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Religious minorities, Dalits face discrimination in India: A report by US commission for International Religious Freeom

An independent American body wishes to bring into spotlight the discrimination faced by minorities and dalits in India in recent times among other things

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Washington, February 9: An independent bipartisan American body has claimed the religious minority communities and Dalits are faced with discrimination and persecution in India where social boycotts, hate, crimes and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014, requesting the US to put the focus on human rights when it comes to trade and diplomatic interactions with India.

According to a report released by US Commission for International Religious Freedom that monitors violation of religious freedom abroad,”Under Congress Party and BJP-led governments, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency.”

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“In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults and forced conversion have escalated dramatically,” states the report ‘Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India’ which has been authored by Iqtidat Karamat cheema, director of Institute for Leadership and Community Development, Birmingham, England.

According to PTI, the report suggests the US Government, to place religious freedom and human rights at the heart of all trade, aid, and diplomatic relationships with India.

USCIRF Chair Thomas J Reese said,”India is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a constitution that provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and prohibits religion-based discrimination.”

“However, the reality is far different. In fact, Indias pluralistic tradition faces serious challenges in a number of its states,” he added.

Reese mentioned, “During the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India. To reverse this negative trajectory, the Indian and state governments must align their laws with both the country’s constitutional commitments and international human rights standards.”

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Running into 22 pages, the report alleges constitutional provisions and state and national laws can be found in India that does not comply with international standards of freedom of religion or belief, including Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The report also alleges concerns have been mounting about the fate of religious minorities in India following the victory of BJP in May 2014 elections.

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The author also demanded, “As feared by many faith communities across India, threats, hate crimes, social boycotts, desecration of places of worship, assaults and forced conversions led by radical Hindu nationalist movements have escalated dramatically under the BJP-led government.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

 

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Ram Temple at Ayodhya is a part of the BJP Agenda, says Amit Shah

Ram temple will be constructed at Ayodhya either through talks, mutual settlement or through a court verdict

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BJP National President Amit Shah on Monday said a grand Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya. Wikimedia
  • The way for construction of Ram Temple will be either through mutual agreement, talks or through a court decision
  • Shah said aside from the reserves allocated to Uttar Pradesh, the Union government had offered its coffers for the state to prosper
  • Shah mocked the media speculation that Shivpal Singh was hitching himself to the party bandwagon.

New Delhi, August 1, 2017: On Monday, Amit Shah, BJP’s National President said a fabulous Ram temple is going to be built in Ayodhya, the route for which can be through mutual agreement, talks, or a decision of the court.

On his visit’s last day to the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Shah addressed the media and said that establishment of this Ayodhya temple was the agenda’s part of Bharatiya Janata Party.

He complimented the government of Yogi Adityanath at the state level and its performance and told everyone that within three months, the governance had made people observe a noticeable transition.

Also read: BJP wants thorough probe for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, also wants him to resign for ‘involvement in PWD scam’

“It is a coincidence that as I speak to you, three years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and three months of the Yogi Aditynath government in the state have been completed,” the chief of BJP said, complimenting the performance of both of them.

Shah mocked the speculation of media that Shivpal Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s younger brother, and senior leader of Samajwadi Party (SP), was trying to hitch himself to the bandwagon of the party.

Accompanied by state BJP chief and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Shah also made a claim that Modi had appeared as the most renowned Indian Prime Minister ever all thanks to his eradication of black money, courageous decisions, and good governance.

Amit Shah, BJP National President. Wikimedia

Shah also endeavored to end the supposition about Maurya of being moved as a Union minister to the Centre, saying that when the chief of a state party was chosen, Maurya would allocate all his time to the government at state.

He also made an attempt to rubbish the charges put by the opposition by saying that having dinner at a Yadav worker’s house, he was singling out politics on caste.

“Sonu Yadav is a party booth worker, and just as I go to eat at any other place, I went to his house and had food… No politics should be read in this,” he further added.

Shah put the blame on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as well as the former Samajwadi Party governments at the state level of the turmoil in Uttar Pradesh, saying that they had together presided over frauds of Rs 12 lakh crore. “There is not one finger raised at us as the government is working with transparency,” he said.

The chief of BJP said there did not exist any of party’s names in those Panama leaks, and the Special Investigation Team was examining the leaks of Panama Papers in any circumstance.

Shah said aside from the reserves allotted to Uttar Pradesh, the Union government had offered its coffers so that the state can grow and develop.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025

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Not a single Blot of Corruption Against my Government, says PM Narendra Modi

Calling corruption as the root cause for which previous governments were changed in India, Modi said his government has emerged corruption-free in the past three years

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Projecting his government’s success in the areas of fighting terror and graft, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that there has not been a single blot of corruption against his regime. Source: Narendramodi.in
  • PM Modi says, “1.25 billion equally talented Indians are there back in India
  • Calling corruption as the root cause for which previous governments were changed in India, Modi said his government has emerged corruption-free in the past three years
  • Talking about the army’s surgical strikes on terror launching pads across the border on October 26 last year

Washington, June 27, 2017: Projecting his government’s success in the areas of fighting terror and graft, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that there has not been a single blot of corruption against his regime and no country has questioned the surgical strikes conducted across the border.

Addressing the Indian diaspora here, he also promised a supportive environment for developing the country matching the progress in the US.

Calling corruption as the root cause for which previous governments were changed in India, Modi said his government has emerged corruption-free in the past three years.

“Governments were changed because of corruption. The common people hated this… There has been not a single blot on our government in the past three years. And governance is being modified so that honesty becomes an in-built process,” he said to a cheering audience.

“Technology is helping with that,” Modi said.

“Increased usage of technology brings transparency in systems. When I think of a developed India, I think of a healthy India, particularly the good health of women and children of our nation,” he said.

Talking about the army’s surgical strikes on terror launching pads across the border on October 26 last year, the Prime Minister said no country has questioned the government’s action.

“The entire world could have raised many questions and pointed fingers at us over the surgical strikes. But, not a single country questioned India’s surgical strikes against the terrorist launch pads in Pakistan (last year). Those (Pakistan) who suffered because of this, is a different thing,” Modi said.

Maintaining that the entire world is suffering because of the menace of terrorism, which is against mankind, the Prime Minister said, “When India spoke about terrorism about 20-25 years back, for many countries, it was beyond their understanding. For them it was a law and order problem, because they were not the sufferers. Today, it is not required to explain what’s terrorism. Terrorists have themselves explained it to them.”

“But when India conducts surgical strike, the world understands India is a patient country but if required, it knows how to demonstrate its ability,” said Modi.

“We are bound by international laws. We believe in the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). This is our character,” he added.

Modi also said: “We do not want to disrupt the global order. Following the international norms and law, in order to ensure that the sovereignty, security and peace is maintained, we are capable of taking very stern action.”

Addressing the diaspora here as “members of family”, Modi promised a developed India in their lifetime.

He said their success is due to the supportive environment in the US, and his government is working to provide the same environment back home.

“Your heart always asks when would our country become like this (the US)… I assure you that this will happen in your lifetime,” Modi said here.

Saying that Indians in America have not just helped India progress but also the US, Modi said that success and action of the Indian diaspora is still echoing in the world.

“You are the same people but your success story has a simple reason, it’s because you got supportive environment here,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that “1.25 billion equally talented Indians are there back in India, they are now getting supportive environment and soon we will develop India soon”. (IANS)

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)