Sunday, April 21, 2013

3 more rapes of minor girls in Delhi as protests continue
A 15-year-old was abducted by two men, forced to drink four bottles of beer, stripped at knife-point and raped in a field in northwest Delhi’s Samaipur Badli on Friday. An 11-year-old was abducted by a rickshaw puller and sexually assaulted in northwest Delhi’s Bhalaswa Dairy. And the prolonged abuse of a Class 10 student by a driver known to her was reported from southeast Delhi’s Sangam Vihar. The city continued to be on edge with protests at India Gate and outside Delhi Police Headquarters and the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. With most of the public anger directed at them, policemen were seen distributing pamphlets outside the HQ, promising a swift enquiry into charges that some of their men had offered the five-year-old’s family hush money. “The matter will be taken to a fast-track court so we can have a quick decision and punish the culprit,” the pamphlet read. It pointed out that three officers had already been suspended — an ACP for slapping a woman protester and two from the Gandhi Nagar police station for being lax in helping the victim’s family. Manoj Kumar, 22, accused of raping the girl, was remanded in judicial custody for a fortnight as police teams scoured Bihar to trace his alleged accomplice, Pradeep, whom he had named during interrogation. Kumar's statements vary, police said, adding that he sometimes says it was Pradeep who raped the girl and sometimes admits to raping her himself.The investigators denied media reports that Kumar was wanted in his home state for the rape-murder of his sister-in-law or that he had been forced to marry his wife as punishment for sexually assaulting her. They also said they had found pornographic content on his mobile phone. People continued to demand the sacking of police chief Neeraj Kumar, whose effigy was burnt outside AIIMS, where the girl is being treated. "Traffic was affected at ITO and India Gate and we had to detain 100-200 people at different locations," a police officer said.

