Pakistan FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Lashes Out At Indian EAM Subramanyam Jaishankar

“If the FM (foreign minister) of India (Jaishankar) was being honest, then he knows as well as I, that the RSS (India's militant Hindu organization) does not believe in Gandhi, in his ideology. They do not see this individual as the founder of India, they hero-worship the terrorist that assassinated Gandhi", said Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. "Osama Bin Laden is dead but the butcher of Gujarat lives and he is the prime minister of India", he added. Mr. Bhutto Zardari was responding to a question from the media asked at the behest of the Indian Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar.  Earlier at the UNSC, Indian External Affairs Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar had unveiled a statue of Mohandas K. Gandhi at the UN and accused Pakistan of "hosting Osama Bin Laden". Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a member of the militant Hindu organization RSS. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a member of the RSS. 

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

Here are some excerpts of what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said at the media briefing at the UN:  

“He [Narendra Modi] was banned from entering this country [the United States]....these are the prime minister and foreign minister of the RSS (India's right-wing Hindu nationalist organization)....The RSS draws its inspiration from Hitler’s SS (the German Nazi Party’s militant wing Schutzstaffel)...(According to the RSS) we (Muslims) are terrorists whether we are Muslims in Pakistan and we’re terrorists whether we’re Muslims in India.....They (Modi and BJP) are not even attempting to wash the blood of the people of Gujarat off their hand..."Butcher of Gujarat” was now the “Butcher of Kashmir”". 

Last month,  the US State Department bracketed Indian Prime Minister Modi with murderous dictators like Congo's Laurent Kabila and Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Speaking about the US decision to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that it was “not the first time” that the US government has designated immunity to foreign leaders and listed four cases. “Some examples: President Aristide in Haiti in 1993; President Mugabe in Zimbabwe in 2001; Prime Minister Modi in India in 2014; and President Kabila in the DRC in 2018. This is a consistent practice that we have afforded to heads of state, heads of government, and foreign ministers,” he said. 

BJP HIndutva Leaders Modi, Yogi and Shah

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India was barred from entering the United States from 2005 to 2014 for his involvement in the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.  In 2015, a US judge dismissed a lawsuit against Modi after the US government argued that he is immune to accusations as a sitting head of government. While Modi has denied any involvement in the Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom, he has never even expressed any regret over the killings in Gujarat when he was the Chief Minister of the Indian state. 

While Modi has refused to accept any responsibility for the massacre of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, his party BJP's leaders have not shied away from claiming "credit" for it. Just yesterday, Modi's right-hand man and current Home Minister Amit Shah said Muslims were "taught a lesson" in 2002. He said that "after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path (of violence). They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022. BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence". 

In 2002 when Narendra Modi was chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, hundreds of young Muslim girls were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.  These rapes were condoned by the ruling BJP, whose refusal to intervene lead to the rape and killing of thousands and displacement of 200,000 Muslims.

In 2012, a former Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Shankersinh Vaghela accused Modi's state government of having blood on its hand: "2002 me jo katl-e-aam hua uspe wo sarkar bani hai. Iske baad encounter hui, uske upar ye sarkar bani thi. Sarkar banti hai, lekin ye jo conspiracy karke sarkar banana hai, ye Gujarat aur desh ki janata jaanti hai aur aaj wo repeat nah o, iske liye hum janata ko request karte hain (The foundation of this (Modi) government rests on the 2002 carnage. Governments are made, but not on conspiracies. And the people of Gujarat know this, and that's why we are requesting the people for a change)," Mr Vaghela said.

Since his election to India's top elected office, Modi has elevated fellow right-wing Hindu extremists to positions of power in India. Yogi Adiyanath, known for his highly inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric, was hand-picked in 2016 by Modi to head India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Adiyanath's supporters brag about digging up Muslim women from their graves and raping them. In a video uploaded in 2014,  he said, “If [Muslims] take one Hindu girl, we’ll take 100 Muslim girls. If they kill one Hindu, we’ll kill 100 Muslims.”

Yogi wants to "install statues of Goddess Gauri, Ganesh and Nandi in every mosque”.  Before his election, he said, “If one Hindu is killed, we won’t go to the police, we’ll kill 10 Muslims”.  He endorsed the beef lynching of Indian Muslim Mohammad Akhlaque and demanded that the victim's family be charged with cow slaughter.

