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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

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Who Demolished The Babri Masjid?


The Liberhan report is with the PM and will be tabled in Parliament soon. Till then, here is Prafull Goradia, very much an old Saffron warrior, writing in the Pioneer before the report was submitted to the PM:

Subsequently came the news, through the several police officers who were present, that a number of men were systematically attacking the edifice walls just below the domes with the help of crowbars. When some leaders questioned the police about their inaction, the reply was that they had instructions not to intervene without a threat to human life. Incidentally, no Minister of the Uttar Pradesh Government was available to contact.

Within the next hour came to the terrace two Press photographers who had been beaten, bruised and bleeding somewhat. Their cameras had been snatched away because the men with the crowbars did not want to be photographed. That is when I realised that those men were Government servants and not kar sevaks who would be proud to be photographed whereas Government servants would be afraid.

The town of Ayodhya was overcrowded with people, perhaps, two to three lakh in number. At 2:30 pm there was an audible sigh by the people which signalled that one of the domes had fallen. From where I was, I could not see it collapse. I did however witness the fall of the other two domes at 3:40 and 4:30 pm. There were tears of joy in the eyes of some of the VHP leaders. The Sangh leadership was neither jumping with joy nor sad with anxiety. By and large, the BJP veterans looked stunned as if blood had flowed out of their veins.

At 5:30 pm all of us came down from the terrace and began wending our way to where our cars were parked. The ten 30-feet walls were still standing as they were in the morning. All they had lost were their domes. Uncannily, not all these years since then have I ever seen a photograph of the Babri edifice without its domes. The earliest next picture was that of the Ram Lalla mandir in a tent hastily established by the Central Reserve Police. It was published in the dailies of December 9, 1992.

Clearly, the 10 enormous walls were demolished during the next 60 hours after 6:00 pm by when the Kalyan Singh Ministry had been dismissed and the President had taken over the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Which means that the walls were demolished by the representatives of the Central Government. Human hands could not have brought down the strong stone walls. To do the work and clear the debris fast mechanical devices, probably belonging to the CPWD, were used.

Human hands could not have brought down the strong stone walls of the Babri edifice. To do that and clear the debris overnight required more than enraged kar sevaks

By rejecting Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav’s accusation that the Babri edifice was demolished by the Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has betrayed his ignorance. On July 11, 1991 The Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991 came into operation. The legislation prohibited the conversion of any place of worship from its character as it existed on August 15, 1947. There was, however, one exception made and that was Ayodhya. To quote the relevant section of the Act, “Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the place or place of worship commonly known as Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid situated in Ayodhya in the State of Uttar Pradesh.”

The obvious motive of the Narasimha Rao Government was to secure its posture of secularism; to forbid any change whatsoever in any place of worship in the country. Secondly, the Government kept all options open with regard to Ayodhya where it could do what it liked. The fate of the Babri edifice thus began to be sealed in July 1991. On the fateful day of December 6, 1992, I happened to reach the VIP terrace opposite the Babri edifice by 10.40 am. Most of the senior leaders of the BJP, the RSS and the VHP also came to this terrace. The tenor of the conversation I heard was: Let us hope that after today’s kar seva the popular mood would compel the Muslim community to give up its claim over the edifice. When by noon a large number of youth climbed the domes of the edifice there was consternation. The young men had no effect whatsoever except that they scratched the domes hard enough to show up the colour of sand.

Subsequently came the news, through the several police officers who were present, that a number of men were systematically attacking the edifice walls just below the domes with the help of crowbars. When some leaders questioned the police about their inaction, the reply was that they had instructions not to intervene without a threat to human life. Incidentally, no Minister of the Uttar Pradesh Government was available to contact.

Within the next hour came to the terrace two Press photographers who had been beaten, bruised and bleeding somewhat. Their cameras had been snatched away because the men with the crowbars did not want to be photographed. That is when I realised that those men were Government servants and not kar sevaks who would be proud to be photographed whereas Government servants would be afraid.

The town of Ayodhya was overcrowded with people, perhaps, two to three lakh in number. At 2:30 pm there was an audible sigh by the people which signalled that one of the domes had fallen. From where I was, I could not see it collapse. I did however witness the fall of the other two domes at 3:40 and 4:30 pm. There were tears of joy in the eyes of some of the VHP leaders. The Sangh leadership was neither jumping with joy nor sad with anxiety. By and large, the BJP veterans looked stunned as if blood had flowed out of their veins.

