NEW DELHI: Hundreds of residents of an Indian city where a teenage boy died of a suspected drug overdose went on a violent rampage against Africans, using steel chairs to attack shoppers in a local mall.
The riots broke out late Monday after police in Greater Noida, a satellite city of New Delhi, released five African students detained over the youth’s death — saying they had no evidence against them.
One television station showed an angry mob hitting a car with sticks, while another showed dozens of attackers using steel chairs to hit shoppers in a mall.
Local police said 10 people had been wounded, while India’s foreign minister said authorities were investigating the attacks.
“There will be a fair and impartial investigation into this unfortunate incident,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
Africans living in India frequently face discrimination and even violence, and are often accused of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
The issue was thrown into the spotlight after the stoning to death of a Congolese national in a dispute over an auto-rickshaw last year.
After that, African ambassadors in New Delhi threatened to advise students from their countries to avoid schools in the capital for their own safety.
The latest attack stemmed from the death of a local 16-year-old from an apparent drug overdose.
Police detained five Nigerian students in connection with the case after a group of local people went to their home and accused them of murder.
The students were later released without charge after police failed to find any evidence against them.
African student leader Samuel Jack said Monday’s attack was just the latest example of racist violence against Africans.
“We are targeted because of our color,” Jack told AFP, adding that many African students were leaving the area out of fear.
NEW DELHI: Hundreds of residents of an Indian city where a teenage boy died of a suspected drug overdose went on a violent rampage against Africans, using steel chairs to attack shoppers in a local mall.
Moscow :Russian President Vladimir Putin was Tuesday to host Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for talks that will be closely watched for signs of their next moves in Syria.
Rouhani’s first official visit to Russia comes as the two Syrian regime supporters push for ways to end the six-year conflict, having done much to marginalize US influence in peace talks.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said ahead of the trip that the leaders would discuss “regional issues especially the Syrian crisis, solutions to end it quickly,” as well as ways to counter “terrorism and extremism.”
Rouhani — accompanied by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh and other high-ranking officials — is expected to sign more than 10 economic cooperation agreements with Russia, according to Iranian state media.
Late on Monday Rouhani met Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, with the Iranian president saying he hoped his visit would mark a “new turning point” in relations, Russian state media reported.
The Kremlin said in a statement this month that Rouhani’s trip would focus in part on “the prospects of expanding trade, economic and investment ties.”
In addition to cooperation on Syria, energy and defense ties between Iran and Russia have grown despite meagre trade relations.
Russia is to build nine of Iran’s 20 nuclear reactors in the coming years and has also emerged as a long-term arms partner for Iran, supplying Tehran with the S-300 air defense system.
The relationship has blossomed under Rouhani despite the countries having a complicated history over territory, oil, and communism.
Rouhani is looking to boost Iran’s economy ahead of elections in May in which he is expected to stand for a second term.
Iran and Russia have become increasingly allied in Syria, providing support that has propped up President Bashar Assad.
They helped Assad’s forces gain ground in recent months, including in the Syrian army’s major offensive last year to retake rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
More than 310,000 people have been killed since conflict broke out in Syria in March 2011 with protests against Assad’s rule.
LONDON: The wife of the man who killed four people outside Britain’s Parliament last week condemned the attack, saying she is “saddened and shocked.”
In statement released through London police on Tuesday, Khalid Masood’s wife, Rohey Hydara, also said “I express my condolences to the families of the victims that have died, and wish a speedy recovery to all the injured.”
She added: “I would like to request privacy for our family, especially the children, at this difficult time.”
Police believe Masood — a 52-year-old Briton with convictions for violence — acted alone in Wednesday’s knife and car attack. But they are trying to determine whether others helped inspire or direct his actions.
Masood was killed by police after fatally stabbing an officer.
CANBERRA, Australia: The Australian government has shelved a planned extradition treaty with China rather than allow the Senate reject it over human rights concerns.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said senior ministers decided Tuesday not to proceed with the treaty after the opposition Labour Party declared it would block it in the Senate.
Bishop says she will renew negotiations with China and Labor to find a compromise that the Senate will accept.
Former conservative Prime Minister John Howard’s government signed the treaty in 2007 only weeks before it was defeated in general elections, so it was never ratified.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ratify the deal during a visit last week which focused on closer economic ties.
