Delhi Police Visit Kerala State Guest House Over Beef on Menu; Britain to Maintain Presence in Afghanistan; Pakistan Announces Earthquake Relief
India Bonus Read: “India, France and Secularism,” by Sylvie Kauffmann (NYT) Delhi police visit Kerala state guesthouse over beef on menu A visit by Delhi police to Kerala House on Wednesday, after receiving complaints that the building cafeteria had beef on its menu, has caused a political storm across the country (TOI, BBC). Kerala House is ...
Bonus Read: “India, France and Secularism,” by Sylvie Kauffmann (NYT)
Delhi police visit Kerala state guesthouse over beef on menu
A visit by Delhi police to Kerala House on Wednesday, after receiving complaints that the building cafeteria had beef on its menu, has caused a political storm across the country (TOI, BBC). Kerala House is a guesthouse owned by the government of the southern state of Kerala in the national capital territory of Delhi. Kerala’s chief minister Oomen Chandy has complained to the police and to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that the police overstepped their authority. Other major political leaders from across the country, including the chief ministers of Delhi and West Bengal, also condemned the police action. Delhi’s police commissioner maintains that his officers did not “raid” the guesthouse but rather went there as a “preventive measure.” Staff from the guesthouse told police that what was labeled as beef was actually not cow meat but buffalo meat, which is often called “beef” in India. Many Hindus believe cows to be sacred and eating beef to be taboo. Cow slaughter is legal in Kerala but not in Delhi. Beef consumption has become a highly politicized topic following the Sep. 28 lynching of a Muslim man accused of eating beef by a Hindu mob in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
India improves in ease of business ranking
India jumped 12 spots in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings, according to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2016” report released on Wednesday (TOI, NDTV). India now ranks 130 out of 189 countries, an improvement from 142 last year. Singapore topped the list, while China came in at 84. The annual report by the World Bank rates each country on how its regulatory environment helps or hinders small and mid-sized companies from starting up and conducting business. Despite India’s relatively poor position in the rankings, the change from last year is seen as a significant improvement. “A forward movement of 12 spots in the ease of doing business by an economy the size of India is a remarkable achievement,” said Kaushik Basu, the World Bank’s chief economist and senior vice president. World Bank officials pointed to India’s easing of certain regulations, including a minimum capital requirement and a certificate to commence business operations, as the reason for India’s jump in the list.
Gujarat court upholds sedition charge for Hardik Patel
Authorities in the western state of Gujarat upheld a sedition charge for the young leader of the local Patel community, Hardik Patel, on Wednesday (BBC). However, the court also instructed the police to drop charges of “promoting enmity between two communities or groups” against him. The 22-year-old Patel was captured on video earlier this month telling supporters to “kill policemen rather than commit suicide.” Patel claims that the video is doctored, although the Gujarat police maintain its authenticity. Patel is leading a movement arguing for OBC (Other Backward Classes) status for his community, effectively a share in India’s large quota system for access to government jobs and college admission. The Patels, who make up nearly 20 percent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat and include some of its most prosperous business owners, are arguing that affirmative action quotas for other communities are damaging them severely. In August, violence at Patel rallies led to the death of eight people, and the military was deployed to keep peace.
— Udit Banerjea
Bonus Read: “Kunduz, War Crimes, and the Real Laws of War,” by Daniel Rothenberg (Defense One)
Britain to maintain military presence in Afghanistan through 2016
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced on Tuesday that Britain will extend its military presence in Afghanistan by one year due to sustained attacks by the Taliban (Reuters). “The UK Government recognized it would take time for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to develop into a fully-fledged fighting force capable of providing complete security for the people of Afghanistan,” Fallon said in a written statement to Britain’s parliament. Fallon continued, “We have now concluded that we should maintain the scale of the UK’s current military mission in the country in 2016, to help build a secure and stable Afghanistan. The scope and role of the UK mission are unchanged.” Britain ended its combat operations in Afghanistan in October 2014, but has maintained approximately 450 troops who support training efforts at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, work with the Afghan security ministries, and support NATO operations in the capital.
Afghanistan moves inmates out of Helmand to thwart jailbreaks
Afghan authorities transferred 150 “dangerous” inmates from a prison in Helmand province to Kabul on Wednesday to prevent Taliban orchestrated jailbreaks (Reuters, TIME). “There was a rumor that the Taliban would attack the main prison when they were fighting with Afghan forces on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah,” according to Helmand police spokesman Shah Mahmood Ashna. He continued, “We transferred some of the most dangerous prisoners to Kabul.” Since September, Taliban insurgents have freed hundreds of inmates from Afghan prisons, many of them fellow militants, in two major jailbreaks in both Kunduz and Ghazni province. Hundreds of high-risk prisoners have already been moved to the capital from Helmand, but there are still others who have yet to be transferred.
Taliban seize district hit by earthquake
Taliban insurgents overran the district capital of Darqand in Takhar provinceon Wednesday, highlighting security concerns that have hindered efforts to get medical aid to earthquake victims in remote regions (Reuters). Darqand was in the impact zone of the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit the Hindu Kush region on Monday and suffered at least 15 casualties. According to Takhar police chief Abdul Khalil Asir, the Taliban seized control of Darqand earlyWednesday morning, following security forces’ withdrawal from the district after six hours of fighting overnight. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that 12 police were killed and several wounded in addition to two Taliban militants who were also killed and three wounded. The Taliban has reportedly opened the door to aid groups to assist quake victims, but continued fighting has hampered emergency efforts.
Pakistan announces government relief package for earthquake victims
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a relief package for earthquake victims in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province in consultation with the provincial government (ET). “Rs0.6 million (9,241 USD) will be given to the family of each deceased, Rs0.1 million (1,539 USD) for each injured, Rs0.2 million (3,080 USD) for those physically disabled, Rs0.2 million (3,080 USD) for reconstruction of every house and Rs0.1 million (1,539 USD) for partial reconstruction of every house,” Sharif stated in a media address at the Governor House in Peshawar. The PM clarified that half of the funds for the relief package will be given by K-P government while the same amount will be contributed by the federal government. “With the consultation of the provincial government, the federal government has decided to initiate the check-distributing process by Monday and it will finish by Thursday,” according to Sharif.
Sartaj Aziz: Pakistan has little control over Afghan-Taliban negotiations
Speaking in an interview with Dawn News, Pakistani Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said it was up to the Afghan government to resume talks with the Taliban and that Pakistan’s job was only to facilitate (Dawn, ET). His statements come in response to suspicions over Pakistan’s role in the peace process following Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s remarks during a speech at a Washington D.C. think tank last week. Sharif said that Pakistan was prepared to help revive stalled Afghan peace talks, but could not bring the Taliban to the negotiating table “and be asked to kill them at the same time” (Reuters). Aziz stated that the Afghan government has not yet approached Pakistan regarding contact with the Taliban.
— Alyssa Sims
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Edited by Peter Bergen
NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
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