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Archive for November, 2010

26/11 martyrs’ families moved by citizens’ support

Posted by :) on November 26, 2010

26/11 martyrs’ families moved by citizens’ support

Source : Vox Purpli – YahooINEditors – November 26th, 2010

newspaper_26_11_blog_261110

Families of policemen who laid down their lives during 26/11 are rebuilding their lives, and are overwhelmed by the love they are receiving from ordinary citizens.

Dhanalakshmi, mother of Major Unnikrishnan, is busy with a cycle rally in memory of soldiers who fell to terrorists’ bullets at the Taj. The Bangalorean told students of a journalism institute in Mumbai: “The past two years since we lost our son have been dufficult. But for  one month now, we have been visiting families of martyrs in the course of our rally.” Her husband K Unnikrishnan has cycled 1600 km for 20 days to pay homage to their son. Dhanalakshmi followed him in a car.

Unnikrishnan’s parents are in Mumbai, and will take part in the second anniversary of the terror attack. “It is great to see the love and respect people have for Sandeep. He used to say a thousand sons would show me the same love and respect he had for me if he isn’t around. Now I know what he meant.”

Kavita Karkare, wife of slain joint commissioner Hemant Karkare, said, “Life has to move on for us. Only those who have lost someone dear would know what a loss is. But also, being lonely does not mean one is alone.”

The family of assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble plans to set up a trust in his name. His daughter said, “We have
moved on in one way, But we can never forget what has happened. We only hope familiers of the martyrs get respect from the government.”

Martyrs’ families are outraged that R R Patil, Maharashtra’s home minister, visited gunman Kasab, who went on the rampage at CST two years ago. The government’s report on the lapses on 26/11 is being criticised for not being serious. “It’s substandard,” said Vineeta Deshmukh, Editor, Intelligent Pune, on TV.

Here are some profiles of 26/11 martyrs:

Ashok Marutirao Kamte
23.02.1965 – 26.11.2008

Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte was a policeman’s policeman. He had
attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington (Tamil Nadu). He
was fond of guns and Commando comics, which he kept hoping that his sons
would read some day. Always in a state of readiness, he was never without a firearm.

He was at a dinner in suburban Chembur, when the Police Commissioner called
him and asked him to move towards Hotel Trident. A twenty minute drive. While on
his way, he heard of the CST attacks and Cama Hospital operation. He went towards
Azad Maidan Police Station and joined colleagues Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar
in a Toyota Qualis, and headed to intercept the attackers. The vehicle was ambushed
by attackers , at the Rang Bhavan Lane, who sprayed it with automatic gunfire. Kamte
joined the ranks of martyrs.

An outstanding student, Kamte joined the force in Maharashtra through the IPS
(Indian Police Service) and his first posting was in Bhandara (Maharashtra) — a stint
that earned him a special service award. A highly decorated officer, Kamte also served
with the UN Mission in Bosnia. He was part of the National Power Lifting team and
had represented India. His generosity was well known as he unhesitatingly dug into
his pocket to support any sports person who would reach out to him for financial
assistance.

Kamte was a proponent of the art of keeping fit. He would insist that his
colleagues go to the gym. If there is something that would have made him happy, it
would be compulsory physical training facilities for all policemen in Maharashtra.
And gyms attached to police stations and their mandatory use.

Hemant Kamalakar Karkare
12.12.54 – 26.11.08

Joint Commissioner Hemant Karkare was having dinner when he
got the call. He headed towards CST. Less than 12 months back he
had taken over as head of Mumbai Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad.
He reached CST and realised that the battle had moved to Cama
Hospital. There was a quick meeting at the Azad Maidan Police Station
to take stock. Karkare along with Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and
four other policemen received information that the attackers had fled
Cama Hospital. So they got in to a Qualis and decided to confront the
attackers. In the lane beside St. Xavier’s College, known as Rang Bhavan
lane, they came upon the attackers. One of them fired a volley. Karkare
took the bullets to his chest. He was taken to JJ Hospital. But to no avail.

