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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

After OpIndia report, NDTV withdraws Sagarmala petition. Read why.

NDTV, a media company, filed a petition before the National Green Tribunal (NGT) making a “Direct Attack” on the Modi Government’s Sagar Mala plans. An Analysis of the proceedings together with news items threw some interesting details. NDTV in its petition has prayed for:
  • “stopping of work” on all new ports as an interim measure,
  • “civil and criminal action” be taken against authorities, governments and private companies
  • formulation of a “national coastal policy”
  • creation of a restoration fund
  • cumulative environmental, economic and social impact assessment
We asked some pertinent questions on this matter:
  1. How does a media company become an expert on environmental issues?
  2. On what basis did NDTV conclude that Governments deserve civil and criminal action for their “neglect, over-sight, and complicit actions”?
  3. Did NDTV submit any “reports” from “experts” to back their claims?
  4. Has NDTV challenged the Environmental impact assessment” as done by ministries?
  5. Is NGT empowered to direct formulation of “coastal policies”?
  6. Is NDTV’s demand for a blanket scrapping of the Sagarmala projects justified? Or does it reek of some obstructionist tactic?
  7. How is NDTV “empowered” under its Memorandum and Articles of Association” to take up “environmental issues”? A quick analysis of the Memorandum of Association of NDTV shows they have a vague power under Clause 3 (B) (32) to investigate value of any “asset” but it is still not clear if they can file a case or not.
  8. Are all the shareholders of the company aware of these antics of NDTV, which is clearly drifting away from its stated goals of being a media house?
  9. Any spend on legal and other fees on an activity which NDTV is basically not supposed to indulge in, is justified?
    Does NDTV itself being embroiled in numerous tax scandals, have the moral right to be pontificating on other issues?
The only tenuous link of a media company like NDTV to this NGO-esque action could have been their 2011 “Save The Coast” campaign which “highlighted” how developmental activities are hazardous to India’s coastline. But most of the above questions were extremely valid.
Now, on 16th September 2016, within 2 weeks of our scathing report, NDTV took a U-Turn.  According to the order passed by the NGT, NDTV had filed an application to withdraw the petition.
What made NDTV change this stance suddenly? The stated reason is:
Applicant wishes to withdraw this Application with liberty to file a fresh Application after averring proper facts, grounds and relief that would squarely fall within the ambit and scope to Section 14 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
NDTV claims that they now wish to withdraw the application, keeping a window open to file a fresh petition after verifying the facts and ensuring that the matter would fall within the ambit of NGT. So even if we go by this stated reason, does it mean NDTV had not in fact studied the facts before filing this application? Which means it was a premature move? Is this how they practice their journalism too? Writing reports and opinions before studying facts?This was one of the points we had raised in our original article revealing this petition.
The Sagarmala project was at a stage of infancy when NDTV went for the petition. Worse, they demanded a blanket scrapping of all the sub-projects on a flimsy ground. The Government had not even put out detailed plans. How and why had NDTV felt the urgent need to stall this project at such an early stage? This much they have admitted themselves that they had not done a thorough study. So what was the motive?
These are the stated reasons. The unstated reasons could well be legal and market driven. As mentioned in our questions, it was unclear whether NDTV’s Memorandum and Articles of Association empowered it to get into NGO mode. A violation of a company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association is a serious issue.
Secondly, as we had asked earlier, were the shareholders of NDTV, a public company, taken into confidence before NDTV departed from its publicly known business? Did any major shareholders apply pressure of NDTV to stop this anti-development petition once our report exposed NDTV?
Thirdly, the Sagarmala project will benefit practically every industry in India, and in turn Indians. Large corporates are also major sponsors of NDTV’s advertisements and various events. Did such corporates turn the screw on the loss-ridden NDTV and force their hand?
Whatever may be the reason, we must continue to remain vigilant. NDTV has kept the door open to come back and threaten Sagarmala again. Whether it is a face-saving escape route or a statement of intent is yet to be seen. But givens NDTV’s track record of being anti-India on many occasions, one cannot sleep in peace.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Ideology of Exodus – The Fleeing of Hindus from Kairana

