The South Asia Channel
U.S. Troops on Alert Worldwide; India to Ban All Unregistered Cab Services; Political Violence in Faisalabad
The South Asia Daily Brief for Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014.
U.S. troops on alert
The U.S. military put thousands of troops, mostly Marines, on alert ahead of the expected release on Tuesday of a Senate report detailing the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program (Post, CNN). Officials believe the report, which is expected to disclose harsh interrogation techniques used in the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, could spark backlash in countries where anti-American sentiments run strong, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. The three-ship Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, staffed with about 4,000 Marines and sailors that is currently in the Middle East, and other units in Italy, Spain, Kuwait, and Iraq have all been put on heightened states of alert.
U.S. general assesses end of combat mission
Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the last American general to lead combat operations in Afghanistan, told the New York Times on Monday that he didn’t know if he was pessimistic or optimistic about the military’s role next year (NYT).
Anderson outlined some of the difficulties facing Operation Resolute Support, in which American soldiers will advise the Afghan military, pointing to the high casualty and desertion rates among the Afghan forces and troubled logistics of the withdrawal. However, he did point out some areas of hope, noting that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is less tolerant of corruption and saying that Afghan forces could beat the Taliban on a tactical level if properly motivated.
Militants behead 4 civilians in Nangarhar
Militants in Nangarhar province decapitated four Afghan civilians on Tuesday (Pajhwok). Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, the governor’s spokesman, said the civilians were abducted three days ago because the militants believed they were spies. The governor has asked district officials to investigate the incident.
India to ban all unregistered online cab services
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) on Tuesday that all states have been asked to make sure that unregistered taxi services cease operations, after an Indian-based driver for Uber, the U.S.-based online taxi service, allegedly raped a 27-year-old woman in New Delhi on Friday (Reuters, Hindustan Times). Singh said: “The home ministry has issued an order asking states and union territories to stop operations of all app-based services until they get registration done by transport department in all states and union territories” (WSJ). However, Nitin Gadkari, the minister of road transport and highways, disagreed with the decision to ban all unregistered online cab services (Economic Times). He said: “New developments are taking place in transport systems through electronics. Banning the railways for train accidents, buses for bus accidents and taxis is not correct” (Indian Express).
The accused driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, Is a repeat offender and had two rape charges and numerous molestation cases brought against him in the past, according to news reports on Tuesday (NDTV). Yadav was dreaded in his village because he terrorized women. Villagers distributed sweets on hearing about his arrest in New Delhi, and Kushun Singh, a farmer from his village, said: “He is a compulsive sex offender. You won’t find a single household in the village whose woman he hadn’t teased or molested. I know no less than 26-27 cases that never reached police” (Hindustan Times).
Infosys founders sell stake for $1.1 billion
Some of the co-founders of Infosys Ltd. — India’s second-largest IT services company — sold shares worth $1.1 billion on Monday (NDTV, Reuters, Indian Express, WSJ). N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, S.D. Shibulal, and K. Dinesh — who founded Infosys as a group of seven engineers in 1981 by pooling $250 together — sold a cumulative 32.6 million shares. The stake sale came after Vishal Sikka, a former executive at SAP, a global software firm, joined Infosys as the CEO. Deutsche Equities India Pvt., which managed the share sale, said that the shares were sold to partially monetize the founders’ stake in the company and for personal reasons, including philanthropic activities.
India’s latest superhero is a rape survivor
Ram Devineni, an Indian-American filmmaker, authored a new comic book, Priya’s Shakti, which is inspired by Hindu mythological tales and has a female rape survivor as its protagonist, according to news reports on Monday (DNA, Indian Express). The comic tells the story of a young woman named Priya — a gang-rape survivor — and how Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati — Hinduism’s powerful divine couple — empower her to fight gender crimes in India. The comic is a part of a multimedia project that includes workshops, documentary films, and street art initiatives.
The idea came to Devineni after the Dec. 16, 2012 gang-rape in New Delhi, in which a 23-year-old student was brutally gang-raped and tortured by six men on a moving bus. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later, triggering nationwide protests and drawing massive international media coverage. Devineni said: “That’s where the idea began. I realised that rape and sexual violence in India was a cultural issue, and that it was backed by patriarchy, misogyny and people’s perceptions” (BBC).
Political violence kills one in Faisalabad
Clashes in Faisalabad between protestors and riot police officers turned violent on Monday and resulted in the death of one man; several others being wounded (NYT). Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party chairman Imran Khan, whose months-long campaign to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, named the man who was killed as Haq Nawaz, one of his supporters. Protests over the man’s death then spread across Punjab Province, with Khan saying: “The sacrifice of Haq Nawaz will not go in vain.” Khan warned on Nov. 30 that his movement, which claims Sharif’s party engaged in vote rigging during the 2013 election, could turn violent if his grievances were not addressed. On Tuesday, Faisalabad police registered a first information report, or criminal complaint, against 250 unidentified protestors (ET).
Polio worker killed in Faisalabad
On Tuesday, a polio worker was killed in Faisalabad when unidentified armed men opened fire at a vaccination team (ET, Dawn). The victim of the attack was Muhammad Sarfaz, a 40-year old teacher at Rehmania High School, who was administering polio drops with his team. The militant group Jundullah claimed responsibility for the incident, saying that polio workers will always be on their hit list. The incident came just one day after the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing two policemen assigned to protect an immunization team. Bonus Read: “Into the Abyss: The Escalating Violence Against Pakistan’s Polio Workers,” David Sterman (South Asia).
— Emily Schneider and Neeli Shah
Edited by Peter Bergen