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Failed Turkish coup carries a message for Bangladesh

Shahid Islam

 
It’s a sizzling summer everywhere — politically and environmentally. A botched coup attempt in Turkey to unseat an elected government; a humongous lorry ramming over innocent spectators celebrating the Bastille Day in the French coastal city of Nice; more white policemen shot dead by angry black activists in various US cities following shooting of innocent black youths by police; and a bubbling uprising in the Indian controlled Kashmir that had necessitated clamping of curfew in major cities of the picturesque Valley. Why the world is so unstable and precarious?
Full Story

Shahid Islam

 
It’s a sizzling summer everywhere — politically and environmentally. A botched coup attempt in Turkey to unseat an elected government; a humongous lorry ramming over innocent spectators celebrating the Bastille Day in the French coastal city of Nice; more white policemen shot dead by angry black activists in various US cities following shooting of innocent black youths by police; and a bubbling uprising in the Indian controlled Kashmir that had necessitated clamping of curfew in major cities of the picturesque Valley. Why the world is so unstable and precarious?
Common denomination
A common denomination in all such disruptions of peace and security is that the perpetrators of the extremist attacks are members of marginalized communities of races and faiths who feel excluded from the mainstream political process shaping their lives. The IS zealots aside—who propagate to reverting Muslim predominant nations into a revived Islamic empire from the Mediterranean coastline to the shores of the Indian ocean—the blacks of the US are another marginalized group like the majority of Muslim populations in France who live in squalors and struggle to subsist on earnings and public doles that are nowhere near to meeting the minimum needs of decent lives in an affluent French society. What then explains why some of the affluent youths have embarked on a virtual jihad against the government and the security forces of Bangladesh under the IS banner? Do they wish to fulfill their global vision of a broader Islamic khilafat, or, their aim is just to destabilize the nation so that someone of their choice could replace the incumbent AL regime which has been barring political dissenters from representing people in and outside the national parliament.
Whatever reason or rationale might have motivated a good chunk of English-educated youths from affluent Bangladeshi families to sacrifice lives in the name of establishing or joining a sprawling Islamic nation, the aim of the group is incompatible with the democratic aspirations of the Bangladeshi people who’d always sought to build a nation based on pluralistic democracy, rule of law, and economic egalitarianism.
If the religious zealots succeed in their ongoing mission, such hopes can vaporize overnight and the existing political parties within and outside the government may face dangers of horrific magnitude before being rendered extinct. Make no mistake that the ongoing squabbles between the major political parties had already stirred an appetite for a change of the status quo.
 
Causes of destabilization
That being the reality and the scenario in the making, the negation once again of the PM and her team to sit for a national dialogue with all the parties active in the political landscape is a regrettable stand that will embolden the religious extremists further.
Before the last weekend’s botched uprising in the Turkish military, Turkey too had experienced too many terror attacks that had impacted the mindset of many ordinary people and soldiers and provoked them to rise against a regime that is deemed to have floundered on the cardinal principles of democracy, secularism, rule of law and tolerance of political dissents. As Turkey had experienced military takeover almost in every decade since the 1960s due to its military’s innate perception of being the custodian of secularism and democracy in the post-Ottoman dispensation laid out by Kemal Ataturk, the recent coup is a reflection of the same desire.
In France, over 4,000 raids were conducted in minority Muslim houses since the declaration of emergency rules following the November 2015 attacks in Paris by Islamic extremists. The stings of persecution and harassment unleashed ever since by the security forces boomeranged with horror when only a handful of those arrested faced charges of being involved in acts of terrorism.
If the French security forces overreacted to the incident of the Paris attack by rounding up thousands of Muslim activists for a crime conducted with trans-national cooperation, and, if the US police equally overreacted to any black political activism by shooting down black youths, the backlashes being experienced now must be viewed from the socio-political perspective thus created. After all, France is a major player in Syria and Lebanon where the IS had germinated from an embryo and spread its tentacles to other parts of the world.
 