The Chinese Embassy in Australia did not immediately comment.
FORT COLLINS, Colorado: Police arrested a suspect in connection with the vandalism at a mosque near Colorado State University, a case they are investigating as a hate crime.
Joseph Scott Giaquinto, 35, was arrested on suspicion of several charges, including a crime motivated by bias, The Coloradoan reports (http://noconow.co/2mKWQEG ).
Police had asked for the public’s help in identifying the person who overturned benches, broke windows and threw a Bible into Islamic Center of Fort Collins, which is about 60 miles north of Denver.
A police spokeswoman told the newspaper that she did not have details on how police came to identify Giaquinto as the suspect.
Police released two clips of surveillance video that captured the vandalism at the Islamic Center of Fort Collins before dawn Sunday. In one, a man wearing a hoodie, believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, is shown picking up a paving stone and walking away. In another clip, he kicks a door.
The center’s president, Tawfik Aboellail, said the man tried to break into the mosque about 4 a.m. Sunday, but he did not get inside.
The vandalism prompted the center to cancel religious classes for children that morning, but it has also led to an outpouring of support. The Coloradoan reports that congregants from Plymouth Congregational Church visited after their morning service, and later about 1,000 people gathered at the mosque for a rally of support organized by a rabbi Sunday evening.
Many have also been making donations online to pay for repairs and improved security.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged police to investigate the case as a possible hate crime.
Police Chief John Hutto, who attended the support rally, said the incident has a “very real impact on our Muslim friends and neighbors.”
“The criminal act against their sacred space is unacceptable,” he said in a statement.
The vandalism comes about a month after someone threw a rock through a window at a mosque in the Denver area. The incident at the Colorado Muslim Society was also captured on surveillance video, but no one has been arrested. Investigators in the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office have exhausted their leads, spokeswoman Julie Brooks said Monday.
FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Former Royal Air Force airman Paul Hughes never imagined saying it, but he admits that he was almost “ashamed of my fellow countrymen” when Britons voted to leave the EU last June.
“I was devastated,” he tells AFP.
Since the fateful referendum last summer, 34-year-old Hughes — along with a growing fraction of the roughly 106,000 British citizens in Germany — has taken the unexpected step of applying for German citizenship.
“I’d prefer not to have to go through the process and the rigmarole of doing it, but I want to keep the rights and the ability to travel within Europe,” he explains.
Over the past three and a half years, the former serviceman has made extensive use of the EU freedom to live and work in any of the bloc’s 28 member countries, moving with his German wife first to Amsterdam and then to Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt.
But that freedom has come under a cloud in recent weeks, as the British government has refused calls to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in Britain once Brexit goes ahead.
That leaves unresolved the question of a reciprocal guarantee from Brussels for the roughly one million Brits living in other EU countries.
Hughes says he realized that in London, “nobody’s looking out for us, nobody cares” — prompting his first visit to the immigration office.
Authorities in Hamburg, Berlin, Bavarian capital Munich and the federal state of Hesse told AFP growing numbers of Brits are doing the same.
So long as Britain remains an EU member, those who don’t want to give up their allegiance to Queen and country can become dual citizens, adding a German passport emblazoned with the austere federal eagle to the UK’s lion-and-unicorn coat of arms.
But Germany does not allow dual citizenship for non-EU nationals, except in certain circumstances: such as children with one German and one foreign parent or descendants of those persecuted by the Nazis.
That window of acquiring a second passport is therefore fast closing as Prime Minister Theresa May is set to trigger two-year exit negotiations this month.
“I wouldn’t give up my citizenship,” says former airman Hughes, thinking of his medals and service history in Iraq.
Nevertheless, he says that the Brexit vote has made him less likely to move back in the near future.
When he visits family and friends in Swindon, “we can’t talk about Brexit around the table, because it turns into a fight.”
The subject is touchy enough that Hughes has so far avoided bringing up his plan to become German on visits back to the UK.
German citizenship in particular throws up challenging questions for modern-day Brits.
Hamburg-based journalist, author and translator Brian Melican recounts how friends in France and the UK — countries with deep memories of war with Germany — noticed he had begun saying “we” when referring to his adopted homeland.
