India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 2


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Jama’at-ud-Da’wah

The Face of Terrorism. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, head of the banned Pakistani charity Jama'at-ud-Da'wah and co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Source: centralasiaonline.com)

The Face of Terrorism. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, head of the banned Pakistani charity Jama’at-ud-Da’wah and co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba. (Source: centralasiaonline.com)

India submitted a formal request to the United Nations Security Council to put the group Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) and its founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on the list of individuals and organizations sanctioned by the United Nations for association with terrorism. India accused JuD and its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, of being virtually interchangeable with Lashkar- e-Taiba (LeT). India said that the close links between the organizations, as well as the 2,500 offices and 11 seminaries that JuD maintains in Pakistan, “are of immediate concern with regard to their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate terrorist activities.

On December 10, 2008, in an interview with Pakistan’s Geo television, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed denied the link between JuD and LeT stating that “no Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jama’at-ud-Da’wah and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

On December 11, 2008, Hafiz Muhammed Saeed was placed under house arrest by Pakistan when the United Nations declared Jama’at-ud-Da’wah to be a LeT front. He was held in house arrest under the Maintenance of Public Order law, which allows authorities to detain temporarily individuals deemed likely to create disorder. In early June 2009 the Lahore High Court, deeming the containment to be unconstitutional, ordered Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to be released. India immediately expressed its disappointment with the decision of the Lahore High Court.

On January 7, 2009, Pakistan’s Information Minister Sherry Rehman officially accepted Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistan national, and registered a case against three other Pakistani nationals.

On February 12, 2009, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik asserted that parts of the attack had been planned in Pakistan.

On July 6, 2009, the Pakistani government filed an appeal of the Lahore High Court’s decision. Shah Khawar, Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan, told the Associated Press that “Hafiz Saeed at liberty is a security threat.

On August 25, 2009, Interpol issued a Red-corner Notice against Hafiz Saeed, along with Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, in response to Indian requests for his extradition.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was again placed under house arrest by the Pakistani authorities in September 2009. However, on October 12, 2009, the Lahore High Court expunged all cases against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and set him free. The court also notified that Jama’at-ud-Da’wah is not a banned organization and can function freely in Pakistan. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of two judges hearing the case, observed “In the name of terrorism we cannot brutalise the law.

Here are some of the other Pakistani terrorist leaders who were at the heels of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks:

  • Abdul Rehman Makki, the brother-in-law of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, second in command of Lashkar-e-Taiba, alleged to be holding out in Pakistan. The United States has announced a reward of $2 million for information leading to the location of Makki.
  • Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a Senior member of LeT in custody of Pakistan armed forces. He has been named as one of the masterminds of the Mumbai attack.
  • Yusuf Muzammil, a Senior member of LeT. He has been named as one of the masterminds of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by Ajmal Kasab.
  • Zarrar Shah, one of LeT’s primary liaisons to the ISI. He is in Pakistani custody. An American official said that he was a “central figure” in the planning behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks. In fact, Zarrar Shah had boasted to Pakistani investigators about his role in the attacks.
  • Muhammad Ashraf, LeT’s top financial officer, although not directly connected to the 2008 Mumbai plot, was added to the United Nation’s list of people that sponsor terrorism after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. However, Geo TV reported that six years earlier Ashraf became seriously ill while in custody and died at Civil Hospital on June 11, 2002.
  • Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Bahaziq, the leader of LeT in Saudi Arabia and one of its financiers, though not directly connected to the Mumbai plot, after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the U.N. added him to its list of individuals that sponsor terrorism.

Even a year after the attacks, Mumbai police continued to complain that Pakistani authorities were not cooperating by providing information for their investigation.

Meanwhile, journalists in Pakistan said security agencies were preventing them from interviewing people from Kasab’s village.

Kasab was charged with 86 offenses, including murder and waging war against the Indian state, in a charge-sheet running to more than 11,000 pages.

