Police in Scotland have freed two Indian nationals, who were held inside a detention van, after protesters surrounded the vehicle demanding their release, according to a media report.
The incident took place on Thursday in Glasgow's Kenmure Street following a stand-off between the police and protesters, the BBC report said.
Earlier in the day, the two men had been removed from a flat and were lodged in a UK Home Office detention van.
According to the Home Office, the two Indian nationals had been detained over "suspected immigration offences".
But after they were taken in, hundreds gathered in the area, with one man crawling under the van to prevent it from moving, said the BBC report.
Some of the protesters were heard shouting "let our neighbours go".
In regard to the men's release, Police Scotland said: "In order to protect the safety, public health and well-being of all people involved in the detention and subsequent protest in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Ch Supt Mark Sutherland has, following a suitable risk assessment, taken the operational decision to release the men detained by UK Immigration Enforcement back into their community meantime."
Condemning the detention, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move was "unacceptable".
She said she would be "demanding assurances" from the UK government that they would not create such a dangerous situation again.
Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government's Justice Secretary called the detention "completely reckless", adding "that the situation should never have occurred".
The Sikhs in Scotland group said in a statement that it was "deeply concerned", and urged the Home Office to "abandon forced removals and to adopt an immigration policy based on human rights, compassion and dignity".
Washington, May 4 (IANS) Several Indian-American organisations have mobilised resources and raised millions for Covid-19 relief in India, which is currently battling a deadly second wave of the pandemic, according to a media report.
On Monday, Indiaspora, a non-profit community of global Indian diaspora leaders, announced the launch of the 'ChaloGive for India' campaign which began with an initial $1 million raised through their private donor network of members, reports American Bazaar.
In a tweet on Monday, the community said: "Thank you for the outpouring of support toward Covid-19 relief efforts in India. We are launching ChaloGive to continue the momentum.
"No matter where you are in the world, you can give and make an impact."
Another leading community organization, the American India Foundation (AIF) announced on Monday that it has partnered with digital payments leader Paytm "to provide oxygen concentrators in India".
"AIF join hands with Paytm to provide oxygen concentrators in India. To further advance their contribution, Paytm has committed to matching AIF up to $2 million, for a total of $4 million to purchase and deliver oxygen concentrators," it said in a tweet.
On May 1, the Foundation had announced that it received a donation of $8.9 million from Mastercard "to install 2,000 portable beds in India".
"AIF as the implementation partner to work with government and local partners, to quickly construct these portable hospital units, comprising 20-100 beds each."
Meanwhile, the Houston-based Sewa International has ramped up their fundraising goal to $10 million to fight the deadly resurgence in India.
Gitesh Desai, President, Houston Chapter of Sewa International, told ABC 13 News-Houston that 400 oxygen-concentrators have been already shipped to India, and 2,184 more would be shipped shortly.
Sewa which has started ï¿½Help India Defeat Covid-19' campaign to ship oxygen concentrators to Indian hospitals, is also providing food and medicines to about 10,000 families and more than 1,000 orphanages, and senior citizen centers across the country.
The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (APPI), is also rushing 200 oxygen concentrators to Indian hospitals.
On Tuesday, India's overall Covid-19 caseload and death toll increased to 2,02,82,833 and 2,22,408, respectively.
Tuesday marked the 13th straight day when India recorded more than three lakh cases while over 3,000 casualties were registered for the past seven days.
India-origin Labour MP in Britain, Tan Dhesi, has urged his government to help India as Covid-19 situation worsened.
"Many are extremely anxious about loved ones in India, terrified after seeing the apocalyptic scenes of people dying on the streets for want of oxygen, a collapsing health system, and crematoriums and cemeteries overwhelmed with thousands of people dying everyday," he said in the House of Commons.
In an Urgent Question on this matter, the MP for Slough highlighted to Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams the need for the UK to take the lead and help the Indian people in their hour of need, considering India is registering the highest ever Covid cases globally.
Two days after US President Joe Biden's pledge to help, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Covid-19 emergency aid materials shall start landing in New Delhi from Thursday onwards, an official spokesperson said here on Thursday.
This would include 10,00,000 Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs), the same used by the White House, to provide reliable results in less than 15 minutes to identity the virus and prevent community spread.
The first consignment on the world's largest military aircraft would bring 440 oxygen cylinders and regulators donated by the State of California, plus 9,60,000 Rapid Diagnostic Tests and 100,000 N95 masks for the India's frontline healthcare teams.
