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Get Your Stories on Army ‘Pre-Verified’, MoD Tells Media After ‘Pakistan Markings’ Snafu
The MoD’s demand has no legal basis; no government body has the right to censor or screen news before it is published
The story the defence ministry is upset with.
New Delhi: Upset at the publication of a news items contradicting a key aspect of the Uri attack that a senior army officer had provided to the media, the defence ministry has told editors “all contents relating to the Indian Army, irrespective of ‘source’ of inputs, and intended to be published, should be pre-verified from the offices of media centres in commands & corps HQ or from this office through your defence correspondents”.
The MoD was responding to a story in the Indian Express on September 21 which refuted the claim made by Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, director general of military operations, in interviews to journalists the day before that the weapons recovered from the four slain terrorists who killed 18 Indian soldiers at Uri on September 18 bore “Pakistani markings”.
Writing in the Indian Express, Sagnik Chowdhury and Praveen Swami reported that:
Four Kalashnikov rifles used by the terrorists, and handed over by the military to investigators Monday, bore no markings or insignia of any kind, sources familiar with the ongoing investigation said. There were also no military markings on barrel-fired grenades destroyed by the Army Monday, or on launchers fitted on the Kalashnikovs.
Though the defence ministry now says the DGMO never made this claim – and cites the formal press release he had issued on the evening September 18 to buttress its point, the fact is that several media outlets had quoted him saying so to TV channels for more than a day without the MoD or General Singh feeling the need to issue a denial.
The Wire has learned that not only has the director, media in the MoD – who is a serving colonel in the Indian army – now demanded that the newspaper “publish an errata and apology for having published a report full of falsehood” but that henceforth it submit reports on the army to be “pre-verified” by the relevant corps or command media office.
The MoD’s demand has no legal basis – no government body has the right to censor or screen news before it is published, and freedom of the press is enshrined in the law via the constitutional right to free speech.
Israel is the only country with an otherwise unrestricted media where all media outlets – including bloggers and foreign journalists based there – are subject to a military censor when it comes to the reporting of news about Israeli military matters. Military censorship in Israel began in the 1960s as part of an understanding between the army and the media houses but eventually got established as a legal prerogative.
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To make sense of Uri, India must understand courage, cowardice – and its own borders
The smokescreen of outrage at the attack masks incompetence and deflects discussion of the roots of conflict.
Image credit: PTIYesterday · 08:00 am Updated Yesterday · 03:30 pm
On reading about the assault on the Army base in Uri, I thought of Ashwatthamma sneaking into the enemy camp under cover of darkness, setting tents alight, burning to death a generation of Pandava princes. An unforgivable act, but one Ashwatthamma could rationalise by pointing to Pandava deviousness in eliminating Dronacharya, Karna and Duryodhana. In Kashmir, as in Kurukshetra, there have been enough morally questionable actions on all sides to inspire yet more reprehensible deeds, in a vicious cycle that shows no signs of abating, and could end in a conflagration worthy of the epics –
I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. I am brighter than a thousand suns.
Indians are confident, though, that the crisis triggered by Uri will not lead to Delhi, Lahore, Bombay, and Karachi being incinerated in a nuclear war. We aren’t worried because we’ve seen it all before.
In December 2001, militants attacked India’s Parliament building, penetrating its perimeter and killing eight guards and a gardener, but falling short of their ultimate target. In response, The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of the time mobilised troops in unprecedented numbers on the western border, leading Pakistan to counter with a build-up of its own.
In May of the following year, militants massacred 31 people including civilians, soldiers and their family members in Kaluchak in Jammu, exacerbating the crisis. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled to Kashmir and addressed the troops, asking the nation and its soldiers to prepare for a decisive battle (aar paar ki ladai) between the newly nuclearised neighbours.
Through the long summer, half a million soldiers waited for the combat signal, their leaves cancelled, huddled in tents in the scorching Rajasthan desert and regions of Punjab and Gujarat that were only slightly more hospitable. In the middle of October, 10 months into the mobilisation, the bewildered fighters were told to stand down, withdraw, redeploy. Vajpayee’s decisive battle had been cancelled, or at least indefinitely postponed, without a shot being fired, and without any discernible diplomatic advantage having been secured. It had been called Operation Parakram, or Operation Valour, but a better term would have been Operation Sabre Rattle or Operation Brinkmanship.
And here we are again, after Uri, screaming for revenge like the betrayed King Lear,
“I will do such things, – What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be the terrors of the earth.”
