The Asian Age – UP: Rape victim threatened with ‘Unnao-like’ fate by accused

The police have arrested the accused who lives in the same village as the victim

Baghpat – UP – India, 12 December 2019, A rape survivor in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat was allegedly threatened by the accused of the “same fate as the Unnao victim” who was set ablaze on her way to court and subsequently died.

A hand-written pamphlet bearing the threat message was pasted outside the house of the rape victim, police said on Thursday.

“According to a complaint received in the Baraut police station, a hand-written pamphlet was pasted on the house of a rape victim that she will meet the same fate as that of the Unnao rape victim if she dares to give her statement,” Superintendent of Police (SP) Baghpat Pratap Gopender Yadav told ANI.

Taking prompt action, the police have arrested the accused who lives in the same village as that of the victim and have also provided security to the girl. “We have arrested the accused and are also providing security to the girl after we received the complaint. There is no problem with her security now,” he added.

According to the police official, the complaint alleging rape was filed in July last year in Delhi by the victim’s side and the police had arrested the accused who was later given bail.

“The accused, Soran, who lives in the same village, was jailed by the police earlier but then got out on bail. The victim’s father works as a driver in Delhi. Yesterday, when they returned to their house in the village they found the note pasted on the wall of their house,” Yadav said.

In Unnao, the rape victim was set on fire by four men including the rape accused when she was on her way to the court outside her village in Bihar police station limits on December 5.

She sustained more than 90 per cent burns and was rushed to a government hospital in the district, later to be shifted to a hospital in Lucknow. She succumbed to her injuries at Safdarjang Hospital in New Delhi on 06 December.

The Asian Age – Here’s why the Chinese model is unsuitable for Pakistan’s government

The second feature is the absence of rule of law, rather than its unequivocal application.

Umair Javed

Op/Ed, 04 December 2019. Every few months or so, the demand for a ‘presidential system’ of government in Pakistan makes an appearance on various social media sites. This happens most prominently on Twitter, where a number of users share similarly worded tweets, all using the same hashtag.

On its own, there’s nothing wrong with the demand for a constitutional redesign. Political systems are, theoretically, not set in stone, and neither are constitutions.

Parties in a number of countries have contested for power on platforms that seek to change electoral systems, voting formulae, power-sharing arrangements between different social groups, and relations between the executive, legislature, and the judiciary.

If anything, initiating a public conversation on institutional redesign is certainly more practical and preferable than cheerleading for ad hoc interventions by a particular organ of the state.

The most recent chorus of presidential fetishism is also slightly different from previous iterations on at least two counts. One is its frequency, which seems to be picking up pace since this government took office in July 2018.

It appears an ever-increasing number of people from one side of the partisan divide believe that the lack of executive authority with the Prime Minister’s Office, the reliance on largely incompetent ministers, and the cumbersome legislative procedures required to push through ‘change’, are holding the country back.

The second change is the citation of two countries as case studies worthy of emulation, China and Turkey. While the infatuation with Erdogan has been around for a while, the systemic embrace of Turkey is relatively new.

What’s also interesting is that believers in the ‘China model’ seem to be increasing in proportion to the country’s enhanced footprint on Pakistan’s economic and strategic decision-making. The drawing room logic is some variant of ‘if their system allows them to build a motorway at lightning speed, it’s surely worth importing’.

Less facetiously, high growth rates, ‘strict rule of law’, zero-tolerance for corruption, and the overall welfare success of this developmental model are usually cited as reasons for systemic emulation.

This is curious because China’s actually existing political system (what drives its well-publicised growth story) is considerably under-discussed in mainstream political conversations across Pakistan.

The print and electronic media doesn’t report on China’s domestic politics, and it rarely reveals any insight into what drives economic growth. There’s a recurring caricature of strong leadership, mythical levels of anti-corruption, and decisiveness, in drawing rooms, WhatsApp groups, and TV studios alike, but that’s where the depth of it ends.

