The Hindu – AAP MLA assaulted by Punjab sand mafia

CM Amarinder Singh seeks detailed report on the incident

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh/New Delhi, 21 June 2018. An Aam Aadmi Party MLA in Punjab was allegedly assaulted by a group of people involved in illegal sand mining near Nurpur Bedi in Rupnagar district on Thursday, prompting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to seek a detailed report on the incident.

Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira alleged that MLA Amarjeet Singh Sandoa was attacked for trying to expose the ongoing illegal activities of the sand mafia.

The AAP MLA and his gunman, head constable Sukhdeep Singh, were injured in the incident.

“Both were taken to a civil hospital, from where Mr Sandoa was referred to PGI, Chandigarh, for further check-up after he complained of chest pain,” an official spokesperson said.

Three arrested

The police have arrested three persons allegedly involved in the incident.

The spokesperson said three relatives of Ajwinder Singh, the key accused from Baihara village, have been arrested. Ajwinder and another accused, Bachittar Singh, of Bhauwal village fled after the incident.

Those arrested have been identified as Jaswinder Singh Goldy, Manjit Singh and Amarjit Singh, all residents of Baihara. One vehicle and two guns were seized from them.

The Chief Minister has sought a detailed report from the Deputy Commissioner and asked him to ensure a free and fair probe.

The two PSOs attached to the MLA have also come under the Chief Minister’s scanner for evidently failing to protect him and have been transferred to the police lines. “The Chief Minister has directed the DGP to investigate their role in the entire episode,” the spokesperson added.

‘CM should resign’

Reacting to the alleged attack, the AAP in Delhi said the Chief Minister should resign if he cannot rein in the mafia.

AAP spokesperson Ashish Khetan said Mr. Sandoa had raised his voice against the sand mafia in the past as well.

He said the Chief Minister had during last year’s election campaign promised to rid the State of the drugs, transport, extortion and mining mafia. “Instead, the influence of the mafia has increased. They are carrying out lethal attacks on MLAs,” he said.

The AAP has demanded a new policy to put an end to illegal mining and also called for a White Paper detailing the loss of revenue caused to the State by illegal mining during the past 15 years.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/aap-mla-assaulted-by-punjab-sand-mafia/article24223171.ece

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The Hindu – Muscular security policy will not work in J&K, says Mehbooba Mufti after resignation

Ms Mufti maintained that Jammu and Kashmir was not an enemy territory as being perceived by some

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 19 June 2018. People’s Democratic Party chief and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday raised the bogey of Article 370 and unilateral ceasefire, saying a ‘muscular security policy’ will not work in the State and reconciliation is the key.

“I am not shocked as this alliance was never for power. The PDP never believes in power politics and we worked for the people,” she told reporters after an hour-long meeting with her ministers and party workers at her residence.

“I have told the Governor we will not go into any other alliance,” she said.

Ms. Mufti maintained that Jammu and Kashmir was not an enemy territory as being perceived by few. “We had always said muscular security policy will not work; reconciliation is the key,” she said.

She began her press conference by raising Article 370, under which the State enjoys a special status. ”…we have safeguarded Article 370 and 35-A (of the Constitution) and we will continue to do that,“ she said.

The party had achieved many goals, including the offer of talks, the Ramzan ceasefire and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore in 2015. “Unfortunately, there was no positive response from other side,” she said, adding, “We worked on reconciliation and peace and will continue to do so.”

“We have been able to withdraw 11,000 cases against the pelters of stones,” she said.

The PDP would continue to strive for dialogue and reconciliation in the State, she added.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/muscular-security-policy-will-not-work-in-j-k-says-mehbooba-mufti-after-resignation/article24202202.ece?homepage=true

The Hindu – Instigators of Shillong violence still at large

Don’t have enough manpower to act with speed: police

Special Correspondent

Guwahati – Assam – India, 15 June 2018. Unlike the Assam police, who arrested 38 social media abusers within a week of the lynching of two adventure enthusiasts in Guwahati, the cyber cell of the Meghalaya police is yet to locate those responsible for igniting the communal violence in the State capital of Shillong with misinformation spread through WhatsApp a fortnight ago.