Madhav S. Golwalkar, considered among the founders of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".

In his book We, MS Golwalkar wrote the following in praise of what Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did to Jews as a model for what Hindus should do to Muslims in India: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Paul Richard Brass, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has spent many years researching communal riots in India. He has debunked all the action-reaction theories promoted by Hindu Nationalists like Modi. He believes these are not spontaneous but planned and staged as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth.

Here's an excerpt of Professor Brass's work:

"Events labelled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and town in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally. At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them."

"In India, all this takes place within a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility that denies the deliberate and purposive character of the violence by attributing it to the spontaneous reactions of ordinary Hindus and Muslims, locked in a web of mutual antagonisms said to have a long history. In the meantime, in post-Independence India, what are labelled Hindu-Muslim riots have more often than not been turned into pogroms and massacres of Muslims, in which few Hindus are killed. In fact, in sites of endemic rioting, there exist what I have called “institutionalized riot systems,” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. Further, in these sites, persons can be identified, who play specific roles in the preparation, enactment, and explanation of riots after the fact. Especially important are what I call the “fire tenders,” who keep Hindu-Muslim tensions alive through various inflammatory and inciting acts; “conversion specialists,” who lead and address mobs of potential rioters and give a signal to indicate if and when violence should commence; criminals and the poorest elements in society, recruited and rewarded for enacting the violence; and politicians and the vernacular media who, during the violence, and in its aftermath, draw attention away from the perpetrators of the violence by attributing it to the actions."

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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 17, 2022 at 7:25am

India: How to turn a country over to the Hindu mob

https://scroll.in/article/1039910/how-to-turn-a-country-over-to-the...

Stop a marriage, demolish a bus stop, frighten minorities. As the rule of law collapses in India, the whims of Hindu extremists become de facto State policy. Excellent piece by @samar11

Even in Karnataka, very few people know of the Hindu Jagruti Sene – their Facebook page has no more than 1,000 followers. In normal circumstances, no one would have bothered if a group on the fringes of the Hindu right demanded that the main train station in the dusty, poor northern city of Kalaburgi painted in green be repainted because “it looks like a mosque”.

But this is the new India with every old vice resurrected and magnified, with fundamentalist demands, however nutty and bigoted, taken into serious consideration. So, it was no surprise that a few days later, the Indian railways – known for a notoriously slow bureaucracy, which takes years to even clear footbridges connecting metro and mainline stations – repainted Kalaburgi station white.

Meanwhile, in the state capital of Bengaluru, a more well-known Hindu group called the Hindu Jangruti Samiti – its previous successes include a stop to the shows of “anti-Hindu” stand-up comics – successfully began lobbying legislators of the state and India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for a ban on the certification of halal food and the establishment of an “anti-love-jihad police force”, both favourite tropes of Hindu fundamentalists. On cue, a BJP legislator said he would introduce a private member’s bill to ban certification of food by any “private organisation”.

Only last month, as I wrote in my last column, a BJP MP demanded that two domes of a bus stop in Mysuru be demolished because, of course, it looked like a mosque. Fifteen days later, the domes were gone. Concerted assaults have been made, with considerable success, on Muslim customs, food and livelihoods. We have now reached the point where Christians in Bengaluru seek police protection to sing carols.

In neighbouring Maharashtra, this week, came news that the coalition government in which the BJP is a partner was setting up a committee headed by BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha to track inter-faith and inter-caste marriage, ostensibly to enable rapprochement between women and their “estranged” families. The decision was apparently a reaction to viral social-media messages that demonised all Muslim men after a Muslim man murdered and chopped up his Hindu girlfriend, the kind of gruesome murder that is all too common in India but mostly ignored, until this one.

Quite apart from the fact that the Maharashtra government move disregarded the agency of women and was dangerously intrusive and menacing – the committee will gather details of such marriages and contact such couples – it appeared illegal and unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, in BJP-run Madhya Pradesh this week, home minister Narottam Mishra, a conscientious objector of films or television series he deems anti-Hindu, took offence with the saffron-coloured attire of a movie star, who he said in any case supported the “tukde-tukde” gang, another trope that claims liberals and minorities want to splinter India.

