Gurudwara attacked in Kabul by Terrorists; 25 Killed

On 25th March 2020, 25 Sikhs were killed in a terror attack on a Gurudwara in Afghanistan’s Kabul. Islamic State (IS) has taken responsibility for the attack, however, some experts do not rule out the possibility of involvement of Pakistan’s Haqqani group which is backed by ISI.

Crux of the Matter

Persecution of Minority
The population of the minority community of Sikhs in Afghanistan has been dwindling at a fast rate, with only a couple of thousands of them remaining in Kabul.

On Wednesday, 25th March, 4 terrorists entered the Har Rai Sahib Gurudwara in Kabul at 7:45 AM Afghan time and opened fire. A Sikh local Mohan Singh who was in the Gurudwara while the attack began, said that there were gunshots followed by explosions, which he believes were hand grenades.

There were more than 100 people inside the Sikh temple, of which 25 fell victim to the terrorists and 10 were seriously injured. The Afghan Security forces reached the scene and rescued more than 80 people. After a 6-hour long standoff, the 4 terrorists were killed.

Thin Veil of the Real Attacker
Taliban issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with the attacks. Islamic State (IS) later claimed responsibility. IS stated that the attack was revenge against Indian actions in Kashmir. However, some experts have not debunked the notion that Pakistan’s ISI backed Haqqani group could be behind the attack. Leader of Haqqani Group, Sirajuddin Haqqani is also the Deputy Leader of the Taliban and both groups are allegedly funded by Pakistan’s ISI. Experts believe that behind the veil of various terror group names stands Pakistan.

Recent Geopolitical History
Agencies around the world condemned this terrorist attack. India introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019 to give such persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh a fast track towards Indian citizenship.

While the US-Taliban Peace Deal seems to be falling apart, terrorism continues in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, another minority community of Shia Muslims was targeted by a body of IS, resulting in the death of 32 people.

Curiopedia

Sikhism in Afghanistan is limited to small populations, primarily in major cities, with the largest numbers of Afghan Sikhs living in Jalalabad, Ghazni, Kabul, and to a lesser extent Kandahar. These Sikhs are Afghan nationals who speak Dari, Hindi and in their native Punjabi but also Pashto. Their total population is around 1,200 families or 8,000 members. There were over 20,000 Sikhs in Kabul in the 1980s, but after the start of the Civil War in 1992, most had fled. Seven of Kabul’s eight Gurdwaras were destroyed during the civil war. During the 1980s Soviet-Afghan War, many Afghan Sikhs fled to India, where 90% of global sikh population lives; a second, much larger wave followed following the 1992 fall of the Najibullah regime. Sikh gurdwaras (temples) throughout the country were destroyed in the Afghan Civil War of the 1990s, leaving only the Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul. Under the Taliban, the Sikhs were a relatively tolerated religious minority, and allowed to practice their religion. However, the Sikh custom of cremation of the dead was prohibited by the Taliban, and cremation grounds vandalized. In addition, Sikhs were required to wear yellow patches or veils to identify themselves. They are centred today in Karte Parwan and some parts of the old city. There is no exact number of Sikhs in Kabul province. More Info

Allahabad HC Terms Yogi's Hoarding Move as 'Unjust'

After Yogi government put up hoardings with names, photographs and addresses of anti-CAA protestors in Lucknow, the Allahabad High Court taking suo-moto cognizance ordered Lucknow District Magistrate and Commissioner of Police to remove them as it violates right of privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Crux of the Matter

The court said that privacy is an intrinsic component of Part III of the Constitution of India which gives all citizens the fundamental right of equality, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement and protection of life and personal liberty.

The bench headed by the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Govind Mathur said, “These fundamental rights cannot be given or taken away by law and laws. All the executive actions must abide by them.”

Advocate General Raghvendra Pratap Singh who appeared on behalf of the state government said, “the court should not interfere in such matters by taking suo-moto cognizance of the government action which was taken against those persons who damaged public and private property.”

The Allahabad Court in its order observed that ‘the object as disclosed to us is only to deter the people from participating in illegal activities.’ Experts suggest that the placement of personal data of selected persons reflects the colourable exercise of powers by the Executive.

The wrong-doer must be brought to book. But can the state go beyond that?

– Justice UU Lalit

The Bench also said: “Where there is gross negligence on part of public authorities and government and the public is put to suffering and where the precious values of the constitution are subjected to injuries, a constitutional court can very well take notice of that at its own. The court in such matters is not required to wait necessarily for a person to come before it to ring the bell of justice.”

The officers will submit a compliance report by March 16 when the court will hear this case again.

Curiopedia

Suo moto is a Latin term meaning “on its own motion”. It is used in situations where a government or court official acts of its own initiative. The term is usually applied to actions by a judge taken without a prior motion or request from the parties. Cases may be filed in the public interest when victims lack the capability to commence litigation or their freedom to petition the court has encroached. It aims to ensure the right to equality, life and personality which is guaranteed under part III of the Constitution of India. It also functions as an effective instrument for changes in society or social welfare. More Info

I&B Ministry bans 2 Malayalam TV channels for biased coverage of Delhi riots

On charges of biased reporting of Delhi riots with a deliberate focus on the vandalism of CAA supporters, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) had suspended two Malayalam news channels – Asianet and Media One for 48-hours on 6th March 2020.

Crux of the Matter

Breach of Law, Says IB
The I&B Ministry reprimanded both the channels and said that such reporting could enhance the communal disharmony and it should have been reported in a balanced way.

The Ministry says the coverage of Delhi riots violated Rule 6(1c) which states that ‘no program should be carried in the cable service which contains an attack on religions or communities or visuals or words contemptuous of religious groups or which promote communal attitudes.’

Secondly, they were also held responsible for violating Rule 6(1e) that states that ‘no program should be carried in the cable service which is likely to encourage or incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes.’

The Central government had revoked the ban on 7th March hours after the two channels were charged for ‘being biased and critical of the police and RSS.’

NBA
News Broadcasting Association President Rajat Sharma condemned the decision of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and said, “I am shocked to learn that a decision like this was taken without the knowledge of the Minister for Information & Broadcasting.”

The NBA has asked that all complaints relating to the broadcast of news should be referred to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA). Rajat Sharma also demanded an inquiry in this regard and appreciated the concern shown by PM Narendra Modi in this matter and the subsequent withdrawal of the imposed ban.

I&B Minister Mr.Prakash Javadekar said, “The PM has expressed concern over the entire issue… and the government supports press freedom. We would look into the matter and take the necessary steps. But let me also tell you that everybody should accept that there has to be responsible freedom.”

Media One is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited which is backed by Jamaat-e-Islami. Asianet News is indirectly owned by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Curiopedia

The News Broadcasters Association is a private association of different current affairs and news television broadcasters in India established by leading Indian news broadcasters on 3 July 2007. The NBA represents the private television news & current affairs broadcasters. It is the collective voice of the news & current affairs broadcasters in India. It has presently 27 leading news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 77 news and current affairs channels) as its members lead by Mr.Rajat Sharma (Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of India TV) as the President. More Info

Chickens of Delhi Come Home to Roost

Delhi violence

Delhi Violence has acted as a catalyst to further polarize the citizenry that is already polarized after anti-CAA protests. Moreover, media that is representing only one side of the story is being criticized. Arrests of people associated with the violence are being made as chickens of Delhi come back home to roost.

Crux of the Matter

Instigating Blindness – The Case of DBigXray
The widespread appeal of some people is to hear and look a the stories of violence from the lenses of both, Hindus and Muslims as both of them partook equally in violence and suffering. The role of media that is showing stories only from either side is being criticized.

The role of media became more riling after it became known that a user called DBigXray, a senior Wikipedia editor, was editing Wikipedia page of Delhi violence. Allegedly, he deliberately left out pieces to project the Delhi violence as an anti-Muslim pogrom. According to Reddit post, the person’s identity was revealed to be Deepesh Raj.

AAP MLA Tahir Hussain Arrested
AAP MLA Tahir Hussain is suspected of murdering the 26-year old Intelligence Bureau Officer, Ankit Sharma. Allegedly, Sharma was stabbed several times before his body was thrown into Chandbag drain. Hussain is also alleged of instigating and participating in violence on the basis of the video surfaced that showed petrol bombs and stones were hailed from his rooftop. AAP had suspended Hussain after an FIR for the murder of the IB officer was lodged against him.

Hussain pleaded innocence and was absconding on the grounds that he and his family had to run away from the rioters and that the police knew about it. He filed an anticipatory bail in the Delhi High Court. Delhi Police arrested Hussain from Delhi Court where he had arrived to surrender. He will be interrogated and produced before the court. He, in an interview to India Today, said that he was being ‘framed as a part of some conspiracy.’

‘My Name is Shahrukh, and I…’
A 33-year old man named Mohammed Shahrukh became the face of the Delhi riots after a video depicting him intimidating lone police officer by wielding a gun against him surfaced. According to ACP Singhla, he fired three rounds from his country-made pistol.

He and his family are absconding ever since the incident. Delhi Police arrested Shahrukh from Shamli, Uttar Pradesh. During Police interrogation, Shahrukh told Police that he was not a part of the protests, but went outside to save his sister, who was a part of the sit-in protest at Jaffrabad. However, later Shahrukh told the Police that he went to the protest on 24 February after his friends encouraged him. Police found that he also had friends in the Chenu gang that is active in Northeast Delhi and some parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Activist Harsh Mander Accused for Hate Speech
Delhi Police has filed a case against activist Harsh Mander for hate speech that allegedly instigated violence at Jamia university. Representing Delhi Police, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that Mander disrespected the Apex court in his speech.

This is a fight for the soul of our Constitution… This battle can’t be won in the Supreme Court, because we have seen that over some time, in the cases of NRC, Kashmir and Ayodhya, it did not protect humanity, equality and secularism.

– Harsh Mander in his speech at Jamia.

He has also sought FIRs against BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur for hate speech that incited violence in Delhi.