At 5:30 pm all of us came down from the terrace and began wending our way to where our cars were parked. The ten 30-feet walls were still standing as they were in the morning. All they had lost were their domes. Uncannily, not all these years since then have I ever seen a photograph of the Babri edifice without its domes. The earliest next picture was that of the Ram Lalla mandir in a tent hastily established by the Central Reserve Police. It was published in the dailies of December 9, 1992.

Clearly, the 10 enormous walls were demolished during the next 60 hours after 6:00 pm by when the Kalyan Singh Ministry had been dismissed and the President had taken over the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Which means that the walls were demolished by the representatives of the Central Government. Human hands could not have brought down the strong stone walls. To do the work and clear the debris fast mechanical devices, probably belonging to the CPWD, were used.

For the next fortnight, the BJP could not decide whether to claim credit for the demolition or deny its role or to admit its ignorance. Meanwhile, one of its prominent leaders wrote an article in a national daily that the 6th was the darkest day in his life. Prime Minister Narasimha Rao went on the television the same night, condemning the demolition and promising that he would re-build the masjid. Actually there was no need to rebuild the whole edifice since only the domes had been destroyed. Contrary to his promise, the walls were razed to the ground. Obviously, the Prime Minister had found an enthusiastic accomplice in Mr Kalyan Singh, although I surmise, without the knowledge of his senior partymen. He, therefore, became a virtual persona non grata thereafter and was finally expelled from the party.

Baitullah Mehsud increasingly using the children in attacks

A top Taliban leader in Pakistan is buying and selling children for suicide bombings, Pakistani and U.S. officials said.
Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been increasingly using the children in attacks, the officials said. A video released by Pakistan's military shows the children training for the task.

In the video of a training camp, children can be seen killing and going through exercises.

Mehsud has been selling the children, once trained, to other Taliban officials for $6,000 to $12,000, Pakistani military officials said.

Some of the children are as young as 11, the officials said.

"He has been been admitting he holds a training center for young boys, for preparing them for suicide bombing. So he is on record saying all this, accepting these crimes," said Major General Akhtar Abbas, spokesman for the Pakistani army.
The young suicide bombers may be able to reach targets unnoticed, the military said.

"If he is approaching on foot, there is a possibility he will bypass security," Abbas said.

"In certain areas, there is a possibility in the population centers everyone can not be checked physically, so he can create havoc there."

Pakistan has launched an offensive against the Taliban, started in the Swat region of the North West Frontier Province. The Taliban have countered with a spate of suicide bombings, including a July 2 attack in Rawalpindi, in which a suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck a Pakistani Defense Ministry bus. At least one person was killed and 29 others were wounded.

Pakistan's army said it is hunting Mehsud in the hopes that the supply of suicide bombers will dry up after the Taliban leader is captured.

Meanwhile, a suspected U.S. drone attack killed at least 12 people and wounded five others in northwest Pakistan Tuesday, Pakistani officials said.

The missile strikes in South Waziristan targeted a suspected Taliban hideout at a madrassa, or Muslim school, in Zangarah, according to intelligence officials.

The attack near the border with Afghanistan involved a pair of missiles shot from an unmanned drone, local resident Janbaz Mehsud told CNN. He said all the dead and wounded were Taliban.
A local government official, who asked not to be named, said the madrassa was a training center for the Taliban and belongs to Baitullah Mehsud. That official put the death toll at 14, but said the number of dead could rise.

The U.S. military routinely offers no comment on reported drone attacks. However, the United States is the only country operating in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely.

Afghanistan Takes a Deadly Turn

The Los Angeles Times leads with news that seven U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan yesterday, the highest one-day death toll in nearly a year. Military officials warn that American casualties are likely to increase as more troops get sent to Afghanistan. According to an independent tally, 95 U.S. and 76 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan this year. Three other NATO soldiers, one from Britain and two from Canada, were also killed yesterday. Five British troops have been killed in the past week. The Wall Street Journal leads its worldwide newsbox with the more than 20,000 security personnel deployed in Urumqi, China, where at least 156 people died and more than 1,000 were injured in Sunday's clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. USA Today leads with a look at how banks are cutting back on credit card lending. In the first four months of the year, the number of new cards issued by banks plunged 38 percent from the same time last year, while the average limit that low-risk borrowers receive has decreased 3 percent.