By Tufail Ahmad, New Age Islam
On June 9, it emerged that an exodus of Hindus has been taking place over the past two years from the predominantly Muslim town of Kairana, situated just 124 kilometres from India's national capital of New Delhi. Hukum Singh, an MP from the Kairana parliamentary constituency, has produced a list of 346 families which were forced to flee Kairana, leaving behind their homes and businesses. The immediate reasons for the exodus include extortions, murders, targeted attacks and other forms of banditry. Though these appear as acts of crime, the important point is that all of the fleeing families are Hindus.
According to a report by Zee News, which brought the issue before the nation, the town of Kairana had 30 percent Hindus and 68 percent Muslim population as per 2011 census. However, the Hindu population has declined to eight percent in 2016 while the Muslim population has risen to 92 percent from 68 percent in just about six years, as estimated by local officials. Kairana is not an isolated case. There are areas in India which are called "mini Pakistan" – not by Hindus. A Muslim locality I visited in India a few years ago, a highly educated Muslim youth told me proudly, "This area is mini Pakistan." I turned to him and asked, "Is it something good for Indian Muslims?" As realisation fell upon him, he became silent. The religious nature of the exodus from Kairana fits similar patterns of forced migrations in history.
Health of societies is defined by movement of ideas. Ideas travel across time and territories through wars, technologies and globalisation. The consequences of ideas do not register on human minds because these take place over long periods of history, often across several lifetimes. Let's explain it this way: if we lived for 200 years and more, our minds would be better equipped to grasp how the society in which we were born has changed over the course of two centuries. Since our lifespan is on an average just about 80-90 years, our mind fails to grasp the movement of ideas occurring over the course of several centuries. In the 7th century, a movement of ideas began from Mecca as a consequence of which there are no Jews in Saudi Arabia today.
This movement of ideas reached Iran as a result of which today there are no Zoroastrians in Iran, originally their homeland. In the 12th century, this movement of ideas arrived in the Indian Subcontinent as a consequence of which there are no Hindus in Balochistan, there are no Hindus in Afghanistan, there are no Hindus in Pakistan, there are no Sikhs in Lahore which was a Sikh metropolis till recently. In 1947, it took a piece of ours away from us. In the 1990s, in our lifetime, Hindu Pandits were forced to flee from Kashmir. This historical template fits the exodus of Hindu families from Kairana. There are concerns that similar patterns of exclusion are happening in Malda and parts of Assam.A senior police officer who toured Malda recently tells me that cops are being treated as thugs and criminals.
As per this historical template, this movement of ideas makes it extremely difficult for non-Muslims to live in lands where the Muslim population rises to become dominant. The defining traits of this movement of ideas are: exclusion, intimidation, persecution, conversion and forced migration. For example, not a week passes when a Hindu girl is not abducted and forcibly converted in Pakistan's Sindh province. Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh, sometimes carried out in order to occupy their land, is considered a pious work. The case of Bangladesh is no different where Hindus are being persecuted and systematically murdered.
But there are counterfeit liberal editors who give examples of Hindu-Muslim unity. Such examples are isolated acts of humanism, not outstanding patterns of communal behaviour that can be described as features of modern civilisation. Exclusionary religions counter pluralism. On Twitter, senior journalist R. Jagannathan tells me that religions need not change, but their adherents must change in support of pluralism. Like Islam, Christianity, being a monotheistic religion, is also exclusionary but its adherents have changed liberally, notably in America and Europe. In the United States, Christians allow their churches to be used by Muslims for Friday prayer, sometimes for a fee. However, Muslims will never allow their mosques to be used by Hindus for any ritual.
Contrast this with a common scene in the inner circle of New Delhi's Connaught Place where Hindus make way to allow Muslims to offer weekly Friday prayers on public property. The best example of exclusionary practices rooted in religion can be given from the activities of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. While we see many Hindus defending Muslim riot victims in Gujarat and many others parts of India, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind tracks riot victims and innocents lodged in prisons, and ensures first that they are believers of Islam before taking up their cases. If Hindus were to do the same before helping riots victims, they will be called bigots.
It will be against the historical template of this exclusionary practice to argue that cases like the exodus of Hindus from Kashmir and Kairana will not happen again. Currently, this exclusionary practice is enabled by the Indian state. For example, the rationale of the Indian state demands that Kamlesh Tiwari, the Hindu man held for derogatory remark against Prophet Muhammad, be arrested. Although India does not have Islam's blasphemy law, practically it enforces the blasphemy laws prevalent in other Muslim countries. For example, Kamlesh Tiwari has been languishing in prison under the National Security Act (NSA) without any court hearing. Tiwari's detention is a blot on the face of the Indian republic, as most democracies today do not allow any person, not even a terrorist, to be in imprison without charge.
Contrast this behaviour of the Indian state towards Kamlesh Tiwari with its behaviour towards a set of Islamic clerics led by Maulana Anwarul Haq Sadiq of Bijnor who went in public, on Indian television, to announce a reward of 51 lakh rupees for anyone who could behead Tiwari whether in prison or outside. All of these clerics are free because the rationale of the Indian state demands that Muslim thugs will not be arrested while any Hindu can be arrested for bad behaviour. I have also been reliably informed that Tiwari's arrest enjoys the support of the Home Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh. At issue is not Rajnath Singh but the historical template that has become the rationale of the Indian state. This rationale demands that the president of India organise Iftar parties every year at the expense of the taxpayer while not organising religious events of other religions.
Until this rationale of the Indian state is defeated electorally, politically and constitutionally, please prepare for this historical template to reproduce more examples like Kairana. The question is also this: what can the Indian state do? It will be too much to expect from the current centre-right government in New Delhi. Much like the Congress governments practised secularism and quota politics, the current centre-right government believes in giving Muslims Sufism – not mathematics, economics and physics to Muslim girls from grade one through 12. This outstanding rationale of the Indian republic must be countered so that India becomes an authentic republic with zero tolerance for anyone who breaks law.
For India to establish itself as a Great Power, the rule of law is the only hope. Currently, the rule of law is routinely mauled by cops who rob poor thela walas for a weekly extortion of ten rupees. Therefore, cops are morally incompetent to secure the Indian republic for our future generations. Here is also something to do: India could invest $100 billion and more in upgrading the last-mile police stations and get foreigners to train cops in professionalism, due process and honesty.
Tufail Ahmad is author of "Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim."
Source: newageislam

