Life was disrupted Friday in Karnataka in southern India because of a shutdown of the state against the release of water from the Cauvery River to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.
Transport and air services were badly affected in towns.
As many as 44 flights were cancelled to and from the Bengaluru International Airport, according to authorities.
Educational institutions remained closed because of the shutdown. Additional police were deployed across the state to maintain law and order.
Members of farmer organizations were detained in the state’s capital of Bengaluru as protests were staged against the Cauvery water issue.
“Karnataka bandh (shutdown) is totally peaceful. No untoward incident was reported from any place in the state. All the people are cooperating. We have given full protection to everyone,” Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Doddalahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar told reporters.
The farmers were demanding the release of water should be stopped given the prevailing drought conditions in the state.
The call for the shutdown was given by farmers who opposed the Supreme Court’s decision not to interfere in the enforcement of water-sharing agreements between the two states and decisions by the Cauvery Water Management Authority and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee.
The Cauvery Water Regulation Committee allowed Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs (85 cubic meters/second) of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from Sept. 28 to Oct. 15.
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have staked claims to substantial portions of water to meet agricultural and irrigation needs.
Deal reached to extend Israel-Hamas truce in Gaza by two days
Mediator Qatar said on Monday a deal had been reached to extend a truce between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza by two days, continuing a pause in seven weeks of warfare that has killed thousands and laid waste to the Palestinian enclave.
“An agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” a Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson said in a post on social media platform X.
There was no immediate comment from Israel, but a White House official confirmed agreement had been reached.
Hamas also said it had agreed a two-day extension to the truce with Qatar and Egypt, who have been facilitating indirect negotiations between the two sides. There was no immediate comment from Israel.
“An agreement has been reached with the brothers in Qatar and Egypt to extend the temporary humanitarian truce by two more days, with the same conditions as in the previous truce,” a Hamas official said in a phone call with Reuters.
Before the statements, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, Diaa Rashwan, had said an extension agreement was close and would include the release of 20 Israeli hostages from among those seized by Hamas during its Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel. In exchange 60 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails would be freed, he said.
The initial truce was due to end on early Tuesday morning.
On Sunday, Hamas freed 17 people, including a 4-year-old Israeli-American girl, bringing the total number the militant group has released since Friday to 58, including foreigners. Israel freed 39 teenage Palestinian prisoners on Sunday, taking the total number of Palestinians freed under the truce to 117.
Alon Ben David, a senior defence correspondent for Israeli Channel 13 described the conditions of the captives recently released by Hamas saying the hostages were “treated well by Hamas and they were not subjected to torture or ill-treatment.” pic.twitter.com/rsb2kjRZaZ
— Clash Report (@clashreport) November 27, 2023
An Israeli government spokesperson said on Monday that the total number of hostages still held in Gaza was now 184, including 14 foreigners and 80 Israelis with dual nationality.
Once the truce ends, Netanyahu said at the weekend, “we will return with full force to achieve our goals: the elimination of Hamas; ensuring that Gaza does not return to what it was; and of course the release of all our hostages.”
Released Palestinian prisoners leave the Israeli military prison, Ofer, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank November 26, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS
Palestinians in Gaza said on Monday they were praying for an extension of the truce. Some were visiting homes reduced to rubble by weeks of intensive Israeli bombardment, while others queued for flour and other essential aid being delivered by the United Nations’ relief agency UNRWA.
The al-Sultan family, among hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes in the north of the Gaza Strip, snatched a few hours of sorely needed relaxation by the sea.
“We used these four days (of truce) and came to the beach in Deir Al-Balah to allow our children to have some fun,” their mother, Hazem Al Sultan, said. “We are anticipating the end of these four days, and we don’t know what will happen to us next.”
Palestinians gave the freed prisoners a jubilant reception in Ramallah, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Omar Abdullah Al Hajj, 17, released on Sunday, told Reuters he’d been kept in the dark about what was happening in the outside world.
Released Palestinian prisoner Khalil Zamareh is received by his family near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, November 27, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS
“We were 11 people crammed into a single room where usually there are six. There was never enough food and I was never told how long I was going to stay,” he said.
“I can’t believe I’m free now but my joy is incomplete because we still have our brothers who remain in prison,” said Al Hajj, whom Israel’s Justice Ministry accused of belonging to the Islamic Jihad group and posing a security threat which it did not specify.
The truce agreed last week is the first halt in fighting in the seven weeks since Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages back into Gaza.
In response to that attack, Israel has bombarded the enclave and mounted a ground offensive in the north. Some 14,800 Palestinians have been killed, Gaza health authorities say, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Palestinians fleeing north Gaza move southward as trucks carrying aid and fuel head towards north Gaza, near Gaza City, November 27, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS
Qatar, Egypt, the United States, the European Union and Spain were all working to extend the ceasefire, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said during a conference in Barcelona devoted to the crisis.
Al-Maliki, whose Authority runs the occupied West Bank, told the Forum for the Union of the Mediterranean that the international community must pressure Israel to extend the truce indefinitely. The death toll would double if war resumes on Tuesday, he added.
The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, told the same conference the current truce was an important first step but that far more would be needed to alleviate the situation.
