Tag: Politics

Rahul Gandhi Behaved Like A Joker In Kerala

By Aglaia Staff

Rahul Gandhi behaved like a “joker” during his visit in the state Monday and such a person is being projected as the prime ministerial candidate by the Congress, a CPI-M leader said here Tuesday.

Communist Party of India-Marxist state leader Pinarayi Vijayan said: “His candidature as the Congress’s PM candidate is more or less finalised and yesterday (Monday) travelling on a police jeep on his state visit he behaved like a joker.”

When newsmen said why can’t his act be seen as a humility on his part, Vijayan shot back saying: “He is one person who is given the highest security and in the melee, a central minister (Minister of State for Labour Kodikunnil Suresh) got injured.”

“He behaved like a person of unsound mind and the action should be taken against him for travelling on top of a police jeep,” he said.

 

 

 

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Israeli Ministers Okay Vacation On Local Election Day

By Aglaia Staff

Municipal Election Day will be a vacation day, according to an initiative by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday.
 
Sa’ar proposed the vacation day in light of low voter turnout rates in October’s municipal election, in which less than half of those eligible went to the polls.
 
“Over many years, there was a vacation day for municipal elections. I believe that citizens’ participation in democracy is an important value and that local elections are no less important than Knesset elections. Therefore, we can make it easier for Israeli citizens to exercise their democratic right,” Sa’ar said. 

 

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Kejriwal’s Young Cabinet

By Aglaia Staff

After having set a precedent of sorts by refusing a bungalow; Arvind Kejriwal will be sworn in and go in for a floor test(a vote of political importance) on Jan 3. Here is his cabinet; and their qualifications. If there is one thing Kejriwal has proved; it is the fact that the Aam Aadmi can defeat established interests. But, how far this translates into the real thing remains to be seen.

 

Manish Sisodia, 41: Was associated with Zee News and All India Radio. Quit journalism to participate in the agitation for Right to Information. Key member of the team that led the Jan Lokpal movement. Was in jail with Anna Hazare during the anti-graft agitation.

2. Somnath Bharti, 39: A post-graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology and a lawyer. Defended activists on whom false cases were slapped during protests that broke out after the Delhi gang rape. Former President and Secretary of the IIT Alumni Association.

3. Satyendra Kumar Jain, 49: An architect by profession, he was working with CPWD. Quit and joined the Jan Lokpal movement. Helped Chitrakoot- based social organisation Drishti that works for visually impaired girls.

4. Rakhi Birla, 26: Was a journalist with a private news channel before joining Aam Aadmi Party. Has been involved in fighting for the cause of the Dalits.

5. Saurabh Bhardwaj, 34: An engineer by profession, he fought legal battle to secure justice for a poor rape survivor. Became a lawyer to provide legal help to such victims, the visually impaired, and senior citizens, among others.

6. Girish Soni, 49: A former youth activist with the Janwadi Naujawan Sabha, he participated in Bijli Pani Andolan of the Aam Aadmi Party.

 

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Modi Takes A Dig At Chidambaram For Ruining The Country

By Aglaia Staff

Sparring between Modi and Chidambaram has been on for some time. Modi had alleged at a rally in Jodhpur yesterday that Chidambaram feels buying gold causes inflation. The Finance Minister responded by saying that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is giving his “first lesson in economy” and rejected his contention.

An undeterred Modi continued the onslaught against Chidambaram and Dr Singh at his rallies in Delhi.
Taking a dig at the top leadership of the Congress, Modi said, “Our PM is a big economist. We never questioned that. Finance Minister is also very well educated. We never challenged that.”

“A top ranking minister in the central government, who considers himself to be all-intelligent, thinks he has got all the brains in the world and that the others are brainless… The same minister said prices are rising because poor, who were earlier only eating dry breads, are now eating two vegetables. Tell me, are prices rising due to this?” he asked.

Earlier, while addressing a rally at Shahdra, Narendra Modi said the party had lost people’s trust and this was the reason why its leaders were staying away from campaigning in Delhi.

“This government has lost the trust of people and that is why its leaders are not coming here to campaign. They know they can’t fool the people of Delhi with fake promises.”

The Gujarat Chief Minister said the Congress had no issues to speak on and no development work to show and that was the reason it was attacking him to divert people’s attention.