New Germans “take on not guilt but responsibility” for their country’s inescapable history, the 32-year-old feels. “It’s changed the way I view myself.”
Living in Germany for nine years and fluent in the language, Melican’s intention to apply for citizenship crystallized when then-Prime Minister David Cameron claimed a surprise majority in 2015 elections, after promising voters a referendum on EU membership.
He found himself at a naturalization ceremony by December that year.
“I certainly feel less British now” he muses. “It’s just a big change, it’s on a par with marriage and having children. It’s one of the biggest changes of status you can have.”
A big part of the sense of responsibility the naturalization process hammered home is engaging with politics and civil society.
“Now I’m observing elections as somebody who will be taking people at their word. It’s made me take more of a stake here,” he says.
For 39-year-old teacher and translator Becky Allenby, there were two very important reasons why she applied for German citizenship — her children.
“They were born here and they would say to people that they’re German,” the Berlin resident of nine years’ standing explains.
“I wanted them to have the paper that went with their emotional attachment.”
Before last June, questions of national identity were not pressing for Allenby, her two young sons, and her Australian-born partner, all Britons.
“Before, as a European citizen, I could juggle my world, my family, my friends, and my neighborhood, and it’s all fine. And it’s like suddenly with Brexit someone drew a line across all that,” she goes on.
Allenby too has avoided discussing the process with her Brexit-supporting parents — although not for fear of hostility to Germany.
“They just want their grandkids to be British, and they would also love us to go back,” she says.
Even if the family does return, their dual nationality will just formalize something Allenby already feels before getting her German papers.
“Part of me will always feel German now,” she says.
“I’ve lived such crucial years of my life here — I will always feel like I’ve got one foot in both places.”
GORAKHPUR, India/NEW DELHI: Since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stunned the political establishment by promoting a hard-line Hindu priest to one of the country’s most powerful positions, Yogi Adityanath has sounded more statesman than rabble-rouser.
Gone is the fiery anti-Muslim rhetoric and promotion of Hindu supremacy for which the saffron-robed 44-year-old is known, and in its place is a message of social inclusion more akin to Modi’s language since sweeping to power in 2014.
“My government will be for everyone, not specifically for any caste or community … We will work for development of all sections and castes,” Adityanath said shortly after being made chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.
The words jar with what the shaven-headed leader of the Gorakhnath sect has been saying from public platforms throughout a political career spanning nearly 20 years.
In his northern power base — the down-at-heel town of Gorakhpur near the Nepalese border — Adityanath’s more conciliatory comments have done little to dispel unease among members of the Muslim community, who make up nearly a fifth of Uttar Pradesh’s 200 million or so people.
“We should just go about doing our job and pray the Hindu Yuva Vahini doesn’t take over mosques to build new temples,” said local driver Aijaz Sheikh, referring to the Hindu Youth Force set up by Adityanath in 2002 to carry out his agenda.
“If we react then we will pay the price. The loss will be ours and no Hindu will come to stand with us in Gorakhpur.”
Adityanath’s ascent has prompted widespread questions about India’s secular status, and whether Modi, himself a product of a nationalist Hindu upbringing, intends to pursue more aggressive pro-Hindu policies as he pursues economic reforms.
Adityanath was a key campaigner for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh elections, and the thumping victory he helped deliver underlined how a divisive candidate could eclipse rivals who tried to reach out across communities.
“With Yogi Adityanath’s appointment, vigilantism has been upgraded into state policy,” said Gilles Verniers, assistant professor of political sciences at Ashoka University outside Delhi.
Abattoirs and “Romeo Squads”
In a gleaming white temple compound in Gorakhpur, people crowd Adityanath’s offices to petition his band of fanatical followers in the Hindu Youth Force to settle their personal grievances.
Clerks hammer out their requests on old mechanical typewriters, handing them to members of the force to deal with.
Not all disputes concern religion, but Adityanath’s devotees say their main mission is to fight against creeping encroachment by Uttar Pradesh’s Muslim community.
“It was a very difficult period for Hindus and for Yogi ji,” Mahesh Poddar, a textile merchant who was one of the first people to join the youth force, told Reuters in the temple compound.
“We felt like we were living in a country that doesn’t belong to us.”
Adityanath declined requests for an interview on past actions and his plans as chief minister.
