Posts Tagged ‘India’

Second “Godman” Indian guru arrested on rape charges

September 24, 2017

A popular guru was arrested Saturday by police in north-western India for allegedly raping a 21-year-old woman. The second such arrest in the country in recent weeks has triggered fears of more rioting by supporters.

Indien Eisenbahn Überfüllter Zug (Imago)Numerous gurus in India attract massive followings, with devotees often making long and arduous pilgrimages to attend their religious teachings

The 70-year-old Falahari Maharaja was arrested for assaulting a woman, a law student, at his hermitage in the city of Alwar, in the state of Rajastan, police spokesman Paras Jain said. The arrest took place in August.

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Falahari Maharaj (Right)

“Our initial investigation has found there is basis to the rape charges against him. We have arrested him and will question him in the case,” Jain said. A court sent Maharaja to a prison for 15 days on Saturday, while the police complete their investigation into the case.

The unnamed woman was allegedly raped when she went to give the guru 3,000 rupees (45 dollars, 38 euros) she had earned for an internship with an attorney in New Delhi on his recommendation.

Local reports said she had been warned by the guru against telling anyone about the assault but broke her silence after another high-profile guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for raping two disciples.

The scene after riots following the conviction for rape of a religious leader in Panchkula on August 25, 2017The conviction of a religious leader on rape charges led to mass riots in Panchkula in late August

That decision triggered riots, something authorities will clearly be aware of when making a ruling in this case.

Some religious sects have large followings in India and wield considerable political influence. Their gatherings often attract mass crowds, many of whom will travel from afar to catch a glimpse of their guru (see main photo, above).

High-profile cases of rape in India in the last two years have highlighted the largely subjugated plight of women in the still largely rural and socially conservative country.

Reactions from groups such as the guru-led sects have tended to portray the problem as one fabricated – or at least exaggerated – by the West and its secular incursions into India’s religious social fabric.

Not feeling so good  

Also called Falahari Baba, or the one who consumes only fruits, the “godman” Falahari Maharaja has many followers in India and abroad and has been seen in photographs with political leaders and celebrities from across the subcontinent.

The self-proclaimed Hindu holy man checked into a private hospital complaining of “high-blood pressure” after the woman reported him to the police. A medical examination conducted at a government hospital found him to be in good health, police said.

He could face 10 years in prison if found guilty.

jbh/kl (dpa, AP)


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Godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is now in prison


Fighter jets, drones on table as Mattis visits key ally India

September 24, 2017


© AFP/File / by Abhaya SRIVASTAVA | Fighter jets, drone deals and shared concerns over Afghanistan’s security challenges look set to dominate the agenda when US Defence Secretary James Mattis (L) visits India this week

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Fighter jets, drone deals and shared concerns over Afghanistan’s security look set to dominate the agenda when US Defense Secretary James Mattis visits India this week.Mattis is scheduled to arrive late Monday and is set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new defence minister, in the first visit by a top US official since Donald Trump became president in January.

“The United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia,” a Pentagon statement said.

Trump and Modi met in June in Washington and the visit by Mattis is a sign “the political leadership in both countries place defence cooperation as a top priority”, Mukesh Aghi, president of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum, told AFP.

Delhi and Washington share concerns about Afghanistan, with Trump announcing a new strategy for the war-torn country last month which cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops.

The president has urged India to increase assistance to Afghanistan’s economy, and has lambasted Delhi’s arch-rival Pakistan for offering safe haven to “agents of chaos”.

Mattis “will express US appreciation for India’s important contributions toward Afghanistan’s democracy, stability, prosperity, and security”, the Pentagon said.

Experts are not expecting any Indian boots on the ground, though there may be some role for Indian military expertise in supporting the US-led training and advisory mission with Afghan security forces.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country. Last year it offered some $1 billion in aid.

Delhi frequently accuses Islamabad of stirring up violence in Afghanistan and harbouring militant groups.

– Arms sales –

In 2016 the United States designated India a “Major Defence Partner” with the aim of increasing military cooperation and cutting red tape to ease defence deals.

Mattis’s predecessor Ashton Carter pushed hard for stronger defence ties and the Trump administration has not signalled any intention of changing course on this.

Trump has praised India for contributing to regional peace and stability and for buying US military equipment.

Mattis is likely to seek to persuade India to buy Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70 aircraft in a deal potentially worth $15 billion.

Lockheed Martin has offered the most upgraded version of the jet fighter to India, the world’s largest weapons importer.

The US manufacturer is competing with Swedish defence giant Saab, whose Gripen E made its maiden flight in June.

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India has said it needs at least 100 single-engine fighters to counter the growing air threat posed by China and Pakistan.