Karkare’s martyrdom was the culmination of an unusual journey
for a medical engineer who had chosen to leave a potentially lucrative
career for the challenges of a life in uniform. A voracious reader, an
orator who could call upon his knowledge of Sanskrit to elucidate a
thought, a lifelong learner, Karkare lived by the motto: “Don’t complain
about anything. Change yourself.”

Karkare had become deeply concerned with the growing disconnect
between the needs of adolescents and what was being taught to them. He
had felt that they were not being given their due by the education system.
He was associated with Jidnyasa Trust, an awareness creation programme
for adolescent students of municipal schools in Mumbai, and he hoped
that it would grow and so would similar initiatives.

Tukaram Gopal Omble
08.06.1955 – 26.11.2008

Recently promoted, Assistant Sub Inspector Tukaram Omble
was on night shift when the walkie-talkie crackled. Two
terrorists had hijacked a car and were heading for Girgaum
Chowpatty. Omble along with his colleagues was at the barricade
set up close to the Chowpatty signal. The attackers tried to escape
on seeing the barricade, but hit the divider when they tried to turn
the car. Omble moved closer to one of them, and grabbed his gun
with both hands. With the barrel pointing at him, Omble took
the shot as the trigger was pulled. He collapsed, but held on to the
weapon. By this time, his colleagues had managed to capture that
gunman, the only one to be captured alive.

Omble was martyred close to the beach where less than a
year back he had been applying lime juice on sting injuries when
thousands of jellyfish had washed ashore. He had been asked to
keep people off the beach. They would not heed. He had gone home
and read up that lime juice alleviated the pain from jellyfish stings.
He had bought a bagful of limes with his own money. Concern
came naturally to Omble.

He would cook pavbhaji and invite his neighbour’s children.
Often he would bring them chocolates. He had promised a
grandchild tablas just weeks earlier. He wanted to open a place in
Satara, his hometown, to provide financial help to orphaned and
destitute children for their education.

Vijay Sahadev Salaskar
05.04.1957 – 26.11.2008

Inspector Vijay Salaskar was a policeman whose work had gotten
him a nickname that he did not like — Encounter Specialist.
Born in the coastal district of Sindhudurg, he had come to
Mumbai for his post-secondary education. He had joined the police
as a Sub Inspector in 1983. With organised crime growing in the
city, a crack team of sharpshooters had been formed. Salaskar was
one of them, and with 78 encounter killings, he was a known
face. His larger-than-life stature was even there on his daughter’s
cellphone where his name was saved as ‘Control Room’ and later
‘Superman’.

Salaskar had returned home to Goregaon when he heard the
news, and drove down to the location. He was on the phone with
his wife who was watching television and updating him on what
was happening in the southern fringes of the city. He reached the
Azad Maidan Police Station where he met senior officers Ashok
Kamte and Hemant Karkare. They decided to get into a vehicle and
confront the attackers as they were leaving Cama Hospital. Salaskar,
who was very good at the wheel, asked the driver to take the back
seat. He drove the car and was soon face to face with the attackers.
In the ensuing gun battle, Salaskar received lethal wounds. This was
not an encounter he would return from.

A contented man, this martyr cared deeply for his family and
ensured that they were comfortable.

(Profiles excerpted from 26/11 Eighteen, a tribute to Mumbai’s martyrs in uniform, whose Marathi version is being released on the second anniversary of the attack. Students of Journalism Mentor have put together the book, and are donating the proceeds to the Police Welfare Fund.)

 

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India could not prosper unless we resolved Kashmir!

Posted by :) on November 8, 2010

Source : Rediff , T P Sreenivasan

T P Sreenivasan glances at Day 2 of the visit:

For Mumbai [ Images ] youngsters, who rarely see politicians and their wives smile, much less dance, Barack and Michelle Obama [ Images ] dancing with them was a dream come true.

Two teenagers were heard asking each other to pinch themselves to make sure they were not dreaming. The Obamas danced their way into the hearts of the youngsters who shared the dance floor with them and thousands of others who watched them on television.

Many wondered when India [ Images ] will have a President or prime minister who will dance with American youngsters in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

When it came to question time, however, it was Barack Obama’s [ Images ] turn to dance on thin ice. The question he had expected, but dreaded, came from a young lady.

