Police Detain Christian Protestors in New Delhi; Bombing at Pakistani College; Afghanistan Fights Militants Near Pakistan Border
India Police detain Christian protesters in New Delhi The New Delhi police detained dozens of people protesting the recent attacks against churches in the capital city on Thursday (Indian Express, Reuters, NDTV). Since December, there have been five attacks on churches in New Delhi, and the most recent attack was on Monday, when an individual ...
Police detain Christian protesters in New Delhi
The New Delhi police detained dozens of people protesting the recent attacks against churches in the capital city on Thursday (Indian Express, Reuters, NDTV). Since December, there have been five attacks on churches in New Delhi, and the most recent attack was on Monday, when an individual stole ceremonial items from a church. Christian groups allege that hardline Hindus have carried the attacks, and some protesters accused the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party, of not doing enough for the city’s Christian minority. The protesters carrying placards that read “Enough is Enough, What are police doing?” were arrested while marching from city’s main Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral towards the residence of Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Father Jolly, one of the protesters, said: “The prime minister is still silent on the issue. In the backdrop of these attacks, he should come forward and issue a statement. He should give us confidence” (BBC). Singh met a delegation of Christian leaders on Thursday, and later tweeted: “Met with a group of leaders from Christian community today who were concerned over the reports of attacks on churches” and “I assured them that the present dispensation would never tolerate any discrimination in the name of caste, colour, language or religion.”
SC: lawmakers hiding criminal past can be disqualified
The Indian Supreme Court ruled for the “eradication of criminalization of politics” on Thursday, and said that candidates who don’t disclose their criminal antecedents while filing nomination papers for an election can be disqualified (Zee News, Livemint, IBNLive). Criminal antecedent includes all criminal cases where a competent court has framed the charges. A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Dipak Misra, observed: “Non-disclosure of criminal antecedents amounts to corrupt practice by the candidates… Disclosure of criminal antecedents of a candidate, especially, pertaining to heinous or serious offence or offences relating to corruption or moral turpitude at the time of filing of nomination paper as mandated by law is a categorical imperative” (NDTV). The Supreme Court had ruled in 2013 that elected lawmakers could be disqualified and sentenced to two years of imprisonment or more, if convicted of a crime. J. Jayalalithaa stepped down as chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu last year after she was found guilty in a disproportionate assets case.
Hindu group to marry couples on Valentine’s Day
The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (All India Hindu Assembly – a right-wing Hindu organization), located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, announced that on Feb. 14, they will punish couples carrying roses, sitting in public spaces, hugging, and celebrating Valentine’s Day, the “foreign festival,” according to news reports on Wednesday (Economic Times, WSJ, Telegraph). Hindu couples will be forced to marry, and interfaith partners will have to sit through a “shuddhikaran” (purification ritual to convert to Hinduism). According to the Indian Constitution, all citizens have the right to “profess, practice and propagate religion,” and religious conversion by force, fraud, or inducement is outlawed.
Chandra Prakash Kaushik, president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, dubbed Feb. 14 as Prem Vivah Diwas (Love Marriage Day). Kaushik said: “We are not against love, but if a couple is in love then they must get married. In case if the couples claim that they need time to think about marriage, we will tell them that if they are not certain, they should not belittle love by openly going around together. We will also inform their parents” (Times of India). The marriage threats sparked numerous responses on Twitter, with one user tweeting: “Extremely disheartened to see Hindu Mahasabha threatening to get couples married. Only a girlfriend has the right to demand marriage.”
— Neeli Shah
Bomb blast at Peshawar college
Early on Thursday morning a bomb exploded at a college in Peshawar’s Hayatabad neighborhood (BBC). There were no casualties in the incident, however, the bomb blew the college’s gate off its hinges. Officials reportedly believe that criminals rather than militants were responsible for the bombing, which is the latest violent act directed at schools following the Pakistani Taliban’s murder of 150 people – the vast majority of them schoolchildren – at a Peshawar school in December. On Wednesday police defused a bomb outside a government school in the city of Bannu, and on Tuesday explosives were thrown near private schools in Karachi.
Balochistan approaches Supreme Court over rare bird hunting ban
Balochistan’s provincial government has approached Pakistan’s Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the Balochistan High Court’s ban on the provision of permits for dignitaries to hunt the rare Houbara Bustard bird (Dawn). Despite a ban on hunting the Houbara Bustard, Balochistan issued 28 permits to Arab royal families and ministers who often visit the region to hunt rare birds. The provision of permits prompted Balochistan’s High Court to revoke the permits last year. The issue is back in the news due to Prince Fahad Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, the governor of Tabruk in Saudi Arabia’s arrival in Balochistan on Wednesday. The prince intends to hunt the Houbara Bustard and has the support of key figures in Balochistan’s government in clear violation of the court ruling.
Afghan forces fight militants near Pakistani border
On Wednesday Afghan security forces killed at least 18 militants in a battle in Nangarhar province near the border with Pakistan (Pajhwok, ET, Dawn, RFE/RL). Afghan security forces have been battling members of the Pakistani Taliban, who claimed the attack on the school in Peshawar in December, in the mountainous region where the infamous Tora Bora caves are located. Azrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, a spokesperson for Nangarhar’s police chief, said 26 militants were killed in the battle and that Afghan forces seized a weapons cache.
Police chief says no ISIS in Ghazni
On Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Zarawar Zahid, the police chief for Ghazni province, denied that ISIS has a presence in the province (Pajhwok). Brig. Gen. Zahid stated: “Dayesh [ISIS] should not take Afghanistan as Iraq or Syria; they will meet a decisive defeat here. But we have seen no IS-linked militants in Ghazni.” His comments follow claims that ISIS had a presence in the province made by the acting provincial governor and lawmakers.
Former jihadi commander, wife killed
On Wednesday, Ghulam Sayed, a former jihadi commander, and his wife were killed by unknown gunmen while driving home in Herat province’s Khair Abad City (TOLO News, Pajhwok). The gunmen attack while on motorcycles. Sayed’s daughter who was also in the vehicle was wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
— David Sterman
Edited by Peter Bergen
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