News Wrap


On 07 April 2015, hardcore terrorist Vikaruddin Ahmed, who is accused of killing at least two policemen, apart from several other terror charges, was killed in Hyderabad (Telengana), when he was being brought to court. Four other SIMI activists, Syed Amjad, Haneef, Zakeer and Irfan were also killed. All of them formed part of the splinter terror outfits, Tehreek Ghalaba-e-Islam and Darsgah Jehad-o-Shahadat. Handcuffed to their seats, the five unarmed undertrials were taken in a police van, escorted by 17 armed guards from Waranal central prison to the Nampally Courts in Hyderabad, for a hearing. Vikaruddin Ahmed, one of the five victims is alleged to have tried to snatch a weapon from the guards. The official police version maintains that the guards in turn shot all the five dead, inside the van itself, in an effort to protect their lives. The custodial deaths raise questions of extra-judicial killings.

India’s collection of pollution data is haphazard, and compares poorly with regional rival China. Delhi is the most polluted city in the world, with an annual average of 153 micrograms of the most dangerous small particulates, known as PM 2.5, per cubic metre. The level is six times the WHO’s recommendations. Thirteen of the dirtiest twenty cities in the world are in India. The Environmental Preference Index (WHO) ranks India 155 out of 178 countries for air quality, as of 2014. India has the world’s highest rates of death from respiratory disease, with 159 per 1000, in 2012. Diminished lung capacity in Delhi’s school children is four times worse than those triggering alerts in London. Recently the National Green Tribunal has ordered a complete halt to construction activity in Delhi, and the National Capital Region, including Gurgaon and Noida, that does not adhere to the latest environment norms.

 Gunfire in Sukma Forests
In the biggest attack on security forces this year in Chattisgarh state, seven personnel of Chattisgarh’s elite Special Task Force were killed and ten injured in a Maoist ambush on 11 April 2015 morning in Sukma (South Bastar). The spot of the ambush, in forests near Pidmel village, is about 11 km from the Kankerlanka police camp. The STF suffered the single biggest casualty in a day, in several years. Cadres suspected to belong to the CPI (Maoist) South Bastar battalion, headed by Hidma, attacked the STF men, numbering around 60, between 9 am to 10 am. STF personnel were forced to retreat, leaving the dead behind. Maoists also looted several quality weapons and ammunition. It was in the same area, Sukma that the CRPF had lost 14 personnel in December 2014; while in April 2010 the Naxals had killed 76 security personnel in their biggest ever attack. STF personnel are hand picked, and imparted special anti-Naxal training. The security units frequently undertake series of operations in interior areas.

Two villages of Malkangiri district on the Orissa-Chattisgarh border, were attacked by suspected Maoists on 13 April 2015 night. Seven people including a former chairman of Mathili panchayat samity, were allegedly abducted. Villages Kartanpalli and Bara, are very near to Darbhaghati of Chattisgarh’s Sukma forests, the district worse affected by Maoist violence in India. Mathili’s proximity to Sukma provides the Maoists an edge to abduct victims, and escape into the forests of Chattisgarh. The last abduction by Maoists in Malkangiri occurred in April 2013, when the rebels picked up three tribals from a village, under Maithili police station area. In September 2012, Maoists kidnapped nine people, including a former sarpanch, a naib sarpanch and two village guards, from the cut off area in the district.

 Falkland oil
Beginning April 2015, Premier Oil and Falkland Oil and Gas said they had found oil and gas at a well, about 200 miles north of the Falklands islands. Argentina has stepped up a war of words over the Falklands, accusing Britain of ‘stirring up fears’ of a threat to the islands. Buenos Aires regards further drilling by British exploration companies in waters near the Falklands Islands, as ‘undoubtedly a provocation’. Argentina has initiated legal action against Rockhopper Exploration, Premier Oil and Falkland Oil and Gas. As tensions are raised in the South Atlantic, Argentina wants the owners of these companies to be tried in accordance with Argentine laws and international statues. The government of the Falklands Islands has accused Argentina of trying to ‘block economic growth’. Britain considers Argentine’s protests represented a ‘live threat’ to the islands. More British helicopters have been despatched to the Falklands. British military spending has increased on the islands, and the islands’ growing militarization has been consolidated. Britain has defended unreservedly the rights of the Falklands Islanders to determine their future, and develop a sustainable economy based on their own resources.

Vol. 47, No. 49, June 14 - 20, 2015