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Indian culture inclusive, accommodative: Rajnath Singh

The Union Home Minister said the attacks on Churches in Delhi and elsewhere in the recent past were an aberration and he wondered why these series of attacks happened only around the election time.

Rajnath Singh
File Photo

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the Christian community of protection in the country and added that India has always welcomed all religions with open arms.Singh, who was addressing the gathering at the Christmas celebrations under the auspices of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said that the nation will remain an inclusive and accommodative society. The Union Home Minister said the attacks on Churches in Delhi and elsewhere in the recent past were an aberration and he wondered why these series of attacks happened only around the election time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Conveying the greeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said that the NDA government always stood by the side of the Christians in the country. Singh further went on to ask community leaders to contact him directly if they faced any injustice in the country.Christianity arrived in India almost the same time when it spread to Europe, he said.

Mumbai attacks ‘planner’ turns witness

David Headley, a US man sentenced to 35 years in prison for his role in plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks, agrees to turn witness in India.

Are militants trying to reinforce agenda of global jihad in Jammu & Kashmir?

Attacks in the first week of December have led the intelligence agencies based in Jammu and Kashmir to suspect that the banned outfits — Jaish-e-Mohamad and Harkut-ul-Mujahideen – might be attempting to re-establish a space for militant groups with a ‘global agenda’ instead of a Kashmir-centric one.

Army and special operation group personnel take positions during an encounter with militants in J&K’s Handwara district on Friday

PTI
Attacks in the first week of December have led the intelligence agencies based in Jammu and Kashmir to suspect that the banned outfits — Jaish-e-Mohamad and Harkut-ul-Mujahideen – might be attempting to re-establish a space for militant groups with a ‘global agenda’ instead of a Kashmir-centric one.While JeM claimed responsibility for an attack on Gorkha Rifles Camp in Tangdhar area, which resulted in the killing of a military contractor and three militants, HuM spokesperson Hassan Askaree, in a tele-statement to local news agency, paid ‘tributes’ to the militants slain in the Handwara and Poonch attacks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even though senior intelligence officials said that “it is too soon to say that JeM and HuM are trying to regroup,” they did not deny the possibility of the latest attacks being carried out to reclaim lost ground in the valley. While JeM’s presence was last witnessed in 2013, when the group engaged security forces on multiple occasions, resulting in the killing of several of its top commanders, HuM was involved in a major Fidayeen attacks carried out in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in January, 2010.”Both the groups were very close to each other and, in fact, they worked in close co-ordination till 2007. However, HuM fighters in Sopore and Handwara area maintained their independence from JeM and carried out attacks till 2010,” said an official source.Counter-insurgency officials told dna that while one can see similarities in modus operandi of various Kashmir-based militant groups, the major differences lie in their goals.”Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have confined their goals to Kashmir. Most of its fighters advocate either Kashmir’s independence or a merger with Pakistan. However, the same cannot be said of JeM or HuM,” a senior counter-insurgency official said.”Groups with global jihad waned over a period of time. It is unlikely that global jihadists will gain territory in future. The reason LeT and HM are still operational is because of their focus on Kashmir,” the official added.JeM was established by Maulana Masood Azhar in the year 2000, after he was freed by the Indian government in exchange for passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814. The group’s history is, however, not as elaborate as HuM which makes the December 4 Handwara attack quite significant.”JeM does not have more than 10-12 terrorists on ground. HuM is a different ball game altogether. The global network Hum possesses, gives it an edge over groups like Hizb and Lashkar whose primary goal continues to be Kashmir,” said a senior police official in J&K.”The recent attacks can also be seen as a reaction to advances of ISIS which is a sectarian terrorist force. In the past, we have seen several valley-based militant groups releasing anti-ISIS statements. Point in case is LeT’s statement against ISIS’s anti-Shia agenda,” the official added.HuM was originally formed in 1985 after breaking out from Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI) in 1985.Towards the end of Soviet-Afghan war, the group entered Kashmiri politics, and in 1993 the group merged with HUJI to form Harkat-ul-Ansar under the leadership of Abdelkader Mokhtari, an Algerian commander who later came to be known for his participation in the Bosnian war. The group was banned in mid-90s after which it renamed itself as HuM. It was banned once again following the 9/11 twin tower attacks.

