The Statesman – NRC list: Indians have become refugees in their own country, says Mamata Banerjee

The second and final draft of the NRC, which is a list of the state’s citizens, was published on Monday with over 2.89 crore names out of 3.29 crore applicants in Assam. Names of nearly 40.07 lakh applicants did not figure in the document.

New Delhi – India, 31 July 2018. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has claimed that names of those with passport, Aadhaar and voter cards were excluded from the final NRC draft in Assam, came down heavily on the BJP-led central government on Tuesday.

She said the Indians who voted for the ruling party had now become refugees in their own land.

“What is going on in Assam? The NRC problem. It is not only the Bengalis, it is the minorities, it is Hindus, it is Bengalis, it is Biharis. More than 40 lakh people voted yesterday for the ruling party and suddenly today they have been made refugees in their own country,” Banerjee said, speaking at the ‘Love your Neighbour’ conference in New Delhi.

Talking about the people who were left out of the list, Banerjee expressed surprise about names of former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s family members not being on the NRC Assam list.

“I am surprised to see that the names of our former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s family members are not on the #NRCAssam list. What else can I say? There are so many people whose names are not there,” said Banerjee.

“I don’t want to see my motherland divided. We will not allow this to happen in Bengal because we are there. Today, these people cannot even vote,” she added.

The second and final draft of the NRC, which is a list of the state’s citizens, was published on Monday with over 2.89 crore names out of 3.29 crore applicants in Assam. Names of nearly 40.07 lakh applicants did not figure in the document.

The first draft of the NRC for Assam was published in December end as per the top court’s direction. It was published on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 where names of 1.9 crore people out of the 3.29 crore applicants were incorporated.

The Tribune – Fighting for autonomy: Khaira

Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 30 July 2018. AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Monday claimed that the popular sentiment in the party’s Punjab unit was with them and he was confident of getting the support of 15 of the party’s 20 MLAs in the state. He, however, clarified that he was not for a split, but for uniting the party.

Addressing mediapersons here, Khaira said: “Our fight is only for the autonomy of the state unit. There have been two-three instances when the party leaders were removed in an undemocratic manner. This is not acceptable.”

He claimed that a conspiracy was being hatched against him within the party for quite some time.

‘Bid to shield Behbal Kalan accused’

Meanwhile, lashing out at CM Capt Amarinder Singh for handing over Behbal Kalan firing probe to the CBI, Khaira, Khaira alleged that the move was aimed at shielding the perpetrators of the act. He said the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission had already investigated the case and the CM must explain the move to hand over the probe to the CBI.

Gent De Krook & Ledeberg Moskee and Town Hall

De Krook
25 June 2018

De Krook – Brabantdam bridge

De Krook – Brabantdam bridge
Not yet connected on the other side

How the missing bit will be bridged I don’t know

27 June 2018

Yavuz Sultan Selim
Cami / Moskee

Muslim wedding in the Ledeberg Town Hall

Ledeberg Town Hall

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The bureau of investigative journalism – Afghanistan – Nangarhar: Descent into chaos

Jalalabad – Nangarhar – Afghanistan, 30 July 2018. Sleeping shopkeepers caught in the crossfire. Three school guards beheaded by armed men. The only Sikh candidate due to stand in coming parliamentary elections blown up in a suicide attack. This is a month in Nangarhar, a once relatively quiet province in eastern Afghanistan.

These incidents are just a fraction of the bloodshed this year in Nangarhar, a province which few people outside of Afghanistan have heard of, but which has, under the radar, become one of the most dangerous for civilians outside of Kabul.

The more infamous insurgency hotspots, Kandarhar and Helmand, were partially subdued at the cost of scores of US and UK troops between 2009-2010. But even the limited gains in security created by the US surge proved hard to sustain.
As US troops withdrew and Afghan forces concentrated their resources on population centres, abandoning swathes of the countryside (according to information leaked to the New York Times over the weekend, this is now a central plan in the Trump administration’s Afghan strategy), Nangarhar’s problems grew more acute.

