The Amarnath land transfer row is getting worse by the day. If it was Kashmir Valley first to oppose the transfer of land to the Shrine Board, Jammu followed by protesting the decision of the State Government to revoke the land transfer. By now both Jammu and the Valley have been engulfed in violence that has taken several innocent lives in the two regions.

One would have hoped that the all party delegation headed by the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil that visited the state for two days would be able to sooth the feelings of the people and come up with some solution. But that was not to be. Instead it only led to hardening of stands making things more complicated. What went wrong with the delegation’s visit?

It is unfortunate that Delhi is still unable to read the psyche of the people in Jammu region and the Valley. Perhaps it is incapable to do so…

Jammu region has a deep rooted feeling that it being treated as subservient to the Valley, that the temperature in Srinagar determines the weather in Jammu. It has more area and its population is almost equal with Valley; yet it has less number of seats in the Legislative Assembly paving the way for political power vesting with the Kashmir leadership, always and invariably.

Till some time ago even the Deputy Chief Minister’s post was not with Jammu. The Gajendragadkar Commission recommendations made some difference but not enough to remove the imbalance. Delhi made no serious effort to correct the position. It looked on silently as the Farooq Abdullah government pushed through a law to freeze the number of seats in the state Assembly till 2026.

The discrimination is on the financial side as well. Jammu has been demanding equitable distribution of funds in the budget and when this did not happen it started craving for a separate budget for the region. No one in Delhi or Srinagar was prepared to listen. Even Ladakh was up in arms when the state assembly passed the ‘autonomy’ resolution some years ago. It is demanding UT status.

All this only shows that mistrust between Jammu and Valley is not a sudden phenomenon. It has been brewing for a long, long time and when the Amarnath issue was bungled by the alliance government, after it was betrayed by one of its partners the PDP, it only roused the already pent up feelings among the people in Jammu. Needless to say, while the two regions have a right to give vent to their feelings peacefully, they have come to be pitted against each other. The twists and turns the situation is taking is a matter of serious concern as the division has come to be pressed on regional and communal lines.

The Amarnath crisis was, in the first instance, created by some politicians in the Valley. The PDP, which was in the forefront to oppose the land transfer was itself responsible for the decision as the forest Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, who pursued the case in the state cabinet, belonged to the PDP itself.

For the moderate and hard-line Hurriyat leaders it was golden opportunity to cash on, by misrepresenting facts and playing on the emotions of the people. How can a 100 acre land, given, not allotted, for temporary pre- fabricated structures for just two months of the Yatra, lead to changing the demography of the state? But such was the hype and the whole thing was stage managed in view of the elections to the state assembly due in November.

Things took almost a similar turn in Jammu with protests first ignited by extremists, till it became a movement. The people of Jammu must know that blocking the National Highway is not the answer to their ills. They have to fight their battle with the state government and Delhi and not with the people of Valley.

For the BJP, ‘cash for votes’ plot having backfired, the Amarnath controversy has been a quick substitute that can enliven street demonstrations—and fights whenever necessary—for many months. The desperation in the BJP and the much larger saffron brotherhood (Sangh Parivar) to derive political mileage from the Amarnath land controversy is evident from the way they have closed ranks to keep the fire burning in the Jammu region. Almost all the leaders of the agitation in Jammu are members of one or the other Sangh outfit.

The Kashmiri separatists are no less at fault. They have raised a hue and cry over the Amarnath land transfer order, calling it an ‘Israel type’ move to reduce the state’s Muslim population into minority. Nothing could be more preposterous. But the communal organisations in Jammu instead of contesting that outlandish charge retaliated by raising the unfounded bogey of ‘discrimination’ and ‘injustice’ to the Hindus. Their idea was to reach out to all sections of the community to try and give a non-communal colour to their agitation. The strategy would have worked very well if these organisations had at least tried to prevent attacks and destruction of Muslim properties in the Jammu region and stopped the unofficial blockade that was being enforced on the highway that leads to the Valley.