“They think that by attacking Modi, they will win elections but the fact is that they have not done anything for the people. They just don’t  have the will to work for the benefit of people,” he said.

Launching an attack on Arvind Kejriwal for the first time, Modi accused him of back-stabbing Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement for his personal political ends.

Without naming Kejriwal or his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he cautioned the people against voting for the “newcomers”.
“Many years, after the JP movement, Anna Hazare blew the bugle against corruption. We were hopeful that people would get rid of corruption.

“But, some people back-stabbed such a sacred movement of Anna Hazare for their own personal political aspirations and the whole agitation came to an end,” Modi said at a well-attended BJP poll rally in Seemapuri, a Congress bastion.
The Gujarat Chief Minister said Congress displays one hand (its symbol) but loots with both hands while for the newcomers it seems even two hands are not enough.

“They are all for sweeping everything with the broom (AAP’s election symbol),” Modi said.
BJP had been terming AAP and its leaders Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and others as Congress’ agents and said they are only a “vote-cutter” party. 

 

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D.G Vanzara: From Farmer’s Son To Jailed Encounter Cop

300px Baroda Techo D.G Vanzara: From Farmers Son To Jailed Encounter Cop

Visit aglaia.co.in Faculty of Technology & Engineering, MSU, Vadodara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Aglaia Staff

His mother named him Dahya, meaning simp ly Dahyaji Gobarji Vanzara, 59, did have a simple upbringing as a tribal farmer’s son in the northern Gujarat village of Ilol before going on to become an ambitious police officer who would eventually be arrested for encounters he allegedly staged.

His father, Gobarji, was keen on educating his three sons. Of the other two, Kaluji Vanzara is a promotee IAS officer and now director of cast welfare, a post equivalent in rank to that of a joint secretary, in Gujarat’s social justice department, while Vanrajsinh Vanzara is deputy secretary (health).

Dahyaji’s son Pruthvisinh, asked who his father’s best friend was, says, it was Narendra Modi. “The way Modi knows him, no one does. Papa and Modi were friends since both began their careers.”

In his resignation letter from jail last week, Vanzara accused the government of ditching jailed police officers after they had performed in accordance with its policy

My father’s motivation was my grandfather, who kept coaxing his sons to study,” says Pruthvisinh. “My father used to study late into the night under the light of kerosene lamps.”

Dahyaji Vanzara went to the village’s only government school before completing high school from Himmatnagar town. He was deeply interested in literature, writing poems while a BA and then an LLB student Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara. He was also a sportsman, winning medals in athletics, as well as a horse rider, a passion he shares with his wife.

 

My mother is the better rider,” Pruthvi says. “In the 1950s she used to travel to Rajasthan on horseback along with her father, who was a well-known businessman there.”

The marriage with Gauridevi had been arranged in childhood. Her family came to his rescue after he had been thrown out of his hostel because he couldn’t pay his fees. “My paternal grandfather had paid for his admission to MSU but my father couldn’t pay the hostel fees. After two or three months, my father chose not to ask his father for money and shifted to a friend’s room. After a few days when the dean found out, he threw him out of the hostel,” Pruthvi says. “When my maternal grandfather came to know about it, he paid the hostel fees.”

All three brothers appeared for the public service examination. Vanzara got through the direct DSP exam in 1978-79 and joined the police while his brothers got into the administrative services.

The tough cop

The career decided, the ambition showed early. The young DSP earned a reputation as a tough cop who cracked down on liquor dens, arms rackets and highway robbers. He was promoted to the IPS in 1987.

In time, he emerged a networker with contacts from small vendors to political leaders across Gujarat. He was posted as DSP and SP in a number of districts. The executive postings came in the Ahmedabad crime branch, the anti-terrorism squad and the border range, as DIG. Officers credit him with developing a strong intelligence gathering system when he briefly handled CID (intelligence).

“When Vanzara saheb was SP in Mehsana during the Chimanbhai Patel regime, there was a major farmers’ agitation. He played a key role in protecting the farmers from his police colleagues, which made him popular as a people’s cop while remaining an aggressive one,” says old friend Harish Gujjar, a machine manufacturer in Himmatnagar. A batchmate adds, “He was on the field all the time, a fearless officer who believed in dealing with criminals with a stick or a punch.”

It was after he graduated from crime to terror that his aggression led to his undoing.

