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.

The Asian Age – Raje must act against beating of Sikhs, says Amarinder Singh

Amarinder said the Rajasthan government needs to fix culpability and ensure that the culprits are punished

Chandigarh, 28 May 2017. After the reported assault on four Sikh men in Ajmer, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday spoke to his Rajasthan counterpart, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, to seek her personal intervention in ensuring a thorough probe into the incident of mob violence and stringent action against the constable alleged to have abetted the crowd.

Captain Amarinder also urged Ms Raje to direct the police to take immediate steps to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Describing the incident as unfortunate, Captain Amarinder said the Rajasthan government needed to fix culpability and ensure the culprits were punished.

The chief minister expressed concern over the fact that the incident, which reportedly took place in April, was being given a communal hue in media reports.

He expressed surprise that the incident did not come to the notice of the local police till a video surfaced on social media showing the mob drag the four Sikhs out of a Bolera SUV and thrash them.

The Asian Age – Amritsar: Shoe hurled at former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia

While raising slogans against Majithia, they held him accountable for drug menace in the state, police said.

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 21 May 2017. A shoe was hurled at former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia in Majitha today after he reached a venue where a public meeting organised by a Congress party member was going on.

Majithia, who had recently won the elections after defeating Congress candidate Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majithia, was confronted by some of Lalli’s supporters.

While raising slogans against Majithia, they held him accountable for drug menace in the state, police said.

The incident occurred in the Majitha constituency, where ADGP (Security) Rohit Chowdary was listening to grievances of people along with the leaders of Congress party led by Lalli Majithia.

Bikram reached the venue along with his cavalcade of cars and security cover.

The police-public meeting was arranged by Lalli Majithia.

Congress activists allegedly lost their temper after seeing Bikram inside the campus. They started raising slogans against him and forced him to leave the venue.

While Bikram’s cavalcade was leaving, a youth hurled his shoe at the Akali leader.

When asked, Majtiha strongly reacted over the incident, alleging that it was a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by Lalli who was defeated by him three times in a row.

He said that an FIR would be lodged.

When Bikram was asked why he trespassed the meeting venue, he said that he had gone there to meet the ADGP over the law and order problems being faced by Dalits and poor people in his assembly constituency.

The Asian Age – OBOR: China’s Xi Jinping, Nawaz Sharif snub India

China is planning to invest billions of dollars in building railways, waterways and highways as part of its OBOR initiative

Sridhar Kumaraswami

New Delhi, 15 May 2017. Taking on India without naming it, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailed the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in his address at the One Belt One Road (OBOR) conference, boycotted by New Delhi, in Beijing on Sunday, saying the CPEC was an “economic undertaking open to all countries in the region”, that “it has no geographical boundaries” and that “it must not be politicised”.

India, which skipped the conference opening ceremony, had issued a strong statement Saturday night referring to the CPEC, saying: “No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

In an apparent snub to New Delhi, which is opposed to the CPEC (a flagship project of OBOR) as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the OBOR conference that “all countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity, each other’s development paths and social systems, and each other’s core interests and major concerns”.

India is the only major invitee to boycott the meet and this is expected to further widen the schism between New Delhi and Beijing, triggered by China blocking India’s NSG membership and also blocking UN sanctions on Pakistan-based terrorist mastermind Masood Azhar.

Hailing China whom he described as his country’s “close friend and trusted ally”, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif told the OBOR meet: “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a core project of OBOR. In fact, it has been rightly called its flagship because it aims to connect the neighbourhoods of East and West Asia.

CPEC makes Pakistan both a conduit and destination for cross-regional investment and trade. Let me make it very clear that CPEC is an economic undertaking open to all countries in the region. It has no geographical boundaries. It must not be politicised.

In implementing this corridor, we are not striving to merely leverage geography for economic prosperity, we are also trying to build a peaceful, connected and caring neighbourhood. It is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations… The CPEC is a project owned and nurtured by all citizens of Pakistan”.

In another veiled barb at India, Mr Sharif added: “Before I conclude, I must emphasise OBOR has gained wide traction. It negates the logic of polarisation and rejects the encirclement of any country. It is about connectivity. It is about emancipation…

The fact is that now OBOR belongs to us all, those who are participating in it and those who are not as yet.”

PTI reported from Beijing that India skipped the opening ceremony of the conference after New Delhi’s strong statement late on Saturday that read: “Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, projected as the flagship project of OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position.

No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity… Connectivity must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

China is planning to invest billions of dollars in building railways, waterways and highways as part of its OBOR initiative. The proposed OBOR comprises two corridors, one on land and the other maritime.

The land corridors will be part of the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), with corridors through Central, West and South Asia that will link China with Europe. The proposed SREB will forge China’s links with Western Europe through Central Asia and Russia, and with the Mediterranean via West Asia.