Of course, what has greatly encouraged the communal elements in Jammu was the usual display of paranoia and intolerance by the separatist, pro-Pakistani leaders in the Valley who are forever conjuring up visions of ‘Hindu conspiracies’ to decimate the Muslim population—a theory that is more vociferously echoed in POK and the country across the border. It might be truer to say that the paranoia in the valley is an item exported so regularly and in such large quantities from across LOC, LAC and the border that it now finds a place in nearly every household in the Valley.

The Pakistani Senate was quick to take up the Amarnath land agitation and pass a resolution criticising India. The move had the backing of the PPP-led coalition government. But that was only to be expected from the Parliament or the government of Pakistan that continues to declare that it supports insurgency in Kashmir in every possible manner even while proclaiming faith in maintaining ‘good relations’ with India.

But the new turn taken by the Amarnath land dispute must have pleased the Pakistanis as they see prospects of division of J&K becoming more real than ever before. They can hardly believe their luck. For 60 years they have been trying either to grab Kashmir from India by force or through subversive means. The on-going war through their armed surrogates and jehadis has succeeded in carrying out ethnic cleansing in the valley but had found stiff resistance to their plans in the rest of the state.

Camouflaged as an ‘out of box’ thinking and to look ‘reasonable’ and ‘flexible’ Pakistan has also been advocating a three-way division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir with ‘Hindu’ Jammu remaining with India and the ‘Muslim’ valley incorporated into Pakistan while the Buddhist Ladakh stays with India. The Sangh Parivar’s agitation in the Jammu region may have also fulfilled another Pakistani mission by narrowing the differences between the Muslims of the Valley and those in the Jammu region most of whom have thus far refused to be swayed by the pro-Pakistani propaganda.

The plan to divide J&K enjoys backing of various Sangh Parivar outfits in Jammu even when it is evident that Pakistan gains most with the division of the state into three parts. It strengthens the Pakistani claim that Hindus do not want to live with Muslims. The demand for separating Jammu from the rest of the state was so reassuringly raised by some of the newly created Parivar fronts four or five years ago that they decided to jump into the electoral fray when the BJP-led government at the Centre refused to grant their wish. They contested against official BJP candidates. The division of pro-Parivar votes dealt a crushing blow to the BJP and the Parivar alike four years ago.

Unless the communal and separatist passions so passionately aroused with an eye on the November elections in the state are doused, the elements in the forefront of the agitation will be doing themselves and the country a great harm. Hopefully, they will discover how harmful can be the consequences of pursuing the idea of dividing J&K—before it is too late. The Centre too will be failing in its duty if it doesn’t intervene to find a middle path to end the Amarnath controversy.

For the government it is a very difficult and delicate situation. Satisfying the people of one region will antagonize the people of the other region. But that should not prevent it from taking steps to put an end to the mess that has been created. In fact this should have been done much earlier without letting things came to such a pass.

There is a lesson in the Amarnath imbroglio. It is that the governments at the centre and the state must address public grievances as they crop up rather than allow them to turn into a festering wound, and not let the people, out of desperation, blow up their top. This is as much true about Jammu and Valley as it is for rest of the country.

– Asian Tribune –

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Men’s 100m backstroke

American Aaron Peirsol set a new world record and won the gold medal in the final of the men’s 100m backstroke with a time of 52.54 seconds.

Matt Grevers, who was representing the US with Peirsol, took the silver medal, while Arkady Vyatchanin and Hayden Stoeckel tied for third place with a time of 53.18.

Men’s 200m freestyle

American Michael Phelps set a new world record and won the gold medal in the final of the men’s 200m freestyle with a time of 1:42.96 minutes.

Taehwan Park, who was representing South Korea, finished in second place and set a new Asian record, while Peter Vanderkaay, who was representing the US with Phelps, finished in third place with a time of 1:45.14.

Phelps beat the old world record by almost one second. The Australian reported that Phelps ‘shattered’ the previous world record, which was also set by him.

Women’s 100m breaststroke

Australian Leisel Jones won the gold medal and set a new Olympic record in the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:05.17 minutes.

