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Social organisations call strike on day of Sonia’s Manipur visit

As many as seventeen social organisations in Manipur on Wednesday called for a 12-hour general strike on November 12 to protest the proposed visit of AICC president Sonia Gandhi .

In a joint statement here, they demanded that the Centre disclose the whereabouts of the chairman of insurgent outfit, United National Liberation Front, R K Meghen alias Sanayaima.

Some media reports had suggested earlier that Meghen (60) was arrested by a joint security team from Bangladesh and India from Dhaka in September, but this information has not been confirmed officially.

Congress sources said Gandhi will inauguarate a new market complex here during her visit on Friday. There has been no official confirmation in this regard.

via Social organisations call strike on day of Sonia’s Manipur visit

Understanding Manipur

A separatist insurgency began in 1964. It turned to  a more violent phase in 1978.  The Separatists demand a sovereign state separate from the Union of India, a claimed lack of development, plundering of local resources, and a general discontent is part of their argument.

There are currently 34 groups, including non-violent ones, that demand independence from India.  In 1999, some of these groups coalesced into an alliance organization called the Manipur People’s Liberation Front. Prominent partners of the coalation are the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK),  Peoples Liberation Army (PLA),  and  Revolutionary People Front (RPF). The UNLF is estimated to have 2500 active militants, the PREPAK with 1500, and PLA with 3000. UNLF, founded in 1964, aims to establish an independent socialist Manipur.

There are intelligent  reports revealing links between the Maoists and the Manipur militants outfits, they have now decided to extend moral and political support to each other in fighting against the Indian reactionary and oppressive regime. These groups perceive common people of India as under privilaged and downtrodden. Further, they claim that people are suffering under the semi feudal and semi colonial regime of India.

Each of the tribal groups have launched their own militant organization. From very long, periodical conflicts between Nagas and Kukis is observed. Naga outfits are demanding greater Nagaland at the cost of the territorial integrety of Manipur. This has created resentment among the Meiteis.

The extortion drive by multiple insurgent groups is very strong across the State. Allmost all the armed groups extract levies and ransoms from residents, transients, Government offices,  local self Government and educational institutions, health centers, commerecial establishments. Manipur’s insurgent groups have singled out the non-local Hindi and Bengali speaking population. Insurgent groups draw support from elected representatives, government officials and political parties.

In Manipur, there are eight main political parties including INC and BJP. In the 2007 assembly elections, Congress won with a simple majority. In the recent parliamentary elections,  about 63 percent of people cast their ballot in outer Manipur and about 60 percent of the people participated in inner Manipur. Both seats were won by Congress in the midst of opposition by several militant groups. BJP was also opposed by these groups. In 2009, there is a 25% decrease in the number of deaths in Manipur due to militancy. 

The state is bounded by Nagaland in the north, by Mizoram in the south, by Assam in the west, and by the borders of the country Myanmar in the east as well as in the south. The total area covered by the state is 22,347 km²

Manipur has a population of 2,388,634. Of this total, 58.9% live in the valley and the remaining 41.1% in the hilly region. The hills are inhabited mainly by the Nagas, Kukis (Chin-Mizos) and smaller tribal communities and the valley mainly by the Meiteis, Muslims known as Meitei Pangal or Pangal, and Bhamons (who are literally non-Meiteis).

Manipuris worship many gods. Sanamahism is the oldest religion of Manipur. Some of the gods(Lais) Manipuris worship are Lainingthou Sorale, Atiya Sidaba, Pakhangba, Sanamahi, Leimaren, Oknarel, Panganba, Thangjing, Marjing, Wangbaren, Koubru. The religious life of the people has many characteristics inherited from their prehistoric ancestors. The essentials of this religion remain recognizable to the present day. Although many people interpret that Manipuri religions are not related to main stream variants of the rest of India, they are basically part of Hinduism. In the 15th century that a particular form of Vaisnavism was adopted and spread under the reign of King Kyamba through to King Khagemba in the 19th century. Towards the end of the 19th century and at the advent of the 20th century, a great force of Gaudiya Vaishnavism was present in Manipur. Sanamahi populations is about 11%. According to the 2001 census Hinduism is identified with 47% of the population.