Far from being indications of a strong and resurgent India – as the government claims is unfolding under Narendra Modi – a list of knee-jerk decisions and declarations made without regard to the law, indicate how easily the whims of Hindu fundamentalists are becoming State policy. When the mob dictates State policy, the State echoes the demands and concerns of the mob. That is what is happening in the Modi era.

The Indian mob has always had an impact on the State. Once the State gives in, a new normal is established and recovery to the old can take a generation or more. Recent Indian history is replete with examples. By encouraging non-State actors to radicalise society – and increasingly blurring the line between them and the state – Modi is repeating the follies of the past on a grander, more ominous scale.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 17, 2022 at 7:52pm

From Virginia Raines via email: 

Ukraine War Lessons For India: Big Wars Are Back, Terrorism Takes A Backseat

Ukraine War Lessons For India: Big Wars Are Back, Terrorism Takes A Backseat

https://www.outlookindia.com/national/ukraine-war-lessons-for-india...

Defence analysts say that the two lessons from the Ukraine War are that, one, the big wars are back and terrorism has taken a backseat, and, two, the superiority of Western weapons is apparent from how Russian advances have been stalled by West-backed Ukraine.


Russia central bank holds rates, says inflationary factors prevail for now
https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/business/russian-central-b...
2 days ago — Inflation, which the central bank targets at 4%, stood at 12.65% as of Dec. 12, according to the economy ministry.

Russia Can Finally See that Putin's 'Days Are Numbered'
https://www.thedailybeast.com/russia-can-finally-see-that-putins-da...
2 hours ago — Anna Nemtsova — More than two decades after he came to power, President Putin’s grip on the Russian people is finally starting to falter.

Putin sounds out military commanders on Ukraine
https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/putin-sounds-out-milita...
18 hours ago — Vladimir Putin presided at a meeting of around a dozen people at a circular table, flanked by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and military Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov

Putin sounds out military commanders on Ukraine
https://thefrontierpost.com/putin-sounds-out-military-commanders-on...

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 20, 2022 at 1:56pm

What US Said On Pak Minister Bilawal Bhutto's Comments Against PM Modi

https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/constructive-talks-between-india-pa...


US shares multifaceted relationships with India and Pakistan and does not want to see a "war of words" but a constructive dialogue between the two nations for the betterment of their people, a top US official has said.
Relations between India and Pakistan have often been strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

"We have a global strategic partnership with India. I have also spoken about the deep partnership we have with Pakistan. These relationships in our mind are not zero-sum. We do not view them in relation to one another," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday when asked about the recent outburst against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in New York.


Price said each of these relationships is indispensable to the US and to the promotion and pursuit of the shared goals that the US has with India and Pakistan.

"The fact that we have partnerships with both countries leaves us not wanting to see a war of words between India and Pakistan. We would like to see a constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan. We think that is for the betterment of the Pakistani and Indian people. There is much work that we can do together bilaterally," Price said in response to the question.

"There are differences that, of course, need to be addressed between India and Pakistan. The United States stands ready to assist as a partner to both," he asserted.

The ties between India and Pakistan nosedived after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the State into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.

Pakistan foreign minister Bhutto-Zardari last week resorted to a personal attack on Prime Minister Modi and slammed the RSS after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the UN Security Council that the "contemporary epicentre of terrorism" remains very much active and called for collective action to tackle them.

Though Jaishankar did not name any countries, it was apparent that he was making a veiled reference to Pakistan.

Later, he told reporters in New York that the world sees Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism and recalled US leader Hillary Clinton's blunt message to Islamabad in 2011 that snakes in one's backyard will eventually bite those who keep them.

"The US has a global strategic partnership with India. These relationships stand on their own; it is not zero-sum.

"We see the importance - the indispensability really - of maintaining valuable partnerships with both our Indian and Pakistani friends. Each of these relationships also happens to be multifaceted," Price said.

"So even as we deepen our global strategic partnership with India, we also have a relationship in which we can be candid and frank with one another. Where we have disagreements or concerns, we voice those just as we would with our Pakistani friends as well," he said.

---
It is a bipartisan legacy of the last several administrations, perhaps starting most notably with the administration of former US President George W Bush that the US is now a partner of "first resort" for India, he said.

"There is a lot of good that we can do together, not only for our two countries, but around the world, and I think we will see a good example of that in the coming year when India hosts the G20," he said.