Further, it will also ensure access to the Indian Ocean by the much shorter land route through Pakistan that passes through PoK, culminating in Gwadar port in Balochistan province.

The second part of OBOR is an ambitious plan for sea routes linking China with Southeast Asia and onward to Africa, supplemented by rail and road networks for which Beijing has heavily invested in Africa.

The Asian Age – Commuters stranded as glitch hits Delhi Metro

The Metro service was affected for more than four hours and as a result, other trains on the route were running late.

New Delhi-India, 8 May 2017. Yet another case of technical snag hit the Delhi Metro service on Sunday. Metro services between two stations on the Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli-Huda City Centre) were affected between 3.17 pm and 7.30 pm.

The Metro service was affected for more than four hours and as a result, other trains on the route were running late.

“We were stranded near Qutub Minar when the Metro service hit a technical snag. Meanwhile, trains plying on the Yellow Line were vacated. No information was revealed by the authorities,” said Chetna Dua, a commuter who was travelling from AIIMS to Huda City Centre.

“Due to the technical problem in overhead wiring (OHE wire) at platform number 2, Jahangirpuri Metro movement halted at Chattarpur station. At around 4.40 pm, the Metros from both sides moved to Sultanpur and only platform 1 has been used for both side movements. As a result, there is rush at platform levels at some stations,” said a Metro official.

“Train services on line 2 were slightly affected around 3.17 pm on Sunday due to some problem,” a DMRC spokesperson said.

Glitches in Metro service have become a routine affair now with around 13 major technical glitches having hit the Delhi Metro in the last two years.

In 2016, eight incidents of major technical failures occurred, whereas in 2015 five major technical snags were reported in the Delhi Metro network. The Yellow Line service was the worst affected. It was hit by major technical glitches five times.

The Asian Age – Two men lynched in Assam for allegedly trying to steal cows

Men, aged between 20-25 years, were severely beaten up by the mob, who alleged that they were involved in cow theft.

Guwahati, 1 May 2017. In a first case of cow vigilantes going to the extremes in Assam, a mob on Sunday lynched two men in Nagaon district suspecting them to be cattle thieves.

Senior police officials said the men, aged between 20-25 years, were severely beaten up by the mob, who alleged that they were involved in cow theft.

“When the police reached the spot, they were being thrashed by a mob of villagers near Kasamari grazing reserve under Nagaon police station,” Nagaon superintendent of police Debaraj Upadhay said.

“The team immediately took the men to hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries,” he added.

The mob continuously thrashed them with sticks while chasing them for about 1.5 km, from Kasamari in Nagaon police station area to Jajori police station area, he said.

Upadhay said the men were identified and their parents have registered a complaint with the police.

A case has been lodged and investigation is on, the SP said, adding no arrest has been so far.

Asked if it is a case of “cow vigilantism”, the senior official said a lot of cattle theft incidents have happened in Nagaon. “In this case, I got reports that some people saw the two men trying to take away cows from the field and called more people from the village. When a large crowd gathered, they started thrashing them badly,” he said.

The SP has assured of an “impartial enquiry” into the episode.

Although some incidents of cattle thieves being thrashed by mob have been reported from Assam earlier, this is the first casualty after cases of cow vigilantism have been reported in recent times across the nation.

The Asian Age – J&K: FIR against Army for tying man to jeep, using him as ‘human shield’

The video went viral on the social media and evoked angry response across Jammu and Kashmir and the country alike

Srinagar, 17 April 2017. A FIR has been registered in connection with a video of a young man who was tied to the front of an army vehicle and paraded in a village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, as a sign of warning of same consequence for stone-pelters.

FIR No. 38/17 U/S 342/149/506 & 367 RPC was registered in the Beerwah Police Station on 13 April.

The video went viral on social media and evoked angry response across Jammu and Kashmir and the country alike.

Former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted the video on Friday saying, “Here’s the video as well. A warning can be heard saying stone-pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry & follow up NOW!!”

A number of videos appeared on the social media in wake of the by-polls in Srinagar parliamentary constituency on April 9, when as low as 7.14 voter turnout was registered.

The re-poll at 38 polling stations on April 13 recorded 2 percent voting.

Internet services were also shut down on the night before elections on April 9 and were resumed completely on April 13.

Another video that was widely circulated on the social media and TV channels was of an armed CRPF personnel exercising immense restraint even when he was being attacked by few protestors.

The Jammu and Kashmir police, on complaint of the CRPF, later registered a case to investigate the matter.