A tiff between non-tribal women and tribal bus operators on May 31 had snowballed into communal unrest after rumours about the death of local youth spread on social media.

Stand-off

Instigated, mobs attacked the Punjabi Lane and their stand-off with security forces continued for five days.

“We are following some clues to zero in on the people behind the misinformation campaign on social media,” an officer of Meghalaya police’s cyber cell said on Friday.

But the officer said the cell did not have adequate manpower and was in need of upgraded equipment to act with speed and accuracy.

An Assam police officer said it was easier to locate misinformation or hate message handlers on platforms such as Facebook than WhatsApp.

Keeping tabs

The Nagaland police, who were among the first to counter social media misinformation campaign after people thrashed a couple of transgenders following the child lifter scare more than two weeks ago, have found a way out to keep tabs on volatile WhatsApp content.

“We have asked police personnel of all ranks to be members of certain WhatsApp groups to track who is posting or sharing what,” Nagaland police chief Rupin Sharma said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/instigators-of-shillong-violence-still-at-large/article24175547.ece

The Hindu – Pakistan Taliban chief Fazlullah killed in USA drone strike in Afghanistan

Washington USA/Islamabad Pakistan, 15 June 2018. Chief of Pakistan Taliban Maulana Fazlullah has been killed in a United States drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, an Afghan Defence Ministry official confirmed on Friday.

Fazlullah, who has been designated as a global terrorist by the USA and carried a bounty of $5 million, had been on the run since his loyalists were routed in a major military operation in Pakistan’s Swat district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in 2009.

The USA military said on Thursday it carried out a strike targeting a senior militant leader in Afghanistan. It, however, did not identify him.

“USA forces conducted a counter-terrorism strike, June 13, in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organization,” Lieutenant Colonel Martin O’Donnell said in a statement.

He was taken: Afghan spokesman

Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish confirmed to CNN that Fazlullah, who is believed to be in his 40s, was killed in the strike on Wednesday.

The Express Tribune, citing sources, also said the drone strike that took place in the Nur Gul Kalay village of Dangam district killed Fazlullah and four other Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) commanders.

Fazlullah, also known by the alias Radio Mullah or Maulana Radio due to his long sermons on a private radio channel, and his commanders were having an Iftar party at a compound when a remotely piloted U.S. aircraft targeted them, reports said.

The TTP, however, did not confirm the death of its chief in the drone strike.

He was behind school, Malala attacks

Fazlullah had directed numerous high-profile attacks against the USA and Pakistani targets since he was appointed the group’s leader in 2013, including the December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 151 people, including more than 130 children.

The USA says Fazlullah ordered the 2012 attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls’ rights to schooling.

The USA strike comes amid a ceasefire between the Afghan Taliban and Afghan security forces to mark the end of the Ramzan month.

General John Nicholson, Commander of USA Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support, said the USA would adhere to the ceasefire announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which did not include USA counterterrorism attacks on other terror groups.

In 2014, there were reports that Fazlullah was killed. However, that information turned out to be false. In 2010, similar news about his death had broken out but later proved false.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistan-taliban-chief-fazlullah-killed-in-us-drone-strike-in-afghanistan/article24172922.ece?homepage=true

The Hindu – RSS activist murder: ‘Punjab Police officers received threats’ over Scotsman’s arrest

India briefs UK on investigation into role of Scotsman Jagtar Singh Johal in the death of RSS member Ravindra Gosain.

Vijaita Singh

New Delhi, 12 June 2018. Punjab Police officers investigating the alleged role of a Scotsman in the killing of an RSS activist to fan communal violence in the State received death threats targeting them and their family, India is learnt to have told the United Kingdom authorities.

Jagtar Singh Johal (31) was arrested in November last, a fortnight after his wedding, for the murder of RSS member Ravindra Gosain.

The investigations were later handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The agency said Mr Gosain and eight others were killed in 2016-17 as “part of a conspiracy to destabilise Punjab” hatched by Sikh extremist elements and others located in various parts of the world.

A senior government official said the arrest of Johal had become a rallying point for Sikh groups based in the UK. During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to U.K. in April, several members of the Sikh community protested at Parliament Square against the arrest. British Prime Minister Therese May raised the arrest of Johal with Mr Modi. The UK Parliament also debated the absence of consular access to Johal.