Borrell also urged Israel not to “recolonise Gaza”, saying that the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza was the best guarantee of Israel’s peace and security.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Hamas could no longer rule Gaza after hostilities end since it did not have “an agenda for peace”.
Indian diplomat flees NY Gurdwara over assassination plot
A senior Indian diplomat faced confrontation from pro-Khalistan Sikhs at a Gurdwara in New York, leading to his abrupt departure from the place of worship.
The activists questioned the diplomat, Taranjit Sandhu, about his alleged role in a failed Indian state plot to assassinate Sikh leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a prominent figure associated with Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) and the global Khalistan Referendum campaign.
Pro-Khalistan Sikhs, led by Himmat Singh at Hicksville Gurdwara in New York, confronted Ambassador Taranjit Sandhu over his alleged involvement in the failed assassination plot against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
The activists also accused Sandhu of India’s role in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the President of Surrey Gurdwara and the coordinator for the Canadian Chapter of the Khalistan Referendum.
The questioning in public agitated the diplomat, prompting him to abruptly leave the Gurdwara without providing any answers to the raised questions. Diplomat Sandhu hastily departed the scene, avoiding further engagement with the pro-Khalistan Sikhs.
“I only wanted answers from ambassador Sandhu as to why India is using violence to stop the global Khalistan Referendum voting,” stated Himmat Singh who heads the East Coast Coordination Committee.
“American constitution gives US Citizens the right to peacefully question anyone irrespective of their affiliation or position in the government,” stated Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, SFJ General Counsel who was the target of India’s assassination plot foiled by US intelligence.
“Despite India’s attempt to assassinate me, Khalistan Referendum Voting will continue and the American Phase is going to start from January 28, 2024 in San Francisco, California,” stated Pannun.
The confrontation follows the recent revelation of a thwarted Indian conspiracy to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.
The US authorities issued a warning to the Indian government over its alleged involvement in the plot according to multiple people familiar with the case who spoke to the Financial Times (FT).
FT revealed the intelligence people familiar with the case said the Indian government was behind the scheme targeting Pannun, who has been spearheading the Khalistan Referendum campaign.
The FT said that one person familiar with the situation said the US protest was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a high-profile state visit to Washington in June.
According to FT US federal prosecutors have filed a sealed indictment, separate from the diplomatic warning, against at least one alleged perpetrator of the plot in a New York district court.
The department is considering whether to unseal the indictment and make the allegations public or await the completion of Canada’s investigation into Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder, a Canadian Sikh separatist linked to the case.
In September, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “credible intelligence” linking New Delhi to Nijjar’s fatal shooting.
Suspect arraigned in shooting of 3 Palestinian American students
The suspect in the shooting in Vermont of three college students of Palestinian descent over the weekend pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder on Monday and was ordered by a judge to be held without bond.
The suspect, Jason J. Eaton, 48, appeared at an arraignment at the Chittenden County Criminal Court in Burlington via a remote video feed from the county jail, where he has been held since his arrest on Sunday.
Police say Eaton used a pistol to shoot the three victims on the street near the University of Vermont in Burlington on Saturday evening and then ran away.
The attack is also under investigation as a suspected hate-motivated crime. At the time of the attack, two of the men were wearing a keffiyeh, the traditional black-and-white checkered scarf commonly worn in Middle East, police said.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit at the three-minute hearing, Eaton responded “yes, sir” when asked by the judge if he understood the charges against him.
Burlington police and the mayor’s office will hold a news conference later on Monday to discuss the incident and arrest.
The shooting came amid a rise in anti-Islamic and antisemitic incidents reported around the United States since a bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas erupted on Oct. 7.
All of the Vermont victims are 20 years old; two are US citizens and the third is a legal US resident, police said.
The victims were reported to have been speaking Arabic when attacked, according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding, a nonprofit pro-Palestinian advocacy organization. It also said the assailant opened fire on the three men after he began to shout at and harass them. Police say he fired four shots without saying a word.
“In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime,” Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a statement earlier.
“That there is an indication that this shooting could have been motivated by hate is chilling, and this possibility is being prioritised” by police, Mayor Miro Weinberger said.
Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdel Hamid and Tahseen Ahmed, three college students of Palestinian descent who were shot near the University of Vermont in Burlington on November 25, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS
‘Elevated global threat environment’
The US Department of Justice is assisting local authorities in the investigation and trying to determine if it was a hate crime, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday.
“No person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of lethal violence,” Garland said ahead of a separate meeting at the department’s Southern District of New York office.
Garland cited the ongoing “elevated global threat environment” and the “sharp increase in the volume and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities across our country since October 7” for the understandable fear in communities across the country.
Families of the victims issued a joint statement on Sunday urging authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime, as did the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a US-based advocacy group.
“The surge in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment we are experiencing is unprecedented, and this is another example of that hate turning violent,” ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said.
The families identified the victims as Hisham Awartani, a student at Brown University in Rhode Island; Kinnan Abdel Hamid, a student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Tahseen Ahmed, who attends Trinity College in Connecticut. All three are graduates of the Ramallah Friends School, a private Quaker secondary school in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the families said.
Two of the students were visiting the home of the third student’s family in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Police said all three remained under medical care on Sunday, two with gunshot wounds in their torsos and one shot in the lower extremities. “Two are stable, while one has sustained much more serious injuries,” police said.
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