London, 30 November, 2003

A ruling by an employment tribunal, awarding more than £33,000 to a Pakistani Muslim who claimed he was racially discriminated against by his Indian Sikh employers, was welcomed yesterday by anti-racism organisations in Scotland. They said that the case highlighted the fact that racial discrimination was not always "black and white". It could also be "black and black". Wajid Zia, 29, had taken the Killermont Polo Club to a tribunal in Glasgow alleging race discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal from his part-time job as a waiter at the company's upmarket Indian restaurant in Maryhill Road in the city. He said he had been bullied, harassed humiliated and demeaned by management. Mr Zia yesterday received a copy of the tribunal's ruling. It confirmed that he was a victim of race discrimination and that he had been further victimised for raising a tribunal action while still in employment. The tribunal compared his treatment to that of religious intolerance, bigotry or sectarianism between Catholics and Protestants in the west of Scotland and said everyone should be free from prejudice, discrimination and racism. Mr Zia, of Maryhill, Glasgow, now working as a research psychologist, was awarded £22,000 compensation for injury to his feelings and an additional £3785 interest. He was also awarded £6350 for his unfair dismissal and another £900 in holiday pay, which was judged to have been unlawfully deducted from his wages. Speaking at home yesterday, Mr Zia said: "Naturally, I am very pleased that the ruling has gone in my favour and has recognised the incredible stress that they placed on me during my employment." He revealed that he may never receive a penny of the award. The company went into liquidation in February last year, although the tribunal was told that it continued trading under the name of Grand Cuisine of India with the wives of the previous directors in control. However, Mr Zia added: "My motivation was never financial. It was to try to set some degree of precedence in being able to identify that prejudice isn't necessarily something that only occurs outwith races." The ruling was welcomed by the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland. A senior official said: "The size of the award is among the largest ever made by a Scottish employment tribunal and reflects the growing appreciation of the impact that racial discrimination can have on an individual. Employers, regardless of ethnic origin, must understand that racism in the workplace will not be tolerated." Andrew Johnson, director of Strathclyde University's equality and discrimination centre, said: "It is good to see the law working. There have been other cases like this across the country, but there should be no surprise or astonishment about them." At his tribunal earlier this year, Mr Zia said he had been the victim of cruel jibes, name-calling, and humiliating behaviour because of his race. He was of Pakistani ethnic origin and his religion was Muslim, but his employers at the restaurant were Indian Sikhs. He took the job to help him get through his postgraduate degree course at Glasgow University, but found remarks suggesting he should get married, have many wives, and produce many children as offensive and humiliating. Mr Zia, who lived and studied in Pakistan for three years and speaks fluent Punjabi, said: "They humiliated me. I was forced to clear up, to do demeaning tasks. It was all because of my ethnicity, my religion, because I was Pakistani and they were Indian. I had become a progressive target of their jokes and their remarks." Mr Zia said he was diagnosed as suffering from stress and anxiety because of the way he was treated. No-one from the restaurant was at the tribunal hearing. Ian McPherson, Glasgow tribunal chairman, said the evidence in Mr Zia's favour was "compelling". The tribunal stated: "The legal protection of the Race Relations Act 1976 can apply equally to all, regardless of background." The Herald


London, 23 October, 2003

The Police Force in Britain is "alight with race fire". Five police officers from three Forces have quit on Wednesday while three were suspended on Monday after telecast of a documentary by BBC exposed them as racists. Blamed for institutionalised racism since a couple of years, the Metropolitan Police and regional Forces had been iterating that racist attitude was unacceptable and there were measures in place to check any racist behaviour. BBC's Mark Daly had gone undercover as a recruit to Greater Manchester Constabulary for six months. He filmed with spy cameras other recruits mouthing racist abuses. The BBC telecast the documentary based on his recordings, despite Home Secretary David Blunkett expressing his displeasure at the "covert stunt" by Daly. The documentary has caused uproar in the Forces. Senior officers have renewed their vows to root out racism. Sir John Stevens, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said he was absolutely appalled by what he saw on the BBC's The Secret Policeman and would personally have arrested them. He said: "I have been a policeman for 41 years at the sharp end, and I was absolutely astonished at their behaviour." A criminal investigation has been launched into comments made by the eight officers, seven of them trainees to reporter Daly. Now, all the eight have been named. Five of them belong to the Greater Manchester Force. Its chief Michael Todd has pledged to do everything in his power to root out racism. What the eight have said would rankle for long in the Asian and the Black community. The language they used was vile and their apparent bigotry disgusting. One of them was caught on the video camera talking of burying a "Paki bastard under a railway line" and openly praising Hitler. On Asian officers, one white PC said: "Truthfully? F*** them all of. I'll admit it, I'm a racist bastard. I don't mind Black. I don't mind Black people. Asians? No." PC Rob Pulling was filmed wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style hood fantasising about burying a Paki b****** and saying the Black teenager Stephen Lawrence deserved to be murdered. He said: "He (Lawrence) f****** deserved it and his mum and dad are a f****** pair of spongers." It was during the inquiry into Lawrence's murder allegedly by white youths that the judge had said there was institutional racism in the police. Blunkett has now promised integrity tests to weed out racist applicants and training process to ensure that racists were kept out. The Hindustan Times


London, 09 October, 2003

Seven former Gurkhas have lost an appeal in their discrimination case against the British Army. The Gurkhas claimed that large differences in pensions and pay during leave and restrictions on having their wives and family with them breached human rights laws and the Race Relations Act. Nicholas Blake QC, for the Gurkhas, told the Court of Appeal in London: "These men put their lives at risk for the Crown for a considerable number of years. "Once you are facing the same risks, you must receive the same rewards." But Lords Justices Simon Brown, Chadwick and Rix, ruled the Ministry of Defence had not treated them unlawfully. When Britain left Hong Kong in 1997, the traditional base for the Brigade of Gurkhas was moved to Britain and their pay was increased to match that of British soldiers. But during leave periods in Nepal, Gurkhas are paid the equivalent of 5% of their salary. Gurkhas retire after a maximum of 17 years of service with a pension of £91 a month. British privates serve 22 years for a pension which is £623 a month. The seven Gurkhas failed in their test case against the MoD at the High Court earlier this year. On Thursday, the judges at the Court of Appeal backed up that ruling, saying the Gurkhas were not in the same position as British soldiers and therefore could be paid less. However, the judges disapproved that Gurkhas were only allowed their families with them for three years. The MoD announced a review in June and Lord Justice Simon Brown expressed the hope that the outcome would improve the lot of married Gurkhas. Lawyers for the Gurkhas said that the case would not be pursued to the House of Lords. Solicitor Phil Shiner said: "We have achieved a considerable success on accompanied service policy, with the MoD being forced to carry out a full review. "This issue causes considerable distress to Gurkhas and their families and we are very pleased to know that the policy is to be changed." The solicitors plan further action on the pension issue. Padam Bahadur Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation, said: "We are pleased to achieve a result on the accompanied service rules but disappointed on pay and pensions. "However, we believe that in the end justice will prevail and Gurkhas must be treated equally with British soldiers. "We will not give up the fight until we have ended this discrimination against Gurkhas."  BBC


London, 06 September, 2003

The number of racist attacks on Birmingham's 60,000-strong Sikh population is reported to be rising at an alarming rate. Sikhs in Birmingham have been targeted more than ever during the two years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to Dal Singh Dhesy, chairman of the Sikh Community and Youth Service UK, many Sikhs are now too afraid to eat in restaurants, go shopping or take holidays. "After September 11 some people who saw our turbans jumped to the wrong conclusion and thought we were Afghan Taliban," Dhesy told the local media. "It seems that we are getting the backlash on all sides -- from the white far right and also Islamic extremists. "The rising amount of attacks is very disturbing and people are looking to us to help them." Dhesy added: "What would help is the creation of racial harassment centres which could monitor inter-ethnic crime rather than just the 'black and white' incidents." In one of the latest incidents, racists attacked and cut off the three-foot-long hair of a 14-year-old Sikh boy. The victim's family in Edgbaston said the attack had left him traumatised. Condemning the attack, Gulfram Khan, chairman of the Aston Conservative Party, said: "Fifteen years ago there used to be a lot of friction between Sikh and Muslim youths, but that no longer exists. "If this is starting to resurface, we need to shed light on this problem because we do not want this sort of nonsense in our community." IANS


Rome, 24 June, 2003

An Italian judge on Tuesday ordered the release of 15 Pakistanis arrested last August in Italy's territorial waters after investigators dispelled suspicions that the men were linked to the Al Qaeda terror network , court sources said. Italian officials arrested the men after the coastguard intercepted their vessel, the Sara, off the coast of Sicily, following a tip-off from Italian intelligence services. They were charged with conspiracy to carry out terrorist and subversive acts and jailed in Caltanissetta, in the southern island of Sicily. After a 10-month investigation, a Caltanissetta magistrate ordered their release after it was proved that the men were clandestine immigrants with no links to Al Qaeda or other extremists. The Sara, loaded with a cargo of lead, had been bound for Libya, which Italy has recently accused of serving as a hub for human traffickers.  AFP


London, 22 June, 2003

The family of a 26-year-old Indian woman, who is believed to be a victim of honour killing, has accused the UK foreign office of racism. Surjit Kaur Athwal was planning to leave her husband and set up home alone with her two young children. She had started divorce proceedings when she mysteriously disappeared on a trip to India for a family wedding four years ago. Her family is convinced she is the victim of an honour killing, a theory that is supported by the police. But Athwal’s body has never been found and no charges have ever been brought. Her brother, Jagdeesh Singh Dhillon, told The Independent on Sunday there are stark disparities in the way his sister’s case had been handled compared with those of other Britons. “UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw won’t even agree to meet my family or intervene in the case,” said Dhillon, who works for the Race Equality Council in Slough, Berkshire.  Deccan Chronicle


New Delhi, 11 June, 2003

The CBI is all set to have underworld don and main accused in the 1993 bomb blast case, Abu Salem, and his girl friend Monica Bedi extradited to India as the legal process in Portugal has entered the final phase. Highly-placed CBI sources said that Salem had submitted his reply to a Portugal Court on June 3 for which the agency would soon be sending its rejoinder to the Portuguese Prosecutor General. The CBI has also hired a local legal consultant firm Moraos Leitao and J Galvio Tales in Lisbon to assist the Prosecutor General's office in preparing the case as according to the law, no separate counsel could represent the agency in that country. Meanwhile, the CBI has sent its written reply to the queries raised by Monica Bedi during her trial before the Portuguese court. She had raised three queries, including whether she would face harassment as she was a Muslim; what was the guarantee that the President would not turn down her appeal against a death penalty or a life sentence exceeding 45 years and why her case would be tried in a special court and not in a normal court. In its reply, the CBI termed her plea of being Muslim as totally baseless and said that India was a democratic country where there was no discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed or sex. Replying to other points, the CBI said that the decision of council of ministers was binding on President of the country and that already the Union Cabinet had taken a decision not to award death penalty or life sentence of more than 45 years either to Salem or to Bedi. In its reply to the third charge, the CBI said that since her case was under the Prevention of Corruption Act, it had to be tried in a Special Court and not a local court. Besides this, anyone sentenced in the Special Court could always go for an appeal in a higher court. A decision on Monica's extradition was likely to be taken by the first fortnight of this month, the sources said. The formal extradition request of the CBI has listed Salem's involvement in three CBI cases, four cases with Delhi Police and two cases registered against him by the Mumbai police. On January 9, the Union Cabinet gave post facto approval to the decision of not sentencing him or Bedi to death. The extradition request was handed over to the Portuguese authorities on December 27 last year. Salem's extradition could help in unraveling the role of Pakistan in the 1993 blasts in Mumbai, which had left 257 people dead and property to the tune of Rs 30 crore damaged. The underworld don had been arrested, along with Bedi, in Lisbon following an Interpol Red Corner notice issued at the behest of the CBI on September 18. The CBI had also announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for his arrest.  PTI


London, 26 May, 2003

NRI television star Shobna Gulati said she was subjected to racial abuse by two white men in Oldham, where race riots broke out two years ago. In a complaint to the police, 31-year-old Shobna said she was confronted by two white men who called her a 'Paki bitch' as she sat in a car last week. Shobna currently plays shop girl Sunita Parekh in the soap 'Coronation Street'. A friend quoted Shobna as saying that two men in their early 20s were loitering around her car at traffic lights. All of a sudden, the men started calling her names. Anti-racism officers at Greater Manchester Police are investigating the incident, which happened in the Hollinwood area of Oldham where Shobna was brought up. A police spokesman was quoted as saying that they were committed to tackling hate crime. In 2002, Shobna had handed out leaflets in the area against the far-right British National Party. Her parents came from India in the 1960s. Sify


Islamabad, 19 May, 2003

All efforts will be made to bring back 15 innocent Pakistanis from Italy who have been wrongly declared as terrorists. This was stated by President PML-QA and central parliamentary leader in the National Assemble Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain here on Sunday while talking to parents of these Pakistanis. Chairman Ansar Burney Welfare Trust International advocate Ansar Burney, Secretary General PML-QA Saleem Saifullah, Federal Minister Liaquat Jatoi, MNA Kashmala Tariq and many others were present on the occasion. Shujaat said that to help Pakistanis abroad and particularly bringing innocent Pakistanis back to the country was the utmost duty of the PML-QA and the government. "In the recent days particularly in Europe, Pakistani people have been exploited on charges of terrorists," he maintained. He held that when the Italy police found nothing from 15 Pakistanis it linked them with Al-Qaeda and declared them as terrorists. He said that he would contact the Ambassador of Italy in Pakistan and if needed would also visit Italy for their release. Speaking on the occasion, Ansar Burney said that he would leave no stone unturned to bring jailed Pakistanis back to Pakistan. The News International


London, 11 March, 2003

A group of Indian expatriates in Britain is planning to make a legal claim for a right to vote under dual citizenship. The Association of Passport Holders of India in Britain says as proposed, dual citizenship will not be automatic and will be subject to various conditions. But once citizenship is granted, the right to vote must go with it. "The European Court of Human Rights has held that denial of voting rights after citizenship is granted by a state is discriminatory," association president Bhaskar Ghorpade said. "This will equally apply in India's case of voting rights and contesting the polls." Ghorpade, a leading barrister who has successfully fought several cases for the Indian government, says if citizenship is granted without voting rights, "we will take the matter to the European Court". The association says the denial of voting rights to someone called a citizen can violate the conventions of the European Commission on Human Rights. "Although this does not expressly guarantee the right to vote, it has long been accepted that universal suffrage is implicit in it," Ghorpade said. But several Indian community leaders say the dual citizenship move is already a non-starter. "For one thing what is proposed is dual citizenship, not dual nationality," says a solicitor who works closely with India House. "So what seems to be on offer does not include either an Indian passport, nor a right to vote," he says. "Then what kind of dual citizenship is this?" Taking those provisions away will mean that grant of dual citizenship will be no more than the grant of a long-term visa, he says. Ghorpade, however, says "nationality" is essentially a term of international law and "relates to the bond between citizen and state in the international context". On the other hand, "citizenship" indicates the status of the citizen in "his or her capacity to participate in the public life of his or her state". The association is opposed to any early implementation of the partial dual citizenship proposed. That makes this an unusual expatriate group that is opposing dual citizenship. Ghorpade says the percentage of Indian expatriates who participate in business in India is miniscule. Special facilities must be given to all genuine investors, whether they hold dual citizenship or not, he says. The association says granting of special privileges to non-resident Indians given dual citizenship "can run the risk of making resident Indians in India second class citizens in their own country". IANS


London, 10 March, 2003

Bristol University is yet again in the eye of a storm over its admission policy and discrimination against students from independent schools. This time it has refused admission to a bright 18-year-old girl, Sushila, daughter of Asha Bhow-nagary, a psychotherapist of Indian descent and Trevor Phillips, a native of Guyana who studied at the Imper-ial College, London. Sushila became one of 100 girls studying for their A levels (equivalent to SSC in India) and was rejected by Bristol despite scoring 296 out of 300 in A/S level English. The only explanation for her rejection appears to be that she attends Westminster School, one of Britain’s most prestigious independent schools, which charges day pupils fees of £ 12,000 per annum. Sushila’s father, Phillips, the newly appointed chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said his daughter’s rejection had shocked family and friends. “We are extremely surprised that she did not receive an offer. Though I have no disagreement with greater access, I would have hoped that universities and the government would have a slightly more sophisticated policy than simply ‘blacklisting’ independent schools,” he said. Phillips said Bristol’s admissions policy discriminates against Black and Asian families who send their children to private school to escape racism in the state system. PTI


London, 08 March, 2003

Smoking a pipe, Lord Ganesha wore a bowler hat, kept a leather brief case next to himself and held a brolly in his left hand. The Hindu God whose presence is auspicious and brings good tidings was partially dressed up like an Englishman of the 30s sartorial elegance. This pictorial portrayal of Lord Ganesha on posters advertising Tanika Gupta's adaptation of Hobson's Choice, a 1970s comedy by Harold Brighouse naturally offended Hindu sentiments. The community was upset that the producers of the play, who should have known the reverence for Lord Ganesha, used such a "cheap" ploy to attract audiences. Almost all the Hindu associations, including the VHP and the Hindu Council UK, joined in protesting the "offending" posters. The Young Vic Theatre Company, which is staging the play, has now decided to withdraw the posters and similar picture in the website advertising the play. Hindu Gods were also used as icing on cakes sold during Selfridges "Celebration of Bollywood" . It too, had led to protests and the Hindu Temple Coucil of UK had threatened to hold a demonstration in front of the High Street super store. Similarly for the exhibition during the Manchester Commonwealth Games, David Beckham and wife Victoria were also painted by two sisters of Indian origin as Hindu God and Goddess. The cake was also made by an Indian-origin confectioner. Community leaders expressed surprise that such "blasphemy" has invariably been commited by those who should know the Hindu faith. The Hindustan Times


London, 06 March, 2003

A Pakistani delivery driver, Qamar Mirza was stabbed to death early Wednesday morning in what is believed to be a racist attack. Mirza, 48, was stabbed on a petrol station forecourt in north London. Police say he may have been the victim of a random racist attack. He was killed with an 8-inch kitchen knife by a white man who approached him as he cleaned his car's windscreen, at a 24-hour garage in Cricklewood. Police described Mirza, father of five daughters and a son, as a hard-working family man who had just finished his day working for local restaurants and had paid for his petrol at the garage kiosk. After paying he went to his car, a black Mitsubishi saloon to polish its windscreen. The killer, after buying cigarettes from the kiosk, walked across the forecourt towards Mirza. It is possible that words may have been exchanged before he was stabbed. As soon as Mirza fell, the killer dropped his weapon and fled. Mirza, was then rushed to the Central Middlesex Hospital where he died. Chandra Kumar, 40, manager of the garage said that a cashier who saw the murder said the killer looked ordinary. "He wasn't drunk or anything. He didn't say anything or swear. He just bought cigarettes and went over to the Asian man. The cashier said there was some sort of row. He didn't see everything, but then the Asian man was stabbed," said Kumar. Mirza was a regular night worker and quite often stopped at the petrol station for fuel on his way home. Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, incharge of the investigation, said: "It is difficult to understand what is behind this. We did not see any lead-up. It seems to be a motiveless attack - motiveless and violent. The person responsible must be considered as a person with a degree of danger to them. That must raise a degree of concern." The police was last night examining a trail of blood from the garage to a local hotel and interviewing hotel guests. The suspect is described as white, heavily built, in his 40s with a 'podgy' face with dark curly hair. He was wearing a white jacket and white shirt with black trousers and dark shoes. Detectives say his jacket may have bloodstains, and he could have thrown it away. He was last seen heading towards Hendon, and police want to talk to passengers on the N16 bus that was going to central London at the time of the murder. Police sources say the CCTV footage taken from the garage may prove useless because a light was shining directly into it at the time of the murder. The Hindustan Times


London, 23 February, 2003

Bristol University has come in for severe criticism from many a private independent school after an exceptionally brilliant Indian boy was refused admission. But Bristol's loss is Cambridge's gain. Rudi Singh, 19, was turned down by Bristol despite getting 11 'A star' grades at the General Certificate of Secondary Examination (GCSE) – equivalent of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) in India – five 'A' grades at 'A'-level and winning exam board awards for being among the top five candidates in the country. However, Singh went on to gain a place at Cambridge University to study economics. Roger Dancey, the chief master at King Edward's school in Birmingham where Singh was a pupil, said he was a "sensational" student who had been treated unjustly. "It is clearly wrong for some candidates to be turned away in favour of applicants with lower grades," he said. Singh, whose parents are doctors, dropped only 15 marks out of a maximum 1,200 in his 'AS'-levels ('A Star' levels), and won three exam board prizes for being in the top five candidates for three of his 'A'-level subjects. Bristol is now being targeted by independent schools, which are so concerned about its perceived bias against them that they are warning even their brightest pupils against applying to it to study English, history, economics or law. Leading independent schools are prepared to back a test case against the university, which openly admits that it will take state school pupils in preference to those from private schools with better grades. Singh has also played cricket for Warwickshire under-19s. His brother Anurag is the opening batsman for Worcestershire. PTI


Naples, 14 February, 2003

An Italian judge Wednesday ordered the release of 28 Pakistanis who were arrested in the port of Naples late last month and accused of plotting a terrorist attack, a foreign news agency reported. Judge Ettore Favara ordered the immediate release of all 28 because of lack of evidence. State prosecutors had requested that 11 of the suspects be detained. Italian police arrested the Pakistanis during an anti-narcotics sweep late last month and accused them of "criminal conspiracy for terrorist ends". They said the detainees were part of a "terrorist sleeper cell" that was planning an attack, and said they had found explosives in their apartment. "In the course of the interrogation the suspects contested the links to any explosive materiel and documents discovered, all of them denied ever seeing this materiel inside the apartment or in the possession of their companions," Favara said. The arrests caused a furious diplomatic protest from Pakistan. Islamabad's foreign ministry called in the Italian ambassador Angelo Gabriele de Ceglie shortly after the January 30 arrests to protest at the manner in which the immigrant workers had been portrayed in the Italian media. Pakistani officials told the Italian ambassador that the detained Pakistanis had no terrorist links and that their only motivation was to earn a living in Italy. It said four of them had valid residence permits issued in 1998 and the rest had the required permission to stay in Italy while their applications for work permits were being processed. The News International


London, 06 December, 2002

An Indian Ford worker has won £150,000 compensation in a case of racial discrimination at the car manufacturer's Dagenham plant. Shinder Nagra, 45, an Indian-born father-of-two, was awarded the sum by an employment tribunal after an earlier hearing found Ford guilty of racial discrimination, a report said. Nagra, an engine plant worker, had suffered years of racial abuse, bullying and threats of violence, the tribunal heard. Two Ford employees accused of racially abusing Nagra have also been ordered to pay him £1,000 each. The employment tribunal's judgment said: "The abuse Nagra suffered took place over an extended period and was both humiliating and intimidatory. Ford behaved in a high-handed and oppressive manner, failing to address the appropriate matters in the aftermath of their own inquiry." Three years earlier, Nagra's colleague Sukhjit Parmar, 45, was paid a £300,000 settlement by the company and after it vowed to stamp out racism at the Essex plant with a "zero-tolerance" policy. However, the tribunal said the so-called "zero policy" was, in effect, an empty gesture "compounded by failure to punish all those responsible and the inappropriate way in which some of those who had transgressed were even promoted." Nagra joined Ford in 1988 and was treated fairly during his first seven years in the assembly section. But when he joined Parmar in the engine section in January 1995 the abuse started. A small number of group leaders, foremen and supervisors called Parmar "Paki" and then graffiti appeared linking him to "nigger Lawrence" - a reference to a murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, a well publicised case in Britain. Nagra, of Bexleyheath, Kent, left the company in 1999, fearing a nervous breakdown. A spokeswoman for the Ford Motor Company said it accepted the findings of the employment tribunal remedies hearing but said the issues about which Nagra complained occurred in the 1990s and were thoroughly investigated by it at the time. Ford is one of the top three automobile manufacturers in the United States and is going through a tough phase due to a weak economy. Deccan Chronicle


New Delhi, 02 December, 2002

In an unusual order giving a major relief to the three Europe-based Hinduja brothers, the Supreme Court on Monday modified its earlier order and stayed the trial proceedings against them in the multi-crore Bofors case despite vehement opposition from the CBI. A bench comprising Chief Justice G B Pattanaik, Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice S B Sinha stayed for at least four weeks the trial proceedings before Special Judge Prem Kumar, who recently framed charges against them. The stay was given on an application by the Hindujas seeking stay of the trial. The apex court had on July 12 stayed the Delhi High Court order quashing the chargesheet against the Hinduja brothers and directed the trial to continue. On July 29, the Supreme Court had confirmed its July 12 order. Monday's bench, modifying the court's order, said, "Let there be stay of the trial until the CBI files response to the application filed by the Hindujas which may be put up for hearing after four weeks." The bench passed the order saying it was unusual for the apex court to have allowed the trial proceedings to go on when it admitted the appeal filed by the CBI challenging the high court order quashing the chargesheets against the accused. Apearing for CBI, Solicitor General Harish Salve said it was a usual practice with the courts to allow the trial proceedings to go on when such appeals were admitted. When the bench indicated that it was going to stay the trial proceedings, an exasperated Solicitor General raised his voice and said, "Is there special provision for the Hindujas? The solicitor general said, "There is no change in the circumstances and the situation in the case since the apex court stayed the high court order and allowed the trial to proceed. Why then any variation of the July 29 order of the apex court allowing the trial to continue". The bench asked the solcitor general what would happen if during the pendency of the CBI appeal before the apex court, the trial court proceeded to convict them and later the apex court dismissed the appeal. It would lead to an anamolous situation where the apex court would hold that the high court was right in quashing the chargesheet on the technical ground but the accused would be convicted by the trial court, the bench said, adding that "there would be a travesty of justice." Raval pointed out that the Hindujas had themselves given an undertaking before the apex court that the charges could be framed against them in absentia as the court had permitted them to go abroad while on bail. The court then asked the CBI to file its response to the application filed by the Hindujas and posted the matter concerning the stay of the trial after four weeks. It also directed listing of the main appeal filed by the CBI challenging the high court order in March 11, 2003 before a bench headed by Justice V N Khare, who would by then be the Chief Justice of India. A month after the high court quashed the CBI chargesheet against the Hindujas in the Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case, the Supreme Court on July 12 stayed the order and directed continuance of the proceedings before the trial court. "We are staying the operation of the Delhi High Court judgement and all proceedings before the trial court should go on," ordered a three-judge bench comprising then chief justice B N Kirpal, Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat when then Solicitor General Harish Salve stood up to argue the CBI appeal against the high court order. Counsel for the Hinduja brothers, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, pleaded repeatedly that the case could be fixed for early hearing and in the meantime the trial proceedings should be stayed as its continuance would cause prejudice to the accused. The bench would have none of his arguments and had observed, "We are convinced that this (high court) judgement is completely unsustainable. Forget about this case, if such judgements are not stayed, no prosecution will succeed." The high court had, on June 10, quashed the chargesheet filed against the Europe-based Hinduja brothers - Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Chand - saying the CBI had not taken the mandatory clearance from the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) prior to filing of the chargesheet as mandated by the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain judgement. "The Vineet Narain judgement is not meant for this," the apex court bench had observed.  PTI


New Delhi, 30 November, 2002

A day after the European Union (EU) won a case against India on bed linen at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), New Delhi on November 30 accused Brussels of "targeting and singling out" Indian exports. "There is a feeling in India that the EU is targeting India out of proportion in terms of the number of cases pitted against it. We fail to understand why we are being singled out," Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Shourie said. Reacting to the ruling, Shourie told reporters, "in the trade negotiations, losing and winning is part of the game and changes every day". Though he was yet to study the ruling, Shouire told reporters that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had taken up the bed linen issue during the recently held India- EU summit at Copenhagen. A WTO panel had on November 29 ruled that the EU had fully complied with the recommendations of a WTO Dispute Settlement Body in March 2001 concerning EU's anti- dumping measures on imports of cotton bed linen. The implementation panel rejected all claims made by India against the EU's implementation measures.  PTI


Londonderry, 29 November, 2002

The incidents of forced marriage are highest in the Pakistani population in the UK with the Bangladeshis following a close second, a recent report commissioned and launched by the British Foreign Office said. According to the analytical report of the British Foreign Office, titled "Community Perceptions of Forced Marriage," the incidents of forced marriage involve both populations, even though most reports of forced marriage have concerned Pakistanis rather than Bangladeshis. The report investigates the perceptions of forced marriage within the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets and the Pakistani community in Bradford. The report said the problem of forced marriages is increasing and that this increase is partially explained by the demographic profile of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community, both very young populations who are reaching marriageable age. Moreover, it said, the problem is compounded by male to female sex ratio imbalance and educated females not finding a suitable match from their communities in the UK. The report acknowledged that selection of two Muslim communities, to the exclusion of others, could quickly raise the accusation of Islamophobia, religious discrimination and concerns that racial stereotypes are shaping the public debate about forced marriages and the policy initiatives that may emerge. Defending the reason to select the two Muslim communities, the eport said most of the forced marriage cases handled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) involve women and men from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Earlier, in August 2000, the FCO, together with the Home Office, published a Joint Action Plan on forced marriage. Subsequently, a community liaison unit (CLU) was set up in the Human Rights Section of the FCO consular division with particular focus on protecting the human rights of victims and potential victims. Since October 2000, the CLU has dealt with over 440 cases, and has helped to repatriate 75 young people. Eighty-five per cent of cases involve women victims and 15 per cent male victims, the report said. According to the report, while the issue of forced marriages is not restricted to a particular racial, ethnic or religious group, it does seem to be more common where the practice of arranged marriage is the norm. Among South Asians, the report said, practice of parents choosing the spouse is most common among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, but the practice is now declining and 'cooperative'-arranged marriages are beginning to become more common among the young. The report said the rates of marriage among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were comparatively high - 73 per cent and 74 per cent. Exploring the links between the degree of choice and the class and qualification background of the parents, the report said the practice of 'traditional' arranged marriages is strongest among those groups which are least qualified and involved in manual work. Both communities, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, are disproportionately working class and have low human capital in the UK, the report added. The regional differences of Pakistan are manifested in the population's marriage patterns in the UK along highly differentiated linguistic, ethnic and clan lines. Strong regional ties differentiated Pakhtoons from Punjabis and from the majority of British Pakistanis, who come from northern Pakistan, specially from the Azad Kashmir district of Mirpur. "These regional differences map on to the towns and cities of this country since Mirpuris predominate in the Pakistani populations of Bradford and Birmingham, for example, while Faisalabadis [fromPunjab] reportedly predominate in Manchester and Glasgow. The report said the regional differences are compounded by social divisions based on family, kinship ties, caste or caste-like groups and tribe or caste, the report said. Those who are more likely to reject the arranged marriage option are upwardly mobile, as well as those who have been brought up in the UK, 'particularly those with higher education and economic independence'. Increasing education among the younger generation of Pakistanis links to a decline of first-cousin marriage among this group. Conversely, low literacy rates among parents are associated with high levels of consanguineal marriages and hence the reluctance of educated women to contract trans-continental marriages. The report pointed out that since marriage is conducted between patrilineal subgroups among Pakistanis, this might result in the lack of appropriate choices being available in Britain. Sex asymmetries and differentials in educational qualifications compounded by endogamy mean that there may not be an alternative to conducting a trans-continental marriage. Citing an example, the report said, 50 per cent of marriages in Bradford are trans-continental in which the partners are selected from Pakistan while in Oxford the proportion of these alliances is estimated to be as high as 71 per cent. The difference between Oxford and Bradford primarily relates to the number of eligible candidates available. The Bradford population is significantly larger than Oxford, therefore finding an appropriate partner within a specific kin group is more difficult in Oxford.  The Dawn


Paris, 27 November, 2002

The French police say they've arrested several Pakistani nationals during a raid in Paris of suspected cohorts of accused shoe-bomber Richard Reid. The individuals were picked up in the tenth arrondissement of Paris notably at a Pakistani cultural center as well as a restaurant and a mosque - Mosque Ali, according to police sources - serving the local Pakistani community. During a parallel raid undertaken on Reunion Island, a French department located in the Indian Ocean, a former Imam of the Ali Mosque, who is also a Pakistani national, say police - was also picked up and is scheduled too to undergo questioning by French police. The raid was the third in three days, and was undertaken by the members of two crack police units - the Brigade Criminelle and the Brigade de Recherche et d'Intervention - both of which were operating under the orders of Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who is presently directing a massive investigation of terrorist activity on French soil. The Pakistanis who were picked up during the raid on Tuesday morning, police say, they will be detained during 96 hours [fourdays] - the amount of time allowed by the law - and are to be interrogated as to their alleged links with Richard Reid. Earlier this year, another Pakistani national, proprietor of a cybercafe and international phonecall centre also located in the tenth arrondissement of Paris.  The Dawn


Kathmandu, 27 November, 2002

Ex-British Gurkha soldiers from Nepal have won the right to compensation from the British government on Wednesday, more than 50 years after they were taken prisoner by the Japanese, the Associate Press (AP) said from London. High Court Justice Richard McCombe ruled that the government’s decision to deny the Nepalese fighters compensation given to other prisoners of war was both irrational and inconsistent with the principle of equality, the new agency report said quoting lawyers for three Gurkhas who sued the Ministry of Defence. The judge was due to formally deliver his ruling later at Preston Crown Court. The Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation (GAESO), which helped push the case at the London High Court, and former prisoners of war currently in Nepal have expressed profound delight at what one of them described as the "delayed justice". "I am very much delighted to hear that we have won sir!" a former prisoner of war (PoW) Hukum Singh Pun told The Kathmandu Post from his home at Pakhapani, Butwal, 250km west of Kathmandu, Wednesday evening. But he asked, "When will we get the compensation amount sir?" Pun was in London recently, where he attended the High Court hearing. "I was there at the court, we had stayed there for three hours," he said. "But I never expected that we would win in the end." Now that the ex-Gurkha PoWs have won the right to compensations each of the 343 surviving PoWs will received 10,000 pound (US $ 15,000) compensation, Padam Gurung, the GAESO President Padam Bahadur Gurung said in a statement late Wednesday. However, Mahendra Rai, another GAESO executive said that there could be thousands of ex-British Gurkha PoWs around the country. "We don’t have any idea about them actually," he told The Kathmandu Post. "They are exploited lot, they are poor and must be in their mountain villages, about which we don’t have any idea." Rai claimed that there could be as many as 3,000 PoWs in Nepal. Pahalman Gurung, one of the three Nepalese fighters who sued the government for discrimination, said he was delighted. "Justice has finally come for us. I am really happy about the decision. It is not just a victory for the ones who filed the case but for all the Gurkhas who served in the British army," Gurung told AP from his home in Pokhara, 200km west of the capital. Lawyer Phil Shiner told AP in London that the surviving PoWs would be entitled for the payments of 10,000 pounds each from a government fund set up in November 2000 for surviving British PoWs. The Ministry of Defence had argued that World War II Gurkha regiments formed part of the Indian army and, as a result, they were not eligible for the U.K. compensation programme, the AP said. The two armies were subject to different codes of military law and regulations and were constitutionally separate, the department argued. Padam Gurung told AP that the decision "is a leap forward in our fight to get recognition for our services. The court decision has showed that Gurkha soldiers are not mercenaries but an elite group that served for the British." Gurkhas began serving Britain in 1815 in India, and with Indian independence in 1947 became part of the British army. Nearly 3,600 serve now, and in recent years they have taken part in British operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. In a separate case, the ex-Gurkhas have asked the High Court to award them the same pensions as their British counterparts. The British government says Gurkha pensions are now roughly equivalent to one-third of the pensions for British soldiers and are more than adequate for retirees living in Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries. Although the cost of living in Nepal is much lower, the ex-servicemen argue that the pension is still far too low. Lawyers for the Gurkhas cite the example of one World War II veteran receiving a pension of 25 pounds (US $ 37) a month. The Katmandu Post