‘False campaign’

“Since the arrest of Jagtar Singh Johal, a false, slanderous and orchestrated media campaign has been initiated by militants and their sympathisers as well as radical elements based in Britain and other western countries against the Punjab government and the Punjab police,” an internal note of the Home Ministry said.

“In fact, Punjab police officers have been receiving death threats, targeted at them and their family members, from such elements over the phone, WhatsApp, and various social media platforms,” the note said.

MoS Home Kiren Rijiju is learnt to have told a UK delegation led by minister Susan Williams that all legal avenues were available for Johal and his lawyers to pursue his case.

During one of the meetings, NSA Ajit Doval had suggested that Johal could approach Human Rights Commission, which is an independent body with investigative and judicial powers, to look into allegations of mistreatment.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rss-activist-murder-punjab-police-officers-received-threats-over-scotsmans-arrest/article24146280.ece

The Hindu – Suicide bomber kills 13, including women, outside Afghan Ministry

The rush-hour attack, claimed by the Islamic State, also injured over 25 with children too feared to be among victims.

Kabul – Afghanistan, 11 June 2018. A suicide bomber killed 13 people and wounded more 25 during rush hour on Monday at the entrance to Afghanistan’s Rural Rehabilitation and Development Ministry in Kabul as workers were leaving for home, government spokesmen said.

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, its AMAQ news agency said, without providing any evidence. The attack comes as security has deteriorated in the city during recent months ahead of elections scheduled for October.

“Woman, children and employees of the [Rehabilitation] Ministry are among the victims,” Najib Danish, spokesman for the interior ministry, told Reuters, referring to the dead and wounded.

Wahid Majroh, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said no children were among the dead.

Fraidoon Azhand, spokesman for the Ministry that came under attack, said the suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the gate.

“We don’t know whether all of the victims are employees of the Ministry or other civilians as well,” he told Reuters.
Children too feared to be casualties

“…The Ministry has a kindergarten where the employees bring their children. Casualties among those children is possible but for the moment we don’t know exactly,” he said.

The IS has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Kabul but security officials say several are much more likely to be the work of the Haqqani network, a group affiliated with the Taliban.

Afghan Taliban militants on Saturday announced a surprise three-day ceasefire over the Muslim Id holiday at the end of this week, ending the fasting month of Ramadan, their first offer of its kind, days after the government declared an unconditional ceasefire of its own against the Taliban.

It was not clear exactly when the Taliban ceasefire would begin, as Id starts when the moon is first sighted, but it will be Thursday or Friday. The government ceasefire runs until June 20.

Spree of attacks

A week ago, a motorcycle suicide bomber killed 14 people near a gathering of Muslim clerics in the Afghan capital after they had issued a fatwa against suicide bombings, officials said, in the latest in a series of attacks to hit Kabul.

In April, two explosions in Kabul killed at least 26 people, including nine journalists who had arrived to report on an initial blast and were targeted by a suicide bomber.

A week earlier, 60 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a voter registration centre in the city.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/suicide-bomber-strikes-outside-afghan-ministry-during-rush-hour/article24135914.ece?homepage=true

The Hindu – Postscript to a massacre

Remembering the Jallianwala Bagh outrage, as its centenary approaches

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 09 June 2018. The massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on April 13, 1919 was a watershed in the story of India’s freedom struggle. It exposed the truth that the golden age of the raj, when enlightened men like Sir Thomas Munroe and Sir Arthur Cotton were in charge, was long past.

They had been replaced by arrogant racists such as General Dyer and Sir Michael O’Dwyer, who looked upon India as a slave nation and Indians as a slave race to be ruled with an iron hand. The massacre added momentum to Gandhiji’s movement for swaraj.

Yet, a lot of ignorance about the massacre persists. It has been wrongly stated that the colonial government subsequently punished the military and civil British officials responsible for it.

Many believe the nationalist Madan Lal Dhingra shot General Dyer as an act of vengeance. Another wrong notion is that the Hunter Commission that inquired into the massacre, did a fair job of it.

Now, with the centenary of the massacre coming up, the facts concerning the aftermath of the massacre need to be reviewed.

