The News – Banned outfits being encouraged, facilitated to contest elections: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 08 July 2018. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that banned organizations are being encouraged, facilitated and promoted to contest elections.

Bilawal’s statement came after Punjab police briefly stopped him from entering Uch Sharif where he has to address a public gathering.

In a tweet later, Bilawal said, banned organizations are being encouraged, facilitated and promoted to contest elections while we were stopped by Punjab police barricades. “Will continue to take our message to every part of the country come what may,” PPP Chairman pledged.

PPP spokesman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said in a media statement “Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has been stopped at the instructions of DPO and IG Punjab as told by DSP Safdar on the spot.”

The Tribune – Afghan Sikhs see land mafia’s role in blast

Varinder Singh, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 09 July 2018. Afghanistan’s land mafia eying hundreds of acres of precious land with Sikh gurdwaras may have carried out the July 1 Jalalabad blast that killed 17 Sikh leaders on way to meet the President.

There were reports that the attack may have been carried out by the Taliban or Daish (Islamic State). But both organisations have through emissaries conveyed to the community their concern over the killings.

While a government investigation is yet to ascertain the identity of the attackers, the Sikh community in Kabul has little doubt the powerful land mafia did it, pointing out it has already usurped gurdwara land, assets and properties in villages on the outskirts of Kabul, Jalalabad, Ghazni, Herat and Kandahar.

The announcement by Afghanistan Prime Minister Mohammad Ashraf Ghani eight months ago on transfer of government land worth USD 7,00,000 for Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Jalalabad for setting up a school for Sikh children may have triggered the July 1 blast, say local Sikhs.

“The mafia paid USD 4,00,000 as bribe to officials for usurping the land allotted to the Sikhs,” claims Narinder Singh Khalsa, who is contesting the parliamentary elections scheduled for October in place of his father Avtar Singh Khalsa, who was among those killed in the Jalalabad blast.

He says the Sikh delegation was attacked while on way to meet the PM in Jalalabad for government aid for the proposed school.

“Our acquaintances and friends in Ghazni tell us that the Taliban and DAISH have expressed their sympathy for the Sikh victims. They say they have no animosity for the Sikh community,” claims Narinder Singh.

Canada urged to give asylum

Toronto – The Canada India Foundation (CIF) has urged the country to accept Sikh and Hindu minority communities from Afghanistan as refugees following the killing of 19 Sikhs by an IS suicide bomber in Jalalabad.

CIF chair Ajit Someshwar said Canada should help alleviate the plight of Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan the same way it helped Syrian refugees by giving them asylum in the country.

FirstPost – Jammu and Kashmir Police detain suspects over stabbing and harassment of Sikh girl

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 July 2018. Police have registered a case in connection with the alleged stabbing and harassment of a girl belonging to the minority Sikh community and studying at a university in south Kashmir, and started questioning the suspects.

The girl, studying at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), Awantipora, in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, has alleged she was stabbed by unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants last week.

The girl, a resident of Tral, also alleged that a group of students, including a woman, put pressure on her to offer prayers during the fasting month of Ramzan and “mentally tortured” her for the past one month to “convert”.

“A case has been registered and investigations taken up,” a police official said.

“Some of them have been detained. We are questioning them,” the official added, refusing to share further details.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police SP Vaid confirmed that the police were investigating the matter.

“Case registered. Suspect has been identified and being questioned,” Vaid wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah appealed to the police and university authorities to look into the issue.

“The authorities, both at IUST and the @JmuKmrPolice/@JKgrievance need to look into this and address it. Denying anything happened without even a cursory investigation is not the way to instill confidence,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

A statement from the university refuted the allegations of harassment of the student.

“The university refutes all allegations and requests all the civilised citizens of the country to not take any heed to any rumours and conspiracies of all those mischievous elements who are always there to create mistrust and dilute the harmony and diversity of the country.

These elements are trying to further their selfish interests by creating a divide in society through propaganda,” the statement said.

The Hindu – Lynch mobs across India spurred by rumours

Twenty-seven and counting

Rahul Karmakar

Assam – Maharasthra – Tamil Nadu – 07 July 2018, Although the figures are not precise, more than two dozen persons have been lynched by mobs across the country in little more than two months, since May 8.

The attacks began earlier though. From early March, villages in Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Villupuram, Tiruvannamalai districts in Tamil Nadu witnessed a series of incidents in which migrant labourers were attacked by locals who thought that they were child lifters.

Behind these seemingly irrational fears were rumours spread over WhatsApp that 200 child traffickers/criminals had entered Tamil Nadu and were planning to kidnap children.

The second victim was 65-year-old woman Rukmini, beaten to death by 200 people at Athimoor village in Polur taluk in Tiruvannamalai on May 9 after they mistook her and four family membes for child kidnappers.

The woman, a Malaysian national, and her relatives had travelled to the village in search of their ‘kuladeivam’ (family deity) temple.

Less than 24 hours later, in Pulicat near Chennai, a mob lynched a mentally ill person who was assumed to be a child lifter. The villagers then hanged his body from a newly built bridge.

The mob attacks have continued, despite steps taken by police, with two labourers from Bihar brutally assaulted on July 2 in the heart of Chennai.