The conspiracy theorist

After joining the Ahmedabad crime branch from 2002, Vanzara as DCP would be involved in a series of encounters, before being promoted to DIG and posted in the ATS.

Starting from the time when Gujarat was reeling under communal riots and peaking during the encounters, police theories — now being attributed to Vanzara — linked a series of operations to ISI-sponsored conspiracies: a foiled attack on a rath yatra in 2002, blasts across the state and the killing of former minister Haren Pandya, followed by the Sadiq Jamal and the Ishrat Jahan encounters. Two others killed in encounters for which he has been chargesheeted — gangsters Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram — had been part of the information network he had built.

He was a competent officer but he came under the evil influence of people in the Narendra Modi government,” says retired DGP R B Sreekumar.

In a letter to a special task force probing 16 encounter cases, Sreekumar had written, “Why have alleged militant jihadi groups stopped sending potential assassins to kill Sangh Parivar leaders after the arrest of Vanzara in 2007, and why were intelligence inputs of terrorist attacks received only between 2002 and 2006?”

He tells the media, “If Vanzara had been stopped by the government after the alleged rath yatra firearms haul, the jihadi theories he cooked up around the fake encounters would not have happened.”

At Sabarmati jail’s Sardar Yard, he has written Rantankar, Sinh Garjana and Vijaypanth. “I admire the writer in him; as for the rest, the law will decide whether he was right or wrong,” says Ramnik Rawal, an artist in Palanpur who wrote him a letter that appears in Sinh Garjana.

The allegations of picking fights came from jailed SP Rajkumar Pandian and DSP N K Amin, now out on bail. The biggest of these was in 2009, after which Amin wrote to police and government authorities that Vanzara had tried to kill him in jail.

Since 2010, Vanzara has enrolled in a number of distance learning courses and won degrees from IGNOU and Annamalai University in spirituality and yoga, human rights and public administration, besides having applied recently for Gandhi and Peace studies. His cell has a cushioned bed, a desk, a rack of books and stationery, as well as a small temple where he meditates twice a day. He reportedly writes notes on whatever he sees outside the cell and chats with both jail officials and undertrials. At Taloja Jail, too, he had been allowed a desk and a personal library.

 

300px Map Gujarat state and districts D.G Vanzara: From Farmers Son To Jailed Encounter Cop

The Gulf of Khambat is at the right-lower-center of the map of Gujarat on the Arabian Sea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Britain Sent Poison Gas Chemicals To Syria

By Aglaia Staff

British companies sold chemicals to Syria that could have been used to produce the deadly nerve agent that killed 1,400 people, the media revealed today.

Between July 2004 and May 2010 the Government issued five export licences to two companies, allowing them to sell Syria sodium fluoride, which is used to make sarin.

The Government last night admitted for the first time that the chemical was delivered to Syria – a clear breach of international protocol on the trade of dangerous substances that has been condemned as ‘grossly irresponsible’.

The sales were made at a time when President Bashar Assad was strongly suspected to be stockpiling the chemical weapons that have caused an international crisis.

The UK firms delivered sodium fluoride to a  Syrian cosmetics company for what they claim were legitimate purposes. But intelligence experts believe President Assad’s regime uses such companies to divert chemicals into its weapons programme.

6629080867 016b010de5 m Britain Sent Poison Gas Chemicals To Syria

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Last night the BIS refused to answer questions regarding how much sodium fluoride was bought and sold – or which companies were involved.

Intelligence expert Richard Kemp, a former member of the Government’s COBRA emergency committee, said last night: ‘President Assad would undoubtedly have diverted legitimately exported supplies of sodium fluoride in order to make chemical weapons.

‘He would have absolutely no qualms about doing this, and his practice was well known to British diplomats and our intelligence agencies. In this light, it is grossly irresponsible of BIS to have approved these licences from 2004 to 2010.’

Scientists at the UK’s military research laboratory at Porton Down proved that sarin was used in the chemical attack on August 21 after testing items of clothing recovered from the scene.

‘Previously we thought that while export licences had been granted, no chemicals were actually delivered. Now we know that in the build-up to the Syrian civil war, UK companies – with the backing of our Government – were supplying this potentially lethal substance.

‘While the last export licence was issued in May 2010, these licences are obtained prior to manufacture and the industry standard is for four to five months to pass before  the chemicals are delivered.

