The Asian Age – Kapil Mishra questions CM’s absence, marshalled out

The AAP government said that it will urge the Centre to expedite the probe by the special investigation team into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases

New Delhi, 12 August 2017. Amid heated arguments, the four-day long Delhi Assembly session concluded on Friday with the passage of three legislations, which were earlier returned by the Centre, even as chief minister Arvind Kejriwal remained conspicuous by his absence.

The AAP government said that it will urge the Centre to expedite the probe by the special investigation team (SIT) into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases.

Earlier in the day, sacked Delhi minister Kapil Mishra was marshalled out of the Delhi Assembly after the rebel AAP leader held up a banner accusing the chief minister of “bunking off” House proceedings.

As soon the House met on the session’s last day, Mr Mishra stood up with the banner which said “Kejriwal missing, come to the House” written across it.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said Mr Mishra’s act was against the rules of the House and called the marshals in. He ordered that Mr Mishra will not be permitted to attend the House for the rest of the day.

“Chief minister Mr Kejriwal has not attended a single sitting of the House over the last four days. I sought to know why was I marshalled out. He bunked off the entire session,” the sacked minister said.

Mr Mishra, who was a Mr Kejriwal loyalist at one point, was stripped off his portfolios of water and tourism and removed as a minister in May after the municipal polls, where the AAP suffered a humiliating defeat.

After that, he made a series of allegations against the AAP supremo, PWD minister Satyendar Jain and other leaders of the party. He was promptly suspended from the party’s primary membership.

The Asian Age – Rahul’s convoy attacked; Congress, BJP trade charges

Brick hurled at leader’s car while touring flood-hit areas

New Delhi, 5 August 2017. The Congress and the BJP entered into a full-blown war after the cavalcade of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice-president, was attacked while he was touring the flood-hit areas of Gujarat.

Reacting sharply, former PM Manmohan Singh said, “I condemn the attack on Mr Gandhi in Gujarat. Political violence has no place in a democracy.”

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi alleged that when Mr Gandhi was passing through the Lal Chowk area on his way to flood-affected areas of Banaskantha, he was attacked with cement bricks allegedly by BJP “goons”.

Not one to sit back, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “For God’s sake, don’t call people goons. People are tired of the kind of politics that Mr Gandhi and his party are indulging in. Let us respect people’s emotions.”

Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani tweeted, “During Mr. Gandhi’s visit, the Gujarat Congress MLAs are nowhere to be seen. This is what the people want to know.”

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel sought the government to initiate an enquiry against those responsible for Mr Gandhi’s safety. Condemning the attack, the Gujarat CM said, “I have instructed the concerned officials to take strict action against the guilty.”

After the attack, Mr Gandhi tweeted, “Neither black flags, nor stones will deter us. We will put our full strength in helping the people.”

The Congress is likely to raise the issue during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament and dem-and the government to explain the security lapse.

The Asian Age – BJP greedy for power, has put democracy at risk: Mayawati

The BSP chief said the central government had misused its power in a very blatant manner in Gujarat

Lucknow, 29 July 2017. Lashing out at the BJP for its”greed for power”, BSP supremo Mayawati on Saturday said the recent developments in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have put “democracy at risk”.

“The political developments in Goa, Manipur, Bihar and now in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are proof enough that the Modi government has put democracy at risk,” she said in a statement here.

“BJP’s greed for power has turned into lust for power.. the manner in which the official machinery and power is being misused is most condemnable,” she said.

The BSP chief said the central government had misused its power in a very blatant manner in Gujarat following which MLAs have been forced to leave their state and move to a safer place.

After forming its government in Goa and Manipur by “crushing democracy”, whatever is happening in Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh is an example of misuse of official machinery like ED, CBI, income tax etc against opposition leaders, she said.

All this is being done to divert attention from the wrong policies and works of the BJP government, she said.

“The governments in Odisha and West Bengal are also facing ‘official’ terror,” she alleged.

On the resignation by three MLCs, two from Samajwadi Party and one of BSP in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati said rather than bowing before the BJP, they should have faced the challenge.

The Asian Age – The challenge of living next to China

The writer, a policy analyst studying economic and security issues, held senior positions in government and industry. He also specialises in the Chinese economy

Mohan Guruswamy

Op/Ed, 23 Jul 2017. The ongoing Doklam standoff between India and China has to be seen in the larger context. The event was clearly precipitated by China’s sudden move to shift the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. There has been a long-standing dispute between Bhutan and China on the Doklam plateau.

Tibetan and Bhutanese herdsmen have, for long, peacefully grazed their livestock on the grassy plain, till a few years ago, Chinese horsemen wearing People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tunics and with military issue binoculars, started accompanying the Tibetan herdsmen.

