News Wrap

The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has spawned Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, from Jal Samadhi to Jal Satyagraha to fast unto death, and has resorted to several tactics in the two and a half decades of its existence. It has approached courts in its quest for providing what it describes as an alternative to the prevalent policy of development, that has no place for big dams. But the agitations have deprived the uprooted beneficiaries of potential compensations had the pressure groups allowed development projects to be completed on time. The Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat and Omkareshar and Indira Sagar in Madhya Pradesh are major projects on the Narmada River, that were delayed due to NBA’s interference, leading to escalation of project costs fifty times. The government has also delayed implementing packages, given in court orders, for the displaced and those deprived of their livelihoods.

Trial coverage
On complaints that had alleged breach of confidence during the hearings of a dispute between the Sahara group and Stock Market Regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, when some documents pertaining to the case were leaked to the press, the Supreme Court ruled that if publishing news concerning a trial creates a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice or to the fairness of trial, the court could allow a postponement of its publication through an appropriate order. The apex court, however, refrained from framing any guide lines on how the media should report on court trials.

No significant court intervention so far has effectively put a blanket ban on the reportage of court cases, under trial. In future, a beleaguered government may desperately prevent further political embarrassment arising out of corruption scandals, and may derive benefit from the Supreme Court order, to seek a stay on the coverage of the daily court proceedings on such cases. Private companies, accused of wrongdoings, may be emboldened to seek relief from the courts. The courts must encourage the independent and comprehensive electronic coverage of court cases.

Gunfire on Fishermen
In Feb 2012, a fisherman from Kanyakumari, working on daily wage basis in Kerala based fishing boats, was fatally shot by Italian marines on board the merchant ship, ‘Enrica Lexie’. The fisherman was working on an Indian fishing boat. Pursuit of the case by the Kerala government has ensured adequate compensation to the victim’s family, and the criminal prosecution against the marines guilty of opening fire. Four fishermen from Ramanatha-puram district (Tamil Nadu), working on daily wages in a small fishing boat in the Dubai Gulf, near the port city of Jabel Ali, were killed in firing from a US navy ship, ‘Rappahannock’ in June 2012. Even as the USA maintains that its naval ship was firing warning shots to the fishing boat to turn away, inquiries by Dubai police indicate that there were no such warning shots. In all such incidents there has been an absence of application of the principle of proportionate force in the rules of engagement, nor was any humanitarian assistance provided to the Indian fishing boats. A large number of fishermen in southern Tamil Nadu have stopped veering into the Palk Bay, for fear of attacks by the Sri Lankan navy. The Union Government of India has not adopted any deterrent actions. Fishermen along India’s Tamil Nadu coast, are losing their livelihood and facing starvation. There is a strong US military presence in the Persian Gulf, aimed to enforce trade embargoes on Iran. Iranian navy ships in the strait of Hormutz are equipped with shorter-range missiles.

Afghan–on–Afghan Violence
So far in 2012, Afghan soldiers or police officers have killed 60 of their colleagues and wounded at least 28 others, in around 40 separate attacks. Again, at least 46 NATO service members were reportedly killed by Afghan Security Forces or others working with them. A vast majority of attacks on Western forces are born out of outrage or personal disputes. The Afghan-on-Afghan violent attack numbers reflect a greater vulnerability to infiltration by the Taliban. There are concerns about cultural clashes within the rapidly expanding Afghan forces. A culture of intolerance among Afghans prevails. Old family animosity–tribal, ethnic, factional, lingual and personal disputes are big challenges for the army and police forces. The Afghan-on-Afghan (green-on-green) attacks are intensifying compared to Afghan-on-Western (green-on-blue) violence. Afghan forces are more at risk of infiltration as they typically live in compounds without anything near the protection found at bases with American troops. Green-on-blue episodes tend to happen at training centers and joint Afghan NATO bases and outposts, while green-on-green attacks have happened everywhere. Many Afghan security members prepare their own food, offering attackers opportunities to poisoning plots. For preparation is centralized for NATO forces. New recruits for the Afghan forces, particularly within the Afghan local police programme, in which irregular local militias are armed and trained by US Special Operation Forces, remain vulnerable.

Attacks of Sufi Sites

The overthrow of Col Muammar el-Qaddafi exposed raw schisms among Libyan Muslims. The vast majority of Libyans follow a mainstream form of Sunni Islam. Libya also contains a significant number of adherents to the more mystical Sufi traditions, where prayer and worship are offered around shrines and graves. Militant Islamists favour vigilante action against Sufi deviations from Muslim orthodoxy. Sufi shrines and sacred sites are being destroyed and razed. Escalating violence has destroyed the Islamic Center Sheikh al-Asmar in Ziltan, the mosque of Sidi Sha’ab in Tripoli and the shrine of Sidi Ahmed Zarag in Misurata.

Vol. 45, No. 18, Nov 11-17, 2012

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