On May 6, 2010, a trial court sentenced Ajmal Kasab to death on all the 86 charges for which he was convicted. He appealed against this verdict. On February 21, 2011, the Bombay High Court and on August 29, 2012, the Supreme Court of India upheld his death sentence.

Former Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the Pakistani authorities had not shared any information about American suspects David Coleman Headley, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, but the FBI had been more forthcoming.

An Indian report, summarizing the intelligence gained from India’s interrogation of David Headley, was released in October 2010. It alleged that Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI) had provided support for the attacks by providing funding for reconnaissance missions in Mumbai. The report included Headley’s claim that Lashkar-e-Taiba‘s chief military commander, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, had close ties to the ISI. Headley alleged that “every big action of LeT is done in close coordination with [the] ISI.

On November 21, 2012, Ajmal Kasab was executed by hanging in Yerwada Jail in Pune, southeast of Mumbai, amid great secrecy, underscoring the political sensitivity of the November 26, 2008, Mumbai massacre. His body was buried in the “surrounding area” of the jail. It was the first time a capital sentence had been carried out in India since 2004.

There was celebration on the streets of Mumbai and other cities as news of the execution spread. People set off fireworks and handed out sweets sparking celebration days before the fourth anniversary of the assault on the financial capital of India.

Militant groups in Pakistan reacted angrily, as did the residents of Faridkot, Ajmal Kasab’s home village.

The Taliban threatened revenge unless India returns the body of Ajmal Kasab. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan demanded that Kasab’s body be given back to his family or handed over to the Taliban. From an undisclosed location, Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone:

If his body is not given to us or his family, we will, god willing, carry on his mission, we will take revenge for his murder.

After the hanging then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said:

All the police officers and personnel who lost their life in the battle against the terrorists have today been served justice.

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India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 1


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Finally, on 26 November, the GPS had sounded their arrival off the coast of Mumbai, and they had called Karachi to find out what to do with the captured captain. It fell to Ajmal Kasab to act. He had just turned twenty-one and felt compelled to prove his worth. Two others held the Indian sailor down, while Ajmal slit his throat. Blooded, they jumped into a yellow dinghy that pulled them onwards towards the glistening Indian city.” – An excerpt from the prologue of The Seige: Three Days of Terror Inside the Taj by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy.

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On the evening of Wednesday, November 26, 2008, televisions all over the world broadcast the breaking news that Mumbai,  India’s largest city with a population of 18 million was virtually under siege with twelve coordinated shooting and bombing incidents.

The 10 terrorists who took part in the attacks were young men. On November 21, 2008, they left Karachi, Pakistan in a boat and travelled for thirty-eight hours, remaining undetected by the Indian Navy. Each of them was carrying 6 to 7 magazines of 30 rounds each plus 400 rounds not loaded in magazines, 8 hand grenades, one AK-47 assault rifle, an automatic loading revolver, credit cards and a supply of dried fruit.

On November 23, the terrorists hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, the Kuber. They killed four fishermen and ordered the captain of the trawler to sail to India.

On November 26, when they were four nautical miles (7 kilometers) from Mumbai they killed the captain of the trawler and boarding three inflatable speedboats reached the Colaba jetty at 8:10 pm.

The identity of the attackers was not immediately known. Initial reports said they were young men wearing jeans and tee-shirts.

Map of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks

Map of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks

Eight attacks took place in South Mumbai: at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Oberoi/Trident Hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, the Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital, the Nariman House renamed Chabad House – a Jewish community center, the Metro Cinema, in a lane behind the Times of India building, St. Xavier’s College, a domestic airport and a police station.

There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai - After the terrorist attack (Source: outlookindia.com)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai – After the terrorist attack (Source: outlookindia.com)

The terrorists opened fire and set off Grenades in several locations. In the hotels they sought out foreign nationals, particularly British and American citizens.  Hostages were taken during the attacks.

Around 450 people were staying in the Taj Mahal Hotel at that time. It was hosting a parliamentary conference and a number of visiting dignitaries were ensnared in the violence. The terrorists set fire and destroyed the hotel’s roof. At least 31 people were killed by the terrorists at Taj.

