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China threatens consequences over US warship’s actions

China threatened “serious consequences” Friday after the United States Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a violation of its sovereignty and security. The warning comes amid growing tensions between China and the United States, as Washington pushes back at Beijing’s increasingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety. On Thursday, after the U.S. sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and air force had forced the American vessel away, a claim the U.S. military denied. The U.S. on Friday sailed the ship again in the vicinity of the islands, which are occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, as part of what it called a “freedom of navigation operation” challenging requirements from all three nations requiring either advance notification or permission before a military vessel sails by. “Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” U.S. 7th Fleet spokesperson Lt. j.g. Luka Bakic said in an emailed statement. “The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant,” Bakic said. China’s Ministry of National Defense responded by accusing the U.S. of “undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea” with its actions. “The act of the U.S. military seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, severely breached international laws, and is more ironclad evidence of the U.S. pursuing navigation hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea,” ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei said. “We solemnly request that the U.S. immediately stop such actions of provocation, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unexpected incidents caused by this.” He said China would take “all necessary measures” to ensure its security but did not elaborate. Like its statement on the Thursday incident, China again said it drove the American ship away from the islands, which are in the South China Sea a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Vietnam and the Chinese province of Hainan. Both sides said their actions were justified under international law. Bakic told The Associated Press that the ship “was not driven away” and “continued on to conduct routine maritime security operations in international waters” after concluding its mission near the Paracel Islands. “The operation reflects our commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and lawful uses of the sea for all nations,” he said. “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as Milius did today.” The U.S. has no South China Sea claims itself but has deployed Naval and Air Force assets for decades to patrol the strategic waterway, through which about $5 trillion in global trade transits each year and which holds highly valuable fish stocks and undersea mineral resources. A United Nations-backed arbitration tribunal ruled in 2016 that the historical claim from China on the waters had no legal basis under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, and Washington maintains that freedom of navigation and overflight of the waterway are in the U.S. national interest. U.S. forces currently operate daily in the South China Sea and have been present for more than a century. China regularly responds angrily, accusing the U.S. of meddling in Asian affairs and impinging on its sovereignty. China’s claims have frequently brought it into conflict with other nations in the region as well. Filipino diplomats unleashed a slew of protests Friday over China’s recent targeting of a Philippine coast guard ship with a powerful military laser and other aggressive behavior.

Indian Air Force airfield in Punjab sold off to private party in shocking fraud

In a shocking fraud committed in connivance with revenue officials, the Indian Air Force’s emergency airfield (Jahaz Ground) in Ferozepur Cantonment has been sold off to private persons. Spread over 15 acres and worth several crores of rupees, the airfield is a part of the 982 acres of prime land acquired by the British government in 1939 for use by the Royal Air Force during World War II. Later, the Indian Air Force used the same airfield in the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. The vast Airfield grounds were used for camouflaging weaponry. Presently physical control of the ‘Jahaz Ground’ is with the Army, while operational and administrative control remains with the IAF’s Halwara air base authorities in Ludhiana district. In 1997, Usha Ansal, now a resident of Delhi sold off the 15-acre airfield to five private persons using a general power of attorney (GPA) executed by her brother-in-law Madan Mohan Lal who earlier resided in Ferozepur. But Lal died in 1991. Hence, the GPA became infructuous the same year and could not be used for any transaction. In 1964 during Lal Bahadur Shastri’s government, a scheme was launched to appoint crop managers on all vacant lands in the Cantonment areas in the country to increase foodgrain production when India faced a food crisis in the 60s. The crop managers were required to cultivate the land and pass over foodgrain to the central government. Madan Mohan Lal and his brother Tek Chand were appointed crop managers for 15 acres in Ferozepur Cantt. But the scheme was discontinued after the green revolution, and all crop managers of 982 acres handed over the land to the Army. Though the revenue records, including the ‘Jamabandi’ clearly mention the Army owned the land, the then sub-registrar ignored the crucial document while registering the sale deeds executed in 1997. The new “owners”, Dara Singh, Mukhtiar Singh, Jagir Singh, Surjit Kaur and Manjit Kaur, also managed to get ‘girdauris’ (A revenue official’s field visit report showing the status of any land) done in their names, implying that they were the cultivators and their crops were standing on the otherwise “concrete airfield”. Armed with registries and girdauris, the new owners moved the office of the then SDM D.P.S Kharbanda to get the 15-acre prime land mutated (Intkal) in their names in the revenue records. Despite the ‘tehsildar’s advice that the sale deeds do not seem to be above board, the SDM allowed the recording of mutations in the name of 5 private persons in 2001. The matter came to light when the five purchasers moved the civil court in 2008 by filing a suit for possession seeking directions to the Army to vacate their land. The fraudsters alleged they had peaceful possession of the land since 1997, but in 2006 the Army forcibly dispossessed them. The area in pink shows 982 acres of total land acquired by the British for the air field while the area in blue indicates the 15 acres’ emergency landing air strip. The Air Force wrote to the Financial Commissioner of Revenue (FCR) and Deputy Commissioner (DC) complaining about the fraud and demanded legal action against revenue department officers. But nothing has been done to date. DC Rajesh Dhiman said that an inquiry was underway, and they were looking for a pre-partition notification issued by the British after acquiring the 982 acres of land. It will help to get a better understanding of the problem. But P.P. Singh, a former Tehsildar, explains that the administration need not search for an old notification when it is clear that Madan Mohan Lal died in 1991 and his GPA was used in 1997. Moreover, the ‘jamabandi’ shows that the Army continues to be in possession of the ‘Jahaz’ ground for a long time.P.P. Singh further says the revenue officials can also check whether Madan Mohan Lal’s name was mentioned in the ‘jamabandi’ at the time of giving GPA to Usha Ansal. He said that the fraud perpetrated by the private persons in connivance with revenue department officials requires the registration of a criminal case against all of them.

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi disqualified as MP

Hafsa Akram

A Surat district court in Gujarat, India on Thursday convicted Shri Rahul Gandhi, MP of Wayanad, Kerala & former President of the Indian Congress party (INC) in a criminal defamation case against him over his alleged ‘Modi surname’ remark in 2019 and then Rahul Gandhi on Friday was disqualified as Member of Parliament. BJP MLA from Gujrat had filed the case against Rahul Gandhi for his alleged “how come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?” remarks. The officials have described the court order as politically motivated and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of targeting political opponents. Indian Government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to curtail fundamental rights, freedom of speech, and democratic expression in the country and the repeated attempts to suppress the voices of political parties and opposition leaders. “I am fighting for the voice of India & ready to pay any price for it.” ~Rahul Gandhi tweet’s after disqualified as MP The opposition believes that government is blatantly misusing laws to curb Rahul Gandhi’s growing popularity, credibility & stature, and clear strong-arm tactics for the 2024 Lok Sabha by not allowing him to speak in parliament. Opposition parties also slammed the government for silencing the opposition voice. The BJP government has not allowed Rahul Gandhi to speak in the Lok Sabha House. Rahul continued to raise his voice against the discrimination, and the injustice the Indian government is doing.

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