‘So we are looking at late 2010 for the  British supplies of sodium fluoride reaching Syria. The Government has some very serious questions  to answer.’

he US says the attack, near Damascus, killed 1,429 people, including 426 children.

And yesterday, EU officials meeting in Lithuania announced that they are convinced that the chemical attack was the work of President Assad’s forces rather than any opposition fighters.

Last night a senior scientist condemned the sale, as Syria is one of just five countries to have refused to sign protocols against the use  of chemical weapons.

The other nations not to have signed up to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) accords are North Korea, South Sudan, Egypt and Angola.

Professor Alastair Hay, a toxicology expert at Leeds University, said: ‘The Government’s approval of sodium fluoride sales to Syria  during a period when it was widely suspected the regime was stockpiling dangerous substances is deeply disturbing.

‘This was a serious mistake on BIS’s part as while sodium fluoride has a multitude of benign uses, such as toothpaste, it remains a key ingredient in the manufacture of sarin. Quite simply, you need fluoride to make sarin.

 

 

Last night a BIS spokesman said: ‘The five licences were granted to two UK exporters. We cannot publish their names for reasons of commercial confidentiality. The end users were two Syrian commercial companies.

‘The quantities of sodium fluoride involved were commensurate with the stated end use in the production of cosmetics and there was no reason to link them with Syria’s chemical weapons programme. This remains the case.’

 

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Pak-Based Lashkar Bracing To Hit India Again

By Aglaia Staff

Pakistan-based militants are reportedly preparing to take on India across the subcontinent once Western troops leave Afghanistan in 2014, several sources say, raising the risk of a dramatic spike in tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan.

Sources in India believe that a botched suicide bombing of an Indian consulate in Afghanistan, which was followed within days last week by a lethal cross-border ambush on Indian soldiers in disputed Kashmir, suggest that the new campaign by Islamic militants may already be underway.

 

Members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant outfit in Pakistan, the group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, said they were preparing to take the fight to India once again, this time across the region.

A US counter-terrorism official, referring to the attack in Afghanistan, said “LeT has long pursued Indian targets, so it would be natural for the group to plot against them in its own backyard”.

Given the quiet backing – or at least blind eye – that many militant groups enjoy from Pakistan’s shadowy intelligence services, tensions from a new militant campaign are bound to spill over.

Adding to the volatility, the two nations’ armies are trading mortar and gunfire across the heavily militarised frontier that divides Kashmir, and accusing each other of killing troops. Hindu-majority India and Islamic Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and came close to a fourth in 1999.

The tension now brewing may not escalate into open hostilities, but it could thwart efforts to forge a lasting peace and open trade between two countries that make up a quarter of the world’s population.

“With the Americans leaving Afghanistan, the restraint on the Pakistani security/jihadi establishment is going too,” said a former top official at India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the external intelligence arm.

“We are concerned about 2014 in either scenario. If the jihadis (Islamist militants) claim success in Afghanistan, they could turn their attention to us. Equally, if they fail, they will attack in wrath.”

But Pakistan, which has a border with India to the east and with Afghanistan to the west, has concerns of its own.

It sees India’s expansive diplomacy in Afghanistan as a ploy to disrupt it from the rear as it battles its own deadly Islamist militancy and separatist forces. Vying for influence in a post-2014 Afghanistan, it worries about India’s assistance to the Afghan army, heightening a sense of encirclement.

“I’m shocked by these allegations. Pakistan has its own insurgency to deal with. It has no appetite for confrontations abroad,” said a Pakistani foreign ministry official referring to the Indian charges of stirring trouble in Afghanistan and on the Kashmir border. “If anything, we are looking at our mistakes from the past very critically. These accusations are baseless.

India needs to act with more maturity and avoid this sort of propaganda.” Both US Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry spoke during visits to India recently of the need for New Delhi and Islamabad to resume their stalled peace process as the region heads into a period of uncertainty.

FULL-SCALE JIHAD At the core of that uncertainty is the pullback of militants from Afghanistan as US forces head home. Hafiz Saeed, founder of the LeT, has left no doubt that India’s side of Kashmir will become a target, telling an Indian weekly recently: “Full-scale armed Jihad (holy war) will begin soon in Kashmir after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan.”