By the early morning of November 28, the Mumbai Police and security forces secured all sites except the Taj hotel.

The panic lasted until Saturday, November 29, 2008.

Terror attack at Taj Hotel, Mumbai on  November 26, 2008. (Source: ramanan50.wordpress.com)

Terror attack at Taj Hotel, Mumbai on November 26, 2008. (Source: ramanan50.wordpress.com)

On November 29, India’s National Security Guards (NSG) conducted the Operation Black Tornado to flush out the assailants. The commandos killed all the terrorists barricaded in the hotel and the three-day long siege.

The only attacker captured alive, 21-year-old Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, upon interrogation confessed that the attackers were members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. He said that 24 terrorists received training in marine warfare at a remote camp in mountainous Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir in Pakistan and he was one of them.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is one of the largest and most active terrorist organizations in South Asia, operating primarily from Pakistan. This militant network is closely linked to al-Qaeda, and is considered a terrorist organization by India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations among others.

Kasab also revealed that the attacks were conducted with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the mastermind behind the carnage who directed the attacks from Pakistan via mobile phones and VoIP.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Pictures of Ajmal Kasab, the boyish-looking gunman wearing a black T-shirt and toting an AK-47 assault rifle as he strode through Mumbai’s railway station were published around the world.

India was traumatized by the three-day terror attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation. The terrorists killed 167 people and wounded at least 308 people. The casualties were mostly Indian citizens, although westerners carrying foreign passports were singled out.

The Government of India said the terrorists came from Pakistan and their controllers were in Pakistan.

Pakistan initially denied that its nationals were responsible for the attacks and it blamed plotters in Bangladesh and criminal elements in India, for the attacks. But India refuted this claim.

Then Pakistan said they needed information from India on other bombings first.

The officials in India supplied evidence to Pakistan and other governments, in the form of interrogations, call records of conversations during the attacks, and weapons used in the Mumbai terror attacks. The Indian government officials alleged that the attacks were so sophisticated that they must have received official support from Pakistani ‘agencies’, an accusation denied by Pakistan.

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Behind the Billowing Smoke


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Jawed Naqvi

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By Jawed Naqvi

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BEFORE he was stopped for questioning at the Boston airport last week, Azam Khan was perceived as a ghetto-embracing politician, an Indian Muslim with a provincial worldview.

He was once quoted as famously wanting to lead a mob to tear down the Taj Mahal because it symbolised a waste of money. He had earlier claimed that the Babri mosque could only be demolished over his dead body. Well? And he runs an educational institution after a Muslim hero who strove to restore the caliphate in Turkey against Kemal Ataturk’s modernising efforts.

After he was checked at the Boston airport, following which he kicked up a right royal fuss, Azam Khan comes across as the gross neighbour who walked into a house in mourning with an eye on the warm biryani.

The minister from Uttar Pradesh mistimed it though. He had gone to the United States to be feted by the Indian diaspora but was quizzed at the airport where security happened to be on a higher alert than normal.

He claimed he was singled out for being a Muslim. It is perfectly possible that the computerised data on the US terror watch flickered when it saw someone close to his description, and why not?

After all, Muslims have been in the thick of these things. Two Muslim migrants had shockingly wreaked havoc in Boston the other day, evidently in pursuit of their religious calling. They attacked a marathon race, making it the third time when people with Muslim names targeted sportspersons at events where the prize was a cornucopia of human fellowship.

How does Azam Khan respond to the fact that people bearing Muslim names killed 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972? They targeted a friendly Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009.

Who knows what the computer threw up on him, but Azam Khan is known to be so self-absorbed he wouldn’t have noticed that Meera Shankar was handed a pat-down at a US airport when she was India’s ambassador in Washington DC. It’s a country in serious trouble. Former defence minister George Fernandes and movie actor Shahrukh Khan were questioned too.

