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Maoist leader Azad in custody

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Top Maoist leader Duna Keshav Rao alias Azad, wanted in several cases including the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati, was taken into three-day custody by the Crime Branch of Orissa Police on Thursday. “Azad will remain in police custody for 72 hours,” Additional Director General and chief of Crime Branch Abhay said after Azad’s custody was given by Nayagarh Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate P K Patra.
 
A charge sheet was filed against Azad and others on May 4 in the Saraswati murder case, he said. Azad, arrested on Wednesday night for attack on an armoury and police station in Nayagarh district, has a murder case against him at Tumudibandha police station.
 
Orissa’s number two guerilla Azad, is prime accused in the Saraswati killing case and separate attacks on Nayagarh armoury and R Udaygiri jail in 2006. He surrended before the AP police on May 18. Earlier Azad’s close associate Runita Badamajhi alias Pramila was caught by the police here on May 8, Home Secretary U N Behera said.
 
Around 100 Maoists led by Azad attacked an armoury and police station in Nayagarh district on the night of February 15, 2008. At least 14 police personnel and one civilian were killed in the incident. Azad is a member of CPI (Maoist) Orissa State Organising Committee and has worked for the party for 20 years from 1991 to 2011.
 
(http://www.hindustantimes.com/Maoist-leader-Azad-in-custody/Article1-704884.aspx  02/06/11, Hindustan Times)

3 LeT militants killed in J&K encounter

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Three suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, including one from Pakistan, were killed in an encounter with security forces early on Friday in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. “All the three militants have been killed and the operation is over,” Srinagar-based Defence spokesman Lt Colonel JS Brar said, adding further details of the incident were awaited.
 
The encounter broke out last evening when troops of 52 Rashtriya Rifles and police launched an operation in Seer area of Sopore, 55 kms from Srinagar, official sources said. The militants were holed up in an under-construction house adjacent to the Law College in the township. Reinforcements were rushed to the village to neutralise the militants. The operation was suspended for the night but the cordon was continued, they said.
 
The security forces launched the final attack on the militants soon after day break and the encounter ended at around 0600 HRS, the sources said. The slain militants have been identified as Pakistani national Abdullah Babu, Saiful Ghazzali and Ghulam Nabi Dar – all affiliated with LeT, they said. Three AK-47 rifles, six magazines and three RPG boosters have so far been recovered from the scene of the gunbattle that lasted nearly 12 hours, officials said.
 
(http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/jammu%20sec/3-LeT-militants-killed-in-J-amp-K-encounter/Article1-705080.aspx  03/06/11, Hindustan Times)

Guns will return if dialogue fails: Sajad Lone

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Chairman Peoples Conference Sajad Gani Lone Thursday warned that guns would return to Kashmir if “civilized institution of dialogue” failed to yield any results to resolve the Kashmir issue. “I am scared if civilized route of dialogue does not yield results, the next step will be taking up of arms and guns,” Lone said while addressing a conclave organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in partnership with Ministry of External Affairs.

Lone stressed on the need to address both internal and external dimensions of the Kashmir problem. “But on the internal dimension, New Delhi decides who to meet and why to meet and it is not inclusive as it should be,” said Lone. “Stones and bullets cannot chase away India from Kashmir. India is a power. Let’s try to achieve the achievable. Let it begin with economic independence and terminology of sovereignty. We need to have interim solution to reach the final solution,” said Lone. Lone lashed out at New Delhi-appointed interlocutors on Kashmir, accusing them of dissecting Kashmir into Gujjar and Paharis.

About his decision to contest polls in 2008, Lone said it was not a mistake and he would contest upcoming assembly polls too. Speaking on the occasion, head of Interlocutors panel on Kashmir, Dileep Padgaonkar, said they have recommended to the government to create a conducive atmosphere in the state for talks. “There is greater degree of anger and stifling atmosphere here. Mass protests should be allowed if they are peaceful. I believe democratic rights were being held in breach,” Padgaonkar said. “We are hopeful that our recommendations will be accepted and implemented.”

De-linking governance in the state from Kashmir problem, Padgaonkar said the panel’s reflection on governance does not intend to move away attention from the problem. He reiterated his invitation to separatists to join the dialogue process. “Let’s not start the dialogue with any precondition,” said Padgaonkar.
 
(http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2011/Jun/3/guns-will-return-if-dialogue-fails-sajad-lone-53.asp  02/06/11, Greater Kashmir)

Arabinda against armed conflict in future

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

The chairman of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Arabinda Rajkhowa has expressed his desire of not seeing the next generation of Assamese youth taking up the gun as a means of dissent or protest as they (the ULFA) had done, at a public meeting here in North Lakhimpur.
 
