Reprieve for Varun

NEW DELHI: The advisory board of the Allahabad High Court has “strongly recommended immediate revocation” of the National Security Act (NSA) against Bhartiya Janata Party leader Varun Gandhi for his hate speeches against Muslims. The board, headed by Justice Pradeep Kant, announced the decision on Friday. The Uttar Pradesh government charged Gandhi under the NSA on March 29 for the alleged rioting by

his supporters on March 28 when he went to surrender before the Pilibhit court after being accused of giving communal speeches in Pilibhit. — Agencies

US warns N Korea

Seoul: President Barack Obama’s top envoy for North Korea warned of “consequences” if the regime pushes ahead with a threatened atomic test and urged Pyongyang to instead return to dialogue with Washington to defuse nuclear tensions. Stephen Bosworth arrived in Seoul from Beijing just hours after North Korea accused the Obama administration of harbouring a hostile policy toward Pyongyang, saying it would expand its nuclear arsenal in response. “Nothing would be expected from the US, which remains unchanged in its hostility toward its dialogue partner,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried on Friday by state media. — AP

Chad unrest: 150 dead

Ndjamena: Chad government forces fought desert battles today against rebels stepping up an offensive against President Idriss Deby with more than 150 reported dead in two days of conflict. The fighting, centred on the eastern town of Am-Dam, has heightened concerns among UN agencies and aid groups caring for about 450,000 refugees from Sudan and the Central African Republic. The UN Security Council was to meet on Friday to discuss the conflict. — AFP

Zuma to take oath

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa prepared on Friday for tens of thousands of people to attend Jacob Zuma’s inauguration, while brushing off concerns over a guest list that includes officials from North Korea and Sudan. Zuma will be sworn in Saturday as the fourth president since the fall of apartheid, with almost 100 foreign delegations — including nearly 30 heads of state — set to attend with 30,000 onlookers gathered on the lawns at the seat of government in Pretoria. — AFP

Cry for justice

BEIJING: Dissident victims of China’s crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests have called for world pressure on Beijing to reverse the official verdict on the incident as its 20th anniversary is approaching. Failure to stand up to a rising China over the “atrocity” of June 4, 1989, tacitly abets Communist Party repression, they said. “So far, the international community... has adopted a policy of appeasement towards the Chinese government,” said Ding Zilin, whose teenage son Jiang Jielian was shot dead by the army. “They are lenient towards this atrocity,” said Ding, 72, a former philosophy professor and now leader of the Tiananmen

Mothers, which for 20 years has unsuccessfully pressured the Communist government to be heard. — AFP

War criminal placated

KHARTOUM: Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir has removed Ahmed Harun, who is wanted for war crimes in Darfur, from his position as state minister, appointing him governor of disputed south Kordofan province. Beshir, who himself is wanted for war crimes in Darfur, issued a decree on Thursday appointing Harun governor of south Kordofan. — AFP