The fact that it is now slipping towards the levels of chaos and conflict once seen in Helmand underscores the ineffectivesness of the US’s 17 year long attempt to stabilise Afghanistan militarily.

For the residents of Nangarhar, this ineffectiveness has been costly. The country’s franchise of Islamic State (known as IS-K) has managed to gain a foothold in the province when it had failed elsewhere, exploiting the disarray of government forces and the fragmentation of the local insurgency.

Latest figures from the UN mission in Afghanistan show civilian casualties in Nangarhar doubled in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period the year before.

The vast majority of these have been caused by roadside bombs and suicide attacks, most of which have been claimed by IS-K. But this is also the province where most search operations have turned deadly and it is home to the district with one of the highest civilian casualty rates from US strikes.

The mineral-rich Nangarhar province, whose mountains reach across the Pakistan border, had remained comparatively unaffected by the war waging in other provinces.

But the departure of US troops began its fray into chaos, and when IS-K was able to capture several districts in Nangarhar in mid-2015 soon after it emerged publicly, the descent continued. The Afghan government has limited presence on the ground to gain intelligence and the US even less.

Fardaws Khan knows this well. It was the dead of night when government forces attacked his house in the village of Lal Pur last September. While some of the details remain hazy, Fardaws says that by the time morning came, his wife, 12-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son had been shot dead.

Fardaws himself has been left with life changing injuries, as a wound has exposed part of his intestines.

“We were in agony at that moment. We could not move, we were lying down and bleeding,” Fardaws told the Bureau. “I used to be a farmer but now I can’t do anything.”

“The government admits I’m a victim and that it killed my family members for no reason”

Documents from local government officials in Nangarhar confirm that civilians were killed by Afghan forces in the raid.

But mention of responsibility fades out of the paperwork as it goes up the chain of command, leaving Fardaws struggling to get any kind of compensation, seemingly stuck in a bureaucratic battle with various arms of the Afghan government.

“The government has not helped a penny although it admits that I am a victim and that it killed my family members for no reason,” he says.

There have been a number of reports of Afghan night-time raids causing civilian casualties in Nangahar in recent months. One particular incident caught the headlines, Afghan forces had killed relatives of Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, the Afghan Senate Chairman, a prominent politician with clout in Kabul.

The incident is a clear example of the complexity of operations in such areas. One resident told the Bureau that an Afghan police official in the village had rushed to the aid of a Taliban commander, who was a relative, supposedly believing he was under attack from IS-K forces (IS-K and the Taliban have frequently clashed in Nangarhar).

Both the Taliban commander and the police chief were also said to be cousins of the Senate Chairman.

The building number of civilian casualties from raids in Nangarhar is likely, in part, to be a symptom of the intensity of the battle waged by US and Afghan troops against IS-K.

A barrage of strikes has rained down on the province since US commanders were given the targeting authority to hit the group in January 2016, the air force even deploying the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat, known as the MOAB, against a tunnel complex where IS-K fighters had established a base.

Now their offensive has moved into what they hope will be its final phase, with the US military announcing joint forces had captured the group’s local capital in July.

Air strikes carried out during an operation in Nangarhar in February 2018 US Army photo by Jacob Krone

It is unclear how successful this latest attempt will be. The US military vowed to defeat IS-K by the end of 2017, but constant strikes have struggled to stem IS-K attacks with the group now claiming deadly bombings all the way in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Meanwhile in Nangarhar, their presence is terrorising much of the local population. Over 80 girls’ schools shut their doors last month, in response to a threat from Islamic State. In one particularly brutal attack, armed fighters suspected of belonging to Islamic State beheaded three school guards and set part of the building on fire.

“As part of the war strategy the US even used the ‘mother of all bombs’ [MOAB] in Nangarhar last year, but it did not result in the slightest reduction of violence,” says Fazal Muzhary, a researcher with Afghanistan Analysts Network. “Instead the violence in Afghanistan, and particularly in eastern Nangarhar, has increased.”

As part of the war strategy the US even used the ‘mother of all bombs’ [MOAB] in Nangarhar last year, but it did not result in the slightest reduction of violence.