“It has been a long journey. It’s been a long eight years,” said Jones, after her victory. “And I think just a lot of relief that the training was definitely worth it.”

Rebecca Soni, who was representing United States, won the silver medal, while Mirna Jukic finished in third place with a time of 1:07.34.

Men’s double trap

American Walton Eller set a new Olympic record in the qualification round of the men’s double trap with a score of 145.

Francesco D Aniello, who was representing Italy, finished in second place, while Jeffrey Hologuin, who represented the US with Eller, finished in third place with a score of 140.

Men’s 200m butterfly

American Michael Phelps set a new Olympic record when he finished in first place in heat six of the men’s 200m butterfly with a time of 1:53.70. This record is one of several set by Phelps during the Olympic games.

Kaio Almeida, who was representing Brazil, finished in second place, while Takeshi Matsuda finished in third place with a time of 1:55.06, 1.36 seconds behind the time set by Phelps.

Women’s 200m individual medley

Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry set a new Olympic Record in semifinal of the women’s 200m individual medley with a time of 2:09.53 minutes. Coventry’s first fifty second were the quickest, with her first length taking only 29.17 seconds.

Stephanie Rice, who was representing Australia, finished in second place, while Katie Hoff finished in third place with a time of 2:10.90, just over one second behind the time achieved by Coventry.

Medal Table


Source : wikinews

https://i1.wp.com/www.rediff.com/news/2000/mar/23head.gifThe arrival of over 70,000 Indian Peace Keeping Force troops to Sri Lanka followed the signing of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord on 29 July 1987. Their task was significant for ironically the IPKF was to disarm the very militants that India had provided covert training & arms to. In other words, Indian soldiers were being sent to a foreign land to disarm militants that India had created.

Was the IPKF operation guided politically? If so what have the Indian Government done for the over 2000 IPKF soldiers who laid down their lives for a political exercise? Surely these soldiers deserve better compensation for they come from humble homes & sent to a nation without proper guidance & asked to bring peace without being debriefed or even given a map of the area they were to cover.

There is a Right to Information Act prevalent in India, equally surprising is that no one has yet to demand exactly how much was spent by the Indian Government from Indira Gandhi’s Government onwards towards training & arming & financially supporting the LTTE & other militant groups in Sri Lanka.

The Indian Government spent over USD1000billion for the IPKF operation that lasted little over 2 years. It is the Indian tax payer who has supported the will of the successive Indian Governments, therefore the Indian tax payers deserve to know exactly how much their contribution was towards the creation of a monster that is presently in existence for over 30 years.

So what went wrong in Sri Lanka for the IPKF – their Maldive operation took less than 2 & half days? The problem faced in Sri Lanka is complicated by the presence of a powerful neighbor – one that is sensitive towards its own ambitions to project itself as a global force & be recognized as a powerful nation & one that survives on votes & alliances. It becomes further complicated by the fact that any aspiring Government cannot avoid the Tamil Nadu factor – a very large State that is traditionally the homeland of the Tamil people – though their Tamil brethren in Sri Lanka have very little to share in common apart from the fact that they are called “Tamil”. So whether it is the Congress or the BJP both sides will continue to court the Tamil Nadu politicians who are all too aware of this scenario. The issue of separatism is not confined to Sri Lanka alone, in fact in early fifties Tamil Nadu did flirt with this idea & in fact threatened to separate on the question of language & there was also the “We Tamil Movement” which India silently managed to quell before it gathered much momentum.

From Bouquets to Bricks

To chase away a presumed “devil” the Tamil people garlanded an “angel”…when the “angel” became the “devil”…they looked for another “angel”…& this vicious circle seems to be continuing all because of the “hope” that prevails in the minds of the people. Can they be blamed?

It is well known that the IPKF were ill-prepared for their role in Sri Lanka…it is even claimed that they were provided with only a tourist map of Sri Lanka & makes us wonder exactly what the Indian Government hoped off the IPKF. To this question the most suited to answer are the RAW & India’s Intelligence officers who were the central force behind the decision making of its Prime Minister. To these officers, the LTTE were “their boys”. But the goodwill mission sent by the Indian Government were naturally greeted with garlands & cheering crowds.