Leaving aside the moral and functional desirability of parliamentary democracy in ethnically fractured societies, and China’s own authoritarian behaviour with minority groups, it is worth clarifying some important features of China’s political economy before embracing it as an ideal.

In an excellent new book on the past, present, and future of economic systems, titled Capitalism, Alone, Branko Milanovic draws a sharp contrast between two ideal types of capitalism that have shown relative durability. Liberal meritocratic capitalism, exemplified by the US, and increasingly characterised by plutocratic levels of inequality and disparity.

And political capitalism, exemplified by China, which stands as the only present-day alternative to organising politics and economics in a particular configuration, since the implosion of communism (or state socialism).

China’s political capitalism, according to Milanovic, rests ironically on certain pillars some of which seem to be at odds with its popular caricature in the Pakistani imagination.

Tracing the current system back to Deng’s reform period, Milanovic argues that political capitalism exhibits two main features: The first is a highly skilled, technocratically efficient, and meritocratically recruited bureaucracy.

This bureaucracy (which is clearly the primary beneficiary of the system) has as its main duty to realise high economic growth and implement policies that allow this goal to be achieved. Growth is ultimately needed for the legitimisation of continued bureaucratic and party rule.

The second feature is the absence of rule of law, rather than its unequivocal application. This, Milanovic argues, is necessary to ensure that the interests of businessmen (and the private sector in general) are never in a position to become primary drivers of government behaviour.

Instead, the state retains authority and autonomy precisely because it can choose to apply the law to whomever and wherever it wishes.

By arrangement with Dawn

The Asian Age – USA urges UN, other international bodies to take up Dalai Lama succession issue

Ambassador Brownback said the spiritual leader deserves respect and that the succession process be picked by his faith community.

Washington DC – USA, 22 November 2019. Rejecting Chinese claim on deciding the Dalai Lama’s successor, the United States on Thursday said that this was an issue that should be taken up in international bodies, including the United Nations.

“There are many people who follow the Dalai Lama and don’t live in China. He is a well-known spiritual leader throughout the world and deserves respect and deserves the succession process picked by his faith community,” Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback told reporters at a news conference here.

Rejecting the Chinese claim, he reiterated that it was an issue that should be taken up in international bodies.

The United States is going to keep pushing on that, said Brownback who was recently in Dharamshala and addressed the Tibetan community.

“He used to travel so much, was such a great spokesperson. I met him several times when he travelled to the United States just was energetic and lively and clear. But he’s not able to travel as much now, so he can’t really kind of carry the cause the way he used to carry the cause almost single-handedly in the past,” he said.

Now more of the international community needs to step up and start carrying the cause with him and for him, he said. Responding to a question, Brownback said the United Nations needs to take this topic of succession of the Dalai Lama.

“I think it should be taken up by the United Nations. It should be taken up by other international bodies too, but the UN should take it up, the European a number of governments, around the world should take this up, he said.

“Particularly, European governments should take this up that care about religious freedom and human rights. This is something that needs to be addressed at this point in time, Brownback said.

“We know what the Chinese are capable and willing to do because of what they’ve done to the Panchen Lama. So this we are not going to be surprised what actions they’re going to be willing to take. It’s just we need to get there ahead of time and address it, he said.

The Asian Age – ‘Congress-NCP should be open to form government with Shiv Sena’: Dalwai

In a letter written to Sonia Gandhi, Dalwai urged her to consider the prospect of Congress-NCP forming government with Shiv Sena.

New Delhi – India, 02 November 2019. Amid delay in formation of new government in Maharashtra due to differences in the ruling alliance, Congress MP Husain Dalwai has said Congress-NCP should be open to joining hands with Shiv Sena to form a government, saying it will prevent poaching and consolidate party’s base.

In a letter written to party chief Sonia Gandhi, Dalwai urged her to consider the prospect of Congress-NCP forming government with Shiv Sena. He also said Shiv Sena has been taking a “more inclusive” stance on issues.