That’s when the Bhutanese objected and it became a dispute between their militaries.

The subsequent meetings between the PLA and Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) officials in Thimphu and New Delhi have always been in the presence of Indian military officers. India has always had a special relationship with Bhutan, which is underscored by a treaty.

India stations a brigade in Bhutan and substantially trains, arms and funds the Bhutan military.

India and China also have an Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the India-China Border Areas signed in 1993 by President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. This agreement specifies that both sides will not try to alter the status quo by building permanent structures.

Both sides can undertake patrolling but cannot hunker down for a length of time. It is this agreement that has ensured peace, if not tranquility, on the border. This agreement implicitly applies to the Tibet-Bhutan border.

China has always understood that if push came to shove, India is bound to act on the side of Bhutan, specially as its own security is vitally dependent on it.

So why did China choose to disturb the tranquility now? Clearly the impetus to this situation came from China. Suddenly raising the ante has been central to China’s diplomacy and quest for primacy, be it on land or sea boundaries, with all its neighbours.

China has now coupled this creeping aggressiveness with aggressive soft power diplomacy, which has been widely seen as arguably the most important element in shaping the regional strategic environment, transforming the entire region’s dynamics.

By providing large loans on generous repayment terms, investing in major infrastructure projects such as the building of roads, dams, ports, power plants and railways, and offering military assistance and political support at the UN Security Council through its veto powers, China has secured considerable goodwill and influence among countries in the region around India.

The list of countries that are coming within China’s strategic orbit appears to be growing. Sri Lanka, which has seen China replace Japan as its largest donor, is a case in point, China was no doubt instrumental in ensuring that Sri Lanka was granted dialogue partner status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

China has made major inroads in Nepal and has forged ideological and pecuniary relationships with many leading Nepalese politicians and opinion-makers. Anti-Indianism, always a given in Nepali domestic politics, is growing more legs now.

Most recently China has been attempting to bring a change in India’s historical and treaty relationship with Bhutan. The Doklam incident must be seen through this prism. By coming quickly and decisively on the side of Bhutan, India has, for now, thwarted Chinese designs. If this situation is settled, there will surely be others.

The rise of China as the world’s greatest exporter, its largest manufacturing nation and its great economic appetite poses a new set of challenges.

At a meeting of South-East Asian nations in 2010, China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi, facing a barrage of complaints about his country’s behaviour in the region, blurted out the sort of thing polite leaders usually prefer to leave unsaid.

“China is a big country,” he pointed out, “and other countries are small countries and that is just a fact.”

But history tells us again and again that victory is not assured by superiority in numbers and even technology.

If that were to be so, Alexander should have been defeated at Gaugamela, Babur at Panipat, Wellington at Waterloo, Russia at Leningrad, Britain in the Falklands, and above all Vietnam who defeated three of the world’s leading powers, France, the US and China, in succession.

Numbers do matter, but numbers are not all. Technology does matter, but technology alone cannot assure you victory. It’s always mind over matter. As the old saying goes: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

Now comes the dilemma for India. Robert Kaplan writes: “As the United States and China become great power rivals, the direction in which India tilts could determine the course of geo-politics in Eurasia in the 21st century.

India, in other words, looms at the ultimate pivot state.” At another time Alfred Thayer Mahan noted that India, located in the centre of the Indian Ocean littoral, is critical for the seaward penetration of both West Asia and China.

The Tibetan desert, once intended to be India’s buffer against the north, has now become China’s buffer against India. The planner will not be looking at all if he or she were not looking at the Indian Ocean as a theatre. After all, it is also China’s lifeline and its lifeblood flows here.

Now if one were a Chinese planner, he or she would be looking with concern over India’s growth and increasing ability to project power in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

The planner will also note what experts are saying about India’s growth trajectory, that it is the ultimate pivot state in the grand struggle for primacy between the West led by the US and Japan, and China.

What will this planner be thinking, particularly given the huge economic and military asymmetry between China and India now?

Tacitus tells it most pithily, that peace can come through strength or ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ (If you want peace, prepare for war). India might be behind China but it must keep building strength, always be ready and never flinch.

The Asian Age – Create environment of peace in Kashmir: Jama Masjid Imam to Centre

He warned and cautioned that the Kashmir issue can neither be solved through guns and stones nor through military expeditions.

New Delhi, 15 July 2017. The Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid in the Walled City of Delhi, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, has written a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in which he has urged the Centre to take immediate steps to end the volatile atmosphere in the Kashmir Valley, and create an environment of peace.

“The Kashmir situation is becoming volatile day by day, resulting in an increase in tensions between the two countries (India and Pakistan) as days pass. I think that more delay in the creation of a favorable environment for peace shall make the settlement of the Kashmir issue more difficult,” Bukhari said in his letter.