A campaign of terror: The Pakistanis may never have Kashmir, but their violence has transformed it

C Christine Fair
Feigning outrage at the killing of Pakistan-backed Hizbul Mujahideen commanderBurhan Wani, Pakistan’s civilian-led government decried his killing by Indian security forces as “deplorable and condemnable”. This group is considered to be a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union, and India alike. This conniption once again exposed Pakistan’s unstinting support for the zoo of Islamist terrorists that it uses to achieve its foreign policy objectives in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The timing of this charade is not coincidental: it is contemporaneous with mounting criticisms over Pakistani human rights abuses in Balochistan as it tries to crush any and all opposition to the infamous “China Pakistan Economic Corridor”.  Pakistan explicitly counters criticism over its activities in Balochistan with reference to Indian security force’s killings in Kashmir. This is yet another Pakistani false equivalence.
It must be said bluntly that in Kashmir, Pakistan has no legal equities. Neither theIndian Independence Act of 1947 nor the Radcliffe Boundary Commission accord Pakistan any right to Kashmir. As is well-known, the Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh only acceded to India after Pakistan dispatched irregular forces to seize the terrain by force.
As the work of Shuja Nawaz – the brother of a deceased army chief – makes clear, these were not non-state actors. In its effort to seize Kashmir through warfare in 1947-48, 1965 and 1999 and by supporting a menagerie of terrorists since 1947 and an intense proxy war since 1989, Pakistan has demonstrated that it actually has little regard for the Kashmiris themselves.
As the Pakistanis sought to exploit the indigenous uprising that began in 1989, it raised and dispatched Deobandi and Salafist terrorist organisations such as Jaish-e-Muhammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba respectively, precisely because they have no regard for Kashmiri culture and beliefs. Whereas their Kashmiri proxies were more reticent to kill civilians and attack sufi shrines, these terrorists have shown no compunction.
They also sustained a reign of terror against women who do not veil as they demand by throwing acid on their faces and other crimes. The consequences of this are visible to any long-time observer. When I first visited the Valley in 1991, I never saw a woman in a black burqa with niqab. Instead women wore a scarf tied behind their necks. Now the black burqa, niqab and even socks and gloves are ubiquitous even beyond the cities and towns. The Pakistanis may never have Kashmir, but their violence has transformed it.
Turning to the most recent events, it is well-known that the recent episode of stone pelting has Pakistani backing. The stone pelting has had the intended consequences of goading Kashmir’s poorly equipped and poorly trained police into killing civilians who are protesting. About 80 people have been killed in this recent campaign of Pakistan-sponsored uprising and state response.
To be clear, it is extremely unfortunate that these deaths have occurred. And indeed, the Indian government needs to find other ways of managing crowds than looking for the chimerical non-lethal weapons. If Kashmir’s police had proper riot gear and personal protective equipment, the urge to fire at stone pelters would likely diminish. This would benefit India as it would deprive Pakistan of the result it so craves. But this incident reveals more than anything that Pakistan is willing to orchestrate the deaths of Kashmiris for its own political aims.
The vacuity of the so-called concern about Kashmir is reinforced by the complete omission of any mention of the Kashmiri Pandits who were ethnically cleansed by Pakistan-backed terrorists in 1990. Why does the “Kashmir problem” only centre on Muslims in the Valley and not any of the other lawful residents of the state?
Finally, the Pakistani civilian and military leadership continue to renew their demands that all UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir be fulfilled. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, continues to opine that “non-implementation of UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Kashmir issue is a travesty of law”. She, like other Pakistanis making these insensate claims, are banking on the fact that most people have never read the hallowed resolutions.
I have and the language is clear. Pakistan was to first withdraw all non-Kashmiri persons from the area, including regular and irregular security forces. Then and only then, India was to demilitarise as well. However, India was allowed to retain enough forces to protect against further Pakistani incursions. Once both of these sequential steps were taken to the satisfaction of a UN appointed body, then the arrangements for a plebiscite were to take place. Pakistanis yammering about the non-implementation of this accord have only themselves to blame.
Turning to the issue of Balochistan on the one hand and the recent events in Kashmir on the other: both campaigns of violence are manifestations of Pakistani policy. The Pakistan army, along with the Frontier Corps and its various intelligence agencies are waging an all-out war against the Baloch to clear the province for Chinese economic exploitation. There are no estimates of the casualties or of the persons who havedisappeared. There is no accounting for the whereabouts of these myriad disappeared persons.
By law, the US is required to impose Leahy Amendment sanctions on any military unit engaging in human rights violations. The Pakistan military is waging this war with the subsidy of the US, which so far has shown nothing but pusillanimity in contending with Pakistan even though Pakistan is the root cause of American failures in Afghanistan.