Dhaka, 25 November, 2002

The Bangladeshi Government has dismissed a European parliamentary resolution critical of alleged human rights violations during the current army-led operations against violent crime. A Foreign Office spokesman in Dhaka said the resolution was one-sided and did not reflect the realities on the ground. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's government deployed thousands of soldiers across the country on 17 October in "Operation Clean Heart" to arrest suspected criminals and recover illegal weapons. The soldiers have arrested thousands of men and recovered arms, ammunition and explosives, but at least two dozen men have died after being detained, and critics at home and abroad have become vocal on this issue. The main opposition party, the Awami League, has welcomed the European Parliament's observations. Operation Clean Heart ran into trouble when several people died in army custody. Sheikh Hasina's party welcomed the resolution. Door-to-door searches and patrols have significantly improved the law and order situation, but at least 26 people have now died following interrogation by the troops. Some organisations, including Amnesty International, have questioned the operations' poor human rights record. In a resolution passed on Thursday, the European Parliament expressed "serious concern" over the reported deaths, airing fears that the crackdown was being used for partisan purposes. It said the army had arrested people, including some members of Bangladesh's parliament and opposition leaders, without any judicial mandate. But the official government spokesman said the decision to deploy the army in a joint anti-crime drive had been welcomed by the society as a whole, because it had led to a sharp improvement in the law and order situation. He said there was global recognition that Bangladesh faced a serious law and order situation that was inherited by the present government from its predecessors. He said the operations were being conducted under the directive of a constitutionally and democratically elected government without any partisan approach whatsoever. The spokesman said the army had set up necessary investigations into the allegations of deaths in custody and taken appropriate action. But opposition leader Sheikh Hasina's Awami League party welcomed the European Parliament's resolution and said it endorsed the League's allegations about the partisan nature of the operations.  BBC


London, 22 November, 2002

A Sikh councillor’s son was hit on the head with baseball bats after he stepped in to save his turban-wearing friend from a gang of Muslim attackers. Goodmayes Ward councillor Satnam Singh believes it is not the first time the gang has hunted and assaulted Sikh youths and is calling on Muslim leaders to condemn the attacks. His 15-year-old son was walking with friends from Loxford High School last week when a car pulled up alongside them in Henley Road, Ilford, news reports said today. The occupants singled out one youngster with a traditional Sikh turban and started pushing and hitting the terrified 15-year-old. Satnam Singh’s son stepped in and soon became the gang’s target. The gang members — all in their early 20s and wearing traditional Muslim dress — took baseball bats from the car and attacked both teenagers before driving off. Both boys were taken to hospital where they each received stitches. "It’s not right that people are doing this... this gang is going around to schools in the area looking for Sikh boys." "We are now looking to Muslim leaders to come forward and publicly condemn the attacks. The situation is very volatile at the moment but something needs to be done," Satnam Singh said.  UNI


Islamabad, 22 November, 2002

Pakistan on Friday expressed its disappointment over the 'biased and unbalanced' resolution adopted in the European Parliament about the process of revival of democracy in Pakistan. The resolution was moved by the chairman of EU election mission, John Cushnahan, and adopted in the European Parliament on Thursday. "It is most unfortunate that Mr Cushnahan persists with the deeply flawed conclusions in his report of the EU election observation mission which monitored the recently concluded general elections in Pakistan," a foreign office spokesman said. Mr Cushnahan, he said, continues to remain impervious to the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. "Even as he was giving vent to his prejudice in the European Parliament, the National Assembly of Pakistan was electing the new prime minister of the country." The spokesman said the resolution has been overtaken by events, as parliament has already met to elect Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Leader of the House. The new prime minister is being sworn in on Saturday, which will be a major step toward return to civilian rule in the country, he stated. The spokesman said President Pervez Musharraf has fulfilled his promise of restoring full democracy within the parameters set by the Supreme Court. "In the fitness of things, the European Parliament ought to have welcomed this momentous transformation in Pakistan's political life," he stated. Pakistan, he said, welcomes the statement made on behalf of EU presidency by the Danish Minister for European Affairs, which calls the general elections as an important step toward restoring democracy in Pakistan. The presidency also acknowledged that President Pervez Musharraf "has clearly fulfilled his pledge to implement the promised roadmap". The statement added that President Musharraf has implemented a series of reforms aimed at redressing the economy and combating all the pervading problems of corruption.  APP


Colombo, 21 November, 2002

A Government to Government agreement between Sri Lanka and Italy has opened the doors for fresh employment opportunities for Lankans seeking jobs in Italy. Under this agreement, Italy has promised to offer a specific employment quota of jobs for Lankans provided Sri Lanka stops illegal migration to its shores. Italy has assured a specific job quota to Lankans entering the country legally, Italian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Salvatore Zotta told the Daily News. The assurance from the Italian Government comes in the wake of a new Italian Immigration Law that aims to stem the tide of illegal migrants. This law offers jobs to nationals of several selected countries on the condition they do not enter Italy illegally. Sri Lanka has received priority recognition by the Italian Government in the job offer. Following the new legislation 1,200 vacancies would initially be filled by Sri Lankans. This will be backed by a firm assurance by the Lankan Government that Lankans would not be allowed to enter Italy illegally, according to the first Secretary of the Italian Embassy in Colombo Massimmo Darchini. He said the quotas would be increased progressively. Ambassador Zotta said the illegal entry into Italy of a large number of Sri Lankans prompted them to offer 1,000 direct jobs to Sri Lankan workers in a legalised form before December 31 this year and many more jobs in the years to come. Sri Lanka has extended its fullest cooperation to the Italian Government to clamp down on international racketeers involved in human smuggling. As part of these efforts Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a Cabinet Sub Committee to take action against international criminals involved in human smuggling to Italy as well as many other countries. Employment and Labour Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said that all prospective job seekers to italy will be interviewed by the Labour Department which will make the selection. These workers will be given skills training and language training through the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau of Foreign Employment. Jobs in Italy are mostly available in the construction and domestic sectors.  Daily News


London, 15 November, 2002

In an extraordinary and controversial attempt at righting the wrongs of history by wordplay, British foreign secretary Jack Straw has blamed 200 years of imperialism for the worst world crises of the 21st-century, including British complacency over "what happened in Kashmir". "India, Pakistan - we made some quite serious mistakes," Straw said, lamenting the complacency of publishing the "boundaries two days after (Indian) independence. Bad story for us, the consequences are still there". Using words that appalled British commentators said could easily have issued from the mouths of Third World student activists rather than the foreign secretary of a country that formerly ruled half the world, Straw said the Kashmir issue, Afghanistan, most West Asian crises including the now-controversial, British-drawn boundaries of Iraq were the result of British involvement. His words have stirred up a hornet’s nest of angry political debate, with some opposition politicians accusing Straw’s Labour government of "old-fashioned Left-wing guilt" of the sort that prompted another Labour government to grant India its independence. Straw also pointedly rejected the controversial new doctrine of "liberal (Western) imperialism" recently offered by Prime Minister Blair’s former foreign policy advisor, by means of which the developed West would be emboldened to intervene in developing world disputes. "I’m not a liberal imperialist," he said, "...there's a lot wrong with imperialism. A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past." Still more unusually, he appeared even to offer empathy and understanding to Britain’s arch-enemy, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who continues to dispossess white farmers of their land. "...the early (British) colonisers were all about taking land," Straw admitted. The interview, which forms the cover feature of the latest left-liberal New Statesman magazine, has caused great excitement and prompted confusion about why a British foreign secretary should eschew more traditional "gunboat diplomacy" for the "tea and tears, sweet-talk and sympathy" model of foreign policy. The magazine told TNN that the interview had attracted "great interest". Though some commentators suggested it was a devious ploy, Straw’s frank words appear to have been taken at face value by that leading conservative barometer of British opinion, The Daily Telegraph. In a scathing editorial comment, it said Straw’s views were "maundering self-pity", which would "weaken Britain’s position internationally". In his comments on West Asia, the magazine says Straw began by saying "There's hardly a country . . . ", before checking himself and going on: "The odd lines for Iraq's borders were drawn by Brits. The Balfour declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis - again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one."  Times of India


New Delhi, 15 November, 2002

The billionaire Hinduja brothers have been formally charged in a special court in connection with an arms bribery case in India. The trial has been set for 4 December but observers say it may be delayed if the brothers appeal to a higher court. British citizens Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, and Prakash, who is Swiss, face allegations of criminal conspiracy, cheating and bribery relating to a major Indian arms deal in the 1980s. The brothers control a global business empire which has made them one of Britain's wealthiest Asian families. On Thursday, a judge in India said there was enough evidence against the Hindujas brothers for them to face trial. At Thursday's hearing in Delhi, special judge Prem Kumar said there was "a prima facie case that the accused persons... are liable to be charged". BBC correspondent Jill McGivering in Delhi says the verdict was an important step towards an actual trial. The case dates back to the mid-1980s when the Indian Government finalised a deal with Swedish arms company Bofors for the supply of 400 field guns. Allegations circulated in the media soon after that bribes had been paid, and Indian officials launched an investigation. Prosecutors argue that about $8m was paid to the Hinduja brothers by Bofors at the time of the deal - the Hindujas strongly deny any wrongdoing. The current charges came after a long investigation by Indian police which also implicated a number of top politicians, including the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. The brothers insist their decision to take British and Swiss nationality was not related to the criminal charges against them. The issue of the Hindujas' nationality led to a political row in the UK, which resulted in the resignation of the Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson. BBC


London, 13 November, 2002

A British immigration adviser has been suspended after making an Indian from Jalandhar pregnant within an asylum centre. Immigration officer Paul Margison, who was employed by a private company under contract for providing services to the home office has been suspended. IANS


London, 12 November, 2002

An official research on the 'perception of forced marriages' among Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in UK has revealed that while economic prosperity has brought social changes among Indians, the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities have remained racially exclusive and suffered from 'ethnic inclusion'. The latest research paper, undertaken by academics from universities of Bradford and Roehampton, was released by British Foreign Office on Tuesday. The research focused on Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in Bradford and Tower Hamlets respectively. The Foreign Office had appointed special officers in consulates in its embassies to deal with complaints from brides forced or being forced into marriages against their will. Over 440 cases, since 2000, have been dealt by officers in various consulates. The research paper has been described as another step towards tackling the issue of forced marriages. But the fear that any legislation might lead to women being sent back to South Asia with no hope of return lurks. There is also the apprehension that strict measures could provoke a diversionary debate on Islamphobia and racism as most cases of forced marriages have been found among Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos said: "This is about raising awareness and working with the community to ensure that everyone understands their rights. Everyone has the right to consent in marriage." Young people indicated to the researchers that the problem of forced marriage was gaining recognition across generations, including elders. One said: "At least their eyes are opening. First it wasn't happening, you know. Now it's like everyone really knows about it. It's a big issue you know there's lots of debate about it". The paper also notes that, within the older generation, there is a growing acknowledgement of the unacceptability of the use of force and the dishonour that force brings. One Pakistani elder is quoted as saying: "In Islam or in any religion or culture forced marriage is not allowed". The reasons for forced marriages, according to the research findings, include sexuality and independence among women. Their independence is seen as jeopardising family honour. Also the issue of Islam and non-Islam is a major factor in choosing a spouse. But young women are now demanding that they would choose their spouses. The researchers have concluded that Muslim identity is becoming more significant than ethnic identity. The elders insist in taking this in account when getting their young married but the young are saying that religion is the only variable factor. Thus for them an inter-ethnic marriage is okay but they also want that their spouse should convert to Islam. A sociologist told Hindustan Times that no amount of legislation or research would help as the government would remain afraid of causing an Islamic backlash, specially at the present time when it is trying to appease the communities to accept the Iraq policy.  Hindustan Times


London, 11 November, 2002

A gaming company has agreed to remove scenes from the game Hitman 2: Silent Assassin after Sikhs complained it was racist and offensive. One of the game's levels is set in a temple. Players are asked to shoot the men in turbans because they are terrorists. Sikhs say the scene looks exactly like the inside of the Golden Temple in Amritsar in India. In 1984, hundreds of Sikhs were massacred there, when Indian troops stormed the temple. The Indian government claimed it was being used to plan military activities. Harpreet, 15, from Birmingham, has seen the game. He told CBBC's Newsround why he found the game offensive. "This game refers to terrorists in a Gurdwara [placewhereSikhsgotopray]. "This is disgraceful, because people may think that terrorists wear turbans but they don't," he said. Many people also think that using a holy place for a game is disrespectful. The makers, Eidos, have now agreed to change the next edition of the game, remove pictures of the scenes from their website and take steps to correct the game where they can. They have also apologised to the Sikh community saying they didn't mean to cause offence. (...) BBC


Karachi, 09 November, 2002

Imports of bed linen from India face higher punitive duties up to 26 per cent from the European Commission after it lost its case at WTO. This is likely to give further opening to Pakistani bed linen imports to EU member countries where it is faced with over-programming in category 20 (bed linen). New Delhi approached the WTO's dispute settlement body against anti-dumping duties on bed linen re-imposed by the European Commission last April. However, this time India lost its case. According to a message received here from Brussels, the WTO panel decision is expected to be released soon, rejecting New Delhi's demand for removal of anti-dumping duties on bed linen originating from India. The European Union imposed anti-dumping duties on Indian bed linen in 1998, but removed in 2001 on the WTO's dispute settlement body ruling in favour of India. The body did not agree with Brussels methodology of calculating the dumping margins. After changing its methodology, the European Commission in April last re-imposed the duties on Indian bed linen. New Delhi again filed a complaint with the WTO but lost its case this time. However, experts say this is a decisive ruling since importing countries are expected massively using anti-dumping duties after quotas are removed from January 1, 2005. Already faced with a dramatic decline on the EU market, Indian exporters of bed-linen will suffer heavily in competing with Pakistani exporters in the coming months after a WTO dispute settlement panel refused condemning EU's anti-dumping duties. These experts further say that New Delhi is left with only two options, either file an appeal against the decision or try to negotiate lower duties with the EU. However, there is greater chance that EC will resort to imposing higher duties up to 26 per cent when it completes an ongoing "interim review". Indian bed linen exports to the EU countries have already declined since the beginning of the year. At the same time, Pakistani exporters benefited from a full removal of EU's duties and a substantial rise in quotas as a result of a bilateral agreement concluded between Brussels and Islamabad. This year, India is far from filling its EU's quota in category 20 (bed linen). Only 52.70 per cent of the initial level has been used until now, compared with a 74-per cent filling rate from the Dumping duty previous year. In the first half of the year, Indian exports of bed linen under category 20 were down by six per cent in volume terms and declined 8.5 per cent in dollar terms. At the same time, Pakistani exports in the same category rose by 53 per cent in volume terms and 39 per cent in dollar terms. Pakistan Bed wear Exporters Association (PBEA) chairman Aziz Jamal has asked the government to closely monitor the shipments of category 20 (bed linen) to the EU member countries and avoid any backlash at a time when lesser period has left for total removal of quotas. He said some vested interest was playing with the national interest and there were strong indications that if over-programming in category 20 was overlooked at this juncture it would invite a backlash from the European Commission.  The Dawn


Frankfurt, 06 November, 2002

A popular German rap singer of Indian origin, who shot to fame for a reported affair with tennis legend Boris Becker, has won a much-publicised case against an actor who had alleged he had sex with her. Sabrina Setlur, who has an Indian father, had filed a suit against 35-year-old actor Rainer Meifert, a former star of RTL television channel, German tabloid Bild-Zeitung reported. Meifert had said in a TV show that Setlur, who lives outside Frankfurt, had followed him for two years until he finally went to bed with her. An outraged Setlur moved the court in Frankfurt seeking compensation for the damage caused to her reputation and also wanted the court to issue an injunction stopping him from repeating such remarks. Bild-Zeitung said that Meifert was ordered by the judge to pay 20,000 euros ($20,000) to Setlur and also stop repeating his remarks. Meifert was quoted as saying that he was "innocent" and had merely told the truth and that he stood by his statement. Setlur's manager Andreas Walter said Sabrina had enough of the self-profiling being done by "this second-class ex-soap hero" at her expense. Setlur, who was voted a couple of years ago as "Germany's most erotic woman", has also been in the news in the past because of her alleged relationship with former German tennis star Becker.  IANS


Dhaka, 05 November, 2002

A community leader of Bangladeshi expatriates was stabbed to death by an unidentified black man at East London on Sunday. Abdus Salik Chowdhury (55), vice president of Forest Gate Mosque Committee stabbed to death came from Chhongram of Bianibazar. According to his relatives, a black man knocked the door of Salik's house Sunday afternoon. As he opened the doors, the goon stabbed fatally injuring him. Police and paramedics rushed to the spot and treated him for about an hour. But he succumbed to his injuries at about 8 am. It is suspected that foes of Salik hired the goon to get him killed. Sources said a faction of the mosque committee tried to capture power 4-5 months back but police drove them out of the mosques. Police interrogated the members of the committee for about five hours but none was arrested.  UNB


London, 25 October, 2002

The Vice Chairman of the National Minority Commission Tarlochan Singh has supported the demand for Sikhs being registered as a separate community but opposed demands for "Khalistan." "I fully support the demand here for registering Sikhs as a separate community but they should not join the demand for separation. We are in the National mainstream and we should work together for the good of everyone," Singh said here Thursday night. "We are a 20 million-strong minority community in India. Sikhs here should not mix this with the 'Khalistan' demand." Singh, who has been meeting representatives of Sikhs here, said he has written to External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha to alleviate difficulties faced by a sizeable number of Sikh youths who had illegally entered European Countries and were facing hardship. "Because of unemployment conditions in Punjab these young educated boys were lured by unscrupulous travel agents to leave India and were charged heavily with the promise of jobs and better prospects in European countries. A number of them had died in foreign land and quite a few were sent to jails. The Ministry of External Affairs has been very helpful in getting them out of jails and deporting them to India," he said in a communication to Sinha.  PTI


Islamabad, 21 October, 2002

Pakistan has formally protested to the European Union over the EU mission report on Oct 10 elections and said it overstepped its mandate and violated its own code of conduct. Informed sources said here on Monday that the government had officially conveyed its displeasure and regret over the EU mission report, a number of EU ambassadors stationed in Islamabad. Pakistan government regretted the EU that there was no reference in the EU Code of Conduct mandating its observation missions to discuss the merits or demerits of a country's Constitution. It was not for the EU Mission to comment on whether President of Pakistan should have the power of dissolving the National Assembly and whether Pakistan should have a National Security Council. These issues do not fall in the purview of an election observer mission.  The Dawn


New Delhi, 21 October, 2002

The Europe-based Hinduja brothers on October 21 alleged that the then Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme acted as an agent of arms manufacturer A B Bofors in national interest to help the company bag the contract for the supply of 155mm Howitzer guns to India in March 1986. During arguments on the point of charge in the Rs 64 crore Bofors pay-off case, Hinduja brothers' counsel Ram Jethmalani told Special Judge Prem Kumar that Palme helped Bofors bag the Rs 1437.72 crore contract for supply of 400 Howitzer guns to the Indian Army. "It was Palme and not Win Chadha or anybody else who acted as Bofors agent and clinched the deal for it. In fact he (Palme) was trying to further the economic interest of Sweden," Jethmalani told the Special Judge. However, when the court asked if there was much more behind Palme's help to Bofors than mere furthering of the economic interest of his country, he replied in the negative. He said Palme had met his Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi in October 1985 in New York and later in New Delhi in January 1986 and claimed that their personal relationship played an important role in the contract going to the Swedish company. "May be Sofma (French arms manufacturer) could not get the contract because the French President did not see the Indian Prime Minister," Jethmalani said and asked "where are the poor Hindujas?" Hinduja brothers - Srichand, Gopichand and Prakashchand -are accused of taking an illegal commission of about Rs 16 crore from Bofors for having helped the company clinch the controversial gun deal.  PTI


New Delhi, 19 October, 2002

Lisbon has officially told New Delhi that it would not interfere in the Portuguese judicial process and India should initiate extradition proceedings against fugitive Mumbai blasts accused Abu Salem instead of trying for the more speedy process of deportation. This means that the Salem case could end up as a no-show for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), at least for a long while to come. CBI sources said that in a letter to External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha earlier in the week, Portuguese foreign minister Jaime Gama reiterated that Portuguese law would take its own course as Salem was an offender in that country. Under the circumstance, it would not be possible for Lisbon to deport Salem through executive intervention but New Delhi was welcome to initiate extradition proceedings against him. According to the Servicos de Extrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), the Portuguese government agency dealing with foreigners and border issues, "administrative procedures (are) second (to) criminal procedures" in Portugal. "Salem faces criminal charges (of travelling on forged documents) in Portugal. He has first to be heard on trial. The court of law also has the power to rule for deportation," Marilia Neres of the SEF told The Times of India. Neres said that Salem had a Residence Card, which was granted because he had married a Portuguese citizen. "The authorities are now investigating if the marriage is legal and if the documents are genuine or not. The Residence Card will be cancelled if either of these are proven illegal," she added. The Indian assurance that the death penalty would be waived for Salem is also unlikely to be of much help. Neres stressed that Portuguese law prohibited extradition or deportation "to countries that apply death penalty or life imprisonment". All this could put the CBI on thin ice as it has so far failed to present a watertight case against Salem, especially in the Mumbai blasts incident. The CBI has been trying for an executive order for deportation, feeling Salem's most-wanted status in India and an Interpol alert would be enough to sway the Portuguese. Lisbon has refused to play ball, saying the CBI's case was built on "second-hand information from rivals and gangsters". The CBI is now putting together a case of passport forgery and digging up more dirt on Salem to strengthen its case.  The Times of India


Colombo, 17 October, 2002

Britain was not yet ready to lift a ban on Tamil Tiger rebels but should consider doing so if a peace process in Sri Lanka gathers pace, a British member of parliament said on Wednesday after a private visit. "There will undoubtedly come a time when we will have to review the decision we took to ban the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam," Garath Thomas, private secretary to Charles Clarke, the chairman of the labour party, told a news conference. Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting for a separate state in the island during a conflict nearly two decades long that has claimed more than 64,000 lives. Britain last year banned the rebels, also outlawed by the United States, India and Canada, as part of a number of groups it deemed terrorist organisations. "The signs are positive but we are not quite there yet," Thomas said. Thomas, whose own constituency has a large number of Tamil refugees, said he met government and rebel officials as both sides prepare for a second round of peace talks in Thailand later this month. A Norwegian-brokered peace bid to end the conflict is seen as the best chance yet to end a war that previous peace bids have failed to resolve. "I have been very encouraged by the peace process, and will be making that clear to the Foreign Office minister and the Home Office minister," Thomas said. Robert Evans, a member of the European Parliament, who also travelled to the north and east, said he was impressed with the benefits a ceasefire agreement, signed in February, had brought to the people living in war-torn regions of the country. He said he would recommend to the European Parliament that it step up assistance and encourage investors to make investments in the country. The government and Tamil Tiger rebels made a joint appeal for donor assistance to resettle people displaced due to the war and to rebuild the war-ravaged regions after the first round of direct peace talks held last month.  Reuters


Islamabad, 15 October, 2002

Pakistan and Switzerland on Tuesday signed the revised convention on the avoidance of double taxation between the two countries. Member direct taxes, Vakil Ahmed Khan said that the convention was initialled after extensive deliberations by tax experts of both the countries. This will be an important step towards strengthening bilateral economic relations and promotions of investment between the two countries, said the spokesman. The two countries had already held seven round of talks to develop consensus on some articles to conclude the revised agreement of the double taxation, which was finally resolved in the eighth round of face to face talks held here in Islamabad. Mr. Khan said that re-negotiation of operative tax agreements was not an unusual phenomenon. It was part of updating existing agreements in view of fast changing business environment all over the world. That was why many operative tax treaties have already been revised and the process was going on, he added. The convention for avoidance of double taxation between Pakistan and Switzerland was concluded in the late 50s and made operative in October 1960. It was subsequently modified in respect of some of the provisions through a supplementary protocol in 1964. The convention essentially emphasizes the concept of taxation of income of international business transaction in the home country of the recipient, the spokesman said. The two countries exchanged the documents signed by deputy head of the division for international fiscal law and double taxation matters of federal tax administration of Switzerland, Eric Hess and Vakil Ahmed Khan, member, direct taxes. The Dawn


Bradford, 15 October, 2002

Every year Hindus of Bradford celebrate the sacred festival of Navratri peacefully as it is celebrated in other British Cities. The difference here is that during every celebration Hindu worshippers are under constant threat of attacks from other minority community. Every year the Deepawali Lights are wantonly damaged, temple worshippers are confronted with severe abuse and hostility, women and children spat at, Mandirs and Elderly Day centres are arson attacked and our youths are under severe intimidation. In the face of all these assaults Bradford Hindus have shown remarkable restraint, as this is second nature to them. However, after yesterday's attack on their peaceful celebrations, Hindus are feeling a sense of neglect by the authorities. Dr Suresh Tailor, a senior officer of the World Council of Hindus (Yorkshire), said, " for how long do you expect Hindus to be attacked each time they are going on about their peaceful celebrations and why are we not accorded the same protection as others. Why are we treated like second class citizens?" He expressed fear for the remainder of celebrations after yesterday's incident. Satish Shah, another organiser of the festival who received injuries in the attack was furious with the attitude of these thugs who went on attacking the Hindus time and again. " Is there no parental control on these mindless thugs who are ruining the image of Bradford", he said. Mr Balubhai Patel, President of Bhartiya Mandal said " this attack was racially motivated. These Asian lawless misfits should not get any sympathy from any quarter and should be put away for a long term to protect Hindus in the city. They are making our lives miserable in the city. Such intimidation cannot be allowed to go ahead". Mr Ashwin Mistry, local Secretary of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) said, "this attack is reminiscent of continuous harassment and abuse Hindu elderly and youth are facing daily in Bradford. Our elderly day centre is under constant attack and the members feel as if they are living in a no go area." Sunday's attack is the limit of Hindu tolerance in the City. A vanload of these Asian youths came to create trouble. They exposed indecently to the worshippers and desecrated our festival. When confronted they ran away, only to return half an hour later to cause havoc. The prayers had just been offered and the devotees were leaving when they resumed their religious hatred by showing disrespect. As the worshippers were leaving, the miscreants panicked and wanted to make a speedy exit. But due to the rush of cars leaving, they could not make an easy exit and started driving back and forth with purposeful intent of ramming their way out. In this process, they almost ran over a few of the organisers who were trying to make it safe for other devotees who were in real danger of being run down. The miscreants rammed 5 to 6 cars, severely damaging two, and got away. It was the quick thinking of the organisers that we are so lucky not to have a fatality. A firing inferno was averted that could have had disastrous consequences among the women, children and the elderly of the Hindu community. Bradford Hindus are more concerned at the lack of Police Protection, although they were promised a regular onsite patrol of all the venues of the festival as in the previous years. Hindus are also very concerned at the manner in which our politicians go on about pampering the offending community by criticising the judges for passing deterrent sentences against these religious bigots. The authorities should empower the police to protect Hindu minorities who are a minority within a minority and make the parents of the miscreants accountable for the action of their irresponsible youths. Nothing short of this is acceptable to Hindus of Bradford.
The recent history of assault on Hindus in Bradford is not a happy story. Over a decade a catalogue of wanton destruction and attacks on Hindus and their properties exposes their vulnerability. Some of them are : ·5 temples were firebombed in 1992 ·A Hindu businessman was shot at on his property ·Elderly day members abused and assaulted on a regular basis ·Festival lights wantonly damaged every year in the city ·Women and children spat on when attending weddings and festivals ·Our youths are intimidated and attacked in schools and youth centres ·During 1995 riots, all businesses damaged and firebombed were non-Muslim. Many Indian businesses left the areas of attack ·Hindu family living over the business premises attacked with all the glass windows smashed and the fear of burning down the property was real ·During riots of 2001, Hindu businesses burned down; elderly day centres attacked and guests at a Hindu wedding reception were saved by the grace of God from near death. Not a single Hindu was involved in the rights ·Temple on Laistridge Lane firebombed at night. The police responded after 3 hours of pondering. These assaults continue and the Hindus are under siege and without a voice. These are the questions that are worrying the Hindus of Bradford: To what degree does the Hindu community retain faith in the authorities to protect them and make them feel safe as equal citizens? ·Why are the police and the politicians not able to identify differences in the behaviour pattern of many communities that make up the Asian community, for clearly Hindus are poles apart from others in the way they contribute to the education, economy, cultural enhancement and law & order? Why were the police not able to anticipate such an attack? Even the most primitive database would have given this information to them. ·Why do they always have excuses to offer when the Hindus are attacked - are they any less than equal than others? ·Here are the Hindus who, despite the setbacks of riots, were giving a positive image of Bradford through a Live World transmission on BBC who were broadcasting the international phenomenon of the Navraatri Festival from Mumbai (Bombay), Chicago, Brisbane and Bradford. Is this the reward Hindus get from the Local Politicians and the authorities for making sure that Bradford's bid for capital of Cultures in 2008 is successful? These are serious issues that needs urgent redress, for if the Hindus are not treated with fairness, then they will express their disapproval by slowly withdrawing from active promotion of the City. They will also ensure the safety of their own, with or without the support of the Police and the Politicians. They may not have a vote bank, but make no mistake they surely have nerves of steel to face the circumstances.  MSN


London, 07 October, 2002

The newly formed World Punjabi Organisation (WPO) in Britain will launch a fresh campaign for the return of the Kohinoor diamond to the State of Punjab. The move follows a strong plea made during a visit to the British Parliament by Indian MP Kuldip Nayar, who has led the campaign to get back Kohinoor to India. "The WPO endorses Kuldip Nayar's demand that the Kohinoor belongs to Punjab and should be returned to Punjab," its chairman A.P.S. Chawla told IANS. "We will work with other organisations to build a movement here for its return." The WPO plans a series of moves that will include lobbying MPs and building up a pressure group. "The Greeks are claiming back the Elgin marbles and we too have a right to ask for the Kohinoor," Chawla said. "If the British can consider returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece, they should return our treasures also." Chawla said the prime moves on the Kohinoor would have to be made at the government level, but lobbying within Britain can be a great support to these moves. He said the Kohinoor was gifted to Queen Victoria by Maharaja Duleep Singh when he was a boy. "This kind of what is called gift has no legal validity." The move to get back Kohinoor picked up after Nayar addressed a meeting at the House of Commons to mark the formation of the WPO in London. British Indian MP Keith Vaz hosted the meeting. About 100 leading Punjabis attended the meeting where Nayar raised the matter of the Kohinoor. But Nayar indicated the Indian government will have to be lobbied, not just the British government. "I was told the matter should not be pushed because of India's excellent relations with Britain," Nayar said. The move over Kohinoor follows a move by the WPO for exhuming Maharaja Duleep Singh's trophy from his tomb in Cambridge and having the last rites done in India.  IANS


Islamabad, 03 October, 2002

Foreign Minister, Inamul Haq, met Italy's deputy Foreign Minister, Margherita Boniver, on Thursday and asked her to intervene in the case of 15 Pakistanis held in Italy on suspicion of belonging to Al Qaeda. Haq "conveyed Pakistan's concern at the unsubstantiated charges of terrorism" against the 15 suspects, arrested in August from a ship off the Italian coast and charged with conspiracy to carry out terrorist acts, a foreign ministry statement said. The minister called on Boniver to "personally intercede for the early and just resolution of the issue," the statement added. Pakistan in mid-September said it regretted the labelling of the 15 detainees as Al Qaeda suspects, the network held responsible for carrying out the Sept 11 attacks on New York and Washington, without verifying their identification papers or "properly investigating the matter." Italian officials arrested the suspects after the coastguard intercepted their vessel, the Sara, off the coast of Sicily, following a tip- off from Italian intelligence services. Officials who searched the merchant ship claimed the men were Pakistanis who were travelling on false passports. The vessel, with a cargo of lead, was bound for Libya from the Moroccan port of Casablanca when it strayed into Italian waters. Authorities have also charged the suspects with conspiracy to carry out subversive acts, after an investigation by Italy's anti-terrorist police, aided by the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (USNCIS) which is based in Sicily. Qudssia Akhlaque adds: Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister, Margherita Boniver, called on the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Inamul Haq and Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar here on Thursday. The Italian deputy minister arrived here on a goodwill visit late Wednesday from Afghanistan. On Thursday, she held wide- ranging talks with the two foreign office officials. Officials said bilateral and regional issues including Afghanistan, Iraq and the international campaign against terrorism figured during discussions. The foreign office sources told Dawn that the issue of the detained Pakistani nationals in Italy was raised with the visiting dignitary. Madame Boniver left Islamabad on Thursday evening.  The Dawn


Lahore, 27 September, 2002

19-year-old Fiza, a British citizen, was set free from ‘illegal detention’ in Pakistan by Justice Farhat Latif of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Multan Bench, after a petition of habeas corpus was filed by the British High Commission second secretary for her recovery. According to details, British High Commission Second Secretary Mark filed a petition in the LHC Multan Bench for Fiza’s recovery after being approached by her friends in Britain. Fiza’s mother, Ms Tanveer Khan, had brought Fiza to Pakistan on the pretext of spending the summer holidays here two months ago. However, once here she illegally kept Fiza from returning. When Fiza realised that she was being denied access to the Internet and the telephone, she demanded that her mother send her back to Britain. But her mother refused. Alarmed at this development, Fiza got hold of a mobile phone, from which she called her friends in Britain, apprising them of the situation. Her friends in turn got hold of the British Foreign office and demanded her recovery from Pakistan. Following this, the British High Commission in Pakistan contacted Mr Joseph Francis, the Centre For Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) coordinator for help. Mr Francis traced Fiza’s whereabouts in Multan with the help of the phone number from which she called her friends in Britain. After that, Mr Mark filed a habeas corpus petition in the LHC Multan Bench for her recovery. Fiza was recovered by the court bailiff on September 23 and produced in the court on September 24. Her mother requested the judge to give orders restraining Fiza from leaving the country and even offered to surrender her British nationality. Mr Mark, however, explained to the court that even if Ms Khan surrendered her nationality, Fiza would remain a British national, as she was a 19-year-old adult woman and not an under-aged ward of Ms Khan. Mr Rana Maqbool, the advocate representing Ms Khan, asked the court to issue restraining orders to Fiza on the grounds that her mother falsely stated Fiza’s age to be 19 years on her passport, when she was in fact 13 years old. He added that Fiza would be compelled to become a prostitute by her non-Muslim friends and that she should therefore not be handed over to them. However, after examining the evidence presented to the court, Justice Latif declared Fiza to be free to go wherever she chose. Daily Times