Bangladesh perspective
In Bangladesh, the call for a correction of the flawed January 2014 election has been vociferously loud and cranky for more than two years now. Not only within the country, all the major international friends and development partners, excepting India, had also urged the government repeatedly to close its vulnerabilities by holding an inclusive general election sooner.
Instead of heeding to such cries, the government decided to show its muscle to exclude all other major political parties of the nation, including the BNP and the Jamaat, from the political process. The IS-led extremists are aware that majority of the people of the country are supporters of the combined opposition parties that have no representation in the national parliament. The Islamic zealots are seizing upon that vulnerability to eke out a political spot by sacrificing lives for what they call ‘establishing an Islamic society.’
This reality has been indigestible to the government which has had a custom-tailored answer to deflect such criticism. The government’s insistence that the election was held and the main opposition parties chose not to participate is an oxymoron. In the prevailing political culture of Bangladesh, will the AL participate in a general election while the BNP is in power? An honest answer to that question will aptly reduce the complicacy involved in the dreadful crisis facing Bangladesh at this moment. People are craving for democracy, not for more hypocrisy to allow someone to cling onto power illegitimately, and indefinitely.
As well, the prelude to the current crisis stemmed from the trickery and the fabrication used by the AL regime to avoid the court ruling that had suggested abolition of the caretaker government system during the political interregnum and power transition not immediately, but in phases. Yet, in the manner the caretaker system was abolished was very troubling; resultantly sowing the seeds of what’s being witnessed now.
 
Constitutional amendments
Any government must learn to uphold national interest above coterie and personal interests. If the stability of the nation was the main preoccupation of the ruling AL, it would have avoided such a scheme at any cost to facilitate the prolongation of the caretaker system for two more terms as per the maiden verdict rendered by the court relating to the 5th amendment to the constitution, which eventually led to undoing the 13th amendment (caretaker system).
Somewhat like Bangladesh, the incumbent Turkish regime too fiddled with the constitution in a manner that had alienated many segments of the society, including the armed forces. In Bangladesh, the 15th amendment to the constitution had flung open a dangerous floodgate and excluded and marginalized all opposition to the incumbent AL regime. The main opposition parties like the BNP and the Jamaat first tried to fight the injustice from the streets, and then dashed to the oblivion under unbearable persecutions, arbitrary detentions, and deaths under so called cross fire by police and other security forces.
 
BNP-Jamaat nexus
Now, if the BNP is blamed for, and excluded from, a national dialogue due to its alliance with a legitimate political party like the Jamaat-I-Islami, that fault too lies with the government which had not proscribed Jamaat and consigned it as an illegitimate political outfit. Jamaat is a legal and recognized political party of the country, which partook in all the general elections since 1979 and with which any other party may cohabit and interact to further their coterie interest and bargaining power. It also did not indulge in acts of terror prior to its banning from participating in elections.
Hence, creating more confusion in TV talk shows and newspaper columns by hammering on an irreconcilable precondition of ‘BNP-Jamaat divorce’ before sitting for a national dialogue is a proposition that’s as irrational and unlawful as is the option being offered to the BNP to join a general election under the incumbent AL.
Then again, will the holding of an inclusive election shield the nation from further terrorist attacks? It may not in the short run, but, in the long run, lawmakers of all hues can stand behind the democratically elected government in moments of dire national crisis, as did the Turkish lawmakers of all hues against the recent coup plotters.

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The basement sale of India’s sovereignty

Prem Shankar Jha 

The Wire
 
By drawing even closer to the United States and signing binding agreements, India is giving up years of carefully calibrated balance in its foreign policy.
In two lacklustre years of governance the BJP has done very little to fulfill its promise of economic revival and vindicate the trust that the people of India had bestowed upon it.
Full Story

Prem Shankar Jha 

The Wire
 
By drawing even closer to the United States and signing binding agreements, India is giving up years of carefully calibrated balance in its foreign policy.
In two lacklustre years of governance the BJP has done very little to fulfill its promise of economic revival and vindicate the trust that the people of India had bestowed upon it.
That may be why its propagandists have worked overtime to portray the signature of the Logistics and Supply Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the USA, and President Obama’s designation of India as a “major defence partner” as a huge success in his foreign policy.
 
