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Kurdish Iraq might have been India’s, had Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee not played Spoilsport

The fall of Saddam's statue had registered differently with Vajpayee - this scale of Western triumphalism was a source of anxiety for him

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee with Narendra Modi, Flickr

– by Saeed Naqvi

October 29, 2016: Hard to believe, but Mosul, currently in the news, would have been ours today had Atal Bihari Vajpayee not played spoilsport.

After their invasion of Iraq in April 2003, Americans realised fairly early that a full- fledged occupation for an unspecified period was not possible without allies taking responsibility to administer large swathes of the ancient land.

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Seldom has a US ambassador been more effective than David Mulford was. It took very little persuasion for External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Defence Minister George Fernandez and Army Chief N.C. Vij to fall in line.

Ships were readied, battalions shortlisted, Generals chosen for India’s first imperialist adventure since the Cholas. We were going to rule a part of that country which alone of all the 52 Muslim nations had stood by us at the UN, Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and elsewhere on the Kashmir issue.

I suppose it must have been self-interest which caused us to turn turtle on Iraq as soon as the Americans were in occupation of the country.

Our ambassador to Baghdad, B.B. Tyagi, even risked his life. Iraqi resistance had identified him as a diplomat who was supportive of the occupation. No wonder I was once ushered into his presence while he sat in bed, his legs outstretched, eyes wide open as in a daze, his hands on automatic weapons by both his sides. It was a frame for a possible Woody Allen war film.

Just as the first US representative, Paul Bremer, was convinced that the occupation would be a cakewalk, so was South Block and, indeed, Tyagi.

Bremer, a devout Roman Catholic, had turned up with a batch of priests who smacked their lips at the prospect of saving souls in a post Saddam Iraq. It turned out that antique smugglers did rather better, cleaning out the Baghdad museum on America’s watch.

South Block, like Bremer, had assumed that once Saddam's yoke was lifted from their necks, Iraqis would turn… Click To Tweet

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In anticipation of Iraq’s immediate future in American hands, South Block parked Tyagi in a three-star hotel in Amman where he spent mornings, afternoons, evenings watching CNN and BBC for the American progress in Iraq. The irony was that Lyse Ducet of the BBC was herself in occupation of the terrace of Amman’s Intercontinental Hotel watching her Arab staff count their worry beads, waiting for the American flag to be fluttering over all of Iraq.

Were this to happen, Tyagi would helicopter into Baghdad’s Green Zone and offer his credentials to Bremer or his Iraqi nominee.

Just imagine, New Delhi was all but ready to open its embassy with the American occupiers of a country which had given unstinted support to India always, particularly against Pakistani machinations at the UN.

This being the state of affairs, who could blame the US for being so confident of India’s enthusiastic willingness to partner them and take charge of Kurdish Iraq. It had very nearly happened, had Vajpayee not decided to show spine – just in the nick of time.

He kept his head while those around him were losing theirs. On April 9, American marines brought down Saddam Hussain’s statue and exactly the media which is lined up behind Hillary Clinton attributed the statue’s fall to popular rage.

Vajpayee kept his counsel. On April 18, he turned up in Srinagar. Remember, the armies of India and Pakistan were in an eye-ball to eye-ball confrontation after the December 13, 2001 terror attack on Indian Parliament.

The fall of Saddam’s statue had registered differently with Vajpayee – this scale of Western triumphalism was a source of anxiety for him. An “awesome” power has arisen. In the new situation, regional quarrels had to be composed, he said. Dramatically, he extended his hand of peace to Pakistan.

This was the beginning of the process which led to India and Pakistan signing an agreement in Islamabad on January 4, 2004 that forbids the use of a country’s territory for cross-border terrorism. The word was not kept by Pakistan, but that is another story.

The “Shining India” campaign mounted by the BJP recoiled on it during the May 2004 elections. But for India-Pakistan relations, it was an unfortunate turn. When Vajpayee became the External Affairs Minister in the 1977 Janata government, he had made up his mind on Pakistan: “We cannot change our neighbours.”

Among his first foreign visits was to Pakistan in February 1978. The bus journey to Lahore in February 1999, and the January 2004 visit which resulted in the agreement against cross-border terrorism, were audacious. But there were reverses.

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He was able to cushion the reverses because of his cross-party stature nationally and his standing with the RSS. But he persisted because he had grasped the triangle in which the country had trapped itself since 1947 – Srinagar-New Delhi, India-Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim are one complex of issues. Unless a holistic view is taken of this triangle to outline suitable policy, eternal social strife would remain the nation’s lot.

Vajpayee had the vision to pull India back from the brink on Iraq. Just imagine, what would have been our fate had ships carrying Indian troops actually set sail.

The troop build-up against Pakistan after the Parliament attack was also a calculated move. The sole superpower was in place to pull the protagonists back from the brink. It is just as well that neither Russia and China (nor the US) paid much credence to the “surgical strikes”. In the absence of an overarching superpower, real “surgical strikes” may cause the situation to spiral out of control. (IANS)

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Ram Rahim Convicted of Rape: Here is the 15 Year Old Anonymous Letter from a Sadhvi

The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Aug 28

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Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim
Self-proclaimed spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan. Wikimedia
  • Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim was held guilty in the 2002 rape case by a CBI court
  • The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Aug 28
  • Ram Rahim was taken to Rohtak jail through a chopper

Chandigarh, Aug 25, 2017: Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim was held guilty in the 2002 rape case by a CBI court today. He was convicted of raping his female followers, the court stated. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on Aug 28. Ram Rahim was taken to Rohtak jail through a chopper.

Tensions in the air were flowing since few days before the verdict, as around 200,000 blind supporters of the self-styled godman seized the Tricity. The protestors were seen threatening to incite violence in the city a day before the verdict.

All the educational institutions and government offices remained shut. Also, buses and trains service was halted. The parliamentary forces and police were patrolling on the risk prone areas while the army was on standby. Data services and the internet was suspended in Chandigarh, Haryana, and Punjab for three days.
Till now 17 people have died in the furious demonstration by the supporters. Many media vehicles were set on fire, and army forces were pelted stones, leaving some of them wounded. The Punjab government also imposed section 144. However, it was not successfully implemented.

Ram Rahim Rape Case: What happened 15 years back?

Ram Rahim was convicted in a 15 years old rape case by a CBI court today.
In 2002, his female follower wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Judges of Haryana and Punjab court. The girl alleged that she and other females at the ‘Dera’ are a victim of sexual exploitation. The court instructed a detailed CBI investigation concerning the issue.
In 2007, Ram Rahim was convicted under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code by CBI court.
 The anonymous letter from a Sadhvi revealed by Aaj Tak reads:
I am from Punjab and now I am presently working as a sadhu girl in Sirsa (Haryana, Dhan Dhan Satguru Tera Asara), for the last five years. Hundreds of girls also serve 16 to 18 hours in the camp. We are being physically exploited here. I am a BA graduate. Members of my family are blind devotees of Shri Maharaj, whose influence made a saint in the camp. Two years after becoming a saint, one-day Maharaj Gurmeet’s famous Sadhu Gurjot told me at 10 o’ clock in the night that Maharaj has called me in the cave (place of residence of Maharaj). Because I was going there for the first time, I was very happy, grasping that God himself has called me today. When I got up in the cave, I saw Maharaj sitting on the bed. There was remote in hand, a blue film was running on the front TV and a revolver on the bed side. I was shocked to see all this … the ground beneath my feet slipped. What is this happening? Maharaj would be like this, I did not even dream about this. Maharaj stopped the TV and made me sit with water and said that I have called you as my special beloved. Taking me in the arms, Maharaj said that I like you with all my heart. I want to love you because you have devoted your soul, wealth, and body to Satguru Ji when you became a sadhu. Hence, this body and soul is all mine. On my opposition, he said that there is no doubt that I am God. When I asked if this is how a God works, he said: Lord Krishna was God, he had 360 Gopis from whom he used to love every day, yet people consider him as divine. This is not a new thing. If I want, then you can cremate your life with this revolver. Your house believes in us by all means and is our slave. They can not go out of us, you know this thing well. I have a good stand in our government. The Chief Minister of Haryana and Punjab, the Union Minister touches my feets. The leaders support us, take the money, and will never go against us. I will expell the members of your family from the service. We will kill all the members without leaving any evidence, you know very well that we had already destroyed the manager of the dera, who have not been found till today. Nor has there been any evidence left outstanding. With the help of money, we will buy politicians and police and justice. In this way, my face was blackened and I have been raped for 20-30 times in the last three months. I was ordered to wear white clothes, keep sardine on the head, not to lift the eye on a man, and keep the distance of five to ten feet from the man. I am a goddess in the show, but my condition is like a prostitute. I once told my family that everything is not right in the tent here, so my people reprimanded me by saying that if it is not right with God, then where is it?. Bad thoughts have started coming to your mind. Adhere yourself to Satguru. I am compelled. Here the order of Satguru says that no two girls can talk to each other, can not talk to house holders by telephone. In the past, when a Bathinda girl revealed the black act of Maharaj before all the girls, many sadhu girls shunned her by whipping her together….. A girl from Sangrur district when came home and told the neighbors about the dirty activities of the camp, the attendants of the dera came to the girl’s house with guns inside the house, and threatened her by putting a pistol. So along with all these girls, I will also be killed with my family, if I will write my name in it. I would request you to examine our bodies with the help of doctors so that our parents and you will know that whether we are Kumari Devi or Not? If not then by whom ruined. 

ALSO READ: Indian Gurus-Preaching Spiritualism or Business? 

It is frightening to see that someone in this country with gigantic backing, despite the criminal accusations, can shake up the whole scenario. Army wounded, media injured, open firing and burning places for the rape trial of an accused shows that 60 million in this country are living in denial. Distortion of religion and faith is a common sight in India.

Personages like Ram Rahim who win over people by misguiding them are a threat to the entire human race. The man who claimed himself a godman devasted the parts of Punjab and Haryana, however, this is an alarming situation for the nation for the nation as well.


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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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.