The basic facts about the massacre are known. It was executed under the orders of Brigadier Reginald Dyer who was then the General Officer Commanding of the 45th Infantry Brigade at Jullundur (now Jalandhar).

On his orders, a troop of 50 soldiers kneeled down and fired non-stop for 10 minutes with .303 rifles, at a dense crowd of about 15,000 men, women and children who had congregated at the Bagh as a part of Baisakhi celebrations.

The soldiers fired from close range, with accuracy and deliberation. The firing ended only when the ammunition ran out. In 10 minutes, the soldiers had fired about 5,000 shots, and the casualty figures were estimated in the range of about 1,000 killed and 2,000 injured.

Martial Law

Martial Law was imposed on the Punjab on April 16, and then back-dated to March 30. There was clampdown on all news going out of Punjab. Other atrocities followed, such as bombing from an aeroplane over the main bazaar and the villages surrounding the town of Gujranwala, the infamous ‘crawling order’ at Amritsar and public floggings in Lahore.

Martial Law was in force in Amritsar up to June 9.

Under Martial Law, officers of the Crown had absolute powers that could be exercised by military force. They could exert any amount of physical force, extending to the destruction of life and property to any extent and in any manner.
They were indemnified from legal action for any act of rights violation by them when Martial Law was in force. No legal action could be taken against military personnel for the atrocities.

Under public pressure, the British government appointed the Hunter Commission to inquire into the happenings. It was very partial, treated the testifying military and civil officers of the Crown with soft hands, condoned the arrogance of the officers in answering the questions, and found the imposition of Martial Law justified.

No official was recommended for any punishment for any of the atrocities they had committed. Only Dyer had to answer inconvenient questions before the Commission. Based on the Commission’s report, Dyer was directed to resign as Brigade Commander. Dyer resigned and was retired on a handsome pension.

Among the civil servants and police officials also, none were punished for their incompetence, inefficiency and dereliction of duty.

The then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer had displayed total insensitivity to the mood of the public, had fully supported the massacre at Amritsar and had endorsed all the atrocities committed under Martial Law.

Miles Irving, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Amritsar district, due to his own incompetence and cowardice, handed over the responsibility for maintaining law and order in the town to the military, which led to the massacre.

Trial and punishment

But 1,799 Indians in Amritsar were summarily tried in camera in Martial Law courts, 181 sentenced to death, 264 to transportation for life and others to confiscation of property and terms of imprisonment. But under public pressure all were released on December 23, 1919, by a Royal Amnesty.

There were, however, many punishments subsequently suffered by the high and mighty officers of the Crown.

Such is the true history of the aftermath of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

visalam. rammohan@gmail.com

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/postscript-to-a-massacre/article24122994.ece

The Hindu – China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the elephant in the room: Nirmala Sitharaman

However, there are now greater engagements between India and China, the Defence Minister says.

Special Correspondent

Chennai – Tamil Nadu – India, 09 June 2018. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the “elephant in the room” for India, but India does not view its bilateral relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relationship which “is getting intense”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

China-Pakistan prism

“There has been an increased dependence of Pakistan’s military on Chinese arms and ammunition. The fundamental reorientation of the China-Pakistan relationship is getting intense. (But) We do not view our relations with China through the prism of China-Pakistan relations,” Ms. Sitharaman said.

She was speaking at an international seminar on China’s geopolitics to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Chennai Centre for China Studies here on Friday.

Ms. Sitharaman said there was now a greater engagement between India and China, and with India’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the relationship was becoming stronger.

“There is now a greater scope for engagement, and engagement itself can be a very strong way in which the relationship can be bettered,” she said.

The Defence Minister further said that India had good bilateral cooperation with many members of the SCO. “There are many platforms available for engagement.

There is a reinvigoration, there are many mechanisms that are existing whether it is border personnel meet, the dispute redressal meets, crisis management study groups meet, are all actively engaging every now and then,” she said.

‘Create hotline’

However, having a hotline between the two countries would help disputes to be resolved faster.

“A hotline would definitely reduce the time consumed in reaching the empowered group of decision-makers in case there is a crisis at the ground level,” in a reference to the Doklam stand-off between the two countries.