Russia alerted US about Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Russian authorities warned the FBI in early 2011 that suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have been a follower of “radical Islam,” a revelation that raised new questions in Congress on Saturday about whether the Boston Marathon attacks that killed three and wounded more than 170 could have been prevented. A senior congressional aide privy to the Boston Marathon terror investigation confirmed Saturday that the FBI received the warning after Tsarnaev’s apparently suspicious activities caught the attention of Russian authorities keeping close surveillance on militant Islamist groups in the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union. The FBI acknowledged Friday that it had investigated Tsarnaev in 2011, even interviewing him and his family, but “did not find any terrorism activity,” either domestic or foreign. “The FBI had this guy on the radar and somehow he fell off,” said the congressional aide, who said oversight committees on Capitol Hill are seeking answers from counterterrorism officials. “We heard for several days leading up to this there was no intelligence. Now we know there could have been intelligence.”Tsarnaev, 26, who was killed in a firefight with police in Watertown early Friday morning, had traveled from Boston to Russia several times in recent years, including an extended stay in 2012, according to multiple US officials who have reviewed his passport file.Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, are ethnic Chechens who came to the United States from Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic in central Asia. The bureau declined to answer questions Saturday about whether it revisited its 2011 investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev after the Marathon attack, or why the bureau was unable to identify the suspects in race day security footage two years after interviewing him and his family. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was searched by law enforcement officers in Watertown, seconds after his capture on Friday. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured by police Friday night in Watertown after eluding a manhunt for more than 20 hours. He is in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in “serious but stable” condition and not yet able to communicate, Governor Deval Patrick told reporters Saturday. As questions mounted over the FBI’s prior experience with the alleged bomber, Greater Boston reveled in the capture of the alleged terrorist and took another step to returning to normal. Friday’s Boston Red Sox game was canceled while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was on the loose, but Saturday’s game was held as scheduled, the team’s first home game since last Monday’s bombing. Members of law enforcement who pursued the alleged bombers were honored on the Fenway infield before the game. Fans cheered Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis as if he had just shut out the Yankees. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, in the lineup for the first time this season after an injury, took the microphone and shouted: “This is our [expletive] city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.” While the return of the Red Sox brought some sense of normalcy to the city, 52 people hurt in the bombing remained in Boston hospitals on Saturday, and the heart of Back Bay, where the bombings took place, remained closed for the continuing investigation. The dramatic encounter that led to the death of one of the brothers and the capture of the other followed a decision Thursday by the FBI to release video and photographs of the suspects, in an effort to have the public help identify them. The images showed Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a dark cap and carrying a backpack — believed to have held a bomb — on Boylston Street. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is pictured in a white cap, also carrying a backpack. The decision to release the photos came after two days of silence from the FBI, during which they tracked down thousands of tips without making an arrest. But hours after the images were released, the suspects allegedly unleashed a wave of shocking violence, fatally shooting Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier in Cambridge, then carjacking a motorist and engaging in a gun battle with Watertown police in a residential neighborhood. MBTA transit officer Richard H. Donohue Jr. was shot in the groin and hospitalized. Davis conceded in a Globe interview Saturday that “releasing the photos may have led to the further attack” against Collier, which Davis has called an assassination. But he added: “We don’t know that.” Releasing the photos after hours of behind-the-scenes deliberation “was a turning point in the investigation, no doubt about it,” said Davis. “It forced them out of their hideout and they decided to commit further violent acts. But it’s my belief that they were already manufacturing explosive devices; further violent acts were inevitable.” DARREN MCCOLLESTER/GETTY IMAGES Investigators worked on Saturday around the boat where Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding afteramassive manhunt. The suspects “were not making those explosives for nothing,” said Davis. “There was a plan there, and I believe that tragically [Collier] lost his life, but he was truly protecting the citizens of the city.” Security experts said the relatively high quality of the photos and the state of the investigation gave law enforcement no choice but to put to go public. Dean C. Alexander, director of the homeland security research program and an associate professor at Western Illinois University, called it “a Catch-22.” “But the stink would have been even bigger if the FBI had these photos and didn’t release them. These guys could have gone on to something even bigger,” Alexander said. “It seems pretty basic if you’re trying to find the perpetrators.’’ Mitch Silber, an executive of K2 Intelligence in New York and the former director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department, said that as the investigation stalled, the argument for the photos’ release became more compelling. “I think it was a calculated decision by them because they had run into a bit of a dead-end,’’ Silber said. “They felt the traditional means of identifying them using high-end software wasn’t bearing fruit, so let’s put them out and maybe the public will identify them.’’ US Representative Stephen Lynch, whose district includes parts of Boston, said Saturday that he has a number of questions for US and Russian officials about what they knew about the brothers, and when. “These are two relatively young men who don’t seem to have the ability to finance what I see going on,” Lynch said in an interview. “They seem to be very well supplied. How do these type of individuals like that get the training and resources to conduct an operation like this?” Lynch, who sits on a congressional oversight panel on terrorist financing, says another key question is how the alleged terrorists became radicalized in the first place. “Did that happen with direct foreign assistance, or were there mentors who guided them in this operation and inspired them?” he said. Lynch, a Democrat who is running in the special election for a Senate seat, said investigators are also scrambling to learn more from the Russian government about why Tamerlan Tsarnaev gave them concern in 2011. “What was the source of their inquiry? What suspicions drove that? It might have been his associations with individuals there. Were [Russian authorities] forthcoming with the FBI?” Lynch added that he believes Congress must ultimately play a role in getting more answers and determining if the attack could have been stopped. In response to written questions, Lynch’s primary opponent, Representative Edward J. Markey, whose district includes Watertown, said he has similar questions, including “whether the bombers had help in their deadly plans, why they struck our country, and what we can do to thwart future attacks.” “As we saw on Patriots Day, terrorists are now turning their attention to targets that are more difficult to secure,” said the Malden Democrat, who has previously served on the House Homeland Security Committee. President Obama convened the National Security Council on Saturday for 90 minutes in the Situation Room on the Boston attacks, including an update on the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The president “underscored the need to continue gathering intelligence to answer the remaining questions about this terrorist attack going forward,” according to the White House. The alleged bomber’s uncle, Alvi Tsarnaev, said in an interview with the Globe that the elder nephew, Tamerlan, visited his father in the restive Russian province of Dagestan, which neighbors war-torn Chechnya. But Alvi Tsarnaev said he did not know who else his nephew may have been involved with while overseas. The FBI acknowledged Friday night that a foreign government had asked US officials for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, based on information that he was “a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.” The Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow and Russian embassy in Washington did not return calls seeking comment. The FBI and White House pointed reporters to the bureau’s Friday statement. Also Saturday, federal authorities swept through the same New Bedford residence that they had searched the day before in relation to the manhunt for Tsarnaev. But this time, they left with two men in custody. A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement would only say, “ICE Homeland Security Investigations special agents arrested two foreign nationals this afternoon in New Bedford, Mass. These individuals were arrested on administrative immigration violations.” No other information was released. As Watertown, the scene of Friday’s firefight and manhunt, began returning to normal Saturday, more details filtered out about the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was discovered bleeding and hiding in a boat in a backyard on Franklin Street. Just moments after State Police wrapped up an afternoon news conference on Friday and lifted the order to stay inside, acknowledging they did not know where the suspected terrorist was, a 911 call came in to Watertown police. The caller said someone was in a boat in a backyard, bleeding and moving. Watertown police rushed to the scene, followed quickly by hundreds of Boston police officers, federal law enforcement officials, and officers from other agencies still in Watertown. Boston tactical teams made up of dozens of SWAT officers led by Sergeant Jack Mahoney swarmed the house, setting up a perimeter around it. Dozens of officers and federal officials moved into the backyard on foot and as they neared the boat, Tsarnaev suddenly moved from his hiding place and raised his hand. He looked to be holding something. Immediately, officials opened fire. Officers backed off, keeping a distance of about 30 feet from the boat. Worried that Tsarnaev might be wearing an explosive device, police brought in an armored vehicle, equipped with a robot that could peel back the wrap covering the boat for the winter. The standoff lasted nearly two hours, as officers watched the boat closely. “No movement,” they would report occasionally. Then, Tsarnaev stirred. He held his hands up. He was covered in blood. Not taking any chances, officers began to hit the boat with flash grenades, which emit a loud blast and a bright light designed to disorient suspects. They used at least a dozen of the devices, trying to ensure as much as possible that Tsarnaev would be too stunned to fight back. SWAT officers then swarmed the boat. Watertown police Chief Edward Deveau said yesterday that the name of the boat was the Slipaway II.