LEMOA is total loss
With very few exceptions, commentators in the national media have fallen in line with this assessment. Only a few have noticed that in his eagerness to cement a closer defence relationship with the US, Modi had given away India’s most prized asset – its zealously guarded independence of foreign policy – in exchange for a barrage of flattery and a bunch of verbal assurances that do not even add up to the proverbial thirty pieces of silver .
Declaring India a major defence partner has cost the US nothing. Unlike NATO or the US’s defence treaty with Japan, it is not a mutual defence pact and does not bind the US to coming to India’s aid if it is attacked. The most that India can possibly aspire to is a relationship somewhat similar to that of the US with Israel, where the US constantly reiterates its determination to come to Israel’s aid if it is attacked, but not via a defence treaty.
But India is not Israel. Its India-born American community is rich, and becoming politically more influential by the day. But it can never, even remotely, aspire to the power to shape US policy. American military power is not, therefore, ever likely to be deployed against India’s two main adversaries, Pakistan and China: Pakistan because it too is ‘a major non-NATO ally’, and China because it is simply too big for an already war-weary nation to take on.
In sharp contrast, the commitments that India has made to become worthy of this award (for that is all it is) are concrete, onerous and, worst of all, open-ended. Indian diplomats who have been involved in the negotiations insist that, unlike the Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA) that the US has signed with its other allies, it does not give the US Navy and Air Force an automatic right to use Indian bases while waging its wars. What it will facilitate automatically is the refuelling, restocking and repair of their craft at Indian naval and air bases during joint exercises, anti-piracy and other UN-sanctioned operations in the Indian Ocean.
 
Modi rushed & lost big
This is the assurance that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had rushed to Beijing to give to the Chinese after postponing the signature of LEMOA at the last minute during US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to Delhi in April. But in practice, these caveats against automatic involvement in America’s wars are hollow because Delhi will find it exceedingly difficult to deny these facilities to the US once the latter has committed itself to a military operation – because of the angry reaction that will provoke in the US media, and the Congress.
LEMOA is also only the thin end of a rather fat wedge. The US has made it clear that signing it will make it easier to acquire sensitive dual-use technologies. But to get the most out of it, India will have to sign two supplementary “foundational” agreements, the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
The US needs these to ensure that sensitive technological information shared with India does not get passed onto ‘unfriendly’ countries. But this concern will cut both ways. Its immediate result will therefore be to cut India off from access to cutting edge Russian armaments and technology.
This will not be a small loss. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the Soviet Union began to come apart, it could have been argued that India did not really have any alternative but to turn to the West for advanced weaponry. But that is no longer true. The S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, Sukhoi-65 multi-role aircraft and long-range cruise missiles that Moscow unveiled in Syria last year show that the technology gap between the US and Russia has not only narrowed but, in some important areas, reversed.
 
Predecessors never succumbed
There is nothing comparable to the S-400 in the western armoury, and the Su-65 costs a quarter of what India has committed itself to paying France for the Rafale. So no matter how Modi’s propagandists try to dress it up, these three agreements will lock India into permanent dependence upon American, European and Israeli suppliers and make it pay through the nose for what it gets.
Thus when CISMOA and BECA have been signed, India will lose its capacity to act independently and will become a permanent appendage of the Western alliance. To see how this could work out in practice, Modi has only to pick up the phone to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or, better still, ask General Pervez Musharraf about how Pakistan came to join the War on Terror after 9/11.
The difference between Modi and his predecessors is that the latter were not prepared to pay this price. Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narasimha Rao had coped with China’s rise by assuaging its anxieties about Indian intentions in Tibet and rapidly deepening the economic relations between the two countries. But they had simultaneously asserted India’s right to deal independently with the countries around the South China Sea, to continue sheltering the Dalai Lama and to allow him to run a virtual government in exile from Dharamshala.
All three also steadily deepened India’s relationship with the US, but carefully avoided making military commitments that would limit their options in the future. Vajpayee refused President George W. Bush’s request for Indian troops to pacify Iraq after the 2003 invasion, and Manmohan Singh studiously refused to sign the logistics supply, and its supporting agreements, with the US throughout his time in office.
 
Nehru’s legacy broken
The success of this careful balancing act is testified to by the fact that during this period it was not only the US but also China that began to woo India. Modi’s precipitate action – taken without any of the open discussion and extended parliamentary debate that had preceded the signing of the Indo-US nuclear agreement in 2008 – has ended this hard-won equidistance and the power to influence world events that went with it.
What is even more disturbing: while it has crowned Obama’s attempt to yoke India to his goal of containing China with success, it has wantonly thrown away the best opportunity India had, or may ever have again, of making a lasting peace with China and harnessing its enormous financial, technological and managerial resources to accelerate India’s industrial development.
The US must have sensed its opportunity when Modi signalled his willingness, probably during his first visit to Washington in 2014, to make a clean break with Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy in foreign policy. Barack Obama lost no time in capitalising upon this and accepted Modi’s invitation to be the guest of honour at the 2015 Republic Day celebrations. The reason why he did so at such short notice surfaced when the two leaders signed the ‘U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region’ on January 25.
Encased in the fluff of mutual praise was the one paragraph that mattered: “Regional prosperity depends on security. We affirm the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.” As Srinath Raghavan has pointed out in the Wire, China has a far stronger interest than the US in preserving the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea because all but a small fraction of its trade, and more importantly its import of oil, travels through it. What the US is insisting on maintaining, therefore, is the freedom of navigation for military vessels and aircraft.
 
