Taliban furious, says we’ll punish WikiLeaks informers

Taliban furious, says we’ll punish WikiLeaks informers

The Taliban in Afghanistan has threatened to behead informers who have been revealed following the explosive disclosure by WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has put out over 90,000 uncensored intelligence documents, causing a security scare. Countries which have their forces fighting in Afghanistan are pouring related stories
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over the documents to see the extent of the damage.

The Taliban on Thursday night responded for the first time since the WikiLeaks expose of the names and locations of anti-Taliban informers, Daily Mail reported on Friday.

The terror group said, “We know how to punish them”, a reference to beheading that is a punishment for those whom they consider traitors.

The reaction came as officials in Britain said they were worried for those who had helped the British military in Afghanistan. British officials in Kabul on Thursday said the publication was “in the best case compromising informants and in the worst, putting their lives at risk”.

“We are still involved in assessment but it will certainly discourage individuals from being prepared to co-operate with us,” an official was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called the expose “extremely irresponsible and shocking”.

He said: “Their (NATO force soldiers) lives will be in danger now. This is a very serious issue.”

Colonel Richard Kemp, former head of British forces in Afghanistan, said: “This is potentially damaging to operational security. Publishing this information online increases the enormous dangers our soldiers face.

“There are few things more valuable to the enemy than gaining insight into our plans. The Taliban will be poring over every one of the leaked documents with a fine toothcomb.”

Her mother ill, Sonia flies to US with Rahul

Her mother ill, Sonia flies to US with Rahul

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has had to rush to the United States along with son Rahul Gandhi to attend to her ailing mother who is said to be undergoing a series of medical tests there.

This is the reason for her absence in Parliament as well as not being able to meet visiting UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Rahul Gandhi was also to be part of the meeting with Cameron. But these engagements had to be hurriedly cancelled.

While her absence has generated much speculation, sources said, the Gandhi family had to leave in a hurry and possibly left sometime during the last weekend. Priyanka Vadra is also said to have accompanied her mother and brother.

Sonia’s mother Paola Maino is in her 80s and her illness has apparently been complicated by age-related problems. Though she stays in the family home at Orbassano in Turin, she had, of late, been living for long periods in New Delhi.

Indian lecturer barred from teaching by students for refusing burka

Indian lecturer barred from teaching by students for refusing burka

Aliah University in Calcutta is the first Muslim university in India’s West Bengal state and has no formal dress code, but its student union has demanded that female teachers cover themselves with a Muslim veil in class.

Sirin Middya told the Indian Express she had refused to comply and had been prevented from teaching for three months.

Most of the teachers do not like the diktat of the students to wear the burka, but they have no option but to accept it,” she told the newspaper. “This is the Talibanisation of educational premises and there is no one to come to our rescue.”

Siamat Ali, secretary of West Bengal Madrasah Students’ Union, was unrepentant.

“There are eight women teachers at the university. It was decided through consultation that the women will observe purdah (wearing the veil), and most teachers agreed,” he said. “Only this lady has a problem.”

The university has played down the row, calling it a “stray incident”, while West Bengal’s minister for minority development has been informed and has yet to respond.

About 13 per cent of India’s population – or 150 million people -are Muslim, according to the country’s most recent census, in 2001.

Indian Muslims face widespread discrimination and often live in the most densely packed, poorest parts of inner cities.

The Author Behind Samalochaka Resigns

The Author Behind Samalochaka Resigns

Syndicated blogging is a strange thing. Like politics, it makes for strange bed-fellows, and further it turns old friends into ideological foes.

Who would have dreamt that after being invited to write in a blog (along with the companion blog – samAlochaka) this author would some day be shown the door. Well, almost the same has happened.

I, the resigning author, have developed so serious differences with the chief editor of this blog that I find it no longer tenable to continue contributing to this blog. I, for one, have always been candid, and it is this candor which seems to ruffle many a feather. We (I and the Editor) reached a point where either I have to tone down what I want to say or the Editor will delete whatever I wrote.

So, we decided to have a frank discussion. And it turns out that parting our blogging ways is the only solution. So here I am, informing you all, that I, until now known to you as samAlochaka, resign from this blog. I requested the Editor to retain this name which is my intellectual child, and he has kindly agreed. He has further promised that he will appoint a new author to write on behalf of the same author-name, and try to emulate the spirit as much as possible, and as much as allowed in the blog.

So from tomorrow, when you read samAlochaka, understand that you are reading a different author, although in the same name. It has been nice having your audience, and I thank you all for the attention you have given me.

I wish all of you and this blog, all the very best. And I request you all to expect, nay demand, from the new author, the same outspokenness that you have got used to.

VS stands by his statement on PFI

VS stands by his statement on PFI

Reiterating that radical outfit Popular Front of India was planning to Islamise Kerala, chief minister VS Achutanandan on Monday said his remarks were based on details reveled during investigation into the attack on college lecturer TJ Joseph.