“As BJP-Shiv Sena are struggling to come together to form government, section of supporters of Congress are of opinion that Congress- NCP should be open to the prospect of forming the government with Shiv Sena,” Dalwai said.

He alleged that Congress MLAs were “poached” by BJP before the assembly polls and it can happen again if BJP forms the government.

“In the run-up to assembly elections, many of our MLAs and other political leaders were poached by BJP, if they are able to form a government they will again start doing this.

But if we are able to form a government with Shiv Sena, this can be prevented and we will be able to solidify our base,” the letter said.

Dalwai in the letter talked about minorities and “agendas of BJP government” and said though Shiv Sena has shared power with BJP, it is not viewed in the same light.

“Shiv Sena is not viewed in the same light as BJP though they have shared power together in the past and this may be an opportunity from preventing this from happening again,” he said.

He said BJP has not got an absolute majority on its own in the assembly polls.

“We must remember that BJP has consistently followed RSS’s doctrine of one nation, one leader, one party, one religion but Shiv Sena has been seen to be taking a more inclusive stand recently. It is therefore imperative to prevent BJP from coming to power since the voters have also denied them a clear majority,” he said.

The BJP and Shiv Sena, who are part of ruling coalition in Maharashtra, fought the assembly polls in alliance.

While the Shiv Sena has been insisting on a “50-50” power-sharing agreement, the BJP has said that there was no agreement between the two parties on sharing the post of chief minister for two-and-a-half years.

The BJP won 105 seats and Shiv Sena 56 seats in the 288-member assembly.

The NCP and Congress also fought the polls in alliance with the former winning 54 seats and the latter 44 seats respectively in the 288-member assembly.

The Asian Age – Zia-ul-Haq crippled Pakistan with his poisoned bequest

The elevation of these urges sapped the nation of creativity, tolerance and focus, with severe effects for economic potency.

Dr Niaz Murtaza

Dawn, 23 October 2019. Many kids lose their real father early, to be then raised by a cruel stepfather who influences (and distorts) their growth more than the real one. Pakistan suffered the same fate. Jinnah, the father of the nation, died early.

Zia later became the cruel step­father of the nation who crippled its long-term capacities to function as a normal state by corroding its basic societal structures more than any other ruler.

The Ayub, Yahya and Musharraf eras gave more violence but produced few durable changes in societal structures. Bhutto ranks as a distant second in harming long-term national abilities through nationalisation and a politicised bureaucracy. But then he also bequeathed some long-term pluses, eg, a constitution.

It is Zia who mainly shaped the deeply flawed social, political, economic, security and foreign policy structures of today’s Pakistan and crippled its long-term capacities.

In each sphere, he injected new toxic strains, elevated existing ones hugely or reversed gains from previous eras. Socially, he cemented bigotry, deep conservatism and the politics of faith.

These traits exist latently in many developing states, and even developed ones. They kept erupting in Pakistan off and on before him too. But he provided official patronage to them and declared them to be virtues.

Thus, individual latent urges crystallised into officially funded, muscular and violent societal forces. The elevation of these urges sapped the nation of creativity, tolerance and focus, with severe effects for economic potency.

Politically, he ensured a move from issues-based to corrupt patronage politics. Patronage politics emerges from the clan-based social structures of South Asian societies. The 1970 polls were won via issues-based politics. But Zia nixed that gain via partyless polls and block grants for MPs. Political corruption became endemic in his era.

The foreign policy mix included raising militants to achieve regional aims, which unleashed huge terrorism at home later. The security policy mix included extensive surveillance of society by intelligence agencies and their control over political actors.

Economically, he left a state that abdicated its role in upgrading industry, ran high fiscal and external deficits and debt levels, and chased IMF loans. The state played a key role in East Asian progress. The pre-Zia Pakistani state did play this role to some extent, via the Planning Commission and PICIC during the 1950s and 1960s and state-owned industrialisation under Bhutto.

