Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'Boy' attackers shot Aussies in India, Mumbai

Nov 27, 2008: An Australian student has told how rampaging gunmen shot his girlfriend during a series of coordinated terrorist strikes in India's financial capital, Mumbai.

Townsville student David Coker, 23, and his Sydney partner Katie Anstee, 24, were eating at Mumbai's Cafe Leopold when the gunmen opened fire, shooting Ms Anstee through the leg.

The bullet broke her femur and exited through the front of her thigh. She is undergoing surgery.

Mr Coker, a law graduate and son of Federal Magistrate John Coker, suffered a bullet graze to his leg.

Read more:

http://news.theage.com.au/national/boy-attackers-shot-aussies-in-india-20081127-6jl6.html

80 dead in Mumbai terror attacks, scores held hostage

80 dead in Mumbai terror attacks, scores held hostage



People stand around a damaged vehicle at the site of an explosion in Mumbai. (Photo: AP)
First Published : 26 Nov 2008 11:10:54 PM IST
Last Updated : 27 Nov 2008 09:15:26 AM IST
MUMBAI: At least 80 people, including a foreign tourist and four top police officers, were killed and over 250 injured as terrorists struck in yet another series of planned and synchronised gunfire and bomb attacks in the heart of India's financial capital late Wednesday, authorities said. Terrorists were reported to be holding tourists and other guests hostage in two five-star hotels, the Taj Intercontinental and Trident (formerly Oberoi), facing the waterfront across the Arabian Sea close to the city's most important landmark, the Gateway of India. Four top police officials, including Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, were among the 10 policemen killed in the gunbattles with the terrorists, police confirmed. Among terror targets was the city's busiest railway station, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), formerly the Victoria Terminus that is a World Heritage site.
Read more:
http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=80+dead+in+Mumbai+terror+attacks,+scores+held+hostage&artid=KU8ulrRUh7w=&SectionID=b7ziAYMenjw=&MainSectionID=b7ziAYMenjw=&SectionName=pWehHe7IsSU=&SEO=terror,%20south%20mumbai

Carnage in Mumbai, India, 82 people killed

Aljazeera

Hostages were being held in the Taj Mahal hotel, part of which was also on fire [AFP]

Groups of heavily armed men have attacked several high-profile hotels and restaurants in the Indian city of Mumbai, leaving at least 82 people dead and more than 250 injured.

Attackers were still holding hostages early on Thursday and engaged in a standoff with security forces at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.

Police said six attackers had been killed and nine others arrested hours after the attacks began on Wednesday night, but Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra state where Mumbai is located, said the situation was not yet under control.

Read more:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/11/20081127195677350.html

Obama Leads Global Condemnation of Mumbai Gun, Grenade Attacks

By Michael Heath

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- President-elect Barack Obama led global condemnation of grenade and gun assaults in India’s financial hub of Mumbai, the third major terrorist attack targeting foreigners in South Asian nations this year.

The U.S. will work “with India and nations around the world to root out and destroy terrorist networks,” Obama’s transition team said in a statement. Gunmen raided Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Oberoi and Trident hotels and carried out attacks across the city that killed as many as 80 people.

The violence in Mumbai came two months after a suicide bombing on the Marriot Hotel in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, killed 40 people and a January attack on the luxury Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killed eight.

Read more:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601091&sid=axK1OAQV1TUM&refer=india

Indian Muslims in the US condemns terrorist attacks in Mumbai

FARMINGTON,MICHIGAN, Nov 27, 2008: The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) on Wednesday condemned the serial terrorist attacks in Mumbai city of India. According to latest news reports 80 people have died and over 250 have been injured in the attacks across the city including the CST railway station and the Oberoi and Taj hotels. At the time of this writing an hostage situation continued to exist in the Oberoi Hotel and a commando operation was on.

"We strongly condemn these dastardly attacks which targeted the innocents. AFMI conveys its deepest sympathies to the bereaved families and prays for the speedy recovery of the injured. We salute the the brave police officers who lost their lives and express our heartfelt condolences to their families," said Mr. Ali Quraishi, president of AFMI.

"AFMI demands the respective state and central governments to take immediate action in bringing the culprits behind this attack to justice. We also urge the respective governments to direct the police and security forces to not to target any innocent persons," Mr.Quraishi added.

"We also appeal to the people of India to maintain peace and not to fall prey to the machinations of anti-national and divisive forces."

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin, is a North American based grassroots organization, dedicated to socio-economic and educational development of Muslims and other underprivileged masses in India.


THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSLIMS OF INDIAN ORIGIN
Contact: AFMI, 29008, West Eight Mile Road, Farmington MI 48336, USA
Tel: 248-442-2364; Fax: 248-476-8926 Email: afmi11@aol.com; / www.afmi.org

Obama's US economic jolt




Will Obama's team manage to calm markets more effectively? [GALLO/GETTY]

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, is stepping into a yawning power vacuum in Washington DC in an unprecedented effort to restore confidence in the financial system.

"The truth is, we don't have a minute to waste," Obama has said.

"Right now, our economy is trapped in a vicious cycle: The turmoil on Wall Street means a new round of belt-tightening for families and businesses on Main Street – and as folks produce less and consume less, that just deepens the problems in our financial markets."

Obama said the economy needs a "jolt" - a whopping stimulus package to put people back to work, fix the crumbling public infrastructure and develop clean energy sources.

What he might have added is that the current president needs a jolt to wake him from his irresponsible slumber.

Read more:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/11/2008112518503190737.html

Obama Team Starts to Take Shape, May Include One-time Rival Hillary Clinton

Obama Team Starts to Take Shape, May Include One-time Rival Hillary Clinton

Posted: November 25, 2008PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION: PDF
The make up of President-elect Barack Obama's new administration began to emerge this week with his announcement of a new economic team and reports that former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton could be named Secretary of State.
Larry Summers, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, AP photo
President-elect Obama announced his choices for the top economic advisers in his administration, including former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, right, as the head of the National Economic Council.

With more people losing their jobs, plummeting stock prices and further declines in the housing market, President-elect Barack Obama held a series of press conferences this week to show that his administration will "hit the ground running."

Obama tackles the economy first

Tim Geithner

Obama chose New York Federal Reserve president Tim Geithner to be his Treasury Secretary, an appointment that must be approved by the Senate.
For the important position of Treasury Secretary, Mr. Obama nominated Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Lawrence Summers, a highly respected Harvard economist who got into trouble several years ago for questioning why more women are not succeeding at math and science, will head the White House Economic Council.
Read more:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/us/july-dec08/cabinet_11-25.html

Astronauts' water a go

HOUSTON -- After several days without luck, astronauts finally ran a successful test on equipment that turns urine into drinking water on the International Space Station.

"Not to spoil anything, but I think up here the appropriate words are 'Yippee!' " space station commander Mike Fincke told Mission Control early yesterday. "There will be dancing later," was the reply.

Read more:
http://www.winnipegsun.com/News/World/2008/11/26/7537421-sun.html

Nokia to Launch 5800 XpressMusic

Nokia India is all set to launch its latest 5800 XpressMusic in the country.

The latest gadget in Nokia’s brand XpressMusic is equipped with S60 5th Edition user interface it also features virtual computer-style QWERTY keyboard and sports touch interface with tactile feedback. To add to your amazement, there is also a Media Bar to access music, photos and videos directly.

Other striking feature include graphic equalizer , 81 MB internal memory which is expandable upto 16GB. The handset is also known to work congenially with all types of digital music formats, with built-in surround sound. It gives the best music experience a mobile phone can deliver.
Read more:
http://www.freshnews.in/nokia-to-launch-5800-xpressmusic-99838

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 records unexplained temperature rise

Chandrayaan-1 has reportedly encountered an unexplained rise in temperature.

