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Fiji eyes air service agreement with India

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Fiji

New Delhi: Fiji expects to sign an air service agreement with India, the government-owned Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) said on Monday.

A team from India is expected to be in the nation in January to hold talks over the agreement, Xinhua quoted Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, country’s attorney-general and minister for civil aviation, as saying.

“Hopefully, they will be down here in mid-January. We need to finalise that because India is now the second largest outbound market in the world and in the next five to ten years will be the largest outbound market,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

In a trip to India earlier this year, Sayed-Khaiyum said there was also a possibility of code-sharing by Indian Airlines with Fiji Airways.

Due to historical and colonial reasons, nearly 40 percent of country’s population are of Indian descent. (IANS)

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Did the hijack of flight IC-814 bring India to its knees?

The flight number IC-814 of the Indian Airlines, travelling from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked mid-air.

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The ill-fated flight IC-814 was destined to fly from Kathmandu to Delhi
The ill-fated flight IC-814 was destined to fly from Kathmandu to Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Christmas Eve of 1999 doesn’t go well into the books of Indian history. The whole global community was hit with the hell of a jerk when the news of a plane hijack was set out by the Indian media channels. The flight number IC-814 of the Indian Airlines, travelling from Kathmandu to New Delhi was hijacked mid-air. At the time of the hijack, the airline was carrying 178 passengers and 11 crew members on board, after it took-off from the Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.

This incident shattered the whole Indian Intelligence wing and questions were already raised on the credibility of R&AW agency. R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) is the external intelligence unit of India and looks up for the foreign threat counts. But after the hijack of IC-814, every available resource was scrambled to contain the situation which was already out of hand.

Till date, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to why there was no show up of NSG commandos when the aircraft landed at Amritsar and the time was ripe enough to launch a counter-attack on the hijackers.

An article by a profound writer and columnist, Kanchan Gupta has rightly concluded in one of his articles on Kandahar hijack that India standout to be a nation of cowards. When it mattered the most, Indian people turned out in their true colours and let the nation down by surrendering in front of the hijackers.

Prime Minister Atal Beharai Vajpayee thoroughly counted every possible option at his disposal
Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee thoroughly checked all the possible options at his disposal

The initial impact

During this mishappening, NDA government was in the centre and till date is held responsible for such a huge goof-up. The then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in mid-air at the time of the hijack and from the time of the hijack incident, he was informed almost after two hours. The lag in the communication is blamed on the lack of satellite phones at that time.

The moment Vajpayee landed at the Palam Air Base, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra broke the news of plane hijack.

Vajpayee was taken aback by it and called for an emergency meeting with his security advisor and cabinet ministers. He also called off his birthday and Christmas celebrations, scheduled for that evening.

Later, the five hijackers were identified as Ibrahim Athar, Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Gulshan Iqbal, Sunny Ahmed Qazi, Mistri Zahoor Ibrahim, and Shakir. All of them were found to be the residents of Pakistan and belonged to a dreaded militant organization.

Hijacking ordeal

Just after few moments of the takeoff of flight IC-814, militants hijacked the plane and diverted it to Lahore airport but they were denied permission to land at the airport. Then they head towards Amritsar after realizing that the flight was running low on fuel. The Amritsar’s airport, Raja Sansi Airport was immediately alerted about the hijack and directed to prevent the plane from taking off after the planes landing.

The hijackers demanded the refueling of the plane but it was blatantly rejected by the Indian officials and the aircraft stayed there for another forty-five minutes. Soon hijackers got suspicious and expected a commando attack, so they stabbed a passenger and forced the flight to take off with an almost empty tank. Then the under pressure pilots took off from there and attempted another landing at Lahore airport, even after the denial of permission from Pakistan’s airport authority. But with sheer courage and skill, both the flight pilots of IC-814 landed the plane safely at the landing strip and parked it in the airport’s bay area.

