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Another ‘missing’ Malwani youth suspected to have join ISIS returns home

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While Noor is back home, Wajid was tracked down by ATS sleuths near Pune and was brought to Mumbai on Wednesday and let off after interrogation

Wajid Shaikh

A day after Wajid Shaikh, one of the ‘missing’ youths suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS), returned to Mumbai, another untraceable youth, Noor Mohammed, also from suburban Malwani, came back home on Thursday, police said.”Noor returned home himself this morning,” DCP (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said. Now the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is probing reports that he, along with three others – Wajid Shaikh, Mohsin Sayyed and Ayaz Sultan – had left home to join the terror outfit. Noor was the fourth youth who disappeared from Malwani area, a western suburb of Mumbai, in mid-December to reportedly to join the IS.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Noor is back home, Wajid was tracked down by ATS sleuths near Pune and was brought to Mumbai on Wednesday and let off after interrogation. The whereabouts of two other youths (Sultan and Mohsin) are still not known, police said.Sultan went missing on October 30 and Wajid and Mohsin since December 16, a police official had said. According to police, Sultan left home on October 30 after telling his parents that he had to go to Pune in connection with a job offer he got from a Kuwait-based firm. Mohsin left home on December 16, saying he was going to attend a friend’s wedding. Wajid also left home the same day saying he had to get the name on his Aadhar card corrected, police had said.

US aid to Pakistan will end up being used against India, warns ex-diplomat Husain Haqqani

As the US is preparing to sell F-16s fighter jets to Pakistan, the country’s former top diplomat, Haqqani, described the sale of such military hardware as an ‘appeasement policy towards the Pakistani military’.

Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani

Image Courtesy: Twitter
Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has warned Washington that its aid to Islamabad will ‘end up being used against India and not against terrorists’.As the US is preparing to sell F-16s fighter jets to Pakistan, the country’s former top diplomat, Haqqani, described the sale of such military hardware as an ‘appeasement policy towards the Pakistani military.’In a prepared remark submitted ahead of a Congressional hearing on ‘Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences to the Terrorism, Non-proliferation, and Trade Sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs’, Haqqani said Pakistan’s failure to tackle its jihadist challenge is ‘not the result of a lack of arms’, but a reflection of an ‘absence of will’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>South Asia terrorism expert Daniel Markey also told American lawmakers that pursuing a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan is not only ‘unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise’, but also counter-productive to American national interests in the near term.

Why the fuss over the Modi-Sharif handshake?

Tongues have started wagging about the future of the talks.

The handshake offers a ray of hope. One hopes that this gesture turns out to be ice-breaker before the winter chill sets in.

File Photo
News and social media went into frenzy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked up to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of a climate change summit in Paris and shook hands. Many jumped the gun and started discussing the fate of the stalled talks between the two countries. Was the handshake a mere courtesy photo-op, or was there something more to it? And so on and so forth. Well, one just does not know what the two leaders discussed, but one thing is certain that they did not discuss the climate of Paris. But what mattered most was the handshake which replaced the most important Paris climate talks as the lead story in Indian and Pakistani newspapers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tongues have started wagging about the future of the talks. What a prosaic interpretation? Is there any doubt about resumption of talks? Absolutely not! It is just a matter of time when the two countries will again start talk the talk, but what is more important is whether they will walk the walk. No two neighbours can remain in a perpetual mode of denial for long. In the past also, the two countries have been involved in talks despite going to full-fledged wars three times and a brief conflict in Kargil in 1999 since their independence. But they were back to talks after sometime. It is an on and off exercise which will go on before the two nations regain trust about each other to operationalise the full-scale structured talks. The leadership of both the countries is mature enough to understand that war would only lead to catastrophe and complicate the matters beyond repairs. Dialogue can only take them forward to any meaningful and lasting solution to the issues that bedevil their relations.But for that to happen, a congenial atmosphere is the basic requirement. Incidents in the last few months have only widened the trust deficit as both the countries view each other with suspicion. The media of the two countries has also played a devilish role by resorting to jingoist rhetoric forcing the hands of the leadership of both the countries to move cautiously. The cross-border firing, increase in militant activities in Kashmir, the recent arrest of agents affiliated to Pakistan’s intelligence agency in India do not augur well for the immediate resumption of talks, even though cosmetic, in the immediate future.The handshake offers a ray of hope. One hopes that this gesture turns out to be ice-breaker before the winter chill sets in. This was their second meeting this year after they met in the Russian city of Ufa in July and decided to give a push to the stalled talks by agreeing to a meeting of National Security Advisors. But sadly, the meeting just failed to take off as both the sides stuck to unreasonable grounds. There was another opportunity a month later in the United Nations General Assembly session for them to meet. But by then the ties had soured and the two leaders intentionally decided to stay away from public glare by only waving at each other.Talks for the sake of talks should be avoided. Both the countries should do some serious introspection and adopt a pragmatic approach if they are really serious in taking the talks forward. Nawaz Sharif’s recent offer of unconditional talks with India during his meeting with British Premier David Cameron on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Malta has largely gone unnoticed in India as New Delhi has not even bothered to take note of it, leave aside making any comments. Pakistan needs to understand that talks and terror can?t go hand in hand. At a time, when the world has been rattled by a series of bloody terrorist activities, the sentiments are running high against terrorist groups. And to expect India to enter into talks with Pakistan as long as it is seen as in collusion with terrorist groups is asking for too much. Pakistan needs to make some forward movement in this regard before it can hope for resumption of normal ties.The use of terrorism as a state policy is falling apart as the nations themselves are feeling the pinch. Who knows is better than Pakistan which has suffered the most? The same groups whom it cradled have started turning their back on it and are causing the maximum damage. Terrorism today poses a major threat to the world than anything else. The Paris attacks have only emboldened the resolve of the global community to formulate a common and concerted strategy to defang this monster which is spreading its tentacles.There is an opportunity before Pakistan to join the global war against terrorism to regain its bruised image. India is not the only country which views its estranged neighbour with suspicion. The list is endless. Pakistan has been ticked off by major powers from time to time. It should listen to the sage counsel and launch a war against terrorism. There is no doubt that it will feel the pain initially, but this pain is worth suffering, because if it is allowed to fester it will become a deadly disease and amputation will be the only recourse. It is up to Pakistan to decide which path it wants to tread. Talks with India can wait.Vikas Khanna is a senior journalist and the views expressed by him are personal.

Farooq Abdullah’s remark on defence forces will encourage terrorism, says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Naqvi further said that terrorism is a threat for the entire humanity and everyone should work together to fight against it.

“He (Farooq Abdullah) should refrain from statements which have potential to boost confidence of terrorists,” he said.

File Photo
Lashing out at National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah over his remark that the Indian security forces would not be able to defend the nation from terrorists, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday said that the former?s remark would encourage terrorism across the world. “Terrorism is not only a problem of India, it is a global issue. Today the whole world has united against terrorism. In such a time, he (Farooq Abdullah) should refrain from statements which have potential to boost confidence of terrorists.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naqvi further said that terrorism is a threat for the entire humanity and everyone should work together to fight against it.Earlier today, Farooq Abdullah called for a dialogue between the India and Pakistan to end violence at the border.”For how long do we want to see innocents being killed (in the border areas)? How much the army can defend us? Even if the entire Indian Army comes then they will not be able to defend against the terrorists. There is only one way and that is to talk to them,? Abdullah said at a press conference here.

Naxals torch two buses in Chhattisgarh; passengers unhurt

Raipur: Naxals torched a private travel bus in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Sukma district, after asking its passengers to alight, police said on Tuesday.

PTIPTI

Representational image. PTI

Rebels also fired upon an anti-landmine vehicle in which security forces had rushed to the spot to rescue the passengers.

However, no one was hurt in the incident, they said.

The incident occurred on Monday night near restive Tahakwada village on NH-30 under Tongpal Police Station limits, a short distance from the spot where 15 security men and a civilian were killed in a Maoist ambush in April last year, a senior police official told PTI.

The bus was heading to Hyderabad from Jagdalpur (Bastar’s district headquarter) when it was attacked.

Around 50 cadres, most of them armed, surrounded the bus in a thickly forested patch near Tahakwada and asked the passengers to get down before setting it ablaze, he said.

Subsequently, security forces were rushed to the spot in a Mine-Protected Vehicle keeping in view the sensitivity of the region.

Near Tahakwada, naxals fired few rounds on the MPV but soon fled from the spot as the back-up forces reached there and launched retaliatory action, he said.

Later, the evacuated passengers were sent to their destinations in other buses, the official said.

On Monday afternoon, a government-run passenger bus too was torched by naxals in neighbouring Dantewada district.

PTI

China for closer ties with India to remove ‘cancer’ of terror

The joint action plan was finalised during the just- concluded visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to China

Rajnath Singh in China

PTI
Terming terrorism a “cancer” that needed to be removed jointly by world community, China today called for close cooperation between Indian and Chinese security establishments as the two countries for the first time worked out a joint mechanism to combat the menace.The joint action plan was finalised during the just- concluded visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to China. Commenting on Singh’s visit, first by an Indian Home Minister in a decade, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters here that during his meeting with Singh last week Premier Li Keqiang called for close cooperation between law enforcement forces of both the countries to combat terrorism, which has become a menace to the world.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”During the meeting Li pointed out that the world is filled with both conventional and unconventional security threats and the situation is becoming serious,” Hong said. He said law enforcement agencies of the two sides should enhance cooperation to jointly maintain social stability and create favourable conditions for economic development to jointly safeguard world peace and tranquillity. “Terrorism is a cancer that needs to be removed jointly by the international community,” Hong said commenting on Paris and Mali attacks.Singh winded up his visit on Monday after extensive talks between the two security establishments which have until now remained apart, especially due to China’s close ties with Pakistan and Beijing’s suspicions over Indo-US relations. He visited Chinese internal security institutions both in Beijing and Shanghai. Singh held substantive talks with China’s top security officials — Guo Shengkun, State Councillor of the ruling Communist Party and Public Security Minister; and China’s security Czar Meng Jianzhu. Both sides agreed to form a ministerial committee and a joint secretary-level mechanism to periodically meet and review cooperation.Also, the two home ministries decided to form dedicated channels for continuous communication to exchange intelligence on terrorism and other security-related issues like cross-border crimes and drug trafficking. The two sides have already completed five rounds of anti-terrorism exercises between them. Besides coordinating positions on international terrorism, both sides agreed to exchange intelligence on terrorist groups, activities and their links.The talks also covered India’s concerns over China blocking its move to get UN to take action against Pakistan for releasing Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. New Delhi’s move was stuck at UN’s Sanctions Committee after China called for more information. Singh earlier told media here that he raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart and both sides are exchanging information in this regard. India is hopeful China will reconsider its move.

Modi in Singapore: India & China kept border peaceful, despite ‘unresolved issues’, says PM Modi

PM Modi delivered a speech on “India’s Singapore Story” at Singapore Lecture.

He began by praising Lee Kuan Yew, the first PM of Singapore who bolstered the country’s economic progress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Singapore on his maiden official visit during which the two countries will elevate their relations to strategic partnership by signing an agreement. PM Modi delivered a speech on “India’s Singapore Story” at Singapore Lecture. He began by praising Lee Kuan Yew, the first PM of Singapore who bolstered the country’s economic progress.Here are the key points from his speech:-For me, Lee Kuan Yew was a personal inspiration. From his Singapore Stories, I drew many lessons-Singapore is a nation which has become a metaphor for the reality of dreams-We are creating opportunities by reforming our laws, regulations, policies, processes and the institutions-People are the purpose of our efforts and they will be the power behind change-I do not judge the success of our efforts from core statistics of numbers but from warm glow of smiles on human faces-Singapore success has become an inspiration of Indians, in turn India became hope for a more peaceful, balanced and stable world-We’re investing in our people through skill and education, special focus on girl child education, financial inclusion, clean rivers and smart cities-We are creating opportunities by reforming our laws, regulations, policies, processes and institutions<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>-‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign is not just a program to clean environment, but to transform the way we think, live and work-Today Singapore is one of our most important partners in world, it’s a relationship which is as strategic as it is wide-ranging-Now as we build the India of our dreams, Singapore already a major partner in enterprisePM Modi on terrorism-Terrorism is one major global challenge and a force larger than individual groups-It just does not just cost a toll on lives but can derail economies. The world must speak in one voice and act unison-We must de-link terrorism from religion and assert the human value that defines every faith-There will be politics, military and intelligence efforts, but we must do more. Countries must be held accountable for sanctuaries support, arms and fundsPM Modi also spoke about Indo-China relationship. Singapore has a considerable population of Chinese people. Modi had also met with China’s PM Li Keqiang on bilateral issues.-India and China will engage constructively across the complexity of the relationship, as two self-assured and confident nations.-We can both reinforce each other’s progress and advance stability and prosperity in our region-Together we can be more effective in addressing our common global challenges from trade to climate change-We have our unresolved issues including our boundary question, but we’ve been able to keep our border region peaceful and stable-India and China will engage constructively across complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations-Rabindranath Tagore predicted on his visit to this region,”Asia is regaining its self consciousness for realization of its own self”

Choke terror funds through targeted economic sanctions, says PM Modi

New Delhi: Pitching for concerted global efforts to choke terror funding through “targeted economic sanctions”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Paris attacks were a grim reminder that terrorists show remarkable flexibility and adaptability in arranging finances.

Underlining that terror fundings are being derived from a variety of criminal activities ranging from vehicle thefts to state sponsored activities in failed states, Modi called for disrupting fund flow to hit at the abilities of terror groups to carry out attacks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ReutersPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

“The dastardly acts committed in Paris a few days ago are a grim reminder that terrorists have shown remarkable flexibility and adaptability in meeting their funding requirements.

“Disrupting fund flow constrains the capabilities of terrorists and reduces their ability to execute attacks,” he said addressing the sixth Global Focal Point Conference on Asset Recovery and 21st conference of CBI and state anti-corruption and vigilance bureaux attended by 34 countries.

Last week, Modi had raised the issue during the G-20 summit in Turkey which took place immediately after the Paris terror attack which claimed 129 lives.

He said globalisation of organised crime poses a major threat to economies throughout the world and it is a well known fact that “dirty money drives out good money”.

“Organised crime can hamper investment and economic growth. It can also infiltrate or control a large section of economy. Illicit funding promotes organised criminal activities like drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism,” he warned.

Calling for a concerted efforts to clamp down on proceeds of crime, the prime minister said economic liberalism and globalisation have drastically increased the ability to park profits of crime anywhere in the world within seconds concealing its trail whereas investigation agencies are limited by national boundaries.

On corruption, Modi said India is currently in a crucial phase of nation building and the government’s mission is to build a prosperous India where farmers are capable, workers satisfied, women empowered and youth self-reliant.

“However, to achieve this objective, it is essential to fight relentlessly against corruption. India stands committed in its fight against corruption,” he said.

The prime minister said 45 senior officers have either been removed or faced pension cuts for “unsatisfactory performance and delivery in public service”.

Modi said India has entered into agreements with many countries for exchanging real time information on black money besides signing an Inter Government Agreement with the US to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).

Besides this, a comprehensive and deterrent law, the Black Money Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets and
Imposition of Tax Act, has been enacted which provides for stringent penalties and prosecution.

“The proceeds of crime and corruption are stolen assets. They do not belong to the country where they are stashed. They rightfully belong to the citizens of the country from which they have been plundered,” he said.

Modi said police and law enforcement agencies should forge formal and informal relationships to overcome legal hurdles in asset recovery across international boundaries.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Director CBI Anil Sinha said CBI has been discharging a broad spectrum of activities and responsibilities that support the effective administration of justice and security of the nation by actively coordinating with Interpol in transnational criminal threats.

“Be it fugitive tracking, be it seeking and providing informal and formal evidence and other investigative assistance from foreign jurisdictions, be it extradition or deportation of fugitive criminals. CBI has been at the forefront of facilitating international cooperation,” he said.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said, “Now more than ever this family must stand united in its effort to prevent the repetition of what has happened against humanity in Paris last Friday, in Beirut and Ankara recently or in Mumbai in 2008.”

Stock said it is becoming increasingly challenging in 21st century when the click of buttons can lead to huge illicit flows across the borders.

“As proceeds of corruption cross borders trust in leaders and public service could be undermined, criminal activity facilitated and the perception of impunity created,” he said.

He said the trends of financial crimes have often revealed “internconnectedness” of crimes of different types, stemming from different parts of the world often with complex modus operandi.