"The US has stood shoulder to shoulder with India for more than 70 years and will continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic together. Just as India sent assistance to the United States when U.S. hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, we are now helping India during its time of need," said the spokesperson.
The latest announcement builds on USAID's earlier assistance of over $23 million which directly reached 10 million Indians, and it now delivering supplies worth over $100 million in the next few days to this country.
Among the materials being sent are 1,100 refillable oxygen cylinders with more to arrive later for hospitals, 1,700 medical oxygen concentrators for 320 primary healthcare facilities, Oxygen Generation Units which can support upto 20 patients each, while the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention has also procured locally oxygen cylinders and will deliver them to local hospitals, besides support of US experts.
The USAID will also send 15 million N95 masks for patients and healthcare professionals, divert its own order of AstraZeneca vaccines manufacturing supplies to India to enable manufacture over 20 million doses of Covid-19 jabs here, and an initial tranche of 20,000 Remdesivir doses for patients here.
The US has already worked closely with India across 20 states and Union Territories partnering with more than 1,000 healthcare facilities, training 14,000-plus people at different levels, including laboratory, surveillance and epidemiology, emergency preparedness, bioinformatics, infection prevention and control, vaccine rollout and risk communication, besides keeping over 2,13,000 frontline workers safety.
The USAID-UNICEF also launched joint messaging on Covid prevention that reached more than 84 million people supplied 200 modern ventilators to 29 hospitals in 15 states for the critically ill patients, etc.
In the past 20 years, the US foreign assistance to India has exceeded $2.80 billion, including more than 1.40 billion for healthcare alone through various agencies like USAID, HHS, CDC, FDA and NIH, aimed at the wellbeing of the most vulnerable communities in the country.
As India's healthcare system is finding it harder to cope with the rising Covid-19 cases due to the second wave of the pandemic, the American government has advised its nationals to return to the US.
The Department of State issued the highest level travel advisory asking US citizens "not to travel to India or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so".
In its advisory, the government in Washington said, "Access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the surge in Covid-19 cases. US citizens who wish to depart India should take advantage of available commercial transportation options now. Direct flights between India and the United States are offered daily, with additional flight options available to U.S. citizens via transfers in Paris and Frankfurt.
There are 14 direct daily flights between India and the U.S. and other services that connect through Europe, the department said.
The US urged its citizens to enroll with the embassy in order to receive critical information related to health and safety in India.
New cases and deaths from COVID-19 have risen sharply throughout India to record levels, the advisory said adding that COVID-19 testing infrastructure is reportedly constrained in many locations. Hospitals are reporting shortages of supplies, oxygen, and beds for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients.
The advisory said that the US citizens are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space. Some statesa-have enacted curfewsa-and other restrictions -- that limit movementa -- and the operation of non-essential businesses.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a level 4 travel health notice too.
India has reported 18 million cases of infections since the pandemic began, out of which 14.8 million recovered. So far, over 200,000 people have died due to Covid-19. In the last one month, due to a virulent mutation, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll. On Wednesday, over 360,000 people tested positive for the infection and over 3,000 people died across the country due to the pandemic.
Australia has already banned all flights from India. The UK has banned the entry of any visitor who was in India in the last 10 days.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to India in the wake of the severity of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
The spokesperson said Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi would speak later this month to "agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership", the BBC reported.
The visit was to take place on April 26.
The Downing Street further confirmed that the two leaders would meet later this year, without specifying any further details.
Johnson's trip to India was initially scheduled to take place in Januarybut was cancelled when the UK entered a national lockdown, the third of its kind since the onset of the pandemic last years.
As America seeks to counter a rising China, no nation is more important than India, with its vast size, abundance of highly skilled technical professionals, and strong political and cultural ties with the United States. This conclusion has been made by one of the leading science and technology think tanks in the US.
The Washington based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), in a significant paper authored by David Moschella and Robert Atkinson, has said that the economic and geopolitical stakes for the US could not be much higher.
Reviewing geopolitics of the world, the ITIF said that based on what the Biden administration and the Modi government decide, the world could end up in two possible scenarios.
In the first possibility, the ITIF predicted, "As tensions between India and China are reduced, and the many business synergies between these two neighbouring nations come to the fore. The combination of China's manufacturing might and India's software and service prowess provides across-the-board value-chain capabilities. The United States remains heavily reliant on both nations, whose market sizes dwarf that of America, giving Chinese and Indian companies colossal economies of scale and leading to large bilateral trade deficits for the United States with both nations."