Karachi, 23 September, 2002

The 15 Pakistanis arrested in Italy for being "terrorists" have nothing to do with Al Qaeda or any religious organization and are seamen working with a Romanian shipping company, according to information available to Dawn. They fell victim to a dispute that was between the ship's Romanian captain and the Romanian company which owned it, but the Italian police's racism landed them in trouble. They are from the Gujrat, Vehari and Lahore areas and are part of the ship Sara's 21-man crew, the other six crew being Romanian, including its captain, Pop Andrian. The ship is owned by Nova Spirit, a Romanian company. Fourteen of the Pakistani seamen were taken as crew on July 17 this year, while one, Nasir Khan, had been with the ship for nearly two years. The ship had been carrying cargo, including steel, to various countries and had been on sea for 20 days. From Spain, the ship went to Morocco and then was headed for Tunisia when a dispute over salaries cropped up between the Romanian crew and the Romanian owners - the Pakistanis had nothing to do with the row. Captain Andrian warned the Romanian company that he would have the ship attached through the International Transport Federation unless the salary dispute was settled. (Based in London, the ITF is an internationally recognized organization for the settlement of claims involving ship crews.)
Instead of going to Tunisia, the captain took the ship to Malta but was denied entry by the Maltese authorities. Captain Andrian then took the ship to the Italian waters, called the Italian coastguards but misreported the incident by saying that the Romanian crew had threatened his life. He did not blame any Pakistanis. The Italian coastguards took the ship to Gela, a Sicilian port, where the Sicily Harbour Authority Police performed all investigations on board the ship, checked the documents of all crew, including Pakistanis, and found nothing wrong. However, they did realize that there was a dispute over salaries between the owners and the Romanian crew. The Sicily harbour authorities contacted the ITF, which brought the dispute to an end. During this process, the Pakistanis had been shifted from the ship to a Red Cross camp, where their passports and others documents were found in order. They were helped by a Red Cross woman lawyer, Anna Maria, in this regard. The FBI also grilled the Pakistani seamen for five days, during which they were isolated from each other. Even the Americans could find nothing wrong with them. After paying all port charges, the ship was allowed to sail by the Italian authorities, but it could not sail because the Pakistanis were not on board. On Sept 12, the Italian police called a press conference and, to earn a name for themselves, claimed without any basis that the Pakistanis belonged to Al Qaeda. The police alleged that the Pakistanis had received certain secret messages and that they were heading for Libya. Actually, it was the ship that was to go to Libya because it had a cargo of steel, part of which was to be offloaded at Tunis and part in Tripoli, a Libyan port.
The fathers and brothers of the Pakistanis held in Italy have signed affidavits declaring that their sons and brothers had nothing to do with any religious organization, that they were legally employed by the Romanian shipping company, and all had genuine documents when the Italian police arrested them. They regretted that the Pakistan embassy, instead of looking after the interests of their nationals, had merely declared that they were not Pakistan nationals. If the Italian police had sent the passports to the embassy, or some embassy official had bothered to visit them, the embassy would have found that they were bona fide Pakistanis carrying authorized documents. Their misfortunes, they said, was that they happened to be in Italian territorial waters on Sept 11, which was the fist anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They said the crew were earning foreign exchange for Pakistan and had secured jobs abroad at a time when jobs were difficult to be had in the country. If Islamabad did not look after the interests of Pakistan nationals, no Pakistani would again work with foreign shipping companies. They regretted that the Italian police should have displayed gross racism, while the Pakistan embassy in Rome did nothing to help them. The Dawn


London, 22 September, 2002

Thousands of Sikhs gathering for their national convention in the West Midlands have renewed calls for recognition as a distinct ethnic group. Ten thousand people gathered for the event at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Wolverhampton at the weekend. People attending said they had suffered racial abuse and violence since the terrorist attacks on America last year. They argued for changes to give them more protection and allow them to play a greater role in UK society. It is up to the wider community to reach out to the Sikhs and say we welcome your participation Dabinderjity Singh of the Sikh Secretriat said: "I still get called Osama Bin Laden, people laughing at me. "It can be small children. It can be pensioners. It can even be black people." The Sikh's started their campaign for recognition as an ethnic group 12 months ago. There are 600,000 to 700,000 Sikhs in the UK. Local MPs attended the conference to reassure the Sikhs they should have a voice. Wolverhampton South West Labour MP Rob Marris said: "There are not enough school governors for example. "It is up to the wider community to reach out to the Sikhs and say we welcome your participation." Caroline Spelman, Conservative MP for Meriden said: "The census which went out only last year did not seperately identify them as a group in a mandatory way. "It was left optional for public authorities to collect data on Sikhs as an ethnic group." In April 250 Sikhs lobbied MPs at the House of Commons to demand a change in how their ethnic identity is officially recognised. Currently Sikhs are classified for monitoring purposes as British Indians. The community leaders argued they should be known as a separate group in official documentation. They claimed the right to a distinctive identity existed under the Race Relations Amendment Act. They said they would take legal action against the Home Office and the Commission for Racial Equality, if their pleas were ignored. They also asked for funds for Sikh organisations, help in promoting the Sikh identity and language, funding for Sikh schools, help in preserving Sikh heritage and help in protecting Sikhs' human rights. BBC


Bhubaneswar, 21 September, 2002

India has sought the deportation of Abu Salem from Portugal and would give in writing to Lisbon that he would not be given the death penalty if found guilty of the charges against him, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said today. Mr Advani told reporters here that Salem had been detained in Portugal for three months and during this period the CBI, with the help of the Interpol, would try to get him deported. "I hope during this period the task would be completed and Salem would be brought back and tried for the crimes he has committed," he said. He said the Portuguese Government had been requested through its Embassy in New Delhi and the Indian mission in Lisbon to deport Salem to India. Mr Advani said the Indian Government would give in writing to Portugal, a member of the European Union, that Salem, if deported, would not be given the death penalty. According to a convention to which EU countries are signatories, an accused cannot be deported to a country where he might be executed. Home Ministry sources said Mr Advani spoke to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the issue, adding that the process to seek the deportation of Salem was being worked out by the Home Ministry and the Law Ministry. PTI


London, 19 September, 2002

Criticising the Labour Party for doing little to clear misconceptions concerning Sikhs in the post September 11 scenario, the community on September 19 warned the ruling faction that it cannot take its support for granted. "There was no co-ordinated voice to stand up for Sikhs in this country after the September 11 attacks, the need for that voice became stronger as Sikhs across Britain were attacked under the misapprehension they were Afghans," Dabinderjit Singh, a spokesman for the Sikh Secretariat has said. "Traditionally Sikhs vote Labour and the majority of Sikh communities live in Labour constituencies. But unless the government starts showing an interest, that will change." In 2001 over 700,000 Sikhs in Britain, who make up the third largest faith, formed the Sikh Secretariat to present a co-ordinated approach to promoting their issues. However, they said ministers had done little to help them, especially with the increased hostilities towards ethnic minorities after the September 11 attacks, mistaking Sikhs as Afghans. "Labour MPs come to our meetings or lobby days and say nice things but there is no substance. When you go back a few months later and ask what has been done the response is very vague," he said. Singh's comments come on the eve of the three-day conference of the Sikh Secretariat in Wolverhampton, West Midlands which about 10,000 Sikhs are expected to attend. The secretariat was formed last year after the government banned two Sikh organisations, claiming that they were terrorist groups. PTI


Paris, 19 September, 2002

The leaderless Sikh community of France, fighting French laws that require them to cut their hair and remove their turbans, may have finally found a messiah. Shiromani Akali Dal leader and MP Simranjit Singh Mann said he would raise the issue with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and France's ambassador to India. Mann, who is currently in Paris as part of his month-long European and American tour, said he was appalled at the ignorance of the French about the Sikh religion and that they forced Sikhs living in France to cut their hair and did not allow them to wear their turbans. "The French and the Sikhs have known each other for over three centuries now. The Sikh rulers often had French soldiers serving in their armies and the Sikhs, as part of the British Indian Army, had played a very crucial role in the liberation of France from German occupation in both the world wars. "Yet, now the French seem to be totally ignorant of the Sikh culture. I am surprised and appalled at this," Mann told IANS in Paris. He added that he had already discussed the issue with Indian Ambassador to France Savitri Kunadi and would take it up at the highest levels of the Indian government as soon as he returned to New Delhi. "The Indian government needs to take urgent action to help its own citizens." Mann said the Sikh community living overseas also needed to get more proactive in the political processes of their adopted countries in order to avoid such unpleasant experiences. "So far, Sikhs have by and large stayed out of the political process in all countries except Canada. Even in Britain, despite its numerical strength, the Sikh community has practically no political power. "Hence, throughout my trip, I have been urging the Sikhs to join any political party in their adopted countries. They need to assert themselves and only then can they get their problems resolved." During his trip, which takes him to Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands, Mann said he has three primary issues. He is urging Western governments and lawmakers to put pressure on India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear weapons. "The presence of nuclear weapons in the region is a huge threat and unfortunately, Punjab is sandwiched between the two sides and will be the battlefield in the event of any future war." Mann said: "I told them (Western governments) that the threat in our region is even higher then the threat of Iraq using its weapons and most of them agreed that the Western governments needed to take some action in order to prevent any nuclear war in the South Asian region." Another issue that Mann has been taking up during his tour is that India has not signed a number of crucial international treaties that safeguard human rights, especially the rights of the minorities. "I am bringing their attention to this fact and urging the West to put some pressure so that India signs and ratifies these treaties," he said. In Germany, Mann will take up the issue of D.P.S. Bhullar, who has been convicted of a bombing in New Delhi for which he has been sentenced to death. Bhullar was extradited from Germany nearly five years ago, but the European Union (E.U.) laws prevent extradition of people if they face death penalties in the countries where they are to be tried. Mann said that Germany committed a blunder by extraditing Bhullar without getting this guarantee from India and now the Germans are keen to rectify their error. "During my meeting with the foreign office officials, I will urge them to mount pressure on India so that the death sentence is commuted," he said. IANS


London, 19 September, 2002

The row over British Home Secretary David Blunkett's call for immigrants to speak English at home has intensified with Keith Vaz, former Europe Minister of Indian origin, branding it as the silliest remark made by a Home Secretary. In a strongly worded statement Vaz said Blunkett was making Asian immigrants a "cheap target" and he would regret his remarks. "If this was a Conservative Home Secretary he would have been asked to apologise by now," Vaz said. "The immigrant community has become a cheap target." Blunkett was, however, defended by Paramjit Dhanda, the Labour MP for Gloucester, who said asking immigrants to speak English was "an obvious statement really". It was the kind of issue that ordinary people talked about and politicians should not be afraid to address it. Blunkett had said in an article, in a forthcoming book titled "Reclaiming Britishness" that young immigrants should speak English at home in order to prevent "schizophrenic rifts" between generations. Vaz challenged Blunkett to spend a night with an Asian family in his Leicester East constituency to hear for himself how they have mastered the language of their adopted country. Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said, "Blunkett is simply pointing out advantages to children if English is spoken at home, as well as their mother tongue. The Prime Minister agrees it is an advantage to children to grow up in a home which is bilingual." PTI


London, 16 September, 2002

In the ultimate paradox, earthy Punjabi abuse and choice Hindi phrases have greeted a senior British government minister's prescription of "more English at home" for Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants when they talk to their children. But even as howls of Asian protest erupted across Britain, at least one Indian-origin MP defended the new linguistic test of Britishness. Labour MP Paramjit Dhanda defended as "innocuous" British Home Secretary David Blunkett's essay in a book published on Monday, which said "speaking English enables parents to converse with their children in English, as well as in their historic mother tongue, at home and to participate in wider modern culture. It helps overcome the schizophrenia which bedevils generational relationships". The book, Reclaiming Britishness, is published by a leading London think-tank whose patron is Prime Minister Tony Blair, while the NRI industrialist Lord Swaraj Paul sits on its advisory council. Asian community leaders told this paper that Asians appeared to have become a useful political football for a British Labour government worried about the rising popularity of right-wing parties across Europe. The leaders alleged that Blunkett had official blessing for this, his second controversial prescription in less than a week for inculcating 'Britishness' in Asians. Blunkett's focus on English language skills for British Asians and his pointed rejection of "forced marriages" common among some sub-continental groups, came with his tough warning: "Respect for cultural difference has limits". Analysts said the Asian focus appeared to be prompted by last year's horrific riots in north-west England by mainly British Pakistani youths. However, a spokesman for Blunkett's ministry on Monday stressed that he had emphasised the riots were not directly caused by a "lack of fluency in English". Blunkett, who is a key cabinet colleague of Blair's, has himself been described as a future prime minister. Allegations of racism centred around Blunkett's decision to quote statistics from "a recent citizenship survey... (which found that) in as many as 30% of Asian British households, English is not spoken at home". Angry Asians demanded why English was not a required "home" language for French, Spanish or Italian families in Britain. But, the official spokesman said the minister was not presuming to dictate what language people spoke at home. The think-tank, the Foreign Policy Centre, told TNN that Blunkett's remarks had been taken out of context.  The Times of India


Islamabad, 14 September, 2002

Pakistan on Friday dismissed reports the individuals detained in Sicily on charges of terrorism are Pakistani nationals and conveyed its concern to the Italian government for making allegations without investigating the matter. "Claims that the detained individuals are Pakistani nationals and are linked with al-Qaeda are unfortunate and premature," a Foreign Office spokesman said here in a statement. Some newspapers carried reports on Friday about the arrest of 15 Pakistanis in Sicily, Italy, on charges of terrorism. The spokesman, while giving "factual position", said the Italian Interior Ministry approached Pakistan's Embassy in Rome on August 20 to verify travel documents and identity cards of 15 individuals. "On 10 September 2002, after confirmation from the authorities concerned in Pakistan, the Embassy informed the Italian Ministry of Interior that the documents were false and had not been issued by the Government of Pakistan," the spokesman said. The government requested the Italian Ministry for consular access to determine the nationality of the individuals in custody which, he said, has not been provided so far. "The Embassy of Pakistan in Rome has conveyed Pakistan's concerns to the Italian government for making allegations before thoroughly investigating the matter and despite the fact that the Government of Pakistan had informed them that the documents carried by the individuals were false," the spokesman said. A similar demarche was made to the Italian Embassy in Islamabad, he added. The News International


Madrid, 12 September, 2002

Four Britons of Indian origin were prevented from returning home to UK because a number of fellow passengers on their charter flight thought they looked suspicious and threatened to leave the aircraft, Madrid daily El Pais reported on Friday. The newspaper said the four men, whose travel documents were in order, were victims of "September 11 syndrome". The four, aged between 29 and 35, had just passed security checks when they were barred from boarding the flight on Thursday from Gerona, northeastern Spain, to Luton, eastern England. A spokesman for the British company running the flight, My Travel, was unavailable for comment. After the Airbus 320 had left, the men learned that 25 of the 260 passengers, whose nationalities were not revealed, had told the pilot they would leave the plane if he allowed the men on board, the paper added. One of the four tourists told El Pais no one had regarded them suspiciously before they had tried to board the plane and complained they had been victims of racial discrimination. El Pais said airport security personnel had not intervened, on the grounds that an airline captain was "the boss on board his plane". The four Britons, whose names have not been released, had been visiting a friend in Blanes, northeastern Spain, and were returning home to Luton. They said they did not intend to get involved in the "pointless bureaucracy" of making a complaint.  PTI


London, 11 September, 2002

A jury yesterday watched video film of white gangs rampaging through Burnley, throwing stones and missiles at police, shouting racist abuse at Asian motorists, and torching a shop while an Asian family cowered upstairs. The footage was shot on June 24 last year as white and Asian men took to the streets of the town, attacking each other and clashing with police. The video was played at the opening of the trial at Preston crown court of six Asian men and youths charged for their alleged parts in the disturbances. The six were each charged with violent disorder, possessing offensive weapons and criminal damage. All charges were denied by Tariq Saddique, 28, Abdul Rahim Kayani, 19, Mohammed Maroof Bashir, 21, Mohammed Nawaz, 35, Asif Khan, 23, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons. The six are the first Asians to go on trial after last summer's disturbances. Forty-five whites have been convicted, with the town's different racial groups being tried separately. Prosecuting, David Pickup said the defendants' claim to have been acting to defend their communities was false because the whites were rampaging through a different part of town: "What these defendants engaged in were not acts of self-defence but acts of wanton violence. "It was a very violent and dangerous situation with the whites. The Asians in the community feared for their lives during that, but they were not these defendants. "The defendants may have acted in revenge and probably in reaction to what was going on, but not in self-defence." He said tension started mounting in Burnley on Friday June 22 when a white man was stabbed in clashes between whites and Asians in the Duke Bar area, and an Asian cab driver was attacked by three white men. Throughout Saturday tension remained high with sporadic clashes and a group of 50 Asians attacking the Duke of York pub. The jury watched footage from the peak of the disturbances shot on the Sunday, taken from CCTV cameras, a police helicopter and a police video camera crew. A group of white men tried to get into a predominantly Asian area and were stopped by police. They then marched through the town, shouting racist abuse and attacking cars with Asians inside. The whites are shown making nazi salutes and eventually gathering outside a pub. Police in riot gear charged them after missiles were thrown. The whites moved through the town. A police helicopter saw whites surround an Asian run shop in the predominantly white Burnleywood area. The door was kicked in and the shop set alight with an Asian family upstairs. A car outside was also set alight. The whites were videoed looting and kicking in the doors of other houses before storming inside. The white males were "leaving behind them a trail of destruction", Mr Pickup said: "Asians feared for their lives but they were not these defendants. It was the other end of town." The footage showed Asians gathering and then setting off intent on violence, the prosecution said. The defendants are alleged to have carried sticks, a golf club, a sword and pieces of wood. Four defendants are alleged to have been part of a charge on a police line, forcing officers back. Saddique and Bashir are alleged to have taken part in an attack on a working men's club. The trial continues.  The Guardian


London, 09 September, 2002

In a fresh bid to assimilate Sikh extremist elements into the mainstream, the vice-chairman of National Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh has suggested temporary visas for Sikhs blacklisted in India for holding protests against ‘Operation Bluestar’ so that they could go to the homeland and judge the changes for themselves. ‘‘Government has already removed all but about 100 names from the list. Even those Sikhs, irrespective of their political affiliations should be given temporary visas to visit their families or the Golden Temple,’’ Singh said here. He said he had already written to PM A.B. Vajpayee and Dy PM L.K. Advani and met him in this regard. ‘‘The indications are that the government is keen to remove the ban permanently,’’ said Singh, who is here on an official visit here. He has already met with several Sikh groups in London and Birmingham including some extremist groups who, he said had assured him that they would not participate in any anti-India or Kashmiri demonstrations. Singh also met the High Commissioner for India Ronen Sen and suggested that steps be taken to win over the erstwhile Khalistani elements who seemed to have given up their hard stance. PTI


London, 08 September, 2002

Raising a fresh controversy, India's minority commission vice-chairman Tarlochan Singh has sought that the last Sikh ruler Duleep Singh's remains be brought back to Punjab for performing his last rites according to Hindu/Sikh rituals. Singh's suggestion at a reception hosted by the World Punjabi Organisation, UK Chapter on September 7 night was welcomed by the huge gathering including Kuldeep Nayyar, member of Parliament (MP), Former High Commissioner of India to UK, actor- turned politician Raj Babbar, MP, and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. Maharaja Duleep Singh, son of legendary Punjab ruler Ranjit Singh, was brought to England in 1847 after his father's death when he was seven years old and was converted to Christianity. The British Empire also managed to get the Kohinoor diamond from him as a gift to Queen Victoria, Singh recalled. Although he embraced Sikhism again, the British never allowed him to visit India and constructed a palace for him at Elvedon, near Cambridge. A disenchanted Duleep Singh left Elvedon and settled down in Paris where he passed away. His body was brought to UK in 1897 and was buried at Elvedon. Calling for a public veneration of Duleep Singh, Tarlochan Singh cited the case of martyr Udam Singh, who avenged the the Jallianwala massacre and whose tomb was opened and his mortal remains taken in 1974 following an appeal made by the then Punjab Chief Minister Giani Zail Singh. Tarlochan Singh said he would move the British High Commission in Delhi for permission to dig up the grave of the last Sikh ruler so that his mortal remains could be cremated and ashes taken to Punjab as per his last wishes.  PTI


Lahore, 03 September, 2002

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has declared that expatriate Pakistanis can have dual nationality, but they cannot contest elections as envisaged in Article 63(1)C of the Constitution. This was declared on a petition filed by a Pakistani-American Umar Ahmad Ghumman, who had approached the LHC, contending that he wanted to contest the forthcoming elections, but the existing law did not allow him. Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jilani declared this in a judgement, which was released by Justice Nasim Sikandar on Monday. The judge observed that there were no guidelines for notifying the countries where the expatriate Pakistanis could have dual nationality. Providing the dual nationality to certain number of the people and denying it to others was in violation of Article 4 and 25 of the Constitution, he observed. Therefore, a law should be laid down and parameters be specified within which this law would operate. The judge observed that Pakistanis living in the US were as loyal as any other expatriate Pakistani. The Pakistanis, who have made long-lasting impact on the American society with hard work could also contribute to the well-being of their homeland, if they were allowed a free access to their motherland. "The Pakistanis who have not renounced their Pakistani citizenship shall continue to be the citizen of this country, and entitled to have the right and privileges like other citizens. But for those who have renounced their citizenship of origin, and like to have it resumed, the law is not explicit." The judge observed that the facility of dual nationality was being extended to the Pakistani expatriates in the US for the first time. Those who had renounced their citizenship under the impression that they had no option, might enjoy this facility for resumption of their original citizenship. The judge directed that necessary legislation and amendments to Rule 19-B of the Pakistan Citizen Rules 1952 shall be made immediately and declaration in form Y prescribed under these rules shall be sufficient proof of the intent of resumption of citizenship and individual making declaration should be treated as a citizen. The judge declined to entertain the plea of petitioner's counsel that Article 63(1)C could only be imposed on the elected members of parliament and not on those intending to contest elections.  The News International


London, 02 September, 2002

With the advent of a new strict work permit regime in Britain, which discourages foreign computer employees, UK is expected to limit the steady influx of an estimated 1000 Indian IT workers a month. It is pertinent to mention that it has been around two years that Britain followed Germany in officially inviting thousands of Indian IT workers into the country on fast-track visas. However, it ended up watching the computer chips going down for the foreign whiz kids. The new government rules, which do not specifically name Indians or any nationality at all, are expected to limit the steady influx into Britain of an estimated 1000 Indian IT workers a month. According to the British IT workers who are much delighted about the new rule, said it would prevent the unnecessary import of Indian workers, as also the "exploitative and colonial" practice of paying imported Indian talent a fraction of the wages their British counterparts would demand as a right. The IT contractors feel that from now on every offered job in Britain will be genuine and properly paid. On the other hand, an IT consultant Gurdial Rai, a second-generation Indian immigrant who presented data to the British government on the so-called "exploitation" of Indians said, "Indian-based software houses such as Wipro, TCS, Satyam and so on, have set up subsidiaries here, which pay the Indians half the equivalent wage of a British employee." Rai, according to whom, he built up evidence of unfair wage practices for hundreds of Indian workers, alleges many live in "squalid conditions." The new regime has also effectively closed Britain to overseas IT workers because the government now says "it has no domestic skills shortage" and enough unemployed computer workers of its own. However, Indian officials here dismiss the PCG's allegations. Acknowledging the importance for India of Britain's changed priorities on overseas IT recruitment, Spokesman for the Indian High Commission, said, "the information was conveyed to Delhi on Friday," but at present "existing Indian companies working here are not affected as there are no restrictions on intra-company staff transfers into the UK."  PNS


London, 28 August, 2002

The British government has said the Pakistan authorities have not approached Britain to extradite Benazir Bhutto. Official sources told Dawn here on Wednesday that there was no extradition treaty between the two countries, therefore, the extradition of any person from either countries was not possible in the present circumstances. Commenting on reports suggesting that the Pakistani authorities were in touch with the British government seeking extradition of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan, officials said there was no such move. Benazir Bhutto, who at present is living in London in self-exile, denies that she was ever involved in corruption, saying "the allegations against her are politically motivated." Ms Benazir says she was planning to return to Pakistan before October elections. The exact date of her return is not known, however the PPP sources in London told Dawn that the decision about her return to Pakistan could be made within 10 days.  The Dawn


London, 28 August, 2002

Race attacks on Muslims in Leicester rose dramatically after September 11, according to new research. But a Muslim leader in the city said work done in the wake of the tragedy had eased the tension. The investigation by psychology lecturer Dr Lorraine Sheridan, of the University of Leicester, found Muslims in Leicester and Stoke suffered a rise in verbal and physical abuse - including unprovoked street violence and spitting - after the terrorist attacks. There are thought to be 35,000 Muslims in the city. Dr Sheridan said 451 questionnaires were filled in by Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and Christians - and by members of seven different ethnic backgrounds. Dr Sheridan said: "In Leicester, it was bad. People were having their children attacked. One woman had a baby tipped out of a pram in London Road. "Others were spat at and there was lots of verbal abuse, as well as some people beaten up. "Mosques were targeted and Muslim taxi drivers suffered. "This is all directly after September 11, but before then Muslims were suffering the most discrimination anyway. "What we feel is that religious discrimination is more significant than racist discrimination. "Fortunately, I think the good work that was carried out in Leicester after September 11 had an impact. We've got a good record of multicultural issues in this city. There are very few problems, but there are still problems. "What needs to be done now is more education and better legal coverage for religious groups." Manzoor Moghal, chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicestershire, said there had been cases of racist abuse in the city after September 11. But he said a close partnership between Muslim groups, other religions, the police and the city council had helped stem some of the potential trouble. Responding to the survey, he said: "Discrimination against Muslims has been greater than against other communities and has increased since September 11, based on ignorance, racism and hatred of other religions. "There was an increase in xenophobia since September 11 because there was a Muslim dimension, and it was natural for non-Muslim feelings to be aroused. As time has gone on that has started to diminish."  Leicester Mecury


Hyderabad, 26 August, 2002

The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has condemned the descent-based discrimination practised as caste in India and passed a resolution against it. The Indian Government had vehemently opposed the move arguing that the country had on its own initiated several measures that were having a positive effect, hence it was against the very discussion. The resolution came at its convention in Geneva (the meet was held from August 5 to 23). An important spin-off from this would be that caste-based discrimination would be addressed by the U.N. bodies and within the parameters of iniquities being experienced by the Dalits and similar communities across the world. This is bound to be a major set-back to the Indian Government which had maintained that caste cannot be equated to race all these years. At the same meet the Indian Government even suggested that the Uttat Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, would not have risen to such a high office if discrimination had ever continued without checks. The CERD meet in its General Recommendation No.XXIX dated August 22 said ``that discrimination based on descent includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification such as caste and analogous systems of inherited status, which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of human rights''. Several organisations which fought for the inclusion of caste in one form or the other on the U.N. agenda all these years are happy over the developments. The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) which received a copy of the recommendations on Sunday night termed the triumph as a ``certain defeat'' of the Indian Government which argued that descent-based discrimination should be interpreted within the framework of race only and not be diluted with the inclusion of any other form. The following are some of the committee's other recommendations: educate the general public on the importance of affirmative action programmes to address the situation of victims of descent-based discrimination, encourage dialogue between members of descent-based communities and members of other social groups, ensure relevant judicial decisions and official actions take the prohibition of descent-based discrimination fully into account and take measures to address the special vulnerability of children of descent-based communities to exploitative child labour. Speaking to The Hindu, national convener of the NCDHR, Paul Divakar, on Monday said though the recommendations were welcome the ground realities would not change unless the Government strictly enforced the Constitutional provisions and laws. He appealed to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to set an example to the rest of the world by ensuring equal opportunities for Dalits for development. The NCDHR called upon the NHRC to ensure the compliance of the U.N. Committee declaration by the State. Mr. Divakar also urged the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes commissions, the Women's Commission and the Election Commission to uphold and protect Dalit rights. The NCDHR decided to coordinate its work with many Asian and African nations, which have discriminations of similar origins to collectively address the issue in future.  The Hindu


Islamabad, 25 August, 2002

The National Accountability Bureau on Saturday said that Pakistan was seeking the extradition of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London, to face a range of corruption charges in a Pakistani court. "The extradition of Bhutto is in process," said Lt Gen Munir Hafeez, chairman of NAB adding the government has taken up the issue with UK. Hafeez said "Benazir's extradition is not a special case and the application is routine". In a boost to Pakistan seeking extradition of former premier Benazir Bhutto in corruption related cases, the United States has expressed its willingness to hand over former Sindh Chief Minister and Pakistan People's Party leader Abdullah Shah. (...). PTI


Murrhardt, 19 August, 2002

German police said Monday they had arrested six skinheads for allegedly attacking a 53-year-old Indian man on a train and setting fire to his beard. The six, aged 19 to 26, were arrested by a police patrol in Murrhardt in the southwest state of Baden-Wuerttemberg late on Sunday after the man, who was not injured, reported the incident. AFP


London, 18 August, 2002

Two Sikhs living in Britain have received a landmark pay-out after a Birmingham nightclub banned them because of their turbans. The pay-out received by Harjinder Singh Lal and Jasvinder Marwaha has sent tremors through Birmingham's club-land, where Indian Sikhs regularly get turned away at the door. Harjinder, 42, and Jasvinder, 40, were turned away twice from the Bar 2 Sixty night-club in Broad Street in central Birmingham. Gatekeepers at the club refused to let them in while a black friend was permitted to enter. After a two-day hearing at Birmingham County Court, the nightclub decided to come to an out-of-court settlement without admission of guilt. Harjinder said the settlement will send a message to nightclubs and bars in Birmingham that they cannot discriminate against Asians in the manner that they do. "It sends a message that if it happens again, then people will and can take action," said Harjinder, who works for a local Youth Offending Services. Jasvinder said: "Being turned away from clubs happens all the time in Birmingham and Asians just tend to accept it." Harjinder and Jasvinder went to the bar 2 Sixty with their black friend Eric Queely in May 2000.  PTI


London, 17 August, 2002

Britain's Charity Commission has launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that Vishwa Hindu Parishad, UK and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are linked to terrorist activities. A spokesman of the Commission said that it has contacted the trustees of VHP, UK and the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh to provide further details of their operations. Several London-based Muslim organisations had demanded banning of VHP and RSS and probe into their accounts, claiming that they were responsible for attacks on Muslims in Gujarat. PTI


Paris, 12 August, 2002

The Sikh community in France has threatened to drag the French government to the European court of human rights for policies that force Sikhs to cut their hair. Sikhs also have problems keeping their turbans because French rules require that a photograph needed for any official purpose -- be it a driving licence, passport or residence card -- be taken without anything on the head. "So effectively this means that all my photographs with turbans are rejected by the authorities," said Kanwaljeet Singh, who migrated from Jalandhar in Punjab over a decade ago and now runs a small shop in the Parisian suburbs. Sikhs plan to go to the European court because, despite appeals, France has refused to change rules. And the law is beyond challenge in French courts. Sikh leaders said most men from their community in France are forced to cut their hair or face the prospect of not being able to get any official papers. "This is very disturbing for them since they are desperate to find work and the longer they take in getting their papers, the worse are their prospects of finding employment," said a community leader. But some do not give up. Shinghara Singh Mann migrated to France over three decades ago to learn French. He has since settled down in France, but refused to compromise on his religious beliefs. "When I first had this problem with the authorities over a decade ago, I wrote to the superior officials, explaining the Sikh religion and the importance of hair, since this is one of the five symbols of our religion," Mann said. However, when his letters had no impact at all, he was forced to move the court. "But it was here that the administration played dirty with me. The moment they came to know that I had moved the courts, they delivered my driving license with the photograph with a turban. Thus, the judge cancelled the case saying since I had got what I wanted, the case could not stand," said Mann. However, he soon had to go back to the courts, this time around for his identity card. And once again, the same story was repeated. "This is the trick that they are playing. They don't let the case go up to judgment, since once a judgment is delivered, it will set a precedent and will mean that all Sikhs will be able to get their official documents delivered with a normal photograph. But by delivering my papers when I move the courts, the police ensure that others cannot benefit from my case," said Mann.
As the Sikh community in France has been growing rapidly, community leaders have decided to take legal action to protect their interests. "Once we have an order from the European court, we will not only ensure that all Sikhs in France are allowed to keep their turbans but Sikhs in other European countries too will benefit," said Mann, a member of the executive committee that runs the lone gurdwara in France, on the outskirts of Paris. Another reason why the Sikhs want to move the European court relates to a law in France that bans any religious sign to be worn by a student in the school. For Sikhs this means cutting their hair since schools refuse admissions to Sikh children with turbans. Sikhs say while they understand the spirit behind the law, it is especially unfair to them. "For other religions, it just means either removing their religious signs during the school hours or wearing them inside their clothes. "For instance, you can wear a cross inside your clothes; Muslim women can wear their scarves as soon as they leave the school. But for a Sikh, once you cut your hair, that's it. There is no going back," said Mann. Despite several appeals, the French government has refused to make an exception for Sikhs. "Now, we have no option really but to take legal action," he said. "Hopefully, we will get a favourable verdict and the French government will be obliged to change its laws," said Mann.  IANS


London, 08 August, 2002

Assuring high salary and jobs the fake visa racket is luring people into London. And they amass millions of rupees in one 'endeavor'.One way of cheating is to bring the needy to the country in visiting visa. High salary and accommodation is guaranteed. But a person who reaches here in visiting visa gets fooled as he finds the guarantees his agent made are fake. Meanwhile, million of rupees will be swindled away by the agents. The visitors will have to do hard labour and earn money just enough to spend for his mere survival in the country. Unemployed youth, businessmen, officers who are on long leave have all fell in the trap. The visitors are given strict instruction not to tell the travel details to anyone. They are also not allowed to talk to anyone on reaching London. A person who had an experience says " They assured jobs as soon as they reach London. The salary will be one lakh per month and one and a half lakhs if you are married. And green card will be provided soon". The money they charged for getting the job was Rs 5 lakhs.
"I was lucky because I had someone to pick me at the airport. The others were stranded. They were asked to find a job by themselves. They were also advised to keep away from the work place of the whites. Each day almost Rs 1500 will have to be spent for food and accommodation. A shock went down my spine as I thought of ways to pay back my debts and find an illegal job in London" he said breaking down into tears. This is just an experience of one person. No body with a working visa will be allowed to work or stay permanently in London. Even consulting a doctor can cost you high bills. Another way of fraud is demanding an amount along with the application. Advertisements demanding more than Rs 3000 appear in the Malayalam dailies in Kerala. Lakhs of rupees are swindled in this process. Recently a professor from Pathanamthitta contacted a person here. The company demanded Rs 6000 along with the application form for the post of teacher. When the professor rung up they talked about money and said nothing about the company. He saved his money because he made an enquiry. The experienced say that money deals must not be made without consulting an organisation or persons in London. Or else a person will have to involve in illegal work to earn his bare livelihood. Nurses who wished to come here should have good command over English. They are requested to contact the nursing council to check the authenticity of the work. Whatever is the job; it is advised to make a thorough enquiry before you take a step.  Kaumudi


New Delhi, 02 August, 2002

Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh, who announced the assembly poll schedule for Jammu & Kashmir at a crowded press conference in New Delhi on Friday, snubbed a foreign correspondent who wanted to know why the government was 'allergic' to inviting international observers. "We have a problem with the term 'international observers'," Lyngdoh told him. The time has gone, the CEC said, when "the white man could come and tell you what you are doing is right or wrong. The era of headmasters is over." Lyngdoh asserted that the Election Commission of India was one of the best and most respected institutions of its kind in the world. "I have had talks with the election commissions of the UK, Canada, and Australia," he said. "They have expressed their desire to come and see elections in Kashmir." They could visit the state in their individual capacity, he said, not as representatives of their respective commissions. But what is wrong, another foreign correspondent asked, if someone comes and monitors your elections. "You monitor your cattle," the CEC shot back. "If the foreign media wants to come and see the elections," he continued, "we have no objections. We will allow them full access to the polling booths as well. There will be no discrimination between the Indian and the foreign media." Foreign missions in India can send representatives to Jammu & Kashmir and see the election, he added, but no one would be allowed to give his or her opinion [on how to conduct the exercise]. The CEC told the press conference that the Election Commission had already selected men of integrity and independence to act as observers during the election and they would be reporting to the commission on a regular basis. "Normally the observers are sent after the poll notification, but since elections in Jammu & Kashmir are special, therefore they have been sent much in advance and are on the job right now," he added. He did not, however, specify the number of observers sent to the state.  Rediff