On the occasion,the Prime Minister also gave President’s medals to 11 CBI officers including Gujarat cadre IPS officer AK Sharma and STF Joint Director Nina Singh.

PTI

Mumbai court orders David Headley to be tried as accused in 26/11 terror case

Mumbai: Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Coleman Headley was on Wednesday made an accused in the 26/11 terror attacks case after a local court allowed a plea of Mumbai police and directed that he be produced before it via video-conferencing on 10 December.

“Your exhibit (application) is allowed,” said judge GA Sanap while he issued summons for Headley.

“Issue summons to Headley through US District Court for North eastern district of Illinois, USA for appearance before this court on December 10,” the judge directed.

Headley reportedly visited India five times between 2006 and 2008, drew maps, took video footage and scouted several targets for the attacks including the Taj Hotel, Oberoi Hotel and Nariman House.

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnliveFile photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

His reconnaissance provided vital information for the 10 LeT terrorists and their handlers, who launched the attack on November 26, 2008 in which 166 persons were killed.

The Mumbai police had on 8 October moved an application before the court saying that Headley (who is currently serving 35 years in an American prison for his role in the terror attacks) deserves to be tried by this (Mumbai) court together with 26/11 key plotter Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal in the case as both of them are conspirators and abettors behind the dastardly strikes.

Jundal is facing trial for his alleged role in the attacks, which held the city to ransom for three days.

Speaking to PTI, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said, “David Headley has been joined as an accused along with Abu Jundal (in the 26/11 case) and the court has taken cognisance of offences against Headley.”

Nikam also said that the charge sheet filed against Jundal carves out the role of Headley and hence no separate charge sheet was needed against the latter.

Earlier this month, during a hearing the court had sought to know why the Mumbai police did not launch an investigation after the US took Headley’s custody.

The court had also said that the judgment of the foreign court only has ‘persuasive value’ and it cannot be relied upon as evidence.

Nikam had then told the court that Headley had not been tried under Indian law for conspiracy in the 26/11 attacks.

PTI

India, China agree to deepen defence ties, maintain peace at LAC after high-level meet

New Delhi: India and China on Tuesday decided to deepen bilateral defence ties and maintain peace and tranquillity at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) besides strengthening cooperation against terror, including at the international level.

India and China agreed to maintain peace at LAC. Reuters

India and China agreed to maintain peace at LAC. Reuters

The decisions came after the meeting between a visiting 26-member delegation led by General Fan Changlong, Vice-Chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Indian side, which was headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, at South Block in New Delhi.

This is the highest-level Chinese defence delegation to visit India in recent years.

Both Parrikar and General Fan condemned the recent terror strike in Paris and agreed to strengthen cooperation to together fight the menace of terrorism, including at the international level, a late night statement by the Defence Ministry here said.

Parrikar also offered to share India’s expertise in fighting terrorism by way of joint exercises, among other initiatives.

“The visit signifies the enhanced defence exchanges between India and China. During the meeting with Defence Minister, the two sides agreed to implement the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to ensure peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas,” the statement said.

General Fan and Parrikar were of the view that peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas is the cornerstone for smooth development of bilateral relations in diverse areas.

“They felt that the two armed forces shoulder important responsibilities for maintenance of peace and tranquillity and agreed to further enhance communications and exchanges between the two armed forces,” it said.

The two sides welcomed the operationalisation of additional border personnel meeting points.

They reviewed the ongoing exchanges and expressed satisfaction at the recently-held bilateral military exercise, ‘Hand-in-Hand’.

Meanwhile, taking note of the intensification of defence exchanges, the Indian side welcomed the proposal for the visit of Commander of Lanzhou Military region to India early next year.

General Fan also extended an invitation to Parrikar to visit China, which he accepted. The dates will be decided through diplomatic channels. General Fan will be calling on Prime Minister Modi tomorrow before leaving India at the conclusion of his visit.

Incidentally, the visit by the Chinese delegation comes at a time when Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag is in Japan on an official trip.

General Suhag’s visit follows seven months after Parrikar went to Japan and agreed to deepen military cooperation.

Last month, Japan took part in the Malabar naval exercise along with India and the US.

While the ships of the three countries took part in the naval exercise, an Indian Army contingent was holding an exercise with their Chinese counterparts in the neighbouring country’s Kunming area.

General Fan is accompanied by Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), and Zhu Fuxi, political commissar of the PLA Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC).

The Chinese team arrived here yesterday following their visit to Pakistan where they met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.

General Fan had said in Islamabad that mutually-supportive cooperation in the field of defence is a critical factor in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

PTI

World must act against radicalisation without any political consideration: PM Modi

“We must isolate those who support and sponsor terrorism; and, stand with those who share our values of humanism. We need to restructure the international legal framework to deal with the unique challenges of terrorism,” he said.

PTI
Pressing for the need to delink terror from religion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said some countries still use terrorism as “an instrument of state policy” and the world must act against radicalisation without any political consideration.Modi said terrorism is the main global challenge today and “from regions in conflict to the streets of distant cities, terrorism extracts a deadly price”.Speaking here at the G20 Summit, being held against the backdrop of deadly Paris attacks, the Prime Minister said, “Old structures of terrorism remain. There are countries that still use it as an instrument of state policy.” “The world must speak in one voice and act in unison against terrorism, without any political considerations. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between states.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We must isolate those who support and sponsor terrorism; and, stand with those who share our values of humanism. We need to restructure the international legal framework to deal with the unique challenges of terrorism,” he said.He was making an intervention at G-20 Working Dinner last night on the issue of ‘Global Challenges Terrorism and Refugee Crisis’.Modi said the world is seeing a changing character of terrorism with “global links, franchise relations, home-grown terrorism and use of cyber space for recruitment and propaganda”.While there is a new level of threat to pluralist and open societies, the territory of recruitment and the target of attacks are the same, and that is society, he added.Modi said the global framework for security was defined for another era and for other security challenges and there was no comprehensive global strategy to combat terrorism.”And, we tend to be selective in using the instruments that we have,” he said and asked G20 leaders to adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism “without any delay”.He also pressed for increased international cooperation in intelligence and counter-terrorism.”We should strengthen efforts to prevent supply of arms to terrorists, disrupt terrorist movements, and curb and criminalise terror financing.”We have to help each other secure our cyber space, and minimise use of the Internet and social media for terrorist activities,” he added.

Why was Paris targeted?

Terrorism has now become a global phenomenon and is no longer confined to the poor and developing countries in the East.

In the wake of the terrorist attack in France, India has to be wary and take conscious efforts to tackle the issue. However, it is almost impossible to fight the battle single-handed, and the Paris attack has laid the ground for an alliance with Europe and the USA.Terrorism has now become a global phenomenon and is no longer confined to the poor and developing countries in the East. It has spread to the European and other influential States as well. We can no longer avoid the Islamic State, as it is not just an organisation but has become a full fledged State that has occupied about 35% of Iraq and Syria.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There are three immediate reasons for the attack in Paris, that I would like to put forth. The first being political and security reason: France is a part of the coalition against Islamic State, a member of the NATO force. This is the second attack on the country this year, after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. France is thus on the radar and hit list of the ISIS.Socio-economic factors too can be cited as an important reason for the attacks. France has taken a very generous stand as far as the immigrants from Gulf countries are concerned. As a result, a large portion of population in France comprises of the Muslims. However, France has failed to assimilate the immigrants in the mainstream socio-economic process of the country. The economic recession in France for the past three to four years has had devastating effect on the minority population. The immigrants, who are largely wage labourers, have lost their jobs and due to unemployment, have fallen prey to the Islamic State propaganda.Also, when we look at the demographic structure of Paris, the concentration of Muslims is in the ghettos, that have developed in the isolated outer parts of the city. Indoctrination spreads very fast in these areas and the population is polarised. There have been incidences of communal violence in the past as well.The third and a very important aspect is the literary aspect. An increasing number of books being published in French are creating an Islam phobia. For example, according to a book called ‘The Submission’, in 10 years, France will witness a Muslim President or a Prime Minister, if the trend of immigrant domination continues. Islam is thus being projected as a threat to France, and a suspicious attitude has been developed towards the Muslim population. Consequently, the minority feels alienated and neglected giving rise to a social polarisation.In spite of all this, Europe and the United States have not been able to identify their real enemies. They are in a dilemma about their security policies towards West Asia. They have been targeting the Syrian head instead of the Islamic State. Additionally, the United Nation has failed in establishing a common front on the issue. There is a lack of consensus on the issue of terrorism and collective action is needed against those nations who are aiding and abetting the ISIS. India has been voicing this concern for a long time now and it is high time that India’s voice be recognised, and the member-states work hand in glove to combat terrorism.—as told to dna correspondent The author is a foreign policy analyst

Modi in UK: Isolate those who harbour terrorists, says PM Modi in speech to British MPs

Dwelling on terrorism among other subjects during his 25-minute speech, Modi said there should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations.

We need a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and, every effort to delink religion and terrorism,” he said.

In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said there should be a global resolve to “isolate” those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand with nations that will fight them “honestly”. Addressing MPs in British Parliament’s Royal Gallery, Modi, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UK in 10 years, said the world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat terrorism, calling it a “challenge of our times.”Dwelling on terrorism among other subjects during his 25-minute speech, Modi said there should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations. “There should be a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand with nations that will fight them honestly. And, we need a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and, every effort to delink religion and terrorism,” he said. “The world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat this challenge of our times,” Modi said while stating that terrorism and extremism are a global force that are larger than their changing names, groups, territories and targets.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We must adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN without delay. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations.

Africa summit a feather in Narendra Modi’s cap, but international disquiet visible on rising intolerance

In 2014, the US had hosted 47 leaders and Japan in 2013 hosted 37 leaders.

Notwithstanding, the successful conclusion of India-Africa summit adding another feather to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic cap, a disquiet was visible within visiting dignitaries on communal incidents in India.Many of them were enquiring from Indian journalists, whether the so-called wave of intolerance sweeping India would have any cascading effect on the political future of Modi. Foreign minister of a Central African nation, who had sought India’s help to fight against terror outfit Boko Haram was particularly seeking answers to the outrage and anger expressed by writers, academics and scholars as highlighted by Indian media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Incidentally, Africa has 53% Muslim population.The success of African summit could be judged that some 40 leaders, including two kings, 26 presidents, six vice-presidents and six prime ministers, arrived in Delhi at the PM’s invitation, almost equaling the record of China in 2006, which had also 40 leaders for its Africa summit.In 2014, the US had hosted 47 leaders and Japan in 2013 hosted 37 leaders.Besides, the current political situation, government’s studied silence on Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi or about past two summits in official brochures or engagements also left African leaders wondering. Modi, in his two speeches, referred to Mahatma Gandhi and five African Nobel laureates to point to traditional ties, but did not mention either Nehru, who was the architect of a conference on Afro-Asian unity in Bandung, Indonesia, and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).It was left to leaders of African countries, who took stage and heaped praise on Nehru. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe even praised the Congress. South African President Jacob Zuma called Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi “visionary” prime ministers. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama and Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth also mentioned India’s leadership role in NAM, and in organising the Bandung conference.Prime Minister Modi in his concluding remarks attempted to rub the Congress the wrong way. Without naming the former Congress-led UPA government, he said that India had not fulfilled commitments to Africa as quickly as it should have. He was referring to $7.5-billion credit promised across the past two summits in 2008 and 2011. Out of this, only $3.5 billion has been disbursed. “There are times when we have not done as well as you have wanted us to. There have been occasions when we have not been as attentive as we should be. There are commitments we have not fulfilled as quickly as we should have,” Modi said. “But you have always embraced India with warmth, and without judgment. You have taken pride in our achievements. And, you have stood for us in the world. This is the strength of our partnership and our friendship,” Modi added.Modi said the road ahead will be travelled by the “wisdom of our experience and the benefit of your guidance”.While India’s desire to seek a permanent seat at the UN Security Council received an overwhelming support from African leaders, but a single most achievement was an agreement on on combating terrorism. Some North African countries had earlier objected to a term “state sponsored terrorism” and instead they were asking for confining to condemn “the menace of non-state actors and cross border terrorism.”With an eye on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the country using it as a tool of foreign policy, India was insisting on inclusion of specific phrase of state-sponsored terrorism.But at the end, a mutually-agreed paragraph in the political declaration upheld the sensitivities of both sides. It read as: “Enhance cooperation and coordination between Africa and India to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including countering violent extremism and, in this regard, make concerted efforts for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.”Prime Minister had specifically sought support for the adoption of the convention, asking countries not to get distracted by debating on definition of terrorism. The document further said there was no cause or grievance to justify acts of terror and called upon countries to ensure that their territories are not used for cross-border terrorist activities. “We strongly condemn direct or indirect financial assistance given to terrorist groups or individual members thereof by states or their machinery, to pursue such activities.”

Chhota Rajan says he fears for his life in Bali, seeks consular access

In a letter to the Indian Consulate, Rajan has said that he does not feel safe in the custody of the Bali police.

Chhota Rajan, the underworld don who was arrested in Bali after 20 years has written to the Indian government saying that his life endangered and he wants to be sent to India at the earliest, say reports. He also requested for consular access saying that there was threat to life.In a letter to the Indian Consulate, Rajan has said that he does not feel safe in the custody of the Bali police. He also said that he has not been getting proper medical care. He wrote that his health was deteriorating as he was suffering from kidney failure and that he was not having proper meals.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajan, one of India’s most wanted gangsters, was arrested in this popular Indonesian tourist destination on a Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol after eluding law enforcement agencies for over two decades. Out of these 75 cases, Rajan is facing four cases under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), one under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and over 20 cases under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).Indian security agencies are likely to send a team of officials here to bring back the gangster who is in custody since Sunday.The sources are tight-lipped about the exact arrangements to bring him back because of security concerns arising out of his fierce rivalry with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his gang.

Massive transaction made from account of accused in 26/11 case: Banker tells Pak anti-terror court

The banker, a Customs Department official and a magistrate recorded their statements before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Islamabad which is currently holding the in-camera hearing at the high-security Adiala Jail Rawalpindi.

A “huge” transaction was made from the account of one of the seven accused in the 2008 Mumbai attack case, a banker today told a Pakistani anti- terrorism court holding the trial.The banker, a Customs Department official and a magistrate recorded their statements before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Islamabad which is currently holding the in-camera hearing at the high-security Adiala Jail Rawalpindi. “The banker testified in the court about the transaction involving huge money made from the account of Shahid Jamil. He presented documentary proof in this regard in the court,” a court source told PTI after the hearing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the prosecution had established that Jamil used the money for terror activity. The Customs official of the port city of Karachi submitted evidence to the court about the boats the alleged terrorists used to reach Mumbai, the source said, adding that the magistrate told the court about recording the statement of a witness who testified against one of the accused.The court adjourned the hearing till November 4.Mumbai attack mastermind Lakhvi and LeT operations commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum were arrested in 2009 for their alleged role in the attacks that left 166 people dead and over 300 injured.Lakhvi, 55, secured bail last December and was subsequently released from the Adiala Jail on April 10 after the Lahore High Court set aside the government’s order to detain him under a public security act. He is currently out on bail and living at an undisclosed location. MZ SAI AKJ

Mumbai police documenting cases against Chhota Rajan

The city police got into work as soon it received official communication from the Union Home Ministry on the arrest of the long-absconding fugitive, wanted for over 75 offences in Mumbai.
File Photo
PTI
Seeking to get underworld don Chhota Rajan’s custody, who was arrested in Bali recently, Mumbai Police has started documenting the offences committed by him, mostly in the city and outskirts, and translating them into English and Bahasa, the official language of Indonesia.The city police got into work as soon it received official communication from the Union Home Ministry on the arrest of the long-absconding fugitive, wanted for over 75 offences in Mumbai.”Yesterday, Union Home ministry contacted us and asked to prepare detailed documentation of the offences committed by Chhota Rajan and we have formed a small team to compile the history of the offender,” said Atulchandra Kulkarni, joint commissioner of police (crime branch) of Mumbai police.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Apart from compiling his records of over 75 criminal cases, we are also documenting the fine-prints of each case, evidences available and status of each of them in different courts, not only in the Mumbai city, but also in Navi Mumbai and Pune, where the offences have been registered,” he said.Kulkarni, who heads the crime branch of Mumbai Police, said the documents would be presented to the State as well as and Union Home Ministry, which would be furnished to the Indonesian counterparts for Rajan’s extradition. Kulkarni, however, refused to divulge the number of days that will take to bring Rajan into the country, as it was the “matter between two countries”.”All I can say that whenever Rajan comes into our country, we as a major stakeholder in the case, would like to get his custody first,” he said.The one-time trusted aide of terrorist and crime boss Dawood Ibrahim was on the run for over 20 years and is wanted in over 75 heinous crimes ranging from murder, extortion to smuggling and drug trafficking.Out of these 75 cases, Rajan is facing four cases under Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), one under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and over 20 cases under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).Asked about details of the evidences against Rajan the Crime Branch is having, the official said they have all the evidences against him but they would be produced before court not to the media, as police did not want a media trial. He also said that after Rajan’s arrival in India, few sections of the Passport Act could also be slapped on him as he had procured passport on fake address and identity.Rajan has been caught on our Red Corner Notice issued in 1995 and he is a big catch for us. Even after his arrest, we would be keeping a tab on the underworld activities as before, he said.Kulkarni, however, declined to specify the main cases in which Rajan’s trials would be run on priority basis to convict the gangster.Meanwhile, former Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan, credited for curbing the underworld activities during his stint in Crime Branch, has said that he expected Rajan to be in Mumbai Police’s custody within ten days.Sivanandan, who retired as Maharashtra DGP, said he saw no hurdles in bringing the 55-year-old gangster to India and subsequently to trial in Mumbai.On Crime Branch’s preparedness to secure guilty verdict in criminal cases against him, he said, “With my experience, I can say Mumbai Police is a thoroughly professional force and well-equipped to get this man convicted in all the cases.””We should not forget that Mumbai Police had got successful conviction of gangster Abu Salem in the 1995 murder of builder Pradip Jain,” he told

NSA Ajit Doval warns Pakistan not to engage in covert actions, says it’s a short-sighted strategy

New Delhi: Terming “jihadi terrorism” as common threat to South Asia, NSA Ajit Doval on Tuesday warned Pakistan not to engage in covert actions saying, it is a very short-sighted strategy of the neighbouring country.

He said Pakistan has never realised that it can be “profitable” and “most effective” for its economic growth and stability if it engages with India and rest of the South Asian countries.

Ajit Doval. AFP

Ajit Doval. AFP

“Till that happens, what India can do? I think one is that we should continue to work hard to persuade Pakistan, to convince Pakistan, through our sincerity, whatever we can do and whatever we think is the language in which the Pakistan can understand it well. We should be able to convey and convince it,” he said.

Delivering the first ‘Nagendra Singh memorial lecture’ on ‘Ensuring peace in South Asia: Role of India’ organised by the International Goodwill Society of India, he said most of South Asian countries’ security threats are internal.

“There is only one threat which has got its footprints in almost all of the nations. Problem about this is that its origin, its nursery, is also the member of South Asian region. Islamic terrorism or jihadi terrorism, rather I should use the word, is one of the common threats.

“Bangladesh is affected by it, Afghanistan is affected, India is affected, Pakistan is affected by it. Sri Lanka is affected,” the NSA said.

This is one common threat on which there could have been much of cooperation but probably two of the countries Afghanistan and Pakistan have become epicentre of that, he said.

“Since Pakistan is part of the problem it could not become part of the solution,” Doval said maintaining that “it is only Pakistan with which there have been problems.”

He said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power one of the cornerstones of the government’s policy was that “we have got to take all South Asian countries together”.

“And that was the idea when all the heads of the governments were invited for his swearing-in ceremony. It did start well it did give us lot of dividend. Probably thing with Pakistan have not developed as much but we are sure that some day we will able to do so,” Doval said.

He said another important requirement will be where Pakistan shifting from its strategic position where it feels that covert action can be effective low cost option of its security strategy because supporting terrorism or a covert action is a very low cost exercise.

“They think that it is an option. Probably plenty of evidence today is available with Pakistan. This it is a very very short sighted strategy. It hurts the people who propagate and support it much more than the people against whom these mentalities are built.

“We do hope that with the passage of time Pakistan will realise they have started taking some action against some of the groups particularly those groups which are hurting Pakistan,” the NSA said.

Doval said Pakistan has taken action against some of the groups “which undermine security interest of the western countries” but groups like Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT), Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Harkat-ul-Ansar and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) “which are targetting India” and “which continue to get their support”.

He appreciated actions like return of Geeta, the deaf and mute girl from Pakistan, after being stranded in the neighbouring country for over a decade, as an effort to build on people-to-people contact.

“What is most important is this that Pakistan has to be convinced that covert action is not a cost effective option. The cost involved is much heavier and that will be unaffordable.”

Pakistan has never felt that it can be profitable for it and most effective for its economic growth, for its stability, for its economic development, the acceptance in the world as more responsible in case it engages with India and rest of the South Asian countries, he said.

PTI

All our nations find themselves faced with the growing scourge of terrorism: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi:External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that India and African nations face growing scourge of terrorism and the menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism has acquired a new dimension.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTIExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

Speaking at the ministerial meeting of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit here, she said the scale of challenge of countering non-state actors was huge.

“All our nations find themselves faced with the growing scourge of terrorism. The menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism has acquired a new dimension. The scale of this challenge is huge and undermines the peace and stability in our countries, which is essential for our development efforts,” she said.

India last week accused Pakistan of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy and said that international community was “deeply concerned about its support to and sponsorship of terrorism”.

Some countries in Africa are also countering threats of violence from local and international outfits.

Sushma Swaraj said there was need to step up cooperation through intelligence exchange and called for adoption of convention against terrorism.

IANS

Maharashtra ATS on its toes after tip off about ‘unusual talk’ involving Kasab

Based on the description provided by the auto driver, the Mulund police have prepared sketches of the suspects.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) sleuths are on the lookout for three persons after an autorickshaw driver claimed to have overheard them discussing something “unusual” in his vehicle. The trio also mentioned the name of Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani national involved in dreaded 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, in their discussion. According to the ATS sources, the driver (name withheld), a resident of Mulund, informed Mulund police that around 7.30 pm on Saturday he had ferried three persons, who were carrying backpacks, from Sion to Airoli. “As per the driver, during the journey, the youths were speaking something very unusual,” said an ATS official.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The driver told the police that one of the three youths said, “Agar main yeh kaam kar liya toh mere family ka kya hoga” (If I would do this job then what will happen to my family), to which one of the other two said, “Kuch nahi hoga…aaka hai…Kasab ka family changa hai…” (Nothing will happen to them….boss is there…Kasab’s family is fine). “From the discussion it transpires that one of the three was worried about his family if he does the job and another was convincing him that nothing will happen to the family as boss his there and also gave reference of Kasab to convince the person,” said another official. Based on the description provided by the auto driver, the Mulund police have prepared sketches of the suspects. “We are trying to find and identify them with the help of CCTVs in Sion and Airoli localities. Though we don’t have anything concrete yet, the discussion suggests that the passengers could well be terror operatives,” the officer said. Vikhroli unit of the ATS has been asked to probe the matter.

Moody’s at it again: This time round it clubs India with terrorist hotbeds

More than three decades ago, Justice Krishna Iyer in his usual bombastic style thundered – who will judge the judges, who will police the police and who will audit the auditors?

In those days, rating agencies had not made their mark outside of the US. Had they, Iyer would have added for good measure who would rate the raters? Because rating agencies right from their inception have not covered themselves with glory, and in fact have been suffering from credibility crisis along with their brethren, auditors.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Both charge their fees from companies engaging them thus resulting in worst conflict of interest – you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. While auditors at least can be proceeded against for dereliction of duties, credit rating agencies shrug off catastrophic events not predicted by them as hazard everyone has to take in their strides!

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee in the US constituted to investigate the 2008 financial crisis originating in the US but enveloping the whole world thanks to the greenback’s reserve currency status minced no words in condemning the big three — Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch — for their less than professional role in awarding triple-A ratings blithely to what turned out to be junk bonds albeit backed by mortgages.

Moody’s in particular was generous in awarding between 2000 to 2007 triple-A ratings (safest) to as many as 45,000 mortgage-backed securities when it had during that period done so only for six private sector companies. The rater knew as well as anybody that home loans were granted mostly to the NINJA category — no income, no jobs and no assets — from whom recoveries could be made only by enforcing the mortgage when push came to shove. But it gave the best rating to the bonds backed by such mortgages through slicing and dicing, euphemism for mixing bad loans with good.

Be that as it may, these worthies didn’t predict the 1997 Asian financial crisis either.

Now, in a report dated 6 October 2015 Moody’s says “more than 60% of all (terrorist) incidents in 2013 were concentrated in just four countries. Iraq (24% of terrorist incidents, Pakistan 19%, Afghanistan 12% and India 5.8%.”

The report concedes that at 690 attacks, it translates into less than half attack per million of Indian population as opposed to the global average of 2.4 attacks per million but nevertheless has chosen to caution the world against India.

That the events of 2013 have been reported in 2015 speaks volumes about the rating agency’s efficiency and motives especially given the fact that it has deemed it fit to make India an unsafe investment destination in the eyes of foreign investors.

That India has been bracketed with terrorist hotbeds — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq — would rankle every patriotic Indian when the facts are to the contrary. Unlike these three nations, India does not harbor and nurture terrorists but like Israel is a victim of hostile neighbors’ designs. By Moody’s syllogism, even the US and the UK are terror states whereas the truth is they too are victims, actual or potential, of terrorist attacks.

The report sounds hollow, dubious and contrived coming as it does at a time when India has attracted the highest FDI and FIIs are still the movers and shakers of its bourses.

Terrorism indeed slows down growth and increases the cost of sovereign debts besides leaving its impact for a long time as the report says but these dire warnings apply to terrorists infested states and not to India whose new government at the center has been fairly successful in halting terrorists in their tracks.

True, India growth is slackening and as a direct fallout unemployment is increasing but these by no means are due to the fanciful perception that India is an unsafe destination. On the contrary, India shines as a beacon of hope and development with China running out of steam and a large part of Europe still in tatters due to a variety of reasons including the ill-conceived economic union it forged 15 years ago.

If the FDI is not pouring into India at a torrential pace, it is because the US and European companies have to first set their own houses in order.

Moody’s knew all these but blithely chose to release a report that is a non sequitur — its own statistics do not support its conclusions. The report is just plain mischievous.

Sushma Swaraj shifts focus back on Indo-Pak talks, but Kashmir militancy could play spoilsport

by David Devadas

Speculation is the flavour of the season in Kashmir. Uncertainty has centred on a variety of issues, ranging from the stability of the state government to whether the Centre will grant a ‘package’ to the state. This weekend, the focus of speculation is back on India-Pakistan talks, but also remains riveted on who might lurk behind the infighting among militant outfits.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the UN. PTI

The latest news is that India has reopened the door for talks with Pakistan on all outstanding issues, the term it prefers when it is willing to talk about Kashmir too. Cut to the bone, that was the nub of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

Of course, the fresh opening was hedged with another unequivocal warning that talks and terrorism cannot go hand-in-hand. The warning is difficult to ignore, coming as it did from the very articulate minister who read Pakistan the riot act on the eve of the talks that were scheduled between the two countries’ National Security Advisors a few weeks ago. More importantly, the warning, alongside the invitation, has now been issued on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly.

For good measure, the minister highlighted the fact that India has sent more than its share of troops for international peacekeeping. Of course, that was meant primarily to back India’s claim to permanent membership of the Security Council. But it also underlines a contrast between India’s peacemaking record and Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Kashmir, there is much speculation about whether the intra-militancy battles might be another kind of proxy war. The question in most Kashmiri minds is whether Defence Minister Parrikar’s throwaway remark some months ago about turning a thorn against other thorns (‘kaante se kaanta nikala jaata hai’) so as not to risk the lives of soldiers actually gave away strategy.

To be sure, there now appear to be at least five types of militants in Kashmir, each operating separately from the others. Speculation rages about at least three of them. A number of perceptive Kashmiris have even been asking how the charismatic young Burhan, Hizb-ul Mujahideen’s divisional commander for south Kashmir, moves around undetected. Photographs of the man have been posted on the internet, bathing in streams, motivating young men, and leading his band through forests, brandishing weapons Robin Hood-style and outfitted in fatigues. According to a local journalist, he even visited the home of a recently killed militant, to condole.

There were four kinds of covert counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir during the violent ’90s. Former RAW chief Amarjit Singh Dulat made partial disclosure a couple of months ago of his buying over various political faces of Kashmir’s freedom movement, including leading lights of the Hurriyat Conference. His handout operations were of limited use – though, in the long term, the least effective kind of covert counter-insurgency was the institutionalisation of mercenary groups known generically as ‘Ikhwan’, who worked in tandem with the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Rashtriya Rifles from 1994 to 2000.

Arguably the most effective covert tool of counter-insurgency was the one developed by the former Inspector-General of the BSF, Ashok Patel. Even when militancy and the freedom sentiment were at a peak in 1990, he slipped agents provocateurs into the ranks of militants, some of them at the highest level. As with other terrorist acts which Patel manipulated, such as the hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Lahore in 1970, his agents were evidently playing both sides.

Many in Kashmir are now wondering if a similarly sophisticated strategy is at work now, and what its contours might be. The bottom-line is that recent events such as the discovery of horribly tortured bodies of three militants and Burhan’s meteoric rise to stardom have confused a range of key players, including Ali Shah Geelani and Hizb-ul Mujahideen ‘commander-in-chief’ Syed Salahuddin – perhaps even the ISI’s coordinators.

Confusion erodes confidence. Dulat’s revelations may have ensured that freedom fighters will balk at negotiating in future, but the memory of Patel’s operations combines effectively with the redoubtable reputation of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to undermine the confidence of militancy’s sponsors.

This particular bout of uncertainty may not last. The ISI no doubt has other lethal clubs and devious jacks up its copious sleeve. So, this is an opportune time to open the door for talks, as Swaraj did at the UN. Not that one should expect lasting peace. From the look of things, this is only the beginning of a period of extraordinary conflict and subterfuge in and about Kashmir.

Pakistan releases dossier which blames India for terror on its soil

United Nations: Pakistan said it has handed over dossiers to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon containing “evidence” of alleged Indian involvement in terrorism in the country and links of its security agencies with the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Exercising its Right of Reply in the UN General Assembly in response to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s address, a Pakistani representative said it handed over on Thursday to the Secretary General dossiers containing “evidence” of Indian involvement in terrorism and fermenting instability in Pakistan.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

“The dossiers include details of Indian interference and support for terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi as well as its security and intelligence agencies link with the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan especially in FATA,” the representative said in the Right of Reply from the floor of the General Assembly.

The representative accused India of using the “terrorism bogey” for  stalling the bilateral dialogue between the two countries.

“India’s insistence to limiting the talks to a one-point agenda proves that it is neither interested nor serious in engaging in a genuine dialogue,” he said.

The representative accused India of failing to bring to justice perpetrators of terrorism against civilians in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings.

Rubbishing Pakistan’s four-point formula for peace, Ms Swaraj had asserted that it is ready to discuss all issues if the neighbouring country addresses “just one” point of ending terrorism emanating from there as she proposed NSA-level talks to address the problem.

Ms Swaraj had also referred to the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks who continue to roam freely in Pakistan and pressed the world community to ensure that countries which provide finances, safe havens and arms to terrorists “pay a heavy price”.

PTI

India rubbishes Pakistan’s 4-point peace formula at UN, says ‘give up terrorism and let’s talk’

Addressing the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj referred to the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks who continue to roam freely in Pakistan and pressed the world community to ensure that countries which provide finances, safe havens and arms to terrorists “pay a heavy price”.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, October 1, 2015.