After the refueling of the aircraft by the Pakistani authority, hijackers took off from there and flew to Dubai airport. Dubai officials permitted them to land there and in return, successfully negotiated the release of 13 women and 11 children. The next morning, the plane took off for Afghanistan and landed at Kandahar Airport, at that time which was under the direct control of the terrorist organization.

Demand for ransom

On holding their fort at Kandahar airport, the hijackers demanded the release of 36 terrorists held in Indian prisons in return for safe passage for the people onboard. After hours of herculean negotiations by the security officials, Indian government stumbled upon a deal with them and finally agreed to release three terrorists in exchange for all the hostages. The name of terrorist to be freed included Maulana Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, and Ahmed Omar Sheikh.

Within no time, the paperwork was done in order to release the terrorists and they were flown to Kandahar airport.

Finally, after suffering of five stressful day, people were relieved from the captivity of the hijackers
Finally, after suffering for five stressful days, people were relieved from the captivity of the hijackers

Moment of sigh

After that, two aircrafts left for Kandahar airport and Indian officials made the exchange. On the evening of 31st December, hostages of flight IC-814 were flown back to Delhi and a sense of relief prevailed in the Indian government and its people. But, soon the NDA government came under intense fire from various political parties.

Following this incident, India didn’t take much time to learn from this blunder and till date, it is made sure that nothing sort of that magnitude occurs ever. Although, there are still many unresolved mysteries going around in the minds of the people, but no one is up to take the responsibility for such a gaffe. Even the presence of an R&AW agent in the hijacked plane is a matter of contention. Reports suggest that R&AW officials were tipped prior to the hijack but were rashly rebuffed.

Irrespective of all the fuss, the unchallenged credit goes to the people involved in this whole incident and we salute to the bravery and courage put up by the flight pilots and the people on board.

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US Government’s International Religious Freedom Report 2016 lists Growing Attacks on Hindus

The report lists growing number of attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad

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Attacks against Hindus
International Religious Freedom Report. Facebook
  • On Tuesday, the US government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2016
  • The report lists the growing attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad
  • Particularly in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia, the attacks against Hindus is common

US, August 17, 2017: On Tuesday, August 17, the US Government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) for the year 2016. The report lists growing number of attacks against Hindus in India as well as abroad.

The report, released by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, particularly talks about the growing number of assaults on Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Malaysia. Furthermore, there were also mentioned incidents of assault against Sikhs in Denmark and France.

ALSO READ: 2017 Hindu Human Rights Report Released by Hindu American Foundation (HAF): Here is What you Need to Know!

Interestingly, the recent incidents of Gau Rakshaks of India are also presented in the report. It has highlighted the increasing attack against individuals from minority groups by cow-protection activists.

In Bangladesh especially, there has been a sharp increase in the attacks against Hindus who constitute the religious minority of the country. This can be attributed to the presence of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The IRFR also reports an incident from October in Bangladesh. Over a Facebook post that some may find offensive to Islam, more than 50 Hindu families and over 15 Hindu temples were ruined by hundreds of villagers. This attack claimed the lives of 25 people.

The report has also recognized Pakistan government’s inability to help safeguard the rights of religious minorities, particularly Hindus. But a larger problem that exists in Pakistan is the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians.

ALSO READ: Forced Conversion of Hindus in Umerkot and Tharparkar Districts

There have also been offenses against the Sikh community present in France and Denmark. In France, Turbans are banned in schools, offices, and other public spaces. In Denmark, court judges are prohibited from wearing the turbans. These bans include the religious symbols as well as crucifixes.

In England and Wales, 1,055 crimes against other religions such as Hindus, Sikhs, and few Christians were recorded by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the US government report.

From April-November 2016, eight Hindu temples were vandalized in Malaysia. Hindu leaders of the country have alleged that the police is ignorant of the problems.

[bctt tweet=”US Government released its State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) for the year 2016.” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

Zakir Naik, controversial figure in India, was warmly received by the Malaysian government as Hindus protested his speaking tour. Zakir Naik’s speech is always intended to insult Hindus and promote extremism. Bangladesh, on the other hand, had banned Zakir Naik’s Peace TV Bangla as it was spreading extremist ideologies.