Source: timesofindia

Uri attack: Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs, why is only India anxious?

Tufail Ahmad Sep 22, 2016 8:39 IST
Uri attack: Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs, why is only India anxious?
The known enemy attacks us in known ways and in known places. We are taught that Mahmud Ghazni launched 17 attacks on Indian cities during 1000–1027 CE, through known means, through known routes, seizing the Somnath temple in Gujarat in the final invasion. But we are not taught that each time we waited for him to do so, we did not go beyond our borders to prevent him, to tame him, to fight him, to eliminate him. In history, you wouldn't find instances when a known enemy torments an entire people so many times and they don't respond. Much like Mahmud Ghazni, Pakistan, the known enemy, torments us in Jammu & Kashmir. Each time, we have prior intelligence input. Each time, we wait. Each time, we do not engineer a response.
The 18 September attack at Uri is perhaps the worst Pakistani attack since the Kaluchak attack of 14 May, 2002 when three soldiers, 18 relatives of Indian soldiers and ten civilians were killed. On 2 January this year, the enemy stormed the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, killing seven soldiers. It succeeded because Indian policemen in Punjab were hand-in-glove with the enemies to earn money via illicit drugs routes. Similar attacks have taken place in Jammu & Kashmir regularly. Even after the enemy invaded Kargil in 1999, the largest jihadist war in modern times executed by Pakistan, we chose to serve biryani to General Pervez Musharraf, our tormentor in chief. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs. It is only the Indian mind that feels threatened.
Pakistan the enemy camouflages successfully for modern times. It calls its state-backed terrorists "non-state actors", the world believes in this phrase. It calls its terrorists "good Taliban", it takes years to explain it to Europeans and Americans that "good" in this context means evil. It sends a writer to visit Sufi shrines of Delhi and write a book. Indians develop trust in the author of the book, Delhi by Heart, a title given by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the creator of Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Taliban. The book's purpose is to insert the author in Track II diplomacy. The enemy sends a saree to the mother of its enemy leader. The cost of the saree is: seven soldiers killed in Pathankot and the bruised confidence of 1.25 billion Indians. In warfare, camouflaging your way into the enemy's defences is a successful strategy. Pakistan does it well.
Lieutenant-General A A K Niazi, the commander of Pakistani troops who surrendered at the fall of Dhaka in 1971, had served during the World War II on the Burma front. In 1964, Niazi, then a brigadier, argued that a weak state like Pakistan must rely on a strategy of infiltration which "implies bypassing of enemy posts by relatively small parties which penetrate deep and unseen into the defences and converge at a pre-designated objective" or "lie down in the enemy area and remain there for extended periods if needed." "The adoption of these [infiltration] tactics by the lesser developed nations like ours is a compelling necessity," he added. Niazi's strategy and the jihadist mindset of the Pakistani army is detailed by C Christine Fair in her book, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War.
Pakistan has always used this strategy of infiltration and guerrilla warfare either during the Operation Gibraltar that led to the 1965 war, in Kargil in 1999, on 26/11 in Mumbai and later through the attacks by the Indian Mujahideen in parts of India, and consistently, persistently and aggressively through past nearly three decades in Jammu & Kashmir. The behaviour of the enemy is familiar; its strategy is known to us. Even if India were to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan, the nature of the enemy is such that it will begin targeting other regions of India. Despite knowing this enemy, India's strategy to counter it is not ready, not known, not effective, not consequential. But the enemy, like Mahmud Ghazni, will strike again and again. This tactic has Islamic lineage.