Reuters
Rubbishing Pakistan’s 4-point formula for peace, India on Thursday asserted that it is ready to discuss all issues if the neighbouring country addresses “just one” point of ending terrorism emanating from there as she proposed NSA-level talks to address the problem.Addressing the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj referred to the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks who continue to roam freely in Pakistan and pressed the world community to ensure that countries which provide finances, safe havens and arms to terrorists “pay a heavy price”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir, the Indian minister used the same forum to raise the issue of “illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir” by Pakistan and said terror attacks from there are engineered to legitimise it.She made it clear that terrorism emanating from Pakistan is hampering normalisation of bilateral relations as she underlined that “talks and terror cannot go together”.”Yesterday the Prime Minister of Pakistan proposed what he termed as a four-point new peace initiative. I would like to respond. We do not need four points, we need just one – give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk,” Swaraj said while addressing the 193-member body.She said this was precisely what was discussed and decided by the two Prime Ministers at Ufa this July.”Let me use this occasion to spell out our approach clearly. India remains open to dialogue,” Swaraj said in her 25-minute speech in Hindi.”Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs on all issues connected to terrorism and an early meeting of our Directors General of Military Operations to address the situation on the border,” she said, adding “If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharif, during a meeting in Ufa in July, had agreed to hold NSA-level talks to discuss terror but these were cancelled at the last minute in August when Pakistan insisted on changing the agenda.Sharing the challenges that India faces in its ties with Pakistan, the External Affairs Minister said “None of us can accept that terrorism is a legitimate instrument of statecraft.”She raised the issue of 26/11 carnage which was sponsored and controlled from Pakistan as also the latest attack in Udhampur in Jammu where a Pakistani terrorist was caught alive.”The world shared our outrage at the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which citizens of many nations were helplessly butchered,” Swaraj said, adding that it was an “affront to the entire international community” that the mastermind behind the attack is walking free in Pakistan.This was a reference to LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who is roaming freely in Pakistan despite India giving it loads of evidence about his involvement in the attacks.”Not only have past assurances in this regard not been honoured (by Pakistan) but new cross-border terrorist attacks have taken place recently, in which two terrorists from across the border have also been captured alive,” Swaraj said.One of the terrorists was caught alive during attack on BSF convoy in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir.”We all know that these attacks are meant to destabilize India and legitimize Pakistan’s illegal occupation of parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and its claim on the rest of it,” the Indian minister said.She said India has lived with the threat of terror for more than a quarter of a century and it was “tragically brought home to this very city” (New York) in the autumn of 2001, a clear reference to the 9/11 attacks.Since then, the proliferation of terrorist acts, the rise of extremist ideologies, and the impunity of states that back it have not been adequately countered.Swaraj emphasised that international terrorism can only be defeated by organized international action and asked the world must demonstrate that it has zero tolerance for terrorists who kill and maim innocent civilians with action based on the principle of prosecute or extradite.”Member states must undertake their obligations to investigate and prosecute those who are alleged to have supported terrorism,” she said.At the same time, she asserted that an international legal regime, under the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), “can no longer be held up, nor can we be held hostage by seeking to define terrorism when the General Assembly in 2006 adopted the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy unanimously.”Talking about the threat of terrorism, she said “the safety of peacekeepers, the security of our nations, indeed the future of the international community itself is now dependent on how we respond to the greatest threat that we face today.”Targeting the UN on its 70th anniversary, she said it “appears as an ineffective institution” when gauged on the parameters of whether it has been able to prevent conflicts, managed to find permanent solution to these conflicts or showing the path of peace to the world which is going the way of violence.”It has failed to effectively address the new challenges to international peace and security…. when we ask ourselves whether we have been able to prevent conflicts taking place in several parts of the world, the answer is ‘no’. If we ask whether we were able to find permanent solution to these conflicts, the answer is ‘no’. If we ask whether we were able to show the path of peace to a world which is going on the way of violence, the answer is ‘no’.”She said that the world today is ravaged by war in three continents with the Security Council being “unable or unwilling to stanch the flow of blood”.Traditional solutions that emphasize force, Swaraj said, have only proven to exacerbate problems.”We must ask ourselves if we have the political will to craft alternatives to conflict and to pursue them with commitment and single-minded dedication,” she said.

India rejects Nawaz Sharif’s demand for de-militarising Kashmir

“To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

“Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir,” said Swarup.

India on rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s demand for de-militarising Kashmir and instead said it is Pakistan that should be “deterrorised.” India’s strong reaction came shortly after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a demand for demilitarisation of Kashmir as part of his 4-point “peace initiative” with India. Raking up the Kashmir issue while addressing the UN General Assembly(UNGA), Sharif termed its non-resolution as a failure of the world body. “To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is. “Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in sharp retorts through a series of tweets. Another Indian official called Pakistan a “prime sponsor of terrorism” as it uses terror as a “legitimate instrument” of its statecraft after Sharif said Pakistan is the “primary victim” of terrorism. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In truth, it(Pakistan) is actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists. The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood,” First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Abhishek Singh said in a sharp retort exercising India’s Right of Reply during the General Debate of 70th session of UNGA.In more tweets, Swarup said that Pakistan’s “instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution.”Reacting to Sharif’s remarks that “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation”, Swarup said the “Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir.” Sharif had equated Kashmir with Palestine while talking about “suffering of Muslims across the world”, saying “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation.”Abhishek Singh also hit out at Pakistan on this issue, asserting that the “occupier in question is Pakistan.” He also asserted that on each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship. “India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence,” he added.

De-terrorising Pakistan will bring peace: India hits back at Nawaz Sharif

Using the podium of the UN, Sharif raised Kashmir issue, terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir.

Hitting back at Pakistan after it raised Kashmir issue at the UN, India on Thursday said de-militarising Kashmir is not the answer for achieving peace but “deterrorising” Pakistan.”To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir issue in his address at UN General Assembly.Using the podium of the UN, Sharif raised Kashmir issue, terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing Pakistan as the “primary victim” of terrorism, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations irrespective of who their sponsors are.On Sharif describing Pakistan as the “primary victim” of terrorism, Swarup said, “Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism.”Swarup further tweeted that Pakistan’s “instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution.”Reacting to Sharif’s remarks that “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation”, Swarup said the “Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir.” Sharif had equated Kashmir with Palestine while talking about “suffering of Muslims across the world”, saying “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation.”

World has to stand united against terrorism: PM Modi

San Jose: On the eve of his meeting with US President Barack Obama and leaders of France and Britain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked the international community to unitedly combat increasing challenges posed by terrorists across the globe.

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Devoting the last phase of his speech at the SAP Centre on the fight against terrorism, Modi rued that so far the international community – the UN in particular – have not even been able to have a definition of terrorism or identify who can be called a terrorist.

Observing that India has been a victim of terrorism for the past 40 years, Modi said the West and many other countries woke up to the menace of terrorism only after bomb blasts or terror attacks in their nation.

“We cannot let 21st century to be stained with terrorism,” Modi said, adding that he would be raising the issue again before the United Nations tomorrow when he is scheduled to address a UN Peacekeeping Summit.

And before that he would hold three important back-to-back meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Obama.

“The world has to stand united in tackling terrorism,” he said.

“Terrorism is Terrorism, there is no difference between good terrorism and bad terrorism,” he said.

“We cannot waste time in defining ‘terrorism’,” he said, adding that India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Gautam Buddha who preached peace and non-violence to the world.

“The world has to realise that terrorism can hit anyone at anyplace, and it is the world’s responsibility to recognize it and unite against terrorism,” the Prime Minister said in an unusual aggressive speech on terrorism.

Several top American lawmakers were present on the occasion.

PTI

Terrorism isn’t good or bad: Key takeaways from PM’s Modi speech at San Jose

The Prime Minister dealt with a range of subjects. He spoke on what his government had done since coming to power, he took a jibe at the Congress, spoke about India’s future and terrorism. Here are the highlights of his speech:

21st century will belong to India

The Prime Minister told the audience that when he had come to Delhi 16 months ago he didn’t even know which road he had to take to get to Parliament. But the people had given him a mandate to govern.

“With your blessings, I am doing my best to fulfil it,” he said.

Modi at the San Jose venue. ScreengrabModi at the San Jose venue. Screengrab

Modi at the San Jose venue. Screengrab

The Prime Minister said that the world was now viewing India with a great deal of hope.

“The 21st century will belong to Asia…But now people are saying that the 21st century is going to belong to India,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the reason for this change was every person in the country deciding to change things around them.

He said the world’s nations were now trying to ally with India. “This atmosphere of faith will take India to new heights,” he said.

No good terrorism, bad terrorism

The Prime Minister said that the two biggest problems that the world is facing presently are terrorism and global warming. And he said he’d written to various world leaders about it.

“This (terrorism) can be successfully addressed with firm commitment and co-operation with the people of the world,” he said.

He also said it was sad that the United Nations has no definition of terrorism yet.

If it has taken the UN 15 years to define terrorism, how long will it take to fight terrorism, he asked.

Ridiculing the concept of good and bad terrorism, Modi said terrorism is terrorism.

“There is no good terrorism and bad terrorism,” he said. “India has been suffering from terrorism for 40 years. All human forces should come together against terrorism. There is need for an unity against terrorism. Only then there can be peace in the world.”

“India is a peace loving country. It is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Gautam Buddha. It is the land of peace and ahimsa,” he said. the Prime Minister also promised to raise the issue at the United Nations on Monday.

The PM also said that the US didn’t recognise terrorism as a problem in the 1990s when India was dealing with it, preferring to call it a law and order problem at the time. However, that changed after a bombing in the US and state department officials had tried to get more knowledge on terrorism, he said.

PM Modi’s latest acronym for his achievements: JAM

The Prime Minister said that he had been working tirelessly since taking charge and the JAM acronym best described his biggest achievements so far.

Here’s what it stands for:

J – Jan Dhan Bank Account

A – Aadhaar card

M – Mobile governance

The PM spoke about how the nationalisation of banks almost 50 years ago hadn’t helped the poor.

But now 18 crore new accounts have been opened by the poor under the scheme, he said.

“We have heard of the poverty of the rich but I have seen the wealth of the poor,” he said. The Prime Minister said that Rs 32,000 crore was deposited in the banking sector through small deposits under the scheme.

The Prime Minister also spoke about his government’s focus on the Aadhaar scheme and on how mobile governance would be a focus area for the government.

Modi also spoke about how the government had implemented the direct subsidy transfer scheme for LPG and saved crores in government funds. He spoke of neem coating urea to prevent it being diverted from the farming sector, the Beti Bachao Andolan and soil cards for farmers as his government’s major initiatives since coming to power.

The Prime Minister also told his audience that this was only a trailer of things to come.

‘Damaad’, ‘beta’ barbs for the Congress

The Prime Minister’s shown he’s not shy of criticising the Congress when he’s abroad. This time was no different.

The Prime Minister said that unlike earlier when there were allegations of ‘betas’ (sons) and ‘damaads’ (son-in-laws) making a lot of money there were no allegations of corruption against him.

“In our country it doesn’t take much for allegations to come up against politicians… Someone made 50 crores, someone’s son made 250 crores, (someone’s) daughter made 500 crores, (someone’s) damaad (son-in-law) made 1000 crores…” he said.

Are there any allegations of corruption against me? No, shouted the crowd.

“I promise I will live for the country and even die for it,” he said.

You’re not a brain drain but a brain deposit for India, PM Modi tells NRIs

The Prime Minister said that earlier in India there was a debate on the brain drain with many Indians leaving the country for foreign shores.

“But there will be many more brains born in the country,” he said.

“Brain drain can become brain gain… This is actually brain deposit and it would serve its motherland at an appropriate time,” he said.

“Now it is the time that every Indian can show people their strength,” he said in his hour-long speech.

“Your fingers have created magic on the keyboard and the computer and this gave India a new identity. Your skill and commitment is wonderful,” the Prime Minister said.

with inputs from PTI

I get worried when some people raise issue of human rights of terrorists: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday raised questions over the tendency of human rights activists to bat for human rights of terrorists and convicted prisoners and not security forces as he referred to the hue and cry raised over hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon.

He said India has a healthy democracy but it does not mean that someone can hold the nation to ransom with guns in hands.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Addressing a conference of National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi, Singh said Memon was executed after completion of all due judicial process.

“He was convicted by the highest court of the country – the Supreme Court. But in that case also some people tried to raise the issue of human rights. For a person like me, I failed to understand why such things are raised,” he said in presence of representatives of state human rights commissions.

Memon was hanged on 30 July. Even after his mercy plea was rejected twice, some activists approached the Supreme Court Chief Justice late at night on 29 July seeking postponement of the hanging and in an unprecedented development, the apex court heard the matter at 2 am on 30 July, before disposing it off.

Referring to the issue of some organisations raising the issue of human rights of terrorists, Singh said he gets worried by such trends.

“I get worried when some people raise the issue of human rights of terrorists and extremists when security forces resort to self defence action. These people consider more important the acts of terrorists and extremists and their human rights than that of security forces.

“I have no hesitation in telling those people and organisations that in the democracy.. in India we have a healthy democracy, where there is a healthy democracy, how can we allow people place their demand with guns in their hands,” he said.

The Home Minister asked legal luminaries and human rights experts to give suggestions on how to deal with this tendency.

“If someone can give any suggestion, they may be legal luminaries or human rights experts, we can act only after your recommendations. It is your responsibility,” he said.

The Home Minister also expressed concern over some prisoners languishing in jails more time than the actual term they are supposed to be in jail.

“It is a serious matter and we all have to address it,. We have already written to state governments to take necessary action,” he said.

The Home Minister also voiced concern over human trafficking and said there should be detailed Standard Operating Procedures for re-integration, repatriation and rehabilitation of victims of the menace.

Singh said human rights have been an integral part of Indian culture and Indian saints have highlighted the idea of rights of whole universe, include plants and animals.

“Even before UN Charter on Human Rights came into existence, Indian culture was aware of not only human rights but also of the animal rights,” he said.

The Home Minister said autonomy of institutions like NHRC should remain sacrosanct and cooperation and coordination between NHRC and state human rights commissions should be strengthened.

In his presidential address, Justice Cyriac Joseph, Chairperson, NHRC, called for amending the Protection of Human Rights (PHR) Act so as to make the rulings of the various Human Rights Commissions (HRCs) binding on central and state governments.

He also called for provision of some form of human rights in states and regions where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is in force, making the PHR Act void in such places.

PTI

2006 Mumbai blasts: Quantum of punishment to 12 accused to be announced tomorrow

The MCOCA court hearing arguments in the 7/11 Mumbai blasts case adjourned the matter of announcing quantum of punishment to 12 accused, to Tuesday. It was originally supposed to announce the verdict on Monday.

2006 Mumbai train blasts

PTI photo
The MCOCA court hearing arguments in the 7/11 Mumbai blasts case adjourned the matter of announcing quantum of punishment to 12 accused, to Tuesday. It was originally supposed to announce the quantum on Monday.Earlier on Monday, news came in that the prosecution is likely to seek death sentence only for eight of the 12 convicted.The Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, MCOCA court on Friday convicted 12 accused in the blasts case that rattled Mumbai killing 188 people and injuring 829 others. The maximum punishment, which is death by hanging, is likely to be sought for all five planters. It includes key conspirator Dr Tanveer Ansari, Asif Khan Bashir Khan, Mohammed Ali Shaikh, Faisal Shaikh, Ehtesham Siddiqui.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dr Ansari played a key role of conspirator and commanded the rest of the accused to the execute the blast. However, leniency may be shown for convicts who had lesser role.The court held the accused guilty of many charges under IPC, Explosives Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Indian Railway Act.In the last nine years, the case witnessed countless twists and turns. In fact, the prosecution dropped many of its theories that it had relied on initially.The chargesheet filed by Anti Terrorism Squad, ATS in November 2006 had named 30 people which included 17 Indians and 13 Pakistani nationals. However, the agency could arrest only 13 Indian accused for trial.Seven RDX bombs had exploded within a span of 10 minutes in the first class coaches of Mumbai’s suburban trains on July 11th, 2006.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh worries that anti-India forces may try to weaken our economy

India’s reputation has also increased in the international community. Anti-India forces are not able to digest these trends and they want to damage India’s important strategic and sensitive installations,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh

Unable to stomach the country’s rapid growth, anti-India forces are conspiring to inflict losses on strategic and critical installations in a bid to weaken its economy, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Hyderabad on Tuesday.Singh said India is counted among one of the biggest ‘Emerging Economies’ in the world and the country is poised to become a $7 trillion economy in the next five to eight years from the present $2 trillion. “I am confident about it. India’s reputation has also increased in the international community. Anti-India forces are not able to digest these trends and they want to damage India’s important strategic and sensitive installations,” he said after reviewing the passing out parade of Assistant Commandants and Sub-Inspectors of Central Industrial Security Force, at the National Industrial Security Academy in Hyderabad.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They (anti-India forces) will make continuous attempts to weaken India from economic and strategic point of view. And hence, you (CISF) need to face this challenge and I am hopeful you will emerge victorious,” Singh said. Noting that terrorism is a big threat not only to India but to the whole world, the Minister said terror attacks have a long term impact on people. “Anti-national forces are constantly keeping an eye on India and we need to give them a befitting reply. Such forces will make all out efforts to decimate India and there are no two opinions on this.”Singh wondered why such forces resort to terror strikes on a peace-loving country like India, which is the only country that propagated the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the entire world is a family). “I am fully confident, that our para-military forces, our armed forces and CISF personnel have gained enough core competence to fight terrorism. I have full confidence that in case terrorists plan to attack any important strategic installation in the country you will foil their designs,” he said.The Minister also said ‘Cyber Terrorism’ is an upcoming challenge wherein attackers use digital routes to target important installations. “I have been told the CISF personnel are imparted advanced training to tackle this menace.”

