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‘Can’t go back to Myanmar, Army won’t let us live,’ say refugees

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Lawngtlai:Around 300 refugees, mostly Arakan (Rakhine) Buddhists, who fled Myanmar in November last year following the military crackdown on the Arakan rebels, have refused to go back despite the Mizoram government having stopped supplies of essential food items to them in February.
“The Myanmar Army will not let us live and earn if we go back,” said Khima-U, who hails from the border village of Varang in Myanmar’s Chin State.
The 46-year-old was one of the nearly 1,400 refugees who had originally taken shelter in four border villages in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district — Laitlang, Hmawngbuchhua, Zochachhua, and Dumzautlang. More than 900 refugees have since returned to their homes, according to officials.
While the Hmangbuchhua village council claims there are 343 refugees still living there, an official of Assam Rifles said there are only 298 refugees left.
Khima-U, among the many refugees who constructed bamboo houses since moving into this village 4km away from the border in Lawngtlai district, about 300km south of Aizawl, says “life is better here”.
He works as a daily wager by helping villagers in jhum (shifting) cultivation, earning Rs 150 a day.
Some others have joined the work as daily wagers on the 87km road connecting Lawngtlai town and Zorinpui, a proposed border crossing points with Myanmar part of the ambitious Kaladan multi-modal transport project.
“They (the refugees) came in speed boats,” said Chemgsa-U, president of the Hmangbuchhua village council, pointing to the Sekulh Lui river which flows along the village.
“They are of the same tribe as us. They are Rakhine people like us,” he said, while narrating how the villagers could hear gunshots from the fighting across the border.
The fighting has since stopped but the refugees are refusing to go, something the local Lais, the dominant community of the Lai Autonomous District Council, have become wary of.
“We do not want them to live here forever. They should go back,” said J Sangahangpuia, president of Central Young Lai Association, an NGO.
“Moreover, they follow a different religion, which could lead to conflicts in the future.”
Most Lais follow Christianity and speak Mizo or the Lai dialect while the group of refugees speak Rakhine.
“We gave them hospitality for we don’t want bad relations with the Arakan people. The success of the Kaladan project depends on the cooperation from the Arakan people,” he says.
Chemgsa-U admitted to the villagers’ reluctance, saying that arranging food for the refugees has become a problem.
Some are also suspicious. “Many of them could be Arakan Army fighters,” said J Sangahangpuia. A Lai leader showed HT a WhatsApp conversation with someone who identified himself as a central committee member of the Arakan Army.
The conversation, whose authenticity couldn’t verify, shows an Arakan Army leader urging to stop the district administration from sending back the refugees.


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National

NIA raids locations in western UP, Punjab over ISIS-inspired module probe

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New Delhi:The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday morning conducted raids at several places in western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in connection with the investigation into a suspected ISIS-inspired module. A case was recently registered against the suspected module.

Sources said that the police officials detained two persons for questioning from Athsaini village in Garhmukteshwar tehsil. They were being interrogated by the police till last report came in.

The agency rounded up a 50-year-old resident of Bulandshahr, who runs a general store and has spent over 25 years in Saudi Arabia.

 

Notably, this is the third time that raids have been conducted by the NIA in Hapur area of Uttar Pradesh while the searches in Amroha have been carried out for the second time.

Several teams of the counter-terror probe agency launched the searches simultaneously in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha and Bulandshahr besides Punjab’s Ludhiana, and several places early in the day, a senior NIA official said.

The raids that were still underway, kicked off after the NIA got leads from those arrested during their interrogation. The agency is looking into the role of a foreign mastermind behind the new module.

The action comes in the wake of a case it registered on December 20 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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Armed robbers loot passengers onboard Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express

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New Delhi: Unidentified assailants, carrying guns and sharp-edged weapons, barged inside two coaches of Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express and looted the passengers on Thursday morning.

A group of about seven to ten armed assailants robbed passengers onboard B3 and B7 coaches. The incident took place in the early morning hours in Badli station, on the outskirts of Delhi.

The incident came to light after a passenger filed a complaint through the railways’ complaints portal. Passenger Ashwani Kumar, in his complaint, claimed that passengers of B3 and B7 coaches of the train were targeted by the armed men as it neared the Delhi Sarai Rohilla station.

 

“As train number 12266, which stops only at its source and destination stations, was approaching the Delhi station, stopped at around 3:30 am awaiting signal, seven to 10 miscreants entered coaches B3 and B7 of the train,” Kumar said.

The miscreants snatched mobiles, gold jewellery, cash and other valuable items from multiple passengers. The entire robbery took place within 10 to 15 minutes.
A case has been filed.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the case and action will be taken against culprits, said the Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Northern Railways.

“The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the matter. The culprits will be nabbed soon and stern action will be taken against them,” a Northern Railway spokesperson said.

Kumar later added that the passengers tried to reach the train attendant and TT after the incident and found them after 20 minutes. “The irony is that neither staff nor security personnel were available there at the time of the mishap,” the passenger claimed.

The complainant claimed that when he could not find the TT or the attendant, he contacted the Delhi Police after which an FIR was registered at the destination station.

“… The attendant told us that there was no security personnel available in the train. We are not safe even in AC coaches and imagine the security in sleeper class and general coaches where passengers enter the train even without tickets… ,” Kumar wrote in his complaint.

Several persons took to social media questioning rail security and safety of passengers again with this incident.

The Jammu Tawi-Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express (Train no 12266) has a travel time of 9 hours with one halt at Ludhiana.

The Duronto Expresses are one of the fastest trains in India. It has only AC coaches.

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SC partially strikes down stringent rules on Maharashtra dance bars

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside certain provisions of a law imposing restrictions on the licensing and functioning of dance bars in Maharashtra.

A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri quashed certain provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016.

The top court allowed orchestra and added that tips can be given but showering of cash and coins is not allowed inside bars.

 

SC upheld the condition of fixed timings of dance bars in Maharashtra from 6 pm to 11.30 pm.

Supreme Court said, “There cannot be a total prohibition on dance bars. No licence has been granted by Maharashtra since 2005. There may be regulations but that should not amount to a total prohibition.”

The court quashed conditions of Maharashtra government of putting CCTV cameras in dance bars of Mumbai, giving licence to people of good character as ‘vague’.
It also repealed a rule that segregated dancing stage from the bar area where drinks are served.

The Court has also struck down a condition by which dance bars should be 1 km away from educational and religious places.

The top court has upheld a rule of Maharashtra government by which working women should have a contract so they can’t be exploited, however, quashed a rule of monthly salary for bar dancers.

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