The veteran CPM leader told the assembly attempts to misinterpret it as a remark targeting Muslims was meant to spread misunderstanding. “Only a minor section of Muslims is with PFI. Those who are twisting my arguments are doing so with vested interests,” he said.

CPM was even opposed to RSS, the CM said adding this did not mean that it was against Hindus. “We (CPM) are firm in opposing the Sangh parivar outfits like RSS and Bajrang Dal. Could anybody interpret it as an attack on Hinduism or the entire Hindu community?” he asked.

On Congress and its ally Indian Union Muslim League criticising his remarks, the chief minister said, “I am at a loss to know as to why they are getting worried when I sought to expose the nefarious activities by a miniscule group in the name of religion.”

The effort of the LDF government was to root out the extremist and communal forces and the intention of his statement was to give a warning to the people and democratic forces about the dangers posed by PFI, he said.

The content of pamphlets seized during raids on PFI offices was “highly communal” and challenged the democratic set-up with some of their literature even advocating rejection of democracy holding that “Islam and democracy” are two opposite ideologies, he said.

Leader of opposition Oommen Chandy, however, said the chief minister had pained an entire community in the name of PFI. The statement was unfortunate and the CM should withdraw it, he added.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi on July 24, VS had said that PFI was trying to multiply Muslim numbers in the state “by influencing youth of other religion and converting them by giving money, marrying them to Muslim women and thus producing kids of the community.”

Meanwhile, VS received support from rival and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan who sought to defend the CM on his comments against PFI. Speaking at a party event, Vijayan said when the CM had brought to public facts that might have come to his notice during the probe, attempts were being made to portray it as anti-Muslim.

In another development, police, probing the Joseph case arrested a PFI worker, Fahaz, who they claim was part of the plan. Suspected PFI activists had chopped off Joseph’s hand on July 4 for preparing a question paper which allegedly had derogatory references to Prophet Mohammed.

Ayodhya title suits: High Court reserves its verdict

Ayodhya title suits: High Court reserves its verdict

After 60 years of legal wrangle, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Monday reserved verdict in the Ayodhya shrine title suits. The proceedings had lingered in Faizabad civil court for about 39 years and thereafter the suits were summoned to the high court in 1989.

Since then the high court has been hearing the four suits pertaining to the existence of Ram Janmabhoomi or Babri mosque over the disputed site in Ayodhya. The judgment is expected before October 1 as one of the three judges of the specially constituted bench — Justice D V Sharma — is going to retire on that day.

Four suits — Sunni Central Waqf Board (UP) and others Vs Gopal Singh Visharad (now dead) and others, Bhagwan Shri Ram Virajman and others Vs Rajendra Singh and others, Nirmohi Akhara and others Vs Baboo Priya Dutt Ram and others and Gopal Singh Visharad (now dead) and others Vs Zahoor Ahmad and others — are being heard by the bench of Justices S U Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and D V Sharma.

The first suit was filed in 1950 before a civil court in Faizabad. Later, three other suits were filed before civil courts in Faizabad. Looking at the seriousness of the matter, then advocate-general SS Bhatnagar, on behalf of the state government, had moved an application in 1989 before the high court for summoning all the suits from Faizabad civil court to the high court and said that the state government was ready to bear all the expenses of the suits.

The application was allowed and the first bench of acting chief Justice K C Agarwal, Justice U C Srivastava and Justice S H A Raza was constituted.

The evidence started in the suits in 1995. Those in favour of Ram Janmabhoomi produced 35 witnesses whereas 23 witnesses were produced by the Babri mosque supporters. The evidence could be summed up in about 15,000 pages.

MP ‘fakes’ caste, disqualified from LS

MP ‘fakes’ caste, disqualified from LS

The Kerala High Court on Monday annulled the election of five time Congress Lok Sabha member Kodikunnil Suresh, holding that he was ineligible to contest from the reserved constituency of Mavelikara in Alappuzha district. Justice Sasidharan Nambiar said that Suresh is not qualified to be a candidate in the Scheduled Caste category and his nomination should not have been accepted.

The petition was filed by R.S. Anil of the Communist Party of India, whom Suresh defeated in 2009 by a margin of more than 40,000 votes and two others.

Suresh had previously won four times (1989, 1991, 1996 and 1999) Adoor reserved constituency.

The petitioners had informed the court that Suresh was born as a Christian and later converted.

Speaking to reporters,former legislator and ex Lok Sabha member R. Balakrishnan Pillai of Kerala Congress expressed surprise at the verdict.

“I had gone with Suresh to file his nomination and it was me who argued with the district collector that his nomination should be accepted. He was elected under the same clause on four times and two times when he lost the elections from Adoor. Yes, he has the option of filing a petition in the Supreme Court,” said Pillai.

Meanwhile, Anil told reporters he had all the documents to prove that Suresh is not eligible to contest as a reserved category candidate.

“It was only now that we could get all the documents pertaining to his caste by applying through the Right to Information Act. With this verdict, we feel that justice has been delivered to the people,” said Anil.