London, 01 August, 2002

Last summer Bradford and Oldham were torn apart by riots between White and Asian youths over racial tensions that many claim were exacerbated by right wing extremist groups. Since the riots 200 youths have been arrested and are being or awaiting sentencing. Of the sentences already passed in Bradford, the average sentence received amongst the forty-six people already convicted is four and a half years for as little as holding or throwing stones. Many of the youths sentenced are in their teens or early twenties and have no previous record of criminal offences. In many cases, the convicted are sole wage earners in their families. The effect of the sentencing on a community who say they already feel let down by authorities who failed to protect them from the right wing extremists that stoked up the violence, has been devastating. According to residents in Bradford, on 7th July 2001 the police allowed a planned demonstration by the National Front to go ahead in Bradford, which led to wide scale rioting over many hours. Millions of pounds worth of damage was caused and 300 police officers injured. Independent reports into the riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, all recognised communities divided by racial tensions, which were stoked by far right extremists to initiate the riots. Deprivation, social exclusion and disillusion amongst the youth of the communities were also recognised as factors leading to community divisions and racial tensions. In the wake of the sentencing a community defence campaign called Fair Justice for All has been set up. The Campaign is led by local women in Bradford whose families have been affected by the harsh sentencing that is being carried out. Launched in July it is being supported by Imran Khan, solicitor for the Lawrence family case, Makbool Javaid, Partner at City law firm DLA, Maqsood Ahmed, Muslim Advisor to the Prison Service and musician and writer Aki Nawaz. (Scroll down for aims of the campaign) Aki Nawaz told us: “After months of silence and frustration the families of the victims of the harsh sentences by the courts in Bradford are beginning to rise up and challenge the Justice System. Within a few weeks the ‘Fair Justice Campaign’ has gained such momentum and support that it could seen to be a template for many campaigns to be put into action for example in Oldham and Burnley. “The sole purpose is to halt a very suspicious and unjust sentencing system, to review the sentencing that has been carried and also to support the families that are suffering from this dark and sinister action - one person has already committed suicide. We want to send a message to the Government that communities will not tolerate Right Wing Provocation and Intimidation and that these groups should not be allowed to antagonise people. It has gone on for far too many years.” The campaign argue that all those who have received sentencing and are awaiting sentencing have admitted their involvement and shown remorse for their activities. They find it “shocking” how a “few moments of madness in so many cases has led to such heavy penalties not just for the convicted but their families, and it is a burden the wider community also will have to bear.”
The overall feeling is that so far no one has addressed the root causes of the frustrations that lead to such riots by youths from respectable law abiding families, a fact acknowledged in April this year by Lord Ouseley, former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, author of the report produced into race relations in Bradford. More recently Lord Ouseley condemned the sentences handed out to rioters as “harsh beyond all reason”. He told a meeting of business representatives in Manning-ham that it was hard to say whether the punishments were politically motivated or not. He said many were swept along by the incident and were not as guilty as those who set fire to cars or threw petrol bombs. He added the sentencing is being looked at. But Neil Franklin, chief prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service in the district, defended the sentences at the meeting. He told reporters: “It may seem harsh when one decent chap with no previous convictions receives a long sentence for throwing one brick. But look at the images of hundreds of young chaps throwing bricks and petrol bombs and the 300 police officers injured under those missiles. It is always necessary to focus on what happened on that night.” Britain has a painful history of riots sparked by racial tensions. In the summer of 1958, white and West Indian youths rioted in Notting Hill Gate, west London. During the 1980’s police policies on stop and search of black youths sparked riots in Brixton, which were followed by similar disturbances in Toxteth in Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham and Bradford. Never before however, has it been known for a sentence of five years to be handed out for the throwing of a stone. Bradford Case Examples Shazad Ashraf, the first to be sentenced is 19 yrs old and has no previous convictions, reprimands or warnings. Employed as a taxi operator at the time of the riots, he was filmed on camera throwing stones and piece of metal at police from the front line of the riot on the 7th July. Hours after his picture was published in a local paper he gave himself up to the police. Despite giving himself up at a very early stage, pleading guilty to riot offences and no history of convictions, he received five years in a young offenders institute. Mohammed Ali Zaman, 26, received a sentence of two-and-a-half years for riot after being filmed throwing two or three stones at the police. Mohammed also tried to usher youngsters off the streets and protect cars parked outside a garage from being attacked. Mudasar Khan, 21, went to the aid of a white shopkeeper and a pregnant woman who found themselves caught up in the riots and, with friends, protected their shop. In spite of this, he received a one-year sentence for violent disorder because he was filmed throwing a stone. Mohammed Arif, 26, has been sentenced to five years and three months for riot. He has two children and no previous convictions and alleges that he was provoked into throwing bricks after a police officer kicked him in the groin. Mohammaed Akram, 23 was filmed throwing numerous missiles at the police and was amongst a crowd advancing towards the police. He received a sentence of five years. Mohammed Munir, 21 years old was filmed throwing two stones at police in riot gear and received a sentence of four years and nine months. Asam Latif, 33, received a sentence of four years and nine months for riot - he threw six stones at police. Asam is the father of four children. Kamran Ali, 20 years old and employed by the Inland Revenue was sentenced to four and a half years after admitting guilty of rioting offences. He was filmed throwing ten stones at police in riot gear. Ashraf Hussain, 30, received a four-year sentence for riot after the court saw video evidence of him throwing two or three stones. Ashraf, who has three children, has psychological problems, which mean that he is easily persuadable - a psychologist gave evidence that he was of abnormally low intelligence and would 'follow the crowd like a sheep'. Alam Zeb Khan, 27, received a three-year sentence for riot - there was no evidence of him throwing stones but he was described by police as a 'ringleader' because he was seen shouting at rioters. Alam is deaf and has no previous convictions. Christopher Ullah who is mixed race and 19, has been convicted of involvement in the Ravenscliffe Estate disturbances. The events there were not officially classified as a 'riot' and so those involved have received much lower sentences than those convicted of involvement in the Manningham riot. Christopher, however, has received a sentence of 18 months at a young offenders' institute - the same sentence as the Asians convicted at youth courts for the Manningham riots. The aim of the Fair Justice for All Campaign is to: raise awareness of the disproportionate sentencing provide a network of support for the welfare of those in prison and their families highlight the root causes of the problems and the circumstances, which led young people to riot present a women’s perspective of the cause to the media and government agencies improve relations between local councillors and MPs through dialogue to generate support for the campaign educate and highlight young people to discuss their problems through a democratic process, demonstrations and promote young energetic leadership.  Clickwalla


Thrissur, 30 July, 2002

The move of the U.K. Government to include ayurveda among the list of `herbal remedies' will seriously cripple the ayurvedic medicine manufacturing industry in the country which has set an export target of Rs. 3000 crores this year. What has become more disturbing to the industry in which thousands of people are employed is that the Centre has not done anything to persuade the British authorities to amend the move even though the deadline set for making submissions on the issue will be over on July 31. According to the sources, once the move becomes a decision, the export of ayurvedic formulations to the U.K. would become an extremely complex ordeal. Each medicine will then require special sanction for sale in the U.K. and knowing the strict regimen for clearing medicines for sales there, nearly 95 per cent of ayurvedic medicines are unlikely to pass export tests. The decision will practically ban the practice of ayurveda in the U.K. If restrictions on ayurveda become effective, many European countries may follow suit. The U.S. may also take a similar stand, which means the export of ayurvedic medicines may become negligible in the future.The country now exports ayurvedic medicines worth about Rs. 350 crores and the lion's share goes to the European Union nations.The sources said the British Medicinal Control Agency (MCA) has prepared a guideline titled `traditional ethnic medicines, public health and compliance with medicines law'. The document is supposed to be useful for the public wishing to find out more about the quality and safety issues related to traditional ethnic medicine. Some individuals and firms reportedly launched the process of preparing such a document in the wake of the complaints of malpractices.
The document lists ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine as `ethnic medicines'. However, powerful lobbying by supporters of the Chinese traditional medicine with the active support of the Chinese Government has successfully persuaded the British authorities to include many of their medicines in the approved list. But even though the document has been released more than an year ago, and the British authorities had extended the deadline for making submissions, there was practically no effort from the Indian side to project its ancient and time tested ayurvedic health care system, despite the fact that even agencies such as the WHO have approved it. Emphasising that ayurveda cannot be grouped together with herbal remedies, the sources said ayurvedic medicines qualified to be medicinal products. Ayurveda has developed a unique methodology to detoxify not only toxic herbs, but also a number of minerals and even venom. Through ages Ayurveda has achieved a unique position among similar traditional medical system, because of the wide range of products and the numerous ingredients used in these medicines. It has a highly evolved diagnostic and treatment system. The diagnosis and treatment is done after a complete analysis of the disease in terms of aetiology, prodromal symptoms, symptoms, pathogenesis and prognosis.Ayurveda also has evolved its own style of describing human anatomy, physiology, pathology, practice of medicines and pharmacology. It has eight branches of treatment segregated using its own scientific principles and philosophy. The sources also recalled that the Centre had formulated specific guidelines for ayurvedic education and for awarding degrees at various levels in this discipline. According to the supporters of the ayurveda, the herbal medicines mainly rely on the nutritive values of the herbs and they do not have concept of the genesis of the disease of its own. In such a context, they wanted the Central Health Ministry to persuade the U.K. authorities to drop the proposed move and give this ancient Indian health care system a separate hearing. The sources said the Indian Government should first of all take steps to persuade the U.K. authorities to extend the deadline set for making submissions on ethnic medicines. The Hindu


London, 28 July, 2002

Bangladeshis restaurant owner Surat Miah enjoyed the fruits of his success. At 35 he had his own takeaway business and had made good money on a property sale. He flew from England to Bangladesh with £4,000 in his pocket and was determined not to share it with corrupt airport customs officials demanding bribes. It was his last mistake. The next time his family saw him he was on a slab in a Dhaka mortuary. According to a coroner's report, he had been beaten to death. His head, stomach and genitals were lacerated; his passport, luggage and cash were missing. For the past six years the story told by officials in Bangladesh was that Mr Miah, from Sunderland, was found dead in the street. Although four customs officers were charged with murder, they were acquitted due to "lack of evidence or witnesses". But now the truth is out. Photographs show Mr Miah's body lying spread-eagled in the arrivals hall at Zia airport, the floor covered with his blood. At least 12 police and airport officials are seen trying to administer first aid. The Bangladeshi government successfully challenged the acquittal last week, and now the men face a retrial. The government says it has a strong case. Mr Miah's violent death has become the touchstone for the 300,000-strong British Bangladeshi community's protests against corruption. Expatriates say Dhaka customs officers and police augment their £80-a-month salaries by extorting cash from wealthy expatriates. Dilu Naser, a Bangladeshi journalist based in Britain, said: "People are scared to go to Bangladesh. Airport staff say: 'Give me money so I can confirm your forward ticket'. They usually ask for 4,000 or 5,000 taka [£40 or £50]." Mr Miah's daughter Shuwli Begum said yesterday: "It's disgusting that the case has taken so long. My grandmother died recently, but I could not go home for the funeral. It would mean going through customs where these people work." Mr Miah had been looking forward to seeing his wife and five children who were holidaying in Sylhet, from where most British Bangladeshis originate. His death is not an isolated case. In June last year, Mogul Qu'reshi, 22, from East London, visited Sylhet for the first time. He was staying in a hotel in Dhaka awaiting a flight to Heathrow. But he didn't make the connection. Days later his body was found by a roadside 10 miles away. His brother, Maman, said his passport and luggage were missing and he had just "a few taka" in his pocket. A post-mortem examination in England concluded he died of head injuries. Tyre marks were found on his body but the coroner could not say for certain it was a road accident. Labour MP Oona King, whose Bethnal Green and Bow constituency is home to a large Bangladeshi community, has raised Mr Miah's case in the Commons. "There is a problem with corruption," she said, "and that is why Surat Miah died. The Bangladesh government must take responsibility." AF Hassan Ariff, the attorney-general of Bangladesh, told The Independent on Sunday that a new department had been set up to deal with public-sector corruption. Asked why it had taken six years to take Mr Miah's murder seriously, he said: "The investigation into [his] death was riddled with procedural snags. Corruption and indifference have hindered investigations but that is changing."  The Independant


London, 26 July, 2002

The chief of Britain's Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) Gurbux Singh, who was arrested for his "threatening" behaviour after India's dramatic win in the Natwest one-day cricket series at Lord's early this month, has been formally charged by the police, and if convicted he faces six months in jail. There was intense speculation today that he was under pressure to quit his lucrative job, but the Home Office refused to comment. A spokesperson told The Hindu that it was "aware" of the development but believed it would be "inappropriate" to say anything at this stage. Mr. Singh, who was appointed to the high-profile post two years ago, would be the first CRE chief to go under a cloud. A CRE official said he was not making any statement. A former CRE commissioner, Mohammad Amran, said Mr. Singh had lost "credibility'' and shoould quit, but the Tory partyadviser on race issues, Mohammed Riaz, was against rushing into judgment saying he had done "tremendous amount of work" as CRE chief. Three weeks after the incident, in which an allegedly inebriated Mr. Singh clashed with the police, details are still sketchy. According to the police, as spectators were leaving the Lord's cricket grounds after India's victory in a nail-biting finish he "stumbled into an officer from behind''. Despite efforts by the police and those accompanying Mr. Singh he behaved in a "disorderly manner" and used "threatening language". He was arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police. His wife was also arrested after she tried to remonstrate with the police. On Thursday, police brought formal charges against him after watching the CCTV footage of the incident but his wife was let off with a warning. Reports said that like many enthusiastic supporters of the Indian cricket team, Mr. Singh apparently had had "one too many" that afternoon though he maintains that "I would not say that I had drunk heavily". Questions have been raised about the "propriety" of a prominent British citizen waving the flag for India against his "own" adopted country. Critics have accused him of sending the "wrong" message to ethnic minorities whom he himself has been calling upon to integrate more fully with British society. Mr. Singh, 51, came to Britain at the age of six and is married to a British woman. He has never been apologetic about his partiality for Indian cricket and sees it simply as another aspect of his "multiculturalism".  The Hindu


Islamabad, 26 July, 2002

The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) has condemned denial of vote to the overseas Pakistanis. Alliance Secretary Information and central Vice President Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Syed Zafar Ali Shah on Thursday deplored that overseas Pakistanis will not get the right of vote in coming elections. He regretted that despite the fact that they were permitted to cast vote in the referendum, their right of vote has been denied in the elections. In a statement he regretted that a large number of Pakistanis living abroad will not be able to vote in the country's general elections in October. The Election Commission has confirmed that overseas Pakistanis have no right of vote. The only Pakistanis abroad who will be able to cast postal ballots will be those serving in diplomatic missions, the EC said. Zafar said the government had no problem in giving them the right to vote in the "rigged referendum". There are more than 1.5 million Pakistanis living in 76 countries -- including the Gulf states, Europe and the US -- who are eligible to vote. Former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif living in exile are among those overseas Pakistanis deprived of the right to vote if they do not return to the country prior to polls. Zafar said ARD parties doubt the intentions of the government and question the motives behind the move. He said unlike the referendum, the government has a problem this time because Pakistanis living abroad are either with Nawaz Sharif's party or Benazir Bhutto's party. He said the government does not like to see them winning the elections. The News International


Berlin, 23 July, 2002

Thousands of Pakistani and Kashmir brethren living in Germany staged protest demonstration in Berlin to deplore Indian atrocities and express solidarity with Kashmiris in Occupied Kashmir. The rally which was organised by a social worker, Riaz Khan was led by AJK former premier Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry and was attended by a large number of activists of all Pakistani and Kashmiri parties. The rally marched through famous and busy streets and stopped near Indian Consulate for a moment. The protesters were holding banners inscribed with anti-Indian slogans in German language. Addressing the rally Barrister Sultan Mehmood said that the aim of holding protest rally in Berlin as part of his tour to Europe to explore the Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmir civilians. He recommended that Germans could better understand the core issue of Kashmir as they have gone through such a violating situation. He stressed Pak and Kashmiri inmates in Berlin to play their part for setting up Kashmir Committee in German parliament on the lines of other European countries therefore to force German government time and again to solve core issue of Kashmir according to UN Charter and wishes of millions of Kashmiri.  PNS


Islamabad, 21 July, 2002

The Election Commission has no plan to extend the facility of casting vote to the overseas Pakistanis in the forthcoming elections, sources told Dawn. The plan has been shelved in view of the expected reaction from the Gulf countries which are averse to any kind of political activity on their soil. The plan of extending voting facility to expatriates was first drawn up by the PML government but it was found unpracticable. The Election Commission, however, extended the facility to expatriates in the recently-held presidential referendum. According to a report prepared by the Foreign Office, if the facility of voting was extended to the expatriates who were 1.5 million in number, it would create diplomatic problems for the country. Under the existing rules only Pakistani nationals serving in diplomatic missions can exercise their right of vote through the postal ballot system. The Election Commission, headed by Justice Fakhr Alam, had carried out an extensive exercise to grant right of vote to the overseas Pakistanis. After examining various systems, the Election Commission had expressed the "optimism" that granting of voting right to overseas Pakistanis was possible. The Foreign Office has informed the Election Commission that there are about 15,41,932 Pakistanis over 21 years of age living in 76 countries of the world. The Foreign Office informed the Election Commission that all the Pakistani missions abroad were unanimous in their views that electioneering in foreign countries must be avoided as it would divide the already polarized Pakistani community in the Gulf and other countries. Some of the missions have expressed the view that the exercise of the right of franchise by expatriates had been found practicable only by those countries where elections were held on the basis of proportional representation. For countries where constituency-based electoral system is in vogue like in Pakistan, it was difficult to extend the right of vote even through the postal ballot system, the missions said. India and Bangladesh, after carrying out similar exercise, had also shelved such plans. The Election Commission was also informed that in countries where expatriate Pakistanis were in large number, services of computer operators would be needed at least for six months to collect data for registration of votes. The Foreign Office also informed the Election Commission that complete record of expatriates was not available with the Pakistani missions.  The Dawn


London, July 20, 2002

India has submitted a list of 14 Indians living in Britain, including Kashmiri separatist Ayub Thakur, to the British authorities, alleging that they were funding militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir. The list was submitted to the British security chiefs by Indian investigators here last week along with evidence against those NRI "businessmen who are described as the terrorists' lifeline", The Times daily reported on Saturday. According to the dossier, a sum of more than six million pounds a year is sent from Britain to banned groups with links to al-Qaeda, including Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Though Thakur stated that all money raised by him was for charitable projects, his charity, Mercy Universal, which sent over four million pounds in a span of 18 months was being investigated. India wants Britain to deal with the 14 men or extradite them. Several of the men have been granted asylum in Britain and others are applying to stay here. Some of the money was transferred through aid organisations and Charity Commissioners are investigating at least three groups named by the Indian police, the report said.  PTI


London, 20 July, 2002

Two Indian businessmen are the first militants to be jailed under tough new terrorism laws in Britain. Avtar Hundal and Kesar Dhaliwal were sentenced to two and a half years on Friday for being members of a group banned in Britain, the Times said on Saturday. The men arrived in Britain to raise funds for the International Sikh Youth Federation. Britain and America have frozen all assets belonging to the group, which is working towards establishing an independent Khalistan. The pair arrived on a ferry at Dover in January from Germany, where the group has not been proscribed, the police said. The two men were found guilty under the Terrorism Act 2000, for being members of a proscribed organisation after they were found carrying membership cards for the group. Judge Andrew Patience, QC, told the pair: "The evidence is overwhelming. To be a member of a terrorist organisation in this country is a grave offence." Meanwhile, in another report on Saturday, the Times said British security chiefs have been given a list of 14 Indian businessmen living in the UK who are alleged to be secretly funding Muslim militant groups operating in Kashmir. For the past week a team of Indian investigators has been in Britain to hand over evidence against the men whom the Delhi government describes as "the terrorists' lifeline". The dossier says that more than £6 million a year is sent from Britain to groups with links to Al Qaeda.  Asian Age


London, 16 July, 2002

Gurbux Singh, NRI and chairman of Britain's Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), was arrested by the Scotland Yard for "behaving in a disorderly manner" after he stumbled into a police officer from behind at the end of the India-England cricket match at Lord's on July 13, a spokesman of the Yard said on July 16. Not only the CRE chief was handcuffed and taken into custody, his wife Siobhan, who protested against his arrest, was also taken into custody. A spokesman of Scotland Yard said, "Despite efforts by officers and those with the man to persuade him to calm himself, he behaved in a disorderly manner to those around him and to the police officer." "Subsequently he was arrested after declining to desist from his disorderly behaviour. The arrest was made under Section 4 of the Public Order Act (threatening behaviour)," the spokesman said. "A woman aged 40 years was also arrested under the same section. They were taken to Marylebone police station and bailed to return to a date," the spokesman said. Police said the two were handcuffed "due to their potential violent conduct". In a brief statement Singh said, "At the end of the match there was an incident that led to my wife and I being detained by the police. We were both subsequently released without charge. "I'm awaiting confirmation from the police if the matter is to be pursued and therefore cannot make any further comment. I support India at cricket. My passion for the Indian cricket team does not make me any less loyal to Britain."  PTI


Bradford, 15 July, 2002

A massive legal campaign has been launched to overturn scores of prison sentences imposed in the wake of the Bradford riots. Critics have described the sentencing as “draconian” and likened the legal process to “Texan-style justice’ accusing the authorities of Islamaphobia. Britain’s best known solicitor Imran Khan and leading human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield are teaming up to have more than 70 appeals against sentencing heard in the Court of Appeal. The legal heavyweights were called in by a group of local Asian women who launched the Fair Justice Campaign on the first anniversary of last summer’s riots in the Manningham and Whetley Hill areas of Bradford. Khan, who made his name in the Stephen Lawrence case, is also calling for a judicial inquiry into the riots which happened after civil disturbances in the Muslim districts of Oldham and Burnley. Such an inquiry would be able to scrutinise the role played in the riots by shadowy right wing groups, including Combat 18 and the British National Party. All have been accused of fuelling and fermenting race hatred in the region and there is deep suspicion that some of the groups were involved in starting the riots. Khan said: “This is seen purely as a law and order issue and it is not that simple. The Asian community has been criminalised with the paint of one brush. To add to that, since September 11 the community is looked upon with great suspicion. Their dignity and respect has been removed and they have been made a scapegoat. “There is concern about the excessiveness of the sentencing and no distinction has been made between the leaders and the followers,” he added from his central London office where 70 appeals are being made against convictions. He believes scores more will follow. Of the 270 arrested during the Bradford disturbances 145 were charged with riot... more than 90 per cent were Muslims. Over 150, the majority first time offenders, have been dealt with by the courts receiving, on average, sentences of four years. Comparisons of sentencing have been made in Belfast where a petrol bomb thrower will get a suspended sentence or fine for a first conviction.
Judge Stephen Gullick, who has come under criticism for his harsh sentencing, defended himself before a packed court last week when he said: “The colour, creed, ethnic origin or religion of the individual defendant is of no consequence whatsoever. Sentences have been and will be passed in respect of any offence a defendant admits or is convicted of by a jury regardless of the racial origin of the defendant.” He added that the rioters jailed were being sentenced for their own actions as well as those around them, too and said the charges includes the phrases “common purpose” and “taken together”. Peace activist Aki Nawaz said: “The last time that sort of remark was made in a court was in the days of Apartheid in South Africa. What is happening in Bradford is like something out of Mississippi Burning. There are echoes of the racism that still burns in the Deep South of America. “I was brought up in Bradford and moved away 12 years ago but my family still live there and when they told me what was happening I went to see Imran Khan immediately. “I know that we are regarded by some as interfering outsiders but we are just trying to help and we are motivating people. Those who think they can handle this situation alone are being naive. There are some grave injustices going on in Bradford and it has to stop.” Jude Gullick is no stranger to controversy and was criticised last year for jailing an ecstasy dealer for two years by anti-drugs campaigners who said the sentence was too light. Earlier this year his sentencing came under scrutiny again when a former Bradford councillor, who was found guilty of indecently assaulting two young girls aged between nine and 12, was given a nine month suspended prison sentence. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was outraged. Judge Gullick made civic history a month later when Bradford Council made him the first Honorary Recorder, one of the highest honours the authority can bestow. The judge defended his tough stance last week after jailing Bradford university student Shazad Ali four years for throwing stones at riot police. His mother Sara, a school teacher, told the Sunday Express: “We believe our children are guilty, no one is disputing that but we also believe the sentencing is too harsh. “That is why we have launched the Fair Justice Campaign and we want justice for all, regardless of race. Our children have been exploited by the likes of the BNP and the anti-Nazi League who fuelled hatred during their demonstrations just before the riots. “But we really feel it is the legal system and the Establishment which has let us down. That is why we got together and launched the campaign. Mr Khan and Mr Mansfield were asked to intervene on our behalf because what we are witnessing is Apartheid justice. “Some of the hearings smack of Texan-style justice and evoke images of America’s deep south. We also want an inquiry to find out the cause of the riot because we do not want it ever to happen again. We want our children to have a future and learn from this horrible episode.”
Khan’s arrival in Bradford last week was greeted with deep suspicion and hostility from some quarters and his calls for a judicial inquiry has sent riupples of concern through establishment circles. When Doreen and Neville Lawrence first contacted him in April 1993 following their teenage son’s murder, he had been practising for only 18 months. Nine years on he is still working on the case, awaiting a decision on charges following a fourth police investigation. His continued pressure on the Metropolitan Police exposed the force's failings and led to the recommendations in the Macpherson report, a landmark in British race relations. He set up his own practice in 2000 and as well as representing victims of racism he has championed other victims of injustice, regularly working free of charge. Despite death threats Khan is seen as a fearless and tireless campaigner for justice. Michael Mansfield QC, now representing victims' families at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, has also appeared in some high-profile miscarriage cases. His portfolio includes the Guildford Four, the Birmingham six and the Hyde Park bombing case. In the latter, Danny McNamee's conviction of conspiracy to cause the explosion in July 1982 was quashed on appeal. Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed this latest development and said: “I’ve spoken to people from the Muslim community and I would support any individuals who feel they have been treated unjustly. “I can see the benefit of a judicial review and I would support that call if all the parties concerned are given the opportunity to air their concerns and hopes. We need to address the key issues of what happened and why. “It’s still like a powderkeg here and lots of wounds are still healing. These are very sensitive issues.” However one Bradford solicitor, who did not wish to be named, said: “I can’t see why Imran Khan should come up here touting for business. We have managed very well without interference from outside.”  The Muslim News


Hyderabad, 15 July, 2002

Defence lawyer for the British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, sentenced to death for abducting and murdering US journalist Daniel Pearl, says that the verdict in the case was under influence. "The trial was fair but the verdict was under influence," Rai Bashir told journalists after the verdict by an anti-terrorism court on July 15. He did not say who influenced the trial. Bashir said that he would file appeal against the verdict. He said that the convicts were composed and there was no emotion after they heard the judgement inside Hyderabad central jail. Execution in Pakistan is usually by hanging, but Omar Sheikh has the right of appeal to two higher courts before the sentence could be carried out. The three-month long trial was held in a temporary court room in the grim, high- walled jail in Hyderabad. PTI


London, 11 July, 2002

An award-winning India-born radio presenter has accused her bosses in British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of "bullying" and treating her as an "illiterate native" of the Raj years. Fifty three-year-old Anand Jasani, who was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1998 for being a "cultural ambassador", is claiming racial discrimination against BBC Wales. 'The Independent', which carried the story, said that BBC denies the allega tion. Jasani, who has worked for the BBC for 15 years, told an industrial tribunal that a programme controller had dismissed her show as not serving a useful purpose. PTI


London, 10 July, 2002

An Asian man jailed for murdering a white man who he said was racially attacking him, claimed he would have been killed if he had not defended himself. Satpal Ram celebrated his first day of freedom after spending more than 15 years in jail and waging a battle against what he claims was a miscarriage of justice. He described himself as a political prisoner. Ram, who served 15 years in jail for murder, demanded a public inquiry into why he was kept in prison longer than the term recommended by the parole board. Jack Straw, when he was home secretary, overturned a parole board recommendation in October 2000 that Ram be freed. Ram, who said he had been unlawfully detained, was freed after the Home Office decided not to fight a judicial review of Straw's actions. The government decision followed a ruling by the European court of human rights that politicians had no right to overrule a decision of a parole board to release a prisoner. Ram was jailed for life in 1987 for stabbing a white man in an Indian restaurant in Birmingham during a fight. He maintained the white man, Clarke Pearce, had racially abused him before attacking and slashing him with broken glass. The judge at his trial had recommended he serve 11 years, but Ram was kept in jail longer as he refused to admit his guilt. Ram said: "If I hadn't defended myself I would have ended up another statistic. I was primarily the victim of an unprovoked attack." He said he was angry with meddling politicians: "The decision to reject my parole review was political. They've now conceded that I've been held in prison unlawfully since October 2000. "I feel that the then home secretary, Jack Straw, should now be charged with false imprisonment." He said Pearce's death was tragic and vowed to continue fighting to clear his name. Ram said he had been victimised by the prison service: "I've had 74 transfers in the prison system, spent six years in solitary and lost both my parents. I've suffered a lot." But Pearce's sister, Jane Smith, condemned the release. "He's never shown remorse, never even said he was sorry." Ram was 20 when he clashed with Pearce in November 1986. He was eating with two friends when a group of six white people arrived in the Sky Blue restaurant in Lozells, Birmingham. A fight broke out when they started racially abusing the waiters. Pearce smashed a glass and stabbed Ram twice in the face and in the wrist. Ram's family says he was wrongly convicted because his lawyers made basic errors during his trial. A crucial witness was not called. And no translator was provided for a witness who spoke only Bengali.  Kaumudi


London, 08 July, 2002

Vast quantities of frozen chicken adulterated with beef proteins are reportedly being consumed in Britain presenting the risk of Madcow disease, a development that has outraged the Hindu Community in the country. An independent investigation by the Guardian Newspaper published today said, "Vast quantities of frozen chicken adulterated with beef protein powder, which the authorities admit could present a risk of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Madcow), are being consumed in Britain." Beef proteins are added to make the chicken absorb extra water in a process called "tumbling" so that it can be sold for big profits. Thai and Chicken Brazilian breasts have been doctored in the Netherlands and imported into UK in this way for at least five years, the daily said. The daily quoted trading standards officer in the case, John Sandford of Hull city council saying, "Food safety authorities have been aware of the problem since 1997. But they have only recently developed DNA tests sophisticated enough to pinpoint the beef proteins." "It's disgusting and a crime. People will not eat chicken if this is happening," said former President of the Hindu cultural society of Bradford, Daaayal Sharma said. Hindus who did not eat beef would be very angry with the findings, he told the Newspaper.  PTI


New Delhi, 27 June, 2002

Days after publishing a controversial article on the health of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that created an uproar, the Time magazine has apologised to the government for the manner in which certain portions were constructed and phrased, official sources said on Thursday. The managing editor of the magazine, James Kelly, has written ''very recently'' to External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh expressing regret, the sources said in response to questions. The report ''Asleep at the Wheel'' by Time's India-based correspondent Alex Perry had triggered angry outbursts in government and political circles. The prime minister's office had said the report was in bad taste with several factual errors and certain observations which were ''nothing but fiction.'' The sources said the communication to Singh was made suo motu and not in response to any letter by the minister. The magazine had earlier carried a stiff rejoinder by a PMO spokesman who said the report contained ''purely fictitious notions about prime minister's lifestyle'' which were ''absurd and mischievous.'' A report from New York said a delegation of Indian American doctors who have had access to Vajpayee's health records confronted Kelly at the Time House in Manhattan with medical records, contending that the report contained totally baseless and incorrect portions. There was no word on whether the magazine will publish an apology and retract the article.  PTI


London, 26 June, 2002

After sixteen years of being locked up for a murder he claims was in self-defence, Satpal Ram finally walked free from Blantyre House open prison in Goudhurst, Kent. His family and friends were delighted to hear of his release, which had been expected for Friday June 14th but was not until 7pm on Tuesday 18th June. The 36 year old told the BBC's Radio 4 programme that he felt "elated" but did not regard his release as a victory. Satpal was jailed for life for the murder of 21year old Clarke Pearce at a restaurant in Birmingham in 1986. He has always maintained his innocence saying he acted in self-defence against a racist attack. Satpal expressed concern that his case was still with the Criminal Cases Review Commission who have been investigating it for the last five years and have apparently during this time failed to interview any witnesses. He also stated that he felt the need for a public inquiry as to why he was "unlawfully" held in prison since October 2000. His freedom follows a European Court ruling last month, which outlawed the Home Secretary's power to overrule prison sentencing. Last year the then Home Secretary Jack Straw rejected Satpal's application for parole, despite a recommendation from the Parole Board that he should go free after having served 11 years. The courts ruled that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully and illegally by holding Satpal after the parole board had recommended his release. Satpal said Jack Straw should be "charged with false imprisonment and face the due process of the law."
He also spoke of the systematic abuse he suffered at the hands of the prison service and said that no amount of compensation could make up for the loss of 16 years of his life. Whilst in prison Satpal lost members of his family including his father and his mother in September last year. Speaking about the death of Clark Pearce Satpal said it was a "tragic incident". "I have always accepted that a man has died as a result of my actions but at the same time I feel that had the courts based their decision on an interpretation of the facts, I should not be in prison today," Satpal said. His comments angered Mr Pearce's sister Jane Smith who told Radio 4: "He said he has spent 16 years behind bars, my brother has been dead for 16 years and he is not here to defend himself. She also called for an apology stating: "Satpal Ram has never even said he was sorry. He will not own up to what he did and he knows he committed murder."
Asad Rehman from Amnesty International said: "We are overjoyed Satpal is out of prison and can enjoy the freedoms we take for granted but we also realise this is merely one step in the long battle to clear his name." Satpal's supporters, which include many high profile music artists such as Apache Indian and bands such Asian Dub Foundation and Primal Scream were delighted to hear the news that Satpal was free. One supporter Shaista Aziz told us she was overwhelmed by the news. "Satpal's release is fantastic news, I'm absolutely delighted for him and his family who have missed out on 16 years of his life, but justice hasn't been done because his name hasn't been cleared, she said. "Hopefully Satpal's release will lead to other prisoners such as Winston Silcott being released too," she added. Manju Lukhman of the Free Satpal Ram Campaign told us: "We're all very excited and pleased that Satpal has been released but we're still pursuing the case. It's important that Satpal's name is cleared and we find out why he was held unlawfully since October 2000".  Clickwalla


London, 19 June, 2002

The decision by a European court to free a British Indian languishing in jail for 15 years for the murder of a White man could lead to a confrontation with Britain's judiciary. European court overruled a decision by UK court that Satpal Ram be imprisoned for life for the murder of Clarke Pearce as well as an order by then home secretary Jack Straw denying him parole. British papers see it as a violation of British sovereignty. Satpal had pleaded self-defence. He had been attacked in a restaurant by White youths, one of whom - Pearce - hit Satpal with a piece of broken glass and stabbed him in the face. He hit back with a penknife and Pearce died of his injuries later. The UK court ruled it was a case of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The new decision comes as a triumph for a group of British Indians that has been running a Free Satpal Campaign ever since he was convicted 15 years ago.  Deccan Chronicle


