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India warns Pakistan of ‘strong response’ for Kashmir attack | India News

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a “strong response” to a car bombing in Kashmir that killed at least 42 troops, with New Delhi calling for “the complete isolation of Pakistan” for harbouring the armed group behind the devastating attack.

“We will give a befitting reply,” Modi said in a speech on Friday morning, soon after he called his security advisers to consider a response to the worst attack on Indian security forces in decades.

“Those who committed this heinous act will pay a heavy price. Those who supported it will definitely be punished,” he was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper.

“If our neighbour thinks it can destabilise India, then it is making a big mistake.”

Thursday’s attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), an armed group that has carried out a number of suicide and other attacks against Indian security forces since it’s formation in 2000.

India blamed Pakistan for Thursday’s assault on the military convoy, accusing it of letting armed groups stage attacks from its soil – a claim Islamabad denies.

Arun Jaitley, India’s foreign minister, promised all steps “to ensure the complete isolation of Pakistan from the international community”, saying there was “incontrovertible evidence” that Islamabad had a “direct hand in this gruesome attack”.

The measures would include India removing most-favoured-nation privileges given to Pakistan under World Trade Organization rules, Jaitley said.





Protesters in Jammu set fire to vehicles, prompting authorities to declare a curfew [Channi Anand/ AP]

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility between the two South Asian nations, who rule parts of the region while claiming the entire territory as theirs.

Senior police officials earlier told Al Jazeera the suspected suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into a bus carrying personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) along a highway in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Images from the blast site showed dozens of bodies strewn around the mangled bus. At least 42 people were killed.

Amid candlelight vigils and tributes to the slain forces, India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale summoned on Friday Pakistan’s envoy, Sohail Mahmood, and served a diplomatic notice demanding Islamabad take action against JeM.

Protests and vigils

In Kashmir’s Jammu region, thousands of protesters held anti-Pakistan demonstrations and set fire dozens of vehicles, prompting police to impose a curfew, local media said.

At least 12 people were injured in the protests, NDTV reported.

In Mumbai, India’s financial capital, supporters of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party burned symbolic effigies of Pakistan. 

Islamabad said it rejected India’s suggestion it was linked to the attack, which it called a matter of “grave concern”. 

“We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday. 

Islamabad has previously denied New Delhi’s accusations that it gives material help to armed groups fighting Indian rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

It said it gives only moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.





Students in city of Ahmadabad pay tribute to CRPF personnel who were killed in Kashmir [Amit Dave/Reuters]

Meanwhile, the Indian government has urged the UN to list JeM chief Masood Azhar as a designated “terrorist”.

In a statement hours after the attack, the Indian foreign ministry accused the Pakistani government of giving JeM free rein in Pakistan, saying it has allowed the group’s leader, Azhar, “to operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity”.

Pakistan’s ally China has blocked Azhar’s inclusion on the UN Security Council’s sanctions list.

The JeM leader’s whereabouts remain unknown; he has not been charged with a crime in Pakistan and has not made any public appearances since he was detained there in 2016.

For its part, China said on Friday it was “deeply shocked” by the Kashmir attack.

But Geng Shuang, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry declined to answer reporters’ questions on Azhar’s listing, saying Beijing “will main close communication on this with all parties concerned, including India”.

The White House urged Pakistan in a statement “to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil”.






WATCH: India’s PM Modi visits Kashmir amid strike, protests (2:36)

The attack strengthens US resolve to step up counterterrorism cooperation with India, it said.

‘This could get bad’

Sreeram Chaulia, professor of international relations at the Jindal School of International Affairs in India, said the Kashmir attack strains ties that “were already at rock-bottom” between India and Pakistan.

India will now look at a “whole gamut of retaliatory measures, including military options, diplomatic isolation” and even cross-border raids, Chaulia told Al Jazeera from Sonipat, a city near the Indian capital. 

Revoking trade privileges will not “hurt much”, he said, as “Pakistan exports less than $1bn worth of products to India because of strained relations”.

Chaulia, who backed India’s claim that Pakistan harbours armed groups, added: “We need to lobby China and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, we need to turn to Western countries, to try and create a regional consensus that this is not acceptable and change Pakistan’s behavior.”

Moeed Yusuf from the US Institute of Peace said the “current situation has all the making of an India-Pakistan crisis”.

The next 24-48 hours will be crucial, he told the AFP news agency, warning, “This could get bad.”

He added: “The hope was that India and Pakistan will get back to talking after the Indian elections later this year. I think the hawks on both sides are going to make it very difficult for that to happen now.”





Thursday’s car bombing was the deadliest attack on Indian security forces in decades [Younis Khaliq/ Reuters]

Kashmir has experienced renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule in the past few years as a new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, has revived an armed struggle and challenged New Delhi’s rule with guns and social media.

The anti-India unrest grew significantly after a popular rebel leader, Burhan Wani, was killed by security forces in 2016. The Indian government responded with stepped-up anti-rebel operations, leading to more protests.

Last year’s death toll was the highest since 2009, including at least 260 rebel fighters, 160 civilians and 150 government forces.

About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown since 1989.

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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