Meanwhile, Sources close to Suresh said that he will approach the apex court.

Kerala CM Statement criticised

Kerala CM Statement criticised

As expected, the controversial statements made by Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan on the Muslim community has stirred up negative responses from several Muslim organisations and political parties.

Buzz up!The CPI(M) leader had earlier stated that the radical outfit Popular Front, which was involved in the attack on a lecturer, wanted to turn the state into a Muslim-majority.

“For achieving that goal, the outfit is pumping money to attract youth and give them weapons. They also try to convert youth from other communities and persuade them to marry Muslim girls,” he had said referring to the recent cases of ‘Love Jihad’.

Indian Union Muslim League has Achuthanandan’s statement as “dangerous” and “insulting the entire community”, while UDF called the comments “deplorable”.

UDF leaders also said that the veteran Left leader was doing this to play the ‘Hindu Card’ in the upcoming civic and assembly polls.

“Through his statement, chief minister is testing waters if the LDF could garner votes of the majority community since it has incurred the wrath of the minority communities through its policies,” UDF convener P P Thankachan said.

While thankachan, a senior Congress leader, challenged the CPI(M) to come out with its position on Achuthanandan’s statement, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the Chief Minister’s statement reflected the “double standard” of the party.

French hostage executed by AlQueda

French hostage executed by AlQueda

French hostage Michel Germaneau has been executed by his al Qaeda-linked captors in the north African country of Mauritania, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday.

Sarkozy vowed that the “crime committed against Michel Germaneau will not be left unpunished.”

“We are dealing with people who have no respect for human life,” he said in a televised statement, condemning the “barbaric act” and warning French people not to travel in the region.

A man claiming to be the chief of the terrorist group that captured Germaneau claimed in a video Sunday that the 78-year-old had been executed.

The video aired Sunday on the TV network Al-Jazeera.

Germaneau, a director, was abducted in Niger on April 19. The video shows Germaneau’s photo along with images of the French flag and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s black-and-white flag.

A man’s voice — identified by text on the screen as AQIM’s chief, Abu Musab Abdul Wadud — can be heard saying, in Arabic, “We announce that we’ve executed the French hostage called Michel Germaneau on Saturday, July 24, 2010, to avenge the killing of our six brothers in the cowardly French raid.”

The man appears to be referring to an attack on the group last week that left six suspected al Qaeda militants dead.

Four other members of AQIM escaped the operation led by the Mauritanian army near the border with Mali, Interior Minister Mohammed Ould Boilil said.

The attack was prompted by intelligence that indicated the group was targeting a military base in Baskno.

The man in the video criticizes Sarkozy for the operation, saying he “not only failed to free his fellow citizen in this failed operation, but without all doubts, (Sarkozy) opened one of the gates of hell for himself, his people and his country.”

In the past, Al-Jazeera has aired similar videos from the group before they later surfaced on militant websites.

Kapil to bring ashes of Pooran Singh after 63 years from Australia

Kapil to bring ashes of Pooran Singh after 63 years from Australia

Legendary cricketer Kapil Dev will receive the ashes of Indian immigrant Pooran Singh in Australia for relocation to his homeland 63 years after he died.

According to the Australian High Commission here, on June 24, a radio programme on June 24 revealed the story of Pooran Singh. In 1899, as a 30-year-old he left his family in Bilga, a village in Punjab, to go to Australia.

He worked as a hawker, selling goods from his horse-drawn wagon, travelling from one country town to the other.

He spent the remaining 47 years of his life in Victoria, dying in 1947 in Warrnambool, aged 77, single and childless. He left instructions to be cremated, and so a funeral home sent his body to Melbourne, the only crematorium in Victoria at that time. His ashes, contained in a plastic cylinder were mailed back to the funeral home.

As Pooran’s last wish was that his ashes be returned to India and immersed in the Ganges, the funeral home kept them for 63 years in case family members came to claim them.

In the late 1980s a trust kept the ashes in a niche on its cemetery wall. Alice Guyett-Wood, the daughter of the funeral home owner told the radio show that her father Jack Guyett, who died in 1986, had expressed regret that Pooran’s wish had been unfulfilled.

As well as being broadcast on radio this moving story was published in an Indian newspaper on June 25 attracting the interest of Kapil Dev who expressed his willingness to travel to Australia to collect the ashes and return them to the family.

Pooran’s relatives were traced to Uppal Bhopa, a village in Punjab, where they still live in the house that was built with the money Pooran bequeathed to them.

The house in the village still bears the inscription “Pooran Singh [brother of Sultani Ram] of Australia.”

The story was picked up in England where Harmel Uppal, one of Pooran Singh’s great-nephews, lives.

This week Kapil and Uppal will travel to Australia to receive Pooran’s ashes.

Since the story was first broadcast many locals have come forward with personal memories of Pooran Singh. His photographs and even his horse wagon have been found, fully preserved.