Saab and Lockheed have both offered to build the jets locally to comply with Modi’s “Make-in-India” initiative, which aims to cut imports and build a domestic defence industry.

US giant Boeing has also offered to set up a plant in India for production of its F/A 18 Super Hornet aircraft if it wins a deal.

A drone deal for the Indian Navy will also likely be up for discussion, a source familiar with the negotiations told AFP.

“Since Chinese assets have started to dominate the Indian Ocean region, the Trump administration is keen on fast-tracking the acquisition of the drones,” the source said.

Many commentators have said that US-India cooperation is crucial to countering an increasingly assertive China, which has been developing its military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific.

But Afghanistan will be front and centre when Mattis meets Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who will host her highest-level foreign delegation since being appointed earlier this month.

The visit comes as the Indian army takes part in a two-week joint military training exercise in the United States to forge closer ties on counter-insurgency, regional security operations and peacekeeping.


Philippines is Worst in Global Impunity Index (Weak capacity to prosecute crimes and bring perpetrators to justice)

September 23, 2017


Violence related to organized crime and terrorist activities by groups linked to the Islamic State placed the Philippines in the worst spot in the Global Impunity Index or GII drawn up by the Mexico-based University of the Americas Puebla or UDLAP and its Center of Studies on Impunity and Justice.

This GII is different from an index of the same name that focuses on violent attacks on journalists. The UDLAP study also covers only 69 out of the 124 United Nations members because information on security and justice was insufficient in the other states. But both studies ranked the Philippines among the worst because of the weak capacity to prosecute crimes and bring perpetrators to justice.

The UDLAP index stresses that impunity can lead to socioeconomic and legal inequality, rule-of-law problems and more human rights violations. It can aggravate corruption and violence, retard economic development and the ability to attract foreign investment and tourism.

The UDLAP index covers structural, functional and human rights dimensions of impunity. The human rights dimension is based on cases of torture, “homicides perpetrated by public officials, political imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, massive homicides, and disappearances.”

Ranked behind the Philippines were India, Cameroon, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua and the Russian Federation. Surely there are countries where impunity is just as bad or worse among the 124 UN member states that were excluded from the study. But regardless of the Philippines’ ranking if all UN states were included, no one will dispute the observation that the country suffers from institutional weaknesses in every aspect of the criminal justice system, from law enforcement to prosecution and corrections. The country received the worst rating in terms of the delivery of justice.

Frustration with the justice system has led to public tolerance of brutal methods of fighting criminality including the drug menace. This public support has emboldened the police, leading to abuses and impunity. Unless the nation moves decisively to boost the state’s capacity to deliver justice, law enforcement short cuts will continue to enjoy a measure of public support, and impunity will become worse.


Thousands in Germany Protest Over Planned Steel Merger — “The future of steel in Germany” is at stake

September 22, 2017

BERLIN — Thousands of steelworkers have gathered in western Germany in a protest over the planned merger of the European steel operations of Thyssenkrupp and Tata Steel, which is expected to cost up to 4,000 jobs.

News agency dpa reported that nearly 7,000 people took part in Friday’s protest in Bochum, and steel production was largely halted ahead of the demonstration. Germany’s top labor union leader, Reiner Hoffmann, accused Thyssenkrupp’s management of failing to take account of employees’ interests, while German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles said “the future of steel in Germany” is at stake.

Germany’s Thyssenkrupp and India’s Tata on Wednesday signed a preliminary deal to create a joint venture headquartered in the Netherlands. The move to create Europe’s second-largest steel company is an effort to consolidate the struggling industry.

India Using Chilli Sprays, Stun Grenades to Dissuade Rohingya Muslim Influx

September 22, 2017

NEW DELHI — India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using “chilli and stun grenades” to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in their homeland of Myanmar, officials said on Friday.

Border forces in Hindu-majority India, which wants to deport around 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks, have been authorized to use “rude and crude” methods to stop any infiltration attempts.

“We don’t want to cause any serious injury or arrest them, but we won’t tolerate Rohingya on Indian soil,” said a senior official with the Border Security Force (BSF) in New Delhi.

“We’re using grenades containing chilli spray to stop hundreds of Rohingyas trying to enter India … the situation is tense,” added the official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media.

More than 420,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when a coordinated attack by Rohingya insurgents on Myanmar security forces triggered a counteroffensive, killing at least 400 people, mainly militants. The United Nations has called the assault a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Densely populated Bangladesh is struggling to shelter all the refugees desperate for space to set up shacks, sparking worries in India that the influx could spill into its territory.

