North Korea leader tours typhoon-hit area, directs recovery effort

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un inspects an unspecified area, after North Korea was affected by Typhoon Maysak in this image released September 5, 2020 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 September 2020

North Korea leader tours typhoon-hit area, directs recovery effort

  • North Korea’s state-run television KRT carried footage of Kim convening a meeting with North Korean officials and walking in the typhoon-hit area
  • Kim led an enlarged executive policy committee meeting on recovery efforts in the typhoon-hit areas

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un toured coastal areas hit by a typhoon, and ordered 12,000 core party members to join the recovery effort on Saturday, while dismissing a provincial party chief, state media reported on Sunday.
North Korea’s state-run television KRT carried footage of Kim convening a meeting with North Korean officials and walking in the typhoon-hit area.
While Kim surveyed the damage caused by a typhoon that battered coastal areas last week, a tenth typhoon of the season was swirling in the East China Sea.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said more than 1,000 houses were destroyed in coastal areas of South and North Hamgyong provinces and reported that farmland and some public buildings had been inundated.
Kim led an enlarged executive policy committee meeting on recovery efforts in the typhoon-hit areas, focusing on detailed measures such as organization of building crews to be dispatched to the areas, designs and material transport, KCNA said.
At the meeting, he also dismissed the chairman of the South Hamyong provincial party committee and appointed a new chairman.
North Korea’s ruling party had called for punishment of officials whose failure to follow orders results in “dozens of casualties” during typhoons, the country’s official party newspaper reported on Saturday.
Separately, Kim sent an open letter to party members in the capital noting that this year has witnessed “uncommon difficulties due to the protracted worldwide public health crisis” and natural disasters. It added that the Party Central Committee decided to dispatch 12,000 party members from Pyongyang to the typhoon-hit areas to help communities recover.
North Korea has been putting “practical measures” to minimize damage from the tenth typhoon of the season by informing people of locations of shelters and typhoon paths as well as how to respond and behave, KCNA reported.
The isolated country has been grappling with torrential rains, floods and typhoons in one of the wettest rainy seasons on record.
Typhoon Maysak smashed into the Korean peninsula on Thursday. In South Korea, it left at least two dead and thousands temporarily without power.
Typhoon Haishen is expected to hit South Korea’s southern tip on Monday, according to South Korea’s Meteorological Administration.


Indian court accused of ‘betrayal’ over mosque verdict

Updated 01 October 2020

Indian court accused of ‘betrayal’ over mosque verdict

  • Senior BJP officials acquitted of conspiracy to destroy historic Muslim place of worship

NEW DELHI: A special court in the northern Indian city of Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all 32 politicians and senior leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of conspiring to demolish the 16th-century Babri Mosque in 1992, ruling that the move was not “preplanned.”

Muslims described the judgment as “yet another betrayal by the judiciary.”

The BJP under the leadership of then-party president Lal Krishna Advani led a political campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s to build a temple on the site of the disputed 16th-century mosque in the eastern city of Ayodhya, claiming that it was built by the first Mughal ruler Babar. 

On Dec. 6, 1992, in response to a call by BJP leaders, hundreds of Hindu extremists gathered at the disputed site and demolished the mosque, resulting in religious riots across the country that claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Most of the BJP leaders and its affiliates were blamed for razing the Babri Mosque.

However, on Wednesday, Surendra Kumar Yadav, the judge at the special court, said that the demolition of the 500-year-old mosque was not pre-planned.

“They have been acquitted for lack of evidence,” defense lawyer K.K. Mishra said after the verdict.

Muslims reacted to the verdict with disappointment.

“The judgment pronounced by the special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court is wrong. We will appeal in the high court,” Zafaryab Jilani, general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said.

The BJP was elated with the court’s decision.

“It is a moment of happiness for all of us; we chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (Hail Ram) after the court’s verdict. The judgment vindicates my personal and BJP’s belief and commitment toward the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. Along with millions of my countrymen, I now look forward to the completion of the beautiful Shri Ram Mandir (temple) at Ayodhya,” 92-year-old Advani, one of the accused in the case, said.

Another BJP leader and former party president, Murli Manohar Joshi, who was also among the accused, called the judgment “historic.”

“This proves that no conspiracy was hatched for the incident in Ayodhya. Our program and rallies were not part of any conspiracy,” Joshi, 86, said.

The verdict comes 10 months after the Supreme Court’s controversial judgment giving the disputed land to a Hindu trust and awarding five acres of land to Muslim petitioners to build a structure of their choice at another location in the city.

“It’s a betrayal by the court,” Ayodhya-based Hajji Mahboob, one of the original Muslim petitioners, told Arab News.

“So many BJP leaders have claimed openly that they were involved in demolishing the Babri Mosque. If the court gives this kind of one-sided verdict, I can only say that it is compromised,” he said.

“We know that there cannot be any justice for Muslims in this country because all the decisions given by the courts are wrong,” he added.

Reacting to the verdict, the main opposition Congress party said it was “counter to the Supreme Court judgment.” 

The apex court held that the demolition of the Babri mosque was clearly illegal and an “egregious violation of the rule of law.” 

“But the Special Court exonerated all the accused. It is clear that the decision of the Special Court runs counter to the decision of the Supreme Court,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

The demolition of the mosque was “a deep-rooted political conspiracy to destroy the country’s communal amity and brotherhood, and to usurp power at any cost,” he added.

According to Hilal Ahamd, of New Delhi-based think tank Center for the Study of Developing Societies, there is a growing belief among Muslims that India is a Hindu country and “they have to adjust themselves accordingly.”

Meanwhile, former chairman of the minority commission Zafar ul Islam Khan said the verdict will encourage the BJP to take the law into its own hands in the belief that the police and judiciary will protect them.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi political analyst who has written several books on the Hindu right-wing politics, said: “The demolition of the mosque was a criminal offense and the failure to establish guilt after 28 years is unfortunate.”

He described the verdict as “a betrayal for Muslims and risky for the security of the country if its largest minority keeps getting marginalized like this.”