The Hindu – Congress defends Rahul’s warning against exclusion

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 23 August 2018. The Congress on Thursday strongly defended party president Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Germany where he had argued that excluding large sections of people from the development narrative could lead to insurgency in any part of the world.

On Wednesday, Mr Gandhi told the Bucerius Summer School at Hamburg (Germany) that the BJP government has excluded tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development process and that could be a “dangerous thing”.

He said that in 2003 after the USA attacked Iraq and defeated Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, they brought a law that stopped a particular tribe in Iraq from getting jobs in the government and in the army.

“It took the United States a couple of months to defeat Saddam Hussein’s Army, hardly any American soldier died. A few months after the invasion, the network that was excluded from jobs in Iraq, the Tikriti tribal network, linked up with the cellphone network in Iraq and with the network of artillery shells that were left in villages.

And you got an insurgency that caused massive casualties to the Americans. It didn’t end there. That insurgency slowly entered empty spaces. It entered the empty space in Iraq and in Syria and then it connected with…a horrific idea called ISIS,” Mr. Gandhi said

“If you don’t give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will. And that’s the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process,” Mr. Gandhi said.

After being attacked by the BJP, the Congress explained the context of the party chief’s comment. “Unemployment is the biggest issue and Mr Gandhi explained how this sort of anger, not just in India but across the world, can lead the youth to the wrong path, violence and hatred.

But the BJP doesn’t even acknowledge joblessness as a problem,” said former Union Minister R P N Singh at a press briefing.

At the Hamburg speech, the Congress chief linked the lynching incidents in India to joblessness as well and the lack of opportunities for the poor. He claimed lynchings were the result of the anger emanating from joblessness and destruction of small businesses due to the note ban and a flawed Goods and Services Tax.

Asked about his now famous hug to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament, the Congress chief revealed that many of his party colleagues didn’t like it. He said it is “foolish to respond to hate with hate” and alleged that the Prime Minister had made hateful comments against him.

Mr Gandhi said he disagreed with the suggestion that India was the worst place for women in the world but admitted incidents of violence against women in the country were rising.

Asked how can the rising violence be tackled, he said through non-violence and forgiveness. “And for forgiveness, you need to understand where it is coming from. My father was killed by a terrorist in 1991.

When the terrorist died a few years later, I wasn’t happy. I saw myself in his children,” he said, referring to LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran, responsible for the killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, being shot dead by the Sri Lankan Army in 2009.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cong-defends-rahuls-warning-against-exclusion/article24762521.ece

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BBC News – Kabul bombings: Journalists targeted in blast which killed 25

At least 25 people have been killed in two bombings in the Afghan capital Kabul, including several journalists documenting the scene.

AFP chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, is among the victims.

The first explosion was carried out by an attacker on a motorbike. A second followed about 15 minutes later after a crowd, including several reporters, had gathered at the scene.

The Islamic State group (IS) said it had carried out the attack.

It was one of several fatal incidents on Monday.

BBC reporter Ahmad Shah was also killed in a separate attack in the Khost region.

And in a third attack, 11 children were killed in a suicide bombing intended to target Nato troops in Kandahar province.

Bomber ‘disguised himself”

In the Kabul attack, the AFP news agency said the second blast had deliberately targeted the group of journalists, including its photographer Shah Marai.

“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” AFP quoted a police spokesman as saying.

At least eight journalists and four police officers were among the dead, interior minister spokesperson Najib Danish told the BBC. So far, 45 people have been reported injured.

– Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty confirmed that three of its journalists were killed in the attack. Abadullah Hananzai, a journalist and cameraman, had been working on a story about narcotics, while Maharram Durrani worked on the weekly women’s programme. Sabawoon Kakar had earlier been listed as injured, but died later in hospital.
– Tolo News said its cameraman Yar Mohammad Tokhi was among the victims
– Afghanistan’s 1TV said reporter Ghazi Rasooli and cameraman Nowroz Ali Rajabi had been killed

The intelligence services headquarters had been the target, IS said in a statement released through its self-styled news outlet Amaq.