Since his March 19 swearing-in, he has pushed policies that are an extension of Modi’s nationwide agenda, notably demanding state ministers declare their incomes and assets as part of a crackdown on corruption.
At the same time, he has instructed officials to prepare to shut down all mechanized abattoirs, part of a campaign pledge that appealed to Hindus because they view cows as sacred and because slaughterhouses are run mainly by Muslims.
The slaughter of cows is, in fact, prohibited in Uttar Pradesh, although not always enforced, but a blanket ban would also hurt buffalo meat exports.
Meat traders in the state said on Monday they had launched a strike to protest against the closure of butcher’s shops and slaughterhouses considered illegal.
“We are not selling drugs or indulging in criminal activities. We sell meat to feed our families but the government is targeting us because we are Muslims,” Raza Quereshi, a member of the Meat Producers’ Association, told Reuters.
Police have also deployed “anti-Romeo squads” to keep men and women apart in public to protect women from harassment.
But they are also seen by some as an extension of Adityanath’s battle against what he calls “love jihad,” or entrapment of Hindu women to convert them to Islam.
Religious tensions sporadically flare into violence in India, including in 1992 when more than 2,000 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Hindus sparked by the demolition of a mosque on a contested site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
Provocation, criminal charges
Adityanath, born in the northern state of Uttarakhand, left his family to join the Gorakhnath sect and was quickly chosen to succeed its chief priest. He was elected to parliament in 1998 in his mid-20s and has won re-election four times.
During his career, he has earned a reputation as a fringe firebrand.
News channels have aired footage of some of his public comments, including in 2007 when he said: “If they (Muslims) convert one Hindu girl, we will convert 100 Muslim girls … if they kill one Hindu, we will also kill 100 Muslims.”
Like many Indian politicians, Adityanath also faces a string of criminal cases, disclosed in the affidavit he filed as a candidate in the 2014 general election.
These include attempted murder, criminal intimidation, promoting religious enmity and defiling a place of worship.
No charges have been framed and Adityanath has said the cases against him were baseless and politically motivated.
In one seen by Reuters at a local police station, a local Muslim politician called Talat Aziz accused Adityanath of deliberately provoking a clash between Muslims and Hindus in 1999 that led to the death of a 26-year-old police constable.
She is still fighting the case, which is pending before a local court.
Close aide Balu Rai said Adityanath had provided ample evidence to prove he was not involved in the death.
Officials in Modi’s office expressed confidence in Adityanath and said they expected him to change his image and policies for the good of the state.
And although he has clashed with the BJP before and his sect has maintained independence from the ruling party, some expect Adityanath to conform to Modi’s wishes now he is chief minister.
“He is a rabble-rouser whom the party has been using to communalize the agenda, the elections and the discourse,” said journalist and historian Akshaya Mukul. “But I don’t see him slipping beyond the control of the high command.”
CINCINNATI: As Cincinnati police delved further into their investigation of a nightclub shooting melee that left one person dead and 16 injured, city officials Monday urged more witnesses to come forward and offered reassurances amid questions about safety in public gathering spots.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac declined to say whether police have identified possible suspects in the Sunday gun violence inside the Cameo club, a popular hip-hop music spot near the Ohio river east of downtown Cincinnati. But Isaac said police weren’t actively looking for anyone as yet.
“We’re gathering information … we’re making some progress,” Isaac said after giving city council members an update on the investigation.
Investigators believe multiple shooters were involved; police estimate more than 20 shots were fired, sending club patrons diving to the floor or scrambling away from a chaotic and terrifying scene.
The FBI and federal firearms agents are assisting Cincinnati police.
Isaac said a number of people have contacted police with information, including a person who came forward Sunday evening to report having been shot, raising the total number injured to 16 besides the 27-year-old man who was slain. Two of the 16 injured were in critical condition Monday. Three other people remained hospitalized in stable condition.
The initial investigation indicated a dispute in the bar escalated into a gun fight around 1:30 a.m., the chief said. No club security footage of the shooting has emerged, he said.
Isaac said some of the wounded could be key witnesses, and city officials urged any reluctant potential witnesses to help, saying they would be protected. Crime witnesses afraid to testify for fear of retribution have been a problem in some past Cincinnati cases.