Pakistan withdrew support for Harakat-ul-Ansar for fear of being named in terror list: CIA

Washington: Pakistan backed away from supporting Harakat-ul-Ansar terror group which it used as a proxy against India in the late 90s fearing that its backing would land it on the US list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism”, according to recently declassified CIA documents.

In its report of August 1996, the CIA acknowledges the role played by the Harakat-ul-Ansar (HUA) in a number of terrorist attacks inside Kashmir and other parts of India including the May 1996 blasts in Lajpat Nagar market in Delhi.

Image courtesy: cia.govImage courtesy: cia.gov

Image courtesy: cia.gov

Referring to some diplomatic reports, CIA said the Pakistan’s spy agency ISI provided “at least USD 30,000 – an possibly as much as USD 60,000 – per month” to HUA. A redacted version of the report ‘Harakat ul-Ansar: Increasing Threat to Western and Pakistani Interests’ was posted by the CIA on its website in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is similar to India’s Right to Information Act.

Based on its intelligence information obtained by the US Embassy in New Delhi, the report said HUA was planning to undertake terrorist actions against civilian airliners. This was three years before the hijacking of the Indian Airlines Flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi in December 1999.

“Attacks on civilian aircraft in India could well involve Western casualties, given the numbers of Western tourists in that country,” the CIA report said.

Important sentences of this part of the report have been redacted by the CIA. However, the CIA warned that sudden decline in Pakistani support to HUA could be detrimental to the security of Pakistan itself.

“Islamabad’s compliance with US and UK demand to cease its support for the HUA and crack down on the group’s activities could be costly to Islamabad,” it said.

“Pakistan is unlikely to accede fully, but any strong actions aimed at stopping the group’s activities might prompt the HUA to retaliate,” CIA warned.

“Although the HUA’s operations are primarily targeted against India, some of the group’s rhetoric and past actions demonstrate a hostility toward Islamabad that could be fueled by a loss of Islamabad’s patronage,” said the report.

PTI

Captured terrorist Sajjad Ahmed had been tasked to set up LeT base in Kashmir, say officials

Srinagar: Sajjad Ahmed, the Pakistani terrorist caught on Thursday, had been tasked to set up a base for Lashkar-e-Taiba in Rafiabad, some 76 kms from Srinagar, and curb the influence of local militant Qayyum Najjar, who has defected from Hizbul Mujahideen to form his own group.

Captured Pakistani terrorist Sajjad Ahmed. PTI

Captured Pakistani terrorist Sajjad Ahmed. PTI

Officials interrogating Ahmed said he had joined LeT in 2012 and had made two attempts earlier to enter the Kashmir Valley from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) but failed because of heavy deployment of the Army.

Ahmed, who has studied till 4th standard, told his interrogators that he was a Baloch settled in Muzzafargarh of Punjab province in South West Pakistan, the officials said.

The terrorist, who was captured after a two-day operation in which his four associates were killed, had also worked with Jamaat-ul-Dawa, which is headed by Hafiz Saeed, the chief of LeT and mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks, the officials said.

Ahmed, aged 22, has undergone all the three kinds of training in terrorism – ‘Daura-e-Aam’, ‘Daura-e-Khas’ and ‘Daura-e-Sufa’, they said.

In Daura-e-Aam, the cadres of the terror outfit are given basic training in small arms and grenade-throwing for 21 days which is followed by a three-month specialised training, known as Daura-e-Khas in which they are taught handling of AK riles, rocket launchers, making of Improvised Explosive Devices and LMGs.

The third kind of training, known as Daura-e-Sufa, involves motivating and brainwashing youth for terror acts.

Ahmed is believed to have said that the main objective of sending him and others here was to enable LeT re-establish its base in Rafiabad area in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

LeT’s influence in Rafiabad has seen a decline since Najjar’s rift with Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and formed his own dissident group sometime back.

Ahmed said he had been recalled recently from his home to cross over into Kashmir and was given a task for undermining the influence of Najjar, who is a local resident of Sopore and allegedly involved in killing of five people in May and June this year besides carrying out blasts at the telecom towers.

If Ahmed’s statement is to be believed, then it indicates that Salahuddin has joined hands with LeT in targeting Najjar, who has been fighting a bitter battle with Hizb chief and refused to follow his diktats.

PTI

1993 Mumbai blasts: Accused sent to 10-day police custody in RDX landing case

A special court for Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) cases on Friday remanded Ishtiyak Ahmed Ansari, arrested in the Gosabara RDX and arms landing case of 1993, to ten-day police custody.

1993 Mumbai blasts

File Photo
A special court for Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) cases on Friday remanded Ishtiyak Ahmed Ansari, arrested in the Gosabara RDX and arms landing case of 1993, to ten-day police custody.A huge cache of RDX and arms had landed at the coastal village of Gosabara in Porbandar district in 1993. Fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim — a key accused in the Mumbai serial blasts case — is suspected to have arranged this landing.Judge DY Malik sent Ansari to the custody of Jamnagar police for ten days, though the investigating officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Rushikesh Upadhyay, had sought a 30- day remand.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The remand application said police needed to question Ansari as to which terror outfit was involved. Also, Ansari hadn’t yet revealed names of other persons involved in the conspiracy and whether the RDX and the arms were to be used in a particular terror act, it said.Ansari opposed the remand plea saying that the alleged landing had taken place 22 years ago and he had nothing to tell the police.ATS officials arrested Ansari on August 18 from his native village Kiratpur in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh. According to the police, Dawood sent the consignment from Karachi to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition. Police later recovered five AK-47 rifles, one AK-56 rifle, 43 hand-grenades and 3,011 cartridges. ATS had found an AK-47 rifle and 90 cartridges in Ansari’s house in Jamnagar district during a search in 1994.

Militant attack on police post near mosque in Sopore, Kashmir kills 1 civilian, 1 policeman

Srinagar: A policeman and a physically-challenged civilian were on Tuesday killed when militants attacked a police post meant for guarding a mosque and a ‘mazaar‘ (shrine) in Sopore, about 52 kms from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The unidentified militants opened fire on the police post outside the shrine of Sultan-ul Arifin Makhdoom Sahib and the adjacent mosque in Tujjar Sharief area of Sopore in Baramulla district, a police officer said.

He said a policeman Constable Fayaz Ahmad and a physically-challenged civilian Abdul Rahim Lone were injured in the militant attack. Both of them succumbed to injuries while being evacuated to hospital, the officer said.

He said militants snatched the INSAS rifle of the slain policeman before fleeing. A hunt has been launched to nab the militants and recover the stolen weapon, he said.

No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Tuesday’s attack near a mosque comes five days after worshippers of a mosque were targeted by militants in Shopian area.

On 13 August, militants had planted a grenade outside a mosque in Trenz locality of Shopian, 52 kms from Srinagar, which exploded, injuring 10 civilians.

PTI

Terrorism, UAE investment in India, digs at Pak: The key takeaways from PM Modi’s Dubai speech

It was Madison Square Garden all over again as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a crowd of more than 50,000 Indians at the Dubai Cricket Stadium in UAE. The event saw a full house with the stadium packed with people chanting “Modi, Modi”.

Amid a rousing welcome, the Prime Minister spoke about various issues including India’s renewed relations with UAE, terrorism, new initiatives for NRIs and relationship with neighbouring countries.

Here are the key takeaways from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s speech:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. PTI

Indian ties with UAE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the fact that despite no Indian prime minister having visited UAE in the last 34 years, he was given a hearty welcome in UAE and the country trusted Indians enough to invest Rs 4.5 lakh crore in India.

PM Modi said, “The Crown Prince has planned to invest Rs 4.5 lakh crore in India. If people did not have trust in you, will they even want to invest Rs 10 in India?”

PM Modi also spoke of the warmth with which he was welcomed in UAE. He said, “If no Indian PM had visited UAE in 34 years, they had the right to be angry with India. But in Abu Dhabi, His Highness Crown Prince and in Dubai, His Highness Al Maktoum has only showered love on me.”

“His Highness Crown Prince came to receive me at the airport with all his five brothers. But this love is not just for me. It is the welcome of the 1.25 crore people of India, it is the respect for a change India,” PM Modi added.

Speaking about the Crown Prince’s plan to allot land for a temple in Abu Dhabi PM Modi said, “People who know about Abu Dhabi also know what a big step it is to provide land for an Indian temple to be set up there. “

He asked the people of the stadium to give a standing ovation to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Terrorism: Like he did in Canada, France and the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the world to unite against terrorism and took veiled digs at Pakistan.

Modi said, “Today there has been a message that has gone out from here to the world and I think it is very important. Those who are involved in terrorism should be punished.”

Itna hi nhi, samajhne wale samajh jaayenge, akalmand ko ishaara kaafi hai (those who need to understand this will understand),” PM Modi said, taking a dig at Pakistan.

He also said, “India has faced terrorism for years. But now the whole world faces it… The time has come for all nations who believe in humanity to stand against those who support terrorism or perpetrators of terrorism.”

“Terrorism has no boundaries. I heard about the Bangkok blast. India has been tolerating such incidents for a long time now,” he said.

“Talks of good terrorism, bad terrorism would not do,” PM Modi said.

Relationship with neighbouring countries: Highlighting his government’s work in improving relations between India and its neighbouring countries, Prime Minister Modi spoke of the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh and help for Nepal during the earthquake.

He said, “We had been free since 15 August, 1947, but for some, independence came on 1 August, 2015… Only talks can solve problems that countries face with their neighbours,” PM Modi said.

About Nepal he said, “After Nepal earthquake, Indians didn’t wait. We immediately rushed to Nepal’s help.”

Speaking of Maldives, Modi said, “Maldives was facing water shortage at one point. We sent drinking water to Maldives through flights.”

“Earlier, SAARC was used to blame each other. Today, we dream of a SAARC satellite. We tried to bring about unity in SAARC,” Modi said and taking another dig at Pakistan he added, “There will always be some who will be bothered by us. But should we stop work and progress for them? “

Announcements for NRIs: PM Modi also announced several schemes for NRIs. “Government of India has launched an E-migrate portal named ‘Madad’ to address your grievances.”

“For those NRIs who fall into trouble, we have set up a fund to help NRIs who are in jail. Those who need lawyers and are not able to afford it, they will get help through this fund,” he said.

“We don’t look at the colour of the passport for Indians. The colour of our blood is enough,” said PM Modi.

Permanent seat in UN Security Council: Like terrorism, Prime Minister has pitched for a permanent place for India in the UN Security Council. He said, “UAE has supported India’s candidature for permanent membership at UN Security Council.”

He also criticised the UN saying, “UN hasn’t been able to define terrorism properly till now.”

Modi in Dubai: India, UAE to establish ‘strategic security dialogue’, boost defence, security ties

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: In a significant move, India and the UAE on Monday decided to establish a “strategic security dialogue” and boost defence ties besides resolving to work together in counter-terrorism operations, combating money laundering, drug trafficking and transnational crimes.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with UAE leadership both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a raft of announcements were made to strengthen defence and security cooperation between the two countries.

A joint statement said the two sides agreed to “work together to control, regulate and share information on flow of funds that could have a bearing on radicalisation activities and cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against concerned individuals and organisations.”

Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presenting a book to Prime Minister  Narendra Modi, at Za’abeel Palace, Dubai on 17 August 2015. Image courtesy PIB

Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presenting a book to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Za’abeel Palace, Dubai on 17 August 2015. Image courtesy PIB

The Prime Minister held comprehensive talks with UAE Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed AI Nahyan in Abu Dhabi while he held talks with Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai.

To step up cooperation on security related issues, both sides decided to establish a strategic security dialogue to deliberate on major issues.

Both the countries also agreed to establish a dialogue between their National Security Advisers and their National Security Councils.

“The National Security Advisors, together with other high level representatives for security from both nations, will meet every six months,” the statement said.

The two sides agreed to strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and special forces, and in coastal defence.

The UAE also conveyed to India that it will cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India.

The joint statement said both sides decided to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, other trans-national crimes, extradition arrangements, as well as police training.

They also agreed to promote cooperation in cyber security, including “prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalisation and disturbing social harmony.”

The two sides will also establish points of contact between their security agencies to further improve operational cooperation.

They have also agreed to cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.

PTI

Message to Pakistan? India, UAE condemn state-sponsored terrorism during Modi’s visit

Abu Dhabi: Elevating their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, India and the UAE on Monday came down heavily on countries sponsoring terrorism against other states in what is seen as an oblique reference to Pakistan.

Denouncing and opposing terrorism in all forms and manifestations and asking all states to abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, the two sides also called for dismantling of terrorism infrastructures and bringing perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

References to terrorism in all forms including state-sponsored were the highlight of a 31-point joint statement issued after talks between the UAE Crown Pince Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Narendra Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the strategic Gulf state in 34 years.

Agreeing to boost bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence-sharing and capacity building, Modi and the Crown Prince also agreed to coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and justifying terrorism for pursuing political aims.

Both sides denounced and opposed terrorism in “all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice”.

India, UAE condemned terrorism during Modi's visit. PTI

India, UAE condemned terrorism during Modi’s visit. PTI

This is seen as a veiled reference to Pakistan which has been repeatedly told by India to stop terror activities emanating from Pakistani soil against it.

The two countries decided to work together to control, regulate and share information on flow of funds that could have a bearing on radicalisation activities and cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against concerned individuals and organisations, the joint statement said.

They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, other trans-national crimes and extradition arrangements.

Asked by reporters whether the issue of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his properties in UAE came up for discussion, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar did not give a direct reply, saying larger issues and trends having bearing on the countries figured in the talks.

“The two nations reject extremism and any link between religion and terrorism. They condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries.

“They also deplore efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and disputes, including in West and South Asia, and use terrorism to pursue their aims,” the statement said.

The two leaders agreed to elevate India-UAE relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and chart out a new course for cooperation in key areas like defence, security, trade, maritime security and intelligence sharing.

In Dubai, Modi held comprehensive talks with UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Modi and Prince Mohamed agreed to establish a Strategic Security Dialogue between the two governments besides deciding to strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and Special Forces.

They agreed to cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India and work together to promote peace, reconciliation, stability, inclusiveness and cooperation in the wider South Asia, Gulf and West Asia region.

India and the UAE also decided to establish a dialogue between their National Security Advisers and National Security Councils. The NSAs will meet every six months.

The statement said the leaders agreed to promote strategic partnership in the energy sector, including through UAE’s participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries.

The two sides also decided to promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization and disturbing social harmony.

They agreed to cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.

The UAE resolved to join hands with India for the adoption of New Delhi’s proposed Comprehensive convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.

Both the countries called on all nations to “fully respect and sincerely implement” their commitments to resolve disputes bilaterally and peacefully, without resorting to violence and terrorism.

Recognising India as an emerging frontier of business opportunities, it was decided that UAE would step up its investment in India including through the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion.

The sectors identified for UAE’s investment include railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks. UAE also agreed to help Indian companies to invest in infrastructure development in the Gulf country.

The two countries set a target of increasing current trade volume by 60 percent in the next five years.

It was agreed to tap India’s expertise in small and medium enterprises to create a vibrant industrial base in UAE, which could also be of benefit to Indian enterprises.

Modi and the Crown Prince agreed to cooperate in peaceful uses of nuclear energy including in areas like safety, health, agriculture and science and technology.

The joint statement said despite natural synergies and boundless potential for a natural strategic partnership, relations in the past have not kept pace with the exponential growth in relations between their people or the promise of the partnership.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in education, science and technology, renewable energy, arid agriculture, desert ecology, urban development and advanced healthcare.

They decided to promote cooperation in space, including in joint development and launch of satellites, ground-based infrastructure and space application.

Modi welcomed UAE’s plan to set up the West Asia’s first Space Research Centre at AI Ain and plans to launch a Mars Mission in 2021.

The Prime Minister thanked UAE for its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of a reformed United Nations Security Council.

The two sides felt people-to-people relations were at the heart of India-UAE relations and both governments will continue to nurture these relations and ensure the welfare of their citizens, especially the workers, in each other’s country, as also work together to prevent human trafficking, it said. An estimated 2.6 million Indians are living in the UAE.

Modi thanked the Crown Prince for his decision to allot land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi.