London, 19 June, 2002

The Britain-based Kashmiri physicist accused of funding militancy in the Valley through Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin has said he sent money through jailed terrorist suspect Imtiaz Ahmed Bazzaz because he was recommended as "a person with a good relationship with the (Indian) government". While accepting that he sent 500,000 Rupees to Bazzaz just last month, Ayub Thakur, who Indian officials say they want brought to book either by extradition to India or a British trial, denied on Wednesday he had "violated any British law". Thakur refused to answer this paper's query about whether British officials from Scotland Yard, the Charities Commission, Foreign Office and Home Office had been in touch with him pending Indian allegations that his charity, Mercy Universal, was being used as a vehicle to fund terrorist activities in Kashmir. Describing the supply chain that led to Thakur's organisation sending thousands of pounds in the space of two months to the Valley, he said "we were giving him (Bazzaz) a contract to buy 800 sewing machines for women". Thakur, who describes himself as the leading political voice of the Kashmiri cause "at the international level", denied he had used "backdoor" means to send money to Kashmir. "There was no other way to send money for humanitarian work because charities in Indian Kashmir are not allowed to directly receive foreign funds and Indian charities are not operating in Kashmir," he said in tacit admission that his organisation was breaking Indian law by operating in the troubled state. Refusing to name names, he said he was still financing "certain hospitals" in Kashmir at their request and another "40,000 pounds is waiting to be sent". Thakur said he was accused of working as a double agent for both RAW and ISI because in 1999 he had close contacts with leading Indian human rights activists visiting London. "They probably say I joined RAW in 1999 because that's when I started the Mercy Universal charity". He described the allegations against him as a "witch hunt by India against Kashmiri leaders inside and outside Kashmir".  The Times Of India


New Delhi, 16 June, 2002

The jocular jibe. Only the French can effect that oxymoron with such style as they rail at the British capital for becoming Londonistan, terror capital for Islamic radicals. That theme continues after September 11, post the 16-month run of Britain's wide-ranging terrorism law, wwhich for the first time made it an offence to plot, raise funds, otherwise support or associate with terrorist activities abroad. And still the French judge, investigating the foiled post-September 11 plot to crash a plane into the US embassy in Paris, complained that all clues pointed to London. The British were keen to help, but British laws did not allow too much assistance. It is an interesting point, now that New Delhi is keen for a possible extradition of a seemingly innocent, middle-aged man living in West London, Ayub Thakur. India says he is one of the Kashmiri movement's leading overseas fundraisers. He raises money through Mercy Universal, a charity he founded a few years ago. According to one claim, Thakur's organisation sent nearly £70,000 in two months from April this year to Hizbul Mujahideen's Syed Salahuddin.
Thakur, originally from Baramulla, was a Kashmir University assistant professor and also worked at Srinagar's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. Arriving in UK in 1986, he claimed political asylum and after a decade, received UK travel documents as well to attend various international conferences, where he raises two issues: Kashmiri self-determination and India's abuse of human rights. So what, if anything, can be done about Thakur? Failing extradition, he could be nailed here, under the terms of Britain's Terrorist Act. So argue hopeful Indian officials. But it is a complex issue and could well blow into a bilateral row on the lines of the Anglo-French one. Going by their record, the British are unlikely ever to extradite him. They didn't do so in the case of two Sikhs living in Britain illegally, who had been arrested for plotting to smuggle explosives from Pakistan to India. What chance then of Thakur, accused of funding Hizb, which does not even figure on the British list of banned organisations, ever being handed over to India?  The Times of India


Madrid, 20 June, 2002

Stepping up cooperation with European nations in the global fight against terrorism, India and Spain on June 20 signed a major treaty in Madrid to extradite criminals and terrorists wanted by the two governments. The Extradition Treaty was signed by Home Minister L K Advani, who is on a five-day visit to Spain, and Spanish Justice Minister Angel Acebes Paniagua at a ceremony in Madrid. Advani is leading a high-level delegation, which includes Home Secretary Kamal Pande and Intelligence Bureau chief K P Singh. Besides signing the treaty, Advani also initialled an agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters. This agreement was earlier finalised at the official level. Advani, would on June 20 hold discussions on the security scenario in the sub-continent and cross-border terrorism faced by India when he meets Spanish Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey. The Home Minister is also expected to meet members of the Indian community on June 20. Like India, Spain has also faced the wrath of terrorism for long and it was during that country's Presidency of the European Union (EU), three major outfits Lashkar-e-Toiba, Babbar Khalsa International and International Sikh Youth Federation were included in EU list of banned organisations. India has so far signed extradition treaties with 11 countries and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties with 13 nations.  PTI


London, 19 June, 2002

The decision by a European court to free a British Indian languishing in jail for 15 years for the murder of a White man could lead to a confrontation with Britain's judiciary. European court overruled a decision by UK court that Satpal Ram be imprisoned for life for the murder of Clarke Pearce as well as an order by then home secretary Jack Straw denying him parole. British papers see it as a violation of British sovereignty. Satpal had pleaded self-defence. He had been attacked in a restaurant by White youths, one of whom - Pearce - hit Satpal with a piece of broken glass and stabbed him in the face. He hit back with a penknife and Pearce died of his injuries later. The UK court ruled it was a case of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The new decision comes as a triumph for a group of British Indians that has been running a Free Satpal Campaign ever since he was convicted 15 years ago. Deccan Chronicle


New Delhi, 18 June, 2002

The office of the Indian prime minister has rejected as "nothing but fiction" a Time magazine article suggesting, among other things, that the Indian leader regularly drinks whiskey and has fallen asleep during meetings. In a letter to the magazine published Tuesday, Ashok Tandon, spokesman for Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said the article published a week earlier contained "baseless" comments and "material errors" about the prime minister's lifestyle. The report about the 74-year-old PM, headlined "Asleep at the Wheel", appeared in Time's Asian edition dated June 17, and in a shortened version in the sister U.S. edition. Time magazine is part of the AOL/Time Warner group of companies which also owns CNN. The article, which quoted diplomatic sources and workers from Vajpayee's own party, said the prime minister was given to forgetting names of long-time colleagues and has appeared confused and inattentive at several recent meetings, on occasion falling asleep. According to the report, one diplomatic source described the prime minister's appearance as "half dead" during a recent meeting with a Western foreign minister. However, the article also went on to credit the Indian leader with pursuing a path of peace with nuclear rival Pakistan despite heading "a constituency stuffed with extremists." Nonetheless the article has not gone down well with officials in the Indian government. The letter from the Prime Minister's Office said Vajpayee's "punishing schedule" kept him busy until late at night and, given that situation, a post-lunch siesta was "nothing unusual." It denied as "ridiculous" the report's claims that Vajpayee had fallen asleep during meetings and said "he does not take alcoholic drinks." Tandon went on to say that the prime minister's ability to control the country's nuclear arsenal "has never been questioned." Other members of the Indian government have also expressed their displeasure at the report. On Monday Home Minister LK Advani described the report as "malicious" and a "bundle of untruths," the Press Trust of India reported. Meanwhile Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Nirupama Rao said the article was "completely without foundation." "It is baseless and ill-advised. It is a completely biased and ill-informed article,'' PTI quoted her as saying. CNN


Paris, June 17, 2002

French judicial authorities have decided to place under detention a Pakistani national, Ghulam-Mustafa Rama, 64, who is suspected of having provided logistical support to Richard Reid , the British national who has become known as the "shoe-bomber" for having attempted to set off an explosive charge contained in his shoe during a flight last Dec 22 to Miami. Mr Rama, who is also the founder of the French branch of Markaz Dawa al-Irshad, had already been arrested by French police last Wednesday (June 12) at his home in the Paris suburb of Evry during an early morning raid which also saw the arrest of another, unidentified, Pakistani national, and three Franco-Algerians. The other arrested Pakistani has been released, say police, while two of the Franco-Algerians have been detained along with Mr Rama. All three are now being accused by the French magistrate - and the country's principal judicial expert on terrorism - Jean-Louis Bruguiere, of having provided logistical support to Richard Reid, who spent several days in their company prior to his boarding American Airlines flight 063 at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport a few miles north of the Paris neighbourhood where he was housed by Mr Rama and the two Franco-Algerians. Police say they're awaiting the results of tests that are being performed in the US on a hair and a fingerprint found on the Penthrite bomb contained in Mr Reid's shoe, and say they "would not be surprised" if the tests would reveal that they would belong to the three persons at present detained in French prison facilities. As for Mr Reid, he is currently incarcerated in Boston, where he's awaiting trial before a Federal tribunal. As for Ghulam-Mustafa Rama, he has lived more than 20 years in Paris, where he operates an important Halal butcher's shop in the Barbes-Rochechouart district of northern Paris, the same part of the city where Richard Reid was housed, allegedly by Mr Rama and the two Franco-Algerians, and where he used an international telephone call centre, allegedly owned by another Pakistani national who was not detained, to remain in touch with his "superiors" in Peshawar. French police have already revealed that according to their intelligence, Mr Reid, who had been rebuffed on a previous American Airlines flight to Miami, balked at taking a second flight the following day, fearing this time he would be detained, but was "persuaded," to use the expression of police, by his contacts in Peshawar - with whom, say the police, he was in "constant touch" during his Paris sojourn - to go through with his "mission," again to make use of a word utilized by French police. Of the three men placed under detention by police in special cells - whose whereabouts are being held secret, but whose location most likely is within the confines of La Sante Prison in the southern part of Paris - police say that Mr Rama is considered to be the "kingpin" of the operation to have Mr Reid explode his bomb on board the American Airlines flight, indeed that Mr Rama is being viewed increasingly by the French special police assigned to the anti-terrorism brigade, as the "principal recruiter" in France for the Islamic extremist movements that, in their eyes, abound, notably at Peshawar. Police say they are now studying the possibility that Mr Rama plays an important role in providing "recruits" for operations in Kashmir.  The Dawn


Paris, June 17, 2002

A Pakistani man placed under investigation for helping suspected "shoe bomber" Richard Reid has told a French newspaper he never met the Briton accused of trying to blow up a Miami-bound passenger plane. "I never saw this man," 64-year-old Ghulam Mustafa Rama told Le Parisien, in an interview published on Sunday but conducted before police detained Rama on Friday. "What he did runs contrary to the basic principles of Islam." But the Pakistani said Muslims, "must defend themselves against the United States," explaining that jihad, or holy war is "first and foremost about defending oneself." Rama and two French nationals arrested last week were placed under investigation by a Paris anti-terrorist court yesterday on suspicion of having "conspired to prepare a terrorist act". Rama, who has lived in France for 22 years and runs a butcher shop, is suspected of supervising a support network for Reid in France and of recruiting new Islamic militants in the country, according to Le Parisien. When first questioned in April in connection with the Reid case, Rama told investigators two Pakistanis had briefly introduced him to Reid in October 2001. The two Pakistanis, detained last week, have denied Rama's version of events, according to the newspaper, but investigators have said that they believe Rama and Reid may have had prior contact in Pakistan. Court officials said yesterday that Rama recruited the two French nationals placed under investigation in the Reid case, who had trained at a camp in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir run by terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. AFP


London, 16 June, 2002

Over 2,700 Sri Lankans are among the quarter of a million asylum seekers who have been officially lost and are roaming around Britain and working illegally, officials here say. According to Home Office figures released last week, at least 146 asylum seekers disappear from the system each day, leaving the authorities powerless to trace and deport them. Officials said that the true figures of lost illegal immigrants are much higher taking into account those who are smuggled into Britain without being recorded at all. A senior official told the Sunday Observer that during the past 12 years, 258,000 asylum seekers told to quit Britain have absconded, and have adopted false identities to take up employment in various parts of the country. "During the last three years alone, over 148,000 have vanished", he said.  Sunday Observer


London, 14 June, 2002

On behalf of the 'Free Satpal Ram Campaign': Good news, we have just received notification that Satpal Ram will hopefully be released by this Friday 14th June. The Courts have in effect found that they were holding Satpal unlawfully, hence his quick release. This was based on a decision known as the Stafford Case, where the Home Office wrongly intervened to overturn the Parole Office's decision. The campaign would like to thank you for all your hard work and support over the years, without this constant pressure from yourselves, we may not have succeeded. Well done to you all.
UPDATE 19.03.02 Satpal has been moved from HMP Blantyre House an open prison, to HMP Elmley a closed prison. This is his 72nd move - the average prison moves for a lifer is 6. This latest move will be Satpal's 72nd making this the 37th different prison he's been to. Satpal has not been charged with breech of prison orders or given proper reasons for his transfer to HMP Elmley.
UPDATE 19.02.02 Satpal Action – End In Sight? As Satpal continues to wait for a decision from the Criminal Cases Review Commission, we urge you to use our model letter to demand justice on his behalf.
UPDATE 10.12.01 Satpal has advised the campaign that he is shortly to be moved back to a c’ category prison, HMP Blantyre House. Further to the recent request for cyber action in protest against the CCRC, the 'Free Satpal' campaign would like to thank everyone for the great response and letters received. All of the letters were sent on to Satpal and served to really lift his spirits. On behalf of Satpal the campaign would like to convey heart felt thanks and can only hope that the CCRC will now take steps towards ending this injustice.
UPDATE 16.11.01 Today Satpal begins his 16th year in prison. At the end of September the CCRC provisionally rejected Satpal’s legal team's submission. Find out how you can support Satpal. Despite overwhelming evidence that supports Satpal’s claim of self-defence, campaigners argue he has been consistently denied any form of redress, despite the CCRC having sat on his case since December 1997. In their provisional decision, the CCRC accepted that Satpal was the victim of a prolonged, vicious, racial attack, but believed it was wrong of him to defend himself. Satpal would urgently like you to support him by faxing, posting or e-mailing a version of this letter to the Criminal Cases Review Commission
UPDATE 28.08.01 Despite a recommendation by the parole board that Satpal should go free it has been revealed that former Home Secretary Jack Straw decided before the election to reject the option of parole. Satpal's lawyers are now waiting to hear if the Criminal Cases Review commission will refer his case yet again to the court of Appeal.
UPDATE 25.06.01 After not seeing any changes to Satpal's situation, the Free Satpal Campaign called out to Paul Boateng louder than ever, for Satpal's immediate release by holding a picket outside the Home Office on May 2. The Home Office’s response to his situation continues to be unsatisfactory, however, working alongside his lawyers, where positive developments are being made, the campaign has been advised not to take any further action for the moment. He continues to wait for the Criminal Case Review Commission to make their decision on whether to refer his case back to the Court of Appeal. A decision is now expected by mid July. If his case is referred, then Satpal will be able to apply for bail. Since the picket, Satpal has been moved to another ‘C’ category prison.
UPDATE 28.04.01 The campaign have now been informed by the Ministers that they will give their decision on whether Satpal is eligible for parole or not within 10 working days. Satpal has also been removed from segregation now, where he was being punished for the awful crime of possessing too many phone cards and was returned to normal wing when the Governor was pressured to drop such ridiculous charges. Satpal, who remains as positive as ever, sends his thanks to all who continue to support him and also apologises for not writing back to everyone who have written, as he currently has quite a lot of legal work and a back log of mail to get through. Please keep the letters coming though!
UPDATE 17.03.01 On Friday March 2nd Satpal was 'Mutified' following accusations that he assaulted a prison officer, (though Satpal has not been charged). Satpal has been moved back to HMP Blakenhurst. 'Muftied' = prison officers in full riot gear with shields, make forced removal of a prisoner from location to segregation. In these forced removals, the prisoner will always receive some kind of injuries. Satpal requires our support more than ever now. On his behalf we would like to ask everyone to please URGENTLY support him further by faxing a letter to the Home Office as soon as possible. Clickwalla


Leiden, 13 June, 2002

The international community, especially the U.N., has been urged by a group that champions the cause of the Indian diaspora to take steps to protect the community's social and political rights in places like Fiji and Zimbabwe. The Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) drew the attention of the international community to the "flagrant violation" of the basic rights of the significant Indian minorities in Fiji, Zimbabwe and the Caribbean. It demanded that the international community play its due role in ensuring that the Indian diaspora across the globe can lead normal lives with all the basic and human rights as guaranteed by the U.N. At its third European regional conference that concluded in the Netherlands earlier this week, the GOPIO said in a resolution that in these countries, the Indian community had been under continuous attacks with several atrocities being committed on them regularly. The resolution called upon the U.N., India and the national governments concerned to take all measures possible to bring to an end abuses that were being committed on the Indian community in these countries. The conference also passed a special resolution on the situation in Fiji, asking the international community to ensure that the "apartheid" currently being practised against the Indians in Fiji be stopped immediately.
The resolution said a duly elected government in Fiji had been forcefully removed and the Indian community there denied basic human rights and access to justice continually. The resolution called for the restoration of true democracy in the island nation and that the political representation of the Indian community in Fiji be restored immediately. It urged the international community to bring diplomatic and moral pressure to bear on Fiji to ensure that the Indian community's rights are protected. The conference also passed similar resolutions on the plight of Indians in various other countries including Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. In his keynote address to the conference, British MP Keith Vaz underlined the need for the Indian community overseas to be loyal to the countries where they live. He urged people of Indian origin to participate fully in the mainstream social and economic life of their adopted countries. Vaz also stressed the need for the Indian communities overseas to be united and be part of an umbrella group for the Indian diaspora overseas. NRILinks


New Delhi, 12 June, 2002

The Union Cabinet has decided to reduce the fee for the special card issued to persons of Indian origin (PIOs) living abroad with foreign passport. It would now be available at a cost equivalent to Rs. 15,000 in foreign exchange and with a validity of 15 years. Minors would be charged at half the rate. At present, the fee is $ 1,000 and the card is valid for 20 years. The decision follows complaints from PIOs stating that the existing charge was "too steep''. Under the scheme, launched three years ago, the cardholders are exempt from the requirement of visa and registration if their stay in the country did not exceed six months. In addition, they are treated on par with NRIs for availing facilities in economic, financial and educational fields. The Hindu


London, 11 June, 2002

A British employment tribunal has heard that a man with Nepali origins who's seeking compensation for not receiving pay and pension rights equal to those of his British counterparts, faces a further three-year wait before his case is resolved. A lawyer representing the former Gurkha soldier, Hari Thapa, said the delay was the result of an appeal lodged by the Ministry of Defence. It's seeking to overturn a ruling by the tribunal which allows the admission of matters dated earlier than 1997 - the date Mr Thapa brought his case. The tribunal has accused the ministry of stalling tactics. It's been estimated that if Mr Thapa wins, Britain could face a bill of about $3bn to compensate thousands of Gurkhas and their families. Mr Thapa - a British national with a Nepali father - was recruited to the British Army under a 1947 tripartite agreement between Britain, India and Nepal, which links Gurkhas' remuneration to that in the Indian Army. BBC


Sydney, 06 June, 2002

The Financial Review´s editor, Glenn Burge, issued a formal apology for a cartoon which ran in his newspaper. The cartoon showed a caricature of Lord Ganesha with four arms standing on a map of India. One hand juggled an atomic bomb, another sticks of dynamite, a third a chicken and the fourth gestured obscenely in the direction of Pakistan. The apology, direct to Dr. A. Balasubramaniam of the Hindu Council of Australia, who lodged the formal complaint with the paper reads: "I would like to formally apologize to you as chairman of the Hindu Council of Australia for the illustration that appeared in the Australian Financial Review by our cartoonist. I would appreciate it if you could circulate it to the broader Hindu community in Australia and internationally to acknowledge my sinceree apology for the offense the illustration has caused to the community. As the apology notes, the misrepresentation of Ganesha in the illustration of the Kashmir conflict was not intended to insult the Hindu religion. As editor, I will ensure there will be no repeat of such an unfortunate incident."  Indolink


New York, 04 June, 2002

Germany has not turned out to be the promised land for Indian techies, says the Wall Street Journal. In an article in the June 4 edition, the premier economic paper says Indian software specialists are having a tough time adjusting because Bonn has invited them without preparing adequately the legal and social consequences of relaxed immigration. It gave the experience of Madhava Turumella, who was recruited by the Forsa Society for Social Research and Statistical Analysis, a leading German polling firm in Berlin, as head of information technology in charge of software development and Internet research at an annual salary equivalent to $75,000 plus benefits. He found to his dismay that while his firm helped him along with adapting to the conditions, the government of Germany, for all its touting of inviting technology workers, had done a poor job of helping those who came to work in the country. Turumella took up the promises of Germany's new "green cards" for technology experts over an offer in the US, only to find that "seemingly simple things like opening a bank account or paying taxes are difficult for foreigners," the paper says."Germany's experience shows that a change in a law isn't enough to bring dynamism to a country. Like other initiatives from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder meant to break down long-time barriers in German society and the economy, the green card programme has turned out to be only a small first, and so far incomplete, step," says the report, which points out that the much touted immigration plan for skilled workers was still on the anvil as a federal election draws near in Germany.
Conceived in 2000 as a major change in immigration policies, the country hoped to change thinking about foreigners, upon a realisation that the economy needed them. Though the German green card allows just five years of stay and sets a cap of 20,000 technology specialists per year, it has not succeeded in gaining acceptance in society. Turumella and his wife speak of how they feel uninvited as compared even to countries in West Asia and Europe where they previously worked. Starting from simple things like getting a phone and Internet connection, to drivers licences and even opening a bank account or naming his own daughter sound like nightmares, with no English forms, no interpreters. Turumella's wife, Sundari Maddala, a PhD in mathematics who has worked in Italy and Australia, tells how she feels unwelcome. "In Rome, Naples, I never faced these problems. The things I saw with people here never happened back there. In Italy, they might not be able to speak in English but they tried, they even used sign language," she says. Private firms urge the government to have a one-stop shop for immigrants, while the government maintains the companies hiring the foreigners must be responsible for assimilation. "This is no government recruitment programme; it is a way for German firms to hire people quickly and easily with minimal bureaucracy," Gerd Andres, deputy labour secretary, is quoted as saying. "It is not the job of the state, it is the employer who wants to hire these people who has to provide the help." Of the 11,497 foreign techies who have come to work in Germany, 20 percent are from India. While Turumella is accommodating, his wife wants out. "There are many countries interested in me; somehow I wanted to see Germany," Turumella says, adding, "I wouldn't say it was a mistake, I'd say it is a new land." But Maddala is less forgiving. "I feel this is not the ideal place. I would not recommend it," she emphasises, as she urges her husband to move to the US. IANS


Islamabad, 28 May, 2002

London has told Islamabad that it is modifying its extradition laws, which might help Pakistan in getting back its fugitive offenders taking refuge in the United Kingdom. In a recent meeting of Pak-UK Judicial Working Group in London, the British authorities also assured Pakistan of its legal assistance in helping Pakistan in digging out cases of corruption in the country. The Pak-UK Judicial Working Group was constituted recently during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Pakistan to iron out the legal issues cropping up between the two countries through better understanding of each other's systems and their demands. A delegation comprising senior officials of the Foreign Office, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Interior Ministry and the Law and Justice Division represented Pakistan at the group's meeting held last week. Sources in the Foreign Office told The News that the British side disclosed that they were revising their extradition laws, which might facilitate Pakistan in getting their fugitives back. The revision of these laws, it was said, was done in view of Britain's own requirements. The British side did not give any time period as to when these laws would be revised and what would be the exact modifications.
The Pakistani side was told that the British authorities were currently drafting the changes in the relevant law. The draft changes, Pakistan was told, would be first made public to elicit public view and later would be tabled before the British parliament for final consideration. The Pakistani side was interested to know as to what specific provisions would be there in the revised law that would facilitate Islamabad's objective. However, the British side showed its reluctance to commit anything at this stage, saying that they were not even sure what would be the final shape of the revised law after it was finally passed by the parliament. Pakistan and UK do not have any bilateral extradition treaty for exchange of fugitive offenders. Pakistan has been trying to enter into an extradition treaty with Britain as many of its alleged plunderers of national wealth are leading comfortable lives in UK and cannot be apprehended. Islamabad has been asking London to help it in the apprehension of its 'wanted' persons, but the latter was agreeing to help only if Pakistan sought the extradition of its nationals through Commonwealth Scheme instead of a bilateral arrangement. But Pakistan has been reluctant to enter into this multilateral arrangement. The Commonwealth Scheme was not only contrary to the Extradition Act of Pakistan but, if adopted, would also force Pakistan to have this scheme valid with all Commonwealth countries. Islamabad has been critical of the UK's indifference in helping out Pakistan in nabbing its wanted persons. The military government has been vocal in the past in criticising the western nations which are providing safe heavens to the "plunderers and looters" of this poor country. Pakistan has a long list of alleged "absconders" who are said to be presently living in UK. According to the sources, the Pakistani delegation also briefed the British side about legal system, Shariat laws and the accountability system in Pakistan. British cooperation was sought by the NAB in getting the looted money transferred back to Pakistan. The British side, according to a source, said that it would extend all possible help to Pakistan in that respect. Pakistan was told to get familiar with the legal systems of Britain, which would be helpful in sorting out the legal issues pending between the two countries. The News International


Dacca, 01 June, 2002

The government has rebutted various sweeping comments in the Amnesty International Report on the human-rights situation in Bangladesh and asked the AI to duly take into account all important factors in articulating its observations, reports UNB. About the observation of Amnesty that large-scale attacks were made on minorities, the government in a handout yesterday said: "This sweeping and general observation is also unwarranted by actual reality." In an observation about the AI report, published on May 28, the government said it had always been very open to any approach from Amnesty International about evolving human-rights situation in Bangladesh. "Unfortunately, it seems this fact has not been duly recognised in its 2002 report." On government action to uphold the rights of women, the Amnesty report has made certain observations which, the handout said, are largely at variance with the ground reality in Bangladesh. Under the section of political developments, the Amnesty International report 2002 "fails to acknowledge that the general election in Bangladesh in October was a fair, impartial and exceptionally transparent one". "The fairness of the election, observed by international observers and domestic democratic watchdog organisations, has been indisputable," said the government. In this context "biased reference in the report that the former ruling party Awami League alleged that the elections were rigged only gives a one-sided and wholly unacceptable picture of what has otherwise been the case".
Similarly, in the section of treatment of minorities, the report refers to large-scale violent attacks against minority people, especially Hindus, in Bangladesh following the general election. An accusing finger has also been pointed at the supporters of BNP. "This sweeping and general observation is also unwarranted by actual reality. It has never been denied that sporadic violence occurred in some districts of Bangladesh immediately following the general election."But to suggest that there was a concerted and wide-scale attack against the Hindus is far from the truth, the government release said. In most of the cases, it said, the attacks reported were the result of anti-social activities of fringe criminal elements who subjected both Hindus and Muslims alike. The government took firm action to contain the incidence of such violence and the very fact that within a short time reports of such attacks subsided confirmed the seriousness with which the government tackled the situation. In fact, Bangladesh is genuinely proud of the remarkable communal harmony that prevails in the country right at the moment and the sagacity with which the people of Bangladesh displayed exemplary maturity and moderation to maintain this harmony while communal disturbances ravaged some of the neighbouring countries.
In the light of the above and also with due deference to truth, it is difficult to accept the suggestion in the Amnesty International report that large-scale exodus of Hindus from Bangladesh took place after the election. "This statement has no foundation whatsoever. The Amnesty International may therefore wish to correct its observations in this regard," the official release added. A reference has also been made in the report of the Amnesty International to the arrest of Shahriar Kabir. The government rebuttal says he has arrested for acting in a manner prejudicial to promoting harmony among different segments of the Bangladesh society and creating a sense of insecurity in Bangladesh at a very critical time. "Incriminating evidence was found confirming that during his stay in Kolkata after the general election he was engaged in activities which had the potential to adversely affect the communal harmony in Bangladesh," it said. Amnesty report's section on status and rights of women in Bangladesh as well as conditions in prisons also does not portray the objective reality and the policy thrust of the Bangladesh government. Steps to strengthen and deepen the roots of democracy, including the promotion and protection of human rights, are also being taken. The government of Bangladesh would appreciate if the Amnesty International duly took into account all important factors in articulating its various observations on human rights situation in Bangladesh in the future. UNB


London, 29 May, 2002

Families of the British victims of Gujarat riots have demanded that investigation experts from Britain be allowed to go to India and collect evidence relating to the killing and disappearance of their relatives. Their legal adviser, Majeed Memon — a leading Indian human rights and criminal lawyer — said here today that the families were not satisfied with the investigation conducted by the Gujarat police. He would be assisting them in filing cases against the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and other leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party for their alleged role in the violence. The cases would be filed in India, Britain and in the International Court of Justice at the Hague. ``We will examine each case, and decide very carefully. We don't want to rush things or be vindictive,'' he said. He supported the demand for an impartial investigation into the circumstances in which three British Muslims were killed, and one went missing. He had written to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, urging a CBI investigation but had not received a response so far. On reports that the families of foreign nationals killed in the violence would not get any compensation, he said they were "unfortunate.'' "It is discriminatory, and bad in law.'' Three British Muslims, who were visiting their relatives in Gujarat, were killed by a mob near Ahmedabad and their families have launched a campaign for the prosecution of Mr. Modi on charges of "crimes against humanity.'' Their local lawyer, Suleiman Qazi, met the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, last week and gave him documents purporting to back allegations of the State Government's "complicity'' in the violence. Mr. Memon said there was sufficient "evidence'' to show that the local police "actively participated in, and connived at, the massacre of Muslim minorities.'' He emphasised that many Hindus had helped Muslims by risking their lives, and it was wrong to portray the entire Hindu community of Gujarat as communal. The British diplomatic mission in Mumbai was extending "all possible help'' to uncover the truth. Here too, the families have claimed the British Government's support for their move to file cases against Mr. Modi, his Home Minister, Gordhan Zadaphiya, and the Revenue Minister, Haren Pandya, among others. The Hindu


London, 22 May, 2002

Sikh campaigners have called for a street named after a British military hero to be changed. Havelock Road in Southall, west London, was named after Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, who distinguished himself during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 which threatened to end British rule. Campaigners who want to change the name of the road say Havelock's men were responsible for killing thousands of Indian soldiers during the mutiny. Some want to rename the street after a £20 million Sikh temple which is set to open there in the autumn. They propose calling it Gurdwara Road, as gurdwara means temple. Amarjit Singh Dhillon, secretary of the temple, said there had been calls for the name of the road to be changed. He said: "Havelock was bad, there is no doubt about it. He killed so many innocent people who were protesting against the British Raj.  The Muslim News


London, 19 May, 2002

Sri Lanka is featured high on the list of countries from where 'bogus economic refugees', coming into Britain originate from. In an explosive attack on the thousands of illegal immigrants, presently here, and naming the countries from where they come, Lord Rooker the Minister for Immigration at the Home Office, said 'a huge majority of these asylum seekers are young men who have deserted their families for economic advantage.' The statement was made when the minister told the press of government plans to construct 15 refugee villages across the countryside of Britain which has already triggered fresh fears of racial tension. Meanwhile, a senior immigration official told the Sunday Observer that a large number of illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka are being held at detention camps awaiting decisions and even a larger number who have gone underground after being asked to leave the country are being hunted by Scotland Yard.   Sunday Observer


The Hague, 13 May, 2002

Twenty Hindu organizations here were greatly alarmed at the receipt of threatening letters containing a yellow powder (harmless, as it turned out). The obscenity-laced letter read in part: "Death to all Hindu dogs. We demand the following from you: 1. Stop your Hindu organizations and cancel all organization activity. 2. Deposit within three weeks all your cashflow in name of our Islamic mosque in your town. There are many, so search yourself and contact them. We want to receive more than 10,000 EURO from you within three weeks. 3. Close your building and stop all activities. Hindus may not have a religion here, because The Netherlands has now become a Muslim nation, Mecca of the Western world, of Europe. This is your punishment for Hindus who vote for Pim Fortuyn." The original letter is available in Dutch at: One organization that received a letter is Agni, Our contacts in Holland said that a TV news show reported Hindu organizations had asked their members to vote for Pim Fortuyn, a far-right politician running for parliament in the May 15 elections who was assassinated May 6 by a leftist. However, direct inquiries with Hindu organizations have not found any who recommended their members vote for Fortuyn. He advocated strict immigration limits and integration of admitted immigrants with Dutch society. His party platform singled out Muslims as having culture aspects "diametrically opposed to the desired integration and emancipation, such as arranged marriages and honor revenges." The police are taking the matter very seriously and investigating.  Indolink


London, 13 May, 2002

Four people were arrested after seven persons were killed in a firebomb attack on the house of a Pakistani imam in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, on Sunday. The police has launched a murder investigation into the incident in which five sisters, aged between six months and 13 years, and two adults were killed. Four adults who escaped from the house of the Pakistani imam are being treated for serious injuries in hospital, according to reports here. Detective superintendent Bob Bridgestock, investigating the attack, said they were examining if the incident was the result of a dispute within the Asian community. He did not elaborate. "We know that there was the sound of breaking glass. There were voices heard and we know there was a resident who looked out and shouted at three or four Asian males," Mr Bridgestock said. "They were in the garden and threw something into the window. They fled down the streets and the house immediately burst into flames."
The girls had arrived from Pakistan along with their mother and were visiting their 65-year-old grandfather, Aziz Chishti. It was not known if he survived the attack. He lived there with his wife, two daughters, two sons, and five grandchildren. The incident has stunned neighbours, who described the family as nice. Many of them saw the former imam take his granddaughters to school. Chishti, known and loved in the neighbourhood, also taught the Quran there. He had recently suffered a heart attack and his health was reported to be poor. "I have no idea at this moment as to why someone should take this sort of action against such a nice family," Mr Bridgestock said. "Somebody, for some reason, in the early hours decided to take action and the action they have taken is starting a deliberate fire."
The fire started at the front of the house at ground level shortly before 2 am as the family slept. It spread so fast and with such intense heat that it quickly destroyed the staircase, cutting off the family’s escape route. A taxi driver, Mohammed Akhtar, saw an elderly woman, who had apparently jumped from an upstairs window, lying injured. "There were people everywhere, Asian and English, all trying to help, but the fire was so hot. It was terrible. An English boy tried to get into the house, but it was too hot." The shell of the house was so close to collapse on Sunday that it needed stabilising before the dead could safely be removed. The street was cordoned off. The police is questioning four men, all Asians — two are 24 years old and two are aged 19 and 25 — over the deaths.  Asian Age


London, 08 May, 2002

A group of former Gurkhas have begun an action at the High Court on Wednesday to sue the government for alleged racial discrimination. The elite troops claim their pensions are below those of all other British troops in an action that could cost the Ministry of Defence £2m. Their legal team, which is led by Cherie Booth QC, the prime minister's wife, lodged documents on Wednesday which will be go before a judge in the next few weeks to decide if they have a case. The ministry says pensions and conditions of service have improved in recent years. But the Gurkhas' lawyers are planning to present 20 test cases, claiming 30,000 Nepalese retired from the service with inadequate or no pension and widows have not been properly compensated for their loss. They will argue that since the 1947 Tripartite Agreement between India, Nepal and the UK, the Gurkhas have been linked to the Indian Army's pay scale instead of the British army's. They say this has resulted in a disparity between British pensions and those paid to the Gurkhas, who have fought loyally for the British for almost 200 years.
Padam Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen Association, said through an interpreter on the Law Courts steps: "We have been struggling for six years making peaceful demands for equal treatment, but we have not been listened to by the British Government. "Our demands are basically for equality of treatment with other British soldiers in terms of pay and pensions and treatment of our families." Speaking at a press conference later on Wednesday he added: "It's not only about money but status. Gurkhas have fought around the world for the British. The press conference was organised by Phil Shiner, a solicitor with Public Interest Lawyers. He said: "The Gurkhas have been discriminated against by the British for years and treated disgracefully. "They are paid less, have much smaller pensions, less prospects of promotion and worse redundancy terms." He said another example was that while a British soldier could have his wife and family with him when he is posted abroad, a Gurkha is allowed only three years' family leave out of 15 years of service. "Imagine the effect this has on young married couples," said Mr This was a clear example of "colonial racism" he said, which left many Gurkhas and their families living in dire poverty." The men's current pension is £62.70 per month, but it is argued they need between £200 and £300 per month to live in Kathmandu.
The group gave an example of an 83-year-old World War II veteran who lost a leg and walks on a wooden stump, and is now living on just £25 a month. Mr Shiner said Gurkha pensions were currently worth between a sixth and an eighth of British ones. Gurkhas began serving the British Crown in 1815 in India, and with Indian independence in 1947 became part of the British Army. Nearly 3,600 are serving currently, and in recent years they have taken part in British operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. The MoD said Gurkha pensions have increased and are now roughly equivalent to a third of the pensions for British soldiers. A spokeswoman said a pension equal to the British one would provide "phenomenal standard of living in Nepal", where it is much cheaper to live. If the case goes to a full judicial review, the government will be up against the prime minister's wife. Ms Booth, who specialises in human rights abuses, tackled the government over the issue of job leave for parents of young children, in May 2000. That case is before the European Court.   BBC


