deputy commissioner of the Dhaka police force, told AFP.

“He was a member of a new faction of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and was directly involved in the murder of at least 22 religious minorities including Hindu priests and a Christian and foreigners (at the cafe),” he said.

Japanese and Italian diners were among the 18 foreigners shot and hacked to death in the attack on July 1 last year.

The siege lasted for 10 hours until army commandos, using armoured vehicles, stormed the compound.

Sanwar Hossain, an additional deputy commissioner of the police’s counter-terrorism and transnational crime unit, said Alam was a close associate of Tamim Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi Canadian who was named as the primary architect of the cafe siege.

“(Alam) was notorious. He led around two dozen attacks on religious minorities outside the capital,” he told AFP.

Alam, 32, was present with Chowdhury at a Dhaka hideout where they planned and organised the cafe attack, Hossain added.

The arrest comes a week after police killed two Islamist extremists including another plotter of the cafe siege in a shootout in Dhaka. Chowdhury was killed during a raid outside the capital in August last year.

The country’s security forces launched a deadly crackdown against Islamist extremists following the attack, which badly undermined Bangladesh’s reputation as a relatively moderate Muslim nation.

Since the siege, security forces have killed around 50 Islamist extremists, including most of the alleged leaders of Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh.

However, the Islamic State (IS) organisation also claimed responsibility for the cafe attack, posting images of the carnage as it happened and photos of the gunmen who had posed with the group’s black flag.

Bangladesh is reeling from a wave of attacks on foreigners, rights activists and members of religious minorities.

While many of those attacks have been claimed by IS or Al-Qaeda, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s secular government has blamed local militants, denying that international jihadists have gained a foothold in Bangladesh.

Critics say Hasina’s administration is in denial about the nature of the threat posed by Islamist extremists and accuse her of trying to exploit the attacks to demonise her domestic opponents.

Last August US Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to Dhaka that there was evidence to link the extremists behind the recent spate of deadly attacks in Bangladesh to IS.

Momma' charged with stealing teenage daughter at birth

Delhi/India/Politics/World by

Image for representational purpose only.

WALTERBORO: Neighbours knew them as a church-going mother and her polite teenage daughter before
police swarmed their home in a small, quiet city in South Carolina.

Gloria Williams was arrested on kidnapping charges. Then came the real shocker: Police identified the victim as the 18-year-old woman Williams had raised as her daughter.

Investigators said DNA analysis proved she had been stolen as an infant from a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

Now the woman who grew up as Alexis Manigo has learned she was born Kamiyah Mobley.

Tesha Stephens, a cousin of Willams’, was at the family’s home in Walterboro late Friday. She says the woman she knows as Alexis is doing OK, but “she’s probably going to have to take this day-by-day.” 

Trump says he may scrap Russia sanctions

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. (File Photo | AP)

WASHINGTON: President-elect Donald Trump has hinted that he may lift sanctions on Russia and won’t stand by the “One China” policy unless Beijing improves its currency and trade practices.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday that he would keep intact “at least for a period of time” sanctions President Barack Obama’s administration imposed on Russia last month over Moscow’s alleged cyberattacks to influence the US election.

But, if Russia helps the US on key goals such as fighting violent extremists, Trump suggested he may scrap the punitive measures altogether.

He also said he was prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after taking office January 20.

Trump, who sees an opportunity to cooperate with Moscow in fighting jihadist groups like Islamic State, has expressed admiration for Putin, and only reluctantly accepted US intelligence’s conclusion that Russian hackers acting on Putin’s authority interfered in the US elections.

Turning to the longstanding US practice of not recognizing Taiwan diplomatically, Trump said: “Everything is under negotiation, including One China.”

Trump has already irked China by accepting a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen after he won the election, upending decades of diplomatic precedent in which the White House has foregone direct communication with the island’s leader.

He defended that move in his interview with the Journal, saying: “We sold them 2 billion of military equipment last year. We can sell them $2 billion of the latest and greatest military equipment but we’re not allowed to accept a phone call. First of all, it would have been very rude not to accept the phone call.”

Beijing considers the island to be a breakaway province to be brought back within its fold, by force if necessary.

Trump has threatened to get tough with what he sees as unfair Chinese trade practices, and suggested that the “One China” policy could become a bargaining chip in other disputes.

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