What seems even more ironical for Azam Khan’s pervasive sense of victimhood is the fact that Narendra Modi has been denied a US visa, ostensibly because of the extremist politics he practises in Gujarat.

The tangled skein of terror and counter-terror of course goes beyond easy references to religious pursuits as the source.

The example of Timothy McVeigh has been cited in the context of the Boston tragedy. McVeigh was a former US soldier with a disturbed childhood. He was decorated with a military medal for his services in the Kuwait-Iraq expedition before he rammed a truck loaded with explosives in Oklahoma into a government building packed with people.

His grouse with the American government seems to have had little to do with his Roman Catholic faith.

McVeigh was executed with a lethal injection, but every year militarist American policies create more and more disturbed war veterans. The Guardian in February detailed a horrific tragedy unfolding in the United States with practically every military outing.

Describing what it said was a suicide epidemic among US war veterans, The Guardian homed in on the heartrending story of William Busbee, “archetype of the US soldier” whose mother feels he was let down by the army he loved so much.

“Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare’s Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had,” wrote The Guardian. “Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap.”

The reference was to Lady Macbeth’s writhing with guilt at the cold-blooded murder of King Duncan by his trusted lieutenant, her husband.

“Mom, it won’t wash off,” the 23-year old William Busbee said. “What are you talking about?” the mother replied. “The blood. It won’t come off.”

The paper records how on March 20 last year, the “soldier’s striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with SWAT officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.”

Busbee became part of a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone, the report noted. “To put that another way, more of America’s serving soldiers died at their own hands than in pursuit of the enemy.”

But who is the enemy that young men like William Busbee and Timothy McVeigh are routinely deputed to fight? Before the blood of the three victims killed in the Boston blast was dry, President Obama had sanctioned $133 million or thereabout to arm religious extremists fighting the secular albeit undemocratic Assad regime in Syria.

The trouble is that many of the beneficiaries of the American largesse in the Syrian conflict are the same people whose ideological perversion was responsible for the tragedy of the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

This cynical American pursuit of make-believe strategic security becomes equally untenable when the Boston bombers turn out to be inspired by anti-Russian religious bigots who are considered to be kosher by Washington as long as they don’t harm Americans.

I can fully understand Azam Khan getting frisked at the Boston airport, but it is difficult to accept the rest of the story behind Boston’s billowing smoke, which masks America’s unending tryst with self-inflicted horrors.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.

jawednaqvi@gmail.com

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Re-posted from DAWN.com

16 Injured in Blast near BJP Office in Bangalore


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The blast on Wednesday damaged two cars, a motorcycle and a van of the Karnataka State Reserve Police. (Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint)

The blast on Wednesday damaged two cars, a motorcycle and a van of the Karnataka State Reserve Police. (Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint)

Yesterday, April 17, 2013, just a few weeks ahead of key elections in Karnataka state (scheduled for May 5, 2013), a blast ripped through the Malleshwaram area of Bangalore near the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office. The blast gutted several vehicles including a police van parked near the BJP office and injured 16 people including eight police officers on duty.

According to several eyewitnesses on spot it was a “big explosion that shook nearby buildings.” Television footage showed several cars and two-wheelers at the blast site were badly damaged.

Television footage showed several badly damaged cars and two-wheelers at the blast site.

There are conflicting reports about the blast. Initial reports suggested that a gas cylinder had exploded. Raghavendra Auradkar, Bangalore police chief told reporters: “We initially thought it was a gas cylinder explosion. [Now] we believe it is a motorcycle blast – a motorcycle [has been] destroyed,” he said. BBC reported that “bombs had been planted on bicycles 150 metres (500 feet) apart near a crowded fruit market.”

Banglore Blast - Injured policemen - 2

Press Trust of India news agency quoted Lalrokhuma Pachau, Karnataka police chief: “Due to the blast, 16 people are injured – eight policemen on duty and eight civilians. Nobody is critically injured. All are being treated at hospital … As of now, we do not know what material was used in making the bomb.” Pachau added that officials of the anti-terrorism National Investigation Agency had reached the site.