London, 07 May, 2002

Hardly three months after the murder of Sri Lankan born 18-year-old Supenthar Ramachandran from Wembley whose body was found burnt and battered in a public park, yet another Sri Lankan Tamil was killed in the same town last week. The man, Suresh Kumar Selvarajah (26) died after he received several gunshot wounds during the attack at his home in Lyon Park Avenue, Wembley around 8 p.m. Detective Superintendent Nigel Mawer told the Daily News that at least two men had been to the murdered man's house before the attack took place. Yesterday (Monday) police arrested 14 men aged between 19 and 40 all of Wembley. Further inquiries are going on.   The Daily News


New Delhi, 07 May, 2002

Rejecting European Union's stand on Gujarat, Government today asserted in the Rajya Sabha that India will not accept prescriptions from outside on internal matters and ruled out presence of outside observers in the coming assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. "India will not accept prescriptions to do this or that. We did not accept them in 1998 (after the nuclear tests). India will not accept being spoken to from assumed positions of superiority or greater morality," External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said replying to a debate on the working of his ministry. Singh was responding to concerns expressed by members regarding the statements made by EU in the wake of Gujarat violence. On British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's reported remarks on positioning of outside observers for J and K assembly elections, Singh clarified that the import of Straw's comments was not that he suggested presence of such observers but made it clear that India, in any case, rejected such a notion totally."There is no question of accepting any outside observers during J and K polls. The issue is entirely in the domain of the Election Commission," the Minister said adding New Delhi has made it abundantly clear that J and K issue has to be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan. "There is no change in that position nor can there by any dilution of that position," he said.  PTI


London, 03 May, 2002

Hindu activists in London are outraged by a London store's decision to sell iced fruit cakes decorated with the likenesses of Indian gods and a goddess. The luxury cakes that depict a frolicking Lord Ganesha against a backdrop of pink icing, as well as Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and goddess Lakshmi, are on sale in the patisserie section of Selfridges on Oxford Street. They are displayed next to the pani puri and tiffin carrier stalls set up by the Taj group, co-sponsors of the Bollywood theme month that was inaugurated on Thursday by film stars Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Dimple Kapadia and Madhuri Dixit. The Bollywood theme that runs right through the various shopping zones of Selfridges has attracted widespread media and public approval, but the Hindu cakes are an altogether different issue. "I think this is depicting the Hindu pantheon in a mocking way," said Bimal Krishna Das of the UK Council of Hindu Temples. "They wouldn't do this with Christian deities. They shouldn't do this to us, the Hindu community will be offended."
Vishva Hindu Parishad's UK general secretary Kishore Ruparelia said: "I am flabbergasted that they have gone to these lengths to depict our gods and goddesses. "They wouldn't present Jesus Christ in this way. It's disrespectful and makes a mockery of our religious beliefs." The cakes have been made on Selfridges' behalf by Seriously Scrumptious, which describes itself as "a newly established company which provides an exquisite range of luxury handcrafted cakes and desserts, including gourmet gateaux, passionately designed pavlovas and seriously divine chocolate tortes, Seriously Scrumptious handmade biscuits, traybakes, cookies and much more..." Company founder Rita Hraiz, who is half Indian and half Lebanese, told "We put love into what we do. We are not embarrassed to talk about our spiritual leanings. "Quite a lot of our staff have been to India and feel a lot of love for the country and 20 per cent of our profits go to the Tulsi Trust, which serves some villages near Vrindavan." Hraiz added that the cakes were made as an offering to the divine and hoped they would not offend anyone.  Rediff


Stockholm, April 30, 2002

Swedish furniture maker Ikea has apologised for an advertisement showing a glittering toilet seat adorned with a meditating Buddha. The figure, incorrectly identified as the Hindu god Shiva, appeared in a section with decoration tips in the latest issue of Ikea Family Magazine, sent to 700,000 households in Sweden. Many of the estimated 10,000 Hindus in the Scandinavian country complained and representatives from Hindu groups sent a joint protest letter to the company on Tuesday. Ikea apologised the next day. The article, headlined ´Make the nicest toilet seat yourself´, features a picture of Buddha, with legs crossed and eyes closed, glued on a toilet seat spray-painted in gold. The adjoining text refers to the figure as Shiva. Mr Ashok Dhawan, chairman of the Hindu temple in Stockholm, said he threw away his Ikea membership card after he saw the article. ´When I saw the picture, I first thought, ´how good that they print this picture.´ Then I saw it was a toilet seat. I became furious,´ he said on Friday. Protest organiser Shahsi Sharma said he was satisfied with the apology and considered the issue resolved. He added that Ikea conducts a much appreciated education programme to combat the use of child labour in India. Ikea spokesman Tina Paulsson said the company would pay closer attention to pictures with religious and cultural motifs in the future. Said the company: ´We have unfortunately not been sufficiently attentive to this picture and its symbolism and meaning for a lot of people.´ Ikea, founded in 1943, has more than 140 stores with 70,000 employees in 22 countries.  AFP


London, April 26, 2002

The BBC has reached a 50,000-pound out-of-court settlement with a journalist of Indian origin who accused it of racial and sexual discrimination. Sharan Sandhu (51) told an employment tribunal that she had been repeatedly passed over for promotion between 1991 and 1999 because of her colour and gender. Sandhu, who joined the BBC in 1990 as a sub-editor, claimed that a corps of white male journalists reigned over the BBC World Service with a 'mentality that demeaned and embarrassed ethnic minority colleagues'. She told the employment tribunal in central London that she had to endure a 'boys' club culture' at Bush House, the BBC headquarters, in which non-white staff was deliberately restricted to junior posts. She claimed that being passed over for promotion between 1994 and 1999 led to stress and depression. Sandhu, a mother of three, said while long liquid lunches were the order of the day for the ruling clique, demanding 11-hour shifts for working mothers made their life intolerable. The BBC said it did not accept that her career was affected by gender or race discrimination. "The BBC has shown Sharan exceptional goodwill. We do not recognise the colonial mentality she described. We gave Sharan extensive opportunities to develop her career," a spokesman said. "After a prolonged period of sickness, the BBC gave Sharan every help to return to work designing a special shift for her and exempting her from night working." He said the BBC 'stands by its selection procedures, both successful and unsuccessful, that Sharan went through and believes that the procedures are demonstrably fair'. "The BBC accepts with sadness that relations with Sharan have effectively broken down. We wish her success in the future," he said.  PTI


Jalandar, April 26, 2002

In a repeat of the Malta boat tragedy, about 25 people from Punjab who had gone to Lebanon illegally in search of jobs, were feared drowned after their boat capsized on its way from Turkey to Greece. Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner A K Gupta said today he had received information about the tragedy from the parents of those feared dead. "The district administration has written to the state government to take up the matter with the external affairs ministry," he said. Gupta said the district authorities have received complaints from the kith and kin of those who are feared to have drowned. According to relatives of some of the victims, about seven people aboard the boat could be saved by the Greece authorities, Gupta said. More than 100 people, mostly from Punjab were drowned off the coast of Malta two years back while trying to reach Europe illegally. In 1996, a boat carrying illegal immigrants from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka sank in the Malta-Sicily Channel. The incident which came to be referred as the Malta boat tragedy left 289 people dead.   PTI


Paris, April 21, 2002

French police who last Tuesday arrested seven Pakistani men during an early morning raid in Paris on suspicion of their links with Al Qaeda, have released six of them, saying they have no reason to detain them any longer , indeed have no proof that any of them were guilty of any wrongdoing. The seventh in still in custody, but for the simple reason that he is illegally on French soil and is theoretically subject to expulsion from France. Police sources say, however, that he will probably be allowed to remain in the country, especially as France is in the middle of an election campaign with presidential polls to be held on May 5 and legislative elections scheduled thereafter on June 9 and 16. According to tradition, a presidential amnesty is usually decreed by the newly-elected French president, and in certain cases persons illegally on French territory are released from the police custody.
The seven men were suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda and providing logistical support to accused shoe-bomber Richard Reid who on Dec 22 had attempted to set off a bomb on an American Airlines flight. The reason why the Pakistanis were arrested was to provide information on Mr Reid during the five days he spent here from Dec 17 to 22. French police sources admit that when they arrested the men they were indeed reacting to orders from Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the French anti-terrorist magistrate with close ties to the FBI who had been asked by US authorities to provide information on Mr Reid and possible ties with Muslim movements in France and Europe.   The Dawn


London, 28 march, 2002

Britain says it is increasing the pensions paid to Nepalese former members of its army Gurkha units by just over ten percent. But it makes clear the Gurkhas will still get far less than other retired members of the British forces. The British embassy in Kathmandu said the pension rise demonstrated the commitment of Britain to the Gurkhas, whose pensions, it said, had already been doubled two years ago. About twenty-six thousand retired Gurkhas live in Nepal on British army pensions and correspondent say there's a rising tide of resentment at the inferior treatment they're given compared to other British ex-servicemen. Last week Nepal's supreme court threw out a case filed by a retired Gurkha officer, demanding equal pay and pension rights, saying it had no jurisdiction.   BBC


London, 27 march, 2002

In an unusual move, a leading NRI organisation has strongly opposed a proposal for India to introduce dual nationality. "All countries, including Britain, are tightening citizenship laws after September 11," the Association of Passport Holders of India said Tuesday. "This move is the wrong idea at the wrong time." The stand by the group runs counter to the demand of many Indian organisations, which have been asking for dual nationality for several years. The High-Level Committee on Non Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin, headed by L.M. Singhvi, has recommended dual nationality in certain countries. The government has not announced any decision on this recommendation. The Association of Passport Holders of India has a wide membership all over Britain with members being mostly of Indian nationality. "The concept (dual nationality) is itself a contradiction in terms and has created difficulties for states which have introduced it," Bhaskar Ghorpade, president of the association, told IANS. Ghorpade, a senior barrister in London, said: "Article Nine of the Constitution of India makes it abundantly clear that people voluntarily acquiring citizenship of a foreign state would cease to be citizens of India.
"Neither does Britain force anyone to apply for British citizenship, nor does India force any to relinquish citizenship." Ghorpade called the move for dual nationality "confusing" and a "gross mistake that will bring more troubles than cash." It will mean among other things a substantial loss in visa fees, he said. He said opponents of the scheme had not had a chance to present their case. The two reasons given in support of dual nationality are increasing prospects of commercial ties with India, and the building of cultural affinity and an emotional bond, Ghorpade said. "But what percentage of NRIs are in business? And what is the total investment from NRIs these last 8 or 10 years?" he asked. He said there is "no concrete evidence that overwhelming investment is guaranteed on the receipt of dual citizenship." Nor is there evidence that any NRI has been denied business activity in India. "There is no reason for their business association with India, if any, to depend on dual nationality." As a matter of common sense, business will go to a country that offers the best possible returns. India must not depend on NRIs because "the patronage of kind relations is always transitory." The association has also opposed dual nationality on the grounds of security. "That was the view of the home ministry all these years, and it should not change now," Ghorpade said. There is a high level of anti-India activities in Britain, he pointed out. The association demanded the constitution of a new high-level committee to reconsider the recommendations of the Singhvi report. The committee should include former chief justices, former high commissioners or ambassadors and NRIs, it said.  IANS


Hambourg, 25 march, 2002

Author Salman Rushdie has hit out at the UK press saying he believed some of his critics were disappointed he had not been assassinated under an Islamic death order. The writer had faced a death threat contained in a fatwa issued in Iran in 1989, which said his book, the Satanic Verses, was blasphemous. In an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel weekly, Rushdie said the press in the UK were out to discredit him. He said: "Their (UK press) idea of journalism is to build up a target and then beat up on it. "These ambush writers are probably angry that I wasn't killed. "They are holding a grudge against me for surviving the fatwa and that I'm now leading a better life." Since 1989 Rushdie has received round-the-clock protection as a result of the Iranian Government's fatwa. Although that has now been lifted, extremist groups there still say they want to kill him. Rushdie told Der Spiegel that the cost of his protection before the fatwa was lifted was not as great as the reported £11m a year. "It was a lot less. Moreover, during the time that I had to live in hiding, I paid British income tax," he said. "If you compare that with the sums paid for police protection, then England still had a profit from me." The author was recently in the headlines when Air Canada banned him from flying on their airplanes because of security fears. The company had feared the extra security measures would result in long delays for other passengers, however it has since reversed its decision. The fatwa against Rushdie was issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As a result, the writer had to keep his whereabouts secret and he ended up living in 30 different locations in the UK over nine years. With the current Iranian government distancing itself from the fatwa in 1998, Rushdie has appeared in public more frequently recent years and even appeared in the hit movie Bridget Jones's Diary.  BBC


Jaffna, March 25, 2002

The LTTE, which taxes the expatriate Tamil community, has urged several European countries put on hold plans to repatriate Tamils in view of the indefinite ceasefire in the North -East following the MoU between them and the government, official sources said. "The LTTE fears any large scale repatriation programme," the source said while expressing the belief that the group and several of its front organisations abroad were in touch with foreign governments in this regard. The LTTE has expressed concern that the Norwegian facilitated MoU that has received full international backing may prompt governments to initiate a major repatriation programme. Their concerns have been expressed both locally and internationally. The sources said that the LTTE has already made representations to some Colombo-based diplomats. "The LTTE has sought assurance from diplomats that they would not recommend a repatriation programme," the sources said. The LTTE and its front organisations abroad have also urged European governments not to reject applications of asylum seekers. The sources said thousands of Tamils who have entered the European countries where they have claimed political asylum face deportation. The LTTE taxes all Tamils working abroad. Knowing that a major repatriation programme would affect its fund raising, the LTTE has stressed that the international community should not rush into such a programme until the they reach a final agreement with the government. However, the government has repeatedly explained to the international community the situation in the North-East and steps that have been taken to improve the living conditions there. The government has also allowed Colombo-based diplomats and representatives of international relief agencies to visit the North-East where they have been able to see for themselves the ongoing government programmes. "The situation in the North-East, particularly the Jaffna peninsula, would improve further when the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road re-opens for non-military traffic in the second week of April," the sources said.   The Island


Oxford, 22 march, 2002

Nadeem Ahmed, (a British born of indian/pakistani origin) will be taking one of the country’s most respected academic institutions to court on Monday. The accusation is Racial Discrimination. This is not the first time he has taken the university to court, or the first time the University has been accused of racial discrimination (at least four separate cases of racial discrimination are currently being brought against Oxford University). Nadeem was a star student at The School of Oriental and African Studies in London where he studied Arabic and Urdu. His tutors’ spoke highly of his scholarly abilities before he moved to Oxford in 1998 to begin his two-year post graduate degree in Medieval Arabic Thought. His supervisor was Dr. Fritz Zimmermann. From the outset Nadeem detected some hostility from the supervisor towards himself and another Asian student. There were only three students on the course. New problems started when the students were asked to sit an informal test at the end of their first year. It is alleged that Dr. Zimmermann brushed aside their concerns regarding this test. They subsequently sat the test and both Asian students were told that they had failed. However, the white student who had no previous training in Arabic was deemed to have "passed". It is also alleged that Dr. Zimmermann, on the basis of this test, recommended both Asian students to leave the course. As British born Asians, both students were told that they needed to do something about their English language proficiency. This came as a shock to Nadeem. When Nadeem complained to the Proctor’s Office he was told that the test was not recognized by the University and was outside exam rules. Normal exams are set by independent exam boards and external examiners who do not know the identity of candidates and their papers. However, in this case, none of these rules were being applied. What could have been ended with the admission of irregularity by the supervisor or the Proctor’s Office, didn’t. Unfortunately for Nadeem, it was only the start of a most unusual battle.
While the other Asian student complained and agreed to some "accommodation", the details of which remain unknown, Nadeem wanted justice. His personal or "moral" tutor Tom Paulin (the world-renowned Irish poet and Oxford don) sought to resolve the matter, but to no avail. Nadeem wasn’t allowed to continue his studies until he first sit another test. When Nadeem attempted to ask the University about the new test, the University, he claims, was not forthcoming. Nadeem sat the second test and it later emerged that this too was unlawful. He then took legal advice and action. The first step was a full-scale public Judicial Review. But due to the complexity of ancient university statutes, it was not found to have been acting outside of its own vague rules. This was the first time any student had ever been granted permission by the High Court against a University making it a landmark case. Although the Judge eventually decided in the University‘s favour, he did however recognize that the two tests Nadeem took were "distinctly unfortunate". The hearing was in November 2000. Now well over a year later Nadeem will be back in court to put some kind of an end to his "three years of hell". For this student the University may have the power and influence (with over 70% of Judges having been educated at Oxbridge), but he remains confident that he is in the right and that, for him, is all that counts. The NUS Black Students Campaign is firmly behind Nadeem’s campaign for justice. Dennis Fernando, from the campaign, told Clickwalla that all Black and Asian students should support Nadeem because "his case represents the institutional racism that black students face systematically within education". When Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN was invited to accept an honorary degree at Oxford University last year, he was bombarded with strong letters of protest from Black and Asian students at the University requesting that he not come. They argued that the University was a defendant in a race discrimination case, and therefore should not be seen to have the approval of world leaders. In the end he decided to come, but only after the University promised to resolve the case. This fact alone seems to indicate even more evidence of perceptions of racism within the University. The university were approached to comment on the case but declined. The Court case begins on Monday 25th March 2002 at Reading County Court.  Clickwalla


Katmandu, 22 march, 2002

The supreme court in Nepal has thrown out a petition that it rule on whether the UK Government should give Gurkha troops it employs the same pay and conditions as British-born soldiers. The petition was brought by a retired Gurkha, Gyan Raj Rai, who called the decision an "injustice," according to one report. Some 3,000 Nepalese Gurkhas are serving in the British military and more than 25,000 receive pensions from Britain. There are two legal cases underway in the UK at present involving Gurkhas seeking equal pay with British troops. The Nepal supreme court decided in a decision late on Thursday that the dispute had to be settled between the governments of Nepal and the UK. The court also ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the actions of the government of another country. Retired Sergeant-Major Rai brought his petition with the backing of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen Organisation. "Injustice has been done to the ex-Gurkhas because the country's supreme court quashed the writ even without probing the issue properly," he was quoted as saying. In the UK, former Gurkha Lance Corporal Hari Thapa is claiming racial discrimination by the Ministry of Defence over his pension. He says he receives only £58 ($83) compared to the £450 ($641) a British veteran receives. It is estimated that if he wins his case, the British Government would face a bill of around two billion pounds. Britain first realised the fighting worth of the Gurkhas after it suffered heavy casualties in the invasion of Nepal in the 19th century. The British East India Company signed a peace deal in 1815, which also allowed it to recruit from the ranks of the former enemy.   BBC


London, 05 march, 2002

"ISKCON have won a legal case against House of Fraser that could set a precedent against any type of future religious mockery in Britain. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has been awarded £17,500 in compensation plus legal costs together with a public apology from the House of Fraser for an advert suggesting they were a dangerous and loony religious sect. The House of Fraser ran the ad in April 2001’s "The Face" and displayed the same ad in about 20 of House of Fraser's stores in the UK. The ad featured Hare Krishna Hindu devotees with the strapline: "Linea Directions wear it and pity those who can't, exclusive to House of Fraser. If I wasn't a chanting, cymbal banging easily led nutcase who'd been brain washed by some loony religious sect I could be wearing Linea Directions extra fine marino sweater and linen jeans."
The initial complaint was sparked when Boy George made a public protest against the advertising campaign and many Hindus protested vigorously. The Advertising Standards Authority later upheld the numerous complaints received. Shivarama Swami, the head of the Hare Krishna movement (UK) said: "This is not just a victory for the Hare Krishna movement, or even just a victory for Hinduism; this is a victory for the rights of religious worship and expression. This will set a standard for the future and be a warning to other companies not to use someone's religious faith as a nasty and spiteful advertising campaign." The offensive advertisement incensed the British Hindu community who in turn complained strongly. "This decision is a great victory for the British Hindu community who have always been slated by the media," commented Mr. Om Prakash Sharma MBE, the president of the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK). Individuals in the offensive advertisement are also eligible for compensation as one of the individuals has been awarded £7,500. "This is the first time the British Hindu community have a won a legal case against ridicule", said Jitesh Thakrar, the solicitor who handled the case. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) or the Hare Krishna movement is part of the ancient Vaishnava tradition, a monotheistic faith within Hinduism. ISKCON was founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who first brought the Krishna tradition from India to the west in 1965.   Clickwalla


London, 18 february, 2002

"British Home Secretary after he urged families who arrange marriages to find partners in Britain and not in Asia, triggering a new row over multi-culturalism. Mr David Blunkett was accused of "dangerous interference" in Asian culture when he said parents and men and women taking part in arranged marriages should look for British partners. In particular, Asian women educated in Britain would be better off finding a husband who spoke English, rather than just the language of their ethnic origin, he said. Mr. Blunkett, who was launching his immigration White Paper, made his controversial statement after a record numbers of spouses entered Britain last year from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Asian countries. More than 19,800, more than double the number in 1996, came to join their husbands or wives, many of them after arranged marriages. Under the new immigration proposals unveiled by Mr. Blunkett, would-be immigrants must pass English tests, take citizenship classes and make loyalty pledges. The measures are the latest in a series which ministers have brought in or want to introduce to curb the number of immigrants arriving in Britain, as well as to integrate new citizens into Britain's way of life.   Indolink


London, 15 february 2002

"Indians, go home" is the mutinous cry from scores of unemployed British infotech workers as the computer chips appear finally and suddenly - to go down for brainy techno-specialists from the sub-continent. Two years after Britain and Germany created elaborate green card-style visa schemes to welcome them in, Indian IT specialists stand accused of offering cut-price work deals that unfairly put wellqualified natives out of work. "We're not afraid of competition, but we will complain about unfair competition, which is what is coming from Silicon India Incorporated," argues Philip Ross, an unemployed computer specialist who conducted a survey on Britain's unwanted Indian guest workers for the 14,000-member Professional Contractors Group, the UK's largest trade body for the knowledge economy. Ross, who claims that Indians are implicated in most of the 50 retrenchment cases investigated by his organisation so far, told this The Times of India, "we're not Little Englanders but Britain's skills shortage has been hyped up and we're not as badly off as we thought we were". The message is loud and clear: Indians go home and stay home. Analysts say it is a seductive sob story and one that will increasingly be heard across a recessionary Europe, with its lengthening dole queues and monotonously regular retrenchment announcements. But it strikes a jarring note. Britain-based Indian workers say they are appalled at the unfairness of it all. "It's not true, there is a lot we offer that they can't do," says Rajat Ray, head of marketing at Wipro Systems in the English city of Reading. Adds E Raghavan, from Hyderabad, "I can honestly say the work I do is superior to what an Englishman would". So is the honeymoon really over, just months after Britain proudly announced it had granted 11,474 fast-track work permits to Indians in the year till April 2001. Perhaps. British minister Lord Rooker has responded encouragingly to the allegations against Indians, promising to examine the evidence and take action if required.
The government is now studying a dossier, given it by the PCG, which originally co-ordinated with ministers to identify IT jobs needing overseas assistance from countries like India. The dossier, says Ross grimly, is complete and persuasive, with full names and case studies. Several British IT workers, who request anonymity, say the Indians are not only doing the same jobs but undercutting prices as well to stay ahead of the competition. Ross explains the fears as partly brought on by the hardsell of "Silicon India's government, which offers tax breaks to IT exports and services". He says the Indians are able to charge less because they stay in Britain for just an initial tax-free six months and are further helped by paying no tax back home in India. In effect, the PCG's 14,000 members are lobbying for Britain's fast-track, quota-free visa system for Indian IT wallahs to be slowed and made stricter. Till recently, British ministers were regularly touring Bangalore and inviting Indians to fly the flag for Britain's aspirational knowledge economy empire. Indians are "wealth creators" one minister had raved. Another offered an 'innovators' scheme" for India's ideas men. But the marathon lovefest is souring with the fuss about mobile Indian anoraks, peddling clever computer programmes and reduced-fee solutions. The Times of India


Katmandu, 16 january 2002

A Nepali Gurkha soldier in the British Army has lodged a case against Britain’s Ministry of Defence, alleging racial discrimination by his seniors, reports received here said. Lieutenant Navin Kumar Gauchan of the British Army has taken his case to an employment tribunal in Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk in north Britain, according to a report filed by Indo-Asian News Service (IANS). He filed a case after officers from the Queen’s Own Gurkha Transport Regiment, where he was a lieutenant, wrote an unfavourable annual report against him. Lt. Gauchan, 40, claimed that he was not promoted to a captain’s rank, instead has been pensioned out of the Army. "I believe the racial discrimination took place in order to gain personal interests of superior officers mainly to cover up the lapses on their duties and responsibilities," the IANS quoted Gauchan as submitting to the tribunal. "There are different rules and regulations only for Gurkha soldiers, which I believe is total race discrimination," Gauchan said. He said he had to leave the British Army in "disgrace and humiliation" after 20 years of hard work and dedication. Lt. Gauchan is claiming redress for discrimination and also unfair dismissal, according to the report. The Nepalese soldier was dismissed under an agreement signed by the governments of Britain, India and Nepal in 1947, the report said. Under that agreement there is no guarantee how long a Gurkha can serve in the British Army. There are 3,000 Nepalis serving in the British Army at present. The Kathmandu Post


Kathmandu, 16 january 2002

The Finance Ministry is planning to introduce a provision of Non-Resident Nepalis in the upcoming budget, solving a long-standing problem of about 60,000 Nepalis, presently living in various parts of the United States and Canada. This provision would also help thousands of Nepalis living in other parts of the world. "I have made several provisions in the forthcoming budget including the visa waiver and the provision of Non-Resident Nepalis (NRN)," Finance Minister Dr. Ram Saran Mahat told The Kathmandu Post. Over the last decade, the Nepali Americans had tried vehemently for such arrangements, but in vain. This new provision would allow Nepalis living abroad to come back to their homeland for a longer period after this provision of non-resident Nepalis is included in the budget in July. These Nepalis have been facing many hurdles as the Nepali law recognises them as foreigners once they acquire the citizenship of other countries. Since a dual citizenship is allowed in the US and Canada, they need not relinquish Nepali citizenship while acquiring citizenship there. But Nepali law does not allow a dual citizenship. Nepali citizenship of such Nepali Americans is automatically terminated by the very time they get citizenship of another country. If they want to resume Nepali citizenship again, they will have to relinquish the citizenship elsewhere. "We are Nepali Americans who have made significant contribution for the restoration of democracy in Nepal," said Khagendra Chettri through email. Chettri is a Nepali American practising law in the US for the last 15 years. "We are treated as foreigners when we go back to Nepal," complains Chhetri. He told The Kathmandu Post that he and some of his friends have met all the post-democracy Prime Ministers - Girija Prasad Koirala, Manmohan Adhikari and Sher Bahadur Deuba and influential leaders like Madhav Kumar Nepal, but nothing has happened. Out of the 60,000 Nepali Americans living in the US and Canada, about 10,000 have taken citizenship there, according to Dr. Shyam D. Karki, immediate past president of Association of Nepalis in the America (ANA). "And rest of the others will also get the citizenship sooner or later," Karki said via email. Those living in the foreign countries say Nepal has been not able to tap a huge resource of these people. Nepali lawyers practising here opine that the government should offer a package to such non-resident Nepalis who want to return to Nepal and invest. "A separate provision could be made in the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act 1992 or a separate Act could be made to bring this huge resources here," says Dr. Bharat Bahadur Karki, a corporate lawyer. "Investment of non-resident Nepalis would be more viable since the forces like Maoists may be comparatively lenient to them than the foreign investors." Shyam Karki shows a long list that the nation could take benefit from if they are to be provided with a long-term visa, preferably for "ten years." At present, these Nepali Americans come to Nepal on a month-long visa and they have to renew it once it expires. They also flay the legal provision that does not allow them to acquire immovable property here, like any other foreigners. Thus, they demand the right to own property in the country. If they government take a more liberal policy, many retired Nepali Americans are looking forward to do volunteer work in Nepal in their respective field of expertise, Karki further said. Though the provision of NRN is a new concept in Nepal, similar practice is already in place in many other countries like India. Experts feel Nepali government can take a cue from the practices in India where the non-resident Indians contribute a lot in the overall development of the nation. The Kathmandu Post


New Delhi, 08 january 2002

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said on Monday that he supports the proposal to give dual citizenship to non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin. Vajpayee was referring to a high level committee report on the Indian diaspora chaired by parliamentarian L M Singhvi. The committee recommended that the Indian government confer dual citizenship to foreign citizens of Indian descent. A dual citizenship does not mean dual integrity or dual loyalty, the Prime Minister said. Vajpayee announced that January 9 will henceforth be observed as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas or NRI Day. Mr Vajpayee also announced that, henceforth, 10 prominent Indians abroad will be honoured every year with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards. These honours will be considered as national awards. The awardees will be selected by a committee headed by Vice-President Krishna Kant. Commending the role of NRIs, Mr Vajpayee said that although Indians form only 2 per cent of the population of the US, their contribution to wealth-creation is more than 5 per cent. Vajpayee said that there is a general consensus that investment by NRIs and PIOs is desirable and an environment has to be created to facilitate such invesments. NRINEWS


London, 27 december 2001

The Indian shipping company, whose cargo ship was intercepted in the English Channel by anti-terrorist officers last week, has threatened legal action against the police. The MV Nisha was seized on Friday after a tip-off that it was carrying terrorist material, but nothing suspicious was found and it was given an all-clear after a thorough search spread over five days. Mr. Sudhir Mulji, chairman of the Great Eastern Shipping Company which owns the vessel, criticised the search. He told the BBC's Today programme that he did not think terrorists would have had enough time to plant anything on the ship. ``The ship was not scheduled to come to England until November 6. The terrorists would have had to have moved incredibly fast,'' he said, and pointed out that Scotland Yard would have discovered the timescale ``by just asking in England...The ship belongs to a British company, it's chartered in England, the brokers are all English - it was just a question of asking someone.'' Scotland Yard declined to comment, the BBC said. The vessel, carrying 26,000 tons of raw sugar to a refinery in East London, had stopped in Djibouti, next to Somalia, which has been linked with the terror group raising suspicion, according to the police. The Hindu


Islamabad, 20 december 2001

Nadra is relaunching its project of issuing Pakistani Origin Cards, and has asked all Pakistani missions abroad to send data from their respective countries. "It was launched half-heartedly and now a serious attempt is being made to issue cards to Pakistani expatriates," Nadra chairman Brig Saleem Ahmed Moin said. The Authority has already drafted rules for issuing Pakistani origin cards, which have been referred to the Ministry of Law and Justice for approval, Mr Moin said. The project will be relaunched shortly after vetting and approval of the rules by the law ministry, he added. At present, Nadra is in the process of issuing new computerized identity cards to over 60 million people above the age of 18. He said this process would be completed in the next 18 months. "At present 100,000 new identity cards are being printed every day," he added. On complaints about the slow issuance of the cards, he said, Nadra was establishing fast centres in all major cities for collection of data. He pointed out that one such centre had already been set up in Rawalpindi on experimental basis, where anybody could walk in and get his particulars registered. These centres were equipped with all facilities to take the pictures of the applicants and to electronically record his thumb impression and other required data, he added. He said the Authority had taken adequate measures to check issuance of bogus or duplicate identity cards. The cards which, he said, had been designed and manufactured locally were approved by an international agency which had certified it as foolproof. He said they had adopted a method of double-entry system, which had eliminated the chances of duplication. From a sample of 100,000 cards, only 500 had similar particulars, including name, date of birth and father's name. Out of these, less than 10 were such wherein the applicants had tried to obtain two cards with different addresses, he said. Cases against these had already been referred to the relevant authorities, he added. He said they had already prepared six to 6.5 million cards out of which 150,000 were separated as suspected ones. These cards would be verified before issuance, he added. The chairman said the database developed at Nadra could be utilized for planning purposes in the field of education, health, communication etc. He said they were also introducing a privacy law so that data could not be misused. On the sluggish pace of issuance of cards, he said, they were facing difficulties in delivering the cards, as the staff deputed for this purpose could not find the applicant and had to visit his residence several times. On a question about the electoral list, he said, printing of the list would be completed by December 23 and handed over to the Election Commission. Dawn


Berne, 06 december 2001

The Swiss Federal Council banned the LTTE from collecting funds on December 2 on the occasion of their Martyr's Day, the Swiss newspaper La Tribune De Geneve reported in its weekend edition. The newspaper said the LTTE was also banned from carrying out acts of propaganda for the Heroes Day. "The Government wants to show that it is opposed to actions being carried out in Switzerland to support the fighting in Sri Lanka," it added. Diplomatic sources said the Swiss authorities are further investigating LTTE activities in Switzerland in the context of global action against fund raising by terrorist groups.  Daily News


London, 18 october 2001

A Hindu girl in Derby suffered head and spine injuries as a ten- member gang of Muslim youth went on a rampage smashing windows and assaulting staff and pupils at a school, police said today. The fifteen-year-old, Ms. Radhika Shukla, who suffered a fractured skull, internal bleeding in her ear, a black eye and bruises on her back and shoulders, said the attack followed an argument at the Moor community school among three girls last week over the issue of race and the events of September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Ms. Shukla said inter-racial tension had increased in the school since the U.S. attacks and bombing of Afghanistan. Muslim youths had sprayed graffiti supporting Osama bin Laden on a school building and Muslim children from Derby moor had joined in the attack. Two members of the staff and four other pupils were injured, police said. Recounting the incident, Ms. Shukla said she was walking to the dinner hall at the school when about ten youths burst in, smashing windows and assaulting people. She was chased, pushed to the floor and hit on the head with a hammer. ‘‘I was crying and trying to roll up in a ball as he was hitting me. He was telling me he was going to kill me. I just closed my eyes and hoped he would stop.’’ PTI


London, 11 october 2001

A UK-BASED Pakistani Muslim cleric, accused of recruiting British Muslims for terrorist training and raising money to fund a ‘holy war’ in Kashmir, is to be deported to Pakistan. According to security service investigators, Rehman (34) had raised funds for the Lashkar-E-Toiba in Britain while working for its political wing, Markaz Ad-Da’wah Wal Irshad. Delivering the verdict, Law Lord Hoffman of the House of Lords clarified that his judgement on Shafiq-ur-Rehman had been written three months before the attacks on the United States. ‘‘They are a reminder that in matters of national security, the cost of failure can be high... This seems to me to underline the need for the judicial arm of government to respect the decisions of ministers of the Crown on the question of whether support for terrorist activities in a foreign country constitutes a threat to national security.’’ The Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which had initially heard Shafiq’s case, had said he was not a threat to British national security. But in their ruling, the Law Lords said the commission had adopted too narrow a definition of what national security involved. Shafiq’s lawyer Amjad Malik said he was considering an appeal to the European Court. Rather than prosecute suspected terrorists under the Terrorism Act, the British government believed it was ‘‘easier’’ to simply deport them, said mailk. ‘‘National security will therefore, be used as a tool to be rid of people whom the government thinks are unsafe. It means that people in Britain cannot raise their concerns about their brothers in Kashmir, Palestine or Chechnya as that will be considered as participating in activities not considered safe by the secretary of state,’’ he said. Malik claimed Shafiq was being ‘‘punished’’ for refusing British intelligence agency MI5’s attempts to recruit him as an agent. Shafiq and his wife first came to Britain eight years ago. They have two children, both of whom were born in the United Kingdom. PTI