China’s overtures ignored
In April 2015, this agreement bore its first fruit when four Indian warships joined a US-Japan task force spearheaded by the American super-carrier, the John C. Stennis, ostensibly to assert freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. This one action, which received virtually no mention in the Indian media, revealed how little they, and Modi himself, understood the basics, let alone the nuances, of the power-struggle that is taking place in international relations today. For at the time this happened, he was within days of making his first state visit to China.
It is possible that Modi was only paying China back in its own coin for timing its intrusion into Ladakh’s Chumur sector to coincide with President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014. But if this was indeed his intention, then he had not been briefed about the overtures that China had been making to forge a closer strategic relationship with India ever since 2009 and the strategic convergence that had taken place in their world views since then.
Prem Shankar Jha is a ‘senior journalist and author of Twilight of the Nation State: Globalisation, Chaos and War and Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger: Can China and India Dominate the West?

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Headache can’t be cured by cutting it off

Faruque Ahmed
 
Security apparatus of the state, particularly police and other law enforcing agencies are passing through a difficult time as to how to ensure safety of the people and protect public and private establishments from deadly militant attacks if and when recurs.
Almost all major installations are under strict vigilance in the capital and throughout the country when the two city corporations and Rajuk authorities are also at work now to identify illegal shops, restaurants and unauthorized business firms in the city and particularly in Gulshan and Baridhara diplomatic area. They don’t want to leave any chance unplugged to thwart any surprise attacks on soft targets around.
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Faruque Ahmed
 
Security apparatus of the state, particularly police and other law enforcing agencies are passing through a difficult time as to how to ensure safety of the people and protect public and private establishments from deadly militant attacks if and when recurs.
Almost all major installations are under strict vigilance in the capital and throughout the country when the two city corporations and Rajuk authorities are also at work now to identify illegal shops, restaurants and unauthorized business firms in the city and particularly in Gulshan and Baridhara diplomatic area. They don’t want to leave any chance unplugged to thwart any surprise attacks on soft targets around.
Let them pay & function
It is natural police are passing through an uneasy time to ensure security to all however, one also does not find any direct link between unauthorized business establishments and militant attacks. Militants make no such difference in selecting their targets.
Meanwhile, search by Dhaka North City Corporation shows that a total of 830 unauthorized commercial establishments are functioning in Gulshan and Baridhara diplomatic areas that include show rooms, restaurants, hotels, clinics and fast food shops. Another estimate by Rajuk reveals that a total of 1625 unauthorized commercial establishments exits in the city that include schools, colleges, hospitals and other utilities. 
A meeting at Public Works Ministry early last week has asked the representatives  of government organizations to serve notice on owners of those establishments to close their business and asked utility service providers at the same time such as gas, electricity and other supplies to snap all connections. The decision also includes new Rajuk and city corporation drive to demolish any unauthorized establishments.
Many, however, have raised questions if there is any linkage between these unauthorized business establishments and fighting the militancy effectively. These establishments are as good as others businesses serving clients regularly with the knowledge of relevant government agencies for a long time.  
It is, of course, true that they are not having legal licenses and they may be allowed to secure it to become legitimate by paying necessary compensation to function on equal footing with other legal businesses. It will increase government revenue collection which they have so far evaded. Make no mistake that these so called unauthorized establishments functioned with full knowledge and permission of the government’s law enforcers and relevant service providers by making special arrangements with them. Militancy is a threat from outlawed groups and there is no allegation that these unauthorized firms were any way linked to the militant groups.
 