Why is Pakistan so important for the United States that the latter has not yet called it a terrorist State, she asked. The exuberant president suddenly became thoughtful, measured and somewhat timid. He had obviously rehearsed the answer with his advisers.

First, he made three highly exaggerated statements. He said Pakistan is “enormous”, it is strategically important not only for the US, but also for the world and that the people of Pakistan has tremendous potential.

How many countries in the world will endorse those statements? How enormous is Pakistan as a country?

Then he went on to say that Pakistan has extremist elements within the country, which is not unique to Pakistan and that the US was assisting Pakistan to fight extremism in a difficult terrain. In this context, he did not even use the word, “terrorism”.

This was certainly an inadequate answer to the question as to why the US had not called Pakistan a terrorist State.

Then he went on to say things, which were not relevant to the question at all. He said that the country which had the highest stake in a stable and prosperous Pakistan was India.

Instability in the region should not be a distraction to India which is on the move. He proceeded to advise India to have a dialogue with Pakistan first on less controversial issues and then on more controversial ones so that both countries could prosper.

In other words, he virtually said that India could not prosper unless we resolved the Kashmir [ Images ] issue! Then as an afterthought, he added that the US would only be a friend and a partner and that India and Pakistan should sort out their differences themselves.

The questioner told the press later that she had expected a wishy-washy answer from the president. She got what she expected. She appeared capable of asking the tough question to the president whether he would like to start a dialogue with Osama bin Laden [ Images ], but she was courteous enough not to ask that. Would he have liked it if Osama was treated simply as an extremist? Athiti devo bhava (A guest is like God) and should not be embarrassed on our soil, she must have thought.

The exchange with the student should have come as no surprise to the Indian leaders, but to hear it from him on this visit should have put to rest any expectation that the US would abandon its alliance with Pakistan or pressure Pakistan to give up terrorism as a State policy.

Whether India would bargain with the president and extract concessions on other issues such as defence deals, cyber security, Proliferation Security Initiative etc will be known on day three when President Obama addresses Parliament.

It was no surprise that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] and his wife received the Obamas at Delhi [ Images ] airport. He had done the same for President Bush. President Obama had suggested a private dinner with the prime minister on day two, but the Indian style lobbying for invitations resulted in a ‘small dinner’ for 70 bigwigs at 7, Race Course road, the prime minister’s home.

The saving grace was that all the guests were not politicians and people like Viswanathan Anand [ Images ] and Shabana Azmi [ Images ] were also invited. President Obama was criticised for not bringing the soft power of the US to India, but we decided to make up for it by bringing the beautiful people to grace the event.

As President Clinton said about the Vajpayee banquet in Washington in 2000, there were more people wanting to get in than those who managed to get invited.

Realising that the dinner would degenerate into a photo opportunity, the president and prime minister had a meeting before the dinner to have a heart to heart conversation before the two meet formally on day three.

The visit to Humayun’s Tomb and a video conference with Ajmer farmers were easy events for the Obamas. They did not have to be on guard and they appeared to enjoy the interaction with the children of the workers renovating the monument and the Rajasthan [ Images ] farmers. President Clinton had similarly enjoyed interacting with Rajasthan farmers in his time.

Having already conceded whatever he wanted to give India in the context of technology denial and export controls, President Obama will be under pressure to do more on the remaining items, notably the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, which he characterised as a complex issue.

Day three will turn out to be the most decisive day of this significant visit.

 

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Mirwaiz seeks Obama help for Kashmir talks

Posted by :) on November 8, 2010

Source :Headlines Today Bureau

While US President Barack Obama has been pushing India and Pakistan to resolve all outstanding differences, the Hurriyat Conference has sought him to play a role in the Kashmir issue.

Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who has been under house arrest, on Sunday said that Obama needed to fulfil his promise that he made during his election campaign.

The hard line faction of Hurriyat had announced a three-day civil curfew in the valley to coincide with Obama’s visit to India.

Mirwaiz demanded that Obama, instead of directly intervening in the Kashmir issue, must facilitate a dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leaders. He said that a tripartite dialogue will bring about a permanent solution to the issue.