She added that the two-day informal engagement between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan “will have some outcome in the short term, but without doubt in the long term the relationship will benefit from it”.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/china-pakistan-economic-corridor-is-the-elephant-in-the-room-nirmala-sitharaman/article24116209.ece

The Hindu – We derive our strength from tolerance, says Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event

‘Indian nationalism is based on constitutional patriotism’

Pavan Dahat

Nagpur – Maharashtra – India, 08 June 2018. Former President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Thursday that secularism and inclusion were a matter of faith to the country.

He was participating in the concluding ceremony of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s third year “Sangh Shiksha Varg.”

“Any attempts at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred, and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity,” he warned the gathering of RSS volunteers, members and sympathisers.

“Our national identity has emerged through a long drawn process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence. We derive our strength from tolerance. We accept and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. These have been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries,” he asserted.

Recalling the country’s rich, ancient heritage, he said, “The 5000-year-old civilization has remained unbroken. In fact, each conqueror and each foreign element has been absorbed to form a new synthesis and unity.”

According to him, the Indian Constitution was “not merely a legal document but a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation”.

“It represents the hopes and aspirations of billion plus Indians. From our Constitution flows our nationalism. The construct of Indian nationalism is constitutional patriotism, which consists of an appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity. The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance,” Mr Mukherjee said.

“Secularism and inclusion are a matter of faith for us. It is the perennial universalism of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages and 1600 dialects, practise seven religions, belong to three major ethnic groups and live under one system,” he said.

He mentioned the contributions of the Indian National Congress, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi to the concept of the modern Indian state and quoted Jawaharlal Nehru.

“Divergent strands in public discourse have to be recognised. We may argue, we may agree or not agree but we cannot deny the essential multiplicity of opinion. Peaceful co-existence, compassion, respect for life and harmony with nature form the foundations of our civilisation.

Every time a woman or a child is brutalised, the soul of India is wounded. Manifestations of rage are tearing our social fabric. Every day, we see increased violence around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear, and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal.

Only a non-violent society can ensure participation of all sections of people in the democratic process, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed. We must move from anger, violence, and conflict to peace, harmony, and happiness,” he added.

Before heading to Reshimbag, Mr. Mukherjee visited the birthplace of the RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in Mahal area of the city where he was welcomed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi.

“Today, I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India,” Mr Mukherjee wrote in the visitors’ book at Hedgewar’s birthplace.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/we-derive-our-strength-from-tolerance-says-pranab-at-rss-event/article24106040.ece?homepage=true

The Hindu – No news of clash in 12 hours, life limping back to normal in Shillong: Top official

Shillong – Meghalaya – India, 05 June 2018. The situation in the violence-hit Meghalaya capital has “improved” with no fresh clash reported from any part of the city over the past 12 hours, a top district official said.

Barring the 14 “vulnerable” localities, where the 24-hour curfew continued to remain in force, life was limping back to normal in other parts of Shillong, he said. “Over 90 per cent shops in Police Bazaar, and parts of Bara Bazaar opened this morning.

People were seen buying supplies at the two marts. Taxis were also plying on thoroughfares, but buses still remained off roads,” he added.

East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner P S Dkhar said the home department was yet to take a call on restoring internet and messaging services in the state capital. “There was no report of any untoward incident in the past 12 hours, but curfew would be imposed on the entire city from 4 p.m. to 5 a.m., just like yesterday (Monday),” he said.

The hill town has been in the grip of violence since Thursday following a fight between the Sikh residents in Shillong’s Punjabi Lane area, also known as sweeper colony, and the Khasi drivers of state-run buses.

Over 10 people, including policemen and CRPF personnel, were injured in the clashes. Altogether 15 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed at various locations in Shillong to handle the situation. The Army also conducted a flag march in the city for the second day on Monday.

The BJP-backed Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government has formed a high-level committee, headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, to find a permanent solution to the issue of relocation of the sweeper colony, inhabited by the Punjabis.

Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma had said on Monday that the urban affairs department has been asked to submit a detailed report on the Punjabi Lane area to the committee, including its history, legal aspects and concerns of the people living there.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/no-news-of-clash-in-12-hours-life-limping-back-to-normal-in-shillong-top-official/article24087341.ece