"These dynamics ultimately result in world-leading Chinese and Indian universities, companies, and research institutions. Given its relatively small size and many dependencies, there is little the United States can do, as the heart of the global economy shifts to the East, and as democratic nations and norms are increasingly seen as failing to keep pace with China's rapid societal progress."
In the other scenario, "The interests of India and the United States become increasingly aligned, as the economic, military, and international relations challenges from China grow. Rapidly growing Indian manufacturing, much of it from plants moving out of China, helps reduce U.S. dependencies on China while slowing China's growth."
"At the same time, Indian students continue to flock to the United States, with many staying and making essential contributions to America's technological capabilities. The Indian diaspora creates even more-powerful bonds between India and the United States, generating a great many business, political, and cultural leaders."
The think tank argued that rising U.S. company dependence on India-based technology services proves to have more benefits than drawbacks and is largely offset by the success of U.S. tech giants in India and by ever-improving cloud services that make extensive customized IT services less necessary. As a result, Indian exports to the United States are broadly matched by U.S. business within India, and both nations grow.
The combined military prowess of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia (and eventually South Korea and Taiwan) proves sufficient to prevent China's hegemony within the Pacific region, the ITIF said. In this scenario, the foundation predicted that democratic norms will prevail across most of the developed world, with many developing nations looking to the "Delhi model" rather than the "Beijing model."
As America's technology dependencies on India in the 2020s seem certain to rise, and therefore there is now no more important bilateral relationship for the United States than India, the ITIF paper said.
While geopolitical forces are drawing America and India closer together, long-term alignment with the United States and the West is by no means assured and will require successful policymaking by both India and the United States, the paper argued.
Though America and India are both rightly keen to move more manufacturing operations from China to India, significant shifts will take time, as China still has many advantages, the think tank warned.
Most large U.S. companies now rely heavily on India-based IT services-whether from India-headquartered IT service providers, U.S.-headquartered IT services companies with large India-based operations, or their own India-based capability centers.
Leading U.S. tech companies are well positioned in India's booming Internet and e-commerce marketplaces, but strong local competitors are emerging.
India is moving up the value chain into R&D, innovation centers, machine learning, analytics, product design and testing, and other areas, especially in IT and life sciences. Outside of IT, U.S. companies operating in India typically face stiff competition from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and of course, Indian firms-and doing business in India is still often difficult.
Therefore, the foundation has proposed that the US must ensure that Americans firms, especially technology and Internet firms (including e-commerce and payments) have the same access to the India market as India does to the U.S. market in terms of licenses, taxes, tariffs, data usage/storage, e-commerce, privacy, etc.
"India greatly values its access to the U.S. IT services market, so this is a very powerful bargaining chip that should be used as needed to ensure relatively fair and balanced trade between the two nations. For example, imposing taxes on India's IT services sales in the United States could be used to offset any digital services taxes imposed on U.S. firms operating in India, as opposed to the tariffs on imported physical goods from India that the Biden administration has recently proposed."
The foundation has also recommended the U.S. and India to develop joint technology policies, rules, and regulations in the above areas as a potentially powerful alternative to the EU-and China-in terms of setting global norms. As many of India's policies in these areas are being developed now, the Biden administration should make this an immediate priority, the ITIF paper pointed out.
The think tank also supports a limited U.S./India free trade agreement focused on key technology areas, including having India join the ITA-2 agreement and establishing agreements on cross-border data flows.
Talks between Indian and Chinese military delegates over the disengagement in Eastern Ladakh at various friction points lasted for 13 hours.
The dialogue that started at 10.30 a.m. ended at 11.30 p.m..
They discussed disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and the 900 sq-km Depsang plains.
The 11th round of the Corps Commander talks at Chushul took place after almost a two-month gap.
The Indian military delegation was led by Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon, Commander of the 14 Corps based in Leh.
The focus of the talk is disengagement on other friction points. After Pangong lake disengagement, both the countries have planned to carry out disengagement on other friction points like Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang
"The military dialogue is still on and it is important that before the onset of summer de-escalation takes place at Line of Actual Control (LAC). Both sides need retreat to original positions for things to ease," said a senior Indian Army officer.