It took little time to see change in sentiments as cases of rape, civilian deaths, looting, theft, destruction of property by IPKF troops escalated. When the Sri Lankan army was in the Jaffna peninsula they were labeled rapists & racists. The IPKF proved far worse & the LTTE no better. The people had no choice but to accept the LTTE & have had to endure them for well over 30 years. It still makes us wonder why their relatives now happily earning foreign incomes, residing in comfortable climes would still wish their brethren to suffer at the hands of these malicious tormentors so that they can buy time to gain their PR status.

But, let us be a little fair by the IPKF. Here we have a group of men…belonging to different states of India, unaware & clueless of what was happening in Sri Lanka, not briefed about anything except shipped off in loads with arms & asked to protect the people….which people, could they identify a tiger from a citizen,…they couldn’t even speak with the people let alone understand them….but from the little they could comprehend they did what they could (mending roads, places of worship, schools etc even to the point of building a highway along the coastal belt from Trincomalee to Jaffna) until the point where the LTTE had had enough of the Indian honeymooners & started to attack them. It was from 10 October 1987, that the IPKF launched a military offensive against the LTTE.

(LTTE) from an ally to an adversary – IPKF psychologically unprepared for the eventuality

The July 83 riots in Sri Lanka naturally invoked the call for help from India & Foreign Minister Narasinha Rao followed by envoy G. Parthasarthy arrived in Sri Lanka for discussions with Sri Lanka’s President Jayawardena. This led eventually to the Indo-Lanka Accord on 29 July 1987, following a series of political dialogues held in Thimpu, Delhi, Bangalore & Colombo. The outcome of the Accord was the 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, a devolution package & temporary merger of the North & East creating the North East Provincial Council & the elected provincial government to be set up in Trincomalee. Varadarajah Perumal became its first Chief Minister.

Was the IPKF aware of the type of training provided to the militants by India…if they did they undermined the militants especially the expertise & experience by the time the IPKF did arrive in Sri Lanka?. Thus to the discerning it was to be a quest between Indian training against Indian training (IPKF vs LTTE) & who would end up victor. For a proud & disciplined arm it was easy work for the LTTE to create the mayhem that eventually led to the Tamil people calling for the withdrawal of the troops.

One of the obvious failures of the IPKF in Sri Lanka was that it lacked intelligence, it had little freedom of action to plan & execute its operations & very little logistics support (tanks & APCs were not used, no air cover, even the armed helicopter came much later, the soldiers even lacked proper cooking utensils). On top of all that they had no clue as to who were actually the militants…since everyone looked alike. The RAW was expected to pass on the necessary information to the Indian army but apparently they were too scared for their safety (Colonel John Taylor, officer in the IPKF)

It was obvious that the IPKF & intelligence officers did not see eye to eye. Intelligence officers like Anand Verma was happy to claim “these are our boys, once they have agreed they will not betray” (since LTTE had been trained by Indians since the beginning of the 1980s.)

The IPKF soldiers knew they were fighting Tamil insurgents, the same insurgents who were getting trained and supplied with large quantities of arms and equipment from Tamil Nadu. This had a deleterious effect on the troop morale.

What went wrong for the IPKF?

Before the signing of the Agreement & consequently the arrival of the IPKF we must remember the major Sri Lankan military drive in May 87. The shower of political pressure from India foretold the actual pressure the Sri Lankan military were able to create upon the tigers (Operation Vadamarachchi) & as proof that Indians meant business were several planes over Sri Lankan skies & the drop of dhal supplies to Jaffna on 4 June 1987. If the international community preferred to silently acknowledge India’s interference they were in for another rude shock when IPKF troops proved far worse than the allegations harbored upon the Sri Lankan soldiers.

