BBC News – India prisons: Why security needs to be improved

Two major jailbreaks in a month have shone a spotlight on security in India’s overcrowded and under-staffed prisons.
BBC Hindi’s Vineet Khare reports.

New Delhi, 30 November 2016. On Sunday, five armed men in the northern state of Punjab attacked the high-security Nabha prison and freed six inmates. One of the escapees, a Sikh separatist leader, was recaptured on Monday.

It was a brazen attack. Assailants dressed in police uniforms arrived “on the pretext of depositing a prisoner” but began firing indiscriminately as soon as the prison gate was opened. They escaped with the inmates in a convoy of vehicles.

“This is what happens when there is diversion of jail staff to non-jail work and infrastructure is creaking,” said retired police officer Prakash Singh.

More than 180 prisoners have escaped in more than 40 jailbreaks over the past two years, latest government figures say

Last year, two inmates escaped from the high-profile Tihar jail in the capital Delhi by digging a tunnel under a wall.

Last month, eight prisoners escaped from a high-security jail in the city of Bhopal in central Madhya Pradesh state. The inmates, members of an outlawed Islamist group, were killed outside Bhopal after they resisted arrest, police said.

The men used bed sheets to scale the walls of the prison before escaping the high-security Bhopal Central Prison, police said.

The police version was questioned when unverified videos of the killing of the men surfaced from the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India. The matter is being investigated.

India’s prisons are notoriously overcrowded and under-resourced.

Some 1,400 prisons house nearly 420,000 inmates against a capacity of 366,7810, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.

More than a third of positions for prison guards and officers are lying vacant. Nearly half of the staff positions in Tihar are vacant.

Inmates ‘do everything’

It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the prisoners in Indian jails are on trial, contributing significantly to overcrowding.

The Bhopal jailbreak, described as an act of coldblooded murder by the inmates’ lawyer, served again to highlight what was wrong with India’s prisons.

The prison houses more than 3,000 inmates against a capacity of 1,400.

Madhya Pradesh also has a history of jailbreaks:

– In 2011, nine prisoners spiked the tea of six guards of the state’s Dabra prison and ran away

– In 2013, five captives broke through the washroom window of the dilapidated Khandwa prison and escaped

Retired jail officials say no one is paying attention to a system that is crying out loud for support.

“Our jails are collapsing,” retired jail official GK Agarwal told me in Bhopal, showing me a number of handwritten official correspondences to officials, in which he had pleaded for reforms.

Two years ago, in a missive to top officials, Mr Agarwal had predicted a “big accident” at Bhopal jail owing to its “structure, vulnerable points, imprudent security and staff’s deplorable situation”.

But Mr Agarwal said nothing had moved.

Lawyer Dr Siddhartha Gupta, who spent two days in the jail on a minor charge of “disturbing peace outside the court” told me: “The presence of guards inside is next to nothing.

“It’s the inmates who do everything. From cooking to office jobs to counting inmates, everything is done by them.”

Under pressure to act, Madhya Pradesh’s new head of prisons, Sanjay Choudhary, is promising “speedy modernisation”.

“We are enhancing security, increasing manpower and creating a high-security zone,” he said.

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Summery with images

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Antwerpen De Lijn Trams – Antwerpen Middenstatie

Antwerpen De Lijn Trams
16 September 2017


Tram 24 to Silsburg


Tram 24 to Silsburg


Gemeenstestraat – Tram 11 to Melkmarkt


Gemeenstestraat – Tram 10 to Wijnegem

Antwerpen Middenstatie
(central station)

16 September 2017


Thalys TGV on Paris Amsterdam service


Thalys TGV on Paris Amsterdam service

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Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – Pakistan-India dialogue

Editorial, 30 November 2016. In the midst of jingoism and false bravado, it can be difficult to remain restrained, sensible, and diplomatic.

But despite New Delhi’s excessive brinkmanship and emotional calls within Pakistan to respond in the same manner, the Foreign Office continues to hew to a measured and dialogue-driven approach towards India.