According to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) Chairman Madhavan Nair, the vessel has recorded a 10 degree increase in temperature, which is hot enough to affect its advanced instruments. Although moon surface temperatures often reach 100 degrees Celsius, a thermal blanket could theoretically be utilised to keep Chandrayaan-1 from overheating.

The otherwise uneventful mission has thus far been considered a success. Indeed, 9 scientific instruments on board the ship have been activated and are relaying data, including three-dimensional pictures of the moon's surface. However, the ISRO is still waiting to activate the High Energy X-ray Spectrometer (HEX) and the Sub keV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA). The HEX is slated to survey the moon's polar region for the presence of water, uranium and thorium, while the SARA will analyse the surface composition of the lunar body.

"These are high voltage systems. You have to wait for some time in orbit before they are switched on," Project Director M. Annadurai told the Hindu.
Read more:

http://www.itexaminer.com/chandrayaan-1-records-unexplained-temperature-rise.aspx

Foreign nationals given ID cards in UK

LONDON, Nov 25 (KUNA) -- The British Home Office is to start issuing identity cards to people from outside the European Economic Area, it was officially announced here Tuesday.

The first cards will go to students and the husbands, wives and partners of permanent residents who apply for permission to extend their stay, the Home Office said.

The British Government said that by April 2015, 90 percent of all foreign nationals living in the UK will have the cards, containing fingerprints and personal details.

The main opposition Conservatives have dismissed the cards as an expensive gimmick. They will contain the fingerprints, name, date of birth, nationality and the person's right to be in the UK.

British ministers predict that between 50,000 and 60,000 cards will be issued by the end of next March.

Britains Home Secretary Mrs Jacqui Smith said in a statement "In time, identity cards for foreign nationals will replace paper documents and give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant's right to work and study in the UK." But the shadow Conservative Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said "This is a gimmick but it's a gimmick with a price." "While these 'ID cards' won't stop illegal immigration or terrorism, they will land the taxpayer with a multi-billion pound bill...At a time of economic hardship this is the last thing the taxpayer needs," Grieve added.

The BlackBerry Storm: is it all it’s cracked up to be?


The Blackberry Storm, RIM's first all-touch screen keyboard-free smartphone, hit the shelves with record breaking sales on Thursday. Feedback and reviews seem positive so far. The Storm has unquestionably added some much needed competition for the iphone.

The Look

For those of you who have not seen this new strikingly beautiful device, you will know the second you lay eyes on it, that clearly a lot of time and care went into crafting this phone. The majority of the front panel is display, a large 3.25-inch (480 x 360) touch screen sitting just shy of flush with a silver bezel that runs around the sides, top, and bottom of the device.

Read more:

http://www.examiner.com/x-1545-Boston-Technology-Examiner~y2008m11d25-The-BlackBerry-Storm-Touch-is-it-all-its-cracked-up-to-be

Work and family saath saath for SRK

When you are Shah Rukh Khan, time is of essence. When you aren’t filming for movies back to back, you are making appearances at events. And if you aren’t doing either of those things, then King Khan has to film adverts for his endorsements. So in just a jam packed schedule how do you make time for your family?
srk

“When you are Shah Rukh Khan, you make things happen. He knows the demands on his time and so now he asks most of the companies he endorses to film the advertisements at his home in Mannat,” informs a source.

In fact King Khan is believed to have built certain portions of his building in such a way that they can be used for filming these advertisements.
Read more:
http://www.starboxoffice.com/newsDetails.aspx?xfile=2008/November/News_20081124_165

Maharathi – First Shah Rukh, then Akshay Kumar

Here comes Paresh Rawal, the versatile personality who's gonna have high time in the coming weeks. The film Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye features him in three roles: Abhay Deol's father, gangster Gogi Bhai and a veterinary doctor Handa. Speaking about his characters, Paresh says that all the credits go to Director Dibakar.
Read more:
http://www.indiaglitz.com/channels/hindi/article/43245.html

And the Bigg Boss is...

The underdog won. Ashutosh Kaushik, the fun-loving small-town guy walked away with a crore as winner of the second season of Bigg Boss. Raja Choudhary was declared the runner-up

What are you planning to do with your prize money?
I will give it to my parents and they will decide what to do with it.

Did you expect to win?
I thought either Raja or I would win.

Do you think if Rahul had stayed back he would have won?
I wish he had stayed and I had won. My level of confidence is very high.
Read more:
http://www.screenindia.com/news/And-the-Bigg-Boss-is---/390426/

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama names economic team

Aljazeera.com

Wall Street is likely to welcome Geithner's appointment [GALLO/GETTY]

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, has named his White House economic team, which faces the task of kickstarting the struggling US economy.

Timothy Geithner, the New York Federal Reserve Bank chief, was nominated as the next treasury secretary during a news conference held by Obama in Chicago on Monday.

Lawrence Summers, a former treasury secretary under Bill Clinton, is to be the director of the National Economic Council and Christina Romer, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, was named as the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Read more:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/11/2008112416511362239.html

Is it time to 'Kumo' your web search?

BANGALORE, INDIA: In an attempt to take the web search war to another dimension, Software giant Microsoft is mulling the possibility of renaming and re-launching its search engine Live Search, say reports.

According to a report in LiveSide.Net, Microsoft is planning to re-brand Live Search as 'Kumo' by next year. The new name was already transferred from registrar to Microsoft, the report said.

Since Microsoft has decided to drop its bid for Yahoo and improve its Live Search engine this possible rebranding is being seen as an effort to grab more market share in search domain dominated by Google.

Read more:

http://www.ciol.com/News/News-Reports/Is-it-time-to-Kumo-your-web-search/241108113015/0/

Chandrayaan throwing up 'hot' challenges

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA: After the successful launch, the historic Chandrayaan I mission is now facing some real challenges from the moon itself.

According to ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair, the temperature inside the satellite had gone up by ten degrees owing to the volatile nature of the moon. The scientists at ISRO are afraid that the temperature raise could hamper some sensitive instruments inside the satellite, which is on a two-year lunar mission.

While delivering the Regent Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi Memorial Lecture here on Sunday, Nair said that the scientists are trying to artificially cool the satellite, though it is "a risky mission".
Read more
http://www.ciol.com/News/News-Reports/Chandrayaan-throwing-up-hot-challenges/241108113016/0/

Chandrayaan mission throwing up challenges’

Thiruvananthapuram: As the Chandrayaan I satellite treads a circular path around the moon, the latter is throwing up challenges to ISRO scientists as they strive for a successful completion of the two-year mission.

ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said here on Sunday that owing to the volatile nature of the moon, temperature inside the satellite had gone up by ten degrees. This could hamper sensitive instruments inside the satellite.

``We’re trying to artificially cool it now,’’ he said delivering the Regent Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi Memorial Lecture marking her 113th birth anniversary. ``It’s a risky mission,’’ he said, speaking on the theme `India’s Recent Space Achievements.’ If things go as planned, ISRO will be able to create the first lunar atlas with a picture resolution of below ten metres, he said. The ISRO expects to take one-and-a-half years to complete the mapping with the Terrain Mapping Camera on board the satellite.
Read more:

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Chandrayaan+mission+throwing+up+challenges%E2%80%99&artid=hKgJwGHri8M=&SectionID=lMx/b5mt1kU=&MainSectionID=lMx/b5mt1kU=&SEO=Chandrayaan,+satellite,+ISRO,+scientists,+moon,+mi&SectionName=tm2kh5uDhixGlQvAG42A/07OVZOOEmts

US govt to inject $300 bn into Citigroup

The US government and Citigroup are working feverishly to hammer out a rescue plan for the beleaguered bank. If all goes according to plan, an announcement of some type of plan is likely in a couple of hours. The exact nature of plan remains unclear, but the US government is leaning towards some sort of cash infusion into Citigroup.