Western missionaries, particularly Baptists, introduced Christianity in the 19th century. The vast majority of the hill tribes today are Christian. All groups of Nagas and Kukis of Manipur have adopted Christianity. The Bible is available in Hmar, Vaiphei, Paite, Tangkhul, Thadou, Lushai , Meiteilon and many other dialects. Christianity constitutes 34% of the population.

Muslims became part of Manipur from early seventh century AD. Bengali and immigrants notably in 15th century and converts to Islam ( referred to as Pangals) joined later. Muslims numbering 190,939 form about 8.32% of the state population as per 2001 census. There are Arab, Turani, Bengali and Mughal or Chaghtai Turk sections among Manipuri Muslims. There are various festivals celebrated in Manipur. Most of these festivals are usually celebrated on the basis of lunar calendar. Almost every festival celebrated in other states is observed here.


Srinagar vendors defy Geelani’s civil curfew

Hundreds of roadside vendors  defied hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s announcement to observe ‘civil curfew’ as they displayed their merchandise in the popular flea market in the city.

Geelani had announced a three-day ‘civil curfew’ to be observed, beginning with arrival of US President Barack Obama to India, but the roadside vendors decided to defy the diktat.

“We have seen enough of strikes and curfews for the past four months and now we want to feed our families. We cannot go on forever like this,” a vendor, who identified himself only as Khalid, said.

Khalid said he also wanted resolution of Kashmir issue but not by forcing his family to starvation. “There has to be a strategy… any movement that forces the poor into further poverty cannot sustain for too long,” the graduate from S P College said.

The sentiments were echoed by many of Khalid’s fellow traders at the Sunday market, but would not speak on record for the fear of reprisal from separatist elements.

“We do not want to indulge into politics. We are trying to fulfill our basic needs… the separatist have not cared and the Government at best has been absent,” Nazir Ahmad (name changed) said.

Asked about the impact of breaking the strike when Obama is in India, both Khalid and Nazir were of the opinion that the “Kashmiri nation” should stop looking at foreign powers for resolution of the issue.

“The US, China, UK and UN have been there for so many decades but what have they done so far?” they asked.

The defiance by vendors comes a week after an unknown group, Jammu and Kashmir Ittehadi Islami, circulated posters in the city asking the Hurriyat Conference to review its strike calendar as it was only harming economy of the valley.

Although an estimated 5000 roadside vendors set up their shop from TRC Crossing to Batamaloo every Sunday to earn a livelihood, only 20 per cent of them have decided to defy the separatist diktat.

Meanwhile, normal life remained disrupted in the Valley as most of the shops, private offices and commercial establishments remained closed on account of strike.

A police spokesman said the situation across the Valley so far was peaceful. “There is no curfew or restrictions in place anywhere in the Kashmir Valley,” he said.

Kashmir Valley has been in the grip of protests, strikes and curfew since June when a 17-year-old boy was killed by a tear smoke shell allegedly fired by police at Rajouri Kadal area of the city.

via Srinagar vendors defy Geelani’s ‘civil curfew’ 

Terror accusation to counter Hindu politics?

In the background of 2006 Malegaon blasts, Mecca Masjid bombing (Hyderabad), and the Ajmer Sharif Dargah Blast, suspects are being linked to various Hindu organizations.

Lt Col Shrikant Purohit of the India army and Pragya Singh Thakur, have been accused of the 2006 Malegaon bombings along with two other men. They are being linked to Abhinav Bharat. Members of Abhinav Bharat have also been alleged to have been involved in a plot to kill Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh President Mohan Bhagwat and Vice President of India Hamid Ansari.

Purohit was also accused of being involved in the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings until the role of Pakistani terrorist Asif Zamani was unearthed. A United States Department of the Treasury report links these bombings to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al-Qaeda. Similarly, many others sources assert that the Islamic outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami was actually behind the Malegaon attacks.

In the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case, security agencies have included Indresh Kumar, a senior functionary of RSS in the chargesheet. Security sources say that four of the five accused named in the Ajmer Dargah blast chargesheet filed by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorist Squad have links with RSS.