Action be taken against both
It is noticeable that some of the militants had lived in a house that is lawfully owned by a North South University teacher. He is now under police remand along with the house manager and another relative to find out how they rented the flat without verification of their identity. They will find out if they had any link with the militants in planning the attack. 
The Holey Artisan Café, which came under militant attacks where 28 persons were killed including 17 foreigner was an unauthorized eatery having no regular trade license. Until this incident took place, local elite, government leaders and foreigners alike were using its service as a high quality restaurant. How could this outfit become illegal overnight? The incident is a great tragedy but it is related to security failure. It may happen at any other place and the solution is not in the closure of those establishments but to make foolproof security arrangement in the diplomatic zones. For failure of law enforcers or laxity in vigilance, business can’t be closed. It is not a solution.    
Many believe that since these business establishments listed by North City Corporation and Rajuk are very much part of the national economy, creating large number of jobs and contributing to the GDP growth, they should be given legal licenses and regularized. Their dislocation will only make thousands of people jobless adversely affecting the poorer section of society.   
It is argued that the city corporation and/or Rajuk officials allowed such unauthorized establishments to grow and run business. They watched these businesses as they were growing and provided utility connection to them. They never blocked the move or checked if they possessed any valid trade license to operate as commercial establishments. Without the cooperation of these official agencies they could not have gone ahead and made enormous investments. Both sides have defaulted and both should be dealt with accordingly. Law should be applied equally, they opined.
 
It has to be sorted out
The concerned authorities obviously gave indulgences to those business establishments to function with mutual understanding. In fact they encouraged these so called illegal businesses to grow. Now the same organizations can’t suddenly claim that they are unauthorized and must cease to function.
If they are at fault, and there is no doubt that they are, then the City Corporation, Rajuk officials and the concerned officials of the ministries of home and public works are equally responsible for breaching the law and therefore, must be held equally responsible. Why they allowed residential areas for commercial use. Who would compensate for the loss of these businesses and socio-economic benefits?
Many people are apprehensive that while the question of ensuring security to the people has now become important, with time it will gradually lose its steam and establishments belonging to socio-politically powerful people would be allowed to continue under mutual arrangement. The small businesses would become the real victims.  
Meanwhile, police are also at work to check the identity of city dwellers, as they fear that dreaded criminals and militants hire apartments under fake names to plan their target using residential cover. It makes a serious case as the attackers at Gulshan Café had lived in a flat nearby.  In fact, it is not only the diplomatic zones, the entire city is now under security scanner. Police are already in possession of the identity of almost all house owners and 90 percent of tenants living in hired residential accommodation. The latest move aims at knowing the identity of all tenants to plug the hole. The government has also taken the social media under strict scanner. It essentially aims at putting a stop to sharing of critical opinion or circulation of unauthorized news and rumours that may create panic.
While this cannot be helped, these unprecedented security measures are spreading a sense of insecurity at all level.  City shopping malls are having uneasy time. The number of shoppers has decreased substantially. But the fear at every level is that the country may have to endure such an uneasy situation for longer time. Many also believe that it may only change with the end of uneasy political situation.

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Bangladesh on high alert fearing fresh terror attack

Shakhawat Hossain
 
Intelligence agencies are apprehending fresh terror attacks in the country at key point installations or crowded places like super markets, malls and public gatherings. Taking the threat seriously, the Police Headquarters have issued high alert across the country and brought all the important establishments under additional security arrangements.
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Shakhawat Hossain
 
Intelligence agencies are apprehending fresh terror attacks in the country at key point installations or crowded places like super markets, malls and public gatherings. Taking the threat seriously, the Police Headquarters have issued high alert across the country and brought all the important establishments under additional security arrangements.
Top officials of Police, RAB and other intelligence agencies, including National Security Intelligence [NSI] discussed the issue in a meeting at the Police Headquarters. The intelligence officials said the militants could launch attacks at railway stations, launch and bus terminals before and after Eid. Especially, a twitter message has drawn attention of security officials where one Kamil Ahmed on July 4 posted: ‘next attack Jamuna Future Park, mission July 20.’ It has gone viral on social media networks, including facebook.
 