The plan will probably be a multi-layered one, which means the government could backstop losses on Citigroup's troubled assets as well. In exchange, Citi may issue preferred stock to the US government. While the amount to be covered under the plan is under discussion, the talks are focused on about USD 100�200 billion worth assets.

Citigroup lost 60% of its market value last week as investor confidence in the New York-based company's prospects faltered after four consecutive quarterly losses.

Bill Smith, President and Senior Portfolio Manager at Sam Advisors, said, �We would prefer a takeover. We would prefer someone like a Goldman Sachs or anyone of the other major banks that have a great management team in place, and we would like something like that happen. That way you can stabilise the situation at Citigroup. It would give them time to get through the credit crisis and then maybe six months�a year down the road they can start divesting the operation.
Read more:
http://news.moneycontrol.com/india/news/business/us-govt-to-inject-36300-bn-into-citigroup/14/16/367594

US unveils $20bn Citigroup aid plan


Aljazeera
Citigroup has posted losses for the past
four financial quarters [GALLO/GETTY]

The US treasury department has announced that is is investing $20bn in Citigroup Inc as one of a series of actions to help the bank.

The US government will take preferred shares in the company as part of the arrangement.

In a late Sunday night announcement, the treasury department said it and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp will provide protection against losses in a pool of about $306bn worth of loans and securities on Citigroup's balance sheet.

Read more:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/11/2008112475458284269.html

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Astronauts venture for third space walk

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (KUNA) -- NASA astronauts ventured outside the international space station on Saturday for their third space walk, the longest and hardest of the mission.

Astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Stephen Bowen are expected to finish repair work on a jammed-joint that should last more than seven hours. As the repairs was getting under way, a new waste water recycling system for converting urine, sweat and other fluids into drinkable water broke down for the third consecutive day.

NASA officials say the problem appeared to be a sluggish motor, which could soil plans to test the USD 154 million recycling system by bringing recycled water back to Earth aboard space shuttle Endeavour next weekend.

The repair mission has also been marred by obstacles. On the first space walk Tuesday, a USD 100,000 tool kit, which contained two grease guns, floated into space.

AMD's 45nm Phenom II Chips Overclocked To 6+GHz

Hold the phone on handing the CPU performance crown to Intel's new Core i7 processors just yet -- the chip giant may yet have a fight on its hands in the coming months.

Advanced Micro Devices demoed its upcoming 45-nanometer "Deneb" desktop chips -- now confirmed as Phenom II -- for reviewers in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, and reports are in that AMD overclockers were able to achieve clock speeds north of 6 GHz on the second-generation quad-core devices.

How far north of 6 GHz? AMD spokesman John Taylor confirmed the basics of stories published by PC Perspective's Josh Walrath and Legit Review's Nathan Kirsch Thursday, but held back on outright endorsing the numbers originally cited in those stories.
Read more:
http://www.crn.com/hardware/212101254

Yuvvraaj: Movie Review

Director: Subhash Ghai
Cast: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif

Drona and Love Story 2050 have competition in vying for the position of the most disappointing films of 2008. Yuvvraaj is a potential contender. It's not just a bad film but a boring film. And a boring film can be much more taxing than a bad one.

It no more surprises that Ghai could make such a shoddy film, especially after he has reinstated our despair through duds like Yaadien and Kisna. In fact he washes away the diminutive hope that one might have had after Black and White.

Yuvvraaj starts as the story of Deven (Salman Khan in his anglicized accent), a chorus singer in Prague. Love is literally in the air as he starts floating around rainbows (without any flying colours) while dreaming of marrying an eternally cello-playing Anushkha (Katrina Kaif). The age-old aamir-ladki garib-ladka formula is thrown into picture with the girl's father objecting to their marriage. There is a strong Munnbhai MBBS hangover to the plot with Boman Irani posing as the father and moreover playing a doctor in the laughter-therapy mode.

Read more:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Media__Entertainment_/Entertainment/Yuvvraaj_Movie_Review/articleshow/3743310.cms

I'll never do 'Bigg Boss' again: Ashutosh Kaushik

IANS

NEW DELHI: Life for young dhaba owner Ashutosh Kaushik has taken an upward swing ever since he participated in television reality shows. But after winning 1 crore on "Bigg Boss", he doesn't wish to take part in such a programme ever again.

"If I get a chance to be a part of 'Bigg Boss' again, I will not do it for sure. It's not that I can't spend time again there, but I don't want to do it because I don't want to snatch someone else's chance of winning the show," Ashutosh said over phone from Mumbai.

This year has been pleasantly unpredictable for Ashutosh. He ran a roadside eatery just a year ago but then Lady Luck began to smile upon him and he got selected for adventure reality show "MTV Roadies 5.0" which he later won.
Read more:
http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1208700

Big Boss: Game over, now time to retrospect

LONAVALA: Ninety-eight days, 14 contestants and one crore rupees. As the curtains came down on season two of Big Boss, it is time for the participants to retrospect their participation in the Indian version of the reality show 'Big Brother' and for the winner to rejoice.

"Even after winning MTV Roadies 5.0, I was almost broke. I had no work. At that time, Big Boss 2 was offered to me. I got some work and also Big Boss fed me for three months", a relieved looking Ashutosh Kaushik said, after winning the Rs one crore game show.

Still, the winner of two reality shows is not very sure what future holds for him.
Read more:
http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1208738

President-elect Barack Obama economic plan for 2.5 mln jobs by 2011

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (KUNA) -- US President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday promoted a two-year economic plan he said would create 2.5 million jobs to jump start a US economy in risk of "deflationary spiral".

Obama said it is his intention to have his economic plan approved as quickly as possible once he is inaugurated as president.

"If we don't act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year," Obama said.

"We now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further." The plan would modernize schools and other infrastructure, and invest in alternative energy technologies, including fuel efficient cars, to more create economic opportunities, Obama said "big enough to meet the challenges we face", and one that offers long lasting benefits for the US.

The plan comes at a time when the US economy has been weakened by collapsing housing sector, problems on Wall Street and a major credit crisis.

"These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis. These are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long," Obama said in the weekly Democratic radio address.

He described it as "it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy".

He cautioned "There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better".

Obama noted the growing evidence the country is "facing an economic crisis of historic proportions" and said he was pleased Congress passed an extension of unemployment benefits this past week. But, he added, "We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again".

Pakistan's Musharraf leaves for London

ISLAMABAD, Nov 23 (KUNA) -- Pakistan's former military commander and president General retd. Pervez Musharraf left for London Sunday, but it was unclear whether it was a private visit abroad or a step towards settling abroad.

He was seen on local news channels arriving at the Islamabad International Airport (IIA) along with his wife under heavy security. This is his first visit abroad after he resigned in August in a televised address to the nation after serving almost nine years of his controversial tenure.

While some reports suggested that like other Pakistani politicians, Musharraf is planning to settle in London for good, some news reports said that he was on a weeklong visit to deliver lectures, address the Cambridge University Students Union, and hold meetings with members of different think tanks.

The Pakistan High Commission is expected to provide full official protocol on his arrival at London.

J&K polls: 44 pc turnout in second phase till 2 p.m.

Srinagar/Jammu (PTI): Ignoring separatists' call for poll boycott and braving freezing cold, an estimated 44.62 per cent of the nearly five-lakh-strong electorate exercised their franchise till Sunday afternoon in the second phase of Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections which will decide the fate of National Conference chief Omar Abdullah.