"I know we will have an opportunity to travel to India, to be in close touch with India in the context of the G20, and we will be able to see what cooperation between our two countries and a broader set of countries can provide," Price added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 21, 2022 at 7:41am

From Virginia Raines: 

Modi's Personality Cult Has Replaced India's Democracy
https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/11/04/modi-india-personality-cult-de...
Nov 4, 2022 — The Cult of Modi. How India's prime minister dismantled the world's largest democratic experiment.

By rewriting history, Hindu nationalists aim to assert their dominance over India
https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/india-modi-cult...
Mar 6, 2018 — The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appointed a committee of scholars to prove that Hindus are descended from India's first inhabitants. Members of the country's Muslim minority worry the government wants to make them second-class citizens.

Modi's party is finally confident enough to reveal its most ...
https://www.yahoo.com/news/modi-party-finally-confident-enough-0446...
Mar 19, 2017 — Modi's party is finally confident enough to reveal its most venomous religious agenda to India · Distilled hatred ·

How Modi Is Using Hinduism to Turn India Into an Autocracy
https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/13/modi-india-hindutva-hindu-nati...
Jul 13, 2020 — Modi's Slide Toward Autocracy. Using Hindutva ideology, India's leader is restyling the country as one with only the trappings of democracy.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 21, 2022 at 8:34pm

World has finally realized that #India's game against #Pakistan is to deflect attention from #Modi's war against innocent #Kashmiris. There is little response to #Jaishankar's call at #UN Security Council members meeting for actions against #terrorism. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/tepid-response-to-indias-...

by Vivek Katju

Ex-Secretary, Indian Ministry of External Affairs

PARTICIPATING in a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) discussion on terrorism, organised at India’s initiative on December 15, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said, ‘Last year, the world faced more than 8,000 terrorist incidents, across 65 countries, killing more than 23,000 people….’ These chilling statistics show that terrorism is a contemporary scourge, and India has been a victim of cross-border terrorism for at least three decades. It was therefore appropriate for India to make counter-terrorism a significant theme of its membership of the UNSC for its two-year term that concludes at this month’s end.

To profile the importance India attaches to counter-terrorism, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar travelled to New York to preside over the December 15 UNSC meeting on ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’. He invited ‘high level’ representatives from the UNSC member states — normally he would have sent invitations to his counterparts — to the meeting. Ireland was represented by its foreign minister while some others, including Britain, sent junior ministers or senior officials. The lukewarm response to Jaishankar’s invitation was an indication that while all major powers assert the importance of eliminating terrorism, they have really moved on to other issues concerning international peace and security. Consequently, for these powers, the salience and profile of the terrorist threat in their security calculus has diminished.

At a conceptual level, India has never wanted to go into the ‘root causes’ of terrorism. It has believed that idea to be a slippery slope which could lead to the justification of terrorism. However, it is clear that more and more countries are showing sympathy with the need to address ‘root causes’. This was reflected in Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney’s statement. ‘The most effective way to tackle terrorism is to prevent it in the first place… we know that communities affected by conflict, poverty, inequality, poor governance and human rights violations are more vulnerable to radicalisation and recruitment’.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 22, 2022 at 2:49pm

#India's Pitai (Beating) by the #Chinese.
Congress Party Leader #RahulGandhi: "China has taken our land. They are beating out soldiers. The threat of China Is clear. And the government is hiding it, ignoring it" #BharatJodoYatra #Modi #BJP #Ladakh https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pitai-shouldnt-be-used-for-jawans-s...

"Pitai" Shouldn't Be Used For Jawans: S Jaishankar On Rahul Gandhi Remark
"China has taken our land. They are beating out soldiers. The threat of China Is clear. And the government is hiding it, ignoring it," Rahul Gandhi had said.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pitai-shouldnt-be-used-for-jawans-s...


Foreign minister S Jaishankar today in the Parliament objected to the Congress MP Rahul Gandhi's use of the word "pitai (beating)" in the context of clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang sector. Mr Gandhi had, while criticising Prime Minister Modi on alleged Chinese advances in Arunachal Pradesh, said "hamare jawanon ki pitai ho rahi hai (our troops are being beaten up)".
"We have no problems if there are political differences, even if there is political criticism. I have heard sometimes that my own understanding needs to be deepened. When I see who is giving the advice, I can only bow and respect, but I think we shouldn't directly or indirectly criticise our jawans. Our jawans are standing in Yangtse at 13,000 feet, defending our border, they do not deserve to have the word 'pitai'. The word 'pitai' shouldn't be used for our jawans," Mr Jaishankar said.

