BBC News – Afghanistan: Blast kills nine children as they walk to school

Darqad district – Takhar province – Afghanistan, 02 November 2019. Nine children have been killed in a roadside blast in north-eastern Afghanistan as they made their way to school.

The children, eight boys and a girl aged between seven and 10, accidentally stepped on a deliberately-planted mine, officials said.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the bomb.

Last month, the UN said 1,174 Afghan civilians had been killed in the three months until the end of September.

More than 3,000 people have also been injured over this period, the UN said.

“At 8.30am (04:00 GMT) this morning, tragically, nine school children were martyred in a landmine blast,” Jawad Hejri, a spokesman for the Takhar provincial governor, told AFP news agency.

He alleged that the roadside device had been planted by the Taliban, which had taken control of Takhar Province for several weeks before Afghan forces recently regained control.

The militants routinely plant roadside devices as they leave a district in the hope of targeting advancing security forces. The Taliban has not responded to a request for comment on the incident.

Last May, a landmine killed seven children and wounded two more in the southern province of Ghazni. In February, seven children were killed and 10 more wounded in Laghman province when a mortar shell exploded as they played with it.

The Tribune – Punjab gasps as cases of farm fires rise

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 01 November 2019. With cases of stubble-burning unabated, visibility in Punjab fell to near zero on Friday. Official sources warned of worse days ahead.

The state recorded the average Air Quality Index (AQI) at 295. Khanna was the worst-hit at 321 followed by Mandi Gobindgarh at 316. Malwa recorded as many as 317 farm fires today.

Patiala topped the list with 102. As many as 1,008 fires were reported by the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre in Kapurthala and 900 in Jalandhar. People going towards Sultanpur Lodhi to pay obeisance said they found it diffucult to drive due to the haze.

Residents complained of irritation in the eyes and difficulty in breathing. President of the Association of Physicians of India (Malwa branch) Dr Vitull K Gupta said the emission of hazardous gases severly affected public health.

Gentbrugge – Schelde – Gentbrugse Meersen

Branch of the Schelde along the Scheldekaai
23 October 2019

Mr & Mrs Duck

Gentbrugse Meersen
24 October 2019

An older part of the Meersen

Narrow path through a younger plantation

Crossing a ditch

Young trees and long grass

Even this old ‘Opa’ likes walking on the tree trunks
I did not put the glass jar there

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Pieter Friedrich – Modi-Merkel meet: German chancellor prioritised profit over people

Merkel calls Kashmir situation “unsustainable” but actions speak louder than words

New Delhi – India, 02 November 2019. October 31 was an eventful Halloween in India. German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in New Delhi with an entourage of 12 of Germany’s 16 cabinet ministers.

On the same day a fact finding report was released on Kashmir: just a day after the touring MEPs expressed support for Modi’s scrapping of Article 370, which granted Kashmir semi-autonomous status, calling it India’s “internal matter.”

The majority of the two dozen visiting MEPs had hailed from extreme right-wing political parties, including Germany’s neo-Nazi Alternative für Deutschland, a party which will likely soon be headed by Björn Höcke, who has criticized Germany’s Holocaust commemoration policies and declared as his platform: “We want Germany to remain German.”

Facts that the EU delegation may have ignored

This other, not much publicised fact-finding team, one composed not of politicians from Europe but of attorneys and human rights activists from India, released a report which starkly contradicted the EU delegation’s conclusions.

Terrorism, concluded this report, has indeed found a foothold in Kashmir. State-sponsored terrorism, that is. Among the facts about the suspension of public transportation, absence of adequate medical care, surveillance of local media, and illegal detentions, one detail stood out.

“There are numerous cases of torture by the armed forces. In some instances, the tortures are made audible through loudspeakers so that other people can hear the victim’s screams,” stated the report.

The horrifying allegation that India’s military is psychologically terrorizing Kashmiris by broadcasting the sounds of torture victims was, however, swiftly overshadowed by geo-political developments.

What Merkel could have focused on

Merkel’s talks with Modi could have focused on atrocities in Kashmir. She might also have made mention of the massive detention centers currently being constructed in Assam to house the approximately two million people recently disenfranchised by India’s National Register of Citizens, — and how Germany knows, from personal experience, that building concentration camps never ends well.

Maybe she could have also discussed the controversy that arose this summer when Germany’s ambassador to India, Walter Lindner, visited the RSS headquarters in Nagpur to lay flowers at the feet of the paramilitary’s founder, an action that prompted nearly 4,500 people to sign a petition demanding his resignation.

Instead, Merkel’s office announced (as reported by NDTV), “The focus will be economic and trade relations, innovation and digitalization, and climate protection and sustainable development.”

Profits over people took precedence. On 01 November Merkel inked over 20 memorandums of understanding intended to intensify economic relations between Germany and India. No doubt she is blinded by the billions, of which there were over $24 in bilateral trade between the two countries in the last fiscal year.

Merkel’s disappointing statement on Kashmir

Aside from economic cooperation, Merkel and Modi shook hands on another major agreement. “We will strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation to deal with dangers such as terrorism and extremism,” announced Modi.

A joint statement issued by the two leaders pledged to work towards a “stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism.”

The state-sponsored terror in Kashmir and the atrocities in the rest of the country in the name of Hindu supremacy apparently do not fall under the purview of their agreement.

Merkel, who certainly understands that actions speak louder than words, offered only the briefest of remarks on Kashmir when probed by German journalists. “The situation now for the people (in Kashmir) is not good and not sustainable,” she said. “This has to be improved for sure.”

Why the situation is not good or who is responsible for it was not something Merkel bothered to address.

How Much is Merkel Willing to Ignore?

Acting as Merkel’s mouthpiece on the eve before her trip, however, Ambassador Lindner more explicitly described Germany’s position on Kashmir. It mirrors that of the far-right EU delegation. “Our position remains that Article 370 is an internal matter for India,” said Lindner.

In the face of massive profits, it seems virtually anything and everything that Modi does will fall under the category of an “internal matter for India.”

Modi’s actions in Kashmir and Assam are not enough to cause her to turn up her nose at him.

Nor, indeed, does Merkel appear bothered that RSS (with the BJP as its front) rules India, despite the fact that the fascist paramilitary was founded in 1925, the same year that Hitler published Mein Kampf, reformulated the Nazi party, and founded the Schutzstaffel, and developed with direct inspiration from the Nazis.

Today, supremacist violence is on the rise in Germany. The victims there are of the same category as the victims in India, minorities (often, but not always, Muslims) and immigrants. Just last month, on October 9, a gunman stormed a German synagogue, killing two people.

In June, a neo-Nazi assassinated Walter Luebcke, a member of Merkel’s own party. It marked the first right-wing political murder of a German politician since the end of the Second World War.

Will Merkel Also Embrace the AfD?

Meanwhile, the AfD is overtaking Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, knocking the CDU into a third-place showing in elections in the state of Thuringia. Höcke, the AfD’s rising star, heads the party’s Thuringia branch.

His “Germany for the Germans” platform directly mirrors the platform of the BJP and RSS, who proclaim that India is a Hindu nation.

Notably, white supremacist terrorist Anders Breivik of Norway, who massacred 77 people in 2011, praised the RSS, and its “political arm,” the BJP, for how they “dominate the streets and often riot and attack Muslims.”

Affirming the BJP/RSS agenda to “make the Indian state into a ‘Hindu nation’,” Breivik declared, “It is essential that the European and Indian resistance movements learn from each other and cooperate as much as possible.”

If Merkel isn’t picky about who she works with, as long as they have deep pockets, then one wonders where she will draw the line. Will she also embrace the AfD — or worse — if there’s a chance to put profits over people?

Pieter Friedrich is a South Asian Affairs Analyst who resides in California. He is the co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent. [centre/italics]

Discover more by him at: – India has decided to eliminate one of the root causes of terrorism, Modi says in Thailand

The prime minister added that his government wanted to develop North East India as the gateway for South East Asia.

Bangkok – Thailand, 02 November 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India had eliminated a big reason for terrorism and separatism, in apparent reference to the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the reorganisation of the state.

“You are aware that India has decided to eliminate one of the root causes of terrorism and separatism,” Modi said while addressing the Indian diaspora in Thailand, PTI reported. “When a decision is right, its echo is heard across the globe.” He said that his government was trying to do things that were earlier thought impossible.

He was speaking in Bangkok’s Nimibutr Stadium at the ‘Sawasdee PM Modi’ event. Sawasdee is the Thai word used for greetings.

The prime minister in Thailand on a three-day visit to attend the 16th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, the 14th East Asia Summit, and the third Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit. Modi and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will co-chair the ASEAN-India summit on Sunday.

When Modi referred to Article 370 during his address to the diaspora, he received a standing ovation, reports said. “This standing ovation from you is for the Parliament of India,” Modi said in response, according to the Hindustan Times.

India had on August 5 rescinded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, paving the way for the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These came into existence on October 31.

Modi also referred to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections held in April and May this year. “India is the world’s biggest democracy, and in this year’s elections, our people blessed me even more than last time,” he said, while listing his government’s projects. He attributed the voter turnout during the elections to his government’s achievements.

He also praised the “deep friendly and historical relationship” between Thailand and India, and added that his government wanted to connect North East India to Thailand. “We want to develop it as the gateway for South East Asia,” Modi said.

“Once the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway is opened, there will be seamless connectivity between both our countries,” he added. “I am glad that all of you will have a chance to be part of this story.”

Does the Prime Minister really think that by making Delhi rule over Jammu & Kashmir even more oppressive Terrorism and Seperatism will ‘disappear’ ? Or is the next step declaring all Muslims in J & K as Pakistanis and sent them across the border ?
Man in Blue