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India SC suspends Rahul Gandhi’s conviction

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India’s Supreme Court has suspended opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s conviction in a criminal defamation case.

The Congress leader was sentenced to two years in jail in March for his 2019 comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname at an election rally.

Mr Gandhi was disqualified as an MP following his sentencing.

Friday’s court ruling paves the way for him to return to parliament and contest general elections next year.

The office of the lower house of parliament will need to revoke Mr Gandhi’s disqualification for him to become an MP again.

“This will have to be done immediately,” PDT Achary, former secretary general of the lower house, told the BBC. He added that Mr Gandhi can start attending the ongoing parliament session from Monday.

“If the matter pertaining to his conviction is not settled, he would still be eligible to contest the next general elections,” he said.

The Supreme Court noted that the reasons given by the trial judge for giving the maximum punishment of two years to Mr Gandhi “are without sufficient reasons and grounds”.

The court also cautioned Mr Gandhi that he should have been more careful while making the alleged remarks.

The defamation case against Mr Gandhi, brought by BJP lawmaker Purnesh Modi, revolved around comments the Congress leader made in Karnataka state in 2019 during an election rally.

“Why do all these thieves have Modi as their surname? Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi,” he said.

Nirav Modi is a fugitive Indian diamond tycoon while Lalit Modi is a former chief of the Indian Premier League (IPL) who has been banned for life by the country’s cricket board.

In his complaint, Purnesh Modi alleged that the comments had defamed the entire Modi community. However, Mr Gandhi said that he made the comment to highlight corruption and it was not directed against any community.

A lower court had granted Mr Gandhi bail to appeal against his conviction but in July, the Gujarat high court dismissed his appeal seeking a stay on his conviction.

(BBC News)

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Crowdstrike blames software update for worldwide IT chaos

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Major IT outages are hitting industries across the world, with airlines, shops and healthcare affected.

Australia’s home affairs ministry and American Airlines have both said the outage appeared to be related to an issue at global cyber-security firm Crowdstrike.Crowdstrike says a “content update” for its Windows hosts was to blame

“This is not a security incident or cyberattack. The issue has been identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed,” the firm says.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has said, “We’re aware of an issue affecting Windows devices due to an update from a third-party software platform. We anticipate a resolution is forthcoming.”

(Excerpts : BBC)

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Bangladesh issues high security alert as deadly protests escalate

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A High Security Alert has been issued for the whole of Bangladesh, as violent clashes between students and police continue.

The capital Dhaka is in the midst of a near-total internet blackout, with phone lines also down.

On Thursday evening, several thousand protestors stormed the state broadcaster BTV, vandalising furniture, smashing windows and lights and setting parts of it on fire.

Bangladesh’s information minister told the BBC that broadcasts had been stopped and most employees had left the building in the capital.

A post on BTV’s official Facebook page had earlier warned “many” were trapped inside the building, and appealed for help from the fire service to put the blaze out.

A senior BTV journalist, who didn’t want to be named, told the BBC: “The situation was so bad we didn’t have any other option but to leave the place. Some of our colleagues were trapped inside. I don’t know what happened to them.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appeared on the network on Wednesday night, appealing for calm after days of violent protests which have left at least 19 people dead, possibly many more, and hundreds injured.

Students have been holding rallies demanding change to a system which reserves a third of public sector jobs for the relatives of veterans of the country’s war for independence from Pakistan in 1971.

The students are arguing that the system is discriminatory, asking for recruitment based on merit.

The government has been trying to quell the protests, on Thursday switching off the country’s mobile internet in an attempt to slow the students.

Instead, it became the deadliest day so far, according to news agency AFP. According to its count citing hospitals, a total of 32 people have died during the protests.

The BBC’s Bengali service has confirmed 19 deaths so far – 13 of them on Thursday. Among the dead was a 32-year-old journalist for the Dhaka Times.

Sheikh Hasina had condemned protesters’ deaths as “murder” in her Wednesday television appearance, but her words were largely dismissed by protest organisers, who rejected government offers of talks.

“The government has killed so many people in a day that we cannot join any discussions in the current circumstances,” said Nahid Iqbal, a leader of the anti-quota protest.

Another student, Aleem Khan, 22, told the BBC: “The Prime Minister is asking for an end to the violence with one hand whilst, with the other hand, attacking students using pro-ruling party groups and the police.”

Thursday saw tear gas and rubber bullets deployed by officers, as students created human blockades in the streets.

The students who stormed BTV had earlier “torched” a police station, according to an official at the network.

“They chased the police officers when they took refuge at the BTV office,” the official told AFP. “Angry protesters then caused mayhem here.”

Elsewhere, BBC Bengali spoke to a group of medical students who were taking shelter inside a medical college compound after they were attacked by pro-ruling party groups.

One of the students, Sumi, told the BBC: “I am here to protest against discrimination within the civil service and now that so many students have been killed by the police, I am also protesting against that.

“Our protest is peaceful, but the way in which we were attacked made me feel like we were going to be killed by pro-ruling party groups.”

(BBC News)

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Biden test positive for COVID-19, White House says

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Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 and is suffering mild symptoms, the White House has said.

Karine Jean-Pierre, his press secretary, said the president is vaccinated and boosted. He has had Covid twice before.

Mr Biden, 81, was seen earlier on Wednesday visiting supporters in Las Vegas and speaking at an event. He has cancelled a campaign speech in the city tonight.

The illness comes as he faces increasing pressure to step aside because of his age following a poor debate performance at the end of June.

(BBC)
(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by bbc.com has not been edited by SLM staff) 

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