Checkpoints in Peshawar fail to deter militants

There are around 40 security checkpoints and scores of Rider Squad personnel in the capital city’s rural and urban areas but still, acts of terrorism are on the rise exposing the inefficiency of law-enforcement agencies. There is no check on movement of suicide bombers and target killers and they can reach their target very easily when and wherever they want. The suicide bombings of Judicial Complex and the commandant of Frontier Constabulary, planting of a magnet bomb at a passenger van in Mattani area and the recent terrorist attack on an Awami National Party rally in Yakatoot area are enough to prove that the law-enforcement agencies are a failure by and large. In the city, putting up security checkpoints across the city may be an effective way to counter terrorism in the eyes of the government but in actual fact, they have miserably failed to live up to the people’s expectations. Law-enforcement agencies are increasing the number of checkpoints in the city, but ironically so is the case with terrorist attacks. Road users have to wait for a long time to cross checkpoints, especially during in the morning and evening. Long queues of vehicles are seen on key roads, especially those in cantonment areas, due to these checkpoints, where every motorist or motorcyclist has to prove his/her identity. Until March 29 this year, there was no metal detector at security checkpoints but only one scanner was installed for pedestrians at Fakhr-i-Alam Road following the March 29 suicide attack on a vehicle of Frontier Constabulary Commandant Abdul Majeed Marwat. The commandant remained unhurt, however. On the rest of checkpoints, personnel of security forces and police check identity cards and seldom carry out bodysearch. In the past, these personnel had manual metal detectors to find weapons and explosives. But the device is no more with them. And perhaps that is the reason why these checkpoints are unable to stop terrorists from reaching their targets even in well-guarded areas. A footage of closed-circuit television camera shows that the bomber, who attacked the FC commandant, was wearing white clothes and standing along Fakhr-i-Alam Road who blew himself up when the vehicle of Mr Marwat came close to him. The footage does not show who brought the bomber to the spot or from where he arrived there. Had there been some metal detectors with security personnel, the bomber would have not succeeded in his mission. A police official said the bomber, who attacked Mr Marwat, had reached there in the garb of a man selling fruit on a pushcart. When contacted, officials of various police stations in limits of Peshawar cantonment confirmed they had neither arrested any high-profile terrorist during the last one year nor had they seized explosives on these checkpoints as they had to take action on basis of information. “How a terrorist can cross security checkpoints. There are many other entry and exit points for such people,” an official of East Cantonment police station said. He, however, suggested that some powerful metal detectors should be given to personnel manning security checkpoints on Khyber Road, Mall Road and University Road so that the people carrying explosives or weapons could be held and as a result, road users would not suffer in long queues. On the other hand, these checkpoints have made lives of the people miserable. The worst sufferers are those using checkpoints in the limits of Michini Gate, East Cantonment and West Cantonment police stations. The checkpoint on University Road (Gora Qabristan) is very difficult for motorists to cross as sometimes, queue of vehicles is seen up to KFC outlet. Also, checkpoints near Peshtakhara police station and near provincial assembly building are very irritating for road users. An official of the Michini Gate said all suspected people were dealt with by security forces and that police had no access to them. The people coming from Hayatabad to cantonment usually avoid these security checkpoints by using Ring Road but that road, too, often sees traffic jams at some points. During the last few days, at least five new checkpoints manned by police and security forces were set up on different roads, including Sir Syed Road, the Mall Road, Fakhr-i-Alam Road. The checkpoint near Peshawar Press Club also stresses out motorists and motorcyclists. Meanwhile, police criticise the local government department and cantonment board for failure to register pushcarts. “We have time and again asked them to register pushcarts and issue them some code numbers or licences, but to no avail,” the official said. There are complaints that police manning checkpoints in rural areas mint money from people. As put by a road user, had policemen checked the movement of suspected people, the incidents like attack on Shaikh Mohammadi grid station would have never happened. On some roads, police have built walls outside police stations hindering flow of traffic. By doing so, police may have secured themselves against terrorism to some extent but what is unfortunate that the move has left the people in distress.

Pakistan: Explosion rocks rally in Turbat

A blast was reported on Sunday in Turbat (Balochistan) at a rally organized by the National Party. Firing was also heard afterwards. The rally was led by Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch of the National Party. Secretary General of the party Mir Tahir Bizenjo said that there was no loss of life in the incident and that the National Party chief and other leaders were safe. - See more at:

Over 1,000 vulnerable female prisoners in Pakistan: HRCP

The Express Tribune
Out of 75,000 prisoners in jails across Pakistan, there are around 1,100 incarcerated women, statistics presented by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) revealed. Commenting on the depressing condition these women are in, the HRCP official said that their families disown them instead of helping them to fight the cases due to social stigma. “Women prisoners are the most vulnerable detainees,” he added in reference to the lack of privacy for women detainees. Women are not provided with qualified lady doctors when in need, he added. The HRCP official pointed out that cells of the Women Police Centre Jail Road, Lahore, are reportedly exposed to passersby and walls of its bathroom is only four feet high. Furthermore, there are no separate juvenile cells for girls under 18. Apart from the lack of privacy and facilities, the detainees are reportedly kept in their cells beyond the stipulated time. Domestic violence There were 4,585 cases of domestic violence from the period of January to June 2012, according to the recent report `State of Human Rights in 2012′. At least 41 girls and women became victims of acid attack in 2012, 15 had their limbs amputated, 37 had their heads shaved while 49 were set on fire in different incidents, said the report compiled by HRCP media monitoring. The perpetrators in a majority of these cases were related to the victims. According to the Aurat Foundation, domestic violence increased by 7 percent in 2012 over the previous year. The HRCP official said that legislation to curb crimes against women should be implemented.