The Shashdarak district also houses the defence ministry and a Nato compound.

“This is the deadliest day for Afghan media in the past 15 years,” the head of Tolo News TV, Lotfullah Najafizada, told the BBC.

“We went, all of us, to the blast site. We said: ‘If you killed an entire line of journalists reporting here, in five hours time we’re back here; the line is longer; the queue is longer and the resolve is greater.”

Bombings in the Afghan capital are not uncommon.

Earlier in April, a suicide bomb at a voter registration killed almost 60 people and injured 119, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

The Taliban also remain active in the country, only 30% of which is under full government control, according to BBC research published earlier this year.

AFP paid tribute to Shah Marai, who it said had six children, including a newborn baby.

“This is a devastating blow,” global news director Michele Leridon said.

“We can only honour the extraordinary strength, courage and generosity of a photographer who covered often traumatic, horrific events with sensitivity and consummate professionalism.”

Who was the BBC’s Ahmad Shah?

A shooting in Khost province resulted in the death of a BBC reporter.

“It is with great sadness that the BBC can confirm the death of BBC Afghan reporter Ahmad Shah following an attack earlier today,” said Jamie Angus, director of the BBC World Service.

“Ahmad Shah was 29. He had worked for the BBC Afghan service for more than a year and had already established himself as a highly capable journalist who was a respected and popular member of the team.

“This is a devastating loss and I send my sincere condolences to Ahmad Shah’s friends and family and the whole BBC Afghan team.

“We are doing all we can to support his family at this very difficult time.”

Local police are investigating a motive.

What happened in the Kandahar attack?

Also on Monday, a suicide bomb attack in the Kandahar region killed 11 schoolchildren and injured many more.

The bomber appeared to have been targeting a military vehicle convoy in Daman district, but the explosion struck a nearby religious school. In addition to the dead, more than a dozen children were reported injured in the blast.

Nato forces operate from a base in the area, and Nato officials confirmed that some of its people had been injured, as had Afghan police.

Eight of the injured were of Romanian nationality, Nato said, but all were in stable condition.

No group has yet said it carried out the Kandahar attack.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43946539

Dawn – Explosion, arson in Sri Lanka despite emergency

The Newspaper’s Correspondent

Kandy – Central Province – Sri Lanka, 08 March 2018. One person was killed and several others injured in an explosion on Wednesday evening, as the government struggled with the risk of communal tension escalating in the hill capital for the third consecutive day. A 24-hour police curfew was re-imposed in the district from 4pm until Thursday.

The explosion took place in an area called Pujapitiya in Kandy. The ethnicity of the deceased was not immediately clear. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said it was not certain if the explosive was a grenade or not.

Moreover, mobs torched Muslim-owned businesses in Kandy on Wednesday as hundreds of police and troops struggled to restore order after days of rioting.

Meanwhile, leaves of all police personnel have been cancelled until further notice on the instruction of the inspector general of police.

Under the state of emergency declared by President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday, the military is enabled with sweeping powers to conduct cordon and search operations anywhere and carry out arrests.

The historical district, a much-loved tourist spot, was dominated by fear of the cycle of violence continuing amid reports that mobs in certain areas were lying in wait to carry out attacks. Schools in the district remains closed until further notice.

Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka has begun monitoring social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Viber, WhatsApp and YouTube as part of the government’s effort to prevent the spread of ethnic and religious based hate speech.

Sirisena rushes to Kandy

Meanwhile, in a bid to calm the unrest in Kandy, Sirisena rushed to the riot-torn district on Wednesday and held a special meeting with all religious and political leaders and officials, urging them to bring peace back to the Buddhist heritage city.

The Buddhist Mahasangha, led by the Anunayaka Theros of Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters, and Muslim, Hindu and Catholic religious leaders took part in the discussion alongside, ministers, government officers, and chiefs of security forces.