The Asian Age – Hindutva hijacks Modi’s vikas agenda

Those claiming to act on behalf of Hindus are, therefore, shaming the vast majority of Hindus

Pavan K Varma

Op/Ed, 9 April 2017. I am proud to be a Hindu, but I am deeply concerned at some things that are happening in the name of Hinduism. The Hinduism that I subscribe to had sages who had the courage to say millennia ago that tolerance and inclusion are the essence of the spiritual vision.

Centuries before Christ was born, at a time when people, for lack of other exposure, believed that only what they believed was right, our sages pronounced: Ekam satya bipraha bahuda vedanti, the truth is one; wise people call it by different names.

Around the same time, when most other people believed that only their world had legitimacy, our sages had the courage to say: Udar charitanam vasudhaiva kutumbukam, for the broad-minded the entire world is their family.

Those who laid the foundations of our religious worldview could confidently say, at a time when most other social groupings were insecurely insular: Aano bhadra krtavo yantu vishvatah — let noble thoughts come to me from all directions.

Unfortunately, this great religion is being hijacked today, but not by outsiders. It is being undermined by a small group of Hindus who believe that they alone know what Hinduism is. Unlike our sages who said that the one truth can be interpreted by the wise in many ways, their approach is to say that we alone have a monopoly on truth.

Unlike our founding fathers who wished to embrace the entire world as their family, these “Hindus” believe in singling out for exclusion anyone who does not agree with them. And, unlike our wise ancestors who invited noble thoughts to flow from all directions, these fanatics have a closed mind to any other opinion.

This tragic coup is unfolding before our eyes, and the majority of Hindus are watching mutely. One reason for this sorry state of affairs is that these self-anointed guardians of our religion are violent people. They do not believe in persuasion, discussion, dialogue, debate, shastrarth or argumentation.

Nor do they believe in the rule of law. They believe that they have the right to silence those who oppose them through physical violence and brute force. And, the level of their violence directly corresponds to the level of their ignorance.

What is worse is that they believe that they can get away by breaking the law because those who are supposed to be the guardians of the law are actually on their side.

The most ugly and frightening symptom of this devaluation of Hinduism is the emergence of vigilante squads consisting of lumpen groups who now roam around this ancient land beating up and killing people on the basis of mere suspicion.

They have no sanction, or remit, or locus standi or authority to do so except their own hubris and the belief that they can get away with it because the authorities will not take action against them.

This last part is a very worrisome development because it undermines not only the rule of law that is the very basis of an organised, democratic society but the Constitution and the Republic itself.

It is for this reason that the Supreme Court has issued notices on April 7 to six states seeking to know within three weeks why groups calling themselves gau rakshaks should not be banned like other outlawed outfits for taking the law into their own hands.

The six states are UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The highest court has also asked these states to explain what administrative measures they have taken to prevent such vigilantism. It is not a coincidence that of the six states five are BJP-ruled.

Many Hindus hold the cow in reverence. That sentiment should be respected. In many states there are laws banning cow slaughter. Those laws should not be infringed. But, enforcing the law is the jurisdiction of those authorised to do so.

If citizens believe that they can, in the name of religious belief, take the law into their own hands, we are looking at a state of anarchy. Enough has already happened to justify the SC’s directive.

Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in UP on the suspicion of eating beef; dalits were flogged in public in Gujarat on the suspicion that they were cattle thieves; Majloom Ansari and Inayatullah Khan, who were on their way to a cattle fair, were hung from a tree in Jharkhand; Zaid Ahmed Bhat was burnt alive on a highway in Udhampur in Jammu & Kashmir on the suspicion that he was smuggling cattle; a 25-year-old was thrashed to death by cow vigilantes in Ahmedabad; another 29-year-old was lynched by a mob in Udupi for ferrying cattle in a van; and now, we have the latest incident of Pehlu Khan beaten to death by gau rakshaks in Rajasthan.

This manner of taking the law into one’s own hands presents a very strange version of the slogan “Sabka saath, sabka vikas”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the majority of those masquerading as gau rakshaks were just “anti-social” elements.

But that view does not seem to be shared by those implementing the law in the states in which his party is in power.

The deeply worrisome thing is that one act of hijacking the law emboldens the next. We now hear of Yuva Hindu Vahini workers halting church services in Gorakhpur. Some days ago members of the Karni Rajput Sena attacked filmmaker Bhansali and vandalised the sets of his film on Padmavati at the Jaigarh Fort in Rajasthan.

We also hear reports of excesses being committed against couples and boys and girls by vigilantes acting under the sanction of “anti-Romeo” squads.

Hinduism does not sanction this kind of violence. Nor can Hinduism, that upholds dharma, countenance this kind of willful abrogation of the law of the land.

Those claiming to act on behalf of Hindus are, therefore, shaming the vast majority of Hindus. All those who live the genuine Hindu experience must work together to stop them.

Pavan K Varma, an author and former diplomat, is a member of the JD(U).