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Bangladesh Minority Council welcomes India’s pressure on safety of minorities

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Bangladesh

By Kamran Reza Chowdhury

Religious minorities may flee Bangladesh if attacks on them continue, the spokesman of a minority coalition group warned Friday.

Rana Dasgupta, general secretary of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council, applauded a statement from India’s foreign minister earlier this week that Dhaka must punish the perpetrators of such attacks.

“My organization welcomes the call of Sushma Swaraj. She rightly pointed out the plight of the minorities in Bangladesh. The attacks on the minorities must stop,” Dasgupta told BenarNews.

India has reason to be worried about the attacks on minorities in its neighbor, Muslim-majority but constitutionally-secular Bangladesh, Dasgupta said.

“If the attacks continue, the minorities will leave the country and take shelter in India. The government must take measures so that the minorities do not leave the country,” he said.

Nirmal Rozario, general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, also welcomed the diplomatic pressure from Bangladesh’s giant neighbor.

“Sushma Swaraj’s call will expedite the government move to protect the minorities who have become the common targets of the radicals. In the age of globalization, every country is impacted by the events in its neighboring states,” Rozario told BenarNews.

‘Secular, progressive and liberal’

India’s minister of external affairs (EAM) brought up the matter during a meeting with Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali of Bangladesh in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“Referring to recent incidents of attacks on minorities in Bangladesh, EAM sought swift action against the perpetrators of the crimes by the Bangladesh authorities,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday about the discussion.

“FM Ali assured that [the] Government of Bangladesh was conscious of the importance of checking the activities of radical forces in the country and expressed the commitment of his Government to safeguarding Bangladesh’s secular, progressive and liberal character,” the statement said.

On Feb. 21, a priest was slain and two devotees were wounded in an attack on a Hindu temple in Panchagarh district, in northern Bangladesh.

It was the first killing of a member of the country’s small Hindu community since militants issued threats against religious minorities last year. Two Hindu temples were bombed in Dinajpur district of northern Bangladesh in December

Hindus currently make up about 10 percent of Bangladesh’s 168.9 million people.

On Jan. 7, attackers stabbed to death an 85-year-old Christian convert and doctor in the southwestern district of Jhenaidah. Two Christian priests have been attacked, and at least 30 other members of the tiny Christian minority have been threatened, since mid-2015, church leaders say.

On Dec. 25, a suicide bomber targeted an Ahmadiyya mosque in northwestern Rajshahi district.

On Nov. 26, militants sprayed bullets inside a mosque of the minority Shia Muslim community in the northern district of Bogra, killing a muezzin who was in his 70s. In October, militants bombed a procession of Shiites in Dhaka, killing two.

‘No space in Bangladesh’

Following the killing of the Christian doctor in January, the country’s home minister vowed to go after people who attack religious minorities.

“The people of Bangladesh are pious but they are not radicals. So, the militants will get no space in Bangladesh,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told BenarNews.

The Middle East-based Islamic State group claimed responsibility for many of the attacks, but the government has denied its presence in Bangladesh, saying local militants are using the IS brand to “add value to their names.”

Militant attacks this year have targeted intellectuals and foreigners as well as members of religious minorities.

In late September, Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella was gunned down in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone. Less than a week later, Japanese agriculture expert Kunio Hoshi was shot dead in the northern city of Rangpur.

Four secular bloggers and a publisher were brutally murdered in 2015 in machete attacks by suspected militants. Four other people were injured in those attacks.

Maulana Farid Uddin Masud, a top Islamic cleric, stressed that such violence is contrary to the tenets of Islam.

“Islam has not allowed anyone to carry out attack on the minorities. Islam strongly promotes peaceful coexistence of all faiths,” he told BenarNews.

“So, the government must protect all minorities from the attacks on the militants who have been misinterpreting the peaceful religion Islam.” (Published with permission from BenarNews)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.