Soon after Mr Gandhi's remarks in Jaipur during his pan-India foot march -- the Bharat Jodo Yatra -- where he accused the government of downplaying the threat posed by China, saying Beijing was preparing for war but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration was "sleeping", the BJP had launched a fierce attack, taking issue with his comment that Chinese soldiers are beating up Indian Army personnel in Arunachal Pradesh. BJP leaders demanded that Congress should immediately expel him from the party.

"China has taken our land. They are beating out soldiers. The threat of China Is clear. And the government is hiding it, ignoring it. China is preparing for an offensive in Ladakh and Arunachal. And the government of India is sleeping," Mr Gandhi had said, further attacking S Jaishankar, saying his statements showed he needed to expand his knowledge on China.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia had said if Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is not "remote-controlled" and if the opposition party stands with the country, then Rahul Gandhi should be expelled for his comments, which "belittle" India and break the morale of its armed forces.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 24, 2022 at 6:13pm

#India opposition’s ‘unity march’ against #hate reaches #NewDelhi. Rahul Gandhi: "Hindu-Muslim hatred (by #BJP/#Modi) is being spread twenty-four-seven to divert your attention from real issues” #BharatJodoYatraInDelhi @RoflGandhi_ https://aje.io/fkl3hb via @AJEnglish

The cross-country march enters the capital where Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacks Modi’s BJP for ‘spreading Hindu-Muslim hatred’.

A cross-country march led by Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has reached the capital New Delhi after passing through eight states, hoping to regain some of the popularity it lost to the ruling Hindu nationalist party.

Tens of thousands of people have joined Gandhi’s “Unite India March” against “hate and division”, which aims to turn the Congress party’s fortunes around after its drubbing by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in two successive national elections.

“Hindu-Muslim hatred is being spread twenty-four-seven to divert your attention from real issues,” Gandhi said in his speech at the Mughal-era Red Fort in the Indian capital.

“They will spread hate. We will spread love,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.

Hindu nationalism has surged under Modi and his party, which have been criticised over rising hate speech and violence against Muslims in recent years. Opponents say Modi’s silence emboldens right-wing groups and threatens national unity, but his party has denied this.

“There are concerns about the plight of minorities, the shrinking space for dissent, as well as the government’s handling of the pandemic and the economy,” said Al Jazeera’s Pavni Mittal, reporting from New Delhi.

“Analysts say the Congress’s inability to be an effective opposition and hold the government accountable has contributed to the BJP’s unprecedented success,” she added.

The Nehru-Gandhi family has controlled the Congress party for decades but has also overseen its recent decline. The party currently governs just three of India’s 28 states.

Rahul Gandhi resigned as Congress president after the last general election. The next national polls are due by 2024.

Plagued by a leadership crisis and series of electoral routs, the Congress in October elected Mallikarjun Kharge, its first non-Gandhi president in 24 years, in an attempt to shed the image of being run by a single family.

Kharge on Saturday wrote on Twitter the march is “against the politics of inflation, unemployment, inequality, and hatred”.

“[This] national mass movement has gathered the hopes of crores [millions] of people by reaching the throne of power,” he posted.

The march will take a nine-day break in New Delhi before starting its final leg on January 3 towards Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir in the north.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told journalists on Saturday the march – which is broadcast live on a website – has completed nearly 3,200km (1,988 miles) so far in nine states.

Gandhi’s mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, his sister and party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra joined Saturday’s march in the capital.

Sharing a picture of himself hugging his mother during the rally, Gandhi tweeted: “The love I have received from her is what I am sharing with the country.”

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan also joined the march on Saturday.

Passing through hundreds of villages and towns, the march has attracted farmers worried about rising debt, students complaining about increasing unemployment, civil society members and rights activists who say India’s democratic health is in decline.

In multiple impassioned speeches during the march, Gandhi often targeted Modi and his government for doing very little to address the growing economic inequality in India, the rising religious polarisation, and the threat posed by China.