In a minor clash in Darhal constituency, one of the six seats that went to polls today, in Rajouri district, police fired in the air to disperse activists of the NC and supporters of an independent candidate who clashed and pelted stones at each other, a senior police officer said. Two persons were injured.

There was also disruption of balloting in the constituency (Darhal) as an independent candidate alleged booth capturing by NC workers. There were also reports of minor clashes between PDP and NC workers in the constituency.
Read more
http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/000200811231620.htm

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dhoni offers to resign, rift in Team India: Report

Dhoni offers to resign, rift in Team India: Report

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has reportedly offered to resign from the high-profile post following paceman Rudra Pratap Singh's exclusion from the ODI team but the BCCI vehemently denied the development.

According to television reports, Dhoni had a disagreement with the selectors during the meeting on Thursday to pick the team for the fourth and fifth matches of the ongoing series against England.

Dhoni was unhappy that the selectors decided to drop R P Singh and include Irfan Pathan in his place and offered to resign, the television reports claimed, quoting an unnamed source close to one of the selectors.
Read more:

http://in.news.yahoo.com/48/20081122/934/tsp-dhoni-offers-to-resign-rift-in-team.html

Blast from the Past: The hidden/torture/frame-up story of the Mumbai 93' Bomb Blasts

By Amaresh Misra and the AIPF team

I had written this story way back in 2005 for Tehelka magazine. Etmad Khan, another journalist was my accomplice. We jointly did a sting operation on PW2, the approver of this world famous case. For reasons known and unknown, a very watered down version of this story was published in one of 2005 Tehelka issues.

Maybe today for many the story has lost its relevance. But for me, it remains an unforgettable experience, a reminder of the cruel lengths to which communal/fascist forces can go to torture Muslim and non-Muslim under-trials. Please see the entire way men, women and children were tortured—a case by case account is given with bullet mark points below.

I decided to expose this story with new inputs by AIPF activists now as back then the many faceless victims got no sympathy or a proper hearing from either the Indian judiciary or the civil society. Judgment of the TADA court on the issue has been pronounced and several accused have been given death sentences. Their case is before the Supreme Court now.

I believe in a just God. I believe that justice will be served in some way on the perpetrators of this crime against humanity. The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, India Today, and Hindu etc have consistently ignored this story. The foreign American and British liberal media has been equally callous.

But justice shall be served to them—who ignore such sufferings—also. Serving Mumbai Police officers like Rakesh Maria and MN Singh will have to answer in this world for their crimes. Maybe someone will take up this issue in whatever way they deem fit.

One possible point of this story today is that it makes the campaign run by All India Patriotic Forum (AIPF) and the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) for the passing of `Atrocities against Minorities (prevention) act' and `Torture and Compensation Bill', all the more relevant. The AFMI and the AIPF are going to organize a civil rights march in February 2009 in Delhi.

I do not have a media platform. So I hope that whoever receives this will make copies and circulate it in the print or whatever form.

For many, it just might change their lives.

And yes—please read the full text.

On 12th March 1993, thirteen bomb blasts rocked Mumbai. Arrests followed soon after. By the end of 1993 about 198 accused' had been charge-sheeted. By then the CBI had taken over the case. The charge against the accused' then was `waging war against the state'. All accused' were booked under TADA, a draconian black act promulgated in 1987. Super seeding the regular Indian Penal system, where confessions before the Police are not admissible in Court, TADA gave the police the right to record confession.

Barring a few exceptions the main TADA accused' were all Muslims. The Mumbai blast case was seen as one where Muslims had conspired to attack India. A general anti-Muslim phobia gripped the Mumbai police. After the American 9/11 attack on twin towers, Mumbai Bomb Blasts were called India's 9/11.

But in the CBI charge sheet submitted to the special TADA Court the number of accused' came down to 135; the charge of waging war against the State was dropped. The charge sheet mentioned revenge for the Babri Masjid Demolition (6th December 1992) and Mumbai riots (1992-93) as the motive.

The Babri Masjid demolition and Mumbai riots were then seen as communal acts in which the Indian State power sided with fascist Hindu elements to target Muslims.

The Mumbai bomb blast case began in 1993 and has continued till this date viz April 2005. First JN Patel was the TADA judge; Mr. Pramod Kode replaced him in the late 90s.

In its 12 year span the Mumbai blast case has seen several ups and downs—amongst the 135 accused' more than 35, including Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon absconded. About 35 or so got bail in the 90s—the rest are still languishing in jail.

Allegedly, the Chota Rajan gang killed seven amongst those who got bail. Many others were attacked: All through the 90s the accused' kept making allegations and submitting petitions to the TADA judge regarding their safety. The accusation of a Chota Rajan-Home Ministry nexus to eliminate Bomb blast accused' was common.

The TADA Judge ignored these petitions. No accused was given security—furthermore the accused' brought forward serious charges of fourth degree torture against the police.

The accused' alleged that police were extracting confession with force, a power not given even by the TADA act. TADA Clause 15 (a) states clearly that confession has to be before a DCP and that too voluntarily. The sign of the accused has to be in each page of the confession.

The accused' alleged that in a bid to extract confessions the police used barbaric methods. A sample is given below:

§ Young naked Manzoor Ahmad was told to insert his penis into the mouth of Zaibunnisa Kazi, a woman of his mother's age.

§ Najma (the sister of Shahnawaz Querishi, an accused) was forced to fondle her father's penis and eat his shit too.

§ Najma's father Wali was sinisterly `informed' that his children's real father was someone else.

§ Then Police Commissioner MN Singh told Salim Durrani, who belongs to a royal family of Tonk, Rajasthan, that he was being booked under TADA in the blast case especially because he was an ex-Muslim Nawab. Salim Durrani's head was forced down into the toilet bowl to eat feces. When his head could not reach deep down enough the said detainee was force to use his hand.

§ Nafeesa (accused Majid Khan's wife) spent two months in jail in a single night suit, badly sinking and soaked in menstrual blood. Like they did in the case of other women prisoners the police had not provided a sanitary pad to her.

§ Accused Shahid had 4 epileptic attacks during his detention; his mother Hasina has so averred before the High Court.

§ Rukhsana (accused Ghulam Hafiz's sister-in-law) was released only when pre-natal pangs gripped her.

§ Parveen (accused Shahnawaz's sister) was detained for 15 days. On release she gave birth to a physically weak child who could not survive beyond three months.

§ Saaeda (accused Zakir Hussein's sister) was viciously beaten up in front of her 41 days old infant child who too was slapped. She was not allowed to breast feed the baby for hours together.

§ Shabana (accused Abdul Rehman's daughter) was stripped and beaten despite her late pregnancy.

§ Noorjahan (accused Shahnawaz's wife) was not permitted to clothe her infant child when she was nabbed and dumped in the police jeep.

§ Accused Iqbal Haspatel was repeatedly taunted about the paternity of his children.

§ Zahida (Haspatel's daughter) was separated from her child and detained for 15 days at Srivardhan police station; she was callously refrained from breast feeding her baby.

§ Mrs Anwar Theba a newly married convent educated girl was stripped and her naked body placed on ice slab while drunken policemen violated her naked body. Cigarette burns were inflicted on her body.

§ Farzana (Ghulam Hafiz's wife), Noorjahan (Shahnawaz Abdul Kader Qureshi's wife, Safia (Abdul Khan's wife) who were detained alongside other women for several days with their small children had to sustain themselves on water and tea for several days.

§ Policemen brought milk and food from outside for fees ranging from Rs. 5 Rs. 100. The food served to all inmates comprised 2 small loaves of bread and a pouch of tea served at 12:30 in the afternoon and 4 loaves of bread was watery daal at 8: 30 in the evening.