So not only is the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, set to visit Amritsar next week for a Heart of Asia conference, but Pakistan’s high commissioner to India Abdul Basit has let it be known that the foreign adviser’s schedule is flexible and that if bilateral talks are made a possibility, Mr Aziz could extend his daylong trip if necessary.

In continuing to keep the door to dialogue open in the face of blatant rejection by India and somewhat strong opposition at home, the government is doing the politically difficult but diplomatically necessary thing.

What remains to be seen is how India reacts. The signs are not good at the moment, but the possibility of a surprise change in attitude should not be ruled out.

Unhappily, India seems to be more in a mood to test Pakistan’s resolve and to try and find chinks in its diplomatic armour internationally.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi declined to attend a heads of government Saarc summit in Islamabad, the Indian diplomatic machine went into overdrive to play up other withdrawals from the summit and suggest that Pakistan is isolated regionally.

But that is not the case and perhaps India should consider that it has drifted further away from its original goals.

Indeed, given India’s long-standing demand for a completion of the 2008 Mumbai attacks-related investigation and trials in Pakistan and the progress that was made on the Pathankot probe earlier this year, it ought to be apparent that slamming the door shut on dialogue will see little progress even in areas where both sides have long pledged to cooperate.

The Heart of Asia conference would be a welcome forum in which to pick up the threads of bilateral dialogue because security, economic and political cooperation in the region are at its core objectives, while Afghanistan is a country that Pakistan and India need to have an open dialogue about.

While Mr Modi has shown alacrity in trying to whip up domestic support for electoral purposes, he has proven himself to be an unexpectedly positive risk-taker externally. After all, it was last Christmas that the Indian prime minister briefly stopped in Lahore on his way back to New Delhi from Kabul.

A handshake with a visiting senior Pakistani official should not be impossible a mere 11 months later.

Arguably, given Mr Modi’s own hawkish bent, now is the time for another opening: if Mr Modi believes the Pakistani military dictates India policy, then why not see what a new chief has in mind first?

The Hindu – Jail official among three held in Nabha escape

Patiala, Panjab, 30 November 2016. Three persons, including assistant jail superintendent, were arrested by the Punjab Police in connection with Nabha jailbreak.

Assistant jail superintendent Bhim Singh, head warden Jagmeet Singh and a sweet shop owner Tejinder Sharma have been arrested on the charges of abetment and criminal conspiracy in the Nabha jailbreak case, the police said.

Bhim had allegedly met the accused a day before their daring escape and his mobile phone was used for plotting the escape of prisoners, they claimed. The police had booked 29 people, including nine jail officials in the case, officials said.

Meanwhile, the police said they have obtained the custody of Palwinder Singh Pinda, who is on transit remand. (PTI)

The Times of India – Cops catch Mintoo in Delhi, waiting for Mumbai train

It is my impression that the people who stormed the Nabha jail had nothing to do with the Khalistan movement. They were members of a Panjabi criminal gang trying to set free some of their members.
Man in Blue

Somreet Bhattacharya

New Delhi, 29 November 2016. Barely 15 hours after armed men had stormed the Nabha jail in Punjab to free Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, the terrorist was re-arrested from the capital’s Nizamuddin railway station on Monday, from where he had planned to board a train to Mumbai.

Mintoo’s calls to relatives in West Delhi’s Subhash Nagar, who were under surveillance, helped cops trace the KLF chief. He also visited the relatives in the city, after which cops started to tail him. He was finally positively identified at Nizamuddin.

Police said Mintoo and fellow escapee Kashmir Singh reached Delhi after changing several vehicles and changing their appearance by trimming their beards. After escaping from the Nabha jail, Mintoo had boarded a Toyota Fortuner along with Singh and Gurpreet Singh Sekhon.

Sekhon’s brother Mani had arranged for the car and drove the fugitives from Nabha jail to sugarcane fields near Kaithal. There, Mintoo and Singh got off. They were given a pistol along with six rounds each, and Rs 19,000 for their journey to Mumbai. Mintoo had also established contact with some of his family members in Goa to arrange money to travel abroad.