In his book, Pakistan Mein Tehzeeb Ka Irtiqa, Sibte Hassan (1912-1986), an Indian-Pakistani Marxist who graduated from the Aligarh Muslim University, narrates how Muhammad bin Qasim was not the first Islamic invader of India. The Islamic attacks against Sindh and Balochistan had begun as early as during the era of Umar ibn Khattab, the second caliph of Islam who ruled from 634 to 644 CE. The first attack, which Sibte Hassan says was without consent from Umar but authorised by a local governor in Bahrain, was led by Mugheera ibn Abi Al-Aas and targeted against a port at Debal, near Karachi. Usman ibn Affan, the third Islamic caliph who ruled from 644 to 656 CE, considered an attack on Sindh by land. At that time Makran, a part of Balochistan, was already ruled by a Muslim governor.
When Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (reigned 661–680 CE) – the first ruler of the Umayyad dynasty – became the caliph, he sent several military expeditions: led by Abdullah bin Sawwar Abdi, by Rashid bin Umru, by Sanan bin Salmah (all names as per phonetics). All of these military raids ended in defeat. Sibte Hassan writes that when Hajjaj bin Yousef became the Governor of Iraq in 694 CE, he finally made up his mind to conquer Sindh and selected his son-in-law Muhammad bin Qasim to lead the invasion. Qasim registered many victories during 712-715 CE. The Muslim conquerors before Muhammad bin Qasim and after him have not stopped in their glories because Islam requires Muslims to conquer all the lands. The Quranic verse 8:39 commands: "And fight them until there is no fitnah and (until) the religion, all of it, is for Allah…" The word fitnah is translated as mischief but in Islamic literature, it means everything that is not Islamic. Similarly, the word "fight" in this verse is actually: Qatelu-hum, whose accurate meaning is "kill them."
The Kashmir conflict today is rooted in Pakistan's religious identity. The Kalima, or the words proclaiming one's faith in Islam, reads: La Ilaha Illalah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah. Its actual translation is: there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger. But in Pakistan, Islamic clerics have translated it differently as reflected in the wildly popular slogan among Pakistani people: "Pakistan ka Matlab kya (What is the meaning of Pakistan), the chorus: La Ilaha Illalah Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah."Nowhere in the Islamic world, Kalima is translated this way. Unless Pakistan's identity undergoes some radical transformation, it is unlikely that it will not view itself as the vanguard state of the Muslim Ummah. In Pakistan, the common understanding is that Pakistan has two types of borders: geographical and ideological. The ISI, which creates, nurtures and shields terrorist groups, considers itself as the ideological guardian of Pakistan, the second state to be established in the name of Islam, the first being Medina.
People of India must reconcile to the idea that the jihadist attacks in Kashmir will continue as long as Pakistan retains its identity in its current form. However, the Indian state needs to evolve a 100-year strategy against this known enemy. The strategy must be for India to behave like neighbours behave in our villages. When your neighbour hurts you, you shun eye contact and refuse to attend their wedding. When a neighbour encroaches onto your land, you push back. When your neighbour occupies your land, you break their nose. There is a slight distinction in the case of Pakistan. This enemy is not trained to sit idle, not even in its glories, not even in Ramzan. While India's strategy must be to empower Balochs, Sindhis, Kashmiris and Pashtuns, a successful strategy must be to break up Pakistan by striking at the heart of the enemy: the Punjabi elite, right in Punjab, across the shared international border.
Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is a contributing editor at Firstpost, and executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. He tweets @tufailelif 

Source: firstpost