§ Water was scarce even for drinking. Many women inmates were forced to drink their urine.

§ Medical treatment was a taboo. Only those unfortunate ones were taken to the hospital who had been beaten `within an inch of their (sic) lives' by the police. In all such cases victims were admitted under false names. The late Rahim Karbelkar who for months was pleading jail authorities as well as designated court for medical court died within a few hours of his admission to the JJ hospital.

§ Those who could manage to stand up were taken to the dispensary on foot. Hand cuffed they were forced to walk bare foot under the sun, being dragged by sneering and swearing cops who willfully avoided shady pathways. Such punitive ordeals were reserved especially for those who clamored for medical relief.

§ Putting dirty chappals in the mouth was a regular practice.

§ The pregnant Shabana was made naked and forced to beat her father with chappals.

§ Inserting chilly powder into the private parts of was a regular part of the torture. Most victims have developed permanent piles.

§ Genitals of men and women were targeted in a most morbid manner.

§ Urine and feces were part of the food, spitting into mouth of prisoners and spitting by especially bought lepers was a regular affair. The police enjoyed all such incidents.

§ Wives were `advised, by lecherous policemen to become prostitutes.

§ Electric shocks were rampant and the human genital was the target most favored by the police.

§ Family members were given sticks and belts to beat each other.

§ Whenever women, to avoid obscenity tried to cover their eyes, severe beating was unleashed on their hands. Their hair locks were savagely pulled up. They were forced to see the stripped torsos of their men for hours together.

§ Small children and infants were incarcerated; they too were subjected to physical and sexual torture.

§ Several individuals, including Raj Kumar Khurana, owner of the Stomach restaurant in Bandra committed suicide. The police wanted some information out of Khurana and he was shown what is being done to women and children. Fearing the worst Khurana went home shot his wife, children and then himself.

Voices, a book written by an accused brings forth these instances. The accused' filed several affidavits saying that they are good citizens of the country and have been framed. The TADA judge ignored the affidavits—he refused to act against a single policeman involved in the most heinous torture in India's history.

The case of Mr. Salim Khan Durrani highlights the issue further.

Mr. Salim Khan Durrani, a first class first student of Indore Degree College, an outstanding sports-person, a nationalist (his two brothers served the Indian army) was beaten up personally by IPS officer Mr. MN Singh on several occasions. He was implicated in a case laughable by any accounts. Any session court would have thrown away the case. He was however beaten in front on the whole jail while in judicial custody he was tied to the railings at night in front of India Gate so that cars could over-run him. He was taken to Jaipur and Tonk by the Mumbai Crime Branch team. Police personnel extorted money from his family then went back and told his mother that they will rape her daughter if she does not shell out more money.

Mr. Durrani was also given `fourth degree torture' to extract voluntary confession. Mr. Durrani was subjected to a form of torture known only to Mossad, the secret Israel police. Strings were tied to his toe and pulled. This touched a nerve because of which his heart stopped for a few seconds. This form of sophisticated torture is Mossad-CIA trademark. It was used in Guatanamo prison base and the Abu Gharaib prison in Iraq.

The most shocking part is that an Israeli national tortured Salim Durrani. What was an Israeli national doing in a Mumbai crime branch torture cell? Was the Indian State power using Mossad agents illegally to torture Muslims?

Salim Durrani was willing to testify on this. But no one listened.

Thus it can be seen that the TADA judge was acting in a partisan manner throughout the case. He was violating the Indian constitution by not listening to affidavits, which involved the security and well being of the accused.

TADA was repealed in 1997 but not in retrospect. The most partisan instance occurred in 2005—on 28th January 2005 a film called `Black Friday—True story of Mumbai Blasts' was supposed to be have been released. Produced by Jhamu Sugandh in association with Sunday Mid-day, a Mumbai daily news magazine, this film is based on a book of the same name written by S. Hussein Zaidi and published by Penguin in 2002.

The accused' felt that screening the film before the verdict would amount to violation of the right of an accused to get a fair trial. This is because the film showed accused' as guilty, organizing blasts etc without changing names or locations. This was almost like pronouncing a verdict before the verdict, prejudicing the public against the accused' and forcing extra-constitutional pressure on the judiciary.

Mr. Pramod Kode, the TADA judge did not pay heed to the demand of the accused' to stay the film. Mr. Majeed Memon, the accused' lawyer and the TADA judge reached an understanding that the makers can screen the film only if they remove the line `True story'.

Not satisfied with this and smelling a conspiracy involving even Mr. Majeed Memon, the accused' moved the Mumbai high court. The hon. Court stayed the film's release. After several hearings the Mumbai High Court passed an order on 31st march 2005 that the film actually does amount to the denial of a fair trial to the accused' and should not be released till the final verdict is out.

Now comes the most astonishing part of all—the book on which the film is based begins with the acknowledgement section. On page xi, the author Mr. Zaidi writes: "My special thanks to judge of the specially designated TADA court, Pramod Kode, who reassured and encouraged me. His support paved the way for the completion of the book".

All through the acknowledgement section the author says again and again that the book is based on the prosecution account. On page xiv of the author's note he writes—"Much of the story is culled from the case presented by the prosecution in the trial as the prime sources of information are the charge sheet in the case filed by the police and the statement of the accused:"

Now if page xi and xiv are read in conjunction what does it reveal? That the judge endorsed the prosecution version of story, which naturally asked for the strictest punishment to the accused' before even giving a verdict!

From the beginning the accused' allege there has been a conspiracy to frame innocents in the Mumbai bomb blast cases. The evidence against the accused', they say, is concocted and would not stand in the Supreme Court. According to them, `Black Friday', both the book and the film, are parts of the conspiracy, which wants to create prejudices in the public against the accused'. This would create an atmosphere of vengeance against the accused' which would then enable the Mr. Kode, the TADA judge, who was otherwise finding it difficult to convict the accused on the basis of flimsy evidence and several loop holes in the charge sheet, to actually convict the accused'!

Now the accused' are thoroughly convinced that the TADA judge is part of a big conspiracy which involves top politicians, police personnel, filmmakers and journalists. The accused' have no trust and faith left in the TADA judge who as the evidence regarding the book shows gave full encouragement to the author to write out the prosecution story as a true story.

Human right groups, Left parties such as the CPI-ML (Liberation) and secular forums like Tehrik-e-Hind and Sanatan Dharma Parishad are demanding the removal of the TADA judge. Mr. Akhilendra Pratap Singh, CPI-ML Polit Bureau member has asked for the TADA's judge arrest for violating constitutional law. His demands include an impartial inquiry set up by the Supreme Court into the whole conspiracy behind the book, film and the role of various players.

The accused' also state that the `Black Friday' case is only a culmination of the conspiracy against them. The fact that normal procedures like providing security to the accused' were not followed and affidavits highlighting police tortures were ignored points to the fact that a nexus of Police personnel, politicians and the TADA judge were prejudiced against the accused' from the beginning. In fact the entire Mumbai blast case, the charge sheet itself is part of a conspiracy to not only condemn the innocents for a crime committed by others but also to subvert the rule of law and constitutional propriety in India.

Several cases of subversion of law can be cited—the prosecution case is based on the approver PW2. Evidence in Page 515 of the Worli charge sheet is shocking—there a police officer writes that the approver was arrested on 10.5.93. But the date on the document is 16th April 1993!

Amongst several other bomb blasts, the charge sheet mentions an attempt to bomb the Mumbai Sahar International Airport. The charge sheet states specifically that Mr. Jadhav, Chief of the Mumbai Police bomb squad visited Sahar International Airport on 12th March 1993. But Mr. Jadhav's report, compiled a few days after the blast fails to mention any visit to the Sahar Airport!