The Sri Lankan president appealed to all gathered to avoid divisive statements and actions. The religious leaders pointed out that exaggeration of minor incidents through various social media platforms had been a main reasons for the conflict.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1393919/explosion-arson-in-lanka-despite-emergency

DNA India – Justice S N Dhingra will head 1984 riots panel

New Delhi-India, 12 January 2018. The Supreme Court on Thursday appointed former Delhi High Court judge Justice S N Dhingra, and two others, on a committee that will look into 186 cases pertaining to the 1984 anti-sikh riots. The cases were closed by the Home Ministry-appointed Special Investigations Team (SIT).

Retired IPS officer Rajdeep Singh and serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular will complete the three-member committee, which has to submit its report within two months.

Justice Dhingra is known for sentencing Mohammed Afzal Guru to death for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack. He has also questioned land deals done by Robert Vadra and sentenced Kishori Lal, aka the ‘Butcher of Trilokpuri’, in the 1990s.

The apex court on Wednesday agreed to constitute a new three-member SIT to monitor a re-investigation in the riot cases that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

A bench asked the Centre to propose names for consideration within a few hours to hasten their appointment in the new SIT. The new committee will include one retired high court judge, one retired police officer not below the rank of a DIG and one serving police officer, the bench said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-justice-sn-dhingra-will-head-1984-riots-panel-2574814

Dawn – Hasty departure of an ex-general

Abbas Nasir

Op/Ed, 2 September 2017. A news item that didn’t seem to get any traction at all in Pakistan this week was the filing of war crimes charges in Brazil and Colombia against the former chief of the Sri Lankan army General Jagath Jayasuriya who is reported to have fled from Latin America.

The charges relate to the alleged war crimes, including summary execution of surrendered/captured Tamil Tiger cadres, rape and torture of men and women, disappearances, and then mass-scale targeting of civilians in ‘no-fire-zones’ recorded in eastern Sri Lanka using rockets and artillery.

Jayasuriya was the operational commander as a major-general in northern Sri Lanka during the last stretches of the war which saw the army finally crushing the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and declaring victory in May 2009, bringing to a close the quarter century-old conflict.

Later, after his elevation as army chief which was followed by his retirement from the army in 2015, Jayasuria was posted as his country’s envoy to Brazil with simultaneous accreditation to Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Suriname based in Brasilia.

The charges were filed by the South Africa-headquartered International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) in partnership with human rights organisations in Latin America. They were represented by Spanish lawyer Carlos Castresana Fernández.

Charges relate to Jayasuriya’s role in the final phase of the Sri Lankan civil war when the UN estimated between 40,000 and 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed.

In 1996, Mr Fernandez was among the Spanish lawyers who filed cases against Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet in the Spanish National Court. As head of the Commission Against Impunity in Guatelama (CICIG), he indicted Guatemala’s former president Alfonso Portillo and a number of other Guatemalan war criminals including members of organised crime.

He was also involved in the cases against Argentine dictator General Rafael Videla for crimes committed during his tenure from 1976 to 1981. “I am shocked to see there is even more evidence of grave crimes in this lawsuit than in the cases we started against Gen Pinochet or Videla,” said Castresana, according to the ITJP.

“Nobody believed at first that the Pinochet case would go anywhere or that the Argentinian courts would ever be able to make the military juntas accountable; nobody believed the Guatemalan security forces could be held accountable, but with a handful of good, committed people I want to tell you that it is possible to deliver justice for the victims.

I don’t care that he fled Brazil; the case is just starting. He has made things easier for us, because fleeing he will not enjoy immunity anymore.”

The ITJP says the charges relate to Jayasuriya’s role in the final phase of the civil war in 2009 when the United Nations estimated between 40,000 and 70,000 Tamil civilians were killed and a 2015 UN Investigation found reasonable grounds to conclude the Sri Lankan military had committed systematic and widespread violations of international humanitarian law.