PTI

Parliament logjam to terrorism: 7 key takeaways from President’s pre I-Day adress

Delivering his customary address to the nation on the eve of India’s 69th Independence Day, President Pranab Mukherjee expressed concern on a host of issues — ranging from the recent Parliament logjam to the hostile western front with Pakistan. The spurt in terrorism, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, the shortcomings in the education sector and the pressure on environment also attracted the president’s attention.

President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his concern over the recent Parliament logjam.

President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his concern over the recent Parliament logjam.

Focussing on the need to maintain communal harmony in the country and on steps to improve international relations with other countries, President Mukherjee termed the India-Bangladesh land boundary agreement “heartening” while praising the civilians who captured the Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Naved alive in Udhampur.

‘Parliament an arena of combat’

As one of the three constitutional pillars that constitutes Parliament, President Mukherjee, in no uncertain terms disapproved the pandemonium that reigned both the Houses during the recently concluded Monsoon Session. Bringing up the point that democracy, which was “the most precious gift” of the Constitution of India, the president said that the “institutions of democracy are under stress.”

“The Parliament has been converted into an arena of combat rather than debate…If the institutions of democracy are under pressure, it is time for serious thinking by the people and their parties. The correctives must come from within,” said President Mukherjee.

He also quoted some lines from the closing speech of Dr BR Ambedkar (Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution) in the Constituent Assembly in November 1949 in which Ambedkar had said that the success of the Constitution depended on the way the people and political parties behave in the country.

‘Zero tolerance for terrorism’

A day after NIA chief Sharad Kumar said the agency has evidence to show that Naved — the only terrorist captured alive after the Udhampur terror attack — belonged to Pakistan and was part of Lashkar-e-Taiba, President Mukherjee said, “Our neighbours must ensure that their territory is not used by forces inimical to India…We reject any attempt to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Infiltration into our territory and attempts to create mayhem will be dealt with a strong hand.”

Stressing on the point that India has a policy of “zero tolerance for terrorism”, the president said, “While we offer our hand willingly in friendship, we cannot stay blind to deliberate acts of provocation and a deteriorating security environment. India is a target of vicious terrorist groups operating from across the borders.”

He paid homage to the martyrs who died fighting for the country and specially commended “the civilians who boldly detained a hardened terrorist, ignoring the risk to their own lives”.

President on communal harmony

With the hanging of Mumbai 1993 serial blasts convict Yakub Memon still fresh in public memory, President Mukherjee took care to remind the citizens of the importance of communal harmony. The president’s reference to communal harmony could not have been more timely with the apprehended Pakistani terrorist Naved in a chilling video very recently admitting the “fun” he enjoys in exterminating Hindus.

“Vested interests chip away at social harmony, in an attempt to erode many centuries of secularism. In an age of instant communication through ever-improving technology, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the devious designs of a few never overcome the essential oneness of our people,” President Mukherjee said.

The president said the society must also be protected by humanity, which he said was “something greater than law”. He also quoted Mahatma Gandhi to drive his point home.

“India is a complex country of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions. Its strength lies in its unique capacity to blend apparent contradictions into positive affirmations,” said President Mukherjee.

‘Benefits of growth must reach the poorest of the poor’

Talking about the economy of India, President Mukherjee said, “Our performance over the last decade has been commendable; and it is most heartening that after a dip, we have recovered to 7.3 percent growth in 2014-15.”

But he also said that emphasis must be put on economic equality. “The benefits of growth must reach the poorest of the poor much before they land in the bank accounts of the richest of the rich. We are an inclusive democracy, and in an inclusive economy, there is place for everyone in the hierarchy of wealth. But the first call goes to those who suffer on the brink of deprivation,” said the president.

He said that the country’s economic policies must be able to meet the objective of ‘Zero Hunger’ in the future.

President on international relations

Appreciating the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, President Mukherjee said, “It is heartening that the long pending land boundary issue with Bangladesh has been finally resolved.”

He laid stress on furthering regional cooperation, connectivity. “We must strengthen connectivity, expand institutional capacity and enhance mutual trust to further regional cooperation. As we make progress in advancing our interests globally, India is also engaged in pro-actively promoting goodwill and prosperity in our immediate neighbourhood.”

‘What happened to quality in education?’

Although President Mukherjee agreed that the number of educational institutions are increasing gradually, he sought the country’s attention to the parallely widening demand-supply gap in the sector. He even raised doubts on the quality of education being imparted to students.

“Our educational institutions multiply as the aspirations of generations continue to exceed supply. But what has happened to quality, from base to apex?” he said.

Going deep into the lacunae that ails the country’s education sector, the president talked about the “guru-shishya parampara (teacher-student tradition)” of ancient India and questioned why we have “abandoned the care, devotion and commitment that is at the heart of this relationship.”

“A guru, much like the soft and skillful hands of a potter, moulds the destiny of shishya,” President Mukherjee said. “Is that happening in our education system today? Students, teachers and authorities must pause and introspect,” he said.

President on environment conservation

In his much shorter speech than on earlier occasions, the president also mentioned about the immediate need to preserve the Earth and environment we live in.

Saying that the “symbiotic relationship” between man and nature needs to be protected, the President said, “A generous nature when violated can turn into a destructive force leading to calamities resulting in huge loss of life and property.”

His words were well-supplemented by the devastating floods that played havoc in North India until last week. “We need immediate relief for the afflicted as well as long-term solutions for the management of both, water deficiency and excess,” President Mukherjee said.

Full text: President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the nation on eve of Independence Day

President of India Pranab Mukherjee in his customary address to the nation on the eve of the 69th Independence Day on Friday spoke about several pressing issues of the country ranging from the Parliament session washout to the terrorist attacks that the country saw recently. In his speech, President Mukherjee also highlighted the need for tolerance in a diverse nation like ours.

Here is the full text of the speech:

Fellow citizens:

1.On the eve of 68th anniversary of our Independence I extend warm greetings to you and to all Indians around the world. I convey my special greetings to members of our armed forces, paramilitary forces and internal security forces. I also congratulate all our sportspersons who have participated and won laurels in various tournaments in India and abroad. My congratulations to Shri Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2014, who has done the country proud.
Friends:

President of India Pranab Mukherjee. AFPPresident of India Pranab Mukherjee. AFP

President of India Pranab Mukherjee. AFP

2.On 15th August 1947, we won political freedom. The birth of modern India was a moment of historic exhilaration; but it was also tinged with the blood of unimaginable suffering along the length and breadth of our country. The ideals and convictions, that had held through the travails of an epic struggle against British rule, were under strain.

3.A great generation of supreme heroes faced this formidable challenge. The sagacity and maturity of that generation saved our ideals from deviation or degeneration under the pressure of emotion, including rage. India’s pride, self-esteem and self-respect, born from a civilizational wisdom which inspired the renaissance that won us freedom, was distilled into the principles of our constitution by these extraordinary men and women. We have been blessed by a constitution that launched India’s march towards greatness.

4.The most precious gift of this document was democracy, which reshaped our ancient values into a modern context and institutionalized multiple freedoms. It turned liberty into a living opportunity for the oppressed and impoverished, offered equality and positive discrimination to the many millions, who had suffered social injustice, and instituted a gender revolution that has made our country an example of progress. We abolished archaic customs and laws, and ensured change for women through education and jobs. Our institutions are the infrastructure of this idealism.

Fellow citizens:

5.The finest inheritance needs constant care for preservation. Our institutions of democracy are under stress. The Parliament has been converted into an arena of combat rather than debate. It is time to recall what Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution, said while making his closing speech in the Constituent Assembly in November 1949 and I quote:

“The working of a constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the constitution. The constitution can provide only the organs of state, such as the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The factors on which the working of those organs of the state depends are the people and the political parties they will set up as their instruments to carry out their wishes and their politics. Who can say how the people of India and their parties will behave?” (unquote)

If the institutions of democracy are under pressure, it is time for serious thinking by the people and their parties. The correctives must come from within.
Fellow citizens:

6.Our country’s rise will be measured by the strength of our values, but it will equally be determined by economic growth and equitable distribution of the nation’s resources. Our economy promises much hope for the future. The new chapters of the ‘India Story’ are waiting to be written. ‘Economic reforms’ is a work-in-progress. Our performance over the last decade has been commendable; and it is most heartening that after a dip, we have recovered to 7.3% growth in 2014-15. But the benefits of growth must reach the poorest of the poor much before they land in the bank accounts of the richest of the rich. We are an inclusive democracy, and an inclusive economy; there is place for everyone in the hierarchy of wealth. But the first call goes to those who suffer on the brink of deprivation. Our policies must be geared to meet the ‘Zero Hunger’ challenge in a foreseeable future.

Fellow citizens:

7.The symbiotic relationship between man and nature has to be preserved. A generous nature when violated can turn into a destructive force leading to calamities resulting in huge loss of life and property. Even as I speak, large parts of the nation are barely recovering from floods. We need immediate relief for the afflicted as well as long-term solutions for the management of both, water deficiency and excess.

Fellow citizens:

8.A nation which forgets the idealism of its past loses something vital from its future. Our educational institutions multiply as the aspirations of generations continue to exceed supply. But what has happened to quality, from base to apex? We recall theguru-shishya parampara with legitimate pride; why then have we abandoned the care, devotion and commitment that is at the heart of this relationship?Agurumuch like the soft and skilful hands of a potter, moulds the destiny ofshishya. The student with devotion and humility acknowledges the debt of the teacher. Society respects and recognizes the merit and scholarship of the teacher. Is that happening in our education system today? Students, teachers and authorities must pause and introspect.

Fellow citizens:

9.Our democracy is creative because it is plural, but diversity must be nourished with tolerance and patience. Vested interests chip away at social harmony, in an attempt to erode many centuries of secularism. In an age of instant communication through ever-improving technology, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the devious designs of a few never overcome the essential oneness of our people. For both government and people the rule of law is sacrosanct, but society is also protected by something greater than law: humanity. Mahatma Gandhi said and I quote: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty” (unquote).

Friends:

10.Peace, friendship and cooperation bind nations and peoples together. Recognizing the shared destiny of the Indian sub-continent, we must strengthen connectivity, expand institutional capacity and enhance mutual trust to further regional cooperation. As we make progress in advancing our interests globally, India is also engaged in pro-actively promoting goodwill and prosperity in our immediate neighbourhood. It is heartening that the long pending land boundary issue with Bangladesh has been finally resolved.
Fellow citizens:

11.While we offer our hand willingly in friendship, we cannot stay blind to deliberate acts of provocation and a deteriorating security environment. India is a target of vicious terrorist groups operating from across the borders. Except the language of violence and the cult of evil, these terrorists have no religion and adhere to no ideology. Our neighbours must ensure that their territoryis not used by forces inimical to India. Our policy will remain one of zero tolerance for terrorism. We reject any attempt to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Infiltration into our territory and attempts to create mayhem will be dealt with a strong hand.

12.I pay homage to the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives defending India. I salute the courage and heroism of our security forces who are maintaining an eternal vigil to safeguard the territorial integrity of our country and the safety of our people. I also specially commend the brave civilians who boldly detained a hardened terrorist ignoring the risk to their own lives.
Fellow citizens:

13.India is a complex country of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions. Its strength lies in its unique capacity to blend apparent contradictions into positive affirmations. In the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, it is a country held together and I quote: “by strong but invisible threads….. About her there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive” (unquote).

14.On the fertile ground laid by our Constitution, India has blossomed into a vibrant democracy. The roots are deep but the leaves are beginning to wilt. It is time for renewal.
15.If we do not act now, will our successors seven decades hence remember us with the respect and admiration we have for those who shaped the Indian dream in 1947? The answer may not be comfortable, but the question has to be asked.

Thank you.

Jai Hind!

Sartaj Aziz ‘confirms’ NSA-level talks, India says it’s yet to receive official note from Pak

New Delhi: National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan will meet in New Delhi on 23 August to discuss all issues connected to terrorism for the first time, according to Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaz Aziz. Islamabad described this as an “ice-breaking” move.

Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz. AFP

Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz. AFP

The confirmation for the talks by Pakistan comes amid simmering tensions following terror attacks in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir and incidents of ceasefire violations resulting in causalities, prompting strong diplomatic protests from both sides.

“Yes, I can confirm it that I will be going to India on (August) 23rd for talks,” Aziz told reporters in Islamabad.

The announcement on Thursday by Aziz came after considerable dilly-dallying by Pakistan, generating speculation that the army was against it as it was unhappy over non-inclusion of Kashmir in the statement which was issued after the meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in Ufa.

On the other hand, India said it was yet to get a “confirmation” from Islamabad on the NSA-level talks, hours within Aziz announced that he will travel to New Delhi on 23 August to hold the dialogue.

“On NSA talks, we have no confirmation (from Pakistan),” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup told reporters. He was asked to comment on Aziz’s announcement in Islamabad to visit India for the talks.

According to the Ufa statement, the two sides agreed on a “meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism”.

After the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif last month, India had proposed 23-24 August for the meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Aziz in New Delhi.

“Our Prime Minister has always believed in dialogue. It was India which suspended the meeting which was scheduled between the two Foreign Secretaries on August 25 last year. And then at India’s request the two Prime Minister’s met in Ufa, Russia, on 10th July and they agreed that the two NSAs will meet in Delhi,” Aziz said.

“It (upcoming meeting) is not a breakthrough in terms of composite dialogue on all issues. But at least it is ice-breaking on some issues. And let us hope that it would lead to further more comprehensive dialogue on all the issues between the two countries. So we do believe in dialogue to resolve the issues,” he added.

Officials said the decision for the Aziz-Doval meeting was taken after the final nod by Sharif, who returned last night from his three-day visit to Belarus.

Last week, Aziz had said that Pakistan is preparing the agenda for talks.

He had said Pakistan wants a constructive, sustained, unconditional and result-oriented dialogue with India on all issues of mutual concern including the core issue of Kashmir.

A Pakistani Foreign Office official had said Pakistan is aware of India’s agenda to highlight the issue of terrorism and planning is being done to counter it.

With India suffering two terror attacks in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir in the recent past, Doval is expected to make India’s case forcefully in the talks over the issue, including the alleged involvement of Pakistani nationals in these attacks and the bail to 26/11 accused Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

India has said they have arrested a Pakistani national for carrying out an attack on Indian forces in Kashmir though Islamabad has denied that the attacks were perpetrated by terrorists who had infiltrated from its territory.

There have also been 19 ceasefire violations along the Indo-Pak border in July in which four persons, including three Indian soldiers, were killed. Pakistani troops had targeted forward Indian posts along the LoC on multiple occasions in August also.

Earlier, the two countries had exchanged a war of words over a “spy” drone which Pakistan alleged was being used by India for aerial photography near the Line of Control (LoC), a claim dismissed by New Delhi.

PTI

‘I’m the unfortunate father’: Pakistani man says Udhampur terrorist Naved’s his son

In a development which may leave Islamabad red-faced, a Pakistan-based man on Thursday identified himself as the father of Mohammad Naved, the only terrorist captured alive after the Udhampur terror attack.

Mohammad Naved. PTI

Mohammad Naved. PTI

When Hindustan Times contacted a man called Mohammad Yakub using a phone number disclosed to interrogators by Naved, he said, “You are calling from India. We’ll be killed. I am the unfortunate father.”

Mohammad Yakub, in his conversation with Hindustan Times, also said that the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) wanted him and Naved dead. “I’ll be killed. The Lashkar is after us and the fauj is after us…. They probably wanted him dead and not caught alive. Please spare him,” the Hindustan Times quoted Yakub as saying.

The report added that the call to Yakub was made at 1.22 pm and lasted for a minute and 20 seconds.

CNN-IBN also reportedly contacted Yakub. “We are troubled by the developments,” CNN-IBN quoted Yakub as saying and reported that he told them not to call him up again.

Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan had rejected India’s assertion that Naved was of Pakistani-origin and asked India to refrain from making “accusations”.

“We have also seen media reports and I will not offer any comment on that issue. We expect the Indian authorities to share information with us on the claims that are being made in the media,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Syed Qazi Khalilullah had said on the arrest of the terrorist in India.

“We have said many a times that making immediate accusations on Pakistan is not correct. These things should be based on facts. We expect that whenever Pakistan is being accused of something, it will be accompanied with correct evidence,” he had said.

Khalilullah had said that the Indian claim was baseless. “We have repeatedly asked India to refrain from accusations.”

Separately, a Pakistan government source had been quoted by the Express Tribune as saying, “National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) record shows Indian claims of an arrested person, Usman Khan (Mohammed Naved Yakub), originating from Pakistan are totally baseless.”