Rajkhowa was addressing a public meeting to felicitate families belonging to the victims of anti-insurgency operation on May 26 at the District Library auditorium here. He said, “We don’t want to see the next generation taking up arms as we did. We’ve not surrendered nor are we in a ceasefire mode. We have only endorsed unconditional dialogue for peace”.
 
Arabinda Rajkhowa further said that though the ULFA had taken up armed revolution, it was for peaceful political settlement of the India-Assam conflict. Significantly, he said that the colonial legacy of the present system of governance had forced the outfit to take up arms. The meeting was chaired by Biswa Baruah, ex-president-in-charge of Asam Sahitya Sabha where the objective of the meeting was explained by Bhaity Baruah. Seventy six out of eighty families of the victims of anti-insurgency operations in Lakhimpur district were felicitated on the occasion where the cultural secretary of ULFA, Pranati Deka also spoke.
 
In her speech, Deka dismissed the rift and division in ULFA over the peace talks and informed that the general council of the outfit would take disciplinary action on cadres who oppose the peace move. The political adviser of ULFA, Bhimkanta ‘Mama’ Burhagohain explained the future course of action of the outfit in the meeting. The meeting was also attended by the ex-MLA of Lakhimpur and freedom fighter Sula Borah and Pankaj Lahkar of MASS. Earlier, the organisers of the meeting were accused of collecting donations for the meeting from select traders of North Lakhimpur without issuing any receipt.
 
(http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=jun0311/state06  02/06/11, The Assam Tribune)

Bill to kill secularism

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Arindam Chaudhuri

The NAC-drafted Communal Violence Bill is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. In the guise of promoting communal harmony it promotes rank communalism. In the guise of protecting minorities, it attacks Hindu rights. This Bill will strike at the very foundation of liberty and legitimise criminal misdeeds of Muslims. It must not become law

The road to hell is almost always paved with noble intentions. In the Indian democracy, this has been proven true a countless number of times. I am afraid we shall be headed yet again towards hellish times if a new policy that is being currently debated manages to become law, thanks to the super secular denizens of India whose intensity and range of noble intentions usually matches the mayhem that the same noble intentions often trigger.

I am talking about the well-intentioned economists, sociologists, activists and assorted jholawallah types who are convinced that it is their divine right to advice the UPA regime on all sorts of policy issues. Right at the top of this pyramid of do-gooders is the National Advisory Council which is headed by Ms Sonia Gandhi. Virtually all the members of NAC have impeccable records and reputations when it comes to their commitment towards the aam admi of India. Let me also be very clear in stating that a lot of credit for path-breaking policy changes like the Right to Information Act, the NREGA and the Right to Education Act should go to the NAC. It is also wonderful to see members of the NAC valiantly battle it out against a callous, insensitive and cruel Government when it comes to implementing the Right to Food Act.

In each of these above-mentioned cases, the men and women with noble intentions have sought to protect and defend the rights of victims — usually the poor and the downtrodden of India who get only lip service from the Government. And now, this group of people has set out to protect and defend the rights of another set of victims — I am talking about the victims of communal violence. Nobody will dispute the fact that communal violence has been a blot on the Indian democracy. Similarly, nobody will dispute the fact that those have usually been the minorities who have borne the brunt of communal violence, even though provocation often comes from both sides of the divide.

So to continue with their noble mission to protect and defend victims, members of the NAC have given the green signal to the Communal Violence Bill — officially labeled as the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill — that seeks to protect minorities from murder, mayhem and worse during communal riots.

When I read newspaper reports about this proposed law and the objections raised by politicians like Mr Arun Jaitley, my first reaction was that the BJP was probably trying to play the Hindutva card. But I was speechless with shock when I actually managed to go through some provisions and clauses of the Bill.
 
Most newspapers, magazines and TV channels have been politically correct and have sheepishly and squeamishly reported about the problems with the Draft Bill. But I have never believed in being politically correct. And so, let me say in plain words what the implications of the proposed law are.

If this Draft Bill becomes law, it will become constitutionally accepted that only Hindus cause riots; and that Muslims, Christians and other minorities can never be held responsible for riots because the definition of the term ‘group’, which is the backbone of this Draft Bill, is made totally in such a manner that the majority, that is the Hindus, will be at the receiving end of the stick. Thus, if this Draft Bill becomes law, the Indian Constitution will accept that only Hindus incite and provoke religious hatred and denigrate other religions; and that Muslims and Christians can never do that. If this Bill becomes law, all the accused in the Gujarat riots will be culpable and be sentenced, while all those responsible for the death of train passengers at Godhra would be presumed to have harboured only goodwill for Hindus. If this Bill becomes law, only Hindus will be tried, convicted and sentenced for communal violence and incitement of communal hatred because the Constitution will refuse to accept that Muslims and Christians are capable of violence and hatred. If this Bill becomes law, any anonymous complainant can file a police case against a Hindu for inciting communal hatred — and the police will have to register it as a non-bailable offence. The accused — who would be arrested — would not even have the right to know who the complainant is. And the accused Hindu will virtually be presumed to be guilty unless he or she can prove his or her innocence.