300px Map Kashmir Standoff 2003 mr Pak Based Lashkar Bracing To Hit India Again

The retreat of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989 brought a wave of guerrillas into Kashmir to fight India’s rule there. This time the additional risk will be the rivalry between India and Pakistan over Afghanistan itself, one that threatens to become as toxic as the 60-year dispute in Kashmir. The LeT has said it is fighting Indian forces in Afghanistan as well.

A senior LeT source in Pakistan told Reuters: “It is correct that the LeT cooperates with the Afghan Taliban (insurgents) when there is a question of attacking Indian interests.”

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated last week after five Indian soldiers were killed close to the de facto border in Kashmir. India says Pakistani special forces joined militants to ambush a night patrol, a charge Pakistan denies.

Just days earlier, three men drove an explosives-laden car towards India’s consulate in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan. The blast missed its target and killed nine civilians, six of them young Islamic scholars in a mosque.

It is too early to say conclusively who was behind these and other attacks, but Indian and Afghan officials see in them the handiwork of the LeT and its allies. Such groups have doubled their attempts to cross into Indian-controlled Kashmir this year, according to Indian defence ministry statistics.

The result has been the first increase in Kashmir militant violence since a 2003 ceasefire on the border, which led to a decline in attacks, partly because Pakistan and the jihadi groups were preoccupied with Afghanistan during this time. In the first eight months of this year, 103 casualties in militant-related violence were recorded in Indian Kashmir, compared to 57 in the same period of 2012, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a think tank.

$10 MILLION BOUNTY LeT was founded in 1990 in eastern Afghanistan by Saeed, a Pakistani Islamic scholar whom India accuses of masterminding the rampage in Mumbai.

The US placed a $10 million bounty on his head for his alleged role in the attack, but he remains a free man in Pakistan, where he preached to thousands last week.

Although the group has global ambitions, LeT’s primary aim is to end India’s rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir. India and Pakistan each control a part of the heavily militarised land of lakes and orchards once known as “paradise on earth” and both assert claims over the whole Himalayan territory.

LeT has been working this year with several other Islamist outfits to train and push more Pakistani militants over the heavily guarded border into India’s side, a veteran LeT fighter told Reuters in Pakistan.

“Jihad is being stimulated and various militant outfits are cooperating with each other under the platform of the United Jihad Council,” said the veteran, referring to an umbrella body.

Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, came to power in May vowing to improve ties with India and – until last week’s flare-up along the Kashmir border – the two sides looked set to resume talks. Their prime ministers were planning to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

The trouble is, says a retired senior Pakistani diplomat, there are “spoilers” on both sides who are not interested in seeing a rapprochement. In Pakistan, these include the militant groups, which he said operate independently. “They don’t seem to be able to control other non-government actors like the LeT. So that’s the biggest worry,” he said.

The Pakistan military’s refusal to dismantle groups such as LeT infuriates New Delhi and fuels hawkish demands for the kind of tough action that would risk escalation.

The senior LeT source in Pakistan denied the group was involved in the failed consulate strike in Afghanistan, but officials in New Delhi – citing intelligence intercepts – said they had been forewarned about LeT-trained hit squads plotting the attack.

Pakistan, whose intelligence agency is regularly accused of quietly supporting Afghan Taliban insurgents, says India’s aid and missions are cover for carrying out covert operations there.

“Jalalabad was a message from the ISI in a long line of such messages,” said an Indian intelligence official, referring to Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

TIGHT SECURITY Further east, on the line dividing Kashmir between Pakistan and India, ceasefire violations are up 80% compared to last year, according to India.

On Friday night, the two armies exchanged 7,000 rounds of mortar and gunfire, according to Indian media.  However, despite the uptick, violence in Kashmir is still close to the record low it reached last year.

Moreover, the Indian army has to a large extent sealed the rugged, fenced and land-mined border that divides Kashmir, leaving militants with a critically small number of cadres and weapons.

“We cannot send jihadists into India in big numbers like in the past because of tight security at the Indian side,” the LeT source in Pakistan said.

JP Singh, the police chief for northern border operations, said the army and police had stopped most attempted militant crossings this year.

Still, India is preparing for an influx.

“(Pakistan’s) agents and their proteges, the militants, are getting disengaged from the Afghan border and they have nowhere else to keep them and engage them, other than to push them to Kashmir,” Singh said.

“Their presence inside Pakistan is dangerous for the internal security of Pakistan.”

 Pak Based Lashkar Bracing To Hit India Again
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