Pakistan: Misuse of agro-farms

Cities are built not for years but for centuries, for posterity lasting generation after generation. So was the concept and the master plan for Islamabad, the country's new capital. The plan clearly marked out the space, reserving special areas for the government offices, court buildings, business centres, industrial areas and residential sectors. Since the land to be occupied was to be dispossessed by thousands of farmers they were allotted residential plots in housing sectors as well as agro-farms which were expected to sustain their lives by growing crops and raising cattle. Of these 504 farms about 200 are now in the use of some of Pakistan's most powerful people. The allotment of the agro-farms was conditional to adhering to the stated use, and the misuse was warned to be penalized with cancellation. As over the years the capital city grew and the value of its real estate rose manifold quite a few of the original owners sold the farms to more enterprising investors. And these investors include two former presidents, same number of former prime ministers, some ex-ministers and a host of other old and new rich. The view is no more of green fields tended by the farming families but a row of high-wall palatial mansions, wedding halls, offices and even a clandestine night club. Not too surprisingly - if you know how tall walks the greed in the nation's capital - as all of this subversion of master plan was taking place the guardians of the city's master plan, Capital Development Authority, was sleeping, the sleep induced not by the load of work in the office but by the smell of red- and blue-backs or the fear of the slap from the above in the high government offices. No wonder as this rape of the countryside was in progress only a mile from the parliament building there was no 'calling attention notice', much less a serious debate - because only a fool would apply the axe to a branch he is sitting at. All along it was daylight robbery. And in the process out of the 504 agro-farms the use of about 200 is now out of sync with the allotted purpose. But the buck stops here, thanks to the notice taken by the Supreme Court. After initial hearing on Thursday the court ordered the Capital Development Authority to restore all 504 farmhouses to their sanctioned use as agricultural land within three weeks. In case the owners want to retain the farms they have to bring their use in line with the rules, which dictate a small two-room farm house. Since some of the owners are highly influential persons can the CDA implement the court's order, a high drama is in the making. We hope and expect the law to prevail whatever it costs. Not only these farmhouses have to be brought in line with their stated purpose, but there is a lot more work cut out for the authority - by none else but by itself by 'allowing' encroachments all over the place. Over the last few years the encroachers have been really on the rampage. What was supposed to be vacant spaces along the streams that flow through the city, plots were created to benefit resourceful people. The commercial buildings designed to be two or three-storey high have been allowed to add more floors. Even the small open places in the mini-markets in the sub-sectors have been allotted to favourites. So completely permeating is the encroachment fever gripping the Capital city that even otherwise the law-abiding residents have been tempted to tinker with building plans of their residences and sometimes illegally extend their boundaries to overlap footpaths and in some cases old graveyards. And all this encroachment, both legalised and illegal, has come with a horrific price. Most adversely affected are the services like water supply, drainage and sanitation. The city's most prestigious business acreage, the Blue Area, is no more an open, refreshing place to visit, but a bedlam difficult to walk through - what to talk of getting a reasonable place to park your car. It is so because the new structures have been added to the existing buildings which accommodate more offices and shops. Elsewhere in the city the conditions are even worse where gutters overflow and footpaths are used for parking. That the Supreme Court has delivered a crushing blow to the abusers living on the Garden Road it's great. What about the CDA which is supposed to be tasked with the implementation of the Islamabad master plan in letter and spirit without let and hindrance. We wait to hear the CDA.

Musharraf ‘jailed’ in his own house

Daily Times
The anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday remanded former president Pervez Musharraf in custody for two weeks as judges pushed ahead with plans to put the former army chief on trial for a crackdown on the judiciary during his time in office. Hundreds of lawyers jeered at Musharraf and scuffled with his supporters as he appeared at the Islamabad court a day after police arrested him at his home — a breach with an unwritten rule in Pakistan that ex-generals are above the law. The judge ruled that he be detained until his next court appearance on May 4. Musharraf’s spokesman said authorities had decided that he would be placed under house arrest at his farmhouse residence on the edge of Islamabad. “The government has declared Musharraf’s farmhouse as the jail, and he will be moved there from police headquarters,” said spokesman Mohammad Amjad. Musharraf’s appearance sparked chaotic scenes in the court complex as police formed a human chain to prevent protesting lawyers —- who chanted “Down with Musharraf” — from getting closer to the former president. Musharraf left the court after his brief appearance and returned to police headquarters, where he has been detained in a police guest house. Musharraf is facing allegations that he overstepped his powers in a showdown with the judiciary in 2007 when he sacked the chief justice and placed judges under house arrest.