“We are not talking about any direct intervention. We want him (Obama) to facilitate a dialogue process between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris to find a permanent solution to Kashmir issue,” Mirwaiz said.

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Young India trips Obama on Pakistan

Posted by :) on November 8, 2010

Source : Sunaina Kumar Mumbai,

He came, he spoke, and he was stumped by a 19-year-old who took on the most powerful man in the world with a question he may perhaps have dreaded the most during his three-day visit to India.

Second year management student Afsheen Irani asked US President Barack Obama at Mumbai’s iconic St Xavier’s College on Sunday: “Why is Pakistan such an important ally of the United States? Why hasn’t America called it a terrorist state?” There was a collective gasp in the quadrangle of Mumbai’s iconic St Xavier’s College where Obama was addressing a town hall meeting of students from various colleges in Mumbai.

Later, another college student Romit Mehta asked him about the Afghanistan problem thus weaving in the President into answering about the complex Af-Pak policy of the US. It was evident that young India had risen to challenge the most powerful man in the world over issues that he is most vulnerable on. And that too, at a town hall meeting environment in which the US President is supposed to be the most comfortable.

Obama acknowledged that he had expected the Pakistan question, but his answer skirted the issue with such eloquence that he might as well have been unprepared for an “expected” question.

In the end, Irani said she never got the reply she was waiting for. “I was looking for an answer and I did not get it,” the student from Mumbai’s H.R. College of Commerce and Economics said. “I was not satisfied with what he said. He was very diplomatic.” Indeed, Obama’s reply was noncommittal, and in the case of his description of Pakistan’s size as a country, wrong. “Pakistan is an enormous country with an enormous potential,” he said, “but it also has extremist elements within it just like any other country.”

He said the US and the world, and indeed Pakistan, understand the extremist threat and “there is a growing recognition within the Pakistani establishment of the problems that the country faces”. Obama said: “The country that has the biggest stake in Pakistan’s success is India, and if Pakistan is unstable, it is bad for India. India is on the move and does not want the distraction of instability in Pakistan.” He added: “There are going to be some elements in Pakistan that are affiliated with the Taliban, the al-Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba. These are the organisations, these extremists, they are irreconcilable. They will be there and there will need to be a military response to those who would perpetrate the kind of violence we saw here in Mumbai in a significant, ongoing way, the kind we saw in 9/11 in New York City.” Clearly, Obama was making a distinction between a “terrorist country” and a country with terrorists within it.

He also stated what was made amply clear in the recent book Obama’s Wars that his administration considers the terror infrastructure within Pakistan “as a cancer”. He said: “The progress made by Pakistan in fighting terrorism was not quick as we would like, but we are working with Islamabad to eradicate extremism.”

Admittedly, Obama spoke long on the Pakistan issue, but never once called it a terrorist state nor could specifically reply to Irani’s question about why the US never declared it as one. By the end of the answer, Obama perhaps knew that his answer had not hit the right chords. So, as a postscript to his longwinded-yet-goingnowhere reply, he said in a clear reference to the vexed Kashmir issue: “The United States cannot impose trust and dialogue between the two countries, and India and Pakistan have to arrive at it themselves.”

Though Obama never gave the answer Irani – or whole of India – wanted, she did become an instant superstar at the college quadrangle. In between several rounds of congratulations from friends and other invitees at the gathering, Irani said she never intended to ask Obama about Pakistan.

“I had intended to ask him about the education policy, something that impacts us directly. So many of us are interested in going for higher studies to the US. With our industrialists like Ratan Tata giving such big grants to American universities, I wanted to ask him how the US would reciprocate. But, at the last moment I decided to quiz him on Pakistan.”

Irani’s ally on the complex Afghanistan-Pakistan issue was 20-year-old Romit Mehta who asked the President about a NATO and US troop withdrawal timeline for Afghanistan. Obama said the US would have to follow the Iraq model in Afghanistan where there would be a drop in the number of troops stationed there but a complete withdrawal was fraught with danger.

