News Wrap


On 23/24 October 2016, there was a joint anti-Maoist operation of greyhound of Andhra Pradesh and Special Operation Group (SOG) of Odisha, in the cut off area of Chitrakonda reservoir, in Malkangiri district of Odisha. Thirty persons were killed. It is being alleged that the deceased had been killed in cold blood, and there had been no exchange of fire. Some innocent local tribals and non-political local common people were also killed during the ‘encounter’. Identity of all those killed has not been ascertained by the police. Suspicions are raised whether all slain persons were Maoists or not. There had been no exchange of fire, and security personnel had fired at the group of alleged Maoists at dead of night, while they were sleeping. The joint operation of security personnel of two adjacent states, was started in a jungle under Panasput panchayat, of cut off area Chitrakonda Reservoir.

Along with the power of small weapons guns, Malkangiri district (Odisha) police is showing Santosh Mishra’s short film ‘‘Lone Maldanad—home coming’’ (30 mins, Koya language colour) at village ‘‘hats’’ (markets), in the remote Maoist infested pockets. The film highlights the efforts of police to bring in development, in the stark reality of under development of tribals. The film provides information on Gurupriya bridge, being constructed under tight security.

Jail Breaks and Shootings
Over two-thirds of all jail inmates in India, are either Muslims, Dalits or Tribals. More than 70% of undertrials have not passed the Class 10 examination. As Muslims, Dalits and Tribals together account for 39% of India’s population, their share among undertrials is disproportionate to their population. The three communities have a lower representation among convicts, as compared to undertrials. They together account for 50.4% of all convicts.

Eight activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) escaped from the Central Jail in Bhopal, early on 31 October 2016 morning, after killing a guard. Hours after all eight had been killed in an ‘encounter’ with State Trained Force, the hawk force, and Bhopal City Police in an isolated forest area over 15 km from the prison premises. As per video clips doing the rounds, police fired on bodies on the ground, amid shouts of ‘‘Kill them’’. A video shows policemen negotiating with the inmates, five of who in are standing on a huge rock, with their hands appearing to be raised. The police had fired 46 rounds, and three police officials had sustained injuries in the ‘encounter’. The eight inmates who were killed by the Madhya Pradesh police were accused in a range of cases, from the 2008 serial blasts in Ahmedabad, to a 2014 bomb blast in Bijnor and alleged role in communal violence in Khandwa.

Women and Smart Phones
India has one of the most skewed sex ratio in the world, which is a result of selective abortion, infanticide and neglect. Men significantly outnumber women. A smartphone costs less than $50 in India these days. In India, 114 million more men than women have cellphones, which represents more than half the total world-wide gap of around 200 million, between men and women who possess phones. Fathers and husbands fear the freedom that comes with smart phones, could lead girls and women astray. A new kind of digital purdah has been created for tens of millions of Indian women, who are finding themselves barred by fathers and husbands from taking advantage of technological leaps that benefit women. Cellular phones and internet access are great levellers, that promote equality and ease social disparities. Around 30% of internet users in India are female. Only around 9% of females know how to do an internet search, or send e-mail on phone or a computer, compared with more than 16% of males. India has close to three men on facebook, for every woman. The ratio is about one to one, in most other parts of the world. In India, 28% of females have cellphones, compared with 43% of men, one of the largest gender gaps in the world.

Chaos in the Middle East
Tribal and factional wars, along with clumsy foreign intervention continue in the Middle East, in 2017. Rivals are generating only violence, driving away political cohesion and economic activity. Some 4.8 million displaced Syrians are refugees, and another 6.6 million displaced, along with more than 3 million Iraqis. Most of these people will probably never go home. Eight wars are now in progress in Muslim countries, including the renewed Turkish-Kurdish struggle. Control of substantial territories have been lost by governments in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Northeast Nigeria. Islamic fanatics fighting for medievalism are conspicuously more courageous than the forces representing order. President Bush of USA and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain bear responsibility for the 2003 Iraq invasion, which precipitated the progressive chaos that followed, British premier David Cameroon’s support for the displacement of colonel Muammar Gadaffi, and later attempts to fight simultaneously Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and ISIS in Syria, have led to Britain’s participation in an American-led bombing campaign in Syria. There is no coherent regional strategy amongst the super powers. Muslim fanaticism is strongly driven by frustration at their own culture’s failure to compete with western countries, economically, industrially, scientifically and socially. Violence is their only influential export.

Troubles in Germany
After the Federal Republic of Germany’s foundation in 1949, politics was dominated by the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the centre-left Social Democrats, and the liberal Free Democrats. In the 1980s the Greens emerged, followed after 1990 by a new party, now known simply as the Left. Most recently the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has given voice to anti-migrant, anti-Islamic and anti-EU sentiment. According to recent polls, all will pass the 5% threshold to gain seats in the next German parliament—a rule designed to prevent the fissiparous tendencies of the Weimar system. Polls suggest that extremist parties are tempting a growing proportion of disgruntled voters. Even then, expectations are that Chancellor Angela Merkel of Christian Democrats will be re-elected for a fourth term in Germany’s Federal Election in September 2017. While Germany remains a wealthy, law-abiding western democracy, like the whole of Europe, it is gripped by a popular panic after the euro-crisis, the refugee crisis, and the security crisis provoked by Islamist terrorism. There is an upsurge of violence committed by and against migration.

Vol. 49, No.30, Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2017