Ministers alerted
Besides, the police have also warned all cabinet members about possible extremist attacks on them in the wake of the recent attacks on Dhaka and Kishoreganj that rocked the country. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner in a text message to all ministers saying the police had intelligence reports that extremist groups might attack any minister at any time and therefore they should remain careful. Talking to New Age, several ministers on Monday confirmed that they received the message.
Meanwhile, the Australian government on Monday raised the travel alert for its nationals from level 2 (exercise high degree of caution) to level 3 (reconsider your need to travel), citing it had “reliable information that militants may be planning to target Western interests in Bangladesh”. It was also for “an increase in terrorist attacks, including against Westerners”, says an advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Most western and major Asian countries, including the US, UK, Japan and South Korea, have issued similar travel warnings to their citizens.
Amid concerns over the rising threat of militancy, unidentified assailants attacked a Baul Akhra in a remote Chuadanga village early last week, leaving four Bauls, including two women, injured. Of the injured, Abdur Rahim, 65, Rashida Khatun, 60, and Bulu Begum, 50, were badly hacked. Condition of the other, Bakso Mondol, 50, could not be known.  All of them are followers of Lalon Fakir (1774-1890), a mystic bard who sang for secularism and humanism throughout his life. Although Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bangladesh is considerable.
 
Minority persecution continues
Meanwhile, four Hindu priests of different temples in the district received death threats through letters sent by unknown miscreants last Sunday night and Monday morning. Masumur Rahman Biswas, OC of Sadar Police Station, said cases were lodged with Sadar Police Station. Narendranath Roy, president of Palpara Durga-Kali Temple in the town, said Ruhi Das, priest of the temple, found a letter with death threat on the floor on Sunday night. The letter reads: “You could not recognise us, we are in Pirojpur. You Hindus, we’ll kill you one after another.” The priests are Bijoy Chakraborty from Rangpur, and Ruhidas Pal and Salil Mukherjee Sibu from Pirojpur. Christian missionary schools and others run by religious minority groups have reportedly received multiple threats from terrorists. Such threats have caused panic amongst teachers, students and guardians of a school in the north-western Kushtia town.
On Monday, miscreants have threatened to blow up the UNO office, police station, two Awami League leaders’ houses and all the mosques in Nakla upazila in Sherpur by hurling grenades. The threat was given in a letter to Nokla Awami League Deputy Press Secretary Anil Kumar Roy on behalf of IS and its associates around 9pm.
In this situation, the government has taken various initiatives to thwart further terror attacks following reports of more possible attacks. Members of all law enforcement and intelligence agencies are on high alert. Holidays and leave of police personnel have been cancelled. Apart from strengthening security measures, the government has made moves to build social resistance against militant activities.
Besides, an 11-hour joint drive carried out by about 450 law enforcers (Police, RAB and BGB) to root out militant dens in 10 remote char (shoal) areas of Bogra ended with the recovery of nine Jihadi books, six sharp weapons, a coil of wire and five empty boxes of SMG magazines on Monday. Such joint drives are still going on in different parts of the country against terror threat.
 
IS targeting affluent youths
The Jihadis attacked the Gulshan Café were graduates from Dhaka’s leading private university, an 18-year-old student from an elite school and the son of a ruling party official. As the Islamist radicals focus their recruitment efforts on disenfranchised relatively affluent middle class youth, government efforts to eradicate extremism have become more complicated. “They are all highly educated young men and from well-off families,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told the media. Asked why they became jihadists, Khan said: “It has become a fashion.” While the government continued to deny IS presence in the country, the group claimed the attack and its associated news agency, Amaq, posted pictures of the five gunmen posing with weapons.
Government says over 100 young people from middle class families have been missing since January 2015. Seeking anonymity, an official who is working closely on terrorism, said at least half of the missing persons are from Dhaka. Three of the terrorists who had participated in the Gulshan attack, similarly went missing four to six months months before the incident.

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Neda to help BJP making inroads into NE India

Nava Thakuria in Guwahati
 
For many political pundits, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reflects only the Hindutva sentiment with plentiful arrogances, but the enthusiastic party has cleverly formed a northeastern political alliance comprising various regional and ethnic political parties to dilute this impression. The saffron party, which thrashed the ruling Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha elections under the banner of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), successfully launched a new forum called North East Democratic Alliance (Neda).
Full Story
Nava Thakuria in Guwahati
 
For many political pundits, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reflects only the Hindutva sentiment with plentiful arrogances, but the enthusiastic party has cleverly formed a northeastern political alliance comprising various regional and ethnic political parties to dilute this impression. The saffron party, which thrashed the ruling Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha elections under the banner of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), successfully launched a new forum called North East Democratic Alliance (Neda).
An all round development of the alienated region, resolving inter-State conflicts and giving fillip to New Delhi’s Act East Policy through the active participation of Northeast India is NEDA’s main agendas. It now plans to counter the century old national Congress party’s strongholds.
 