How the 1993 blasts changed Mumbai forever

Columnist Bachi Karkaria reflects on how the deadly 1993 bombings in Mumbai changed India’s financial and entertainment capital forever.

Grenade attacks on telecom installations rattle Srinagar, police suspect Hizbul splinter group

Srinagar: A series of grenade attacks on mobile towers and telecom offices on Friday rattled Srinagar city, a day after the Hizbul Mujahideen expelled a “rogue” militant, who is believed to have planned similar attacks on mobile installations in north Kashmir.

Representational image. Image courtesy-ReutersRepresentational image. Image courtesy-Reuters

Representational image. Image courtesy-Reuters

Four grenades were lobbed at telecom infrastructure in a span of a few hours by unknown assailants, who managed to escape from the disrupted areas, leaving the police clueless about their whereabouts. Two persons were hurt in the attacks.

Two telecom offices and a mobile tower were targeted in Karan Nagar, the commercial hub of Srinagar city, barely a kilometre away from the chief minister’s office. Another grenade was lobbed at a mobile tower in the Wazir Bagh locality.

The attacks, according to preliminary investigations, are believed to be the handiwork of a splinter group of the Hizbul Mujahideen led by Abdul Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandroo. The group is active in different parts of north Kashmir.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Syed Javed Mujtaba Gillani said there are around ten militants in Najar’s group who have been frequenting Srinagar. “As Najar was responsible for the Hizbul Mujahideen’s north Kashmir chapter, he may have also carried out the attacks in Srinagar to create panic and spread fear,” he said.

“It seems that the attacks in Srinagar were carried by the same group which had earlier carried out attacks in Sopore,” Gillani, told Firstpost.

Earlier, unidentified gunmen had killed six people in Sopore. The J&K police had blamed the killings on the Najar-led group. On Thursday, the Hizb chief, Syed Salahuddin, also blamed Najar for killing civilians and attacking the telecom infrastructure, including the local people associated with it, in Sopore town.

“During his address to the Hizb Command Council, Syed Salahuddin said that the basic membership of Najar has been suspended as he played a key role in murdering some innocent persons, indulged in the character assassination of Hurriyat leaders and attacked the telecommunication set up in Valley,” Hizb spokesperson Salim Hashmi said.

“The report submitted by an inquiry into the killings has proved that Qayoom Najar in utter disregard to the Hizb leadership violated the constitution of the outfit and carried out condemnable acts. Our constitution does not allow or permit such actions,” Salahuddin said.

But the relatives of the slain persons expressed suspicion that the security agencies carried out the killings, especially in the backdrop of the union defence minister Manohar Parrikar‘s “terrorist-for-terrorist” remarks.

Tufail Ahmad Reshi, whose brother was killed by two unidentified gunmen on June 15 outside his medical shop in Mundji of Sopore, doesn’t believe that militants are responsible for his brother’s murder.

“I don’t understand why any militant would kill my innocent brother. He was only 37 and had a family to take care of. I would like to believe this is not true,” he said, after being told that the Hizbul Mujahideen had accused Najar of being involved in the killing.

Whatever the truth may be, the attacks in the heart of Srinagar city have left security agencies in a tizzy with the traders associated with telecom companies fearing that it might bring back the environment of terror which prevailed in June and even lead to the closure of cellular services in the capital. Experts believe that it may also affect tourism in the state.

Telecom installations in the valley became a target in June when unknown gunmen, claiming to be associated with a lesser known outfit, Lashkar-i-Islam, killed two persons associated with the telecom sector in Sopore town. In subsequent attacks, four more people, including a Hurriyat activist, were gunned down.

The crisis sparked by the killings led to a shutdown of mobile services for over a week in north Kashmir with over 70 percent subscribers affected in the Valley. The wave of attacks came in the backdrop of threatening posters issued by “Lashkar-e-Islam”.

The printed posters, carrying the logo of the outfit, said that telecommunication was one of the “dirtiest conspiracies” of India that has led to the “martyrdom” and the arrest of many militant commanders and cadres.