The armies of India and China are locked in a bitter standoff in the mountainous Ladakh region since 2020. Despite over a dozen rounds of talks at military, political and diplomatic levels, the standoff has protracted.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 19, 2023 at 10:14am

India Slams BBC Narendra Modi Documentary, Broadcaster Defends It

https://variety.com/2023/politics/global/bbc-narendra-modi-document...

On Jan. 19, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “Do note that this has not been screened in India. So, I am only going to comment in the context of what I have heard about it and what my colleagues have seen. Let me just make it very clear that we think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, the lack of objectivity, and frankly a continuing colonial mindset, is blatantly visible.”

“If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency and individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise and the agenda behind it and frankly we do not wish to dignify such efforts,” Bagchi added.

A BBC spokesperson told Variety: “The BBC is committed to highlighting important issues from around the world. The documentary series examines the tensions between India’s Hindu majority and Muslim minority and explores the politics of India’s PM Narendra Modi in relation to those tensions. This has been the source of considerable reporting and interest both in India and across the world in recent years.”

“The documentary was rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards. A wide range of voices, witnesses and experts were approached, and we have featured a range of opinions – this includes responses from people in the BJP [India’s ruling party]. We offered the Indian Government a right to reply to the matters raised in the series – it declined to respond,” the spokesperson added.

The documentary addresses the 2002 communal riots in the western Indian state of Gujarat, of which Modi was Chief Minister at the time, that left 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus dead, per official numbers. A decade later, a Special Investigation Team appointed by India’s Supreme Court exonerated Modi, saying that the leader had taken steps to control the situation.

On Jan. 18, U.K. member of parliament Imran Hussain, quoted the documentary during Prime Minister’s Questions, saying senior diplomats reported that the massacre could not have taken place without the “climate of impunity” created by Modi and that he was, in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office words, “directly responsible” for the violence.

Hussain asked U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: “Given that hundreds were brutally killed and that families across India and the world, including here in the U.K., are still without justice, does the Prime Minister agree with his Foreign Office diplomats that Modi was directly responsible? What more does the Foreign Office know about Modi’s involvement in that grave act of ethnic cleansing?”

Sunak replied: “The U.K. Government’s position on that is clear and long standing, and it has not changed. Of course, we do not tolerate persecution anywhere, but I am not sure that I agree at all with the characterization that the hon. gentleman has put forward.”

The second part of the documentary, which is due to broadcast on Jan. 24, could potentially be even more inflammatory. It “examines the track record of Narendra Modi’s government following his re-election in 2019. A series of controversial policies – the removal of Kashmir’s special status guaranteed under Article 370 of the Indian constitution and a citizenship law that many said treated Muslims unfairly – has been accompanied by reports of violent attacks on Muslims by Hindus,” according to the BBC episode description.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2023 at 5:47pm

BBC - Riots a stain on Narendra Modi, says former British foreign secretary Jack Straw - Telegraph India

https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/riots-a-stain-on-narendra-modi...


The Gujarat riots of 2002 are a “stain” on Narendra Modi, former British foreign secretary Jack Straw has told a two-part documentary, India: The Modi Question, that is being shown on BBC2.

The first part was transmitted on Tuesday, January 17, and the second part will go out next Tuesday, January 24.

Introducing the programme, the BBC told viewers: “The programme contains scenes you may find upsetting.”

It summed up: “This series tells the story of Narendra Modi’s troubled relationship with India’s Muslims.”

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Imran Hussain, the Labour MP for Bradford East, confronted Rishi Sunak: “Last night, the BBC revealed that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office knew the extent of Narendra Modi’s involvement in the Gujarat massacre that paved the way for the persecution of Muslims and other minorities that we see in India today.”

Hussain went on: “Senior diplomats reported that the massacre could not have taken place without the ‘climate of impunity’ created by Modi and that he was, in the FCDO’s words, ‘directly responsible’ for the violence. Given that hundreds were brutally killed and that families across India and the world, including here in the UK, are still without justice, does the Prime Minister agree with his Foreign Office diplomats that Modi was directly responsible? What more does the Foreign Office know about Modi’s involvement in that grave act of ethnic cleansing?”

Rishi brushed the question away: “The UK government’s position on that is clear and longstanding, and it has not changed. Of course, we do not tolerate persecution anywhere, but I am not sure that I agree at all with the characterisation that the Hon. Gentleman has put forward.”