In Fiji, three Hindu temples were desecrated in 2016. In Mauritius, no religious violence took place despite the growing tensions between Hindus and Muslims.

This report by the US Commission has come under heavy fire from the Hindu American Foundation. The leaders of the foundation have asserted that the International Religious Freedom Report was outsourced to writer and activist Dr. Iqtidar Karamat Cheema than being written by the staff of the US commission. The Foundation’s allegations have raised questions about the nature of credibility of the commission.

Furthermore, the Foundation claims that the author has cited “alternative facts.” Also interesting to note is that Dr. Cheema has been honored by several Pakistani government bodies previously who has supported separatist agendas.

–  prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

 

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Girmityas’ Legacy of Slavery: Indian Diaspora in Fiji Marks 100 years of Indian Indentured Servitude system

On 14th May of 1879, the British colonialists took the contracted laborers from India, transporting a mass segment of the population to the Fiji archipelago

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Trinidad and Tobago
Indentured Laborers taken from India. Wikimedia

November 9, 2016: History says, the last ship that sailed from India was the ‘Sutlej V’- on 1916. It arrived in Fiji on 11th November. November 2016 marks the 100 years of the of British Indian Indentured Servitude system in Fiji. The arrival of the last Girmit ship ‘Sutlej-V’ from India to Fiji was at the Albert Park, Suva in Fiji on 9th November 2016

To mark the 100 years of Indian Indentured Servitude System, Indian Diaspora in Fiji organized amazing centenary celebrations today. This was followed by the police band of Fiji, who led a float procession. Needless to say, that the events and the functions have wonderfully served the purpose of the celebrations.

The Indo-Fijian community dates back its history to the time of 1879. That year marks the historic arrival of the indentured laborers from India to Fiji. On 14th May of 1879, the British colonialists took the contracted laborers from India, transporting a mass segment of the population to the Fiji archipelago. The first ship, “Leonidas”, hit the shores on Fiji and marked the beginning of a long period of heavy labor, struggle and unmentioned tortures!

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Albert Park, Suva, Fiji Islands. Wikimedia Commons
Albert Park, Suva, Fiji Islands. Wikimedia Commons

The system of bringing the laborers got popularized as ‘Girmits’, mispronounced from the original term “agreement”, which had the Indians bound in a contractual labor to the foreign lands under the British rule.

Fiji saw the arrival of total 87 voyages in between 1879 and 1916. The history of the Girmitiyas is well narrated in a documentary concerning the indentured laborers. ‘Calcutta to the Caribbean- an Indian Journey’, directed by Gideon Hanumansingh, portrays the plights of the Indians who got transported to the Caribbean and post the abolition of slavery, started working in the sugar plantations.

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Post the historical sail of the ship ‘Fatel Rozack’ that carried 217 Indian men and women and reached the port of Trinidad on 1845, the voyages followed and about 1, 43,939 Indian indentured laborers got shipped to Trinidad in the course of the next 72 years. The majority of the workers, that is 2, 40,000 were shipped to Guyana, 36000 to the land of Jamaica and smaller numbers of the population to Grenada, Martinique, St. Vincent and St. Lucia.

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The contract-bound laborers were taken from various states across the country that included- Bengal (through the port of Calcutta), Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Oudh. In the earlier times of the transportation, laborers were taken from Chennai as well. The workers mostly belonged to Hindu faith and a few of them were Muslims.

History records the torture, struggle and the painful lives of the doomed laborers. A contract that got them cursed for lives. Their journey and their laboring period tell us a lot about slavery. The multiple numbers of voyages that carried the indentured Indians to the foreign lands are cataloged in history. The National Library of Australia holds the record of a proper catalog of the pass-numbers and the year and date of all the ships that carried the laborers. It includes names of ships like- Leonidas, Berar, Syria, Howrah, Ganges, Bruce, Allanshaw, Jamuna, Arno, Virawa, Sangola, Mutlah, Chenab, Sutlej and many more.

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC