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Archive for the ‘Indian Peninsula’ Category

India deports Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar

October 04, 2018

GAUHATI, India (AP) — India on Thursday deported its first group of Rohingya Muslims since the government last year ordered the expulsion of members of the Myanmar minority group and others who entered the country illegally.

The deportation was carried out after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute plea by the seven men’s lawyer that they be allowed to remain in India because they feared reprisals in Myanmar. They were arrested in 2012 for entering India illegally and have been held in prison since then.

Indian authorities handed the seven over to Myanmar officials at a border crossing in Moreh in Manipur state, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Each carried a bag of belongings.

The Supreme Court said it would allow their deportation because Myanmar had accepted them as citizens. Government attorney Tushar Mehta told the judges that Myanmar had given the seven certificates of identity and 1-month visas to facilitate their deportation.

Most Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar are denied citizenship and face widespread discrimination. Defense attorney Prashant Bhushan said the government should treat them as refugees, not as illegal migrants, and send a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to talk to them so they would not be deported under duress.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 2017 to escape a brutal campaign of violence by Myanmar’s military. An estimated 40,000 other Rohingya have taken refuge in parts of India. Less than 15,000 are registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Many have settled in areas of India with large Muslim populations, including the southern city of Hyderabad, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, and the Himalayan region of Jammu-Kashmir. Some have taken refuge in northeast India bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The Indian government says it has evidence there are extremists who pose a threat to the country’s security among the Rohingya. India is fighting insurgencies in northern Kashmir and in its northeastern states.

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India, Pakistan clash in UN over support for terrorists

September 30, 2018

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — India’s foreign minister accused neighboring Pakistan of harboring terrorists in an angry speech Saturday before the U.N. General Assembly and rejected the notion that India is sabotaging peace talks with Pakistan, calling it “a complete lie.” Hours later, Pakistan shot back in its own speech, accusing India of financing terrorists and declaring that New Delhi “preferred politics over peace.”

India’s Sushma Swaraj pointed to the fact that Osama bin Laden had been living quietly in Pakistan before he was found and killed by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs, and said the mastermind of the 2008 attack in Mumbai in which 168 people died “still roams the streets of Pakistan with impunity.” Pakistan has said there is not enough evidence to arrest him.

“In our case, terrorism is bred not in some faraway land, but across our border to the west,” Swaraj said. “Our neighbor’s expertise is not restricted to spawning grounds for terrorism, it is also an expert in trying to mask malevolence with verbal duplicity.”

Swaraj and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi were supposed to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly this week. India called it off only one day after it was announced, following the killing of an Indian border guard in the disputed region of Kashmir.

The two South Asian nations, always uneasy neighbors, face off under particularly tense conditions in that region at a “line of control” that cuts through a rugged mountain range. The announcement of the planned meeting had been considered an encouraging sign for restarting stalled talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors. New Delhi had agreed to hold the meeting in response to a letter from newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has written his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, stressing the need for positive change, a mutual desire for peace and a readiness to discuss terrorism.

“We accepted the proposal,” Swaraj said. “But within hours of our acceptance, news came that terrorists had killed one of our jawans. Does this indicate a desire for dialogue?” Qureshi said it was the third time that the current Indian administration had called off talks, “each time on flimsy grounds.”

He said in his speech that “Pakistan continues to face terrorism that is financed, facilitated and orchestrated by our eastern neighbor.” He referred to extremist attacks in his home country, including one at an army school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed more than 150 children, which he said were perpetrated by “terrorists supported by India.”

Qureshi’s afternoon speech prompted a vehement response from India, which exercised its right of reply at the end of the daylong meeting and accused Pakistan of spreading “fake allegations and fake facts.” Pakistan, in turn, responded by accusing India of “practicing terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”

Since independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, divided between the two countries but sought by each in its entirety. “The unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute hinders the realization of the goal of durable peace between the two countries,” Qureshi said. “For over 70 years it has remained on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council and a blot on the conscience of humanity.”

He welcomed the release of a report earlier this year by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that mentioned “chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces” in Kashmir. The report was written without visiting the region as both sides refused to grant unconditional access to the investigators. India at the time rejected it as a selective compilation of largely unverified information.

The U.N. has had a peacekeeping mission in the region since 1949, making it one of the world body’s longest-running peacekeeping operations. It is currently one of the smallest, with about 120 troops as of last month.

Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed.

Highway overpass collapses in India, killing 18 people

May 16, 2018

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — A highway overpass being built in north India collapsed, killing 18 people when an immense concrete slab slammed down onto the crowded road below, officials said Wednesday. Five injured people were pulled from the wreckage, police said. Two were seriously hurt.