And for many, Nangarhar’s descent speaks to a much wider issue, one that extends beyond IS-K. “The declining security environment in Nangarhar merely underscores the deep contradictions in US strategy in Afghanistan, and the unwinnable nature of the war,” says Stephen Walt, Professor of International Affairs at the US-based Harvard Kennedy School.

“If the US sends more troops, our presence generates more conflict, triggers more resentment, aids Taliban recruiting, and fuels internal corruption. If we reduce our role, the Afghan government’s forces are spread too thin and once-tranquil areas will become active war zones,” Walt adds.

Michael Kugelman, a specialist on Afghanistan and deputy director of the US-based Wilson Centre’s Asia program, agrees that the situation in Nangarhar says much about the US’s strategy in Afghanistan.

“I have faulted the US for its reductive and incomplete strategy in Afghanistan…Nangarhar is a sobering example of blowback from that unidimensional and overly securitised strategy,” he told the Bureau.

“If you would have asked a US military officer 15 years ago whether they would expect the US’ largest non-nuclear asset to be dropped in Nangarhar, at that point, they would have been surprised,” says Kugelman.

But, he adds, Nangarhar is not unique, “You can pick a variety of examples from Nangarhar to far beyond the other side of the country that used to be peaceful places. You could use many examples to say: After 17 years of fighting, after billions of dollars spent, after many lives lost, what do we have?”

“A country in a very precarious state,” Kugelman concludes.

The Hindu – Kathua rape and murder case: J&K Crime Branch files supplementary charge sheet

It includes medical opinion about the effect of sedatives on the victim as well as the location of son of Sanji Ram, alleged to be the mastermind behind the abduction and killing.

Jammu/Pathankot – J&K/Panjab, 30 July 2018. The Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Crime Branch on Monday filed a supplementary charge sheet before a Pathankot court in the case of rape and murder of an eight-year-old from a minority nomadic community in Kathua, officials said.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) R K Jalla, accompanied by Special Public Prosecutor J K Chopra and other lawyers, submitted the charge sheet before District and Sessions Judge Tejwinder Singh, the officials said.

The charge sheet includes medical opinion about the effect of sedatives on the victim as well as the location of Vishal, son of Sanji Ram, alleged to be the mastermind behind the abduction and killing in January this year. Vishal had claimed he had never visited Kathua.

The Crime Branch has arrested Ram, Vishal and his juvenile nephew, two special police officers Deepak Khajuria alias ‘Dipu’ and Surender Verma and friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu. All of them were named in the first charge sheet on April 9.

It also arrested Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence. Raj and Dutta have since been dismissed from service.

Destruction of evidence

The supplementary charge sheet has summed up the investigation, alleging that Kumar was not only in constant touch with co-accused Khajuria, but also in contact with Raj.

Raj is believed to have played a pivotal role in striking a deal between Ram and the police for destruction of evidence.

The charge sheet also submitted Kumar’s detailed call analysis to show he shared a common location with other accused on crucial dates of crime and immediately thereafter.

The duration of the calls made and their frequency increased after the rape and murder of the girl, leading to the “irresistible conclusion of knee deep involvement of accused Surinder Kumar with other accused…”, the charge sheet stated.

Cash withdrawn to bribe police’

The Crime Branch also conducted an analysis of the two bank accounts of Ram, custodian of the temple where the child was allegedly confined, and found he made huge cash withdrawals.

Witness statements recorded by the Crime Branch confirmed the accused had undertaken no constructional activity and had no social obligation either, the document said.

The charge sheet alleged that the withdrawals were made to bribe the police officers for destruction of evidence.

Earlier this month, the Crime Branch informed the Supreme Court that it would submit a supplementary charge sheet in the case. The court had given them eight weeks to file it.

The district and sessions court in Pathankot framed charges of rape and murder against the seven accused in the case on June 8.

Ram is alleged to have hatched the conspiracy with the other accused for kidnapping the girl as part of a strategy to remove the minority nomadic community from the area.