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India has not blocked supplies to Nepal: Union government

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New Delhi: India has not blocked transport of essential supplies to Nepal where the movement of goods from India has been stopped ever since protests broke out after a new constitution was adopted by Nepal government, Indian government recapitulated on Thursday.

“There has been no blockade by India whatsoever,” Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, said in his weekly media briefing.

 

In fact, I think this question should really be put to the government of Nepal and not to the government of India,

 

Swarup’s response came after being pointed out that Nepal’s prime minister has again said that India should not block movement of cargo to the Himalayan nation.

He said the issues facing Nepal were political in nature and internal to Nepal.

“The Nepalese leadership has to resolve them through dialogue with the agitating parties,” the spokesperson said.

 

All we can add is if the political challenges facing Nepal are addressed, we can hope it would assuage the concerns the protesters have leading to a return to peace and normalcy in the affected areas of the Terai, including the border crossings being currently occupied by the Nepalese protesters and thereby improve the supply situation in the country.

 

He said the major crossing of Raxaul-Birgunj which handles two-thirds of the trade between India and Nepal continued to remain closed on the Nepal side of the border.

Out of the 10 border crossings capable of handling commercial cargo, seven, including the major ones of Sonauli and Panitanki, have been operational,

According to him, between 400 and 800 cargo trucks have been passing daily over the last four days through the India-Nepal border.

 

Petrol, oil, lubricants – POL supplies – continue to move to the extent possible,

 

As of Wednesday evening, nearly 6,000 trucks were waiting to cross into Nepal at various border crossings, including 4,700 in Raxaul alone, he added.

Referring to reports of a shortage of medicines in the Himalayan nation, Swarup said that India has already conveyed to the Nepal government that, like the re-routing of the POL trucks, the Indian  government is also for re-routing of vehicles carrying medicines.

 

we are ready to facilitate re-routing of vehicles carrying medicines.

 

“We are also ready to facilitate airlift. Nepalese importers of medicines are also advised to use those border crossings where there are no protests and disruptions in supplies,” he said.

 

(Inputs from IANS)

 

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Government Pressure: WhatsApp to Limit Message Forwarding In INDIA

WhatsApp reacted: "In India, where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, we'll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once.

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The app is adding more features to group chats. Wikimedia commons

 Hauled up second time by the government on its failure to check the spread of fake and provocative content on its platform amid growing lynching episodes, Whatsapp on Friday said it is launching a test to limit message forwarding to five chats that will apply to its users in India.

In its second notice on Thursday, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) took a tough stand, asking WhatsApp to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.

“It has been conveyed to them in unmistakable terms that it is a very serious issue which deserves a more sensitive response,” MeitY said in the notice.

WhatsApp reacted: “In India, where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once.

“We will also remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

The test, once comes to practice, will curtail WhatsApp’s services for over 200 million users in India. Globally, the company allows users to forward messages for up to 20 chats (either individuals or groups).

WhatsApp said that with new changes, which it will continue to evaluate, “will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.

“We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one,” it added.

Whatsapp
“We will also remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in a statement. Pixabay

In its first reply to the IT Ministry, WhatsApp said the company is “horrified” by terrible acts of violence.

The IT Ministry had asked WhatsApp to ensure that the platform is not used for malafide activities over the growing instances of lynching of innocent people owing to large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours being circulated on its platform.

The mobile messiging service listed several measures — including labelling Forwarding messages — in its first reply to control the spread of misinformation and abuse on its platform but failed to meet the requirements from the IT Ministry.

Several people have lost their lives in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for the first time admitted in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that fake news on social media has resulted in many mob lynching incidents in the country, saying the government has asked service providers to put a check on rumour mongering on social media.

Also Read-WhatsApp Begins Rolling Out ‘Restrict Group’ Feature For Admins

Expressing concern over the misuse of social media, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu also asked the government to evolve a national policy after discussing with all stakeholders including political parties to combat the menace.

The Supreme Court also issued 22 guidelines this week for the central and state governments to put an end to “horrendous acts” of vigilantism, lynching and mobocracy and directed them to work in tandem to take “preventive, remedial and punitive measures”. (IANS)