Then in the pages of the confessions of the accused, especially those recorded by DCP Sanjay Pandey, the handwriting changes from normal to small! Even a cursory glance shows that the confessions were written beforehand and space was left so that the names of the accused could be squeezed in later!

In one confession letter signed by DCP Sanjay Pandey the accused actually says no when asked whether he wants to confess—but then the confession goes on detailing his role! 15 (a) of TADA is clear that the confessions have to be voluntary—how can an officer of law proceed further when the accused is saying `no I do not want to confess?'

It is clear that these confessions were fabricated—the police in fact knew of the bomb blasts. There are several records in the police stations, which show that some accused' had warned Mahim police station in Mumbai that blasts were being planned and RDX consignments would be unloaded on the Konkan coast in district Raigad in February 93'. The Police in fact arrested three of the accused before 12th March 1993, the day of the blasts and they also confirmed the same.

Later when the blasts took place the Police clubbed 27 CRs registered under various police stations under one head! This is clearly a violation of constitutional law. The charge sheet mentions that several conspiracies were going on simultaneously. In fact the charge sheet mentions 4 to 5 conspiracies with proper chain of names as being operative. Then how come all these conspiracies were not treated as separate cases? Why were they clubbed as one? Is it possible that B is charged with the crime A has committed merely because B had intended to commit the same crime? This is something unheard of in the annals of law anywhere in the world. The whole world knows that there was more than one conspiracy to kill Mahatama Gandhi. Titled, `Hey Ram' there is even a film duly approved by the Indian Censor Board, which shows other conspiracies. Now was it possible for the judiciary to hang others who had only intended to carry out the assassination independent of Nathu Ram Ghodse?

The answer is no—then why, as per the police charge sheet, different chains of different conspiracies have all been clubbed together?

Moreover, as stated earlier the CBI dropped the charge of waging war against the state. The accused' have been charged with revenge for Babri demolition and Mumbai riots—now everyone knows that Babri Masjid demolition was a heinous crime against the nation. It led to killings of the minority community. As per the Srikrishna Commission report, during the Mumbai 1992-93 riots, which followed the demolition, the police turned communal and Shiv Sainiks; the Srikrishna Commission is on record as stating that the police were Shiv Sainiks first and part of a secular state by accident.

Now here the entire Mumbai police force is in contempt of the constitution—over 4,000 people were killed in the Mumbai riots, most of them Muslims.

However, none of the accused' of the Babri demolition and Mumbai riots was charged with TADA. The charge sheet of the Mumbai blasts says that the blasts were third in a chain of events the first two of which was Babri Masjid demolition and Mumbai riots. So how can TADA be slapped on the accused of the third chain of events when the accused of the first two events, which provided the motive for the third chain are being tried under ordinary IPC laws?

If A has killed B's father and B takes revenge by killing a relative of A and the charge sheet mentions this as the motive then is it possible that A and B will be tried under separate sections only because A is a Hindu and B is a Muslim?

Is it possible that someone inviting only section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC invite section 302 (murder)? The Mumbai blast charge sheet does not establish that a giant chain was behind the 12th March 1993 incidents. The charge sheet shows that there were simultaneous, not a single conspiracy. The charge sheet does not establish that the simultaneous conspiracies were part of a single conspiracy. Then how can all accused be linked to a crime committed on 12th March 1993? It would have made sense had the police said that one chain committed the 12th March crime another chain was planning blasts on some other dates and so on and forth. Then the police would have had to establish each chain and their target. The accused' of other chains would have had to be tried by law under other sections because their intended blast never took place.

The police extorted thousands of crores of rupees from hapless Muslims, openly connived with criminals to kill the accused. The Mumbai bomb blast is an amazing case of a huge extortion racquet where organs of Indian State power undermined the basis of the Indian State as part of a conscious design to install a coup where minorities are treated with a different yardstick than the majority. This is a clear violation of the constitution of India, which proclaims equal rights for all citizens of India irrespective of caste, religion and creed.

The main Mumbai blast accused is Tiger Memon. Now he lived within a radius of 100 feet from the Mahim police station. All through the night of 11-12th March 1993 activities were going on in his building. It is amazing that the police had no clue.

Then Tiger Memon was traced through a van, which was left at Worli by some of the accused'. This is as per the statement of the approver PW2. Now this approver is a police informer. There is evidence to prove this. What if the entire story told by the approver is false? What if the real story of the Mumbai Bomb Blasts is entirely different from the version put forth by the Mumbai police?

To reiterate the accused' demand that—

1. Mr. Pramode Kode, the TADA judge should be removed with immediate effect and criminal proceedings initiated against him.

2. TADA should be withdrawn with immediate effect and the accused ought to be tried under a new charge sheet under IPC laws prepared by an able agency.

3. The Supreme Court should take up the hearing of torture cases outlined above and punish the guilty.

4. The whole anti-national nexus behind the framing of accused in the Mumbai blast case and using law to violate law, using powers given by the constitution of India to deny constitutional rights to Muslims, India's biggest minority, should be exposed and brought before the law.

A plea is being made to the Supreme Court, which says, "India is a secular republic with a written constitution. It is the duty of the Supreme Court to uphold the constitution. We charge that citizens of India who have equal rights in the eye of law were treated as second-class citizens by constitutional agencies only because they belonged to the minority community. Mumbai Bomb Blasts case has destroyed lives of thousands of Muslims whose only fault was that they were Muslims. The Indian officials and politicians who committed atrocities on the Bomb Blast accused' have acted against the Indian State. They have confirmed Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan who said that Muslims would always be treated as second-class citizens in India. We want to save India from fascist forces. Please hear our plea or give us in writing that India is not a secular but a theocratic state where Muslims will be treated as second-class citizens. We ask the Supreme Court to listen to our genuine grievance or dissolve itself as India is still a secular republic and passing an order that Muslims are second class citizens with no rights will be tantamount to overturning the constitution."

All human rights activists, secular individuals and people for justice are asked to drop everything and propagate these events. Justice to Mumbai blast accused' is an issue of keeping Jawahar Lal Nehru's promise to Muslims intact, a life and death matter for upholding constitution of India. After the Mumbai blasts, Mumbai police implicated several innocent Muslims in the 1998 blasts, then again in the 2002 Ghatkopar blasts (famous because of the Khwaja Yunus incident) and again in 2003 Gateway of India blasts. The last mentioned in fact saw the approver PW2 of 93' blast re-emerging as a prime accused in the capacity of Nasir, a name found in his passport. Now Nasir was PW2's name also in the fake passport he was shown as carrying in 1993 also. This individual is a police informer—now the fact that the police or the Home Ministry (Lal Krishna Advani himself) was involved in the gateway of India blast gains credibility!

The Mumbai saga is the most organized attempt by fascist forces to practice religious discrimination, persecute a community while maintaining the fa├žade of India being a secular, democratic republic. How long can this dualism go on? How could a state administration, which has institutionalized treatment of Muslims, as second class citizens can be allowed to continue under constitution which provides equality before law?

Hindutvawadis in American politics

By Ayub Khan

The appointment of Sonal Shah to Barack Obama's transition team has rightly garnered the headlines. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Activists, writers, scholars, and others bearing right wing Hindu extremist ideology have been gradually carving themselves a niche in the American politics, academia, and intelligentsia.

With all the attention of successive administrations almost singularly focused on Muslim extremists, their Hindu counterparts have managed to avoid scrutiny and gain prominent positions in universities and the political arena. Their objective is to follow the path of the Zionist lobbying groups and they have made no qualms about their intentions.

