Monday, December 24, 2007

Kolkata's Riot Man Threatens More Violence

Saugar Sengupta Kolkata

All India Minority Forum president Idris Ali, who had last month led the Kolkata riots demanding the ouster of dissident Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, has threatened further violence if she returns to Kolkata.
The AIMF chief, who doubles up as a Pradesh Congress leader, on Monday criticised Kolkata's intellectuals, wondering "why these people are not raising their voice against those who have forced MF Husain into exile for his slanderous depiction of Saraswati".

He accused a "section of PCC leaders of acting as agents of the CPI(M)".

The Congress had expelled Mr Ali from the party but he was taken back within a fortnight. Emboldened by the "favourable" turn of events, he has cautioned both the Centre and the State Government against allowing Nasreen to return to Kolkata. "She has hurt Muslim sentiments and they would not relish her coming back to Kolkata. The two Governments would do good not to allow her return," she said.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Indian Government's Ultimatum to Taslima

Statesman News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec. 20:
Driving her further to the wall, the Centre has debarred the controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen from returning to her adopted city of Kolkata and from coming out in public or freely meeting people even in the Capital, her current heavily-guarded “safe house”, thereby virtually putting a stark choice to her to either continue staying here under virtual “house arrest” or consider the option of leaving the country.

Hounded out of Kolkata and packed off from Jaipur, Taslima has been living in an undisclosed location under state security cover here for the last month. Today, a senior official of the ministry of external affairs conveyed to her the Centre’s decision that she will not be allowed to go back to Kolkata.

“If I live in India, I would not be allowed outside. I will not be allowed to meet any friends. I will have to live this way in India and it must not be in Kolkata,” an emotionally-shaken and distraught Taslima said, quoting the official’s message to her. The Bangladeshi writer felt the Central government has virtually asked her to leave India by indicating she could live here only confined in a room without being able to visit anywhere or receive visitors.

Wondering what “crime” she has committed, she said the Indian government, despite being aware that she could not return to Bangladesh, would like her to stay here like a “prisoner in a room”. Taslima said she told the official that “I am not a criminal that I will not be allowed to return to Kolkata.” “I told the official (in vain) that I should be allowed to lead a normal life at least in Delhi,” she said. “I will have to live this way in India and it must not be in Kolkata. So I asked them when I will be able to go to Kolkata. They don’t know when. And how long I will have to remain under house arrest. That they don’t know.”

Taslima also said the official made it clear to her that she would only be able to live in Delhi the way she has stayed here so far. She said she was told she would not be able to lead a “normal life” even in Delhi, which, she added, amounted to asking her to consider leaving the country. She asserted that she still wants to live in India and return to Kolkata. Hounded out of Kolkata last month following violent protests by a fringe Muslim body against her stay in the city, where she has lived since 2004, Taslima was shunted out to Jaipur by the West Bengal government. After barely a night, however, she was shifted from Jaipur to the Capital.

There is resentment against the 46-year-old Bangladeshi writer among a section of the Muslim community for her alleged anti-Islam writings. Taslima has denied such charges. A few weeks ago, she even offered to remove some controversial portions of her novel Dwikhandita (Split in Two) in a bid to pacify such Muslim groups. Taslima was forced to leave her country in the 1990s by enraged Muslim clerics.
The Centre’s fresh ultimatum to Ms Nasreen is believed to have followed discussions between the Centre and the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government. Both the Congress-led Central government and the CPM-led state government have sought to wash their hands of Taslima’s stay in India, particularly in Kolkata, due to their perceived anxiety over any adverse Muslim reaction. The Bhattacharjee government has been stonewalling any bid by Taslima to return to Kolkata. The UPA government, which survives on crucial Left support, also appears to be under the CPM’s pressure on the Nasreen issue.

Meanwhile, Mr Idris Ali, president West Bengal Minority Forum, who was released on bail after 26 days, said in Kolkata that Taslima should not be allowed to return to the city.

Taslima Nasrin

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Separatist Leader Reveals Bangladesh Links to India's Northeast Terrorist Groups

Shillong, Dec. 18: The surrendered chairman of a separatist group has revealed that he lived in Dhaka for several years, possibly the first time a militant leader has publicly contested Bangladesh’s claim that it does not host rebels.

Julius Dorphang, the head of a group fighting for over a decade for an independent nation Khasiland carved out of Meghalaya, told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview that top leaders of many Northeast militant groups lived in Dhaka.

“It is true that for better communication with other militant groups and also with others, we, the top leaders, used to stay in Dhaka,” he said at the Mawiong rehabilitation camp, 7km from Shillong.

Dorphang, 44, who headed the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) for several years, surrendered on July 23 after what he describes as ideological differences with his colleagues.

He gave the name of one apartment building where he had lived — Banani — “in Dhaka, close to the airport”. Meghalaya police have cross-checked that there is a building by this name.
“However, we used to change places every now and then. Maybe six months in one place and another six months somewhere else,” he said.

Dorphang did not identify any other militant leader who lived in Dhaka. “We used to see each other either in hotels or other rented places.”

But he did say that like the HNLC, the NSCN(I-M) and the National Liberation Front of Tripura have camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. “I came to know that the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) had to disband a camp because of a misunderstanding with the locals,” he said.

“We had relations with NSCN and other top militant groups. But we did not have any connection with the Ulfa.”

Although Northeast militants have spoken about acquiring training in Bangladesh at surrender ceremonies, Dorphang is the first top leader to say he lived there. “Why should I hide it? It is a fact,” he said.

Ulfa’s Paresh Barua and Arabinda Rajkhowa, NDFB’s Ranjan Daimary, All Tripura Tiger Force’s Ranjit Debbarma and National Liberation Front of Tripura’s Biswamohan Debbarma are said to be holed up in Bangladesh.