Indresh is a member of national executive (Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal – ABKM) and the Sahprachar Pramukh in the RSS. Indresh is a prominent dynamic leader and has been in the thick of the action at all times. He played an active role in the Amarnath stir and also the Jammu issue. He spent years coordinating activities of the Sangh Parivar in the region. Besides this he also coordinated the activities of the Rashtriya Muslim Manch, an affiliate of the RSS, which terms itself as a nationalistic organization of the Muslims. CBI is saying that Indresh was part of a meeting held in Jaipur in which six others were present to conspire Ajmeer blast. [#]

It is said that Srikanth Purohith has revealed the name of Indresh Kumar in the course of Malegaon blast investigation. According to one source, Purohit bore a grudge against Indresh as he suspected Indresh had leaked information to the ATS about his and Pragya Singh’s involvement in Malegaon,which eventually led to their arrest. Purohit claimed that he had met with the RSS Sarsanghchalak in Jabalpur in 2009 to complain about Indresh. Investigators told that the problem was that of a difference of opinion. Kumar felt that democracy should be restored in Nepal while Abhinav Bharat felt that King Gyanendra ought to be supported. Purohit felt that supporting democracy meant supporting the Maoists in Nepal, which in turn led to the death of many Hindus. Purohit has also told agencies that he had once thought of eliminating Indresh as he was diluting the Hindutva agenda.[#]

Congress party is terming these incidents as Hindu terrorism. Some people are terming it as saffron terrorism to link these terror acts with Sangh Parivar. BJP is disapproving the usage of terms Hindu terrorism or Saffron terrorism. After the inclusion of Indresh Kumars name in the chargesheet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi compared RSS with SIMI, a Muslim student organization which is banned in India for terrorist activities.

Congress senior leader Digvijay SIngh and Union home minister Chidambaram have on several occasions have highlighted linkages between Sangh Parivar and terror blasts. Recently, Pranab Mukherjee alleged that RSS has terror links. [# # # ]

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has criticised the Congress to equate RSS with SIMI and claimed that no nationalist party could participate in terrorist act. Baba said such a statement by the Congress and its senior leader like Rahul Gandhi against RSS was unfortunate and was an insult to any nationalist party. He also said the Congress was responsible for the Kashmir problem and claimed that had Sardar Ballav Bhai Patel was given more power after Independence then such situation would not have arised. [#]

Janata Party president Subramanium Swamy has come out in support of RSS. He issued the following press statement.

The vicious attack on the RSS by Ms. Sonia Gandhi yesterday at the captive Congress Party meeting is now making clear to all Indians her true form.She has spoken in her true form, as a foreign Christian missionary agent of the religious conversion violence against Bharat Mata, and hence seeking to defame the RSS with a contrived charge of terrorist activities. RSS is a voluntary organization of patriotic Hindus who want to rise above petty caste and regional loyalties, and hence a sheet anchor in the battle against cash-induced religious conversion of which Ms. Gandhi is the patron in India. She is now seeking to shackle India so that the Vatican can enjoy suzerainty over Sanatana Dharma and Hindustan.

I urge all genuine Hindutvavadis to throw off all their shackling inhibitions and join in a grand democratic onslaught on this covert, clandestine, and cancerous invasion against the most ancient and continuing value system of India that was made known to us Indians as Hindutva by Swami Vivekananda and Veer Savarkar, and given an all India organisational content by the RSS. For the sake of a Virat Hindustan I appeal to all patriotic Indians to defend the RSS with all the resolve that they can muster.[#]

The RSS has decided to stage a sit-in on November 10 in all the districts of Saurashtra region, as a part of nationwide agitation against union government and Rajasthan ATS for chargesheeting its senior functionary Indresh Kumar in 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case. [#]

Former IG Lakshmana gets life in Verghese murder case

The former Inspector-General of Police in Kerala, K. Lakshmana, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI Special Court on Thursday in the case relating to the killing of Naxalite leader A. Varghese in a fake encounter.

Judge S.Vijayakumar also imposed a fine of Rs.10,000 on him. The court directed him to pay the amount to the legal heirs of Varghese.

Holding that the case did not come in the category of rarest of rare cases so as to attract capital punishment, the judge said it was “an instance of custodial violence and murder” going by the facts and circumstances of the case. The accused, therefore, deserved life imprisonment.

The court on Wednesday convicted Lakshamana (75) for “the brutal killing of Varghese” in the Thirunelli forest in Wayanad 40 years ago. The judge found Lakshmana, second accused, guilty of the offence punishable under Section 302 (murder) read with Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The court acquitted the former DGP, P. Vijayan, third accused for lack of evidence.

The CBI took over the investigation into the case on a directive from the High Court in 1999. The CBI probe was ordered following the revelations by the former police constable, P. Ramachandran Nair, that he shot dead Var

via Former IG Lakshmana gets life in Verghese murder case.

