Tolo News – Activists, relatives in Helmand seek justice for civilian deaths

“Aren’t they your children? I call on the international community and the Taliban to end this shedding of blood.”

Sayed Sharif Amiri

Lashkargah – Helmand – Afghanistan, 24 September 2019. Grieving relatives and activists gathered on Tuesday in Lashkargah, the provincial capital of Helmand, in a public response to a military operation on Sunday night that claimed the lives of family members and fellow residents. Forty civilians killed and 16 wounded were the numbers claimed by a member of the Helmand provincial council.

On Sunday night, in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, an operation was carried out by Afghan and International forces to target a Taliban weapons cache, official military and government forces reported.

The number of insurgents killed varies among official accounts but sources say that Al-Qaida fighters were among those killed and captured, and photographs were provided by a US forces spokesperson showing suicide vests and other explosive materials seized during the raid.

The dozen or so Helmand residents on Tuesday came together to publicly express their outrage, pain, and in some cases to declare that the continuation of such attacks is unacceptable.

“Aren’t they your children? I call on the International community and the Taliban to end this shedding of blood,” said Amir Mohammad Akhondzada, a tribal elder in Helmand province.

“It is unacceptable for us to continue, you see, forty people killed for the sake of six people,” said Abdul Khaliq, a civil society activist based in Helmand.

Some close relatives present at the gathering say they lost their wives and children in the air strikes, and that a number of the victims were wedding guests.

Samiullah, a resident of Musa Qala, said he lost several of his relatives in the Sunday night operation, and that his sister was wounded:

“One of my nephews was martyred, and three other relatives were martyred.”

“All family members of Abdul Rahman were killed and only one of their family’s children remains alive, the rest were killed in the operation,” said Mohammad Rafiq, a resident of the district.

A member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called the attack a criminal act.

“An Increase in civilian casualties is worrying for the human rights commission, and we call for all parties involved in the war to pay attention to civilian lives,” said Latifa Sultani, the Women Rights Coordinator for the AIHRC.

A former military officer said that lack of punishment, and intelligence shortcomings, are the main reasons for such incidents:

“Indifference on the one hand, non-execution of orders and lack of punishment on the other, as well as weak intelligence,” are the causes, said Attiqullah Amarkahil, a former Afghan Air Force commander, “but I must say that there is no definitive analysis in war.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense in statement said that the ministry is investigating the incident in Musa Qala district of Helmand province.

“In Musa Qala, we inflicted heavy casualties on foreign terrorists and al-Qaeda affiliates, and we take the claims of civilian casualties very seriously and will investigate the incident,” said Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

The Ministry of Defense stated that 22 Taliban members, including five Pakistani members, were killed in the operation.

The Tribune – Chargesheet against 18 for Congress leader’s murder

Nearly three months later, five accused still at large
The police have filed a chargesheet against 18 of the 23 accused booked in connection with the murder of Congress leader Vikas Chaudhary here on June 27.

Bijendra Ahlawat – Tribune News Service

Faridabad – Haryana – India, 24 September 2019. Five of the accused, including the two main shooters, are still out of the police net around three months after the murder. The main accused, according to police sources, is gangster Kaushal, who was arrested last month by the STF after his arrival from Dubai. It had been claimed that Sachin Kheri, nabbed on September 3, is the mastermind.

All 18 accused, including Roshni, wife of Kaushal, were named in the chargesheet filed in court on Monday. The other accused are Naresh (servant of Kaushal), dismissed Head Constable Rajkumar, PSO of Chaudhary Pradeep Kumar, Deepak, Harender, Tek Chand, Amit Dagar, Suraj, Sunil, Amardeep, Navin, Dharamjit Saurabh, Atul, Neeraj and Sachin.