London, 19 september 2001

A leading London eveninger on Wednesday apologised to the Sikh community in the United Kingdom for erroneously publishing a picture of a Sikh being arrested in Rhode Island, United States, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. "We have been asked to emphasise that this man had no connection with those attacks and was subsequently released. We apologise if any contrary impression was given," the Associate Editor of the Evening Standard, Don Berry, said. The apology was a sequel to a complaint lodged with the editor of the newspaper by counsellor in-charge of the press and information in the High Commission of India, Navdeep Suri. While admitting that the error might have occurred because Sikhs wear turban and have beard, Suri said, "The publication of the picture has, however, caused considerable anxiety amongst members of the Sikh community in the UK.  PTI


London, 16 september 2001

As many as 16 cases of assault on Sikhs living in the UK have been reported after last week's terrorist attacks in the US. The stray cases of attack on Sikhs, who wear turbans and have beards, took place after they were apparently mistaken for Arabs, and possible supporters of Saudi-born militant Osama Bin Laden, main suspect in last Tuesday's attacks on New York and Washington. In one of the cases, an elderly Sikh received facial injuries after he was hit by a baseball bat. "Most others were minor assaults including a few verbal", representatives of Sikhs told newsmen here last night.
Despite the assault cases, a central Gurudwara in London held special prayers last night and passed a resolution expressing deep shock and devastation at the loss of thousands of innocent lives in the terrorist attacks. "It is the worst kind of human tragedy the world has witnessed in the 21st century. This most heinous, criminal and cowardly act is a blatant attack on humanity, the entire civilisation and democratic world," the resolution, the copies of which were sent to US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said. Deputy High Commissioner of India Hardeep Singh Puri, who addressed the special prayer at the Gurudwara, said India has condemned the killing of a Sikh in Phoenix, Arizona and the assault cases here. PTI


London, 28 August 2001

Campaigners against religious cults across western Europe are trying to persuade the British government to follow the French and legislate against movements such as Sai Baba and the Moonies. Tom Sackville, a former British minister and current chairman of the anti-cult organisation Family Action Information and Resource (FAIR), told The Times of India, "the French legislation of two months ago has enormously encouraged my 15-year battle against exploitative cults such as that of Sai Baba". The anti-cult campaign comes even as The Times, London, carried extensive reportage of Sai Baba on Monday, questioning his role in the "mysterious deaths of three British men", which campaigners admit are hard to prove were directly caused by the guru. The newspaper, which flagged its investigation as "exclusive", said "Sai Baba’s activities are being studied by the (British) Foreign Office, which is considering issuing an unprecedented warning against the guru to travellers". It said one of the men had "complained of being repeatedly sexually molested by Sai Baba at his ashram in Puttaparthi near Bangalore". There is growing British press interest in the man they describe as "Indian mystic and miracle worker" to the rich, famous and titled such as the Duchess of York and an architect known to be close to Prince Charles. Commentators say this is largely because Sai Baba has a substantial European fan following, alongside a growing number of hostile and vocal former devotees who accuse him of physical, mental and monetary abuse.
The Internet war launched by former devotees across western Europe, including David Bailey, a Welsh concert pianist once considered to be Sai Baba’s right-hand man, has focussed unsavoury publicity on Sai Baba. However, Sai Baba’s London headquarters continues to reject all the allegations. Several parliamentary questions in the last five years have drawn the British government’s attention to Sai Baba’s alleged misconduct. But, British MPs and anti-cult campaigners say the government has always maintained that the number of British cases are too few to merit action. But now, a new area of concern has arisen according to The Times, which says Sai Baba has infiltrated the British school system in a dangerous catch ‘em young policy. The newspaper says more than 500 British schools are being taught according to "Sai Baba-influenced educational programmes". It says the programmes are promoted by two charities, the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Trust UK and the Human Values Foundation. Former minister Sackville says the development is worrying because "it is just like we wouldn’t want or allow far-right groups such as the British National Party (BNP) to be talking to our children in school". Admitting the BNP was an extreme example, he said "the principle we are keen to impress on the British government is that just like the French, we have to make it a criminal offence to exploit people in vulnerable situations". Anti-cult campaigners say that their cause has been strengthened because UNESCO pulled out of an educational conference at Puttaparthi last year. They say that if the French legislation is followed by other European countries, it could eventually become European Union law and would severely limit the activities of movements such as that of Sai Baba. Times of India


Paris, 09 august 2001

France has decided to close the door for six hardcore LTTE members, including its theoretician Anton Balasingham. Following the UK Government's decision to ban the LTTE in February this year, the LTTE was to shift its European head office to Paris, which was their second largest base of operations in the West after London, intelligence sources said. Shanthan, who headed the London Longlane LTTE office was to move to Paris to run its propaganda machine. He was also included in the list of LTTEers banned from entering France. The other members in the list are Lucian Rupert Soosaipillai alias Thanam, Vallipuram Ramachandran alias Ramasar, Sothilingam Santhakumar alias Chinna Shanthan and Kathiravelpillai Kuhachandran.
Balasingham was earlier refused entry to several other countries including Switzerland and Australia. France had been a safe haven for LTTE activists for a long time. Lawrance Thilagar who was the LTTE's former international spokesman operated from the LTTE office in Paris till he was removed from the post by the LTTE leadership after a financial scandal. Paris witnessed several shooting incidents and two killings by the LTTE in recent years. According to diplomatic sources the recent official visit to France by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga contributed immensely in combating the LTTE propaganda operations in France. After meeting French President Jacques Chirac, President Kumaratunga told mediamen that she got a valuable opportunity to brief her French counterpart on LTTE activities in Paris, including human smuggling, money laundering and arms dealings. France and Sri Lanka had established a comprehensive security network to share their experiences in dealing with the LTTE. France took the first step in the United Nations in 1998 to curb terrorist fund raising internationally. Sri Lanka was a major contributor to this endeavour. Daily News


London, 20 July 2001

A Hindu woman has won £4,000 in damages after surgeons used "sacred" cow cartilage in her operation. The educational administrator said she would have never consented to the operation if she had known doctors were going to use parts of the cow, which is sacred to her religion. And she has fought a six year battle to get the out-of-court settlement. The 34-year-old woman, who has not been named, said her doctors at Sunderland City Hospitals NHS Trust never told her about the use of the cattle in the operation. "I am not religious but as a Hindu the cow is sacred, and you are not supposed to do anything that will be seen to be sacrilegious to the animal. "Inserting a part of a cow in your body would certainly be seen as that. It would be completely frowned upon." She said that she had always been self conscious about a small lump on the bridge of her nose and the fact that it bent slightly. She was referred to surgeon Mr Leo Strassen at Sunderland General Hospital, who agreed to carry out her rhinoplasty on the NHS.
After the operation the woman said she had been shocked to find that cartilage had been removed from her ear and implanted in her nose and that student doctors had been allowed to watch the whole procedure. But it was only later when she inspected her medical records that she found the cow cartilage had been used. She said: "I felt like some sort of experiment in a Nazi concentration camp. "I went to the doctors because I had a problem with my nose. "The rhinoplasty was to reduce the lump and straighten my nose. "There was never any mention of implants from my own body and certainly no mention of bovine implants. "I trusted this man implicitly, but he just used me for an experiment. I was horrified." She said that following the operation she was in severe pain and had trouble breathing and that it was when she took legal advice about this that she got access to her records and found out about the cow cartilage. She now plans to have the cartilage removed and faces an £11,000 bill. "I have suffered almost seven years of pain, stress and depression because of this and that won't end until the cartilage has been taken out. "This operation may cost me up to £11,000, and I've been told that another operation may cause my nose to collapse - but it is a chance I must take." The City Hospitals Sunderland said that the payment had been made with no admission of liability, but it expressed sympathy for any discomfort faced by the woman, who now lives in London. A health authority spokeswoman said: "We are pleased that we have been able to reach a settlement with the lady. "It has taken a number of years and that is regrettable. This seems to be a fairly unique case and the surgeon's professional ability was not in question. "It involved the use of bovine cartilage which caused great distress to the lady and her family."  BBC


London, 10 July 2001

A drug addict has been jailed for life for the murder of one of the UK's most prominent Hindu priests. Harish Purohit, a high-profile member of Leicester's Hindu community, bled to death after being stabbed 16 times in October last year. After a week-long trial, a jury took just three hours to find Dean Riddell, 26, of no fixed address, guilty of murder. Riddell, a heroin user and part-time rent boy, said he had stabbed Mr Purohit in self-defence after the priest abducted him and tried to sexually assault him. Nottingham Crown Court heard that Harish Purohit led a secret life in Leicester's gay community. The jury was told how Mr Purohit's family knew of his homosexuality and he was also well-known on Leicester's gay scene. Mr Purohit knew Riddell, a drug addict who needed large sums of money to feed his habit, and had picked him up on the night he was killed. The priest's body was found a few hours later at a house he had been renovating in Harrison Road, Leicester. Jailing Riddell for life Mr Justice Hughes told him: "It is perfectly clear to me that you were picked up by the deceased man in his motorcar. "It is quite impossible to believe you were not aware of what he was after. "What happened is not clear - if there was sexual activity or not I don't know. "But there was some kind of altercation and the jury has decided it was not self-defence or provocation. "It was a sustained attack from behind with a knife you carried habitually."  BBC


Berlin, 28 June 2001

India and Germany have signed an extradition treaty and pledged to step up cooperation to fight international terrorism, officials said Thursday. Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani signed the pact with Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin here late Wednesday at the end of his four-day visit to Germany. The treaty will pave the way for the extradition of terrorists and other wanted criminals from one country to another. A spokesman for the German justice ministry said Germany intended to "further improve its external cooperation in its fight against crime. Germany and India will now be able to extradite in a non-bureaucratic and expeditious manner criminals or persons suspected of having committed crimes". The treaty will also clear the way for direct contacts between the justice organs of the two countries which until now relied on their diplomatic missions and foreign ministries to make requests for extraditions. Daeubler-Gmelin said: "It should become more difficult for criminals to take shelter behind the borders of other countries. We are improving our external cooperation in tracking down and extradition. "More and more states are closely cooperating with each other to extradite criminals to the country requesting the extradition. In effect, the treaty with India is for both sides a further step in the fight against crime." On Tuesday, Advani met his German counterpart Otto Schilly to discuss ways of battling international terrorism. Officials here said this would lead to further cooperation between the police force of the two countries. The Federal Crime Office - the "German FBI" as it is referred to - and India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will step up cooperation in the future, the officials said. Both sides already have intelligence officials, operating as diplomats, in the diplomatic mission in each other's country. Their presence will be used to boost cooperation between the police forces. Schilly expressed Germany's support for India's initiative to convene a UN convention to combat terrorism. However, the visit showed that there are also thorny issues between the two sides.
One major issue that irks Germans - and this was conveyed to Advani - is the fate of Indian refugees whose appeal for asylum have been rejected by Germany but who cannot return to India in the absence of passports. Refugees wanting to stay on in Germany destroy or dump their passports upon arrival in this country. In the absence of passports, these refugees cannot be deported. Germany feels that Indian missions are very slow in responding to requests for passports to those who do not have travel documents. The longer a refugee stays in Germany, the greater is the strain on the German taxpayer. Indian diplomats argue that they have to first verify the credentials of the refugee with the authorities in India before they issue a passport. The entire process takes considerable time. Germany is preparing the draft of a repatriation agreement with India, obligating the latter to expeditiously organize the repatriation of undocumented Indian nationals. A copy of the draft will be sent to the Indian home ministry soon, an official of the German interior ministry said. Before coming to Berlin, Advani had visited the facilities near Bonn of the elite German anti-terrorist group, the Grenzschutzgruppe 9 or GSG9. This group is to combat hostage taking and hijacking. A German analyst told IANS that GSG-9 could provide useful expertise to India. In addition to combative situations, one area in which New Delhi could gain useful insight is "psychological warfare" against terrorists. "Negotiating with terrorists has become a highly specialized art requiring special skills for special situations," the analyst said. The GSG-9 could share some of its experiences with Indian security organs. Indian diplomats in Germany denied that there were plans for Indian security personnel to get training from the GSG-9. But German experts privately say that such a possibility cannot be discounted in the long run. Although Advani's agenda in Germany contained a heavy dose of security-related matters, he took time to meet with NRIs (nonresident Indians) in Duesseldorf. An Indian association of businessmen and professionals, called the Fellowship of Indian Men (FIM), hosted a dinner meeting in his honor on Sunday. The FIM urged Advani to allow dual citizenship to former Indian passport holders. "This would make NRIs emphasize their commitment to India and also increase investments and tourism revenue to India," a memorandum said. "This (dual citizenship) is a crucial issue for NRIs. We are going to further pursue the matter with the Indian Government," FIM chairman Ramesh Modi said. Indo-Asian News Service


London, 15 June 2001

A search is still on for the 17 people, suspected to be Indians, who are feared to have drowned or escaped while trying to cross the swollen Morava river from Slovakia into the Czech Republic. Three other illegal immigrants caught in Slovakia gave the information regarding the 17 people. All of them are believed to have been heading for Britain. The three illegal immigrants have been detained and police in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are still searching for the missing 17. The three detainees said the 17 illegal immigrants had been trying to cross the Morava, also known as the Danube, at night by making a human chain holding hands. "The Slovak and the Czech authorities are still looking for the remaining 17," Ram Rattan, senior official at the Indian embassy in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, told Indo-Asian News Service on phone. "We cannot say as yet whether they died in the river or managed to cross successfully." Rattan said it was still not clear how many of the group of 20 were Indian. But one of the three men caught is reported to be Indian. Britain is usually the final destination for immigration gangs who bring people into Britain through circuitous routes that invariably pass through East Europe. Human trafficking is big business for these gangs. The "market rate" to smuggle a person is reported to be around Rs.500,000 to Rs.700,000 (£10,000/$15,000). Most "clients" are from Punjab or Gujarat coming to Britain to join the large Punjabi and Gujarati communities. The business continues despite danger of death and arrest. And success can mean years of slaving at wages of no more than a couple of dollars an hour apart from years of furtive life in hiding from authorities. Now, the danger of getting caught is rising as police invest more into intelligence operations to detect illegal immigrants.
In March, British police cracked a big smugglers gang who are reported to have made millions of dollars smuggling illegal immigrants into the country. The gang brought Gujaratis into Britain and provided them with forged British passports, birth certificates and driving licenses. The Gujaratis became slave labor as soon as they were brought in. Several were kept crowded into rooms from where they were taken for manual labor in farms and factories. Police recovered 151 stolen passports, birth certificates, driving licenses and forgery equipment from a house in Leicester, about 100 miles north of London where the gang operated. "We cannot put a figure on the number of illegal immigrants involved with this gang but we believe it to be in thousands," Detective Inspector Bob White, who led the 24- member team working on the operation, said after the raid. The arrested men in this case included Pravin Patel, 45, a forger who played a leading role in the illegal enterprise along with Mohammed Garja, 37, and Hari Krishna Patel, 31, of Wembley in London. Each was jailed for five years. Vinodbhai Patel, 41, was jailed for four years at the same hearing, while Ahmed Jogi, 30, was sentenced to 15 months. Such arrests are becoming more and more frequent as police tighten controls over illegal immigration. A stronger police force at the English Channel is also leading to detection of more illegal immigrants being brought into Britain.  Indo-Asian News Service


London, 25 June 2001

Racial tensions following an attack on an Asian taxi driver sparked violence in the British town of Burnley where rioters set ablaze buildings in apparent retaliatory attacks. A newsagent's shop, pub, sex shop and a car were set on fire and two other vehicles were overturned after riot police were deployed on Burnley's streets following violence on Saturday and Sunday. The violence was reportedly sparked by an alleged hammer attack by a gang of white men on an Asian taxi driver in the town Saturday. This is the fourth instance in as many months of fighting between whites and Asians in the bleak post-industrial towns of northern England. Last month, in Oldham town, 500 British Pakistani youths battled with police after a pregnant Asian woman was attacked. The police then accused right-wing white extremists of provoking young Asians. But the sense of alarm the white majority felt led to the racist British National Party (BNP) winning this month a record number of votes in two Oldham constituencies. Earlier the cities of Leeds and Bradford were also rocked by white-Asian violence. In Burnley, community leaders said police were slow to respond to Saturday's attack on the taxi driver, which led to Asians pelting the police with stones. Pub windows were smashed during the two hours of violence on Saturday. The violence erupted again Sunday as Asian youths clashed with police and gangs of whites. A police helicopter hovered in the sky as a plume of thick smoke rose from a burning newsagent's shop, where a car was set ablaze and two other vehicles were turned on their roofs.
On Sunday a group of white men shouting racist abuse was said to have walked toward a local mosque. There, young Asians hurled bricks and bottles. Some from the riot police were hit when they tried to separate the two groups. Community leader Shahid Malik condemned the violence, but said it was a reaction to serious provocation by white gangs. He said two of the local pubs that were attacked by Asians were seen as hotbeds of racism. "I do not condone such attacks, but there is a feeling that these were places where racists met and were used as bases to carry out attacks," he said. He said the police had tried to handle the situation sensitively. A police spokeswoman confirmed four arrests and said: "The police believe the disputes have been of a local nature and have not involved any outside influences."  Indo-Asian News Service


London, 17 June 2001

The National Health Service (NHS) in Britain is "racist" with black, Asian doctors and nurses, especially from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, a report has said. "Many black and Asian doctors are left languishing in their careers while white colleagues are rapidly promoted," a study by the King's Fund to be published next week said. The Sunday Observer, in a report, said the NHS will be accused of "institutional racism" whereby a white-dominated and old-fashioned profession has continued to prosper despite anti-racism pledges and policies. According to the report, the health service is specifically "anti-Asian", with doctors from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh finding it particularly difficult to get on. It says whereas the police have made rapid advances in dealing with racism in the ranks, the NHS is still "stuck in the sixties". Naaz Coker, editor of the report, said black and Asian nurses were "voting with their feet" and leaving the health service despite the desperate need for more staff. She said less than one percent of senior director positions in nursing were held by black and Asian staff, even though they made up more than 8 percent of all nurses. "These are the people who have given great service to the NHS, many of them people who came to Britain after the II World War because of staff shortages," she said, adding, "Now young black and Asian people are not even applying for jobs." Several black and Asian doctors in the NHS are trapped in the Cinderella services of psychiatry and geriatrics, often shunned by white doctors, the report said.
"The pecking order of medical specialties is detrimental to the medical profession," it said, adding, "Surgery, perceived as glamorous and exciting, is still largely the preserve of white male candidates." "Prejudice influences selection in the context of training, recruitment and discrimination is expressed in the fact that non-white doctors are clustered in the middle ranks. "Ethnic minority doctors are often given jobs below the status of full consultant, with titles such as associate specialists." "There are parallel careers," Coker said. "The one for people whose faces fit, and the one for people whose faces don't." General racism against Asians in Britain is reflected within the service. "A specific anti-Asian sentiment in British society is reflected among hospital doctors," the report said. "Doctors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and British-born qualified doctors of the same ethnic origin are the largest identifiable group among non-white doctors that is affected by racial prejudice and discrimination. "This starts at a selection of applicants for British medical schools, it is an adverse factor during post-graduate medical training and it remains one afterwards," the report said. PTI


Paris, 16 June 2001

The European Commission (EC) says the increasing number of incidents involving illegal trafficking of migrants from South Asia into Europe could become a significant issue. Commenting on the incident in Slovakia where 17 people, suspected to be Indians, have gone missing in trying to cross into the Czech Republic, an EC official said that while the commission is currently focused largely on migration from China, trafficking from South Asia is also becoming a major issue. "We have set up a consular working group with India on the issue of simplifying business visas to Indian businessmen visiting the European Union (EU) and also to look at the issue of facilitation of repatriation of illegal migrants," he told IANS, on telephone from Brussels. EC officials complain India almost always refuses to take illegal migrants who are detected and arrested by the local authorities in the EU. "These people normally throw away or hide their passports and other documentation that could identify them as Indians and then the Indian government simply refuses to take them back," the official alleged. "India says that we are trying to push anyone who looks like an Indian -- Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Nepali. We have discussed these issues in the past and it will definitely be discussed in the forthcoming meetings as well," he said. The illegal trafficking problem has dominated headlines in the EU for the past several months, especially since the detection of a truckload of Chinese migrants who were discovered dead in a refrigerated truck at Dover in Britain. EU has since raised the issue of checking this seemingly endless flow of human trafficking into its borders with China on numerous occasions.
EC officials say they may be fighting a losing battle against the human smugglers since the business is highly lucrative and police are not adequately equipped to tackle the problem. "There is a lot of money involved in this business. The smugglers are much better organized and equipped than the police and sheer economic desperation is driving people away from their countries into the EU All these make the task a very difficult one," the official said. In France, however, officials don't deem the problem of human trafficking from South Asia to be a major one, at least right now. "Indians are not seen as potential migrants. We do have some Afghans who come in, but it is not a big problem for France, which anyway serves as a transit point for these migrants who want to go to the United States, the United Kingdom or Germany," a senior official of the French foreign affairs ministry told IANS. The official said that from South Asia the biggest number of migrants trying to enter France have been Sri Lankan Tamils. "Most of them try to enter on political grounds, seeking asylum here. But there is a very fine line between economic and political migrants. We have discussed the issue at the EU level as well where the EU is trying to reach an agreement with the Sri Lankan government on repatriation of some of these migrants," he said. The official, however, admitted the number of Indians who try to enter France illegally might be rising sharply. "However, for the moment, our focus remains North Africa which is the biggest source of human trafficking into France," the official said. Indo-Asian News Service


London, 28 May 2001

Asian youth leaders have condemned rioting in the racially-tense northern town of Oldham but accused the police of being too heavy handed. Police battled firebomb-hurling youths for the second night in a row on Sunday, though on a much smaller scale. There were a dozen arrests. Officers were out in force, 100 in full riot gear patrolling with dogs as a helicopter circled overhead. The Greater Manchester police said twelve vehicles were damaged with six burnt out, including one of their own. The office of the local newspaper the Oldham Chronicle and a shop owned by an Asian man were also targeted. Ashid Ali, chairman of the Oldham Bangladeshi Youth Association, while condemning the violence, accused police of treating white and Asian youths differently amid the clashes. "For example, in the Westwood area last night there was a gang of white men at a pub shouting racial abuse and trying to cause trouble. "They were confronted by a group of Asian youths but then the police arrived and escorted them away peacefully. Then the police came back and charged the Asian youths with riot gear. "What we are asking is that the police give community leaders time to control the situation before they wade in with their vans and dogs and shields." At a press conference, Chief Superintendent Eric Hewitt of the Greater Manchester Police rejected suggestions of bias, praising his officers for a "first class and very professional job" which he said had been "balanced." He said police, working closely with the local council and "community intervenors," would maintain a strong presence in the area to prevent further clashes.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, on the campaign trail in Middlesbrough on Monday, also backed the police saying they had his full support amid a difficult situation. Blair said the riots were not a true reflection of race relations in Britain today: "The vast majority of people want to live in peace and prosperity together." The timing of the clashes -- Britain's worst racial violence in a decade -- is sensitive, with a general election only 10 days away. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes told a Sunday television programme that the language used by senior centre-right Conservatives, like party leader William Hague, may have indirectly helped fuel racial tensions. "It may not have a direct effect but it doesn't help and in some cases it may well encourage people to think they can get away with intolerant language and intolerant attitudes and sometimes intolerant behaviour." Hague dismissed the attack, saying: "It's an accusation made by parties trying to play the race card themselves." Home Secretary Jack Straw of the ruling Labour party described Hughes's comments as "incredible."
Oldham has been the scene of increasing tensions in recent months with a series of rallies by the ultra-right wing National Front, a small but vocal group that opposes the presence in Britain of Jews, blacks and other racial and ethnic minorities. The outbreak of violence on Saturday night was apparently sparked by an attack by white youths on an Asian family's home. Asked about the causes of the violence Hewitt pointed to outsiders fomenting discontent under the guise of "raising political awareness." He said such elements had now been marginalised. Ali, also pointed to outsiders, saying he understood the frustrations behind the rioting. "Right wing extremists and members of the National Front have been trying to stir trouble every Saturday for five weeks, and for the main part, the police response has been adequate," said Ali "But when a gang of white people came into Asian areas and began assaulting people and smashing up homes and businesses, the Asian youths felt they had to protect their community." Ali, however said the problems were not simply racial: "The problems of Oldham have never been a race issue for us. It is about social inclusion for both white and Asian youths. "That means a long term investment in jobs, health care, housing and improving the community for everyone."  CNN


London, 08 march 2001

Sikhs living in the city of Leicester have protested British Home Secretary Jack Straw's proposal to ban one of their organizations as an outlawed terrorist movement. Leicester members of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) have emerged in public to say they would rather go to prison than turn their backs on the ISYF, which has 200 activists in the city. Earlier this week, Straw said the ISYF is one of the South Asian groups he wants to include on the government's banned list. The others are Babbar Khalsa, Lashker-e- Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) among others. Straw described the ISYF as dedicated to the creation of an independent state of Khalistan for Sikhs within India with links to assassinations, bombings and kidnappings. The ban is subject to parliamentary approval and each banned group is permitted to appeal against its inclusion on the list. Unless the list is modified, membership of the ISYF and other listed organizations will soon become a criminal offence. Those who defy the law will be liable to prison sentences of up to 10 years.
The president of the Leicester branch of the ISYF claimed Wednesday that he and other members of the group were committed to winning an independent Sikh state by peaceful means and had no links to terrorist activities. At a press briefing Kashmir Singh Rai said, "We are fighting for a free state of Khalistan, but we do so under the democratic system. We do take part in protests but we do not break the law." "If Mr. Straw has any evidence of my organization committing any terrorist activity then I would like to see him put the evidence on the table," Rai said. Rai, the owner of a manufacturing business in the Leicester suburb of Evington, said he and other members were prepared to go to prison rather than give up membership of the ISYF. "We are committing no crimes, I do not see why we should be punished," he said. A spokesman for the Home Office in London confirmed the ISYF is free to appeal against the ban, but also said the police and intelligence services had evidence linking the ISYF to terrorism. India Abroad News Service


London, 28 february 2001

Britain designated 21 groups on Wednesday as "terrorist", including Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, under a new anti-terrorism law designed to halt funding and support for UK-based militant groups. A total of twenty-one international organisations, including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have been recommended for proscription under the new Terrorism Act 2000, as listed in a draft Order laid before Parliament today by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. The draft Order will be subject to debates in and approval by both Houses of Parliament. Mr. Straw said "the Terrorism Act is important legislation which brings our provisions into line with the European Convention on Human Rights and ensure that we are better able to deal with the serious threats which terrorism poses. "Taking account of police, security and legal advice, I have given careful consideration to which organisations should be recommended for proscription. I believe that this action is both fair and proportionate to the threat that is found, both in this country and abroad." "Once proscription of these organisations take effect it will be open to any of the terrorist organisations concerned - or any person affected by their proscription - to make an application to me as the Home Secretary, for deproscription. If that application is refused, the organisation can then appeal to a new independent tribunal, the Proscribed Organisations' Appeal Commission. " "Proscription is an important power in the new Act - the UK has no intention of becoming a base for terrorists and their supporters, nor to see it flourish abroad, and we will take every legal action at our disposal to prevent this."
Under part 2 of the Terrorism Act 2000, the Secretary of State has the power to proscribe any organisation which he believes "is concerned in terrorism." An organisation is "concerned in terrorism" if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism, or is otherwise concerned in terrorism either in the UK or abroad. "Organisation" is defined as including "any association or combination of persons." Once the statutory criteria are satisfied, the Secretary of State then has discretion whether or not to proscribe a particular organisation. In reaching his decision, the Home Secretary also took into account a number of factors including: the nature and scale of an organisation's activities, the specific threat that it poses to the UK, the specific threat that it poses to British nationals overseas, the extent of the organisation's presence in the UK, and the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism. Specific offences relating to membership, support for and funding of a proscribed organisation are included in the Act. This decision reflects the British Government's firm stance against international terrorism. It should have no bearing on the peace process in Sri Lanka if both sides are genuinely committed to the search for a negotiated settlement. The UK continues to believe that the only way to find a permanent solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is through a negotiated settlement which address the aspirations of all communities within a unitary state. The UK will continue to support the Norwegians in their efforts to facilitate peace talks. The UK strongly urges both the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to begin peace talks as soon as possible.
Also on the list were Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida, the Iranian opposition group Mujaheddin el-Khalq, as well as Algerian, Egyptian and Palestinian militant groups. "I am entirely satisfied that the organisations named above are concerned in terrorism," Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Jack Straw said in a written statement to parliament. Sri Lanka's government had warned that failure to ban the Tamil Tiger rebels would impose "considerable strain" on relations. Britain's Terrorism Act 2000 came into force last week, replacing legislation aimed primarily at containing the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland. It makes it an offence to belong to any of the banned groups, support or raise funds for them.
The full list of groups from the Home Office follows: -- Al-Qaida -- Egyptian Islamic Jihad -- Al-Gama'at al-Islamiya (Egyptian militant group) -- Armed Islamic Group (Algerian guerrilla group) -- Salafist Group for Call and Combat (from Algeria) -- Babbar Khalsa (seeking an independent Sikh homeland) -- International Sikh Youth Federation -- Harakat Mujahideen (seeking independent Kashmir) -- Jaish-e-Mohammed (also Kashmiri) -- Lashkar-e-Taiba (Pakistan-based Kashmiri group) -- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam -- Hizballah External Security Organisation (Home Office spelling) -- Hamas Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades -- Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- Abu Nidal Organisation -- Islamic Army of Aden -- Mujaheddin el-Khalq -- Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- Revolutionary Peoples' Liberation Party-Front (Turkey) -- Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, ETA (Spain) -- 17 November Revolutionary Organisation (Greece).  Reuters


Islamabad, 13 february 2000

The project for issuance of National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) was launched today at the Headquarters of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). The card is available with NADRA at a cost of US $ 100 for an adult while US $ 50 for minors and would be valid for a period of five years. The cost of the card has been reduced from $ 300 for adult and $ 150 for minors.  APP


Frankfurt, 23 janvier 2001

An Indian who had applied for refugee status in Germany has complained that he was forcibly drugged by German border patrol officials and two doctors to calm him down and deport him to India. According to the German police, the Indian, Inder Raj Kumar, stated in an affidavit last week that he was forcibly administered an injection in the arm on January 8 by a doctor at a deportation center in Mannheim, where he was held. He had tried to resist the doctor's attempts, but four or five policemen held him firmly to allow the doctor to inject the serum, the Indian alleged. Kumar, who had undertaken a fast lasting more than six weeks after his application for asylum in Germany had been rejected, was to be flown from Frankfurt to New Delhi. Kumar, who belongs to the sect of Jehovah's Witnesses, said he did not calm down or fall asleep after the injection. Then, the doctor aided by policemen, again forcibly administered more medication.
Deportation was unsuccessful as Kumar offered fierce resistance while being pushed into the aircraft, and the Air France pilot, fearing problems on the flight with a restless passenger, refused to take him on board. After the Indian was transported to the deportation center, he was mercilessly beaten by the border police who punched and kicked him. As he bled profusely, Kumar had to be transferred to a hospital for a day. A woman German lawyer, who is representing Kumar, has filed a complaint against the doctor and the border police on charges of physical assault and forcible administration of drugs. The lawyer said the Indian's condition was extremely weak and after two suicide attempts he was vulnerable to committing suicide. The office of the federal border patrol and state prosecutor in Frankfurt declined to make any comments when contacted by IANS. Authorities are saying the Indian's condition is "stable," a vague term that does not say whether his health is progressing or deteriorating.
The Indian's story of alleged maltreatment by both the police and doctors is not an isolated one. It has come to light that there was a similar incident last year involving a refugee called Chima Egbe from the West African nation of Cameroon. Egbe was drugged by a doctor, assigned by a Stuttgart magistrate to treat the refugee by administering drugs to calm him as a fourth attempt was being made to deport him to his native country. As he was resisting the doctor's attempt, eight policemen were called to the immigration office at the Stuttgart airport to subdue him and force him to lie on the ground so that the doctor could inject him the drug. Egbe said he lost consciousness for 10 hours as a result of the drug that was administered. He was sent to Brussels for an onward flight to Cameroon but his deportation was thwarted due to an airport strike. Stuttgart authorities, defending their action, stated the injection given to Egbe, an alleged drug dealer, was necessary because he had threatened to "harm himself." The two cases have angered German human rights organizations, which have expressed "outrage" over indiscriminate use of drugs to control refugees and forcibly deport them in a "health condition that is questionable." Pro Asyl, an organization that espouses the cause of asylum for foreign refugees, criticized the incidents and called for an inquiry into the matter. The Aerzte Gegen Atomkrieg, a German doctors' group that has been crusading against nuclearization and atomic war, said doctors who administered the drugs could face an official enquiry into their conduct. According to Bundesaerztekammer (Federal Chamber of German Physicians) and other doctors' associations, the forcible administration of psycho-pharmaceutical products was not compatible with professional medical ethics.  India Abroad News Service


London, 23 january 2001

The family of a British teenager of Pakistani origin who was battered to death in prison by a racist cell-mate has called for a public inquiry into his death following the publication of a critical report by the British Prison Service. Nineteen-year-old Zahid Mubarek was bludgeoned to death last March by white racist Robert Stewart who has since been convicted of murder. Now a report by the Prison Service says the Feltham Detention Centre, near London's Heathrow Airport, where Mubarek was held and killed, is "institutionally racist." As details of the report became public, Mubarek's uncle, Imtiaz, said, "There is more reason for there to be a full public inquiry into Zahid's death. Feltham is a hot bed for racism. The lack of commitment for race issues among staff contributed to Zahid's death."
The report written by Prison Service official Ted Butt says black and Asian inmates and staff at Feltham are routinely harassed because of their color. "Evidence found by the team suggests that a small number of staff sustained and promoted overtly racist behavior as well as more subtle methods and that there are issues surrounding both staff and prisoners," his report says. "Minority ethnic staff should not have to tolerate the level of harassment that exists," the report adds. "Similarly, prisoners should be able to live free from racist abuse by staff." "Staff from all ethnic groups told of an underlying culture that suggests the only way minority ethnic group staff can be accepted as part of the team of Feltham is by enduring racist comments and racist jokes. Senior managers know what they should be doing but they have not done it." "This leads the inquiry team to form the conclusion that Feltham is institutionally racist."  India Abroad News Service