Kapil Mishra and Interview Spree
In an interview with Swarajya, BJP Leader Kapil Mishra said that his speech did not provocate the violence in Delhi as violence kept happening since 16 December 2019. He said that people who raise slogans like ‘tukde-tukde‘, arson buses and property, and block roads are calling him a terrorist. He added that he never spoke anything about violence during his speech. Activists like Harsh Mander have sought to file a case of hate speech against Kapil Mishra.

Planned Riots?
Former JNU student Umar Khalid‘s video dated 17 February 2020 has surfaced. He is seemed to be urging people to come out on the streets on the day of Trump’s visit to India. In the video, he asks people to show to Trump that Modi is trying to divide the country and tarnish the image of Gandhi. Many are posing the question of whether the Delhi riots were planned.

Martyr Ratan Lal
Constable Ratan Lal died while saving the life of DCP Amit Sharma when a mob had started pelting stone on the police, as per the video surfaced. It is seen in the video that the police are outnumbered by the stone-pelters. Women are seen to be throwing stones at policemen.

Curiopedia

Hate Speech in India – The Constitution of India and its hate speech laws aim to prevent discord among its many ethnic and religious communities. The laws allow a citizen to seek the punishment of anyone who shows the citizen disrespect “on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever”. The laws specifically forbid anyone from outraging someone’s “religious feelings”.

India prohibits hate speech by several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and by other laws which put limitations on the freedom of expression. Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives the government the right to declare certain publications “forfeited” if the “publication … appears to the State Government to contain any matter the publication of which is punishable under Section 124A or Section 153A or Section 153B or Section 292 or Section 293 or Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code”. More Info

India's Brawny Response to UN & Iran Over Comments on CAA, Delhi Violence

UN body filed a plea against CAA in the Supreme Court of India. Moreover, Iran commented on violence in Delhi. In turn, India gave a strong response to UNHRC and Iran over their interference in the internal matters of India.

Crux of the Matter

World and India
Recently passed Acts of India, CAA and Abrogation of Article 370 have drawn international attention and are being questioned on the basis of democratic values. There have been persistent protests against CAA, which took a violent turn in Delhi in the past few days. Pro and anti CAA groups clash began the violence and it resulted in the death of around 40 people and injured hundreds of people.

The European Union had attempted to shed some light on the Act and questioned it from the lens of Human Rights. But after the Delhi riots, Iran also jumped into twitter politics and commented on the current scenarios of India. However, India responded very clearly over its stand on the matters saying it is India’s internal matter.

The United States President Donald Trump on his visit to India said that Prime Minister Modi had told him that he (Modi) wants people to have religious freedom. He further added that it is up to India what actions should be taken over its internal matters.

India and United Nations
Considering CAA as a discriminatory act based on the religion UN body led by Michelle Bachelet Jeria, UN High Commissioner for human rights filed a plea against CAA in the Supreme Court of India. UN filed the plea on the ground of Amicus Curiae, where the third party has a right to intervene in the matter by virtue of the mandate to protect and promote human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) appreciated and accepted the “stated purpose of the CAA” to protect people facing atrocities but have questioned the exclusion of persecuted Muslims from it.

The citizenship Amendment Act is an internal matter of India and Concerns the sovereign rights of the Indian Parliaments to make laws. We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.

– Ministry of External Affairs

“We are clear that the CAA is constitutionally valid and complies with all requirements of our Constitutional values. It is reflective of our long-standing national commitment with respect to human rights issues arising from the tragedy of the partition of India,” the Ministry added further.

India and Iran
India-Iran bilateral relations are at a very steady and progressive pace for the past few years. Despite US sanctions on Iran, India has maintained a very stable relationship with Iran in trade and other sectors. Iran has always refrained from getting involved in the internal matters of India, but the Delhi violence lured Iran to make a comment on the situation. It must be noted that Iran was the first Islamic state to lift sanctions from India in 1994. These sanctions were imposed because of the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Iran expressed its discontent over the incident of riots in Delhi. Javad Zarif, Minister of External Affairs of Iran further added, “For centuries, Iran has been a friend of India. We urge Indian authorities to ensure the well-being of ALL Indians & not let ‘senseless’ thuggery prevail.”

India did not appreciate Iran’s comment and summoned the Iranian Ambassador to India Ali Chegeni and expressed discontent over Iran’s comments on India’s internal issues. Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar from India said, “It was conveyed that his selective and tendentious characterization of recent events in Delhi is not acceptable. We don’t accept such comments from a country like Iran.” Dilip Sinha, Former Indian diplomat to Iran said, “It is difficult to explain Iran (foreign minister’s) statement except that Tehran feels compelled to make statements based on their civilizational prerogative.”

Curiopedia

India-Iran relations
India–Iran relations refers to the bilateral relations between the countries India and Iran. Independent India and Iran established diplomatic relations on 15 March 1950. During much of the Cold War period, relations between the Republic of India and the erstwhile Imperial State of Iran suffered due to their different political interests—non-aligned India fostered strong military links with the Soviet Union, while Iran enjoyed close ties with the United States. More Info