In yet another terror attack suspected to be originating from Pakistan, two BSF constables were killed on the crucial Jammu-Srinagar highway on Wednesday, but one of the two LeT terrorists involved was captured alive like Ajmal Kasab in the 2008 Mumbai terror strike.

(With inputs from PTI)

Is it worth spending another Rs 50 crore on Kasab-2? He isn’t the crown jewels

The capture of Mohammed Naved, alias Qasim Khan, alias whatever, will do nothing to make the Pakistani Deep State – the army, the ISI and their jihadi pals – change its attitude of unremitting hostility to India. It may embarrass the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif for a moment, but not Naved’s prime sponsors.

However, the live capture of a jihadi bhaijaan, while changing nothing on the ground, brings costs and benefits to India. The costs may ultimately outweigh the benefits.

PTIPTI

PTI

Let’s look at the intangible benefits first. He could provide important ammo for India to brandish before world opinion. With sufficient questioning, he can give us important information on the terror training camps, methods of operation, the thinking that led to his injection into India, what he and his comrade/s did to create mayhem before he was caught, etc. All useful material for us to tell the world about.

It’s not that the world is unaware of Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism against India, but it simply does not have the patience or stamina to engage with the reality in south Asia. The world is more concerned with ISIS and the rump al-Qaeda, two major Islamic terror groups in Africa (Boko Haram, Al Shabaab) and the jihadis sprouting in their own backyards (Chattanooga, London, Paris). They don’t have the energy to deal with the terror groups that affect India. They would prefer to believe that India-Pakistan tensions have only to do with Kashmir. The world will keep asking us to talk to Pakistan (which we should anyway, at low levels) and “sort out” our problems.

Naved’s capture will help us combat this subtle pressure for a while. But the Pakistani attacks will continue, as jihad is business-as-usual for our western enemy. Beyond embarrassment, Naved will not do much for us.

Now, let’s consider the costs of holding Naved captive. Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar, writing in The Times of India, said that we should get more of the terrorists alive, as “dead men tell no tales,” but dangerous men who live too long in the comfort of padded cells may bring hidden costs, unknown dangers. For example: What if freeing Kasab-2 – assuming he has valuable information – becomes a reason for another terrorist attempt to free him?

On the other hand, what if Naved does not bring anything more than what we already know, or what we could have surmised? Lower-level indoctrinated killers do not often have the kind of serious information that we don’t already have. Naved claimed he came here to kill Hindus and had “fun” doing this (his mission was to keep killing, “Bas maarna hi maarna thaa”). We can surely get information about how he was brainwashed, how many people came with him and what they intended to do, the routes they took, their hideouts, what kind of weapons he had learnt to use, etc. This information can be extracted in a couple of months by expert interrogators. His replies can also be videographed and made available to experts to analyse and study.

The point to consider is whether a captured terrorist is worth keeping in our jails endlessly once useful information is extracted from him. Let’s be clear, terrorists come here in pursuit of after-life benefits, not to remain comfortably alive in our jails. And trying to keep them alive at huge cost and effort may not be worth the effort.

I am not talking about an extra-judicial execution, but about understanding the true costs of protecting someone who came here to die. The effort should be to complete his prosecution and judicial process in a matter of months, and not years. With a new law, if need be.

Consider the case of Ajmal Kasab, who came to kill in November 2008, got caught, and then spent four years in jail before being executed. The cost of keeping him alive is estimated at upwards of Rs 50 crore. We spent that kind of money in order to hang him finally. Should Kasab-2 be treated the same way, especially when the death penalty debate is hotting up here and there is a good chance we may end up holding him permanently?

According to a Times of India report of 2012, the government spent Rs 43 crore to provide Kasab special security at his Arthur Road jail in Mumbai (including expenses on judicial officers, the public prosecutor, special security for judges and lawyers, etc. Another Rs 8 crore was spent on building a special cell for him, not to speak of Rs 1.5 crore spent to create a special ward in a Mumbai hospital when he needed treatment (this investment was wasted, as he was finally treated in his own cell). Rs 1 crore was additionally spent on other infrastructure and vehicles.

In other words, India spent over Rs 3 lakh per day to keep Kasab alive, and to ensure he is not bombed by his colleagues, or enabled to take his own life.

Do we want this with Kasab-2? I am not suggesting anything sinister. I am merely saying that once all useful information has been extracted, we should quietly stop spending oodles on cash to give him extra protection, including protection against himself, if he turns suicidal. All he needs is a safe cell and solitary confinement, where he will have no ability to influence anybody and where he can do what he wants to himself. A permanent video in his cell can be used to track what he does, and for proof that he wasn’t bumped off by the jail staff.

It may not be worth spending another Rs 50- crore on Kasab-2. After the useful info is obtained, Naved should be left to his own devices like a normal prisoner, but confined to a lonely cell where he can’t attempt to indoctrinate others or do other kinds of harm. He may not be worth gouging the taxayer for. The Naveds come cheap to Pakistan, but are expensive for India to mollycoddle.

Term ‘Hindu terrorism’ coined by UPA has weakened India’s stand: Rajnath

New Delhi: Government on Friday hit out at Congress, saying the term “Hindu terrorism” coined by its previous government had “weakened” the fight against the scourge by diverting the direction of probe into the incidents of terrorism.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who made a statement on Gurdaspur attack in Lok Sabha a day after his speech on the issue was disrupted in Rajya Sabha, attacked the opposition for making it appear that Parliament is divided on terrorism.

Rajnath Singh. PTIRajnath Singh. PTI

Rajnath Singh. PTI

After making the statement, he raked up a host of issues, including Sharm-el Sheikh fiasco and statements at Havana NAM Summit besides the 1962 war with China, to underline Congress’ alleged failures, adding fuel to fire in the protests.

Singh’s statement on the Gurdaspur attack was heard in rapt attention with Congress members suspending their protests and returning to their seats from the Well after the Leader of the party Mallikarjun Kharge asked him to do so.

But as soon as he concluded his statement, Congress members again stormed the Well and it was a scene of protests and disruptions in the House as seen from day one of the Monsoon session over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.

This prompted Singh to attack the Congress. “Terrorism is the biggest challenge facing the country. Neither Parliament nor the country should appear divided on this… On the one hand, our jawans making the supreme sacrifice while fighting against terror, on the other we have this noise and disruption. How can the country accept this,” he said.

Expressing readiness to answer any question on the issue if proper notice is given for a discussion, he said, “Our government and the Prime Minister are constantly making efforts to deal with the challenge.”

As the protests intensified, he hit back, “In this House in 2013, the then Home Minister (P Chidambaram) had coined the new terminology ‘Hindu terrorism’ in order to change the direction of probe. It weakened our fight. As a consequence, Hafiz Sayeed (LeT founder) of Pakistan had congratulated the then Home Minister. Our government will never allow such a shameful situation again.”

Livid Congress members wanted to react but were not allowed by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, prompting angry protests by the opposition lawmakers, many of whom were seen waving the rule book to make their point.

“This is very unfortunate. You are losing our respect,” Kharge was heard remarking amid the din. Opposiiton members crowded around her table to draw her attention that she should allow Kharge to speak but in vain.

PTI

Yakub Memon hanged: Why India still needs capital punishment

The hanging of Yakub Memon gives us a good reason to start the debate over the death penalty. I would like to make out a case in favour of retaining the death penalty.

The main arguments trotted out in favour of the abolition of capital punishment are these. First, we should not be party to taking precious human life. Second, sentencing someone to death when facts may later prove him or her innocent means irreparable injustice will be done. Third, death is never a deterrent. And, a fourth, that retribution should never be the aim of capital punishment. It is primitive and barbaric to seek death even for the worst crimes.

Yakub Memon. PTI

Yakub Memon. PTI

Let me agree that none of these arguments are invalid in toto. But they are not as strong as they appear to be at first glance.

Let’s take the first argument. Every human life is precious, no doubt. The right to life is the most fundamental of rights. No state should be allowed to take it away easily.

But no fundamental right is without riders either. Free speech, property and faith, all these are rights subject to reasonable restrictions. Sure, the right to life is even more fundamental, but this only means that the right to take it away has to be foolproof and not amenable to subjective readings.

When someone is a terrorist, killing people at will, or a serial murderer or rapist, is this person’s right to life all that sacrosanct all the time?

Also, we need to evaluate the death sentence compared to the alternative: a life sentence. Is living life in a dingy cell somehow more humane than sending the killer to the hangman? When suicide bombers voluntarily kill themselves for psychic gains, why is the right to life somehow so sacrosanct? They want to die anyway – and they don’t believe in other people’s right to live.

Let me add two more elements to this argument. Why is only human life so valuable, and not that of animals or other fauna? Why is it so unethical to hang a human being, but perfectly all right to murder animals by the million when this causes global warming, makes our diets excessively fatty and cholesterol-laden, and also leads to needless suffering to creatures whom we dominate?

Moreover, what if keeping a person alive can cause even more deaths? Keeping Maqbool Butt alive led Kashmiri separatists to the kidnap and murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham in the early 1980s. Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Indian Mujahideen, Al Shabaab, and ISIS will do anything to get the release of their jailed comrades. Keeping Maulana Masood Azhar and Sheikh Omar in jail caused the Kandahar Indian Airlines hijack and may even have contributed to the 9/11 mass murders at the Twin Towers. When keeping deadly killers alive in jail can tempt their compatriots to indulge in more killings, how is this justified?

When it comes to demented people who kill or rape for pleasure and revenge, and when they do so out of mental sickness, is it better to keep them rotting in jail or end their suffering and potential threats to society – including other jailbirds?

Sometimes, the greater good is more important than the life of one individual. Hence the death penalty is not something we should reject out of sheer emotion.

Let’s take the next argument – that sending someone to the gallows when he may be innocent is the worst form of injustice. This is a reasonably good argument, but we need to examine it closely for its implications.

There are two kinds of states – malevolent ones, that are run by dictatorships and hence outside the rule of law, and democratic ones, which do give the accused a chance to prove their innocence. In the first case, there is no point arguing against the death sentence since that kind of regime is against any argument that is not in favour of it.

In democratic regimes, where the rule of law is reasonably expected to operate, the accused have a chance to prove their innocence. Let’s remember, Yakub Memon got 21 years to prove his innocence, and failed. However, the real issue here is whether he (and others on death row) got reasonable support from the law so that they don’t end up on the gallows for want of an adequate defence. In big cases, the courts themselves provide legal support; the real problem lies with the poor and weak in criminal cases that do not catch the public eye. It is a travesty that the bulk of the people languishing on death row are from these segments of society. This problem needs remedying by strengthening the law – a law which provides state legal support for the poor. Maybe, a group of concerned citizens can serve as watchdog to ensure that this gets done.

That still leaves the question of the non-guilty facing a death rap because of poor evidence gathering by the criminal investigation teams.

This is a valid argument, but not an overpowering one. Reason: the fact that mistakes will be made occasionally should not be used to kill the idea of death penalty in the rarest of rare cases. Once we create a basic list of crimes that fits this “rarest of rare” category, the rules for applying the death sentence can be tightened suitably so that convictions based on weak evidence should automatically attract nothing more than lifers. This is a reasonable safeguard to have – and it can be codified into law.

The third argument, that capital punishment is never a deterrent, is actually the weakest of them all. If death is no deterrence, is a jail term (even a lifer) a better deterrent? Ask yourself: if you intend to kill, not out of some degree of temporary insanity or driven by extreme emotion, nothing is a deterrent. If you kill after plotting assiduously for it, you are prepared for any consequences. So death or jail will be no deterrent anyway. I believe that punishment itself does not deter too many crimes involving the killing of people, but it is still needed to send out a message to society. Punishment is how we educate ourselves on what is acceptable or unacceptable to a society. This is the prime purpose of any punishment, death or jail, regardless of whether it deters or not.

The last argument, that death penalty cannot become a form of retribution, I personally disagree with. States punish crimes with punishment, including death, so that people don’t take law into their own hands and seek retribution directly. Punishment by the state is vital to keep ordinary citizens from taking the law into their own hands – some form of retribution is vital for closure, for righting wrongs. Of course, an occasional Gandhi or a Buddha may not want retribution, but most societies are held in place by the promise of retribution for wrongs inflicted, and not by the forgiving nature of the wronged. Retribution is a human emotion that needs to be acknowledged – just as love, anger and hate are – and punishment is vital if society is not to sink into wanton lawlessness.

These are some of the reasons why I think the death sentence should be retained. But it cannot be wayward and arbitrary. We need a specific set of crimes which are defined as rarest of rare and not leave it to the imagination of all-to-human judges to decide this. This is what the debate on capital punishment needs to focus on, not whether it should be abolished.

It may be possible to abolish death penalties in extremely advanced countries where people are normally law abiding and the state is strong enough and has enough resources to even attempt to correct the behaviour patterns of deadly criminals. But India is not anywhere near that stage. We need the death penalty for our own reasons at this stage in our development as a civilised society. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we must do what the Joneses do to their killers in Scandinavia or Europe. That way lies chaos and disaster.

Yakub Memon hanged: Here’s why India needs death penalty

The hanging of Yakub Memon gives us a good reason to start the debate over the death penalty. I would like to make out a case in favour of retaining the death penalty.

The main arguments trotted out in favour of the abolition of capital punishment are these. First, we should not be party to taking precious human life. Second, sentencing someone to death when facts may later prove him or her innocent means irreparable injustice will be done. Third, death is never a deterrent. And, a fourth, that retribution should never be the aim of capital punishment. It is primitive and barbaric to seek death even for the worst crimes.

Yakub Memon. PTI

Yakub Memon. PTI

Let me agree that none of these arguments are invalid in toto. But they are not as strong as they appear to be at first glance.

Let’s take the first argument. Every human life is precious, no doubt. The right to life is the most fundamental of rights. No state should be allowed to take it away easily.

But no fundamental right is without riders either. Free speech, property and faith, all these are rights subject to reasonable restrictions. Sure, the right to life is even more fundamental, but this only means that the right to take it away has to be foolproof and not amenable to subjective readings.

When someone is a terrorist, killing people at will, or a serial murderer or rapist, is this person’s right to life all that sacrosanct all the time?

Also, we need to evaluate the death sentence compared to the alternative: a life sentence. Is living life in a dingy cell somehow more humane than sending the killer to the hangman? When suicide bombers voluntarily kill themselves for psychic gains, why is the right to life somehow so sacrosanct? They want to die anyway – and they don’t believe in other people’s right to live.

Let me add two more elements to this argument. Why is only human life so valuable, and not that of animals or other fauna? Why is it so unethical to hang a human being, but perfectly all right to murder animals by the million when this causes global warming, makes our diets excessively fatty and cholesterol-laden, and also leads to needless suffering to creatures whom we dominate?

Moreover, what if keeping a person alive can cause even more deaths? Keeping Maqbool Butt alive led Kashmiri separatists to the kidnap and murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham in the early 1980s. Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Indian Mujahideen, Al Shabaab, and ISIS will do anything to get the release of their jailed comrades. Keeping Maulana Masood Azhar and Sheikh Omar in jail caused the Kandahar Indian Airlines hijack and may even have contributed to the 9/11 mass murders at the Twin Towers. When keeping deadly killers alive in jail can tempt their compatriots to indulge in more killings, how is this justified?

When it comes to demented people who kill or rape for pleasure and revenge, and when they do so out of mental sickness, is it better to keep them rotting in jail or end their suffering and potential threats to society – including other jailbirds?

Sometimes, the greater good is more important than the life of one individual. Hence the death penalty is not something we should reject out of sheer emotion.

Let’s take the next argument – that sending someone to the gallows when he may be innocent is the worst form of injustice. This is a reasonably good argument, but we need to examine it closely for its implications.

There are two kinds of states – malevolent ones, that are run by dictatorships and hence outside the rule of law, and democratic ones, which do give the accused a chance to prove their innocence. In the first case, there is no point arguing against the death sentence since that kind of regime is against any argument that is not in favour of it.

In democratic regimes, where the rule of law is reasonably expected to operate, the accused have a chance to prove their innocence. Let’s remember, Yakub Memon got 21 years to prove his innocence, and failed. However, the real issue here is whether he (and others on death row) got reasonable support from the law so that they don’t end up on the gallows for want of an adequate defence. In big cases, the courts themselves provide legal support; the real problem lies with the poor and weak in criminal cases that do not catch the public eye. It is a travesty that the bulk of the people languishing on death row are from these segments of society. This problem needs remedying by strengthening the law – a law which provides state legal support for the poor. Maybe, a group of concerned citizens can serve as watchdog to ensure that this gets done.