“Therefore, with all the intellect, wisdom and prudence at our disposal, we must make every effort to safe Kashmir from the dangerous destruction and devastation it faces and pave the way for the establishment of peace there.

The common people of Kashmir are in a state of terror and helplessness as they find their dreams for peace shattered,” he added.

Bukhari further said that, “As a paradise on earth, the once peaceful valley known for its joyous life has today become a valley of tears Thousands of people are living, under the shadow of AK-47, a life besieged by bloodshed.
Today, it has become unbelievable that people all over the world once considered the Kashmir Valley as the paradise on earth as today it has become an abattoir. This game of death and destruction is making the situation graver. The only realistic recourse is peace and parleys.”

Maintaining that millions of Indian Muslims are facing a trying situation, Bukhari appealed to Rajnath Singh and the Centre to ease tension on the borders, normalise the situation and initiate a dialogue with Pakistan.

He warned and cautioned that the Kashmir issue can neither be solved through guns and stones nor through military expeditions.

“We should create an environment conducive for the talks at the earliest. Through exchange of views and dialogue on the larger issues, we all should formulate a strategy that is in the interest of both nations,” he said.

“What I perceive in the context of the current situation is that positive measures aimed to ensure the dialogue process are needed, keeping in view the interests of the two countries and their people.

I request you to kindly persuade the militant youth and Hurriyat leaders to agree for a ceasefire through your good offices and influence,” he concluded.

The Asian Age – Main accused in Junaid’s lynching arrested from Maharashtra, confesses to killing

The Faridabad police had a sketch of the accused and they received information that he had taken shelter in Dhule

Mumbai, 9 July 2017. Faridabad police on Saturday arrested a man from Dhule, Maharashtra, who allegedly stabbed to death 16-year-old Junaid Khan on a Mathura-bound train on June 22. The police said the accused, who was not named, had confessed to the crime.

The Faridabad police had a sketch of the accused and they received information that he had taken shelter in Dhule. The Dhule police helped the Faridabad police find the accused.

A police official said, “We cannot reveal the accused’s name. He is 32 years old and he was hiding here in Dhule for the past two weeks. We are questioning people in the area where he was hiding. It’s not our investigation. We are just helping the Faridabad police.”

On Thursday, Haryana police had announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for information that would help nab the people who had attacked Junaid and brothers Hashim and Sakir Khan.

According to the police, the accused confessed to having stabbed Junaid inside the train when the teenager and his brothers were returning to their home in Khandawli village in Ballabgarh after Id shopping in New Delhi.

Going by the police sketch drawn with input from one of Junaid’s brothers, the accused is about five-feet-six-inches tall and muscular.

The accused allegedly called Junaid and his brothers “beef-eaters” and “anti-nationals,” and flung their skullcaps off their heads.

The police had arrested five people after the attack.

The Asian Age – Junaid lynching case: 4 accused arrested, sent to judicial custody for 14 days

17-yr-old Junaid was stabbed when he, along with his brothers, was returning home after Eid shopping in Delhi on 22 June.

Faridabad (फरीदाबाद)-Haryana-India, 2 July 2017. Four people arrested in connection with the stabbing of a Muslim boy on a Mathura-bound train have been sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a court in Faridabad.

Police said these accused were arrested on June 28 and were initially sent to two-day police remand.

Junaid (17) was stabbed when he, along with his brothers, was returning home in Palwal district’s Khandawli village after Eid shopping in Delhi on 22 June.

His brothers, Hashim and Sakir, who were also travelling in the train with him, were injured by a mob which also allegedly hurled slurs against them.

Police have so far arrested five people. Of the five, four held on June 28 are residents of Khambi village. The fifth one was held earlier.

The Asian Age – Saharanpur violence: Mayawati slams clean chit to eight Thakurs

The eight had been arrested for allegedly attacking three Dalits on May 23.

Lucknow, 16 June 2017. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing caste violence in Saharanpur has given a clean chit to the eight accused who happened to be Thakurs.

The eight had been arrested for allegedly attacking three Dalits on May 23. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati slammed the move, saying once again, it proved the anti-Dalit mentality of the BJP.

The SIT moved an application before a local court two days ago seeking their release, saying that they were found innocent during the investigation.

Saharanpur SSP Babloo Kumar said, “During investigation, we found that the eight accused were falsely named in the FIR lodged on various charges including attempt to murder. We had moved an application in the court under section 169 CrPC and requested their release. The court has accepted the application and has also allowed the release”.

Seventeen persons were arrested and sent to jail during a series of clashes in Saharanpur between Thakurs and Dalits last month, of which eight belonged to the Thakur community. With the SIT giving them a clean chit, it is only the Dalit youths, including Bhim army chief Chandra Shekhar and Shiv Kumar (the village head of Shabbirpur village where the clashes took place) that are in jail now.

The SIT has been verifying claims of over 100 affidavits that families of other accused have filed in cases related to the violence.

The Asian Age – No bail for 11 students who showed black flags to Yogi Adityanath

While passing the order, the court said that the offences were of serious nature and hence the applicants did not deserve bail

Lucknow, 10 June 2017. Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sunil Kumar rejected the bail pleas of 11 Lucknow University students, who were held for showing black flags to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in protest last Wednesday.

While passing the order on Friday, the court said that the offences were of serious nature and hence the applicants did not deserve bail.

The students had been sent to a 14-day judicial custody after being held for their protest.


The Asian Age – Six killed in London terror attack, three attackers shot dead: police

The police believe all of the attackers were killed, but investigations are underway to ensure there are no more

London, 4 June 2017. Terrorism struck at the heart of London, police said Sunday, after a vehicle veered off the road and mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge and witnesses told of men with large knives stabbing passers-by at nearby Borough Market.

Police said six people died and 20 were injured in the attacks, while police shot dead three suspects. The Metropolitan Police head of counter-terrorism, Mark Rowley, said police believe all of the attackers were killed, but investigations are underway to ensure there are no more.

The violence turned a summery on Saturday night in an area packed with bars and restaurants into a scene of panic and chaos, with officers running through crowded streets screaming for people to flee and lifeboats drafted to help clear the area.

The Metropolitan Police force declared the attacks “terrorist incidents.” Hours after the attacks began, a large area of central London remained cordoned off and police told people to avoid the area, leaving tourists and revellers struggling to get home. It was unclear whether any of the attackers was on the run.

Bursts of gunfire echoed through the streets, likely from armed police, and at least three blasts rang out as police performed controlled explosions. One image taken by a witness showed a man on the ground surrounded by police; he appeared to be wearing a vest with canisters attached to it.

Gerard Vowls told The Guardian newspaper that he saw a woman being stabbed by three men at the south end of London Bridge. He said he threw chairs, glasses and bottles at the attackers in a bid to stop them.

“They kept coming to try to stab me, they were stabbing everyone. Evil, evil people,” he told the newspaper. “I want to know if this girl is still alive. I’ve been walking around for an hour and a half crying my eyes out. I don’t know what to do.”

Bartender Alex Martinez said he hid in a garbage bin for a half hour when a man stormed the restaurant where he worked, which was nearly full. “I saw that man with a knife in his hand and after that a man started screaming so I knew something wrong was happening,” he said.

Medics treated the injured near the market as shocked people cried and shouted around them. Police officers yelled at people to run from the area. Simon Thompson told Sky News that he was just outside Borough Market when he saw crowds fleeing.

“We ran for like 100 meters and then saw loads of police cars turned up and there was kind of a period of quite intense gunfire,” he said. “I hid in a restaurant basement for about an hour. … Police told us to get out and then there was more gunfire.”

The mayhem began just after 2:30 pm IST (2100GMT), when police responded to reports of a vehicle hitting pedestrians on London Bridge, which crosses the River Thames in central London. Multiple witnesses reported a vehicle veering off the road and hitting as many as six pedestrians.

“We saw injured people on the road, injured people on the pavement,” witness Will Heaven told Sky News.

Soon after, reports started coming in of stabbings at Borough Market, a nearby area full of bars and restaurants surrounding a popular food market. Witnesses reported seeing as many as three attackers with knives.

Police initially said officers were also responding to a third incident, in the Vauxhall neighborhood, but later said that turned out to be an unrelated stabbing. Police tweeted a warning telling people in the area to run to safety, hide and then call police if it is safe to do so. They asked Londoners to “remain calm but be alert and vigilant.”

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the attack “is being treated as a potential act of terrorism” and said her thoughts were with “those who are caught up in these dreadful events.” May’s office said she would chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee on Sunday.

As thousands of people flooded from the area of the attacks, many unable to get home with nearby underground stations shut, locals were quick to offer assistance.

The Royal Oak pub, near the area of the attacks, opened its doors to people evacuated from hotels. At least one taxi company offered free rides to people stranded in the area. Phaldip Singh, who describes himself as an entrepreneur and youth activist, tweeted that Sikh Gurdwaras were open to provide food and shelter for those affected.

If confirmed as terrorism, this would be the third attack to hit Britain in as many months. In March, a British convert to Islam ran down people with a vehicle on Westminster Bridge, killing four, then stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament.

On May 22, a British suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. After that attack, Britain’s official threat level from terrorism was raised to “critical,” meaning an attack may be imminent. Several days later it was lowered to “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely.

A charity concert for victims of the Manchester attack, featuring Grande and other stars, is due to be held in the northwest English city on Sunday.