London, 12 January, 2001

The Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) in London has appealed to Home Secretary Jack Straw to block the efforts of a pro-Pakistani Muslim member of Britain's House of Lords to whip up anti-Indian sentiments over Kashmir. Balwant Kapur, the President of the IOC London branch, said that Lord Nazir Ahmed's bid to purchase a double-decker bus and use it to publicise the problems in Jammu and Kashmir is an attempt to undermine relations between New Delhi and London. In his letter to Straw, Kapur said: "Lord Ahmed is now trying hard to undermine our friendship by propagating against India's traditional links with the state of Jammu and Kashmir. He is trying to collect funds to buy a bus, which will be converted into a mobile anti-India publicity machine." On Wednesday, Ahmed confirmed that he is backing a series of fund-rising dinners to purchase a double-decker bus, called "Muzaffarabad to Srinagar", but denied that his intention was to embarrass India. "I am not in the business of attacking anyone," he explained in his telephone interview. "I am in the business of stopping the abuse of human rights, whoever they are perpetrated by, in the right of self-determination for the Kashmiri people, the implementation of UN resolutions, or making them the basis for settlement." "The bus will be called Muzaffarabad to Srinagar and it is to draw attention to the fact that there was a bus service from Lahore to Delhi and there should be one now from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar," Ahmed said. "Hopefully, we will run it for one or two days between the Indian high commission and the Pakistan high commission in London to draw attention. That bus will then move to various towns and cities. Every weekend it will be going to a different city and we haven't drawn up timetables yet," he added. Ahmed, whose family is from Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said: "We need to tell the British and European communities that there needs to be more done to open up a dialogue between Srinagar and Muzzafarabad." "The final solution has to be decided by Kashmiri people on all sides, rather than by India and Pakistan. But India and Pakistan need to be involved. I am interested in a permanent stoppage of the continuing humiliation of the Kashmiri people and really it's not in the interest of India or Pakistan to continue this dispute for longer," he said. IANS


London, 10 january 2001

British Hindus have slammed a London television channel's reportage of the "Maha Kumbh Mela" as distorted and inappropriate. Protests are expected to snowball at the daily coverage, which has so far included extended shots of naked ascetics performing acts of penance on the banks of the Ganges in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. The National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHT), which represents 600,000 Hindus and more than 140 temples in Britain, has been reacting in particular to last weekend's one-hour documentary of the Mela and the live, daily eight-minute updates that will continue to be broadcast until the end of the month. A spokesman for the NCHT told India Abroad News Service (IANS) that a letter of protest was being sent to Channel 4. He explained that the letter would highlight extended documentary footage of "sadhus" (Hindu ascetics) smoking ganja and the focus on bizarre practices, such as an ascetic pulling a car by a string attached to his penis, which were not representative of the principles and tenets of mainstream Hinduism.
"It's like depicting Christianity through the inquisition," the NCHT spokesman declared. "That's not Christianity and what they're showing is not Hinduism." "When I saw the documentary, it seemed as though Hinduism was all about smoking ganja. For 70 percent of the time they're talking to sadhus who are smoking ganja and doing nothing else. They're smoking chillum, a code name for ganja, and the one person from England, who calls himself a Krishna devotee, says he is looking forward to going to the Kumbh Mela for a chillum." The spokesman added that the NCHT had received many telephone calls of protest from devotees who said the practices shown on the documentary were very unbalanced. "The point I will be making in my letter is that the so-called bizarre practices in Hinduism, for example genital mutilation, 'tantric' (esoteric meditative practices), ganja smoking and black magic practices have very little connection with the principles and tenets of main stream Hinduism. So are some of the comments made by the sadhus that the scriptures say ganja is 'prasad' (consecrated offering)." "Otherwise the person who sees the footage would ask "is this what Hinduism is all about?" What kind of idea will he get about Hinduism? It looked so weird."
The NCHT says it does not deny the practices depicted in the television footage, but repeats this is not mainstream Hinduism, which has not been covered and deserves a proper hearing. "I'm not saying what they portrayed in the documentary does not happen," the spokesman told IANS. " It does happen, but the sadhus, the saintly people they were showing, are individuals who live ascetic lives, isolated lives. Those yogic practices and penances they perform are not normal, mainstream Hinduism and that they did not show." "At the same time I cannot remember anyone explaining what the Kumbh Mela is all about, its significance, what's the story behind Kumbh Mela." A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said the Kumbh Mela footage broadcast so far was not representative of the overall coverage that would continue until the end of January. "What has been seen is a small part of what we are broadcasting," she told IANS. "All that people have seen is 58 minutes out of an entire month's programming. It's difficult to represent the Kumbh in that period of time." "What we showed of a man pulling with his penis was not for titillation or gratification. We are showing holy men who do this for enlightenment. We are showing holy men, high priests, lowly priests, women, children, we try and represent everyone who is there.” "We didn't generalize by saying that everyone at the Mela gets stoned every night. We're very excited about the project. There has been across-the-board interest from all people. It's seen as an international spectacle of great fascination."  India Abroad News Service


Athens, 20 december 2000

Bangladesh and Greece on Wednesday decided to work out an agreement providing entry of the Bangladeshi expatriates to Greece for gainful jobs there, reports BSS. The decision was taken at the official talks between the governments of Bangladesh and Greece at the State Guest House, Padma in the afternoon. Visiting Greek Foreign Minister George A. Papandreou led his country's delegation to the talks while Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad led the Bangladesh side. At the end of the talks, which lasted an hour in a cordial atmosphere, the Greek Foreign Minister told Newsmen that the proposed agreement on exchange of manpower resources would cover up the legalisation process of about 6,000 Bangladeshis working in Creece without valid papers. Recording appreciation for the hard-working and sincere nature of the Bangladeshi workforce, Mr Papandreou showed keenness of the Greek government to recruit more Bangladeshis to help strengthen its economy. Replying to a question, the Greek Foreign Minister described the official talks as most useful and fruitful as both sides identified new areas for enhancing bilateral cooperation. "We have agreed to cooperate to the development of tourism, shipping, trade and investment sectors to the benefit of the two countries", Mr Papandreou said.
Greece will provide scholarship to the Bangladeshi students for higher studies on maritime shipping and send teachers to the Chittagong Marine Academy for imparting training to the students. Besides, Greece appreciated the Bangladesh's demand for extended GSP facilities to the Bangladeshi export items and held out assurances of supporting Bangladesh's demand for quota and duty free access of its exports to the European market. Foreign Minister Abdus Samad Azad, who also described the official talks with his Greek counterpart as most useful, said that a series of follow up meetings would be held between the two sides for working out business cooperation in various fields to the benefit of the two peoples. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Foreign Secretary C. M. Shafi Sami and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted Mr Azad at the talks. BSS


New Delhi, 20 december 2000

Better late than never. That has always been the credo of most Indian governments. And now, well after Indians abroad have made their presence felt in every area they touched, the government has finally woken up to the fact that they also might need information about their country and their own status. So, the government has finally launched a website "" dedicated to the Indian abroad. The website will deal with queries ranging from citizenship issues, security concerns, and sundry other problems Indians away from the homeland face. The sizeable Indian diaspora can now post all their concerns to the Indian government at this website launched By Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan on December 19,2000. Set up to facilitate the efforts of the high level Committee on Indian Diaspora, the website invites the 20-million strong non-resident Indian community across the world to post their views on subjects ranging from nationality, consular problems, educational facilities in India, information technology, trade and investment matters, and even the role played by Indians abroad in local politics.
The portal is based on the premise that the diaspora is "very special" to India, as its members have made their presence felt wherever they have gone by dint of their single-minded dedication and hard work. The idea was to nurture the symbiotic relationship between India and the diaspora abroad, which generates an estimated income of US $300 bn annually. "They have retained their emotional, cultural and spiritual links with their country of origin. This strikes a reciprocal chord in the hearts of people of India," reads the brief preamble of the site, attempting to establish an official interface between the government and expats for the first time. Launching the site, Mahajan pointed out that Indians abroad had contributed enormously to IT. "The Nineties witnessed the emergence of the new generation enterprise, particularly in Silicon Valley."
Mahajan added that following the recommendation of committee chairman L.M. Singhvi, former Consul-General to the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Information Technology was setting up an expert study group on the "Role of NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin in the Growth of India's IT sector". According to Singhvi, the "Indian Diaspora is so vast and widespread that the sun never sets on them". While India may not quite be the next Empire, Indian communities that have a strength of 9,000 or more can be found in 53 countries, while at least 11 countries have a population of Indian origin that numbers more than 500,000. The setting up of a high level committee reaffirmed the importance and commitment the government attached to the overseas Indians and their relations with their country of origin, Singhvi said. The committee has been given the mandate to make an in-depth study of the problems and difficulties, the hopes and expectations of the overseas Indian communities, and is expected to submit its report and recommendations to the Government by August 2001.  India Abroad News Service


Paris, 17 december 2000

The High Court of Paris will deliver judgment on January 22 in the case involving Jaipur-based automobile ancillary products manufacturer Autolite India. The case, which had come up recently for final hearing before a single judge of the high court, is an appeal by Autolite India against the order of a lower court sentencing the export manager of the company to six months imprisonment and a fine of over 200,000 French Francs in a copyright violation case. The case began in October 1999, when Chand Mehta, the export manager of Autolite, was in Paris for an exhibition of automobile ancillary parts being held at the exhibition grounds at Porte de Versailles in southeastern Paris. Among the parts being displayed by Autolite was a headlamp for the French car, Peugeot 205. Peugeot filed a complaint with the police alleging design and copyright violations by Autolite. Based on the complaint, Mehta was arrested from the exhibition grounds itself and charged with importing "prohibited products with an intention to sell." The case was listed for immediate hearing at the Criminal Court in Bobigny, a northwestern suburb of Paris.
Mehta's case was put up for hearing on October 15, just a day after the arrest. Peugeot's attorneys themselves were taken aback by the rapid process and asked for an adjournment of the hearing, saying they were not prepared. Mehta's defense lawyers asked for his release on bail, pending the hearing. The defense offered a bail amount of 100,000 French Francs - equal to the total damages being claimed by Peugeot - and also offered to surrender Mehta's passport in order to ensure that he could not leave France till the case came up for hearing. The public prosecutor, too, supported the bail plea. However, the judge, surprisingly, overturned the proposal and ordered Mehta to be kept in detention till the next hearing that was scheduled for November 12. The defense lawyers then lodged an appeal in the High Court against denial of bail by the lower court. But the case took over two weeks to be heard. However, the High Court overturned the order of the lower court and released Mehta was on bail immediately, after he had spent almost a month behind bars.
The final hearing in the lower court took place on November 12 and the judge found Mehta and Autolite guilty of the charges, sentencing Mehta to six months in jail and imposing a fine, which along with costs of the case, amounted to over 200,000 French Francs. An appeal was filed against the order of the lower court, which is now coming up for hearing before the High Court. During the final hearing in the High Court, the prosecution pressed for the confirmation of the decision of the lower court, while the defendants urged the judge to overturn the ruling, saying it had not taken into account any of the defendant's arguments and that Mehta himself was not guilty of anything since he was only doing his job and had not been personally responsible for manufacture the product in question or the decision to sell the product. The defense lawyers have expressed optimism that the High Court will overturn the ruling of the lower court on January 22 and the case will be closed once and for all. Part of the optimism stems from the fact that the case is being heard before the same judge who had immediately released Mehta on bail last year, while expressing surprise at the denial of bail for so long looking at the nature of the case.  India Abroad News Service


London, 12 december 2000

A woman lecturer of Indian origin who was called a "black bitch" and a "black cow" by her students has won 1,000 pounds damages against the college that employs her in Wigan, north of London. Uganda-born computer teacher Mubina Bhimji said she had also been "attacked" by three unruly students and took her employers at Wigan and Leigh College to an industrial tribunal after accusing them of racial and sexual discrimination.
The college, which said it had dealt with her complaint with compassion and professionalism, retaliated by declaring that Bhimji had used racial insults against colleagues and students. But Bhimji, who has taught at the college for 14 years, has won her case and was awarded 1,000 pounds damages against the college. A spokesman of her union, The National Association of Teachers For Higher Education (NATFHE), told India Abroad News Service, "This ruling makes it absolutely clear that colleges are liable for their students' racist or sexist conduct. We hope it will give institutions the push they need to move beyond lip service in dealing with equality at work." "It's high time colleges train their staff on how to deal with racist incidents and back them up when they complain that a student's behavior is unacceptable." Union organizer Colin Gledhill told IANS, "This is an important decision because it focused on an organization failing to get to grips with some pathological behavior of some of its students for fear of losing funding under the crazy market forces-led further education system." Bhimji said, "I am delighted with the outcome and with NATFHE's support. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe and I feel I've been vindicated by the decision. I just hope it will encourage colleges to make sure they have proper procedures in place to deal with these issues seriously." Wigan and Leigh College has refused to comment on how the tribunal report has criticized the college for the way it "muddied the waters" when it conducted a disciplinary complaint into Bhimji's complaint.
But a spokesman for the college told IANS, "The college is considering the judgment of the tribunal and its implications. We believe that these implications will have a national impact on all colleges who, like Wigan and Leigh College, wholeheartedly embrace the government's agenda on social inclusion and widening participation." "The dilemma for the college is that it will need to balance the tribunal's views on student discipline against the college's objective to engage all people in education. Clearly, decisions and disciplinary action against students who are disengaged or deemed disaffected and who may have suffered previous exclusion from education will require very careful consideration." In his summary of the case, a copy of which has been seen by IANS, tribunal chairman Chris Chapman noted Bhimji's complaint that she was called a "black bitch" and a "black cow" by students. Bhimji was therefore "clearly subjected to both racist and sexist abuse between the beginning of September and October 12 which caused her upset," Chapman said. "Instead of adopting the inevitable response of suspending the three students involved, which would have been the procedure under the gross misconduct procedure, the students were hauled in to be given a dressing down."  India Abroad News Service


London, 01 december 2000

The Ford motor company has at last offered a compensation package to an Indian worker who had suffered some of the worst known racial harassment at its Dagenham plant in east London. Ford made an "unreserved apology" to Sukhjit Parmar and offered him an undisclosed compensation package. The instances of racial discrimination became a national outrage when they surfaced last year. Parmar reported he had been assaulted by white foreman and for subjected to racial abuse and humiliation for years. He had graffiti drawn on his pay packet by the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan (KKK) group, and was given the least wanted assignments at the Dagenham plant. The places where he worked were usually called the "punishment cell".
A statement issued by Ford and Sukhjit on Wednesday said: "Ford Motor Company accepts responsibility and unreservedly apologizes to Mr. Sukhjit Singh Parmar for the distress caused to him by the incidents about which he complains in his tribunal applications and related matters which have been substantiated by the investigations which the company has undertaken into the incidents." "Ford Motor Company has agreed to a full and amicable settlement in respect of the employment tribunal cases brought by Mr. Sukhjit Singh Parmar. The terms of the agreement are confidential to the parties." The Transport and General Workers Union that took up Parmar's case said this was the worst record of racial abuse it had ever encountered. The settlement now reached with Parmar is an "amicable" one, Ford says. It is believed to include an agreement that Parmar will not condemn Ford publicly over some of those incidents.
The racial abuse directed at Parmar led to a series of wildcat strikes last year and to a massive disruption in the production of Ford Fiesta cars assembled at Dagenham. The apology came at the end of a series of incidents that finally led to a decision to close the plant. About 40 per cent of the workers at the Ford plant were of Indian origin. A total of about 5,000 workers were employed at the plant. Parmar himself has not been able to go back to work after the abuse he suffered at the plant. India Abroad News Service


Catania (Sicily), 29 november 2000

Italian police on Wednesday detained 124 Sri Lankan illegal immigrants -- all men -- who arrived in Sicily in an old fishing boat. Some of the Sri Lankans were taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries and dehydration, a police spokesman said. State television RAI reported that the immigrants had been shipped across the Ionian Sea from Turkey, paying as much as $9,000 each for their passage. RAI showed a sandy beach strewn with damp clothes and bags, and a fishing boat apparently stuck on a rocky outcrop. Thousands of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers land on Italy's long coastline each year, often coming ashore in remote coves or under cover of darkness to avoid detection.
The boat carrying the Sri Lankans landed just after midnight. Most of the men tried to run inland from the beach and hide, but they were caught bypolice. Despite government attempts to crack down on traffickers, who often charge exorbitant rates, police report boatloads of illegal immigrants arriving on Italian shores almost weekly. Many try to reach friends and family in northern Europe. Those who are stopped in Italy and are not given political refugee status are usually returned to their home countries. Reuters


London, 26 november 2000

A small number of Indians continue to seek political asylum in Britain despite a blanket refusal by the government here to grant it. In September, the British Home Office considered the political asylum applications of 190 Indians and all of them were refused. Through this year an estimated 1,500 Indians, mostly from Punjab, would have sought asylum in Britain. All applicants face possible rejection, according to informed sources. The rejection of applications is intended to discourage more people from applying for political asylum in Britain, though the number of Indian applicants is relatively small. In September, the latest month for which figures are available, a total of 6,435 applications for asylum in Britain were received.
Most asylum applications are now from Iraqis, Somalis, Sri Lankans and Afghanis, though there is a fair number also from Pakistan. In September, there were 985 applications from Iraqis, 515 from Somalis, 495 from Afghans, 440 from Sri Lankans and 180 from Pakistanis. Overall only five percent of the applicants are granted asylum. The success rate among South Asian applicants is much lower. In September again which saw all 190 Indian applications rejected, five Pakistanis succeeded while 260 failed. Fifteen Afghanis were given asylum, another 35 were given exceptional leave to remain, and 170 were refused permission to stay. Sri Lankan Tamils who once succeeded in migrating to Britain in large numbers are finding it increasingly more difficult to do so now. The month of September saw 390 Sri Lankan applications for asylum refused, with only 20 successes, and 10 given exceptional leave to remain.  India Abroad News Service


London, 23 november 2000

The mother of a 20-year old Indian student, who died under mysterious circumstances after a clash with white racists, has lashed out at the London police for closing down their three-year-old investigation. The body of Ricky Reel was found in the Thames a week after he disappeared following an argument with two white racist youths. Two of Reel's Indian friends who were with him at the time returned home safely. But Reel, who ran off in a different direction after being subjected to a volley of racial abuse, was never seen again.
Police sources said that murder squads had been disbanded and that the two major investigations had failed to come up with evidence that Reel had been deliberately killed. "We have done everything we possibly can, but there was nothing to suggest he was murdered," they said. Reel's angry mother, Sukhdev, told India Abroad News Service that, "The family hasn't been told anything about the investigation being closed. I only found out today when a reporter called me. Then I went out to read the newspaper and felt my legs were shaking so much." "The police didn't even have the decency to tell us. Now it is in the hands of our solicitors. They have written to the commissioner," Sukhdev Reel, a mother of three, said.
Responding to police claims that no signs of violence had been found on her son's body, she said: "The inquest found his shirt was torn and there were bruises on his shoulder and back. I want to know how those injuries occurred; I want to know what happened to Ricky." Reel, who started a campaign three years ago to bring her son's killers to justice, says she received a message of support only a few weeks ago from Ken Livingston, the newly elected mayor of London. "Ricky Reel was murdered three years ago, his killers are still free. As mayor of London I fully support Sukhdev Reel's family and their ongoing quest for justice for Ricky's brutal murder. Like in so many cases the police action is unacceptable," Livingston wrote. The relevant authorities "have a responsibility to make London a city where racist violence and attacks are eradicated and Ricky's killers are brought to justice," he added. India Abroad News Service


London, 22 november 2000

Britain's Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) is backing a former army Gurkha's complaint before an employment tribunal that he is receiving a "scandalously discriminatory" pension compared to his white counterparts. The tribunal, which is meeting in the Welsh capital of Cardiff, heard how 38-year- old Lance Corporal Hari Thapa was given "second rate" medical treatment for back pain while still in the Army and is now on 58 pounds a month compared to the 500 pounds a month pension given to a white soldier.
Thapa's lawyer, Robin Allen, Queen's Counsel, said he was also treated unfairly in resettlement payments and tax arrangements when he applied to join the Territorial Army. Thapa, who alleges racial discrimination, received a 1,500-pound resettlement grant compared to the 6,000 pounds a white soldier would expect to receive. He also paid tax even though his low monthly pay would not normally justify him being taxed. "That is a monstrous and scandalous difference," Allen told the tribunal, adding that it was also "scandalously discriminatory". He told how Thapa "was born in this country in 1963 to a distinguished Gurkha. Sadly, his father died in 1964 in Borneo in service." Thapa joined the Gurkhas as a driver aged 19 in February 1983 and served until his discharge in January 1998.
Allen explained that the disparity in pay between Gurkhas and other British Army soldiers dated back to 1947 when it was decided that Gurkhas serving in the British Army would be paid the same as those serving in the Indian Army. Although the terms and conditions were reviewed in 1995 and 1997, Britain's defense ministry had not complied with the Race Relations Act, Allen said. On the contrary, he pointed out, that the ministry of defense had argued that as the Gurkhas were discharged in Nepal, they expected to get a pension equivalent to someone living in Nepal. The ministry also argued that Thapa was not wholly employed in Britain. "That is no defense under the Race Relations Act," Allen said.
The tribunal was told how Thapa was granted an exemplary discharge, and now works as a security guard. His case is the latest controversy over Gurkha pay and pensions and follows a British government announcement last year that Gurkha pensions were to be boosted by two or three times their previous level. But the government has rejected arguments that Nepali Gurkhas should receive the same pensions as former British soldiers. A captain's monthly pension is currently Nepali Rs.13,000 and a basic rifleman receives between Nepali Rs.6,000 and Rs.7,000. The average Nepali monthly income is Rs.900.  India Abroad News Service


London, 6 november 2000

The father of a 19-year-old Briton of Pakistani origin, who was brutally killed by his white racist cell mate, has called for a public inquiry into his son's death. Speaking for the first time in public since his son Zahid Mubarak was battered to death by Ku Klux Klan admirer Robert Stewart, Ahmed Mubarak told India Abroad News Service, "My son's murder could have been avoided if the prison service had done its job properly. My son would have been alive today if they had not placed him in a cell with a known racist." "I am calling for a public inquiry into the incident so that Zahid's death will not be in vain. I never want this to happen to another family."
Mubarak, who migrated to Britain from Pakistan in 1968, said Zahid's ambition was to join the Army. But sadly, he began to mix with a "bad crowd" and was arrested earlier this year for stealing six pounds worth of razor blades and interfering with a motor vehicle. He was sent by magistrates to a young offenders institution in London for 90 days and was due to return home to his family this October when he was bludgeoned to death by a self-proclaimed racist who reveled in the antics of the Ku Klux Klan and boasted of how he admired notorious American killer Charles Manson and Nazi leader Adolph Hitler. Asked why he had committed the crime, 20-year-old Stewart said, "I just felt like it." Yet, prison officers had known of his violent, racist nature from his letters that they had monitored and censored. In one letter produced last month at Kingston Crown Court, Stewart wrote, "I'm going to nail bomb the Asian community of Great Norbury. Going to nail bomb Bradford, Moss Side and Glodwick and all the non-white areas. I hate foreigners and non-whites."
Last month after the court found him guilty of murder, Stewart was sentenced to life imprisonment. But for Zahid's shocked family, the sentencing of their son's killer is only the beginning of a process to make sure that the circumstances in which Zahid died are never repeated. They hope a public inquiry will establish why their son was made to share a cell with the likes of Stewart who on the basis of his race hate record was an obvious and menacing threat. "I will never be able to forgive the Prison Service," says Mubarak. "They were solely responsible for my son's welfare and they failed him in every respect. He died as a direct result of their decision to put him in a cell with a known racist."  India Abroad News Service


London, 24 august 2000

A Sikh police officer, dismissed after being accused of sending racist material to himself and other ethnic minority officers, was a victim of racial discrimination, an employment tribunal has said. The tribunal, which dismissed the charges against Sergeant Gurpal Virdi on grounds of ``no evidence'' on Wednesday, said he had been victimised during an internal inquiry.
The tribunal concluded that Sgt. Virdi, an officer with Scotland Yard, had been discriminated against during the inquiry because his home had been searched for seven hours while the house of police constable Jackie Bachelor, another suspect in the case, was spared. It had also been discriminatory for the Yard to suspend him from duty "without sufficient evidence to support the allegations". PTI


Gera (Germany), 6 august 2000

Five neo-Nazis were arrested here on Sunday after attacking two Pakistanis in a cafe in this eastern city, the police said. The Pakistanis were hit around the head and on the chest. They were taken to hospital but released later. Three of the attackers, aged 19 to 27, will appear before a judge on Monday. Neo-Nazi attacks have increased in Germany over recent months, specially in the east. AFP


London, 01 august 2000

Two Sikhs branded by the British government as terrorists and a danger to national security can not be deported to India in deference to the European Convention on Human Rights. Parmajit Singh and Mukhtiar Singh succeeded in their appeal against British home secretary's order to deport them and will now stay on in this country. The judge who heard the appeal endorsed their argument that they would be tortured by the authorities there if they were sent to India. The home office was studying the judgment and may appeal against it. The special immigrations appeals commission was told that the two Indians were plotting to smuggle explosives and detonators from Pakistan to India and planned terrorist attacks as part of their campaign for an independent Sikh nation. They had entered Britain illegally hiding in lorries some five years ago. They were arrested as a threat to national security in 1998.
Last night they were freed from the Home Office detention centre and now they will live in their homes in the Midlands and will get state benefits. However, while allowing them to stay in Britain indefinitely, the judge rejected their application for asylum. Justice Potts did not contest the home secretary's view that the two suspects were indeed terrorists but said that they must remain in Britain because of the substantial risk they face of `torture and degrading treatment' banned under Article 3 of the European Convention. He also said: "Law-abiding citizens of the United Kingdom might reasonably feel disquiet about a state of affairs which permits international terrorists proved to be a danger to the national security to remain here. We can only say that this state of affairs follows upon Article 3 of the European Convention."
The commission was told by the government that Mukhtiar Singh was involved in a series of conspiracies to organise terrorist attacks in India. He was involved with a violent faction of the International Sikh Youth Federation based in the UK which supports Paramjit Singh Panjwar, leader of a paramilitary group operating from Pakistan, the Khalistan commando force. In 1998, MI5 identified him as a co-organiser of a shipment of 15 kg of high explosive, detonators, timers and other weapons to Sikh militants in the sub-continent. Paramjit Singh who also entered the UK illegally was involved in similar activities while working as an itinerant preacher.
Earlier, their application for refugee status was rejected because, under the UN convention on refugees, any one guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN loses the right to asylum. The judgment by the commission has fuelled resentment against the European laws which were affecting the British system, something about which the Tory opposition feels strongly. Tory MP Gerald Howarth blamed the government for this embarrassment caused to the home secretary and warned that the case was a forerunner of several such decision that were likely to follow when the European Convention was incorporated with English law. Some experts said that the judge was not obliged to take the convention into account till October when the human rights act would come into force here.  Times of India


London, 01 august 2000

LTTE front organisations operating in European countries including Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and The Netherlands are struggling for survival as the law enforcement authorities in those countries have intensified their investigations into their fundraising and other illegal activities.
Intelligence services in these countries have identified several Tamil organisations such as the World Tamil Movement and The Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils as key front organisations of the LTTE actively engaged in fundraising activities and organised crime, extortion of money, home invasion, theft, the import and sale of heroin (brown sugar). These organisations are now trying to change their tactics to mislead the international community.
Sri Lanka's foreign missions in European countries have been provided with details of these organisations by several Foreign Intelligence Services including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the Foreign Secret Services. An Australian Terrorism Expert Peter Chalk told that the members of the LTTE front organisations should be deported as they have become a threat to the integrity of Western counties. In the face of these new developments LTTE front organisations plan to adopt a new propaganda strategy to tarnish the image of the Sri Lankan Government by highlighting false information of the military offensive operations against the LTTE in the North. Meanwhile the extradition Treaty between the United States and Sri Lanka has been forwarded by US President Bill Clinton to the United States Senate for its ratification. According to a White House report this will be an another blow to the LTTE front organisations. Daily News


Crotone, (Italy) 31 july

Sri Lankans were among 418 people detained by Italian coast guards on Sunday for illegally entering the country on a motorboat, amid angry reactions by the Interior Ministry for a perceived lack of international cooperation in the fight against human trafficking. Early reports had said 367 immigrants were on the 50-meter (150-foot) vessel, Kalsit, which was spotted in the early morning north of Crotone, within a few dozen meters (yards) of the coast. The boat was flying the Greek flag but investigators suspected it of being registered in Turkey. It was escorted by a coast guard vessel and a helicopter to the Calabrian port for identification.
Police detained the suspected five-member crew for suspected human trafficking, the Italian interior ministry said. The men, all Turks, aroused the suspicion of police near Crotone after they were seen overnight wearing wet clothes. They were also carrying cellular telephones and a large number of dollar and Turkish pound bills. Three hundred of the immigrants were said to be men, 41 women and 77 children, among them ethnic Kurds, Afghans, Sri Lankans, Nigerians and Sierra Leoneans. All were in good health. They were taken to a detention centre at Sant'Anna di Crotone which now accommodates more than 700 immigrants. The latest arrival of illegal immigrants drew a sharp reaction from the interior ministry which said some countries may not be doing enough to stop would-be migrants from leaving their ports. "If the route of the ship is confirmed, the incident would be very serious," the ministry said, adding that Italian police officers would travel to Turkey on Monday to investigate the case with Turkish officials. The boat was also believed to have made a stop in Greece to take on food on its way to Italy. The ministry said it had been asking Turkey for months to tighten controls at its ports and had also appealed to Greece in January to stop illegal immigrants continuing their westward journeys. The latest incident near Crotone was "deeply irritating and will lead to a strong and firm protest," it added. Daily News


Islamabad, 12 july 2000

Fifty-four Pakistani nationals who had illegally entered Turkey a few months back, would be brought back home next week, said Foreign Office sources on Wednesday. They were arrested by the Turkish authorities upon their entry and were being brought back via Iran. They are being repatriated by road as air travel is very expensive.
All the expenses would be paid by the Pakistan's government. Most of them belong to the Gujrat district. The Pakistan mission in Ankara is busy finalizing the arrangements. All of them would be handed over to the interior ministry which would take action against them as it was unlawful to leave the country without the permission of the government. APP


Berlin, 21 june 2000

Concerned over the recent attack on an Indian researcher in Germany, India has asked the German Government to ensure safety of Indian professionals. The Science and Technology Minister, Mr. Murli Manohar Joshi, who held talks with the German Education and Research Minister, Ms. Edelgard Bulmahn, on Tuesday, said it was the responsibility of the German Government to take care of those who come to the country.
On the incident of an Indian researcher being beaten up at Leipzig in Saxony last week, he said he was not aware of the motive behind the incident. The Indian researcher, whose name has been withheld, was beaten by three suspects and bitten by a dog on June 12 in an apparent anti-foreigner violence. Police have arrested all the three suspects. Mr. Joshi told Ms. Bulmahn that India was ready to promote its research and development capabilities in select areas for transboundary research programmes and share its expertise in managing information and software technology courses. PTI


Paris, 19 april 2000

The editor-in-chief of Le Figaro, a leading French daily, has conveyed his apology to the President, Mr. K. R. Narayanan, for an offensive headline on a story of the latter's arrival for talks with his French counterpart, Mr. Jacques Chirac. The story on the President's five-day visit was headlined ``An Untouchable at the Elysee Palace''. This, as was natural, produced a strong reaction in the Indian delegation, accompanying the President. In a letter to the President, the editor-in-chief, Mr. Michel Schifres, says: ``I understand that one of the headlines of Le Figaro has hurt you as well your people. I apologise personally to you for this blunder and assure you that it was certainly not our intention to hurt you or be disrespectful to you; in fact, quite to the contrary, in as much as the relations between your country, our country and Le Figaro are old and friendly. In reiterating our apologies, please accept, Mr. President, the expression of my highest consideration''. The President, obviously, was pained at this ``fixation'' of a section of the press. He was unhappy that the embassy here had not provided the required guidance to the French press, in advance of his visit. The French media, it was clear, did not realise the implications of the word ``untouchable''. A French journalist, once based in India, sought to explain that it was intended to convey the sense of social mobility of the backward classes. This was a clear case of a yawning gap in the perceptions of the foreign media about the situations and matters in India - a challenge which the official press relations agencies had failed to tackle. There is, however, no justification for the abysmal ignorance abroad about India. It was not Le Figaro alone which committed the blunder. Le Monde, too, based its story on the ``untouchable''. The issue, however, did not figure in Mr. Narayanan's talks with the French leaders - their discussions were marked by extreme cordiality and respect. The French side did its best to project the most agreeable face during the President's visit. There was, however, the danger of the sharp reaction in India to the French media headlines and despatches affecting the relationship, built with great care. The Le Figaro apology has served to avert that ugly turn. The lesson, however, remains, and needs to be learnt. The Hindu


Paris, 17 october 1999

An Indian business executive detained by French police two days ago has been refused bail by a court here and ordered to remain in custody till November 12. Chand Mehta, Chief exports manager of Jaipur-based Auto Lite, was taken into custody by police at the ongoing "Equip auto '99 exhibition" in Villepinte, near Paris, to inquire about a copyright violation by his company. Auto Lite, which is participating on its own in the exhibition, produces auto spare parts, mainly head lights for cars. "We are puzzled by the arrest of Mehta. Normally, business disputes do not come under any criminal offence. Despite Mehta's company offering to pay the bail amount of $5000 he was not released," official sources here said. The company, owned by industrialist DP Jain, has been in the business for the last 20 years and supplies components to all the major auto-makers in India and abroad. It was erroneously reported in a section of the press that six Indian businessmen were arrested on charges of copyrightviolations. Along with Mehta, a Belgian representative and a Taiwanese woman executive were arrested on similar charges by different companies. While the Belgian was released on bail, the Indian and Taiwanese executives continue to be in prison, sources said. Indian representatives here said Mehta was detained on a complaint by the Peugeot charging that Auto Lite catalogues, distributed in the exhibition, marketed head lights for Peugeot-205 cars for which they don't have licence. Peugeot claimed it was a clear case of copyright violation. The other Indian participants in the exhibition were shocked to witness the treatment meted out to Mehta. "It is for the first time an Indian business executive has been arrested during an exhibition," a senior official commented. The sources said the dispute between Peugeot and Auto Lite Ltd started with the French car-maker suddenly backing out from its decision to start a joint-venture with Premier Automobiles. While the French company was planning to launchPeugeot-305 in India it had elaborate consultations with Indian components manufacturers for supply of spare parts for the car. Sources said auto lite received orders for tooling. The Indian Express


New Delhi, 19 November 1998

India today protested to the European Union against its decision to impose `non-tariff' barriers on Basmati exports from the country. The European Commission (EC) has of late been asking basmati importers in the 15-nation EU to prove the value of the imported basmati rice. The move, according to sources, is proving to be a non-tariff barrier since rice importers are having to provide proof of the high prices of Basmati in the country. ``This is a move towards slowly imposing a high duty on the product,'' say sources. The EC decision has meant that an importer has to prove that the price at which he has contracted for imports is the ruling price of that variety in India at the time it is brought into EU. The EU decision hurts more when India is already under pressure due to the patent filed by the US company, Ricetec. India is already fighting the Ricetec patents case. The protest was registered when India and the EC held discussions on several ticklish issues hurting bilateral trade. The EC, which has filed a complaint with the dispute settlement board of the World Trade Organisation on India's MoU policy for multinational car manufacturers, has been told that the MoU policy is in line with the present regime of quantitiative restrictions allowed for India under GATT rules. The EC complaint is to be taken up for formal consultations at Geneva in the first week of December. Under India's auto policy, firms have to make an MoU with the DGFT to neutralise the foreign exchange outgo. Sources said that India could also protest against the EU policy of allowing some east European nations to export cars to EU duty-free while Indian car manufacturers cannot similarly export their product. This anomaly specifically impedes the re-export of at least four major EU brands whose manufacture has started in India, sources said. The other issues which were taken up between the two sides on Wednesday were regarding quantitative restrictions imposed by India outside the balance of payments list. These are items restricted to protect the flora, fauna and security of the country. The EC has contended that many items on this list do not exactly hurt flora, fauna or security of the country, sources said. The EC has also sought the removal of ban on export of hides and skins from the country. The Economic Times

© Copyright Sources & OSCISE 1998-2003 - Email: