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India Formally Splits Jammu And Kashmir

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Narendra Modi

India on Thursday formally split the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two federally administered territories in its effort to tighten control over the militancy-ridden region.

The move comes despite a prolonged shutdown in response to the Indian government’s move on August 5 removing special autonomy enjoyed by the region.

Under the new arrangement, the erstwhile state becomes two federally administered territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. The two territories would now be administered directly from Delhi through two lieutenant governors who took their oaths of office on Thursday.

The region, which is disputed between India and Pakistan, has seen a deadly secessionist militancy since the mid-1980s in which more than 45,000 people have died.

Thursday’s formal split is part of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s controversial Aug. 5 move abrogating laws that gave the Muslim-majority region greater autonomy.

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From Thursday, the region will no longer have its constitution and flag, and Kashmiris lose their exclusive right to own land in the new territories.

Thousands of troops were deployed in the restive valley and it was placed under a security and communications lockdown as the government moved to scrap the special status in August.

Most restrictions have been eased, but the internet is yet to be restored and thousands of local political leaders and activists remain in detention. Shops and businesses remain largely closed in what is seen as both a protest against the government’s move and fear of militant attacks. More than a dozen people including migrant labourers, orchard owners, and traders have been killed by militants in the past two months.

Jammu and Kashmir was a region administered by India as a state from 1954 to 2019, constituting the southern and southeastern portion of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of a dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since the mid-20th century.

The underlying region of this state were parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, whose western districts, now known as Azad Kashmir, and northern territories, now known as Gilgit-Baltistan, are administered by Pakistan.

The Aksai Chin region in the east, bordering Tibet, has been under Chinese control since 1962.

After the Government of India repealed the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution in 2019, the Parliament of India passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.

The Act contained provisions that dissolved the state and reorganised it into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir in the west and Ladakh in the east, with effect from Oct. 31, 2019.

At the time of its dissolution, Jammu and Kashmir was the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.

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Coronavirus Spread Is Accelerating And We’re In A ‘Grave Situation’ — Chinese President, Xi Jinping

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China’s president, Xi Jinping has held a special meeting to address the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

At the policy meeting, President Xi said the killer coronavirus spread is accelerating and that the nation faces a “grave situation.”

According to the TV report, resources and experts will be channelled to designated hospitals to tackle the virus. Supplies to Hubei province will be guaranteed and cost won’t be a hindrance.

Since the outbreak of the killer coronavirus, forty-one people in China have died from the disease which originated in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province. At least 17 cities in Hubei have also been locked down with more than 1,280 cases confirmed worldwide.

According to researchers, the virus, which can cause pneumonia, fever, difficulty breathing, and a cough may have been transmitted to humans from snakes.

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34 US Troops Left With Brain Injuries After Iran’s Revenge Airstrikes

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About thirty-four US soldiers have been diagnosed with concussion or traumatic brain injury following the Iranian missile attack on US bases, the Pentagon has confirmed.

The strikes were launched on January 8 in retaliation for the death of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a United States drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump.

The Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said on Friday that eight service members who had been previously transported to Germany had been moved to the United States.

This comes days after Trump played down the injuries, saying service personnel had suffered “headaches” in the aftermath.

President Trump had said that the US “suffered no casualties” from the attack, which was a reprisal for the US drone strike assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani.

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Questioned later about reports of brain injury, Trump downplayed their severity: “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things. But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious.”

Hoffman confirmed the injuries on Friday, adding: “This is a snapshot in time, what he wanted to make sure is that you’re provided with the most accurate numbers.”

Michael Kaplen, chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council and past president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State said that he was “shocked at the ignorant statement” made by Trump.

“To equate traumatic brain injuries as just a headache is insulting and disrespectful to the thousands of military service members suffering from the signature wound of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict,” he said.

He added that the condition, also known as TBI, is a “life-altering” injury.

“It’s physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral consequences affect every aspect of an individual’s life,” he said. “A brain injury is only ‘mild’ if it is someone else’s brain. There is nothing “mild” about a mild brain injury.”

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BREAKING: Coronavirus Cases Confirmed In France, First In Europe

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Two cases of the coronavirus have been “confirmed” in France, the first in Europe, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Friday.

The first case involved a patient in a hospital in the southwestern city of Bordeaux while the other was in Paris, the minister told reporters.

The SARS-like virus has claimed 26 lives since it emerged on December 31 in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

As of Friday, more than 800 people have been infected across China, with 177 in serious condition. Authorities were also examining 1,072 suspected case.

AFP

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