Isaac said the nightclub had metal detectors, or wands, but wasn’t required to by law. Four police officers were working off-duty security details in the club parking lot, but he emphasized the club provides its own security inside.
Late Monday night, Cameo club operator Julian “Jay” Rodgers released a statement saying the club would close its doors for good on Friday.
“Earlier this morning, Cameo received a notice to vacate the premises from the landlord and owner of the property,” Rodgers said. “Cameo notified the owner that although it had planned to move out in May due to the landlord’s planned sale of the property, it will instead voluntarily surrender possession of the property immediately.”
The club had voluntarily surrendered its liquor license earlier Monday.
City officials say Cameo has been the scene of past violence, including a shooting inside the club on New Year’s Day in 2015 and one in the parking lot in September of that year.
Several city leaders pledged to find ways to prevent such violence, while acknowledging such outbreaks continue to occur in public venues across the country. Mayor John Cranley said the city has gotten outpouring of support from elected officials, including fellow mayors in other cities.
“I think they know that this could happen anywhere,” Cranley said.
Shootings at US bars and nightclubs have rarely involved more than a handful people. But the Orlando, Florida, nightclub massacre last June that killed 49 people and injured 53 was the exception, making it the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
One teen died and eight others were injured in 2010 when gunfire broke out in the parking lot of a St. Louis club after a group was turned away from entering. Two teen girls died and seven other people were hurt in a 2009 shooting outside an underage nightclub in Portland, Oregon.
In Cincinnati, four candles illuminated a makeshift memorial outside the club on a foggy Monday morning. A poster dedicated to O’Bryan Spikes, the man killed, said “R.I.P. Lucky” and “Father Son Uncle Brother.”
ISLAMABAD: A passenger train collided with an oil tanker truck in eastern Punjab before dawn Tuesday, killing the driver and his assistant and injuring 10 others, officials said.
The crash took place near the eastern city of Shaikhupura, engulfing several of the train’s cars in fire, according to Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.
A senior government official, Arqam Tariq, said the Karachi-bound train left Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, late Monday and collided with the truck, which was stuck on the tracks.
Local television showed that at least five cars and the wrecked engine caught fire. A newlywed couple were among the survivors, while some passengers said they were forced to jump from windows of the train after it caught fire.
Train accidents are common in Pakistan, mainly due to drivers disregarding traffic rules and inadequate facilities at railroad crossings.
CAPE TOWN: Veteran South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with Nelson Mandela for treason, died on Tuesday after complications following surgery, his foundation said on Twitter.
“Ahmed Kathrada has passed on. Details to follow,” the Kathrada Foundation said just before 6am local time (0400GMT).
Affectionately known as “Uncle Kathy,” the 87-year-old liberation struggle stalwart was hospitalized in Johannesburg earlier in March after surgery to relieve blood clotting on the brain.
On Monday, the Foundation said his condition had deteriorated rapidly and was “serious” with pneumonia affecting both lungs.
Kathrada, who dedicated his life to fighting the racial injustice of white-minority rule, was also one of the most senior African National Congress (ANC) leaders to criticize President Jacob Zuma’s presidency as allegations of government corruption and maladministration mounted.
Last year, Kathrada wrote an open letter calling on Zuma to resign as a series of scandals, from using taxpayers money to upgrade his rural Nkandla home to summarily firing former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in 2015, rocked Africa’s most industrialized economy.
“I am not a political analyst, but I am now driven to ask: “Dear Comrade President, don’t you think your continued stay as President will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?,” Kathrada said then.
Born to immigrant Indian parents in the small town of Schweizer-Reneke in the North West province just before the Great Depression in 1929, Kathrada became involved in politics at the age of 12 when he distributed leaflets for the Young Communist League of South Africa.
Following decades of activism, Kathrada was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labor in 1964, together with seven other ANC luminaries such as Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki, after a guilty verdict during the Rivonia treason trail.
Jailed at the age of 34, Kathrada spent the next 18 years at the maximum security section on apartheid’s most notorious prison, Robben Island, a few miles offshore Cape Town city.
He was moved to Pollsmoor prison in 1982 and was released from jail on 15 October 1989 at the age of 60, having spent just over 26 years in jail for his anti-apartheid activities.