J .N. Dixit was the High Commissioner to India in Sri Lanka from 1985 to 1989 & he was Rajiv Gandhi’s key man. His reply in an interview with Josey Joseph when asked if India was right to train the LTTE is significant “See, you do not indulge in value judgment, in retrospect, in hindsight. It is unrealistic. When you take a decision, you are in the middle of a situation. Nobody sitting in a chair 10 years later, five years later, is competent to judge whether it was necessary or not. Whether it was necessary or not was decided upon by the then government, then prime minister, on the basis of information and analysis that were available“.

India was fearful of Sri Lanka’s closeness to the West. The Israeli ties & Isareli agencies Mossad & Shin Bet specialized in under-cover operations, the British Keeny Meeny Services providing off-shore training to the Special Task Force & even Pakistani training provided. With a proxy war situation created it was natural that the US would also be involved. It was to this scenario that India found itself involved.

There are many reasons for the India’s operation in Sri Lanka to fail. The most important of these is that there were two divergent views expressed by Indian intelligence & the Indian military. On the one hand RAW officers like Ananda Verma considered LTTE as “our boys” & Army Chief Gen. Sundarji was confident of disarming the LTTE within 3 weeks……….no one Rajiv Gandhi had confidence in his men. However, set against this was Maj. Gen. Harikat Singh the first senior commander to be sent to Sri Lanka who eventually criticized J N Dixit, RAW & Gen. Sundarji because his men were sent ill-prepared.

IPKF sent ill-armed, ill-equipped totally unaware of what they were heading for or what they really had to do, not debriefed on their enemy & even the commanders denied free rein & having to wait for “orders from Delhi”….it was clear that the Indian Government either underpinned the LTTE or did not want the IPKF to be fully equipped to actually succeed in the clause signed under the Indo-Lanka Agreement – to disarm the LTTE

The failure of the Accord was further heightened by the successors of the 2 Governments in the form of Premadasa & V P Singh, both opposing the Accord. R Premadasa took credit for the chasing away of a foreign peace keeping force it was the VP Singh Governments & I K Gujral’s decision (actually taking political mileage to prove Rajiv Gandhi’s decision was wrong) that actually led to the IPKF withdrawal – they could have played the real bad brother & refused…what a scenario that would have led to.

In conclusion

Sri Lanka is having a problem – it is a terrorist problem that initially set out covering itself under an “ethnic” label to provide legitimacy to its cause & acceptance worldwide. The “ethnicity” label shadows heavily upon India when Tamil Nadu state is brought into the equation & LTTE’s ethnic tag is to provide “liberation” to the Tamils which itself has a secessionist history wanting to create its own homeland. Thus, we should not be surprised over India’s concerns of troubles brewing in Sri Lanka especially one’s that involve the Tamil community. If India is concerned it is as a result of fear of what is likely to happen to its own state of Tamil Nadu. What is intriguing in the Indo role in Sri Lanka is if the Indians do not want Tamil Nadu to separate why have they sponsored a Tamil militant group that harbors separatism?

Where India’s insincerity lay was in not so much the initiation of an Accord that would provide substantial devolution to the Tamils but also to simultaneously embark upon a program to train Sri Lanka’s militants in the eventuality that the peace Accord fails. This is where India has failed a country & more importantly the Tamil community of that country for the people of the North has continued to suffer LTTE atrocities for over 30 years & many are too scared to even say so fearing their lives.

With elections looming in India, it immediately warrants a barrage of attacks by India’s Central Government upon Sri Lanka…whether it is regarding an Indian fisherman or some other feeble excuse pressure is exerted upon the Sri Lanka Government to show the Tamil Nadu politicos that they can vouchsafe stern action against the Sri Lankan authorities.

Tamil Nadu politicos know too well their importance & they in turn have used the LTTE adequately to their advantage as well. Senior members of the militant groups were actually residing in Tamil Nadu, they were even hosts of Tamil Nadu politicians, Uma Maheshwaran & Prabakaran was moving amongst the elite of South India….Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister late M G Ramachandran gave £3 million to the L.T.T.E. and £1 million to the E.R.O.S. for “refugee work” soon after the Sri Lankan Government’s “Operation Liberation”.