This is the first major bomb attack in India since the September 2011 blast outside Delhi’s High Court that killed 13 people.

R.P.N. Singh, Federal junior Home Minister, said investigators were “looking at all possibilities” and requested the public not to “give credence to rumours.”

R. Ashok, Karnataka Home Minister, said it was a “terror attack”; however, he did not elaborate.

The Union home ministry has pointed to an Indian Mujahideen (IM) signature in targeting crowds.

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Explosions near Boston Marathon Finish-Line: 3 Dead, More than 100 Hurt


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Explosion at Boston Marathon - 00

The Boston Marathon held on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday of April every year, is an annual event hosted by several cities in Greater Boston in eastern Massachusetts. Inspired by the success of the first modern-day marathon competition held in the 1896 Summer Olympics, the Boston Marathon, one of six World Marathon Majors, began in 1897, and is the world’s oldest annual marathon. Since then, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) manages this event. Amateur and professional runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon each year. The event attracts 500,000 spectators each year, making it New England’s most widely viewed sporting event.

The Boston Marathon started with just 18 participants in 1897 now attracts an average of about 20,000 registered participants each year. In 1996, the Centennial Boston Marathon established a record as the world’s largest marathon with 38,708 entrants, 36,748 starters, and 35,868 finishers.

Yesterday, April 15, the third Monday in April, the day the state of Massachusetts celebrates Patriots’ Day to commemorate the U.S. war of independence every year, was the day of the annual Boston Marathon. On this bright and radiant spring day, around 3 pm ET, cheers became screams and panic. A pair of bombs ripped through the crowd at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing at least two people and injuring more than hundred people. The two explosions occurred a few seconds apart knocking some runners off their feet.

Many were seriously injured by shrapnel. According to the officials, at least 17 people are critically wounded, and the injuries resulting in several amputations.

Dozens of police vehicles, ambulances, and fire trucks converged at the scene.

The Wall Street Journal citing two unnamed people briefed on the investigation reported that investigators found what could be five more undetonated explosive devices around the Boston area. However, FBI Boston Special Agent In Charge Richard DesLauriers declined to comment on media reports that police found unexploded devices.

This happens to be the worst bombing in the US after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In a televised address, President Barack Obama vowed to bring those behind the attack to justice.

A White House official said that President Barack Obama has promised to hunt down those responsible for the attack. No one has been arrested and whether the attack came from a foreign or domestic source has to be determined he said.

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Rights activists hit out at attacks on Sri Lankans


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By V.P. Raghu

March 20, 2013 – Deccan Chronicle

Chennai: The attacks by fringe groups on Sri Lankans arriving in Tamil Nadu, in the name of protests against human rights violations against island Tamils, has drawn criticism from rights activists in the state.

At least five cases of attacks on visiting Lankans were reported in the state in the last one month. This is apart from the attack on Sri Lankan institutions in Tamil Nadu. “I condemn such acts. Such kind of violence cannot be justified. These acts of terror against individuals should not be tolerated,” noted Dr. V. Suresh, national general secretary, PUCL.

Echoing Suresh’s views, another human rights activist, A Marx, said nothing could be gained by attacking visiting tourists and Buddhist monks. “While students are taking the protest in the right direction, some groups are indulging in violence,” noted Marx. These violent groups fear that the students will push them out of the protest arena, he said, adding, “So, to stay in the picture, they indulge in violence, which is highly condemnable.”

Attack on Buddhist Monks from Sri Lanka

Tamilnadu Police accompanying Buddhist monks and pilgrims from Chennai Central railway station up to Gudur in the state of Andhra Pradesh to ensure their safety. (Photo: dinakaran.com)

Pointing out that all Sri Lankans of Sinhalese origin, are not anti- Tamil, Suresh said many Sinhalese human rights activists had been fighting for the Lankan Tamils’ cause for years. “The house of senior lawyer J. C. Weliamuna was bombed for supporting Tamils in Lanka,” he recalled.