Mintoo and Singh hid in the fields till afternoon. Meanwhile, they borrowed a pair of scissors from a farmer and trimmed their beards, police said. Around noon, they boarded a jeep to Kurukshetra. Thereafter, they took a bus to reach Panipat and then Delhi.

During their journey, Mintoo had called his relative in Delhi several times asking for the route to the Nizamuddin railway station. The men decided to part ways at Kashmere Gate ISBT and meet at Goa on Wednesday.

The Tribune – DGP: Mintoo was in touch with Pakistan terrorist groups

Jupinderjit Singh, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 28 November 2016. Khalistan Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, who was arrested in Delhi, was in touch with terror groups in Pakistan but the jailbreak was planned by local gangsters, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora said here today.

The police, he said, were trying to find out as to who had funded the operation. Calls from the jail suggested that some of the escapees had received money recently.

On Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal hinting at the possible role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the DGP said “there is a strong basis that Pakistan’s ISI was in touch with Mintoo”.

Arora said a “post-mortem” of the incident would be undertaken as “clearly serious lapses have taken place”. He said swift co-ordination between various state police had yielded results, leading to the arrest of the two key culprits.

“We have a sequence-by-sequence recording of events, showing lapses by jail security guards, which will be looked into. Some guards did make efforts to retaliate. Timely information provided by them on getaway vehicles and the attackers led to the arrests in UP and Delhi,” the DGP added.

Brussel/Bruxelles – ENORB Seminar and Antwerpen De Lijn Trams

European Network of Religion and Belief (ENORB)
14 September 2016


Day 2 of the seminar
Working in small groups

Antwerpen De Lijn Trams
16 September 2017


Major works – Tramtracks


Major works – Tramtracks


Franklin Rooseveltplaats
Tram 24 to Schoonselhof


Tram 24 to Schoonselhof


Tram 24 to Silsburg

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Man in Blue

The Express Tribune – Pakistan throws diplomatic ball in India’s court

News Desk

Karachi, Sindh, 29 November 2016. While heavy guns are booming on the de facto and de jure borders, Pakistan on Monday said it is ready for a bilateral dialogue with India on the fringes of next week’s Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar.

Islamabad has already conveyed to New Delhi that Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will be attending the conference in Amritsar on December 3 and 4, which will see participation from 40 countries.

Will ‘positively consider’ if India offers talks on Heart of Asia sidelines: Basit

“The schedule of Aziz is not cast in stone and if there is an offer for talks from the host nation, then it will be accepted by Pakistan,” High Commissioner Abdul Basit told India’s Aaj Tak TV in an exclusive interview.

Calling for a resumption of the stalled dialogue process, Basit said, “We can delay talks for months or even for years. But ultimately, a solution to the problems between India and Pakistan can only come through dialogue, and therefore, both nations must sit and discuss all the issues that confront them.”

The interview came at a time when border guards of the two countries are fighting bloody skirmishes. And Basit called for an end to hostilities and for the 2003 ceasefire to be turned into a formal agreement.

“Escalation along the Line of Control is not in Pakistan’s interest. Pakistan Army is heavily deployed along the country’s western borders as part of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and it is wrong to say that the escalation is being fuelled by Pakistan.

We would like that hostilities along the LoC to come to an end and that the 2003 ceasefire understanding is turned into a formal agreement,” he added.

Sartaj Aziz likely to attend conference in India to ‘defuse the tension’

Basit also said that the uneventful transition from one army chief to another showed strengthening of democracy in the country. “Pakistan’s democracy has matured in a way that the era of military coups is over.

Equilibrium has been set. The voice of the people and democracy is becoming stronger. There’s no question of a military coup in the future.”

Basit has given enough indications to suggest that there could be a window of opportunity for the two countries to resume the bilateral dialogue process, provided the Modi government is interested in doing so. The diplomatic ball is now in India’s court.

