Tag Archives: india

Violence on rise in India-occupied Kashmir after Yasin Malik’s sentencing

SRINAGAR: Indian forces killed six fighters in occupied Kashmir over the past 24 hours while the fighters shot dead a female TV performer and a police officer, officials said on Thursday, following the conviction of the region’s best-known leader.

A New Delhi court on Wednesday ordered life in jail for Yasin Malik for funding “terrorist” activities and on several other counts. The sentencing prompted warnings from politicians that it would promote alienation in the Muslim-majority region.

Shops and businesses in India-held Kashmir remained closed for a second day of protests against the verdict, while police detained 10 people for throwing stones and for sloganeering outside Yasin Malik’s residence.

“Three militants each of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed in two separate gun battles in [occupied] Kashmir since yesterday,” Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar said, referring to the two organisations. “We have also lost a cop in one of the operations.”

Kumar said Kashmiri fighters had shot dead 35-year-old television and social-media performer Amreen Bhat on Wednesday evening. They have allegedly killed at least 12 people, mostly police, in occupied Kashmir this year. One of the dead was a Kashmiri Hindu government employee, worrying the disputed region’s tiny minority community.

More than 3,400 Hindus from occupied Kashmir have been given government jobs there in recent years, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government tries to lure them back into the region after attacks forced them to flee during the 1990s. But Hindus have been holding street protests demanding relocation out of held Kashmir.

“We are not secure here,” Amit, a protesting Hindu government emplo­yee, said. “Our colleague was shot dead in his office. Our demand is relocation outside Kashmir, because every so often there is a targeted killing.”

Indian forces have already stepped up their operations, killing 78 fighters this year, according to the administration of held Kashmir. For the whole of last year, 193 were killed, while 232 were shot dead in 2020.

Meanwhile, representatives of Pakistan and India got into a fresh verbal duel in the UN Security Council on Wednesday after Pakistan’s Ambassador Munir Akram castigated New Delhi’s continued oppression in occupied Kashmir, drawing attention to the life sentence awarded to Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik by an Indian court.

Qasim Aziz Butt, who represented Pakistan, rejected India’s claim about Jammu and Kashmir being its integral part, saying it was a disputed territory, as per all United Nations maps and official documents.

The Pakistani representative accused India of being one of the world’s largest purveyors of state terrorism, notably against each of its neighbours, including Pakistan. At home, state-directed terrorism is being unleashed against all minorities, he said.—Agencies

Our Staff Correspondent in Muzaffarabad adds: Business community members across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) kept their shutters down on Wednesday and joined people from other walks of life in staging rallies and demonstrations to condemn the illegal sentencing of incarcerated JKLF chairman Yasin Malik by an Indian court.

JKLF activists took out a rally from Burhan Wani Chowk which culminated at the UN Military Observers Mission office where the party leaders handed over a memorandum calling for the UN secretary general’s immediate intervention to save the life of the popular Kashmiri leader.

Traders, political workers, students and other citizens took out a rally from Upper Adda to Bank Road to express solidarity with Yasin Malik.

Bush mistakenly calls Iraq invasion ‘brutal, unjustified’

Former United States President George W. Bush mistakenly described the invasion of Iraq as “brutal” and “unjustified” before correcting himself to say he meant to refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bush made the comments in a speech during an event in Dallas on Wednesday, while he was criticising Russia’s political system.

“The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” Bush said, before correcting himself and shaking his head. “I mean, of Ukraine.”

He jokingly blamed the mistake on his age as the audience burst into laughter.

In 2003, when Bush was president, the United States led an invasion of Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that were never found. The prolonged conflict killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced many more.

Bush’s remarks quickly went viral on social media, gathering over three million views on Twitter alone after the clip was tweeted by a Dallas News reporter.

The former US President also compared Ukranian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy to Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill, while condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching the invasion of Ukraine in February.

Mumbai mosques turn volume down after Hindu demands

MUMBAI, May 8 (Reuters): Sitting in an office lined with books overlooking a giant prayer hall, Mohammed Ashfaq Kazi, the main preacher at the largest mosque in Mumbai, checked a decibel meter attached to the loudspeakers before he gave the call to worship.

“The volume of our azaan (call to prayer) has become a political issue, but I don’t want it to take a communal turn,” said Kazi, one of the most influential Islamic scholars in the sprawling metropolis on India’s western coast.

As he spoke he pointed to loudspeakers attached to the minarets of the ornate, sand-coloured Juma Masjid in Mumbai’s old trading quarters.

Kazi and three other senior clerics from Maharashtra where Mumbai is located said more than 900 mosques in the west of the state had agreed to turn the volume down on calls to prayer following complaints from a local Hindu politician.

Raj Thackeray, leader of a regional Hindu party, demanded in April that mosques and other places of worship be kept within allowed noise limits. If they did not, he said his followers would chant Hindu prayers outside mosques in protest.