A senior official from Tamil Nadu police said almost all the accused in these cases had been arrested. “11 persons were arrested in the case of February 21 attack on Sri Lankan MP’s vehicle in Nagapattinam.

In connection with the attack on the Lankan monk on March 16 at Thanjavur, 12 persons were arrested. All the three persons connected with the attack on the Buddhist monk at Chennai central station on Monday, were secured,” the official pointed out.

In Trichy on February 26, the police had to intervene when a bus carrying Sri Lankan nationals was targeted. Similarly on March 3, vehicles carrying Sri Lankans from Chennai airport to Egmore were blocked on GST Road by a group. The police had to escort the Lankans to their destination.

Re-posted from Deccan Chronicle

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Politically Motivated Activists Bring Shame to Tamils of Tamilnadu


Here is the news that appeared in the Deccan Chronicle on March 17, 2013.
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Lankan monk roughed up in Thanjavur temple

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Student Monk  from Sti Lanka roughed up at Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India.

Student Monk from Sti Lanka roughed up at Brahadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India. (Photo: Deccan Chronicle)

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Thanjavur: A Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, currently pursuing archaeological studies in Delhi University, was rou­ghed up by some activists of pro-Tamil Eelam outfits at the world renowned Big Temple here on Saturday.

The Lankan had come here as part of a 20-member team, comprising students of postgraduate diploma in archaeology in Delhi University, on a study tour to the 1,000-year-old Brahadeeswarar temple.

As the students were going around Big Temple, a group of activists belonging to various outfits, including the MDMK and Naam Tamizhar Katchi, singled out the Sri Lankan national, clad in saffron robes, and beat him up, the police said. The attackers also raised slogans demanding that he leave Tamil Nadu immediately.

Besides the lone Sri Lan­kan, four Myanmaris were also part of the team while others were Indians, sour­ces said.

The monk was escorted safely to the local archaeological office from where the students left in a van to Tiruchy en route to Chennai. But, when the van was nearing Tiruchy, some unidentified persons pelted stones and slippers on it near Ariyamangalam. Though the van was damaged, the occupants escaped unhurt.

The police escorted the visiting students to the airport. Later, the Sri Lankan national left for Chennai by flight.

Twelve activists were taken into custody in connection with the incident.

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Video – Here is a video clip posted on Nakkheeran Web TV:

 

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Deccan Chronicle – Monday, March 18, 2013

Attack on Mahabodhi society warded off

Police personnel deployed in front of Mahabodhi society in Egmore after a group of men tried to attack the building. (Photo - Deccan Chronicle)

Police personnel deployed in front of Mahabodhi society in Egmore after a group of men tried to attack the building. (Photo: Deccan Chronicle)

Chennai: In yet another attack on Sri Lanka-linked establishments in Tamil Nadu, a group of men tried to vandalise the Mahabodhi society in Egmore on Sunday.

The police arrested 18 cadres of Naam Tamilar Katchi in connection with the attempt to break into the society office in Kennet Lane opposite the city police commissioner’s office. Anticipating trouble, city police had deployed a small team of armed police to guard the society.

According to eyewitnesses, a group of around 20 people reached Kennet Lane around noon and broke open the lock of a gate of the society.

“There were three only policemen who, however, prevented the protesters from doing further damage even as they sought additional personnel to handle the situation. Over 50 policemen were rushed to the spot.

The agitators were picked up before they could enter the society building where a number of visiting Sri Lankans, mostly Buddhist monks, stay on their visits to the city,” the police said. All arrested were remanded to judicial custody.

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Impact of Armed Conflict on Children


Children at both ends of the gun

Child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.”

War games in the divided city of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Photo: War games in the divided city of Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The psychosocial effects of armed conflict on children can be devastating and may haunt them through life, says the Machel report, particularly when children are attacked by those they have considered neighbours and friends, as happened in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. ©

The exploitation of children in the ranks of the world’s armies must end, says a new United Nations report. “One of the most alarming trends in armed conflict is the participation of children as soldiers,” declares the report, by Graça Machel, the Secretary-General’s Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

The report says the use of child soldiers is a problem created by adults, to be eradicated by adults. It calls for a global campaign to demobilize all child soldiers and to “eradicate the use of children under the age of 18 years in the armed forces.” The report further calls upon governments to renounce the practice of forced recruitment, which has put increasing numbers of children under arms against their will.