Kahmir Update – Oct 30

Border Front
In the midst of the credible intelligence reports that about 80Islamic militants are ready to sneak into the Kashmir valley to continue the militancy in India,  Pakistani  forces shelled Indian posts. Indian Army lodged protests with Pakistan over ceasefire violations.

Kashmir Interlocutors
Interlocutors appointed by the Indian Government in their first visit to the Kashmir, met youth who were involved in stone throwing incidents and the militants who are lodged in the prison. They also met J&K governor and the Chief minister Omar Abdullah.

BJP slammed Padagaonkar, one of the interlocutor, for his remarks supporting involvement of Pakistan as a party to end  terrorism in Kashmir. Padagaonkar claims to be realistic in his approach to solve the Kashmir Problem. Interestengly, Ram Jethmalani, a BJP MP supported interlocutors toeing a line different from the party he represents. Anantha Kumar,  a senior BJP leader suggested merging of PoK with India as a final solution to the Kashmir problem. 

Arundhati Roy sharing dias with Kashmiri separatist leader Geelani opined that Kashmir was never an integral part of India. BJP called for strictest possible action  against her. Veerappa Moily, union law minister strongly criticised her statements. The Hindu, a prominent Indian daily, supported Arundhati Roy and opposed initiating  sedition charges against her citing the freedom of expression.  Bajarang Dal warned Arundhati Roy for crossing all limits in the name of freedom of expression.

International relations
Meanwhile, United States, snubbing Pakistan, maintained that Kashmir as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Amend constitution to make way for azaadi debate: Panel        Sedition or democracy: How far can freedom of speech be taken?      Pak violates ceasefire, opens fire on Indian posts in Poonch      Written complaint against Arundhati Roy   Arundhati Roy Offends the Indian State – Again  Who has set interlocutors’ agenda, asks BJP

Arundhati’s speech on J&K unfortunate: Moily

Arundhatis speech on jk unfortunate: Moily

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily on Thursday said that the sedition case against writer-activist Arundhati Roy will be thoroughly looked at even as civil rights group have been protesting against the Government’s reported move to book her and Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for sedition.

“Freedom of speech cannot violate the patriotic sentiments of the people and country. It is most unfortunate and most uncalled for,” Moily told CNN-IBN.

 Moily said that he cannot comment on the case unless he thoroughly examines it.

Interlocutors begin meetings in Kashmir

Dileep Padagaonkar (Second from left), Radha Kumar (from left) and M.M. Ansari with Muzaffar Hussain Baig

The three-member team of interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir led by eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar arrived here on Saturday, saying its focus will be on meeting students and youth to “get the feeling on the ground.” It said no solution could emerge without involving Pakistan.

Soon after arrival, Mr. Padgaonkar, M.M. Ansari and Radha Kumar started establishing contact with the people they know. Reiterating that the team had come to Kashmir with an “open mind and a big heart,” Mr. Padgaonkar said there had been many slogans here and there but “we have to move forward for a comprehensive and viable political solution of the problem.”

Acknowledging that the unrest in the Valley was mostly youth-driven, the team has decided to devote Monday for meeting students and youth. “We are in touch with a certain number of people. We have said we would like students — representing all opinions coming from all parts of the State — to meet us. All of Monday, we would like to listen to young people,” he told journalists.

Kashmir, Mr. Padgaonkar said, was a complex issue and needed a political approach to find a “political solution.” He said there were different perspectives in Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu. However, he emphasised, there were no readymade formulas.

The team is staying at the State Guest House here and has chalked out a schedule of spending 10 days each month in the State. The team will visit Jammu next week. It will brief the Prime Minister after every visit to build an understanding at the higher level.

On Pakistan, Mr. Padgaonkar said its involvement in finding a comprehensive political solution was a must. “Pakistan has been there since 1947 and without talking to Pakistan a solution cannot emerge,” he said, adding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues were desirous of engaging with Pakistan and ready to go half way should Pakistan come forward on the “entire range of issues, including Kashmir.”

Boycott call

The team members parried questions about the boycott called by hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. But Mr. Padgaonkar said they would reach out to people on their own and move without security. “If they [separatists] have problems in coming to us we will go to their doorstep,” he said.