Thackeray, whose party has just one seat in the state’s 288-member assembly, said he was merely insisting that court rulings on noise levels be enforced.

“If religion is a private matter then why are Muslims allowed to use loudspeakers all 365 days (of the year)?” Thackeray told reporters in Mumbai, India’s financial hub and capital of Maharashtra.

“My dear Hindu brothers, sisters, and mothers come together; be one in bringing down these loudspeakers,” he said.

Leaders of India’s 200 million Muslims see the move, which coincided with the holy festival of Eid, as another attempt by hardline Hindus to undermine their rights to free worship and religious expression, with the tacit agreement of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In recent weeks, a senior BJP leader began pushing for swapping marriage and inheritance laws based on religion with a uniform civil code, taking aim at rules that allow Muslim men, for example, to have four wives. 

The BJP did not respond to a request for comment on Thackeray’s initiative. It denies targeting minorities and says it wants progressive change that benefits all Indians.

At the Juma Masjid, Kazi said he complied with Thackeray’s demands in order to reduce the risk of violence between Muslims and Hindus.

Bloody clashes have erupted sporadically across India since independence, most recently in 2020 when dozens of people, mostly Muslims, were killed in Delhi following protests against a citizenship law that Muslims said discriminated against them.

While hardline Hindu leaders were seeking to undermine Islam, Kazi said, “we (Muslims) have to maintain calm and serenity.”

The state took Thackeray’s initiative seriously.

Senior police officials met religious leaders including Kazi earlier this month to ensure microphones were turned down, as they feared clashes in Maharashtra, home to more than 10 million Muslims and 70 million Hindus.

On Saturday, police filed a criminal case against two men in Mumbai for using loudspeakers to recite the early morning azaan and warned workers of Thackeray’s party from gathering around mosques.

“Under no circumstances will we allow anyone to create communal tension in the state and the court’s order must be respected,” said V.N. Patil, a senior Mumbai police official.

A senior official for Thackeray’s party said the initiative was not designed to single out Muslims but aimed to reduce “noise pollution” created by all places of worship.

“Our party does not appease the minority community,” said Kirtikumar Shinde, adding that police had issued warnings to 20,000 party workers this month.

The issue of calls to prayer extends beyond Maharashtra. BJP politicians in three states asked local police to remove or limit the use of loudspeakers in places of worship.

The deputy chief minister of the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, said over 60,000 unauthorized loudspeakers had been removed from mosques and temples.

US report identifies widespread rights violations in India

WASHINGTON: The latest US State Department report on human rights has highlighted major violations in India, including extrajudicial killings by government agents, violence against Muslims, and killings by government and non-government forces in occupied Kashmir.

The report — released earlier this week — coincided with a warning by a senior US official that there would be consequences if India increased its oil exports from Russia. US human rights groups have also noted that recently the Indian government allowed schools to ban students from wearing hijabs in the state of Karnataka, a move criticized globally but upheld by the state high court.

The US State Department reported receiving credible information about Muslims being targeted in certain parts of India.

“Muslim communities in certain areas remained vulnerable to communal violence and discrimination … violence against Muslim communities continued during the year with cases of physical abuse, discrimination, forcible displacement, and lynching for suspected cow smuggling,” the report added.

The State Department reported receiving reports of “significant human rights violations” in India, including “unlawful and arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials”.

“Harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention by government authorities; political prisoners or detainees and arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy” were other areas of concern identified in the report.

Although a democracy, India imposed “restrictions on free expression and media, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, use of criminal libel laws to prosecute social media speech and restrictions on internet freedom”, the report added.

India also imposed “overly restrictive laws on the organisation, funding, or operations of nongovernmental organisations and civil society organisations and refoulement of refugees”.

Another major concern, highlighted in the report, is the existence of “serious government corruption; government harassment of domestic and international human rights organisations”.

APHC calls for complete shutdown on Friday against genocide of Kashmiris in IIOJK

In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference has appealed to the Kashmiri people to observe a complete shutdown on Friday, March 18, against the spurt in killings, random arrests and other human rights violations by Indian troops in the territory.

The APHC leadership in a statement issued in Srinagar strongly reacted to the surge in killing of innocent youth in the occupied territory and said that Indian forces are engaged in systematic genocide of Kashmiris.

Pertinently, the occupational forces have martyred 11 youth and destroyed over a dozen structures during violent cordon and search operations across the occupied territory since Thursday.

Paying rich tributes to the youth martyred during fresh acts of Indian state terrorism in Srinagar, Pulwama, Ganderbal and Kupwara, the statement said they day is not far when blood of martyrs will bear fruit. The leadership appealed to the UN, OIC and international human rights watchdogs to take serious cognizance of Indian state terrorism in Kashmir and make India bound to fulfill her international commitments vis-a-vis Kashmir imbroglio.