They started off small in the 1960s by inviting politicians to community, writing letters and generally making their presence known. By early 90s they had graduated to hold effective lobbying power and made public announcements of allying themselves with the Zionist groups.

They couched their agenda in nationalistic terms thereby further concealing their actual intention which is to convert India into a Hindu nation. Their divisive ideology effectively negates the idea of India as a secular, plural, and progressive nation. This concealment caused them to obtain control of several prominent Indian organizations.

The rise of the ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party further emboldened their aspirations. During the the late 80s and early 90s they hosted a number of leaders from the BJP who have hitherto been persona non grata for mainstream Indian organizations in North America. The formation of the BJP led government created further opportunities for the Hindutva supporters. This created tensions within the Indian community and led to the notion of groupisms within their large mainstream organizations like the Federation of Indian Associations. In some instances it even led to suits, countersuits, and defamation allegations.

Despite the conflict the Hindutva supporters continued to grow in the American political landscape. Probably their first big catch, which largely went unnoticed, was the nomination of Bhailal Patel to the transition team of Illinois Gov.Rod Blagojevic in 2002. Bhailal Patel, president of a financial services company and then president of one faction of Federation of Indian Associations, was named to the governor's Consumer Affairs and Regulatory Policy Committee.

Patel makes no qualms about his his support for the Hindutva and its ideology. In 2003, he praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with the following words:

"Chief Ministers from 14 non-BJP ruled states came to tell the Gujarati people which way to vote. Their shrill anti-BJP tirade was further supported by Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi - the famous reader of prepared speeches. This is the first time ever that such a large group of chief ministers had joined hands, aided and abetted by a prime ministerial berth aspirant, to defeat a political party in state elections. Despite their stentorian harangues, or perhaps because of it, the masses of Gujarat were aroused - they unceremoniously voted out all those who had the audacity to attack India's ancient culture and Hindutva." (BJP Today, Mar.1-15,2003-Vol.12, No.5).

Another Hindutva supporter waltzing in the political circles is Dr.Bharat Barai, former president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad-America. Public records indicate that he donated $6,900 to the Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. He also donated to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($5,000) , All America PAC ($5,000), and to the campaigns of Joe Biden ($2,800), Mitt Romney (2,300), Jesse Jackson Jr. ($2,300), Joe Donnelly ($2,300), Barack Obama ($1,000), among others.

The ranks of the likes of Barai and Patel among political parties is increasing and so is their influence. While American politicians avoid like plague anyone who is even remotely linked to any kind of extremist Muslim ideology or individuals, they have no qualms about embracing the proponents of Hindu supremacist ideologies. It is about time that they live up to the American values of religious freedom and tolerance and disassociate themselves from proponents of any kind of extremist ideology.

Obama taps Geithner to head US Treasury Department, Richardson for Commerce

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (KUNA) -- Tim Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will be nominated as the new U.S. Treasury Secretary, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will be tapped as the new U.S. Secretary of Commerce, NBC News said it had learned on Friday.

With the U.S. economy spiraling into what could become the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the appointment of Geithner -- a career Treasury official -- is widely viewed as one of the most important jobs in the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Geithner has worked at the Treasury Department under three U.S. presidential administrations and five Treasury secretaries. He also has been a top player working with current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in trying to manage the ongoing Wall Street and financial bailouts.

Richardson, UN ambassador under the administration of former President Bill Clinton, was favored by many Democrats to be the Secretary of State under Obama, but that post apparently will be accepted by New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the former first lady.

Richardson is Hispanic, and U.S. Hispanics have been watching closely in recent days to see if Obama would choose one of their own for a Cabinet post.

Obama was expected to formally announce members of his economic team on Monday, according to various sources in the Obama transition team.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ideology of Hindutva is Sheer Fascism: Swami Agnivesh

Swami Agnivesh is the President of the Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha ('World Council of the Arya Samaj'). A well-known social activist, he has played a leading role in the struggle against communalism in India , including against Hindutva terrorism, about which he talks in this interview with Yoginder Sikand.

Q: How do you explain the recent wave of bomb blasts that have taken place across India ? How can this dangerous phenomenon be tackled?

A: Clearly, behind such attacks is a certain ideology at work whose major objective is to create hatred between the different communities. That, rather than just killing innocent people, is the real objective of those behind these dastardly and cowardly acts. These forces, who could be both internal as well as external, and who could include extremist Hindus, extremist Muslims or others, clearly do not want people of the different communities to live in peace with each other.

Among the various steps that should be taken to counter this form of terrorism is for people to isolate the forces within their own respective religious communities that seek to foment communal hatred. If a Hindu name emerges as being behind a certain terrorist attack, it is for Hindus, in particular, to fiercely condemn such a person or organization, not just as a criminal but also as anti-Hindu. And the same holds true for how Muslims should respond if the person or outfit behind a terror attack bears a Muslim name. Terrorism cannot be tackled simply by the government machinery without this sort of social or public mobilization against it. In this, it is particularly crucial that we desist from branding or associating any particular community with terrorism, because terrorism does not know any barrier of community. It is wrong to associate t with any religion. It is also crucial, as I suggested, that if a person claiming to belong to a particular community engages in an act of terror, those others who also belong to the same community must fiercely condemn his act as not just being a crime but also a gross violation of the religious teachings of the community in question. Only then can these elements be denied any social sanction or support.

And this is now beginning to happen. A number of leading Muslim clerics have issued fatwas against any form of terrorism, no matter what the religion of the perpetrator. And so I would like Hindu leaders to also begin to say the same thing. Recently, I issued a statement on behalf of the Arya Samaj appealing to all Hindu religious leaders not to support those Hindutva activists who have been accused in the Modassa and Malegaon terror attack cases. I appealed to them to expose Hinduvta terrorists, for they are giving the entire Hindu community a bad name. I pointed out that numerous Muslim ulema or religious leaders have organized mass rallies and have issued fatwas condemning all forms of terrorism, including that engaged in by self-styled jihadist groups. Recently, I attended a huge inter-faith conference in Madrid to denounce all forms of terrorism, which was organized by the King of Saudi Arabia. I suggested that Hindu religious leaders should also do the same and forcefully condemn all forms of terrorism, including that done in the name of Hinduism or by Hindus, as anti-Hindu, anti-religion and anti-human.

I made the same point at the National Integration Council meeting that was recently held in Delhi , where I said that leading Indian maulvis are issuing fatwas against all forms of terrorism and organizing mass rallies, some of which I have also addressed, to denounce it, and I asked why Hindu religious leaders were not doing the same.

Q: What has been the result of this appeal of yours to Hindu religious leaders? Are they coming out to forcefully condemn terror engaged in by Hindutva groups, just as many Muslim clerics are now openly speaking against terrorism done in the name of Islam?

A: Unfortunately, many Hindu religious leaders continue to remain silent on this. To remain silent on such a heinous matter can, in some cases, be construed as tacit approval. But I am still making efforts to make them realize the gravity of the situation.

Q: In recent years there is a growing tendency in some circles to associate Islam, in particular, with terrorism. How do you see this development?

A: I think this is completely unfair. It is a product of the imperialist agenda of certain Western powers that need to create the spectre of radical Islamism as allegedly posing an immense threat to the West so as to help the West justify its continuing hegemony, its global power and its control over West Asian oil resources. Using this warped logic, and without any evidence, America has attacked and devastated Afghanistan and Iraq and seems to be bent on taking on the whole Muslim world. George Bush openly calls for a 'crusade', and thus seeks to lend credence to the thoroughly bankrupt theory of the 'clash of civilisations'. The Western media has been forcefully propagating this thesis, and now, especially after 9/11, large sections of the Indian media are also parroting the same bogus theory.

