Monday, December 24, 2007
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
NEW DELHI, Dec. 20:
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.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
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.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
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.
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