A Hindu activist who complains against fanatic Christian missionaries (Believe me, there are many of them out there) converting tribals through inducements and bribes will be sent behind bars; the Christian missionary who openly calls Hindus ‘heathens’ or ‘kafirs’ and tramples upon idols of Hindu gods and goddesses will be forever found innocent by the Indian Constitution.

That was as far as Hindus are concerned. But it is not just about them. Every other clause in the Bill seems flawed. The definition of ‘Hate Propaganda’ is designed to give the Government draconian powers and curb freedom of speech. The Bill seems to be made on the basis of a dictatorial approach which assumes the accused guilty until proven innocent, and this is totally unconstitutional. Then, of course, I talk about the formation of a ‘National Authority’, a new power center for harassment.

So, now you see where noble intentions can lead up to. I have no doubt whatsoever that activists, do-gooders and others of their ilk, right up to the members of the NAC, genuinely want to protect minorities from communal riots and violence. I have also no doubt that a majority of them — I am deliberately not saying all of them — harbour a peculiar and inexplicable hatred towards all aspects of Hinduism. But ask yourself honestly: Is this Bill going to promote communal harmony in the country? I would have simply laughed out loudly and derisively if the matter had not been not so serious and potentially devastating for India. And frankly, how does one define minorities? There are many districts and towns in India where Muslims or Christians outnumber Hindus. Who will then be blamed for communal violence and riots? If one were to suppose there are riots in two towns in Uttar Pradesh — one with a Muslim majority and one with a Hindu majority… What will the police do in both these cases? Arrest only Hindus because the Indian law will state so?

Moving beyond the Bill and the disastrous impact it will have on India if it becomes law, I must also point out one thing that is peculiar to the Congress and the Gandhi family in particular. They have this strange tendency to depend on and promote advisors and Kitchen Cabinets — a move that has often cost them dearly in political terms. Mrs Indira Gandhi had a series of advisers who came from a non-political background. Rajiv Gandhi had many bright advisers who had no interest in electoral politics. And look at what they did first with the Shah Bano case, then the Ayodhya case and finally the Bofors issue. I fear Ms Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi are in danger of committing the same mistake. It was Shah Bano and Ayodhya during the Rajiv era that eventually propelled the BJP to power in New Delhi. It could be the Communal Violence Bill in the Sonia and Rahul era that could yet again hand over the keys of New Delhi to the BJP.

I will sum up by saying that communal harmony cannot be brought about with such discriminatory Bills. It can be brought about by providing access to education and equal opportunities for a dignified living. It’s time the Government thinks about such methods instead of passing such draconian Bills or for that matter increasing internal security budgets, etc, to fight the menace of naxalism. Access to equitable policies and right to a dignified living will take care of most of the problems that the Government seems so clueless about.

The writer is a management guru and Editor, The Sunday Indian.
 
(http://www.dailypioneer.com/343057/Bill-to-kill-secularism.html  03/06/11, The Pioneer)

Categories: Articles/Op-eds

The Battle For Pakistan

June 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Pakistani military’s use of extremists to target India has backfired. That both Al Qaeda and America distrust the Pakistani army speaks volumes.
 
Bruce Riedel
 
The struggle for control of Pakistan – soon to be the fifth most populous country in the world with the fifth largest nuclear arsenal – intensifies every day. The outcome is far from certain. The key player, Pakistan’s army, seems dangerously ambivalent about which side should prevail: the jihadist Frankenstein it created or the democratically elected civilian government it despises.
 
The American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2nd accelerated the struggle underway inside Pakistan to determine the country’s future. Contrary to some assessments, Pakistan is neither a failed state nor a failing state. It functions as effectively today as in decades past. Rather it is a state under siege from a radical syndicate of terror groups loosely aligned together with the goal of creating an extremist jihadist state in south Asia. They want to hijack Pakistan and its weapons.
 
Less than a hundred hours after the Abbottabad raid, Al Qaeda’s shura council, its command centre, announced the group was declaring war on Pakistan and the “traitors and thieves” in the government who had betrayed the “martyr shaykh” bin Laden to the Americans. It was ironic since many Americans suspect the Pakistani army was actually complicit in abetting bin Laden’s successful evasion of the largest manhunt in human history for 10 years. That both Al Qaeda and America distrust the Pakistani army speaks volumes.
 