“Children are dropping out of childhood,” commented Devaki Jain of India, one of Ms. Machel’s Eminent Persons’ Group of advisers. “We must envision a society free of conflict where children can grow up as children, not weapons of war.”

The use of child soldiers is hardly new. “Children serve armies in supporting roles as cooks, porters, messengers and spies,” the report notes. “Increasingly, however, adults are conscripting children as soldiers deliberately.” Children under 15 years of age are known to be serving in government or opposition forces in at least 25 conflict zones and it is estimated that some 200,000 child soldiers under 16 years of age saw armed combat in 1988. Generally, however, child soldiers are statistically invisible as governments and armed opposition groups deny or downplay their role.

The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child defines childhood as below the age of 18 years, although it currently recognizes 15 as the minimum age for voluntary or compulsory recruitment into the armed forces. However, momentum is building for an Optional Protocol to the Convention that would raise the minimum age to 18.

With new weapons that are lightweight and easy to fire, children are more easily armed, with less training than ever before. Moreover, as was stated in one background paper prepared for the Machel report, child soldiers are “more obedient, do not question orders and are easier to manipulate than adult soldiers.” And they usually don’t demand pay.

A series of 24 case-studies on child soldiers, covering conflicts over the past 30 years, makes it clear that tens of thousands of children — many under the age of 10 — have been recruited into armies around the world. In Liberia, children as young as seven have been found in combat, while in Cambodia, a survey of wounded soldiers found that 20 per cent of them were between the ages of 10 and 14 when recruited. In Sri Lanka, of 180 Tamil Tiger guerrillas killed in one government attack, more than half were still in their teens, and 128 were girls. Solid statistics are hard to come by, however, as most armies and militia do not want to admit to their use of child soldiers.

According to the report, children are often press-ganged from their own neighbourhoods where local militia or village leaders may be obliged to meet recruitment quotas. In the Sudan, children as young as 12 have been rounded up from buses and cars. In Guatemala, youngsters have been grabbed from streets, homes, parties, and even violently removed from churches. In the 1980s, the Ethiopian military practised a ‘vacuum cleaner’ approach, recruiting boys, sometimes at gunpoint, from football fields, markets, religious festivals or on the way to school.

The report deplores the fact that children are often deliberately brutalized in order to harden them into more ruthless soldiers. In some conflicts, children have been forced to commit atrocities against their own families. In Sierra Leone, for example, the Revolutionary United Front forced captured children to take part in the torture and execution of their own relatives, after which they were led to neighbouring villages to repeat the slaughter. Elsewhere, before battle young soldiers have been given amphetamines, tranquillizers and other drugs to “increase their courage” and to dull their sensitivity to pain.

Some children become soldiers simply to survive. In war-ravaged lands where schools have been closed, fields destroyed, and relatives arrested or killed, a gun is a meal ticket and a more attractive alternative to sitting home alone and afraid. Sometimes a minor soldier’s pay is given directly to the family.

For girls, recruitment may lead to sex slavery. The report notes that in Uganda, for instance, young girls abducted by rebel forces were commonly divided up and allocated to soldiers to serve as their ‘wives’. A case-study from Honduras, prepared for the Machel report, illustrates one child’s experience of joining armed groups:

“At the age of 13, I joined the student movement. I had a dream to contribute to make things change, so that children would not be hungry … later I joined the armed struggle. I had all the inexperience and fears of a little girl. I found out that girls were obliged to have sexual relations ‘to alleviate the sadness of the combatants. And who alleviated our sadness after going with someone we hardly knew? At my young age I experienced abortion … In spite of my commitment, they abused me, they trampled my human dignity. And above all, they did not understand that I was a child and that I had rights.”