While India will continue its molly coddling role we can equally be certain that India will not allow separatism unless of course it is to the advantage of India’s Central Government…it is in this scenario that Sri Lanka needs to be concerned about.

Needless to say, the present crisis in Sri Lanka will be remembered for 2 strategic error committed by 2 of its 3 protagonists – India for arming the LTTE & LTTE for killing Rajiv Gandhi. Sri Lanka who has to appease its mighty neighbor & be told “there is no military solution” while in the same breath we see US troops forcefully arrive in Iraq, Afghanistan, NATO troops take over Serbia eventually creating an independent Kosovo…& in Sri Lanka’s case many peace talks, many ceasefires, many peace facilitators & despite it all many more gruesome attacks by LTTE.

Source – Asian Tribune –

Russia, China and India stand at present as the fast changing and challenging supplier of the Global Defence Market. They have doubled their military expenditure during the last five years and forecast to rise further by 62% by the end of 2010.

Apparently, these countries increased the Defence expenditure from USD $ 50.05 billion to USD $ 99.47 billion by 2007 and would be increased up to USD $ 161.44 billion by the end of 2010 according to Jane’s Defence weekly. ’These three countries’ defence sectors will have far-reaching implications for the West, both in terms of opportunities and potential competition in the global market.

Russia:

Russia currently offers the strongest opportunity for investors and international defence organizations a willingness to partner for the international market, with the opportunity for direct investment dead ahead. Structural reforms will potentially give investors access to Russia?s export order book.

China:

China’s defence budget continue to grow at the rate recorded over the past seven years, it will stand at USD360 billion by 2020.
A massive internal market is developing and the need for investment to underpin further growth will create opportunities for both strategic and financial investors.

China has a well-documented interest in Africa’s resource wealth and has been vigorous in its cultivation of economic ties, considering access to energy and commodities to be an essential element of its continuing economic development.

Developing a military export capability potentially provides China with an additional source of leverage when negotiating these critical access arrangements. Recent shipments of arms to Sudan and Zimbabwe have also demonstrated China’s clear willingness to do business with regimes other suppliers will not.

India:

India won’t be a major defence exporter for at least 15-20 years, but when it does emerge it will be the private sector powerhouses that will lead the way. Strong defence spending is creating enormous opportunities for defence organizations in India.

The success of India’s private sector in the high-technology civilian and commercial fields is likely to point to the way ahead. Should the potential of this sector be harnessed, it could indicate a future in the command, control, communications, computing and intelligence and network-centric warfare arenas.

Apart from the above mentioned countries, Czech Republic and Pakistan stand as one of the leading supplier of military hardware to Sri Lanka and India is only supplying Radar & communications equipments.

Source – Asian Tribune –

India beats china in shooting and wins gold in olympics 2008

At least 140 people have been killed and fifty people injured in a stampede at the temple in Naina Devi, India. The incident occurred after rumors spread about a landslide on the nearby mountain. One report indicated at least 40 of the victims were children.

The chief minister of Himachal Pradesh announced that he would give compensation to the injured and the families of the dead.

50,000 people were expected to attend the temple during the day of the stampede, as part of a nine-day Shravan Navratras festival which had just started.

Rajnath Singh, the current leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in India responded to the stampede by releasing a statement in the hours after the disaster.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the tragic death of over 100 pilgrims. I convey my deep felt condolences to the family members of all those who have lost their lives or have been injured in the incident,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kumar Dhumal, the chief minister for Himachal, has announced an inquiry into the disaster.

Press reports say stampedes at temples are not rare occurrences. The Times Online says that about 80% of India’s population 1.1 billion is Hindu. Temples can be a gathering place for over 100,000 people during festivals.

In July, a stampede in the eastern Puri killed six people. In March, 9 died when a railing broke in central India. In 2005, another stampede left an estimated 258 to 265 dead in the state of Maharashtra.

Source : wikinews