Pakistan: Unstoppable dimension in suicide bombings

It is hard to imagine that a banned Islamic militants’ outfit, mostly comprising the most religious Pushtun community, can use a young woman to explode human bomb in Bajour agency to meet its agenda. Yet it has happened for the second time in the tribal areas. The first it occurred in December 2010, when burqa-clad woman blew up her explosives at a United Nations Food distribution point in Khar, killing 45 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility of that suicide attack by a woman in the agency. On Saturday, another female suicide bomber, in her early 20s, detonated her explosives outside a hospital in Khar, the main town in the restive Bajaur tribal region, killing at four people dead. Local authorities have found the attacker’s head and legs, and are conducting a detailed investigation. Bajaur is one of seven districts in tribal belt, where Taliban militants have carved out strongholds thus Taliban’s involvement in the latest act of the suicide bombing in Bajour agency cannot be ruled out though the TTP is yet take the responsibility of the bombing. The eye-brows are being raised if Taliban’s morale has gone down so low to rely on their female colleagues to carry their missions. Contrary to all social developments, a young woman can opt to explode in a public place is a new phenomenon, which is not easily digestible under existing culture and traditions. Not easy to detect the female suicide bombing has emerged on the horizon. Regardless of responsibility of the latest bombing episode, the new form of terrorism is the most deadly way to unleash ha voc on human life and property. The police or the political administration will find difficult to detect movement of the female bombers as no administrative measure can be put in place to physically check every female wading streets and roads despite the fact police posts are operative in every nook and corner of the country. Islam does not allow physical inspection and checking of the female members of any family. Even non-Muslim in Pakistan cannot tolerate the physical search of their families; because it is considered sheer disgusting, humiliating and embarrassing under the social norms thus the female suicide bombers will infuse new headache for the law enforcing agencies and the policy-makers alike. Answers to this problem may be many yet the unabated terrorist attacks in the FATA and in other parts of the country are strengthening the general belief that the terrorism is far from being over, and the counter terrorism strategy adopted by the armed forces against Taliban is either weak or ineffective thus has failed curb militants’ advances in Khyber agency and in the settled areas especially Peshawar. Of late, Taliban are frequently hitting their political rivals-cum-targets in the provincial capital of the Khyberpakhtunkhwa, and the security agencies are reeling absolutely clueless. The only satisfaction and the consolation that the nation gets every now and then come from the repeated vows and the announcement from the Chief of Army Staff that Pakistan is fully capable of responding effectively to internal and external threats. The fact is that Pakistan army is concentrating hard on the problem it is facing on the internal front though it is yet to achieve the desired results in the last five years or so. Pakistan has suffered massive loss of life. Still the end to it is not insight. The Pakistan army is bravely fighting against ruthless enemy but the weak political leadership has repeatedly suffered setbacks on the diplomatic front. The time for the compromised approach towards the militants’ activism is gone. The foreign funding for the banned outfits, fighting against the state, is continuously pouring in, and the political leadership in the past and even the caretaker government has failed to take up the issue at every available forum. The crucial election date is approaching fast amidst growing threat of terrorism. The civil and military leadership should put their heads together to chalk out a consensus security mechanism against the terrorism. Apart from taking on the militants only, all the political parties should also play their due role against terrorism of all sorts, and the provincial governments—notably Punjab--should also purge their houses altogether, failing which the innocent people will continue to fall down like dried leaves. International community should take notice of foreign interference in the country before the terrorists spread the deadly activities across the globe.