Other top leaders of Dorphang’s own group, HNLC, are also there.

Bangladesh officially denies the presence of Indian militants or their camps on its soil. But privately, it has been making positive gestures to India on several issues, including fugitive insurgents, ever since the military-backed regime took over in Dhaka.

Julius Dorphang

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ISI operative held in Guwahati

K Anurag in Guwahati | December 15, 2007 19:56 IST

The Assam police on Saturday claimed to have arrested a hardcore operative of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence in a special operation carried out in a Guwahati locality on Friday night.

A senior police official of the Special Operation Unit of the Assam police informed that the arrested ISI operative was identified as S M Alam alias Mujibullah Alam alias Asif Alam.

He hails from Ajampur under Uttara police station in Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The ISI operative has been active in Assam and the north-east since 2006 and used to look after all operational matters of the ISI there.

He has been under surveillance of the Assam police for sometime and is currently being interrogated by the special branch of Assam police in Guwahati.

The arrested 'ISI operative' was a member of Jamati Islami and Chatra Sibir in Bangladesh and joined the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in 1993. He underwent training in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the police claimed

The police further informed that S M Alam then joined Jamatul Mujahideen in Bangladesh in the year 2005 and had been active in Assam and the north-east since 2006.

The Assam government, the police and the army have been engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the state and have been maintaining that the Pakistani ISI has close links with north-east militant groups including the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom.

Kolkata: Eight hours of madness

At Topsia near Park Circus in Kolkata on November 21, residents fight the flames rising from a police jeep that was set on fire by a mob.

PARTS of central Kolkata took on the appearance of a war zone as demonstrators answering to a call by the All India Minority Forum (AIMF) suddenly turned violent and ran amok for more than eight hours – from around 9:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – on November 21. At least 35 persons, mostly policemen, were injured and more than 50 miscreants were arrested. The Army was deployed in the city for the first time since 1992 when it was called out to quell the riots that broke out following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.

It all started when a few hundred demonstrators, mostly Urdu-speaking Muslims, assembled to stage a ‘chakka jam’ (road block) at Park Circus and Ripon Street in central Kolkata, following a call given by the AIMF and the Furfura Sharif Nujaddidin Foundation. The protest was against the renewal of the visa of exiled Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin and the alleged violence by CPI(M) cadre at Nandigram. The crowd gathered in strength and when the police tried to clear the roadblock they faced a barrage of brickbats, which seriously injured two senior police officers.

The Jamait-i-Ulema-e-Hind, the Islamic fundamentalist group that apparently played a significant role in perpetrating violence in Nandigram, denied any involvement in the agitation. But police sources said Jamait members were the “invisible driving force”. The police also do not rule out the hand of outside forces, such as the Harkat-ul-Jehadi-al-Islami, a Bangladeshi terror outfit, in the violence.

It was guerilla style warfare as the miscreants used the narrow lanes in the area to launch surprise attacks. They also hurled missiles from the rooftops of houses. They remained undaunted even when the Rapid Action Force was deployed. Passing vehicles, besides the police, were the main targets; more than 20 vehicles were wrecked or burnt, and not even ambulances and school buses were spared. The area has a number of well-known schools, and it was a harrowing experience for the stranded children and their hapless guardians.

In the afternoon, four companies of the Army moved in at the request of the State government and conducted flag marches at around 4 p.m. at Park Circus and AJC Bose Road. Subsequently, Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborti visited the affected areas and announced a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the disturbed areas.

Although some sections of the media criticised the police for their inaction and attributed it to their lack of preparedness, failure of intelligence, and even pusillanimity, others were of the view that the police showed remarkable restraint. The mob seemed to be spoiling for a fight and police retaliation could well have provided the spark for a communal conflagration. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee called the incident a “dangerously irresponsible act of a few people” and expressed confidence that it would founder on the bedrock of good sense and communal amity that has been the tradition of Kolkata’s citizenry. According to political observers, the motivating factor was neither Taslima Nasrin’s visa nor Nandigram but the polarisation of the urban minority vote against the Left Front, in particular the CPI(M).
The Jamait-i-Ulema-e-Hind chief Sidiqullah Chowdhuri later reportedly said: “It’s a warning for the CPI(M). This is just the beginning. The CPI(M) will feel the heat soon. It has suffered major erosion among the minorities. All the areas from where people came in huge numbers are CPI(M) bases.”

However, the disturbance was confined to a narrow area of the city, indicating that the ‘uprising’ was not of the urban minority as a body but one that was engineered by a few conspirators for political ends. The AIMF chief Idris Ali, a veteran Congress leader, argued that he could not foresee the violent turn of events. He was later placed under arrest.

The urban Muslims in Kolkata are linguistically, culturally and ethnically different from the rural Muslims, who, like most of the rural poor, vote largely for the Left. In any case, for many years now, the minorities have voted on political and ideological lines during elections and not followed a communal herd mentality. But a carefully crafted communal conflagration could very well alter the situation, at least temporarily, to destabilise not only the political situation but also the communal harmony that has prevailed in West Bengal even in its most difficult hours.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay


Volume 24 - Issue 24 :: Dec. 08-21, 2007

Friday, December 7, 2007

Muslim outfit imposes dress code in Manipur

IMPHAL, Dec 7 –

A Muslim militant organisation in Manipur has asked Muslim girl students to refrain from wearing frock and skirt or any western dress in educational institutions in the State from next year.In a statement issued here, the People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) said Muslim girl students should wear the dress accepted by the Islamic law.The statement said anyone violating the diktat of the outfit would be punished and added that civil societies, school authorities and students should not appeal to the PULF to relax its diktat.It said those who violated the diktat would be punished from January 2008. – PTI