Five other accused had been identified as Vikas alias Male of Dhanwapur in Gurugram, Sajjan alias Bholu of Jhajjar, Navin of Kabulpur in Rohtak, Kartoos and Rohit alias Lambu. The chargesheet against 18 accused had been filed as it was required to be filed within 90 days of the first arrest, said an official.

The chargesheet against the other five could be filed after their arrest. The chargesheet had been prepared by a crime branch team. Two armed youths in a car shot Chaudhary outside a gym here on June 27 and fled. The shooters were accompanied by five persons in another car who were providing back-up.

While a SIT had been formed, the police claimed that the main reason behind the murder was the failure on the part of Chaudhary to pay extortion money demanded by Kaushal, who was abroad at that time.

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Oostende NMBS and De Lijn station

01 September 2019

IC train from Eupen to Oostende

Oostende NMBS and De Lijn station
01 September 2019

Oostende NMBS Station

Timetable Oostende Knokke tram 0

Kusttram – Coastal tram

Coastal Tram
75 km from De Panne near the French border
to Knokke near the Netherlands border

Zand gevuld – voor nood stops
Sand filled up – for emergency stops

Map showing all stops of the ‘Kusttram’


More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The News Laundry – Kashmir: Fact-finding report accuses Indian Army of committing atrocities, demands inquiry

What is happening in Kashmir is ‘a human tragedy’.

Gaurav Sarkar

New Delhi – India, 24 September 2019. A fact-finding report released by a team of women activists has made disturbing allegations against the Indian Army deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. The allegations include the “lifting” of 13,000 young boys by Army personnel, and family members being taken away for questioning if curfew is “breached”.

The report was released at the Delhi Press Club Tuesday afternoon by Communist Party of India leader Annie Raja, Kawaljit Kaur and Pankhuri Zaheer of the National Federation of Indian Women, the advocate Poonam Kaushik from the Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, and Syeda Hameed of the Muslim Women’s Forum. The five of them visited Kashmir from September 17 to 21.

The team visited Srinagar and several villages in the districts of Shopian, Pulwama and Bandipora. Their report incorporates eyewitness accounts of the restrictions imposed on the people since the Centre’s abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which granted autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. The names of the eyewitnesses were changed to protect their identities.

According to the report, in some places, lights must be switched off in homes by 8 pm. “In Bandipora, we saw a young girl who made the mistake of keeping a lamp lit to read for her exam on the chance that her school may open soon,” the report says.

“Army men angered by this breach of ‘curfew’, jumped the wall to barge in. Father and son, the only males in the house were taken away for questioning.”

The report quotes a woman from Bandipora: “In a reflex action, my four-year-old places a finger on her lips when she hears a dog bark after dusk. Barking dogs mean an imminent visit by the Army. I can’t switch on the phone for light so I can take my little girl to the toilet. Light shows from far and if that happens our men pay with their lives.”

At the press conference, Raja said the abrogation of Article 370 “united the people of Kashmir”. “They now speak in one voice and their sentiment is one. Everyone, irrespective of age or gender, feels that this is the last blow on the dignity and self-respect of the people,” she added.

“They cannot forgive and they cannot forget. This is the feeling in all districts. They were so angry but determined to fight back.”

Raja continued: “What I felt is happening in Kashmir is the Indian variant of genocide. There is a human tragedy and that tragedy is because of so many reasons: communication ban and absence of transportation, deaths taking place because of non-availability of timely medical care.”

According to the report, about 13,000 young boys have been “lifted” by the Army during the lockdown. Raja explained, “We met some of the mothers who said their children were picked up by the Army at night and that they were not provided any information about the whereabouts of their children.”

Raja said the Army cannot remain in Kashmir as a “holding power”. “The extent of their atrocity and violence and them terrorising people, especially young boys and girls, at night is a dangerous thing,” she said. “It makes all of us think about what is the policy of the government in Kashmir.”

She claimed that currently no political party except the Bharatiya Janata Party can organise meetings in Kashmir. “This itself is a violation of democracy and democratic rights of the people,” she argued.

Kaushik said the Kashmir Bar Association’s office was locked when the team visited it. “Lawyers I spoke with said the state is judicially paralysed, that constitutional laws don’t exist here,” she recalled. “The bridge between Kashmir and India, which was built on the basis of Article 370, has been broken.”

Describing what the team saw in the five days it spent in Kashmir, Hameed said, “It was like a cloud of depression that we walked into. The people living there don’t know anything at all about what is going on outside the state. Not the media reports or the protests, it’s like living behind an iron curtain.”

She added, “The forces feel very angry when they see a young Kashmiri boy. Thappad maarna is the new normal.”

The report concludes: “Everywhere we went there were two inexorable sentiments. First, desire for Azadi; they want nothing of either India or Pakistan. The humiliation and torture they have suffered for 70 years has reached a point of no return. Abrogation of 370 some say has snapped the last tie they had with India.

Even those people who always stood with the Indian state have been rejected by the government. Since all their leaders have been placed under PSA [Public Safety Act] or under house arrest, the common people have become their own leaders. Their suffering is untold, so is their patience. The second was the mothers’ anguished cries…their children’s lives should not be snuffed out by gun and jackboots.”

To redress the situation, the team demands that:

  • All communication lines in Kashmir, including internet and mobile networks, must be immediately restored.
  • Articles 370 and 35A must be restored.
  • All future decisions about the political future of Jammu and Kashmir must be taken through a process of dialogue with the state’s people.
  • All Army personnel must be removed from civilian areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • A time-bound inquiry committee must be constituted to look into the excesses committed by the Army.

News laundry contacted the Indian Army’s spokesperson for comment on the allegations made in the report. The story will be updated if a response is received.

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The Hindu – RSS will disown any swayamsewak found involved in lynching, says Bhagwat

Fears of Kashmiris about loss of land and jobs should be allayed, he says

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 24 September 2019. Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat at a meeting on Tuesday with 80 journalists representing 50 organisations from over 30 countries said the RSS was against all forms of violence and in a specific comment on incidents of lynching said the organisation would “disown any swayamsewak found guilty of such an act”.

It was an interaction that lasted over two and a half hours and covered topics ranging from the recent abrogation of the special status of J&K to homosexuality and caste-based reservations.

The interaction was restricted to foreign journalists and Mr Bhagwat was accompanied by RSS second in command Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi, joint general secretaries Manmohan Vaidya, Krishan Gopal, northern region incharge Bajran Lal Gupt and its Delhi unit head Kulbhushan Ahuja.

“This interaction was part of the continuous process where the ‘Sarsanghchalak’ [chief] engages in constructive dialogue with people from different walks of society,” said an official statement put out by the RSS. While the statement did not go into the content of the discussion, sources present at the meeting said it covered almost all aspects of contemporary discourse.

Mr Bhagwat reportedly told his audience that the abrogation of J&K’s special status would help “integrate” the people with the rest of India, and added that whatever fears they had about loss of land and jobs should be allayed.

He also came out in strong support of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill saying Hindus had no place of succour other than India. The Bill proposes to grant citizenship to those people hailing from the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Parsi religions who were fleeing persecution from India’s neighbouring countries.

Mr Bhagwat advised the journalists to “believe in what you see” and not to judge the RSS on the basis of propaganda, adding that the RSS was working everyday to demolish propaganda against itself.

Much of what he spoke of, including that the organisation views homosexuality as a “variation” rather than an abnormality, had been mentioned by Mr Bhagwat in his three- day lecture series at the Vigyan Bhawan last year.

He did however briefly comment on the handling of the economy, albeit after a declaration that he was “no expert” but that there was “no paralysis as under the 10 years of UPA” and that the rest of it was part of a process.

The meeting started with a brief introduction given by Mr Bhagwat followed by a question-and-answer session covering a wide range of issues across the spectrum, according to the statement.