Local media reports said four officials from the Uttar Pradesh state construction agency were suspended in the wake of the Tuesday collapse. Rescuers and crane operators worked through much of the night in the city of Varanasi to search for survivors and clear the wreckage, which had crushed cars, motorcycles and a bus. But fears that many more people were trapped were unfounded and the road was reopened Wednesday morning.

The slab appeared to be at least 50 feet (15 meters) long and 6 feet (2 meters) wide. “There was sudden rumble and within seconds we saw” the vehicles crushed, resident Ramesh Kumar Singh said in a telelphone interview. “It took at least a minute for the people around to realize what exactly had happened.”

Most of those killed were in vehicles traveling beneath the overpass, said senior police officer P.V. Ramasastry. The state’s top official ordered a probe into the collapse. He also announced a 500,000 rupee ($7,200) payment to families of those who died.

India has a long history of construction accidents caused by poor materials and inadequately trained workers. In 2016, a long stretch of elevated road being built through the city of Calcutta collapsed, killing 26 people and leaving 11 severely injured.

Prime Minister Narendra, whose political home is in Varanasi, said in a tweet that he was “extremely saddened” by the accident. “I pray that the injured recover soon.” Varanasi, an ancient temple city on the banks of the Ganges River, is a center of pilgrimage for Hindus.

China solar supplier grows in India to avoid trade controls

February 06, 2018

BEIJING (AP) — One of China’s biggest makers of solar panels said Tuesday it will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against what it complained is a rising threat of import controls in the United States and other markets.

Longi Solar Technology Ltd.’s announcement follows the Trump administration’s Jan. 24 decision to impose an extra 30 percent duty on imported solar modules. An Indian regulator says it is considering a “safeguard tariff” of 70 percent on solar panels from China and Malaysia.

Chinese manufacturers dominate global solar panel production. Their explosive growth has helped to propel adoption of renewable energy by driving down costs. But the United States, Europe, India and others complain unfairly low-priced exports hurt their manufacturers and threaten thousands of jobs.

The United States, Europe and other non-Chinese markets account for only 10 percent of Longi’s sales, according to its strategy director, Max Xia. But he said Longi wants to promote global sales of its latest technology this year.

“We think sooner or later anti-dumping and trade protection will be happening in several countries,” said Xia at a news conference. “This is why we choose to do the investment in Malaysia and also in India, because we don’t know when and where it will happen, this kind of anti-dumping. So we prepare to counter it.”

Xia’s comment represented an unusually explicit statement by the Chinese industry that it is moving production to avoid trade controls. Other Chinese producers have set up factories in India and Southeast Asia but usually say they are getting closer to customers or taking advantage of local talent and supply chains.

That migration has complicated efforts by the United States, the European Union and other governments to control imports from China. Some Chinese solar manufacturers responded to earlier U.S. and European trade measures by supplying those markets from factories outside China, avoiding higher tariffs and quotas on Chinese-made products.

Longi already has a solar module factory in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The latest investment will double production there, the company said. Xia repeated warnings by Chinese manufacturers that import controls are hampering efforts to encourage adoption of renewable energy.

“That possibly could start a ‘green energy trade war,'” he said. “That is, with the whole world concerned about climate change, what people who want to solve energy problems and realize green development aren’t willing to see.”

Longi, headquartered in the western city of Xi’an, ranked No. 7 among global solar panel producers by 2017 output, according to PV Tech, an industry journal. The South Korean-German supplier Hanhwa-Q Cells was the only non-Chinese competitor in the Top 10.

India is regarded by the solar industry as one of the most promising markets but low-cost Chinese imports have undercut the New Delhi government’s ambitions to develop its own solar technology suppliers. Government data show imports, mostly from China, account for 90 percent of last year’s sales, up from 86 percent in 2014.

India’s Finance Ministry said Jan. 5 it was considering adding a temporary 70 percent “safeguard tariff” on solar equipment from China and Malaysia to prevent “further serious injury” to the Indian industry. The ministry said Chinese exporters shifted their focus to India in early 2017 after the United States and Europe stepped up import controls.

Netanyahu makes first visit to India by Israeli PM in 15 years

2018-01-14

NEW DELHI – Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in New Delhi on Sunday for the first visit by an Israeli leader to India in 15 years, promising closer ties with the regional power.

Netanyahu and his wife Sara were welcomed at the international airport in New Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made history in July when he became the first Indian leader to visit Israel.

“This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power,” Netanyahu said in a statement ahead of his visit.

“Indian Prime Minister Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine.”

Modi — who will accompany Netanyahu for large parts of his five-day tour — embraced the Israeli prime minister on the tarmac before the pair set off to pay homage at a war memorial in the Indian capital.

“Your visit to India is historic and special. It will further cement the close friendship between our nations,” Modi said on Twitter.

Netanyahu will be only the second Israeli PM to visit India and the first since Ariel Sharon in 2003.