It is difficult to reintegrate demobilized children after a peace settlement is reached. Many have been physically or sexually abused by the very forces for which they have been fighting, and have seen their parents killed, sometimes in the most brutal manner, in front of their eyes. Most have also been led into participating in murder, rape and other atrocities. These children have no skills for life in peacetime and they are accustomed to getting their way through violence.

The report urges that all future peace agreements include specific measures pertaining to the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, ranging from job creation and the rebuilding of schools, to the training of teachers who are sensitive to the special needs of child victims of war.

The report calls on governments to regularize recruitment procedures for their armed forces and to prosecute violators to ensure that under-age recruitment does not occur. The Machel report also illustrates how the recruitment of children can at least be minimized when parents and communities are better informed about existing national and international law.

While much remains to be done, there have been some successes. In Peru, for example, forced recruitment drives reportedly declined in areas where they were denounced by parish churches. And in Myanmar, protests from aid agencies led to the release of boys forcibly recruited from a refugee camp. In the Sudan, humanitarian organizations have negotiated agreements with opposition groups to prevent the recruitment of children.

Source: UNICEF

UNICEF campaign for the disarmament of (female) child soldiers in Sri Lanka

A billboard campaign in Sri Lanka highlighting the plight of girl child soldiers. (Photo: Rebecca Murray/IRIN)

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Pakistan: Rumors of American Plot to sterilize Muslims. Nine Anti-Polio Workers Murdered.


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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A Pakistani health worker gives anti-polio vaccine to a child

A Pakistani health worker gives anti-polio vaccine to a child on the last day of a three-day anti-polio campaign in Lahore, Pakistan, March 14, 2012. (Xinhua/Jamil Ahmed)

Is a lawyer competent enough to declare that polio vaccines sterilize male children? Yes. In Pakistan, in the city of Peshawar, a 42-year-old lawyer named Sartaj Khan said: “These vaccines are meant to destroy our nation. The [polio] drops make men less manly, and make women more excited and less bashful. Our enemies want to wipe us out.”

Pakistan is one of the world’s three remaining polio-stricken countries the other two are Afganistan and Nigeria.

Dr. Shakeel Afridi

Dr. Shakeel Afridi

The Pakistani investigation of the deadly raid by a Navy SEAL team on May 1, 2011, on Osama bin Laden’s residence revealed that Dr. Shakeel Afridi, a Pakistani physician helped the CIA to run a fake vaccination program to establish the presence of bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad.

After the disclosure of Dr. Shakeel’s involvement in locating bin Laden, the Pakistani Taliban and other militant organizations banned polio campaigns in their respective areas. The extremist groups in the Pashtun belt of northwestern Pakistan spread the rumor that the army of health workers employed to vaccinate the country’s children is on the United States’ payroll, and the Americans were using the anti-polio campaign to sterilize or spy on Muslims.

The rumor spread by the extremists has resulted in the murder of nine anti-polio workers by gunmen riding motorcycles this week. Some of those killed were teenage girls.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari - Ambassador for Polio Eradication in Pakistan

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari – Ambassador for Polio Eradication in Pakistan

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, ambassador for Polio Eradication, strongly condemned the violence that killed the four female anti-polio workers. “Everyone involved in the polio campaign are selfless volunteers. They do this to save lives, they do this to save Pakistan.”

When a 14-year-old anti-polio worker Farzana Rehman was assassinated in her hometown of Peshawar by unknown gunmen, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari said: “We must not be deterred, better security precautions will be taken. Through our passion and dedication, we shall eradicate this crippling disease from our homeland, we shall continue to fight in the names of those who have lost their lives for the cause. We shall continue to fight for young girls like Farzana. Terrorists do this to scare us, they do this to try and stop us, we shall not be silenced and we will not stop the need, come what may,”

Following the violence, the United Nations pulled back all staff involved in the vaccination campaign and Pakistani officials suspended further vaccination in some parts of the country.

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