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Over 1700 arrested in ‘yellow vest’ protests

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Paris: French authorities made 1,723 arrests over the weekend, and took 1,220 into custody, as some 125,000 people joined a new wave of Yellow Jackets protests in towns and cities across France, the interior ministry said Sunday.

Some 10,000 protesters rallied in Paris, including in eastern and southern parts of the city. More than 260 people were injured in the protests, including 39 police and gendarmes, according to the interior ministry.

The government mobilized nearly 120,000 police and gendarmes across the country, and stationed heavy armored vehicles near major monuments in the capital in anticipation of a fourth weekend of Yellow Jackets violence.

 

Police also used tear gas on a group of protesters near the Champs-Elysées, where some protesters threw makeshift hand grenades at gendarmes and tore down barricades set up to protect shops in the area. One group attempted to attack at a phone store before police intervened.

The number of arrests made in Paris — 1,082 people were stopped, AFP reported — suggests authorities took a tougher approach to the protests in the capital. By comparison, Paris police made 412 arrests and placed 378 in custody last week, when protesters ransacked shops and defaced monuments around the Champs-Elysées. Only 103 people were stopped by police during protests in late November.

The Yellow Jackets protests grew out of discontent expressed on social media over a planned fuel-tax hike, which the French government has since abandoned. But the group has morphed into a broader movement protesting against President Emmanuel Macron, whom it accuses of ignoring the struggles of rural workers and others on low incomes. According to polls, a majority of French people support the movement.

Paris was largely in lock-down, with streets around the Champs-Elysées closed off to traffic and shops boarded up or closed to avoid damage. Some 10 museums — including the Louvre — plus the Eiffel Tower and big department stores also said they would be closed.

Similar demonstrations took place in cities and towns across the country, including in Marseille and Lyon, and in the suburbs of Paris. France’s national police force tweeted Saturday that a majority of protesters were “peaceful.”

In a show of solidarity with 153 students who were made to kneel in front of armed police on the outskirts of Paris earlier this week, some Yellow Jackets in Marseille protested by assuming the same position.

The protest movement also spilled across the border into Belgium, where 1,000 police officers were mobilized to deal with a rally that drew an estimated 1,000 Yellow Jacket supporters on Saturday. About 400 people were stopped by police in Brussels in “preventative” checks ahead of the protests, according to Ilse Van De Keere, the spokesperson for Central Brussels and Ixelles.

Some Yellow Jacket protesters also blocked off several big routes in Flanders, near the French border.


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Voter turnout in Bijbehara, Anantnag a lesson for Mehbooba : Omar

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Kulgam, Apr 24: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said that the low voter turnout in Anantnag and Bijbehara is a lesson for PDP and Mehbooba Mufti.

He asserted that the ensuing elections are significant since it provides the people of the state an opportunity to reveal how passionately they feel about their identity including Art370, Art 35-A.

Addressing two separate public meets at Chawalgam and Homeshalibug, Kulgam party vice president said that the threats of BJP-RSS to abrogate Art 370, Art 35A will be defeated as the people of the state will not allow them succeed in their nefarious designs. “ Today state is facing an assault on its special status from all sides, however all the machinations of the forces as are inimical to our status will fall flat if the people of our state show resoluteness in protecting the identity and integrity of our state. This time people across the state have taken it upon themselves to trounce the efforts as are hell bent to destroy the special constitutional status of the state,” he said adding, “Today’s elections is not about choosing MLA’s, today our state is fraught with a challenging situation. The need of the hour is to send a representative to Parliament who can fight for the interests of state, the situation that the state is facing today demands of having a credible voice at Delhi who can work tireless both within and outside parliament for the protection of Art 370, Art 35-A. Seeing the scope of work and the challenges we are facing, we considerately fielded Retired Justice Hasnain Sb from Anantnag constituency. He is known for his pronounced judgments on Art 370, Art 35 A. He boasts the necessary political and legal acumen to deal with the situation.”

 

While highlighting the importance of Art 370, Art 35 A, Omar said, “It is needless to say how important Art 370, Art 35-A are for the state and its people. Today the people of our state are masters of its own land. They work on their land, and derive their sustenance from it. God forbid, if these articles are done away with, the consequences that will follow shall be beyond our comprehension. The people of the state will stop to cleave to a respectable denomination which Sher- e- Kashmir bestowed upon them through famous land to tiller reforms and other people friendly measures. Our kids would not be able to derive various scholarships from government. The youth of our state will cease to be the sole beneficiary of jobs in government sector. Keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences of abrogation of our status, we deemed it fit to have Hasnain Masoodi represent us in parliament from Anantnag.”

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Mehbooba demands release of Yasin Malik

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday demanded the release of separatist leader Yasin Malik.

“Yasin Malik should be released immediately as he is really unwell. Also other members of Jamaat-e-Islami should be released. Sadhvi Pragya on whom there are several serious accusations has been set free,” Mufti said.

Delhi’s Patiala House Court Wednesday sent Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik to judicial custody till May 24 in connection with a 2017 alleged funding case.

 

Mehbooba also lodged a note of protest against a slew of measures brought about in the valley recently.

“After the encounter, families of militants are harassed and the cross LoC trade which was taking place through Muzaffarabad has also been stopped. The National Highway is closed for traffic for two days in a week and security forces are interfering in the daily life of people. We are protesting against all these issues,” she said. 

Elections in the state are staggered in five phases which began on April 11 and culminate on May 6. The counting of votes will be done on May 23.

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Rains lash Kashmir; weather to improve from today

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Srinagar, Apr 24: Rains continued to lash Kashmir since Tuesday evening, bringing the average temperature down in the valley.

The local meteorological department predicted improvement in weather conditions from Thursday evening.

The rains began on Tuesday evening and continued intermittently till this evening. The rains in the Valley led to dip in the temperature.

 

Deputy Director MeT, Mukhtar Ahmad said that the weather conditions in Kashmir would improve from Thursday evening.

He said the light rainfall would continue intermittently till Thursday evening following which there will be improvement in the weather.

Ahmad said that in plains the weather would improve from Thursday afternoon while in higher reaches it will start improving from the evening.

Meanwhile, an official in Meteorological department informed that Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 12.0 degrees Celsius Tuesday night against 8.9 degrees Celsius normal for this time of the season.

The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir received 3.9 mm of rain since overnight till 8:30 hours, he said.

The official said that Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded a low of 10.8 degrees Celsius and had a rainfall of 6.8 mm while the mercury in Kokernag town in south Kashmir settled at a low of 9.2 degrees Celsius and it had 8.6 mm of rains during the time.

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