“We are open to meeting anybody. Since we have just started we should not jump the gun,” Ms. Radha Kumar told The Hindu. “We are optimistic that we can open channels of communication with a larger group of people,” she said.

via  Interlocutors begin ‘Mission Kashmir’.

Green tribunal launched

India has launched National Green Tribunal, a special court to look into all environmental issues, replacing the existing Environment Appellate Authority. Former Supreme Court judge Lokeshwar Singh Panta became the first chairperson of the tribunal having four regional benches to function in the circuit mode. The tribunal will have 20 members who are experts in environmental sciences and will have power to issue directions for damages.

“Anybody and everybody can approach the Tribunal to claim civil damages arising out of inadequate implementation of environment laws,” environment minister Jairam Ramesh said.

via Green tribunal launched – Hindustan Times.

Noise Pollution Sena booked, Mosques exempted?

Following complaints from environmental activist Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation against the Shiv Sena Dussehra rally on Sunday(17th Oct 2010) at Shivaji Park for flouting noise pollution rules, the police took a significant step today by registering a complaint under the Environment Act. Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone V, Aswati Dorje has registered the complaint under Environment Protection Act (EPA) of the Bombay Police Act under the Shivaji Park Police Station. This complaint has been included with another complaint from an officer of this police station regarding the breach of the prescribed noise levels given under the Noise Pollution Control Rules.

The police had earlier booked the organizer of the rally, Sena party secretary Diwakar Borkar, under the Bombay Police Act 33 for violating the 50-decibel noise limit set for Shivaji Park, a designated silence zone. “Any violation under this Act is a fine amounting to just Rs 5,000—which is a joke,” says Abdulali. “What is important is that the police has now registered the complaint under the EPA which carries a penalty of Rs 100,000 and imprisonment up to five years imposed on the organizers of the function as well as on senior party leaders who violated decibel levels in their speeches,” she says.

The Bombay high court had declared the Shivaji Park area as a silence zone. The high court had permitted the Sena to hold its rally on the condition of not exceeding the noise level above 50db. The Sena agreed to that in court. But at the rally, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray had mocked the Bombay High Court saying “Is my volume within 50 decibels. No one can contain or stifle the Shiv Sena’s roar.” But investigations carried out by the anti-noise activists revealed that the noise levels at the rally venue were between 85db and 90db. [NDTV]. The only time that level was matched was when the Sena burst firecrackers, according to statistics submitted to the Commissioner of Police by Sumaira Abdulali. The police, who made independent measurements, lodged a complaint today that the limit had been crossed, against Diwakar Borkar. [IndianExpress]

Senas official newspaper Saamna stated on Oct 20th that no one should teach them any law as they know it very well. Pointing to the loudspeakers atop mosques, Saamana claimed, “Loudspeakers blaring out ‘azaan’ atop mosques in Bhendi Bazar and Behrampada areas disturb sleep and children’s studies. Action should be taken against them also.” [One India]. “The cacophony due to illegal migrants has crossed the 500 decibel level mark…We also know the law. Nobody should teach us law. Law should respect our feelings, then we will respect law,” the editorial said. [Hindustantimes]

Awaaz Foundation, a Mumbai NGO fighting against noise pollution, Thursday welcomed the Shiv Sena’s demand to stop mosques from using loudspeakers to give the call to prayer. ‘The Shiv Sena has at last supported my request for banning loudspeakers atop mosques, though it took some provocation to reach this point,’ said Sumaira Abdul Ali. Saamna had demanded why Ali was not raising her voice against this – ‘Is she not disturbed or bothered by the loudspeakers blaring from the mosques?’

In her response, Ali said that as the main opposition party in the state, the Sena did nothing to ensure implementation of the Maharashtra government’s affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court last year that all religious places would be declared zones of silence. ‘Hope has dawned once more. I hope the endangered Sena Tiger stops roaring and gets down to some action soon,’ she said, in a statement released here. Ali said that in 2004, she had filed a notice in a pending public interest litigation demanding a ban on loudspeakers on all religious places”.

In 2009, the Maharashtra government filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court that they would notify religious places as ‘silence zones’, but so far no action has been taken in this regard. Ali appealed to all political parties and communities to fight the evils of noise pollution which leads to hearing loss, high blood pressure, mental stress and heart disease, among others, and ensure that noise levels for all occasions are within safe and legal limits. [Sify] [DNAIndia]