Straw, who was the British foreign secretary under Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair from 2001 to 2006, was asked about the riots by the programme and replied: “I was very worried about it. I was taking a great deal of personal interest, because India is a really important country with whom we have relations. We had to handle it very carefully.” Straw was the Labour MP from 1979 to 2015 for Blackburn, which has a large Pakistani-origin population.

He said: “What we did was to establish an inquiry and have a team go to Gujarat and find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very thorough report.”

Straw added: “It was very shocking. These were very serious claims that chief minister Modi had played a pretty active part in pulling back the police and in tacitly encouraging the Hindu extremists.

“That was a particularly egregious example of political involvement, really to prevent the police from doing their job, which was to protect both communities, the Hindu and the Muslims. The options open to us were fairly limited. We were never going to break diplomatic relations with India. But it is obviously a stain on his reputation. There’s no way out of that.”

The BBC said: “The report, sent as a diplomatic cable and marked ‘restricted’, has never been published before.”

The programme highlighted lines from the report: “Extent of violence much greater than reported… widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women…. Violence, politically motivated.... Aim was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas. The systematic campaign of violence has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing.”

The BBC said: “The report contained an extraordinary claim.”

This was: “Reliable contacts have told us Narendra Modi met senior police officers on the 27th of February and ordered them not to intervene in the rioting. Police contacts deny this meeting happened.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2023 at 5:48pm

BBC - Riots a stain on Narendra Modi, says former British foreign secretary Jack Straw - Telegraph India

https://www.telegraphindia.com/world/riots-a-stain-on-narendra-modi...

“There were pretty credible reports he had specifically instructed the police not to intervene. The police contact who we talked to consistently denied that. So we did have conflicting reports on what his direct role had been. But we did feel it was clear there was a culture of impunity that created the environment for the violence to take place. That undoubtedly came from Modi.”

The BBC then interviewed a former senior British diplomat who was “one of the investigators. He is speaking publicly for the first time about what the British inquiry found. He’s asked to remain anonymous.”

He told the programme: “At least 2,000 people were murdered during the violence, the vast majority were Muslim. We described it as a pogrom, a deliberate and politically driven effort targeted at the Muslim community. The violence was widely reported to have been organised by an extremist Hindu nationalist group, the VHP, who have a relationship with the RSS.

“The VHP and its allies could not have inflicted so much damage without the climate of impunity created by the state government. Narendra Modi is directly responsible.” Modi has been given a clean chit by the Supreme Court of India.

The Telegraph asked the UK foreign office to see the full report.

Its existence was not denied but in response, the foreign office sent this newspaper a statement: “The violence in Gujarat in 2002 was tragic. It is a reminder of the need to continually work for respect and harmony between religious communities.

It is right that we remember the victims of the violence in Gujarat in 2002, and their families, and that we reaffirm our commitment to do all we can to foster inter-communal understanding and respect around the world.

“Where events involve British nationals, we naturally have an interest both in the provision of consular assistance and in trying to ascertain what happened through police and diplomacy.”

Three British nationals from Yorkshire — Imran and Shakil Dawood, and Mohammed Aswat — were killed by rioters when they crossed into Gujarat from a trip to the Taj. A survivor, who was 18 at the time, was interviewed for the programme.

The BBC set out what was covered in part one: “Narendra Modi is the leader of the world’s largest democracy, a man who has been elected twice as India’s Prime Minister and is widely seen as the most powerful politician of his generation. Seen by the West as an important bulwark against Chinese domination of Asia, he has been courted as a key ally by both the US and the UK.

“Yet Narendra Modi’s premiership has been dogged by persistent allegations about the attitude of his government towards India’s Muslim population. This series investigates the truth behind these allegations and examines Modi’s backstory to explore other questions about his politics when it comes to India’s largest religious minority.

“This episode tracks Narendra Modi’s first steps into politics, including and his association with the Right-wing Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, his rise through the ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and his appointment as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, where his response to a series of riots in 2002 remains a source of controversy.”

It said of the sequel: “The second episode examines the track record of Narendra Modi’s government following his re-election in 2019.

“A series of controversial policies — the removal of Kashmir’s special status guaranteed under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and a citizenship law that many said treated Muslims unfairly — has been accompanied by reports of violent attacks on Muslims by Hindus.

“Modi and his government reject any suggestion that their policies reflect any prejudice towards Muslims, but these policies have been repeatedly criticised by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.

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