India Insight

India no angel in dangerous neighbourhood

By Annie Banerji

Perhaps the finger-pointing at neighbouring Pakistan and the talk of Afghan militancy destabilising the region that New Delhi so often rolls out should be reconsidered. The neighbourhood may well be dangerous, but India is no model pupil.

According to the 2011 Global Peace Index, an initiative of the Institute of Economics and Peace, which evaluates 153 countries based on the level of ongoing conflict, safety and security and militarisation, India is the world’s 135th most peaceful country, falling seven positions from last year.

This year’s rankings, which indicated a decline in the levels of peace for the third consecutive year overall, placed Iceland in the top spot as the most peaceful country and Somalia as the world’s least.

India’s performance is high on some of the indicators, for instance, level of organised internal conflict, political instability, and relations with neighbouring countries, for which reason India is a part of the 20 least peaceful countries in the world along with Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

India’s unfortunate state of safety and security not only emerges largely from religious conflict with active groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, but also Naxalism, an ideology of militant Communist groups. Terror activity is not concentrated in a particular region in India, but it has poisonously seeped into almost all areas of the country.

from FaithWorld:

Mumbai gunmen denied Muslim burial secretly interred in January

Remember the issue of what to do with the corpses of the nine attackers killed during the November 2008 siege of the Taj Mahal Hotel and other targets in Mumbai that killed 166 people? The dead attackers were all presumed to be Pakistani Muslims, like the sole survivor, but local Indian Muslim leaders refused to let them be buried in their cemeteries. Islamabad ignored calls to take the bodies back. So they were left in morgue refrigerators in Mumbai, presumably until the issue was finally settled.

kasab

Sole surviving attacker, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, in police custody in this undated video grab shown by CNN IBN Television channel on February 3, 2009/CNN IBN

FaithWorld was deluged with comments after we asked if the bodies should be cremated and the ashes spread at sea. A surprising number of them suggested the bodies should be desecrated, thrown to the dogs or dumped at the Pakistani-Indian border. The discussion tapered off and the issue seemed to have been forgotten.

Afghan endgame and fears of rise in Kashmir violence

The Indian army says rebel violence will escalate in Kashmir in summer as hundreds of militants are waiting in the Pakistani part of Kashmir to infiltrate into the Indian side and step up attacks.

Seized bullets are displayed by the Indian army during a news conference after a gun battle with militants, in Srinagar March 28, 2010. REUTERS/Fayaz KabliEven an internal assessment of the Home Ministry says the summer of 2010 will be as bloodier as or even worse than the mid-nineties.

In Kashmir, violence involving Muslim rebels and Indian troops was on the decline since India and Pakistan, who dispute the region, began a peace process in 2004.

Much ado in Kashmir over Padma Shri for Mir

It has come as a surprise to many that Ghulam Mohammad Mir, often described as Kashmir’s first counter-insurgent, has been honoured with the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards.

Mir alias Momma Kana, 60, who was awarded for public service, has been accused of involvement in cases of extortion and attempted murder.

A man walks past closed shops during a strike in Srinagar June 11, 2008. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli/FilesA police official told ‘The Telegraph’ that Mir’s name sent shivers down the spine of people across Kashmir — he is said to have run a private militia and helped Indian troops combat insurgency.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Shunning Pakistani players is not cricket

(The Pakistani cricket team)

(The Pakistani cricket team)

Pakistani cricketers, the press and ordinary people are livid about their players' exclusion from India's Premier League , the game's most lucrative tournament played out before a vast television audience. Eight Indian teams that take part in the tournament bid for players  from around the world, doling out large sums of money.  But nobody bid for the 11 Pakistani players on the list, includng some who were part of the Pakistani squad that won last year's  World Cup Twenty20 tournament, the three-hour version of the game that the IPL is also played in.

It's not that they were not good enough. They are some of the best the game has to offer. It's that the people who own the teams fear the Pakistani players may face dificulties getting visas or that tensions between the two countries, already rising, could make things dificult  for them  So why put money on them ?

But then, as former Pakistani skipper Ramiz Raja writes in The Indian Express why were the Pakistani players invited to play  in India in the first place,and indeed put on the list of players to be auctioned. They had even been given cricket visas, he says , adding these men are much like their counterparts in India, heroes of the nation. And so it's not just the players who have been snubbed,  a whole nation feels insulted.

Is Gaddafi’s U.N. speech winning him a fan base in Kashmir?

A street vendor in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, sold hundreds of framed portraits of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the last one week.

Kashmiri separatists and many residents are all praise for Gaddafi after his maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly last week in which he said Kashmir should be an “independent state.”

It was a diplomatic embarrassment for India but has Gaddafi’s U.N. speech actually won him an enthusiastic fan base in strife-weary Kashmir where Muslim militants are fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989.

Are displaced Kashmiri Hindus returning to their homeland?

Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus, locally known as Pandits, fled their ancestral homes in droves 20 years ago after a bloody rebellion broke out against New Delhi’s rule in India’s only Muslim-majority state.

Now encouraged by the sharp decline in rebel violence across the Himalayan region, authorities have formally launched plans to help Pandits return home.

Will Pandits, who say they “live in exile in different parts of their own country” return to their homeland in Kashmir where two decades of violence has left nothing untouched and brought misery to the scenic region, its people and its once easy-going society?

Is India failing to win hearts and minds in Kashmir?

Is India pushing the ordinary Kashmiri people further away by enforcing regular curfews, putting most of their separatist leaders under house arrest and denying them religious freedom by banning Friday prayers in Kashmir’s Jamia Masjid (grand mosque) on a regular basis to avoid violence?

I travelled to Srinagar, the summer capital of India’s troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir this week, and saw how people were tired of violence and wanted peace and dignity in the region.

Many told me how they felt unhappy each time an incident of violence in a remote corner of the city would scare authorities into shutting down the city and forced them to stay indoors, many without any provisions.

Heaven rains down tears on Mumbai

The Heavens rained down tears of sorrow on Mumbai on Saturday morning as the death toll from the attacks on the proud city climbed steadily.

The unseasonal rain marked the third day of the siege of the city’s landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

I have spent the past three days covering the story day-and-night and sitting here in the rain on Saturday morning watching the flames pour from the 105-year old Heritage Building and listening to gunshots, I have to wonder why this has gone on for so long.

The young face of militancy

When the first pictures of the Mumbai attackers were shown on national television, they sent a shiver down my spine.

Staring back at me from the television screen was a guy about my age, dressed in a dark T-shirt with ‘Versace’ written across it, clad in jeans, hair falling across his forehead and a blue backpack slung over one shoulder.

The first thought that struck me was “this guy should be in college right now.”

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