Unlike Lear, we have the capacity to unleash true terrors of the earth but mercifully those are precisely the components of our arsenal we rule out using. Instead, we think up fanciful manoeuvres to damage Pakistan seriously without that nation using its own atomic weapons. Despite strident calls for limited strikes, I doubt if we will risk escalating to a full-scale war. The likelier scenario is that we will fire artillery rounds from our side that will kill a few soldiers and poor civilians, and Pakistan will retaliate with its own artillery fire, which will also kill a few soldiers and poor civilians. Soon enough, Uri and Pathankot will fade from our memory the way Kaluchak has done.
What about accountability?
One hopes, at the very least, that the emptiness of Modi’s rhetoric and that of his men has been exposed. Remember Amit Shah claiming insurgents would not dare to cross the border if Narendra Modi became Prime Minister? That was in 2014. Remember Home Minister Rajnath Singh assuring us in March last year that the government would secure the border so thoroughly that even a mouse wouldn’t get through? Remember Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar promising retaliation after Pathankot and insisting that there would be no further terror attacks of that kind?
At what point do we move from condemnation of heinous acts to questioning the competence of the administration and, yes, military authorities? To have militants penetrate two military installations within the course of a few months and go on killing sprees within them, not to mention the ambush last year in Manipur which took the lives of 20 soldiers, is a sign of gross incompetence in our security apparatus, but no senior officer appears to have been disciplined after Pathankot, and my guess is that nobody will be court martialled after Uri either.
Cowardice and courage
In many nations, incidents like these would be cause for ministers to resign. In India, outrage becomes a smokescreen to mask incompetence. After the Uri disaster, many broadcasters followed the Prime Minister in calling the attackers cowards. The words coward and cowardly have been used with singular vehemence following assaults on military installations, possibly because those are the instances where the assailants are most obviously not cowards. Cowards are people who lack courage, which is the ability to act without giving in to one’s fears. By definition, kamikaze assaults are brave actions. As Susan Sontag controversially made clear in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the US,
“… if the word “cowardly” is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards.”
I can imagine extending the definition of coward to terrorists who target unarmed civilians (indeed, while the meaning of terrorism is contested, I support definitions of the term such as the one produced by the United Nations in 2004 which restricts it to attacks on non-combatants), because in such cases there exists an asymmetry of power in the terrorist’s favour.
On the other hand, intruding into a heavily guarded military installation at a time when forces are on high alert, facing nearly certain death in the process, takes courage. History offers thousands of examples of courageous zealots, brave fascists, and fearless genocidal maniacs. Unfortunately, modern nations retain an atavistic misconstruing of courage as an ethical virtue. Which is why, the more audacious a militant attack, the greater the insistence by politicians and compliant sections of the media on its essential gutlessness. It’s a bit like advertising: oil companies tout their green credentials, builders of ugly concrete high rises speak of living in the midst of nature, and sugary drinks employ athletic models and sponsor sports competitions.
Setting aside the issue of cowardice forces us to consider the motivations of these cross-border terrorists. Some understanding can be gleaned from examining the term itself. The claim is made that the Uri terrorists came from across the border, but if you or I were to create a map placing the international border at the point where the militants crossed into territory controlled by India, we could be jailed for misrepresentation. You might think it a pedantic detail, but it is essential to an understanding of the assault. One way of explaining the incident is to describe it as a disagreement about the location of the border between India and Pakistan. Addressing that issue sincerely could potentially remove the motivation for such attacks. India’s refusal to do so condemns us to suffer more Uris and Pathankots, unless we take the hawks in the military seriously, and suffer something far worse as a consequence.
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SundayReview | OP-ED COLUMNIST
Would You Hide a Jew From the Nazis?
Nicholas Kristof SEPT. 17, 2016
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In 1940, refugees fled Paris in anticipation of the German invasion. CreditFPG/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images
WHEN representatives from the United States and other countries gathered in Evian, France, in 1938 to discuss the Jewish refugee crisis caused by the Nazis, they exuded sympathy for Jews — and excuses about why they couldn’t admit them. Unto the breach stepped a 33-year-old woman from Massachusetts named Martha Sharp.
With steely nerve, she led one anti-Nazi journalist through police checkpoints in Nazi-occupied Prague to safety by pretending that he was her husband.
Another time, she smuggled prominent Jewish opponents of Naziism, including a leading surgeon and two journalists, by train through Germany, by pretending that they were her household workers.
“If the Gestapo should charge us with assisting the refugees to escape, prison would be a light sentence,” she later wrote in an unpublished memoir. “Torture and death were the usual punishments.”
Sharp was in Europe because the Unitarian Church had asked her and her husband, Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, if they would assist Jewish refugees. Seventeen others had refused the mission, but the Sharps agreed — and left their two small children behind in Wellesley, Mass.
Their story is told in a timely and powerful new Ken Burns documentary, “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.” The documentary will air on PBS on Tuesday evening — just as world leaders conclude two days of meetings in New York City about today’s global refugee crisis, an echo of the one in the late 1930s.
“There are parallels,” notes Artemis Joukowsky, a grandson of the Sharps who conceived of the film and worked on it with Burns. “The vitriol in public speech, the xenophobia, the accusing of Muslims of all of our problems — these are similar to the anti-Semitism of the 1930s and ’40s.”
The Sharps’ story is a reminder that in the last great refugee crisis, in the 1930s and ’40s, the United States denied visas to most Jews. We feared the economic burden and worried that their ranks might include spies. It was the Nazis who committed genocide, but the U.S. and other countries also bear moral responsibility for refusing to help desperate people.
That’s a thought world leaders should reflect on as they gather in New York to discuss today’s refugee crisis — and they might find inspiration from those like the Sharps who saw the humanity in refugees and are today honored because of it.
Take Poland, where some Poles responded to Nazi occupation by murdering Jews, while the Polish resistance (including, I’m proud to say, my father’s family) fought back and tried to wake the world’s conscience. One Pole, Witold Pilecki, sneaked into Auschwitz to gather intelligence and alert the world to what was happening.
Likewise, a Polish farmer named Jozef Ulma and his wife, Wiktoria, sheltered desperate members of two Jewish families in their house. The Ulmas had six small children and every reason to be cautious, but they instead showed compassion.
Someone reported them, and the Gestapo raided the Ulmas’ farmhouse. The Nazis first shot the Jews dead, and then took retribution by executing not just Jozef and Wiktoria (who was seven months pregnant) but also all their children. The entire family was massacred.
Another great hero was Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese consul general in France as the war began.
Portugal issued strict instructions to its diplomats to reject most visa requests from Jews, but Sousa Mendes violated those orders. “I would rather stand with God and against man,” he said, “than with man and against God.”
By some estimates, he issued visas for 30,000 refugees.
Furious at the insubordination, Portugal’s dictator recalled Sousa Mendes and put him on trial for violating orders. Sousa Mendes was convicted and his entire family was blacklisted, so almost all his children were forced to emigrate. Sousa Mendes survived by eating at soup kitchens and selling family furniture; he died in 1954 in poverty, debt and disgrace.
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“The family was destroyed,” notes Olivia Mattis, president of a foundation set up in 2010 to honor Sousa Mendes, who saved her father’s family.
As today’s leaders gather for their summit sessions, they should remember that history eventually sides with those who help refugees, not with those who vilify them.
Currently, only a small number of leaders have shown real moral courage on refugees — hurray for Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau — and even President Obama’s modest willingness to accept 10,000 Syrians has led him to be denounced by Donald Trump.
Without greater political will, this week’s meetings may be remembered as no better than the 1938 Evian Conference, and history will be unforgiving.
“We must think of Sousa Mendes’s heroism in today’s context,” Jorge Helft, a Holocaust survivor who as a French boy received one of Sousa Mendes’s visas, told me. “I have dinners in Paris where people start saying we have to kick all these people out, there are dangerous people among them.” He paused and added, “I remember being on a ship to New York and hearing that some Americans didn’t want to let us in because there were Nazi spies among us.
“Yes, there might have been Nazi spies, but a tiny minority,” he said, just as there might be spies among Syrian refugees today, but again a tiny minority. “Ninety-five percent or more of these people are decent, and they are fleeing from death. So let’s not forget them.”
EDWARD SAID OF KARAVALI KARNATAKA
Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Sep 12, 2016, 09.57 PM IST
By: Gauri Lankesh
G Rajashekar responds in both words and actions when communalism and social inequality raise their ugly heads
G Rajashekar is one of the most committed and popular intellectuals of our times. He can write about theatre and cinema with as much depth and clarity as he can hold forth on politics and communalism. He can dissect political ideologies of authors, analyze the writer’s literature and life values and write about it in the most simplest of styles and incredible sensitivity. It’s because of his ‘scholarship’ on a wide range of subjects that Rajashekar has been the guiding force of many budding intellectuals in the state. Unfortunately, not many non Kannadigas know about him since he writes only in Kannada. Additionally, since he prefers not to write for a corporatorised mainstream media, most of his articles are published by small yet self sustaining media.
The diminutive Rajashekar was born to a poor Brahmin family in a small village called Gundmi near Udupi. When he was a young boy, he had thought that either the RSS or the Left movement would provide ‘social opportunities’ to educated youths such as himself. So, he initially joined the RSS. But after a couple of years he was disenchanted with its ideology and stopped attending its ‘shakas’. Later, he was drawn to the Left movement and he became a card holding member of the CPM for a couple of decades. However, Rajashekar is such a man that he could not bear the Left party’s deliberate silence about Stalin’s excesses in Russia, the blood bath in Mao’s China and the magnitude of Pol Pot’s violence in Cambodia. In frustration, he gave up his membership. But to this day has remains a dear and important `comrade’ in many of the struggles led by leftists, liberals and secularists.
Though he worked as a teacher for a while after graduating, he later joined the LIC as a grade four employee. A man of minimum needs and even lesser means Rajashekar, now in his70’s, leads a retired life in Udupi. As his friend K Phaniraj says "Rajashekar became a resident of Udupi because of his livelihood and because of his familial obligations. However, it is Udupi which is his ‘punyabhoomi, karmabhoomi and jnaanabhoomi’. The world opens up to Rajashekar when he spends nearly three hours every afternoon at public libraries in his locality reading newspapers and magazines."
Every time communal violence or an incident occurs in coastal Karnataka, it is Rajashekar who sets off to ‘find facts’. Sometimes, he even goes as a ‘one man committee’. He talks to the victims, the local police and the administration and he writes about the incident with the world view that he has come to hone over the decades. When a young Muslim youth called Kabir was killed by the Anti Naxal Force near Sringeri in 2014, Rajashekar wrote thus: "It is inevitable for farmers of coastal Karnataka to sell their barren cattle. But for those who purchase such cattle and take them to slaughter houses, it is as dangerous as playing with death. Like those who are involved in this form of trade Kabir, too, had pledged his life and taken it up. When he spotted the ANF at Tanikodu check post, he ran to save his life. Because Kabir – who was born and raised in Suratkal – knew well that when it comes to Muslims there is no difference between the forces of the Bajrang Dal and the police. Hatred for Muslims which has occupied our towns, localities, language, even our brains and hearts, has now taken over even those who rule us. The ANF encounter which took place near Sringeri is just the outward sign of this ailment."
A hard core socialist and a democrat, Rajashekar believes in the plurality of the world. But, in his world, this plurality does not mean just faith in different religions, customs or beliefs. "We have to recognise that there are different kinds of pain. While we rightly condemn the attack on the Twin Towers, we should also be able to condemn the mass murder of Chileans by the American government which instigated a military coup and toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. We have to condemn the killings of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanistanis which as much indignation as the killings of innocent Americans," he stresses.
Rajashekar is held in such high esteem that U R Ananthamurthy and P Lankesh had compared him to the British writer George Orwell says noted critic T P Ashok. The tragic thing is that though Rajashekar has been writing copiously for more than four decades he had refused to publish collected works of his articles. It’s only recently that some of his friends have convinced him to allow them to collate some of his articles and publish them in the form of books. One such book is ‘Bahuvachana Bharatha’ published last year. Reviewing this book, Ashok said "Rajashekar’s sensitivity has been formed by Gopalakrishna Adigas’ poetry, Shivarama Karanth’s novels, Brecht’s plays, Camus and Sartre’s thoughts. His knowledge of history and his comprehension of literature form the basis of his writings… ‘Bahavachana Bharatha’ is a wonderful balance of politics and poetics."
Rajashekar is a public intellectual who looks at society through his lived experience of life as an ordinary man, a man who has familial responsibilities, as a man with deep concern for the oppressed and humiliated around him. It is that ‘ordinariness’ of his extraordinary personality which makes him respond in both words and actions when communalism and social inequality raise their ugly heads in coastal Karnataka.
No wonder that another respected social commentator Shivasundar says "What Edward Said was to Palestine, Rajashekar is to Karavali Karnataka!"
The writer is an activist-journalist
To: All the Members of KKSV >>>>>
An Invitation from Perooru Jaru for his brand new Yakshgana and also Debate.
|( 1 ) Tulu Religion Research Centre, Perooru
Monthly debate – On September 17, @ 3.30pm
on the subject: Where the Yakshagana Born?
In Don Bosco Minihall ( first floor ) Mangalore.
ಸೆಪ್ಟೆಂಬರ್೧೭, ಸನಿಯಾರಮಜ್ಜನಮೂಜರೆಗಂಟೆಗ್ (3.30 pm)
@ ಡಾನ್ ಬಾಸ್ಕೋ ಮಿನಿ ಹಾಲ್ – ಒಂದನೇ ಮಹಡಿ.
( 2 ) New Aata the Yakshgana of Perooru Jaru
‘Beera Kethu’ the hero of Fishermen based on Tulu Pad-dhana
On September 17th 2016, evening 5.30 pm,
0nlyThree hours play !!
At Don Bosco MainHall, (ground floor), Mangalore.