To repeat, to seek to associate terrorism with any religion or community is completely wrong. I think, and I have said this publicly, that George Bush is the world's No. 1 terrorist. It was the Western establishment that, along with its client regimes, created the Taliban and armed Saddam, and the Bin Laden family is a business partner of the Bush family. In the same way, the Congress, under Indira Gandhi, propped up Bhindaranwala, but he later turned into a Frankenstein. Likewise, the first victim of terrorism in free India , Mahatma Gandhi, was killed by a Hindu, not a Muslim. It was not a Muslim who killed Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi. And so you can easily see through the falsity of the slogan, 'All Muslims may not be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims' that is so frequently mouthed today.

Q: What do you have to say about the recent revelations about some Hindutva groups being involved in fomenting terrorism in India ?

A: Yes, this phenomenon exists and the media is gradually bringing it to light. Hindutva ideologues have been consistently seeking to equate Islam and Muslims with terrorism but now that evidence is surfacing of the close involvement of radical Hindutva outfits in terrorism they are saying that terrorism must not be sought to be associated with any religion. But this is precisely what they were doing all this while with regard to Islam. They are saying that the so-called Sadhvi who has been arrested in connection with the Malegaon blasts should not be called a 'terrorist'. Rather, they say, she should be termed as an 'accused' because the charges against her have not been as yet proved by the courts. But if that is the case, then why do they refer to the Muslims nabbed by the police, but against whom the courts have not passed their verdicts, as 'Islamic terrorists', without demanding the same sort of proof? You can call them 'suspects' or 'accused', but why jump to the conclusion that all of them are actually terrorists without the charges against them being proven?

There is ample evidence to show that Hindutva groups have been involved in planning and executing acts of terror, but, unfortunately, for its own political purposes, the Government has done little to curb this and has sought to play this down. Nor has the media given this the serious attention that it deserves. Such terror attacks obviously help the Hindutva lobby as they widen the Hindu-Muslim chasm, which, in turn, makes it easier to play on Hindu sentiments in order to win Hindu votes. One cannot rule out the possibility of Hindutva elements in being behind some of the other blasts besides the ones in Malegaon, Modassa, Nanded, Kanpur and so on that are now coming to light. Blasts could have been done by any group, Hindu or Muslim or whatever, but it is wrong to jump to a conclusion without proper investigation.

But let me come back to the Malegaon terror case. I recently held a press conference where I pointed out that a television channel, Sudarshan TV, which is very close to the RSS, reported the Malegaon bomb blast almost as soon as it had happened, before other, large channels reported it. This might be additional evidence of Hindutva radicals being behind the terror attack. And, of course, other possible evidence is also emerging. If the so-called Sadhvi and the army officer and others who are accused are found to be guilty, they must be socially ostracized by the Hindu society. If this so-called Sadhvi, dressed in the saffron robes of a sanyasin, is really involved in this blast it is a matter of great shame for Hindus. Hindutva terrorists are a blot on the name of Hindu society. It seems that they have taken upon themselves the task of giving Hinduism a bad name, to give it the shape of terrorism. In actual fact, they are enemies of Hinduism and the Hindu society. They want to divide and thereby destroy the country, using terror for building their vote-banks.

Q: Do you think there is any ideological link between radical Hindutva and terrorism?

A: The roots of the notion of Hindutva go back to Savarkar, who coined the term in the 1920s. Before that, he appeared to champion Hindu-Muslim solidarity, but following his stay in jail in the Andaman Islands his views completely changed, and he then started claiming that the Hindus and Muslims of India were, in effect, two different nations. He appealed to Hindus to militarise themselves. He argued that those who did not follow religions that were born in India were not real patriots or genuine Indians. And so, according to this poisonous thesis, Muslims and Christians were to be considered as not true Indians, deserving of, at best, second-grade citizenship.

This thesis of Hindutva gave a handle to the proponents of a separate Muslim state of Pakistan . I am convinced that if there was no Hindutva, there would have been no separate Pakistan , and India would have remained one. And the millions of Muslims who stayed behind in India after the Partition I consider to be much more patriotic than the Hindutva-walas, because the former were offered the dream of a seeming utopia, of 'heaven', if they migrated to Pakistan , but they refused to migrate, and, instead, they stayed on in their homeland. And this they did despite all the immense threats, challenges and fear that they were forced to face, and despite the repeated anti-Muslim pogroms and pervasive discrimination. Who, then, can dare question their patriotism?

So, let me unhesitatingly say, yes, the ideology of Hindutva, as we know it, is inextricably linked to terrorism, in both theory as well as in practice. And I would go further and say that Hindutva is even worse than that—it is sheer fascism. Let me also say that the greatest victims and sufferers of Hindutva fascism will not be Muslims or Christians, but, rather, Hindus themselves.

Q: Why do you say that?

A: I say this because history clearly tells us that if any form of fascism is not combated by the community or people in whose name it claims to speak, it will eventually destroy that people or community. Thus, when Hitler went about massacring the Jews the German Christians remained silent, and because they did not oppose his Nazism they had to face huge loss of German life in the Second World War. When Bhindaranwale and his henchmen went about killing Hindus, many Sikhs remained quiet, and eventually more Sikhs than Hindus were killed by the Khalistanis. In Kashmir , self-styled Islamist extremists have killed many times more Muslims than Hindus. Likewise, because radical Islamist groups in Pakistan were fanned by the state, and there was no effective Muslim protest against them, they now pose a potent threat to the peace and prosperity of the people of Pakistan , the vast majority of who are Muslims, and many Pakistani Muslims have fallen victim to them. So, I find that there is no reason to believe that if Hindus do not speak out and assertively protest against Hindutva fascism they would not have to suffer immensely later. It will prove to be a disaster for them, and, besides this, it would only give India a bad name. I firmly believe that all forces, groups and people that are genuinely concerned about the welfare of India , must stand up against Hindutva fascism.

Q: What do you feel about the way the government has gone about seeking to tackle the problem of terrorism?

A: There is no uniform approach across the country. So, for instance, we witnessed the state-sponsored genocide and massive wave of terror in Gujarat in 2002, that caused the deaths of vast numbers of innocent Muslims. The way this genocide was launched, with such precision, made me suspect that one cannot rule out the possibility that the burning of the coach of Sabarmati Express might have been orchestrated by Modi himself to fan anti-Muslim hatred and garner Hindu votes.

But the role of the state in such heinous violence targeted against innocent people, which is a form of terrorism, did not start with Modi. The nefarious role of top bosses in the Congress Party in orchestrating the large-scale massacre of Sikhs in 1984 is well-known. So, various governments have sought to fan violence against minorities for their own political purposes, and no discussion of terrorism in India can leave out this crucial dimension.

We also have to talk of and speak out against other forms of terrorism. The killing of some 3000 innocent people in America on 9/11 was a terrible crime, and it must be condemned, but the West does not want us to talk of other forms of terrorism in which Western powers and elites are directly implicated. Some 7000 children die in India daily, mainly due to poverty, which is caused by a skewed and totally inhuman notion of 'development' propagated by Indian and Western elites. Is this not a form of terrorism also? In some senses, it is a worse form of terrorism, not only because it is of a far greater magnitude but also because it causes prolonged pain and suffering to its victims, unlike those who die in an instant in a terrorist attack. Some twenty-five thousand dowry-deaths of women are recorded every year in India . Is this not also a form of terrorism? Is not female foeticide a form of terrorism?

The point I am making is that all forms of terrorism, whether in the name of religion, community, nation, gender or whatever, needs to be sternly condemned and struggled against. Let us not be selective in our approach, because terrorism anywhere is a danger to humanity everywhere.

Swami Agnivesh can be contacted on agnivesh70@gmail.com