The alliance formation
BJP president Amit Shah, who ideologically shaped Neda, arrived in Guwahati to formally launch the political forum on 13 July, where he promised that all constituent parties in Neda would have an equal say in different matters. Mentioning about the unique experiment carried out in the region, Shah asserted that the BJP was determined to connect the region with the rest of India with rapid development fulfilling the aspirations of the young generation. 
In fact, soon after the historic win in Assam Legislative Assembly polls in April this year, the BJP announced the formation of Neda for pursuing the development of the region. Most of the non-Congress political parties showed interest in joining the forum, headquartered in Guwahati, boosting  the morale of BJP leaders (including PM Narendra Modi) to make  Northeast Congress-Mukta. 
The first meet, held in Guwahati on 24 May, the day Assam’s first BJP chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal took oath, was also graced by the BJP supremo along with the party’s national general secretary and Northeast in-charge Ram Madhav, who was credited for sealing the nationalist party’s alliance with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) prior to Assam polls. 
It may be mentioned that three years back a regional (read non-Congress) political forum entitled Northeast Regional Political Front was floated by the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the AGP. Now as both the parties had joined in the new forum, it signals the silent death of the forum, which was launched in October 2013.  Till date some important   non-Congress (also non-Left) parties of the region namely Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF, in power at Gangtok), NPF (in power at Kohima), Mizo National Front (MNF, formerly in power at Mizoram), AGP & BPF (both are constituents of BJP led Assam government), Gana-Shakti (from Assam), Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT),  United Democratic Party (UDP) and National People’s Party (NPP) from Meghalaya have joined in  the initiative.
 
Target next poll and Congress
The immediate target of Neda however seems to be the Congress ruled Manipur, where the veteran Meitei leader Okram Ibobi Singh is approaching the end of his third term chief minister-ship.
Congress strongman Ibobi led his party to win 2012 Assembly elections with 42 legislators (out of 60 seats) for the consecutive third term. But now more than 25 sitting Congress legislators are expecting to change their loyalty towards the saffron party, in and around the forthcoming Assembly polls scheduled for early 2017.
However, the conclave faced a jerk on the inaugural day itself, as a verdict from the Supreme Court restored the Congress government at Itanagar toppling  the Congress dissident Kalikho Pul’s regime. Facing the heat Pul agreed to wear the Congress attires again, at least, for some time.
The negative development had however did not prevent the Neda convener Himanta Biswa Sarma to announce that the BJP and its alliance partners would grab all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the next general elections from the region. A powerful Assam minister, who abandoned the Congress party to join the Modi-Shah brigade before the Assam polls, also added that the poll-bound Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura, where State elections are due in 2018, would definitely pave the way for the BJP to strengthen its bases.
 
The author is a Guwahati based journalist and political commentator

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DEATHS EXCEED 44 IN 12 DAYS
Kashmir under curfew, protests amidst bleeding and mourning
This man is deputy Inspector General of Indian Police in "Kashmir", who  himself is  involved in oppressing  a protester in public.
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
A 55-year-old man from North Kashmir’s Kupwara district succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday, taking the death toll in the ongoing Valley unrest to 44 in 12 days.
Ghulam Muhammad Mir had sustained serious pellet injuries in his head on July 16 and had gone into coma at SMHS hospital here. He also succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning. Witnesses said his funeral prayer was offered at Kaka-Sarai Karanagar before his body was taken to his native village Khumriyal for the last rites. 
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This man is deputy Inspector General of Indian Police in "Kashmir", who  himself is  involved in oppressing  a protester in public.
Abdur Rahman Khan
 