“If the government can’t guarantee our security, why should people put their lives at risk? We will have to ultimately shut our shops. The absence of security will affect the entire society, not merely a particular group of people.” Rehaan Malik, who works at an Airtel franchise in Srinagar, said.

Since the attacks in June, mobile services in Sopore town continue to be in crisis with cable operators too shutting down their establishments. “The mobile phones are working, but there is not even a single shop in Sopore which sells recharge cards for prepaid connections. This has affected our business and daily life,” Rahi Mohiudin, a resident of downtown Sopore, said in a phone conversation.

Obama spoke or reality, pro-active action, says Christian community

New Delhi: The Christian community, which has been critical of the BJP government following “attacks” on
churches, on Friday welcomed US President Barack Obama’s comments on religious intolerance in India, saying he spoke about the reality and pro-active action was required to ensure social harmony.

Director and Spokesperson of Delhi Catholic Archdiocese Father Dominic said the US President remark on religious intolerance was a major issue and asked the government to take the challenge seriously.

Barack Obama. AFP

“Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation and it is good for us to be reminded by anybody in the world what Mahatma Gandhi said,” he said, adding government must take steps to ensure that people from all faiths live in harmony.

Yesterday, the US President had said in Washington that the “acts of intolerance” experienced by religious faiths of all types in India in the past few years would have shocked Gandhi.

Angry over a spate of “attacks” on churches, members of the Christian community yesterday had staged a major protest in the city. They have been accusing the BJP government of inaction in ensuring security to the churches and the community in the city.

“The high handedness brutal force the police used was the most shocking thing and we are wondering whether we are in a democracy or in a dictatorial system of government,” Dominic said about police crackdown on protesters yesterday.

Another leader from the Christian community Jenis Francis said it was “unfortunate” that Obama had to react to an internal issue.

“That Obama had to react to our internal issue is unfortunate. But having said that, it also shows the
lackadaisical approach of the government in addressing the serious issue,” he said.

The community is outraged over “attacks” on various churches in the city since November last year. The community alleged that it is part of a “hate campaign”.

PTI

Witnesses shot, stabbed, attacked with acid: Is Asaram a godman or don

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Witnesses shot, stabbed, attacked with acid: Is Asaram a godman or mafia don?

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Witnesses shot, stabbed, attacked with acid: Is Asaram godman or mafia don?

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You can’t throw acid on my will to live: 14-year-old pens open letter to attacker

The most beautiful people I’ve known are those who have known trials, have known struggles, have known loss, and have found their way out of the depths, said Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Acid attacks on women show no sign of abating in India. AFP.

This holds true for 14-year-old Dolly, an acid attack survivor who has now found a way to gain back her confidence and her will to live.

According to a Times of India report, she has penned an open letter to her attacker which reads:

“You and your family say you want to marry me. You keep on giving false statements in court… Since the day of attack, I imprisoned myself. You don’t have a clue how I coped. My elder sisters stopped going to school, got married early. I stopped studying. I kept thinking it was all my fault. I forgive you. In the past, sometimes, I have wondered how it would be to empty a full bottle of acid on you. My hands would tremble… You burnt my face, but not my will to live. You can’t throw acid on that. I will fight this case in court, not only for myself but for other girls, so they do not lose their courage before people like you.”

Her attacker, Pradeep who is currently in jail worked as a carpenter in her neighborhood. After unsuccessfully trying to lure the then class four student into engaging in a sexual relationship with him, he proceeded to throw acid on her face.

More and more women survivors of this heinous and sadistic crime are only just starting to speak out. The Sheroes Hangout in Agra, doubles up as a cafe and an activism workshop, a community radio hub, and an exhibit space, where girls like Dolly are empowered to go on with their lives.

On 24 December last year, thousands of acid attack survivors from across the country were sitting on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, asking the government to regulate the open sale of acid.

First respondents unfortunately do not know the appropriate measure in case of acid attacks. With stricter laws and community training we can reduce these attacks to a great extent,” said Alok Dixit, the founder of the NGO Stop Acid Attacks told the Indian Express.

Dolly plans on going back to school and completely her education and provides hope to the thousands of women whose faces were used to settle scores.

Despite a Supreme Court ban on the sale of acid in 2013, it can still be easily purchased in many parts of the country.

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