Since then Al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan have carried out their threat with a vengeance. Suicide bombings and other terror attacks have occurred across the country. The worst was an attack on a major Pakistani navy base in Karachi, a heavily guarded facility where both US and Chinese experts assist the navy. Two US-made P3 surveillance aircraft were destroyed in the attack. The assailants had insider knowledge of the base, and Pakistani security has arrested former naval personnel accused of helping the attackers.
 
The Karachi attack illustrates the essence of the battle for Pakistan today. The militants support Al Qaeda, but were members of its ally the Pakistani Taliban. Their goal was to humiliate the navy. The navy fought back, but is riddled with jihadist sympathizers who help the militants.
 
A Pakistani journalist, Syed Salman Shahzad, wrote an expose after the attack of the jihadist penetration of the military, especially the navy. He received threatening calls from the military’s intelligence service, the notorious Inter Services Intelligence directorate, telling him to stop reporting on the issue, and was murdered shortly afterward.
 
The Pakistani army is genuinely at war with parts of the syndicate of jihadi terror in Pakistan like Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has more than 140,000 troops engaged in operations against the militants along the Afghan border. Some 35,000 Pakistanis including several thousand soldiers have died in the fighting since 2001, the equivalent of a dozen 911s. Dozens of ISI men have died.
 
But the ISI is also still in bed with other parts of the syndicate like Lashkar e Tayyiba, the group that attacked Mumbai in 2008, and the Afghan Taliban that fights NATO. Despite years of American complaints, those partnerships are still intact. But the terrorists don’t stay in the lanes the ISI wants them to stay in. For example, both LeT and the Taliban eulogized bin Laden after his death and mourned the departure of a great “hero” of their movements.
 
The army’s ambivalence about the jihad flows from its deep obsession with India. Pakistan – with American help – created the jihad in the 1980s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. But from the start the ISI, commanded by then dictator Zia ul Huq and his brilliant ISI director general Akhtar Rahman, planed to use jihadi groups against India as well and build an international cadre of mujahedin to help fight India. Over the decades the “S” Department of ISI established close connections with scores of jihadi groups, becoming a state within ISI, which in turn is a state within the army. The army decides national-security policy with little or no input from the political establishment.
 
General Nadeem Taj exemplifies the story. Taj was former dictator Pervez Musharraf’s right-hand man. They were together in 1999 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fired Musharraf as chief of army staff while he was returning by plane from a visit to Sri Lanka. Taj orchestrated the coup that put Musharraf in power from the plane and was rewarded with several key jobs including in 2006 command of the Kakul Military Academy in Abbottabad, Pakistan’s West Point or Sandhurst.It was on his watch as commandant of the academy that bin Laden moved into his hideout less than a mile away. Was Taj clueless or complicit?
 
In September 2007 Taj became DG/ISI replacing General Ashfaq Kayani who was promoted chief of army staff (COAS). Taj lasted less than a year before he was removed under intense pressure from Washington. The Bush administration had concluded that Taj’s ISI was directly involved in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008 and was undermining the new drone program to attack Al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan by warning the terrorists before attacks. Taj was regarded as either unable to rein in the S Department or complicit in its duplicity.
 
Nonetheless, Taj was promoted to command a key corps in the army, the highest command level short of COAS. Now he has been accused of complicity in the planning of the Mumbai attack by several family members of the American victims of the terror rampage in a New York court case. It was on Taj’s watch as DG/ISI that the attack was carefully planned by the LeT and the targets, including the Chabad house where most of the Americans died, were selected. David Headley, an American of Pakistani origin, has testified that the ISI was directly involved in the plot, and the US Department of Justice has assembled an impressive body of emails and other evidence that backs up his claims.
 
The jihadist penetrations of the army raise persistent questions about the security of Pakistan’s nukes. According to a WikiLeaked State Department cable, from September 2009, France’s national security adviser Jean-David Levitte told the American Embassy in Paris that France believes it is not secure. Levitte is one of the most astute diplomats in the world today, and he is almost certainly right.
 
The policies that would help wean the Pakistani army off its obsession with India and jihad are well known. A concerted effort to end the Indo-Pakistani conflict is essential. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, despite Mumbai, is trying to do just that. But it is a hard challenge. Talks to resolve the relatively simple issue of the disputed Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest war zone at the roof of the Himalayas, failed again in May. The harder issue, Kashmir, will probably take years to resolve at best.
 
But we don’t have years. Only a fortnight before the Abbottabad raid, General Kayani gave a speech at the military academy in the city, almost within earshot of bin Laden. In his remarks Kayani claimed the back of the militant syndicate in Pakistan had been broken and the army had triumphed. It is now clear he was badly mistaken.
 
Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow at the Saban Center in the Brookings Institution and adjunct professor at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent book, Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad, came out in March. Rights: Copyright © 2011 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. YaleGlobal Online
 
(http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?272104  02/06/11, Outlook India)

Categories: Articles/Op-eds
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