R.P.S. Jaswal, a deputy inspector general of the BSF patrolling a large part of the border in India’s eastern state of West Bengal, said his troops were told to use both chilli grenades and stun grenades to push back the Rohingya.

A chilli grenade makes use of a naturally-occurring compound in chilli powder to cause severe irritation and temporarily immobilize its target.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government is growing increasingly hostile towards the Rohingya in India, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh calling on Thursday for their deportation as illegal migrants.

Seeking to get legal clearance for the deportation plan, the home ministry told the Supreme Court this week it would confidentially provide it with intelligence information showing Rohingya links with Pakistan-based militants.

Most of the peaceloving refugees had no link to criminal activity, two Rohingya men protesting against the deportation move told India’s top court on Friday.

An official of India’s federal investigations agency said it was seeking help from Muslim religious leaders to step up surveillance of the Rohingya.

Police have arrested a suspected al Qaeda member they believe was trying to recruit Rohingya in the country to fight security forces in Myanmar. More than 270 Rohingya have been in Indian jails since 2014.

“Our investigations have revealed that Al Qaeda wants to use India and Bangladesh as their base to start a religious war against Myanmar,” said New Delhi police official Pramod Singh Khuswah. “Clearly they are a threat to our security.”

(Editing by Krishna N. Das and Clarence Fernandez)

Shelling Across Pakistan-India Border Kills Six Civilians, Wounds 30

September 22, 2017

ISLAMABAD — Shelling along the disputed border between Pakistan and India killed six civilians, and wounded an additional 30 people, officials from the two sides said on Friday, in the latest confrontation between the two nuclear-armed countries.

The firing took place across the frontier separating Pakistan’s Punjab province from Indian-administered Kashmir’s Jammu region, and most of the casualties were reported on the Pakistani side.

Pakistan’s military said six civilians were killed and 26 wounded.

“Pakistan Rangers Punjab befittingly responded on posts targeting civil population,” the Pakistan army’s public relations wing said in a statement.

Indian Police officials in Jammu said the ceasefire was violated by Pakistani forces, who injured four civilians on the Indian side.

Both countries claim Kashmir, and have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region, which they have disputed since partition and independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

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Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Inspector General Anil Paliwal (2L) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Deputy Inspector General (DIG) M F Farooqui (L) receive Pakistan Rangers Director General (Punjab) Major General Umar Farooq Barki (2R) on their arrival at Wagah Crossing. FILE PHOTO, 2015: AFP

In July, four soldiers were killed when Indian shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) that separates parts of Kashmir held by both countries struck a Pakistani army vehicle. Indian officials denied any knowledge of the incident.

In May, India accused Pakistani forces of killing two soldiers patrolling the LoC and mutilating their bodies. Pakistan’s military denied the allegations and said it had not committed ceasefire violations.

Both sides have previously accused each of violating the ceasefire and of beheading soldiers in the past.

(Additional reporting by Fayaz Bukhari; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Militant Attack on Minister’s Convoy Kills Two Bystanders in India’s Kashmir

September 21, 2017

SRINAGAR, India — Militants attacked the convoy of a minister in the restive Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, killing at least two bystanders and injuring several others though the minister escaped unhurt, police said.

A grenade hurled at the motorcade of Jammu and Kashmir Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar exploded on the road after hitting a security vehicle, senior state police official Manoj Pandita told Reuters.

Akhtar, who was on his way to inaugurate a project in the town of Tral in south Kashmir, told Reuters he was safe.

The incident occurred despite tightened security in the town, which was home to former militant leader Burhan Wani whose death last year at the hands of Indian forces sparked massive protests that led to dozens more deaths.


SRINAGAR, India — Three civilians were killed and 23 others wounded after suspected rebels Thursday lobbed a grenade at a motorcade of a local government minister in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said.

Police said the attack occurred as the minister’s motorcade passed though the southern Tral town. Three pedestrians, including a woman, were killed and 10 others wounded, said police director-general S.P.Vaid. He said eight paramilitary soldiers, four police and a government engineer were also hurt.

The minister escaped unhurt.

No rebel group fighting against Indian rule has claimed responsibility for the attack. Reinforcements of government forces cordoned off the area to hunt for the attackers.

Kashmir is divided between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, and both claim the region in entirety. They have fought two wars over its control since they won independence from Britain in 1947.

Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Ford to tie up with India’s Mahindra, eyes access to huge market

September 19, 2017



© AFP | Ford and Mahindra will work for three years on a number of areas including electric vehicles, while the US giant will gain crucial access to the huge India auto market

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Ford Motor and India’s Mahindra Group have announced they will work together in a fresh partnership as the US giant looks to boost its presence in one of the world’s fastest growing auto markets.The two, who parted ways from a tie-up in 2005, will co-operate for three years on a number of areas including electric vehicles and sourcing.

