Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ladakh underscored India’s resolve to beat back Chinese aggression and he delivered a clear message there to the neighbouring country with his reference to “expansionism”, strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney said on Sunday.

Modi’s visit and the speech were morale boosters for the troops and his reference to “expansionism” echoed the mounting international concern over China’s “imperial overreach under Xi Jinping, who has simultaneously opened multiple fronts”, he said.

“Modi’s visit to the Ladakh front underscored India’s resolve to beat back China’s aggression and encroachments,” Chellaney told PTI Bhasha.

“After weeks of concerted government effort to downplay the Himalayan border confrontation and obscure China’s encroachments, Modi’s visit to Ladakh helped shine a spotlight on the war-like situation India confronts,” the strategic affairs expert said.

Asserting that China has sought to take advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the COVID-19 pandemic, Chellaney said Xi has been pushing the limits, be it breaking Beijing’s binding commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy, attempting to police the waters off the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands or picking up a border fight with India by encroaching on its territory.

President Xi’s actions are shifting attention from China’s culpability in the global spread of COVID-19 to the threat his authoritarian regime poses to international security, the professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research said.

“Xi’s ambition, coupled with the concentration camps he has set up and the cult of personality around him, has led some to compare him with other expansionist despots of modern history. US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien recently said that ‘Xi sees himself as Joseph Stalin’s successor’,” Chellaney said.

“Some, however, have compared Xi with Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler’s expansionism, Xi has opened multiple fronts. And, what Xi’s regime is doing to the Muslims of Xinjiang appears to be a reprise of what the Nazis did to the Jews. In fact, Xi has earned the social-media nickname of ‘Xitler’,” he said.

Chellaney said without naming China, Modi delivered a clear message to the country and this was apparent from Beijing’s reaction to the prime minister’s speech.

“If a message can be conveyed without naming the country, is there any need to mention the country by name?” he asked.

Two weeks before he went to Ladakh, Modi had created confusion with a speech at an all-party meeting, but with his remarks in Ladakh, Modi has made amends for the June 19 speech, the strategic affairs expert said.

Modi made a surprise visit to Ladakh on Friday during which he said the era of expansionism is over and that the history is proof that “expansionists” have either lost or perished, in comments seen as a clear message to China.

The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last seven weeks.

The tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.

India has been insisting on restoring status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh to restore peace and tranquillity in the region.

Asked about India’s move to ban 59 Chinese mobile applications and the strategy of creating trade barriers to deal with an aggressive China, Chellaney said India must fight China’s aggression on all fronts, including economic and diplomatic.

“It must wage a diplomatic offensive globally to highlight China’s aggression and to shame China. Unfortunately, India’s statement on Hong Kong has been very weak,” the geostrategist said.

India should leverage its buying power to correct the trade imbalance with China and impose costs on Beijing for its belligerence, Chellaney said.

On whether India can depend on the US or some other allies against China, he said India can expect some diplomatic support but no military support from the West.

“India is a strategic partner of the US, not a military alliance partner. But even if India had a military alliance with the US, it may make little difference. In 2012, the US looked the other way when China snatched the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines, despite America’s military alliance pact with the Philippines,” he said.

Talking about the options for resolving the border crisis, Chellaney said China has changed the territorial status quo through incursions into Ladakh and India wants to restore status quo ante.

“China is unlikely to peacefully vacate its encroachments,” he said.

Against this background, India must use its economic and diplomatic cards to raise China’s costs, Chellaney said.

It must prolong the military standoff to put the international spotlight on the Chinese aggression, he said, adding that India must also end its one-China policy.

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Some ‘scamsters’ suspected to be members of a “certain syndicate” had been nabbed and investigations were on while the person in whose name the consignment was sent was cooperating in the probe, Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said.

Airport sources said the gold was concealed in a baggage consisting of bathroom equipment. (Photo: India Today)

Airport sources said the gold was concealed in a baggage consisting of bathroom equipment. (Photo: India Today)

Customs personnel on Sunday seized over 30 kg of gold that landed in a “diplomatic baggage” by air cargo at the international airport here, in a suspected case of a smuggling syndicate misusing the name of a person who enjoys diplomatic immunity, a top official said.

Some ‘scamsters’ suspected to be members of a “certain syndicate” had been nabbed and investigations were on while the person in whose name the consignment was sent was cooperating in the probe, Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said.

“A consignmentof over 30 kg of gold was seized… we suspect the scamsters have used the name of the consignee with diplomaticimmunity…it is understood the syndicate operating behind this has filed the papers for the consignment in the name of a person with diplomatic immunity,” he told PTI.

Airport sources said the gold was concealed in a baggage consisting of bathroom equipment.

“It came two days ago but since no one came to claim it, the bag was inspected and the concealed gold found,” they said.

The Customs Commissioner said that as the consignment was addressed to the person with diplomatic immunity,”we had certain questions and as per normal protocol, we requested them to help us and they were kind enough to help us.

“We are also investigating some scamsters who have seemed to have misused the name of this person. We have nabbed some of them and an investigationis on,” he said.

The Customs officials were also investigating whether such a method had been used for smuggling in the past.

Last year, more than 550 kg of smuggled gold had been seized in Kerala and it was a national record, Kumar said adding Customs was confident of bettering it this year even with the lockdown and regular international flight operations suspended.

IndiaToday.in has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.
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A two-week lockdown will be imposed in Dima Hasao district in Assam from Monday amid rising number of Covid-19 cases, officials said.

Dima Hasao is the second district in the state after Kamrup Metropolitan, which primarily comprises Guwahati city, to impose a total lockdown.

A two-week lockdown from June 28 to July 12 has been imposed in Kamrup Metropolitan.

Addressing a press conference, Dima Hasao Deputy Commissioner Paul Barua said strict restrictions will be imposed to curb any possible community transmission of coronavirus after six positive cases were detected, five of whom are frontline workers and one is a family member.

“During the lockdown, grocery shops have been allowed to operate from 11 am to 4 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with requisite 30 per cent shops open on these days. Wearing of face masks, using sanitiser and maintaining social distancing will have to be ensured,” he said.

“Wholesalers of grocery items are allowed to replenish stocks of retailers on Sundays and Thursdays between 3 pm and 6 pm, while no retail selling is allowed during this period,” he added.

Barua also said that activities relating to essential items supplied from the FCI establishments and e-commerce facilities shall be allowed to operate between 11 am and 4 pm on Fridays only.

“Roadside vending of any fruits, vegetables, fish, etc. will not be allowed. No haats, fairs, weekly markets shall be allowed. List of licensed grocery shops enlisted with the municipal board office will be checked to issue permits based on regulations,” he added.

As per the lockdown guidelines, all private offices, institutions, business establishments, outlets other than grocery shops and all public, private and commercial vehicles have been shut during this period.

Apart from grocery shops, exemptions are, however, given to pharmacies, clinical establishments, petrol pumps and LPG outlets, Barua said.

Vehicles of the district administration, DDMA and those related to emergency and health services, Army vehicles, paramilitary vehicles, police vehicles, ambulance and vehicles carrying essential commodities are exempted, he added.

The official stated that police have been instructed to ensure strict compliance with the order as per the guidelines issued throughout the district.

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Mumbai and its neighbouring districts were hit by heavy rains for the third consecutive day on Sunday, resulting in water-logging in several low-lying areas of the city.

The Powai lake here started overflowing in the morning after the heavy downpour, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.

Mumbai Police urged citizens to stay away from the sea shore and waterlogged areas.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall in Mumbai and neighbouring areas in next two days and asked fisherman on the Maharashtra-Goa coast not to venture into the sea.

Water-logging was reported in several Mumbai areas such as Chembur, Wadala, Dharavi, Andheri, Hindmata junction, Khar subway, Milan subway and Dahisar subway.

The Colaba observatory in South Mumbai recorded 129.6 mm rain in the 24 hours ending at 8.30 am on Sunday, while the Santacruz weather station in the western suburbs recorded 200.8 mm downpour in the same period.

“The heavy showers have led to water logging at several places across the city. We request Mumbaikars to stay updated through official sources and plan moving out likewise,” the Mumbai Police said in a tweet and urged people to stay away from the shore and water logged areas.

The Powai lake in suburban Mumbai started overflowing at 6 am on Sunday, the BMC said.

The water from the lake, having a storage capacity of 545 crore litres, is used for industrial purposes and it flows into the Mithi river.

The catchment area of the lake is 6.61 sq km.

Besides Mumbai, the neighbouring Thane, Palghar and Raigad districtshave also been receiving heavy rains since last three days.

The IMD has said heavy rains would continue for the next two days in several parts of the state and strong winds with speed reaching 50 to 60 km per hourare likely to prevail over the Maharashtra-Goa coast on Monday and Tuesday.

It has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad as well as Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg in Konkan Maharashtra in next two days.

Besides, Pune, Nashik, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Satara, Kolhapur, Parbhani, Nanded, Hingoli are also likely to receive heavy rains, it said.

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