That still leaves the question of the non-guilty facing a death rap because of poor evidence gathering by the criminal investigation teams.

This is a valid argument, but not an overpowering one. Reason: the fact that mistakes will be made occasionally should not be used to kill the idea of death penalty in the rarest of rare cases. Once we create a basic list of crimes that fits this “rarest of rare” category, the rules for applying the death sentence can be tightened suitably so that convictions based on weak evidence should automatically attract nothing more than lifers. This is a reasonable safeguard to have – and it can be codified into law.

The third argument, that capital punishment is never a deterrent, is actually the weakest of them all. If death is no deterrence, is a jail term (even a lifer) a better deterrent? Ask yourself: if you intend to kill, not out of some degree of temporary insanity or driven by extreme emotion, nothing is a deterrent. If you kill after plotting assiduously for it, you are prepared for any consequences. So death or jail will be no deterrent anyway. I believe that punishment itself does not deter too many crimes involving the killing of people, but it is still needed to send out a message to society. Punishment is how we educate ourselves on what is acceptable or unacceptable to a society. This is the prime purpose of any punishment, death or jail, regardless of whether it deters or not.

The last argument, that death penalty cannot become a form of retribution, I personally disagree with. States punish crimes with punishment, including death, so that people don’t take law into their own hands and seek retribution directly. Punishment by the state is vital to keep ordinary citizens from taking the law into their own hands – some form of retribution is vital for closure, for righting wrongs. Of course, an occasional Gandhi or a Buddha may not want retribution, but most societies are held in place by the promise of retribution for wrongs inflicted, and not by the forgiving nature of the wronged. Retribution is a human emotion that needs to be acknowledged – just as love, anger and hate are – and punishment is vital if society is not to sink into wanton lawlessness.

These are some of the reasons why I think the death sentence should be retained. But it cannot be wayward and arbitrary. We need a specific set of crimes which are defined as rarest of rare and not leave it to the imagination of all-to-human judges to decide this. This is what the debate on capital punishment needs to focus on, not whether it should be abolished.

It may be possible to abolish death penalties in extremely advanced countries where people are normally law abiding and the state is strong enough and has enough resources to even attempt to correct the behaviour patterns of deadly criminals. But India is not anywhere near that stage. We need the death penalty for our own reasons at this stage in our development as a civilised society. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we must do what the Joneses do to their killers in Scandinavia or Europe. That way lies chaos and disaster.

Yakub Memon got a chance to express his views in all forums: Rajnath Singh

New Delhi: Yakub Memon, the Mumbai blasts convict who was hanged on Thursday, got every opportunity to express his point of view in different forums, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said and asked people to be united on issues like terrorism.

“We must take terrorism as a challenge and should not project ourselves as divided so that we can succeed in defeating it,” he told reporters here.

Yakub Menon. IBNLiveYakub Menon. IBNLive

Yakub Menon. IBNLive

Singh said it was for the first time in world’s history that the highest court of the country heard someone’s plea for mercy at such an hour in the morning.

“I think no other system can be as transparent as ours. A person who wants justice should be given chance in all forums and Yakub got the opportunity to keep his view point on all forums,” he said.

The Home Minister said many people have lost their loved ones in 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai but the matter was looked into in details and after that this judgement came.

“So we must stay united in dealing with terror-related issues,” he said.

Memon, the lone 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court, was hanged to death today, capping dramatic last-ditch legal manoeuvres by his lawyers to stall his execution that ended in failure.

PTI

Pointing fingers without probe not a healthy trend: Pak on India’s assertion on Gurdaspur terrorists

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday dismissed India’s assertion that the terrorists who had carried out attacks in Gurdaspur had infiltrated from there, saying pointing fingers without investigation is “not a healthy trend”.

Pakistan dismissed India's assertions on the Gurdaspur terror attack. PTI

Pakistan dismissed India’s assertions on the Gurdaspur terror attack. PTI

“We had issued condemnation in strongest terms the terrorist attack on Gurdaspur. We have condemned in strongest terms that is self explanatory,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah told reporters in Islamabad.

“Pointing fingers without investigation is not a healthy trend,” he said.

On 27 July, three fidayeen, believed to be members of the LeT, attacked passengers in a bus and stormed a police station in Gurdaspur, killing seven persons, including an SP, before being killed by security forces after a day-long operation.

Describing Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, Khalilullah said it is “unfortunate that Indian media started blaming Pakistan while the operation against the attackers were still going on.”

His comments came hours after Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday made a statement in Rajya Sabha linking Gurdaspur attack to Pakistan, saying three terrorists had infiltrated from there to carry out the strike.

Giving details of the attack, Singh said, “preliminary analyses of GPS data indicates that the terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan through the area near Tash in Gurdaspur district, where the Ravi river enters Pakistan.”

When asked had New Delhi made an effort to inform Pakistan to clear its position on the attack in Gurdaspur, Khalilullah said, “We have affirmed many times that terrorism is our common enemy and it requires cooperative approach to combat the menace rather than the blame game.”

PTI

After Yakub Memon’s hanging, here’s the case for retaining capital punishment

The hanging of Yakub Memon gives us a good reason to start the debate over the death penalty. I would like to make out a case in favour of retaining the death penalty.

The main arguments trotted out in favour of the abolition of capital punishment are these. First, we should not be party to taking precious human life. Second, sentencing someone to death when facts may later prove him or her innocent means irreparable injustice will be done. Third, death is never a deterrent. And, a fourth, that retribution should never be the aim of capital punishment. It is primitive and barbaric to seek death even for the worst crimes.

Yakub Memon. PTI

Yakub Memon. PTI

Let me agree that none of these arguments are invalid in toto. But they are not as strong as they appear to be at first glance.

Let’s take the first argument. Every human life is precious, no doubt. The right to life is the most fundamental of rights. No state should be allowed to take it away easily.

But no fundamental right is without riders either. Free speech, property and faith, all these are rights subject to reasonable restrictions. Sure, the right to life is even more fundamental, but this only means that the right to take it away has to be foolproof and not amenable to subjective readings.

When someone is a terrorist, killing people at will, or a serial murderer or rapist, is this person’s right to life all that sacrosanct all the time?

Also, we need to evaluate the death sentence compared to the alternative: a life sentence. Is living life in a dingy cell somehow more humane than sending the killer to the hangman? When suicide bombers voluntarily kill themselves for psychic gains, why is the right to life somehow so sacrosanct? They want to die anyway – and they don’t believe in other people’s right to live.

Let me add two more elements to this argument. Why is only human life so valuable, and not that of animals or other fauna? Why is it so unethical to hang a human being, but perfectly all right to murder animals by the million when this causes global warming, makes our diets excessively fatty and cholesterol-laden, and also leads to needless suffering to creatures whom we dominate?

Moreover, what if keeping a person alive can cause even more deaths? Keeping Maqbool Butt alive led Kashmiri separatists to the kidnap and murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham in the early 1980s. Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Indian Mujahideen, Al Shabaab, and ISIS will do anything to get the release of their jailed comrades. Keeping Maulana Masood Azhar and Sheikh Omar in jail caused the Kandahar Indian Airlines hijack and may even have contributed to the 9/11 mass murders at the Twin Towers. When keeping deadly killers alive in jail can tempt their compatriots to indulge in more killings, how is this justified?

When it comes to demented people who kill or rape for pleasure and revenge, and when they do so out of mental sickness, is it better to keep them rotting in jail or end their suffering and potential threats to society – including other jailbirds?

Sometimes, the greater good is more important than the life of one individual. Hence the death penalty is not something we should reject out of sheer emotion.

Let’s take the next argument – that sending someone to the gallows when he may be innocent is the worst form of injustice. This is a reasonably good argument, but we need to examine it closely for its implications.

There are two kinds of states – malevolent ones, that are run by dictatorships and hence outside the rule of law, and democratic ones, which do give the accused a chance to prove their innocence. In the first case, there is no point arguing against the death sentence since that kind of regime is against any argument that is not in favour of it.

In democratic regimes, where the rule of law is reasonably expected to operate, the accused have a chance to prove their innocence. Let’s remember, Yakub Memon got 21 years to prove his innocence, and failed. However, the real issue here is whether he (and others on death row) got reasonable support from the law so that they don’t end up on the gallows for want of an adequate defence. In big cases, the courts themselves provide legal support; the real problem lies with the poor and weak in criminal cases that do not catch the public eye. It is a travesty that the bulk of the people languishing on death row are from these segments of society. This problem needs remedying by strengthening the law – a law which provides state legal support for the poor. Maybe, a group of concerned citizens can serve as watchdog to ensure that this gets done.

That still leaves the question of the non-guilty facing a death rap because of poor evidence gathering by the criminal investigation teams.

This is a valid argument, but not an overpowering one. Reason: the fact that mistakes will be made occasionally should not be used to kill the idea of death penalty in the rarest of rare cases. Once we create a basic list of crimes that fits this “rarest of rare” category, the rules for applying the death sentence can be tightened suitably so that convictions based on weak evidence should automatically attract nothing more than lifers. This is a reasonable safeguard to have – and it can be codified into law.

The third argument, that capital punishment is never a deterrent, is actually the weakest of them all. If death is no deterrence, is a jail term (even a lifer) a better deterrent? Ask yourself: if you intend to kill, not out of some degree of temporary insanity or driven by extreme emotion, nothing is a deterrent. If you kill after plotting assiduously for it, you are prepared for any consequences. So death or jail will be no deterrent anyway. I believe that punishment itself does not deter too many crimes involving the killing of people, but it is still needed to send out a message to society. Punishment is how we educate ourselves on what is acceptable or unacceptable to a society. This is the prime purpose of any punishment, death or jail, regardless of whether it deters or not.

The last argument, that death penalty cannot become a form of retribution, I personally disagree with. States punish crimes with punishment, including death, so that people don’t take law into their own hands and seek retribution directly. Punishment by the state is vital to keep ordinary citizens from taking the law into their own hands – some form of retribution is vital for closure, for righting wrongs. Of course, an occasional Gandhi or a Buddha may not want retribution, but most societies are held in place by the promise of retribution for wrongs inflicted, and not by the forgiving nature of the wronged. Retribution is a human emotion that needs to be acknowledged – just as love, anger and hate are – and punishment is vital if society is not to sink into wanton lawlessness.

These are some of the reasons why I think the death sentence should be retained. But it cannot be wayward and arbitrary. We need a specific set of crimes which are defined as rarest of rare and not leave it to the imagination of all-to-human judges to decide this. This is what the debate on capital punishment needs to focus on, not whether it should be abolished.

It may be possible to abolish death penalties in extremely advanced countries where people are normally law abiding and the state is strong enough and has enough resources to even attempt to correct the behaviour patterns of deadly criminals. But India is not anywhere near that stage. We need the death penalty for our own reasons at this stage in our development as a civilised society. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we must do what the Joneses do to their killers in Scandinavia or Europe. That way lies chaos and disaster.

Gurdaspur aftermath: Prevention of an LeT resurgence now depends on Modi govt’s actions

While there has been no claim so far by any major terrorist outfit for the 27 July terror attack in Gurdaspur, there are clear signs which substantially point towards a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) hand. There are striking resemblances between the Gurdaspur attack and the terror attacks in March on police stations and security camps in Samba and adjoining area of Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir which are located close to Gurdaspur.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Also, the equipment recovered and the manner in which the terrorists concealed their identity strongly suggests that they indeed belonged to the LeT.

Like in the case of Samba and Kathua attacks, perpetrators of the Gurdaspur attack too had come from Pakistan. This is no imagination as the GPS sets carried by the terrorists indicates that they presumably travelled from a safe house near Gharot, a village close to Shakargarh area in Pakistan.

This is further corroborated by the fact that India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) had issued a warning earlier of a group travelling from around Gharot area planning to infiltrate. However, no specifics regarding the target or the date of purported infiltration were available.

The GPS sets recovered from terrorists in the Gurdaspur attack also indicated that they got into Indian territory from Dhusi Bandh river embankment, planting bombs at the railway track and then proceeding to attack the police station.

The Gurdaspur attack is indicative of the LeT’s resurgence. The crucial question is how the now famous Modi-Doval doctrine is going to deal with this fountainhead of terror.

While the Gurdaspur attack may not be a fit case to be seen as revival of Sikh militancy in Punjab, a terrorist attack in the state after a long gap nevertheless does become a cause for worry. This is primarily due to the fact that Pakistan still very enthusiastically hosts a good number of pro-Khalistan elements.

There are inputs with Indian intelligence agencies that on the instructions of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) has been seriously carrying out recruitment drive in a big way as part of the “Khalistan by 2020 campaign”.

There have also been reliable inputs of regular meetings taking place between BKI and LeT in Lahore to coordinate a big attack in Punjab and New Delhi. Both these terror groups are in turn extended every possible assistance by ISI and given directions to carry out terror acts. This offer of guidance has throughout been seen in various attacks carried out by Pakistani terrorists in India, 26/11 being a glaring example.

Interrogation of Jagtar Singh Tara, chief of Khalistan Tiger Force revealed that LeT was extending all assistance, including training, to Khalistani elements based in Pakistan. Tara was arrested with the help of cooperation between Punjab police and Thailand police and extradited from Bangkok earlier this year.

During his interrogation, Tara also revealed that there were plans to offload ammunition from Pakistan through an individual of a Kashmiri group at an unspecified location on the banks of river Ravi near Gurdaspur.

Some intelligence inputs suggest that the original target of the terrorist was the Amarnath Yatra. It is not known what made the Gurdaspur attack perpetrators change their mind and focus on Gurdaspur instead. However, that surely does not mean that the terror threat over Amarnath Yatra has now disappeared.

Pakistan has been involved in the recent past in trying to spread violence within India while also simultaneously raising its voice in international forums alleging India’s role in the Peshawar massacre. Pakistan has also been instigating the separatist and extremist elements in the Kashmir valley against the security forces and the Indian government.

This not being enough, Pakistan has even been ridiculously accusing of India’s hand in Pakistan’s natural disasters. However, despite all these accusations, Pakistan has neither been able to malign India internationally nor has succeeded in enhancing its stature globally.

Pakistan, while being the perpetrator, has condemned the Gurdaspur attack. It will have to be seen what effect it will have on India’s response to Pakistan’s actions.

Indications emanating from credible sources in the Narendra Modi government are that New Delhi is not going to call off the National Security Advisor (NSA)-level talks with Pakistan and will go ahead with this major bilateral exercise next month.

In a way, this is already a major change of policy by the Modi government, while the BJP had always maintained that talks and terror cannot go together with Pakistan. When the two NSAs meet in New Delhi next month, it would indicate a major concession given by the Modi government to Pakistan.

One will have to wait and see whether the changed stance of the Modi government vis a vis Pakistan produces anything tangible. Given Pakistan’s penchant for using terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy, one is always in doubt as to how successful the NSA-level talks will be, even if held. Only time will tell.

High alert sounded along Indo-Nepal border after Gurdaspur terror attack

Pithoragarh: A high alert has been sounded at the border posts in Pithoragarh and Champawat districts, having a 241 km long border with Nepal, in the wake of a terror attack in Gurdaspur district of Punjab on Monday.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We have sounded an alert in the district and at all the border posts along the porous Indo-Nepal border, keeping in mind the possibility of terrorists sneaking in from Nepal border into Indian territory.

“We are coordinating with the SSB, ITBP, Army and local intelligence units in this connection and have instructed the special task operation force officers (SOTF), main force safeguarding the Indo-Nepal border,” Pithoragarh SP, Roshan Lal Sharma said.

The SP stated that the forces have also been asked to check the ID cards of Army personnels as the Gurdaspur incident involved terrorists camouflaged as army men.

“I reached the border post of Jhoolaghat after the news of the Punjab terror attack arrived. We are planning to organise a combing operation with SOTD, SSB Police and forest officers along with local villagers along the Indo-Nepal border tomorrow,” Sharma said.

Meanwhile, Champawat SP, DS Kunwar said that a strict vigil is being kept at the border post at Tanakpur and the immigration post at Banabasa.

“We have intensified our searches at railway stations, market places and border posts with Nepal in Banbasa and Tanakpur areas,” he said.

Three heavily-armed fidayeen in army fatigues, believed to have come from Pakistan, on Monday sprayed bullets on a moving bus and stormed a police station, killing eight persons, including an SP, while all the terrorists were gunned down in a day-long operation at Gurdaspur in Punjab.

PTI