“Ford is committed to India,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president and president of Global Markets in a statement.

“This alliance will allow us to work together to take advantage of the changes coming in the auto industry.”

Most foreign auto makers have struggled in the budget-sensitive Indian market and Ford has a less than three percent market share.

The electric car market is expected to explode as governments around the world, including India and the world’s biggest market China saying they intend to shift completely away from fossil fuelled cars within the next few decades.

Mahindra is the only Indian automaker that makes electric cars, and at a fraction of the cost of global brands such as Tesla and an agreement would give Ford access to the cheap technology. Mahindra on the other hand will be given access to new designs and markets.

Abdul Majeed, a partner at consultancy PwC, said more auto makers would in future seek strategic tie-ups as the industry sees a major shift towards greener transport and greater use of information technology.

“Alliances are critical to survive going forward. No one can resolve these (issues) on their own,” Majeed told AFP.

“There’s a fundamental shift happening in the sector and you’re getting competition from new emerging companies so you have to align to survive.”

Japan’s Toyota Motor and Suzuki announced plans to work together earlier this year to exchange expertise, while General Motors and Ford are also in various experiments with US ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies.

The announcement marks a U-turn for Ford under new chief executive Jim Hackett after his predecessor Mark Fields had put the firm’s India business on review.

— Bloomberg News contributed to this story —


Senior Chinese Leader Says Has ‘Shared Destiny’ With Vietnam

September 19, 2017

BEIJING — China and Vietnam’s Communist Parties have a “shared destiny” and the two nations have huge potential for economic cooperation, a senior official said on Tuesday during a visit to Vietnam, which has clashed with China over the South China Sea.

Though the two countries are run by Communist parties, they are deeply suspicious of each other and relations have been strained over the past few years because of the dispute in the strategic South China Sea.

China has appeared uneasy at Vietnam’s efforts to rally Southeast Asian countries over the busy waterway as well as at its neighbor’s growing defense ties with the United States, Japan and India.

In July, under pressure from Beijing, Vietnam suspended oil drilling in offshore waters that are also claimed by China.

However, Hanoi and Beijing have also tried to prevent tensions from getting too out of control, and senior officials from two countries make fairly regular visits to each other.

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Liu Yunshan, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s elite Standing Committee which runs the country, told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi that the two parties “constitute a community of shared destiny with strategic significance”, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The two economies are highly complementary, with huge potential for practical cooperation, he added.

While the report made no direction mention of the South China Sea, it quoted Liu as suggesting the two countries “properly manage and control their divergences, so as to create favorable environment for bilateral cooperation”.

China claims nearly all the South China Sea, through which an estimated $3 trillion in international trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

See the report from Xinhua:



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Top India court hears plea against Rohingya deportation — Indian constitution “provides equal rights and liberty to every person”

September 18, 2017


© AFP | Rohingya have been leaving mainly Buddhist Myanmar in steady numbers for years before the military crackdown last month that opened the floodgates, with thousands ending up in India

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India’s Supreme Court on Monday began hearing a plea challenging a government decision to deport up to 40,000 Muslim Rohingya who have fled Myanmar, a lawyer said.The petition was filed on behalf of two Rohingya living at a refugee camp in New Delhi since escaping Myanmar, where a military crackdown since August 25 has led to more than 400,000 Rohingya taking refuge in Bangladesh.

The challenge came after India’s junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said last month the government would expel all Rohingya, even those registered with the United Nations.

According to media reports, the government will argue that the Rohingya are a security threat who could aid terrorists.

The Rohingya have denied any link with Islamic extremist groups. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing the Rohingya, said the Indian constitution “provides equal rights and liberty to every person”, including non-citizens.

The United Nations says there are 16,000 registered Rohingya in India. But many more are undocumented.

About 7,000 Rohingya live in shanties in India’s Jammu region in the Himalayas. They say they have faced hostility from the majority Hindu community there.

Mohammad Salimullah, one of the petitioners, said the authorities had always been helpful in New Delhi so he was hopeful the court would back the refugees.

“In the five or six years that we have been here, we have never felt that we are foreigners here nor have we ever felt any kind of fear,” Salimullah told AFP ahead of the case.

The Rohingya have been leaving mainly Buddhist Myanmar — where the government calls them illegal migrants and refuses them nationality — in steady numbers for years before the military crackdown last month that opened the floodgates.

While Bangladesh has been the main destination, some have ended up in neighbouring India and Nepal. There are also some in Pakistan.