The lawsuit filed in Brasilia and Bogotá on Monday alleges that Jayasuriya bears individual criminal responsibility as the commander of units that committed repeated attacks on hospitals, carried out acts of torture and sexual violence and were responsible for enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Jagath Jayasuriya was the Vanni Security Force commander from 2007-09 and, by his own admission, overseeing the entire conduct of the final phase of the war during which Tamil civilians were indiscriminately shelled and bombed and hospitals targeted.

He oversaw the offensive from one of Sri Lanka’s most notorious torture sites, known as Joseph Camp. The ITJP has collected testimony from 14 survivors of torture and/or sexual violence in this camp that occurred while General Jayasuriya was in command of the site.

Joseph Camp had purpose-built torture chambers, equipped with manacles and chains, pulleys for hoisting detainees upside down, bars for handcuffing them to the ceiling and underground holding cells. Victims describe hearing other detainees screaming at night, which the general would also have been able to hear from his house in the camp.

The lawsuit also alleges Jayasuriya, who went on to become Sri Lankan army commander, had command responsibility for acts of extrajudicial execution and the enforced disappearance of hundreds of those who surrendered at the end of the conflict.

The Sri Lankan government, for its part, rejected the charges against one of the country’s war heroes and described them as part of the Tamil diaspora’s ‘propaganda’ against Colombo and its forces. It has also said it is happy to investigate any credible charges of such crimes.

Having read through the details of testimonies of some of the survivors a picture of immense horror emerges of brutal torture and sex crimes against the detainees before their summary execution.

In many cases, soldiers involved in the actions were making videos of the whole exercise on their phones, lending credence to charges that this was an orchestrated effort.

One is, of course, not naïve about how vicious this war was and how nearly insane was the LTTE’s founder-leader Vellupillai Prabhakran as his quest for a separate Tamil homeland in the north of the country included using child soldiers and deploying suicide bombers.

He also spurned a credible peace effort a few years before being killed in the final phase of the conflict.

But that a country’s trained armed forces would so systematically disregard the law and trample on human rights is shocking to say the least. Whether Jayasuriya is ever brought to court anywhere in the world one can’t say.

What one can say is that such cases should serve as a warning to other autocratic governments and officials that one day their horrible crimes will chase them and leave them with no place to hide. Look at the Sri Lankan general’s fate.

From representing his country in several countries in South America, he will now live the rest of his days on his small island state, too fearful to step out let alone travel abroad for fear of facing justice.

The writer is a former editor of Dawn

abbas.nasir@hotmail.com

https://www.dawn.com/news/1355509/hasty-departure-of-an-ex-general

538. Man in Blue – If Narendra Modi becomes the Prime Minister of India International Relations

Before tackling the subject I want to introduce two assumptions.

Assumption 1: The BJP after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections will either have a majority of the seats in the Lok Sabha or will be near to having such a majority.

If the BJP is the biggest single party but depends on the support of a number of smaller parties to form a government, it will not be able to implement its nationalistic and Hindu supremacist programme.

Supposition 2: Narendra Modi as PM will be like Narendra Modi the Gujarat CM, and will follow a nationalistic and Hindu supremacist programme.

His record in Gujarat worries us greatly, and many of his statements and posturing in the campaign confirm our worries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and international relations

India has problematic relations with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Deterioration of the already problematic relations with Pakistan will have a negative effect on India’s relation with many other countries in the world.

I will tackle India’s relations with Pakistan first.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s civilian governments were never in control of the security forces, and its various security forces do not always sing from the same hymn sheet either.

In India the government has more control over the security forces, but border incidents along the international border or along the ‘Line of Control’ between the Pakistan and Indian controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir are not necessarily always reported correctly to Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority and is adjacent to other Muslim majority parts of pre-partition India, should have been part of Pakistan from 1947 going by the partition agreement. What the majority of the population of Jammu & Kashmir want is another matter. For many ‘Azad Kashmir’ should be an independent state and not a part of Pakistan.