Dawn – Insecure waters

Hasan Ehtisham and Ahsan Ali Zahid

Op/Ed, 29 November 2016. Conflict is not unknown when it comes to the question of ownership of water sources. There are many examples, for instance, the major cause of the Six-Day War fought between Israel and neighbouring Arab states resulted from a struggle over water.

The threat of future conflict is only growing as we head towards an era of ‘hydrological warfare’ in which rivers, lakes and aquifers will be securitised. Many countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia, eg Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Kenya, Egypt and India, are already feeling the direct consequences of water scarcity.

South Asia has four major water basins: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Meghna and the Indus.

Water is a contentious issue between India, and Nepal and Bhutan. As the use of the Ganges and Brahmaputra is disputed by India, Bangladesh and China, India wants a diversion of the river, but Bangladesh warns that any such action will undermine the livelihoods of millions of farmers.

Meanwhile, the Indus basin has become a source of conflict between India and Pakistan.

India’s moves to control the rivers can spell doom.

Recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gearing up for the Punjab polls next year, once again referred to the Indus Waters Treaty, saying that the water that ‘belongs’ to India cannot be allowed to flow into Pakistan.

Though several analysts believe that any revision of the treaty can be dangerous and even lead to bloodshed, a considerable segment in India appears to favour withdrawing from the water pact which has withstood three wars.

Similarly, taking the cover of two attacks, one in Pathankot, the other in Uri in India-held Kashmir, it seems that Modi’s administration is working towards revising the Indus Waters Treaty in order to protect multibillion dollar investments related to better water management and the tech industry in India.

In 2010, the then Indian water resources ministry secretary U N Panjiar spoke about the new business opportunities in the water sector in India, including storage, agriculture, industry, home consumption, and hydropower and desalination projects.

Approximately, $22 billion was invested between 2002 to 2007, and more than $50bn between 2007 to 2012. Several American banks and domestic companies will reportedly be investing billions in huge water infrastructure projects, including India’s Smart Cities Mission, which will see major new technology for its residents.

The OECD reported that 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030. Global water consumption has tripled over the last 50 years.

There are countless reasons for the scarcity of water and droughts all over the world including climate change, consumer mismanagement of water, pollution and diverting and drilling limited supplies of fresh water.

The attempt to control water reminds us of the ways of the international oil cartel and nuclear cartel. William Sarni and Tamin Pechet in their book Water Tech: A Guide to Investment, Innovation and Business Opportunities in the Water Sector discuss the emergence of the water cartel and the alliance for water stewardship.

Reports indicate that the water cartel’s strength is growing. One evidence of this is the existence of a group of over 500 multinational companies and NGOs, that while introducing 700 innovative water technologies for industrial and agriculture use as well as home consumption, are attempting to control water resources (and prices) in the developing world.

India appears to be adopting a similarly disturbing approach in its efforts to secure water for its population by linking water ways and deviating flows. Such moves can only spell doom for the population and fertile land of Pakistan, which as a country with an agricultural base, is hugely dependent on river systems.

India’s ostensible plans to build dams on the Jhelum, Chenab and Indus are also a clear violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. Pakistan has rights on these rivers as their flow is towards Pakistan and the treaty permits the latter country’s control over them.

Prime Minister Modi’s words in recent days have been disturbing in this regard, and there is a petition in the Indian Supreme Court for scrapping the treaty.

The meetings of the treaty commission have been halted and in any case India has plans to secure the waters of the disputed region of Jammu & Kashmir; it may even prepare for aggression on this front.

The options for Pakistan are on the table; it should immediately formulate long-term development plans to attract investors to secure the water infrastructure for the coming generations.

Secondly, it should call for bilateral or international diplomatic channels to settle matters in accordance with the treaty or a new one. Otherwise, the only option that may be left to us is to go to war. One cannot ignore the gravity of this especially as both rivals are nuclear-armed.

The writers are pursuing their M.Phil degree at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.