The build-up in Depsang was not being considered as part of the current stand-off that started in May 2020 as escalations here took place in 2013, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the LAC.
On February 20, Indian and Chinese military held the 10th round of military dialogue to deescalate tension at the LAC.
So far, the disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake has taken place.
It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing had agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.
As per the agreement, Chinese troops moved back to Finger 8 and Indian troops pulled back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake.
A temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.
The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance.
The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers.
Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.
India and China are engaged in a year long stand-off at the LAC.
The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lakeas Chinese incursions increased in May last year.
The US has announced that it conducted the Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in Indian waters in the Lakshadweep Islands, leaving the Indian security establishment in a surprise leading to an assessment to ascertain if an operational exercise was actually carried out or was it just an innocent passage.
The US Navy announced that it carried a Freedom of Navigation Operation inside India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without prior consent.
Reacting to it, a senior government official stated that if it was an innocent passage it's not an issue.
"We don't object to normal transiting but if there has been an operational exercise without informing then it needs to be taken up," the official said.
The US Navy statement said: "On April 7, 2021, the USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India's EEZ, without requesting India's prior consent, consistent with international law.
"India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvers in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law."
The statement further said the FONOP upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India's excessive maritime claims.
US forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis.
All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, the statement said.
"We conduct routine and regular FONOP), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements."
Indian government officials said it's unusual for such a statement to be released.
Any activity within 200 km nautical miles, which falls under EEZ or Indian waters needs prior permission as per Indian laws.
Chinese vessels on the pretext of carrying out research activities in Indian waters have been tracked and sent back in the past.
The US Department of State has called on both India and Pakistan to hold direct talks and resolve pending issues with an aim to normalise relations.
Refraining to comment on the recent approval and then cancellation by Pakistan to import sugar and cotton from India, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US supports direct dialogue between the nuclear-powered neighbours.
"I wouldn't want to comment on that specifically. What I would say is that we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on issues of concern," he said.
Pakistan cancelled its trade ties with India during August 2019 after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Indian government abrogated Article 370 and 35A and changed the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
Pakistan was quick to respond to Indian actions, as it cut off diplomatic relations with India, sending back the sitting Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad, closing the borders, disallowing visas and suspending all trade ties.
Pakistan demanded that there can be no talks with India until the reversal of the decisions Indian government took on August 5, 2019.
However, a change in policy was witnessed recently when the two sides mutually agreed to observe a ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC), ending the escalating tensions.
This was followed by positive hopes filled letter from Modi to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, expressing hopes and desire for peace.
Khan responded to the letter with similar sentiments, calling for dialogue to end the longstanding disputes between the two countries.
On March 31, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) announced that it was going to allow import of white sugar and cotton from India for the country's private sector, to cover the shortfall of requirements in the country.
However, the federal cabinet deferred the ECC's decision on April 1, putting the condition that there can be no trade with India until New Delhi reverses its decision to abrogate Article 370 and 35A.
It has been reported that friendly countries have been contacting both countries through backdoor channels, urging both sides to initiate dialogue and explore options to resolve the pertaining conflict and disputes for regional stability, peace and development.
Pakistan had called for the US' intervention in the matter during the tenure of former President Donald Trump's administration.
However, its efforts did not yield fruit as the US clarified that it cannot intervene in a bilateral matter until both sides agree to it.
India and China will hold 11th round of Corps Commander talks on Friday at Chushul to iron out differences for the next phase of disengagement in Eastern Ladakh.
After nearly a two month gap, the Corps Commander level talk is again happening between the two countries. The focus of the talk would be disengagement on other friction points. After Pangong disengagement, both the countries have planned to carry out disengagement on other friction points like Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang.
"Important that before the onset of summer, de-escalation is discussed. Both sides need retreat to original positions for things to ease," said a senior Indian Army officer.
On February 20, Indian and Chinese militaries held 10th round of military dialogue to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Indian military delegates were led by Lieutenant General PGK Menon, Commander of 14 Corps based in Leh.
They had met to discuss disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.
The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the Line of Actual Control.
"The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer," said the officer.
So far disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake has taken place. It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing had agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.
Indian Army team along with Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) team physically verified and re-verified disengagement at Pangong Lake.
As per the agreement, Chinese troops moved back to Finger 8 and Indian troops pulled back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake.
A temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas was placed.
The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. India has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China disputes it and claims its own territory till Finger 4.
India and China are engaged in a year long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.