The New York Times and Washington Post lead with President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev reaching an agreement to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by as much as a third. The basic outlines of a treaty that would replace the one set to expire in December would "reduce the number of warheads and missiles to the lowest levels since the early years of the cold war," notes the NYT. The two presidents spent most of their time talking about Iran and missile defense, and agreed to work together on an assessment of the nuclear threat posed by Iran and North Korea. While Russia is still vehemently opposed to American plans to build a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, the two leaders found some room for compromise by agreeing to cooperate more on the issue and step up discussions on a joint center to detect hostile missile launches. Obama appeared to continue in his efforts to try to empower Medvedev over Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whom he met with this morning.

The U.S. servicemembers who were killed Monday were in different areas of the country. Two were killed in the south, one in the east, and four in the north. The Post highlights that the southern part of the country that is now the scene of a huge Marine operation has remained relatively peaceful and U.S. officials believe the Taliban may have left the area. Meanwhile, the attacks against American troops in other parts of the country show how the militants are determined to push into areas that had so far been relatively quiet. The LAT reminds readers that there was also an increase in American deaths in Iraq right after the "surge," but that soon began to decrease. Of course, there's no way of knowing whether Afghanistan will follow the same pattern, but at least in the short term an increase in casualties seems inevitable. "The reason is not so much the troop increase but what they want to do and where they want to go," an expert tells the LAT. "They are focusing on the areas that are least governed and most insurgency-filled."

It's not clear whether the majority of the people killed Sunday in China were protesters, security forces, or simply bystanders. State television showed images of Uighurs attacking Han Chinese but, of course, didn't say anything about violence from the police. The city's cell phone and Internet services have been largely cut, and security forces were sent to other large cities in the region to prevent the unrest from spreading. The WSJ notes that Beijing's actions in the next few days "could have major repercussions both at home and abroad." If the state's response is seen as too repressive, foreign governments may condemn the action. But if Han Chinese think the state is letting the Uighurs off easy then there could be a domestic backlash. Just like last year when Chinese officials pinned the unrest in Tibet to the Dalai Lama, this time around a Uighur exile living in Washington was blamed.

In an interesting piece inside, the NYT takes a look at how Chinese information officials seem to have picked up lessons from last year's clashes in Tibet as well as the recent unrest in Iran. Last year, foreign journalists were banned from Tibet, but images of the riots still got out, and China faced worldwide condemnation. This time around, reporters were invited to go to Xinjiang "to know better about the riots." Of course, the reporters were told they couldn't conduct interviews without government minders but it was still a sophisticated effort to spin the news, rather than just block it. That's not to say the news wasn't blocked as the government also carried out a massive operation to prevent the issue from being discussed on the Internet. "They're getting more sophisticated," one expert said. "They learn from past mistakes."

The WSJ fronts word that the Department of Justice is looking into whether AT&T and Verizon are abusing their market power. It's not a formal investigation just yet, but the paper sees it as a prime example of how the Obama administration wants to ramp up antitrust enforcement after the issue was practically ignored during the Bush years. Justice is expected to look into such things as whether the carriers unfairly lock up phones through exclusive deals and whether they unfairly prevent customers from using certain services on their networks, such as Internet calling. Experts say this investigation is particularly instructive because it shows the Obama administration believes more than one company can exercise monopolistic power over an industry.

The LAT, NYT, and WP all front the death of Robert McNamara, the former secretary of defense that led the massive buildup of American forces in Vietnam between 1964 and 1968. Later in life, he went public with his regrets about the war's escalation. Serving Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, McNamara "was the most influential defense secretary of the 20th century," declares the NYT. He was 93 and died in his sleep.

USAT fronts a look at how the recession has increased the number of people interested in donating their sperm or eggs. But many lose interest once they find out it's a long process that eliminates most people. The donor coordinator at a fertility clinic in New Jersey said she used to get about eight calls a week from potential egg donors but now gets that many every day. She also said that at least 100 men have called to ask about donating their "eggs."