Both eras had their problems. But under Zia this role ended. The state started running perennial fiscal and external deficits and became addicted to IMF loans. The involvement of the military in business increased hugely to reduce private sector space.

These structures largely remain intact today. This raises the obvious question of why we were unable to reverse his deep imprint even 30 years after his death. It takes a second to destroy a machine but days to repair it. It takes an idiot to destroy it but an expert to repair it.

Zia ruled for 11 years with absolute powers, guided by security-phobic lenses and with little regard for public welfare. Obviously, it would take highly capable rulers with a concern for public welfare, long tenures and full powers to undo this harm.

No civilian has had the longevity or full powers to do so. His army successor Musharraf had these luxuries. But despite his enlightened moderation mantra, his policies turned Zia-era extremism into huge terrorism as he too was guided by security-phobic rather than public welfare lenses.

Today, Pakistan has a sullied global reputation. The economy is industrially stagnant and suffers large deficits and debt. Politics suffers from instability, corruption, incompetence and agencies’ control.

Society is bigoted and intolerant with little space for freedom of thought and speech. All these reflect the corrosion of basic societal structures and the undermining of social, political, economic and national capacities primarily under Zia.

This corrosion has made Pakistan vulnerable to frequent social and economic turmoil, external threats and sanctions. So, even as it just emerged from its worst social turmoil since 1971 in the form of terrorism, it has plunged headlong into serious economic turmoil and FATF warnings. Political instability is high.

There is little chance that Pakistan can resolve these serious social, economic, political and external challenges and repair its corroded societal structures and national capacities under a manipulated political system. This can only be achieved by ensuring civilian supremacy and allowing political stability.

By arrangement with Dawn

The Asian Age – Farooq Abdullah’s daughter, sister detained during protest in Srinagar

Protestors also demanded immediate release of detainees and demilitarization of rural and urban areas.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir. 15 October 2019. The police on Tuesday detained half a dozen women activists including the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah during a march to protest against abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, officials said.

Abdullah’s sister Suraiya and his daughter Safiya, who were leading a group of women activists, were detained by the police.

Wearing black arm bands and holding placards, the women protestors were not allowed by the police personnel to assemble and were asked to disperse peacefully.

However, the protestors refused to disperse and tried to stage a sit-in.

The women CRPF personnel rounded the protestors into police vehicles.

The police also tried to stop the protesting women from distributing a statement to the the media covering the protest.

“We the women of Kashmir disapprove the unilateral decision taken by the government of India to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said.

Demanding restoration of civil liberties and fundamental rights of the citizens, the women said they feel “betrayed, humiliated and violated as people”.

They also demanded immediate release of detainees and demilitarization of rural and urban areas.

“We express our outrage against the national media for their false/misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir,” the statement added.

The Asian Age – Lies being spread about Article 370 by J&K mainstream leaders: BJP working president Nadda

‘The architects of Indian Constitution were against Article 370. There were no takers of this Article in Constituent Assembly,’ he said.

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 22 September 2019. BJP working president J P Nadda on Sunday slammed mainstream leaders of Jammu and Kashmir for allegedly spreading lies pertaining to Article 370, which was recently scrapped from the state.

“Leaders like Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Farooq Abdullah, and others have spread the lie that Article 370 gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status. It is clearly mentioned in the Indian Constitution that Article 370 is temporary and transitional,” he said while addressing a meet of intellectuals on ‘One India, One Constitution’ here.

Talking about the history of Article 370, Nadda said: “The architects of the Indian Constitution were against Article 370. There were no takers of this Article in the Constituent Assembly.”

“Gopalaswami Iyenger had said in the Constituent Assembly in 1949 that Article 370 will be temporary and transitional and all laws of the Constitution of India will apply to Jammu and Kashmir in a phased manner,” he added.

The BJP working president Nadda also mentioned about Sheikh Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, in his address and claimed that he rigged the first Vidhan Sabha elections in 1951 and changed his stance over the status of Jammu and Kashmir after sweeping the polls.

“Sheikh Abdullah had rigged the first Vidhan Sabha elections in 1951. He had disqualified all competing candidates and had ensured the victory of NC members on all 75 seats in J&K.

After winning the rigged elections, Sheikh Abdullah changed his stance and started calling the J&K Legislative Assembly as the Constituent Assembly, a sovereign body and thus, we will form our own Constitution,” he said.

Speaking about the benefits of abrogation of Article 370, Nadda said that the tribals residing in the Valley and Ladakh region will now get representation in the Vidhan Sabha and laws on sexual assault against children will be imposed in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh region.

“Jammu and Kashmir did not give any tribal rights to the tribals from the Valley and Ladakh. They do not have any tribal seat in the Vidhan Sabha even for the Gujjar and Bakarwals, who serve the nation in the Army.

After the abrogation of Article 370, now delimitation will take place, and our tribal brothers will get to represent their communities in the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha,” he said.

“There is no right to information, no right against domestic violence, no right against sexual assault against Children in the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. The Indian Parliament has passed 104 laws that were not implemented in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

“Prior to the removal of Article 370 and 35A, women from J&K that married a non-NRC holder lost her right to property. To stop such injustices, the abrogation was very important and we took that step,” the BJP working president further stated.

In his concluding remark, the BJP working President lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for making efforts to abrogate Article 370 and 35A from Jammu and Kashmir and splitting it into two Union Territories.

“Our power to abrogate Article 370 and 35A comes from your belief and votes. It was also helped by the will power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the political know-how of Union Home Minister Amit Shah,” he said.

There is much in this article that I cannot judge, but I agree that there was a mechanism that allowed for the changing or abolishing of the article, and that mechanism was used by the Modi Sarkar. What went wrong is that they did not consult the people of Jammu and Kashmir, nor the elected assembly. The government appointed governor decided the issue.

The Asian Age – Ram Rahim parole plea rejected again

In her petition, Kaur submitted that her husband had earned the necessary good conduct remission reports for the parole as required under law.

Tanveer Thakur

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 August 2019. The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday refused to grant relief to Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh after his wife, Harjeet Kaur, filed a petition seeking his release on parole to look after his ailing mother.

In her petition, Kaur submitted that her husband had earned the necessary good conduct remission reports for the parole as required under law. Kaur submitted that Ram Rahim had been sentenced to imprisonment for two terms of 10 years by a Panchkula special judge. He has also been sentenced to undergo life imprisonment in a murder case.

She added that his mother, Naseeb Kaur, 85, was suffering from a heart ailment and needed to undergo an angiography. The petition said the mother was “old and weak” and had expressed “desire that her only son” Gurmeet Ram Rahim be present to attend to her. The Bench was of the opinion that Ram Rahim could himself file the plea.

The plea came two years after Ram Rahim was sentenced to two 10-year terms in a rape case. His wife had sought a three-week parole for him to tend to his ailing mother on the grounds that the convict had earned “good conduct remission reports”.

Earlier, jail authorities in Rohtak, where he is undergoing sentence, refused to grant him the parole to meet his ailing mother.

The decision not to grant the parole was taken by jail superintendent Sunil Sangwan on August 9 after Justice Kuldip Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state to take a decision on the representation of Ram Rahim Singh’s wife.

The Asian Age – Protest to United Kingdom over anti-India violence

New Delhi has told foreign nations that this was an “internal matter” of India that fell within its “sovereign jurisdiction”.

New Delhi – India, 20 August 2019. India has “conveyed its concerns” to Britain on the compromising of the security of the Indian High Commission in London by violent Pakistani demonstrators outside India House on Independence Day, sources said Monday.

Sources said New Delhi has also noted that Britain seems to have been backing China in pushing for the issue of a statement after the closed-door UN Security Council meet to discuss the Kashmir issue on Friday. However, this issue has not been raised with the British.

On India’s Independence Day on August 15, Indians celebrating the event outside the high commission were attacked by violent Pakistanis who, according to global news reports, pelted eggs and water bottles at them. Stones were also allegedly hurled at the Indian high commission.

“India’s concerns have been conveyed to Britain,” a source said, adding that the Indian high commission’s security was compromised by the violence unleashed by the Pakistani demonstrators. But apparently no formal protest has been lodged yet.

Britain is a member of the P-5, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It may be recalled that on Friday, the UNSC held closed-door deliberations in New York on the latest developments in Kashmir after China called for the meeting at the behest of Pakistan.

India had recently bifurcated J&K state and revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, that gave a special status to J&K within India. New Delhi has told foreign nations that this was an “internal matter” of India that fell within its “sovereign jurisdiction”.

Britain apparently was in favour of adopting a formal resolution after the meeting, which China had mooted, sources said, but others did not think it was necessary. Eyebrows were raised since this indicates Britain did not fully support India on the matter.

The Asian Age – Mystic Mantra: Nankana Sahib has a special place in Sikh history

Kulbir Kaur

New Delhi – India, 19 August 2019. Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, was born in 1469 at Talwandi of Rai Bhoe, now known as Nankana Sahib, a town in Sheikhpura district of Pakistan. Guru Nanak had spent the first 15 years of his life at Talwandi Sahib.

Rai Buler, the chief of Talwandi, was a contemporary of Guru Nanak and in fact, one of the first people to recognise the light of the divine in Guru Nanak. Once while he was tending a herd of cattle, the Guru lay down to rest under a tree and fell asleep. Rai Buler was surprised to see that the shadows of other trees had moved with the movement of the sun but not of the tree under which Nanak slept.

Similarly, on another occasion, Rai Buler received a complaint that the cattle Guru Nanak was in charge of had entered and damaged the crop of a farmer. Guru Nanak’s father was asked to pay for the damage but when they went there to calculate the losses, they found everything intact and there was no damage.

Rai Buler became a devotee of Guru Nanak and declared that the Guru was a saint and the honour of the village. The village was renamed as Nankana Sahib and the gurdwara built at the site where Guru Nanak was born is known as Gurdwara Janam Asthan or Gurdwara Nankana Sahib.

The place is dotted with sacred shrines associated with Guru Nanak. In addition to the main shrine, Gurdwara Janam Asthan, there is Gurdwara Patti Sahib, marking the place of Guru Nanak’s school. Gurdwara Bal Lila is the place where the Guru as a child used to play. Gurdwara Kiara Sahib marks the field which was reported as damaged by a farmer and no damage was discovered.

The place where the tree with the shade was found by Rai Buler is called Gurdwara Mal Ji Sahib. There is another important site where Guru Nanak had spent all the money given by his father to feed hungry sadhus, terming it as a sachha sauda, and to escape his father’s wrath, he had hidden himself under the tent (tambu) like tree, hence the name of the site as Gurdwara Tambu Sahib.

Gurdwara Nankana Sahib has a special place in Sikh history and on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee has organised an international nagarkirtan called “Kaal Taran Guru Nanak Aiya”.

A jatha (group) of 550 sangats was especially sent to Pakistan for this purpose. The nagarkirtan started from Gurdwara Nankana Sahib on July 25 and not only Sikh and Hindu followers participated in the procession, but even Muslim devotees followed it till the Wagah border.

The flower-decked palanquin of the Guru Granth Sahib was led by panj-piarias and it passed through the areas used to be populated by the Sikhs in pre-Partition India. To mark this historic moment, the foundation stone of Baba Guru Nanak University (BGNU) at Nankana Sahib was laid by Sardar Usman Buzdar, Pakistani Punjab’s chief minister, who also planted saplings dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev.

The nagarkirtan, starting from Nankana Sahib, would pass through around 65 cities of India, covering almost 17 states and conclude after about 100 days at Gurdwara Ber Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee will also organise an international seminar at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University