A 55-year-old man from North Kashmir’s Kupwara district succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday, taking the death toll in the ongoing Valley unrest to 44 in 12 days.
Ghulam Muhammad Mir had sustained serious pellet injuries in his head on July 16 and had gone into coma at SMHS hospital here. He also succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning. Witnesses said his funeral prayer was offered at Kaka-Sarai Karanagar before his body was taken to his native village Khumriyal for the last rites. 
Protesters violate strict curfew
Meanwhile, curfew remained in place in South Kashmir areas for the 12th consecutive day even as protests and clashes continued at several places.  Following ‘Black Day’ call given by separatists, people hoisted black flags at various places while many were seen wearing black arm-bands.  Mobile and internet service also remained cut off for 12th straight day.
Sporadic clashes were also reported in few Old Town areas of Anantnag including Iqbalabad and Khanabal. A youth sustained pellet injury in Sarnal locality. He is being treated at District Hospital. Meanwhile, black flags were hoisted at various places in Islamabad (Anantnag) town, Bijbehara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Tral, Shopian and other South Kashmir areas.
Witnesses said people took out huge pro-freedom demonstration in Anantnag town on late Tuesday evening. Reports said three youth sustained bullet injuries during protests at Batpora, Lassipora in Pulwama district on Wednesday evening.
At least three people were injured when Army men of 55 RR thrashed them at Batnoor Lassipora, reports said.
Amid tight curfew, protests erupted at Nowgam area against detention of several youth. Witnesses said police picked up some youth who were allegedly trying to enforce shutdown, triggering clashes and protests in the area.
Youth placed barricades on the road leading to Bonpora Nowgam. A massive protest march was taken out from Jamia Masjid Ahl-hadees Nowgam Chowk to Nowgam bypass protesting civilian killings and arrests of youth.
Protest rallies were also taken out at Batamaloo after evening prayers.
Reports of clashes also poured in from different areas of the old city that include Rainawari, Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal, Saraf Kadal and Khanyar. Reports say police removed black flags from Abi Guzar locality in Srinagar.
Meanwhile, residents of various areas of Batamaloo alleged that police and paramilitary forces entered different mosques and damaged the announcement systems.
 
People are in revolt
Reports said late night clashes were witnessed in Old Town Baramulla and Pahallhan areas.  Amid tight curfew, youth resorted to stone-pelting on the forces, triggering clashes.
Reports said that strict curfew remained in place in Bandipora and Kupwara districts. Reports said massive protests broke out in Bandipora town after army men allegedly beat up residents including women in Nowpora, and Ajas. Peaceful protests were reported from Gurez area as well.
Reports said strict curfew remained in place in Ganderbal and Budgam districts. There were mild clashes in Narbal. Meanwhile, five persons were injured in Kangan area during clashes. Locals alleged that Road Opening Parties of CRPF broke windowpanes of various hotels and even beat up street vendors at main market Kangan.
Media reports said CRPF men also beat up a fruit vendor Nadeem Shah of Gulabagh, Srinagar. He was shifted to Trauma hospital Kangan. CRPF men also damaged the window panes of Jamia Masjid Kangan evoking strong resentment from the locals.
A complete shutdown was observed in major towns of Chenab Valley to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people. Reports said shops remained closed at Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and Banihal towns and their peripheral areas.
The shutdown call was given by Markazi Majlis-e-Shoura Kishtwar, Seerat Committee Doda, Anjuman Islamia Bhaderwah against the government for ‘committing atrocities against the unarmed civilians in Kashmir Valley and imposition of restrictions against media.” 
Meanwhile,  opposition National Conference on Wednesday decided to boycott the All Party Meeting called by Kashmir  Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for discussing the situation in Kashmir, saying “in absence of any credible, effective and humane leadership”, the meeting was “futile” and “meaningless”.
In a two-page letter to senior PDP Minister AR Veeri, National Conference has said that actions in the recent past have shown that there was no “effective leadership” in the State Government.
 
Chidambaram for autonomy
India’s former Home Minister P Chidambaram has favoured “greater autonomy” on which Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India in 1947.
“Greater Autonomy is the basis on which J&K acceded to India. J&K acceded on the basis of Article 370 and over the years we have simply chipped away that bargain which we had arrived at in 1947-48,” he said, when asked about J&K’s special status.
Chidambaram also said most Indians see Kashmir through the prism of land and not people.
The biggest difference is the ruling alliance, NDA, believes that a muscular approach to the Kashmir problem is the answer. But there are opposite parties like Congress, CPI(M), CPI, JD (U), which have realized  after witnessing 2010 and since 2010 that security or police -driven measures will only worsen the situation. And therefore they have appealed a healing touch approach,” Chidambaram said.
He said: “Alliance (of PDP-BJP) itself was a grave provocation to the people of Kashmir. BJP as a party and people of Kashmir valley are poles apart. Hardly any commonality between BJP’s philosophy and what Kashmir valley people believe in…. The presence of BJP and what the BJP does in the rest of India; the consistent talk of repealing Article 370 that frightens people.”
He said: “You don’t do hard policing of protesting youth and citizens. I can understand hard policing against militants, insurgents but not against protesting youth who hold stones and nothing else,” he said.

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