In Maharasthra, the attacks have been particularly heinous. While no clear figures are forthcoming, police told The Hindu that there had been at least a dozen cases of assault and murder by mobs reported across the State since June.

In Dhule five persons from a nomadic community were bludgeoned to death on suspicion of being child-lifters.

Bharat Shankar Bhosale, his brother Dadarao Bhosale, Raju Bhosale, Bharat Malwe and Anagu Ingole, all from Solapur’s Mangalvedhe tehsil, were beaten to death with sticks and other blunt objects in the tribal hamlet of Rainpada by a frenzied mob of 4000 strong after one of them was allegedly seen talking to a minor girl.

All five were members of the nomadic Nath Gosavi community who had been on the road for more than six months before they reached Rainpada. Disturbing clips of the incident have surfaced, which shows even minors participating in the murderous act.

According to the Pimpalner police, Whatsapp posts had been doing the rounds for a while with gruesome images warning against child-traffickers. Dhule Superintendent of Police M. Ramkumar said a couple of policemen were also injured in the mob violence.

Earlier on June 29, in an eerie foreshadowing of the Dhule incident, three labour contractors from Pandharpur narrowly escaped being lynched in Nandurbar’s district’s tribal-dominant Mhaswad village. One of the victims was a former municipal councillor in the Pandharpur Municipal Council.

“As labour in Nandurbar is cheap, contractors from Western Maharashtra often come here to recruit labourers here. In this case, one of the three men stopped to ask a small girl for directions, which led to wildfire rumours that the men were child-lifters,” said Sanjay Patil, SP, Nandurbar.

He said that rumours had been rife in Mhaswad a week before the incident.

A 2000 strong mob laid siege to the Innova SUV in which the men were travelling. The trio were dragged out and beaten and their vehicle torched. A police team managed to save them, said Mr. Patil.

Two persons from the nomadic Pardhi community, Bharat Sonavane and Shivaji Shinde, were beaten to death and six others injured by a mob of 300 in Chandgaon village in Aurangabad district’s Vaijapur tehsil on suspicion of being robbers.

The police said fake social media posts about alleged midnight attacks and thefts in villages in Vaijapur taluka days before the incident had led villagers to patrol their homes at night. Some village elders in Chandgaon say, sustained dread over these theft rumours led to the killings of the Pardhi community members.

On June 8, an autorickshaw driver in his mid-50s, Tanaji Sonawane, had a close brush with death after locals in Halgara village mercilessly thrashed him after a rumour spread that he was a child-lifter.

“Owing to the strike called by the State Transport authorities, Sonawane was ferrying passengers to Chichondi village.

While returning, he was chased by motorcycle-borne youths on suspicion of being a child lifter,” said Anil Kurundkar, the assistant police inspector of Nilanga police station who rushed with his team and rescued the rickshaw driver.

Sonawane, who panicked and sought refuge in a house in Halgara village, was dragged out by a mob of 1500 persons and was on the verge of being burnt alive. His autorickshaw was torched.

“The two main reasons for attacking hapless drifters of the nomadic community are suspicion of theft or child lifting. At times the rumours spread through word-of-mouth, at times through the bane of social media. This keeps a community in a perpetual state of tension,” said G.G. Ranjankar, Deputy Suprintendent of Police, Latur (Nilanga).

“So taut is the tension, that it often translates into violent and irrational action the moment any strangers enter a town or village,” he said.

“There appears to be a total loss of reason here, aggravated perhaps by a loss of trust in the law and justice redressal mechanisms.

In each of these incidents, residents either assaulted or killed persons who were total strangers, with whom they had no prior enmity,” said Dr. Hamid Dabholkar, convener of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS).

Not always

Two adventure-loving Assamese friends, Goa-based sound engineer Nilotpal Das and Guwahati-based businessman Abhijeet Nath, where bludgeoned to death at Panjuri Kacharigaon in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on June 8.

The two had gone to a picnic spot at Kangthilangso in the district and on their way back, drove into a mob of about 250 villagers who took them for child-lifters.

The mob was particularly severe on Nilotpal who sported long, matted hair. The police later found a local man had taken advantage of the fear psychosis to plan the lynching as he had an axe to grind with the duo.

To combat random violence and mob lynchings, the MANS has been running a campaign across Maharashtra for several months titled ‘Against Violence, Towards Humanity’.

In Assam, there were at least half a dozen more cases, but a drive against social media misuse and community consultations by the police helped prevent loss of lives.

Since the Nilotpal-Abhijeet lynching case, the police have been targeting weekly rural markets, for maximum impact, as people of several villages usually gather in these markets or ‘haats’ — to campaign against rumours and fake news.
The police have also been organising community consultations at educational institutions involving students, parents and teachers to combat the social media menace.

On June 29, a mob in Katani village in Assam’s Sonitpur district tied a woman to a pole and thrashed her. But some villagers intervened and informed the police, who rescued the woman and admitted her in the hospital.

The last of such cases was reported from Daipam area in Darrang district on July 1. A group of villagers rescued a 17-year-old schizophrenia patient before others could thrash him to death.