He is accompanied by the largest-ever business delegation to travel with an Israeli leader. Executives in technology, agriculture and defense are among those making the journey as Tel Aviv pursues deals with Asia’s third-largest economy.

The build up to Netanyahu’s visit was soured this month when India called off a deal to buy 8,000 anti-tank guided missiles from Israel’s state-owned defense contractor Rafael.

The Indian army and the government are discussing ways to revive the $500 million order, which was scrapped when the country’s own state-run defense contractor offered to build similar missiles locally.

Israel is a major weapons supplier to India, exporting an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year, but Modi wants to end India’s status as the world’s top defense importer.

Netanyahu and Modi kicked off the visit with a stop at a memorial to Indian soldiers who fought in World War I to help liberate the Israeli city of Haifa.

The Israeli leader will later meet with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj before a private dinner with Modi.

Netanyahu expects to sign new agreements in fields of energy, aviation and cinema production, with stops at the Taj Mahal, a visit to Modi’s home state of Gujarat and meetings with Bollywood luminaries in Mumbai.

But he will also make an emotional visit to a Jewish center targeted in the 2008 Mumbai attacks during his tour, a symbolic gesture to India’s tiny and shrinking Jewish community.

Netanyahu will accompany 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg as the boy returns for the first time to the house where his parents were killed in the attacks that left 166 people dead.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86769.

Pakistani air force chief warns India against full-scale war

November 24, 2016

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s air force chief has warned arch-rival India against escalating the dispute over Kashmir into full-scale war. Marshal Sohail Aman’s warning on Thursday comes as tensions are soaring between Islamabad and New Delhi over the contested Himalayan territory after a day of violent exchanges.

The Pakistani army said Indian fire killed 12 civilians and three soldiers on Wednesday — the deadliest incident in weeks of border clashes. Aman told reporters in the port city of Karachi that “it is better if India shows restrain.” If New Delhi escalates the crisis, he says Pakistani troops will “know full well how to deal with them.”

Kashmir is split between Indian and Pakistani areas of control and claimed in its entirety by both countries, which have fought two wars over the territory.

UK extradition hearing to start for tycoon sought by India

December 03, 2017

LONDON (AP) — Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya is set to face an extradition hearing in London that should determine whether he is sent back to India to face money laundering allegations related to the collapse of several of his businesses.

The Westminster Magistrates Court hearing, which begins Monday and is due to last about eight days, will be widely followed in India, where Mallya is known for his flashy lifestyle and lavish parties attended by fashion models and Bollywood stars.

Mallya, who denies the allegations, was once hailed as India’s version of British entrepreneur Richard Branson for his investments in a liquor company, an airline, a Formula One team and an Indian Premier League cricket club.

In November, he called the allegations “baseless and fabricated.” Asked by reporters outside the courthouse why he didn’t return to India to answer the charges, he snapped back: “That’s none of your business.”

The 61-year-old was also a politician for six years before resigning from the upper house of India’s parliament last year, a day before an ethics committee was set to recommend his expulsion. Mallya launched Kingfisher Airlines in 2005 and the carrier set new standards for quality and service, forcing competing airlines to improve. But it ran into trouble as it expanded. The Indian government suspended the airline’s license in 2012 after it failed to pay pilots and engineers for months.

That triggered the collapse of several more of Mallya’s businesses. He left India last year after a group of banks demanded he pay back more than $1 billion in loans extended to his airline. He has been living in Britain since March 2016 and has refused to return to India to face trial in the Kingfisher Airlines case. India canceled his passport and began an extradition process.

In May, India’s Supreme Court ruled Mallya had disobeyed its order barring him from transferring $40 million to his children. Gurcharan Das, a New Delhi author and former chief executive of Procter & Gamble India, said Mallya was an excellent salesman who built a great brand that included one of the nation’s favorite beers and a high-performing airline.

He said that Mallya, like many others, tried to expand too quickly, buying a no-frills airline that wasn’t a good fit with his company. He said Mallya’s political connections have made him a national symbol of the perils of crony capitalism.

“I see it as a bit of a tragedy. He is somebody who had quite outstanding talents,” Das said. “What hurt him was his flamboyant lifestyle. He didn’t bother to hide it. He flaunted it. That, too, in the public imagination has made him a villain.”

He said Mallya kept up to a dozen homes with full staff as well as buying private jets and yachts, all in a poor country where most rich people tend to hide their wealth. But Das said Mallya’s biggest mistake was to leave India.

“He should have just toughed it out here,” Das said. “There are a number of other businessmen who owe far more money to the banks than he does. He just got scared and skipped out.” Mallya has argued that Britain has long been a second home for him.

India’s government this month rejected Mallya’s argument that he wouldn’t be safe in an Indian jail if he was sent back, and was planning to tell that to the London court, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Nick Perry reported from New Delhi.

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