Even ‘moderate’ Indian and Pakistani governments have taken positions on Jammu and Kashmir that make compromise near impossible. Just to maintain ‘status quo’ needs governments that practice a lot of self-restraint and are willing not to get provoked by incidents between the security forces of both countries or between Indian forces and ‘militants’.

With Narendra Modi at the helm an already fraught situation is bound to get worse. Going by newspaper reports the BJP has always been more stridently anti-Pakistan than the Congress led UPA government.

Politically aware people on both sides of the border are worried about another India – Pakistan war fought in the planes of Punjab, this time between two nuclear armed opponents.

There are two areas where the India – Pakistan border or the Line of Control has not been clearly defined.

Sir Creek is a 60 mile strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands on the border between Sindh and Gujarat. Pakistan claims that the line follows the eastern shore of the estuary while India claims a centre line.

In the Karakoram Mountains in the Himalayas are located the Siachen Glacier and the Saltoro Mountains, where there is disagreement over the location of the LoC.

These disputed territories are of no great economic value, but in spite of that it is very difficult to get both parties around the table and agree on a compromise.

China

There are areas of Pakistan controlled Jammu and Kashmir which have been ceded to China, causing unhappiness in India. The border between India and China in Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir) is disputed and there are Chinese claims on parts of or all of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese government is aggressively nationalistic and claims territories all around it, including large parts of the surrounding seas and islands therein.

PM Manmohan Singh and External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid have been handling recent incidents in Ladakh and visa problems for people from Arunachal Pradesh diplomatically, firmly insisting on India’s version of the border without indulging in non-diplomatic shouting matches.

There has only been one India – Chinese war so far, and both parties would be mad to indulge in another, but if either party feels that its honour requires military action, even if it is meant to be a limited one, things could easily get out of hand.

And Mr Modi and organisations like the RSS and the Bajrang Dal are not known for subtle approaches and self-restraint.

Bangladesh

There are border issues between the two countries, but I feel that the complicated relation between the two countries is mostly based on the Indian intervention in the East – West Pakistan conflict. Without the help of India the struggle for independence would have lasted much longer, but it is not easy to accept big brothers help.

There are additional problems about river waters, about the treatment of Hindus in Bangladesh and about illegal immigrants from Bangladesh settling in neighbouring India states like Assam.

The Shiv Sena, a Maharashtra party to the right of the BJP, claims that all Bengali speakers in Mumbai are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and wants to return them to that country.

There are serious issues between the two countries and the chances are that a Modi government, encouraged by the Trinamol Congress in West Bengal, will not improve matters.

But it seems unlikely that the existing tensions will erupt into an armed conflict.

Sri Lanka

What we are facing here is an equation between the Delhi government, the Tamils from Tamil Nadu, the Tamils from Sri Lanka, specifically those from the north-east of the island and the Colombo government.

The central governments in Delhi and Colombo have both a record of centralising tendencies, and opposition to movements that emphasise local cultures and local autonomy.

Since Congress lost its overall majority in the Lok Sabha India has been governed by coalitions that usually include parties from Tamil Nadu. These parties have supported the efforts of Sri Lanka Tamils to have more political and cultural autonomy.

Tamils speak a Dravidian language and are mostly Hindus. The majority of the Sri Lankans speak Sinhalese (an Indo-Germanic language like Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu) and are Buddhists, while the majority of the Indians speak Indo-Germanic languages and are Hindus.

Rajiv Gandhi sent an Indian Peace Keeping Force into Sri Lanka and changed from peacekeeping to fighting the Tamil Tigers, which led to his assassination in 1991.

At the moment the UPA government is forced by the Tamil Nadu political parties to be highly critical of the treatment of Tamils after Sri Lanka won the civil war against the Tamil Tigers.

What Narendra Modi and the BJP will make out of this is hard to predict. Will they go with the fellow Indo-Germanics who are mostly Buddhists, or with the mostly Hindu Dravidians? And how will these choices work out domestically? As we have also said about the other issues discussed above, strident nationalism and Hindu supremacist attitudes will certainly not be helpful.