In response to a question on core human values in dayto-day life, Obama said while spirituality was important, one could not preach to an empty stomach. His opening speech weaved some of the magic that he so famous for, as he started out by wishing everybody “namaste” and helped break the ice and to put the students at ease.

 

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Pakistani soil not to be used by terrorists, says Zardari

Posted by :) on November 8, 2010

Source : DAWN –APP
Zardari AP 543 Pakistani soil not to be used by terrorists, says Zardari

The President was addressing the fourth national conference of SAFMA (South Asia Free Media Association) titled “Setting a National Agenda on Media, Democracy and Good Governance” here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Sunday night. – Photo by AP (File)

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari Sunday reiterated that Pakistan will never allow a handful of terrorists and extremists to impose their extremist ideological agenda on the people through force and said that we will not let Pakistani soil to be used by the terrorists against any country.

He said that blame game will not serve the cause of the war against militancy and emphasized that the international community should also understand and appreciate our determination to fight militancy.

The President made these remarks while addressing the fourth national conference of SAFMA (South Asia Free Media Association) titled “Setting a National Agenda on Media, Democracy and Good Governance” here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Sunday night.

The President said that Pakistan stands for peace in the region and the world and wanted early resumption of the composite dialogue process with India.

According to the prepared text of the speech, the President said “The democratic civil government went out of the way in our peace overtures towards India. It would have been most helpful if our initiatives had been welcomed and responded to in a positive manner. Mumbai attack has undermined efforts for peace. Pakistan is cooperating in unearthing and bringing to justice the perpetrators of militant acts.”

The President said that “we want to implement Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s vision of a peaceful South Asia through economic integration adding we are for strengthening SAARC and are ready to relax tariff and non-tariff barriers on a reciprocal basis”.

The President while appreciating the stand taken by SAFMA and Citizens for Democracy to oppose any undemocratic and unconstitutional change reiterated commitment of the PPP to a progressive, democratic and liberal Polity that empowers the working people and the poor of the country.

“Reconciliation is a cornerstone of the policy of the present government. We believe in reconciliation because the issues facing the country are so great and complex that no one party or institution can solve them.” The President said.

The President said that “we have seen the negative consequences of politics of confrontation”, adding that the nation can ill afford confrontational politics.

The setting up of coalition governments, both at the center and in the provinces, is a measure of our policy of reconciliation, the President said and added that “we therefore welcome when SAFMA also seeks national consensus on major national policy issues”.

The President mentioned the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the NFC Award, the Aghazi Huqooqi Balochistan, the holding of free and fair bye-elections in many constituencies and the political ownership to the fight against militancy as some of the dividends of the policy of reconciliation.

The President while welcoming SAFMA’s efforts to evolve a national consensus on the major challenges facing the country congratulated SAFMA for holding its 4th National Conference in Islamabad and also welcomed SAFMA proposal to hold 3rd Indo-Pak Parliamentary Conference in Islamabad in the near future.

The President said that the government is vigorously working to address the issue of poverty through Benazir Income support Program which is not merely a poverty alleviation program but also a women emancipation and empowerment program.

The President while referring to the history’s worst floods said that the watan card has proved to be a very successful instrument to rehabilitate the flood victims as everyone has appreciated it.

The President said, “I should also like to say that our well to do people will also have to come forward and make contributions through one time flood surcharge. We cannot go to the international community and ask for help without showing that we too are doing our best”.

The President while commenting on Pakistan’s fight against militancy said that from the very outset we faced the challenge of militancy but we came out in the open against militants and took them head on.

The undeclared policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound was abandoned, the President said.

The President said that the PPP led democratic Government fully believes in freedom of the media and wholeheartedly welcomes constructive and positive criticism as it helps fine-tuning the policies of any government.

He said that free and fair media is essence of any democratic society and safeguards the sacred principles of democracy for which PPP has offered its blood throughout our history. He said that we have upheld the freedoms of the media and refused to be provoked.

The President noted the points rose by SAFMA’s conference on the need for a National Agenda for strengthening democracy and said that the government and the Party will respond to any constructive suggestion to strengthen economy, improve law and order, and enhance security to uphold democratic system. — APP

 

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