New Delhi: A Shiv Sena MP, who was seen in a video clip trying to force food into the mouth of a Muslim staffer of Maharashtra Sadan who was observing the Ramadan fast, kicked off a political storm Wednesday, with parliament in uproar.
While the Congress targeted the Narendra Modi government for the act, which they described as a “crime against secularism”, the government first refused to comment on the issue as it involved a key ally, but seeing an angry opposition, offered
to probe the matter.
Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare, who was in the midst of the controversy, defended his action, saying he had no idea about the man’s religion – even though he had his
name badge on.
His party chief Uddhav Thackeray decried attempts to ‘communalise’ the issue and attempted to play it down by describing it as a “trivial” matter.
Though all BJP leaders and ministers, including union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, refused to comment on the matter, party patriarch L.K. Advani just said “this is wrong.”
But the opposition was unrelenting. Vichare’s action had hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims, MP after MP said.
The Congress, which was on a back foot for the past two days following Press Council of India chief Justice Markandey Katju’s allegation of corruption in judicial
appointments during the Manmohan Singh government’s tenure, lapped up the opportunity to hit out at the Modi government.
The Congress slammed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government both inside and outside parliament.
In the Rajya Sabha, opposition members disrupted the proceedings of the house after the question hour, forcing Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to adjourn the house for 10 minutes.
The issue was later raised again by Ali Anwar Ansari of the Janata Dal-United in the zero hour, who called it an insult to Indian culture and social tolerance.
Responding to the members, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar said that government will probe the facts.
“These are unsubstantiated reports. We should not take it to the next level. Let us understand what exactly happened,” Javadekar said.
Kurien then instructed the government to “ascertain the facts and come back to the house”.
The issue was also raised in the Lok Sabha during the zero hour by Congress MP from Wayanad in Kerala, M.I. Shanavas.
“The MPs who have to be a role model have done this. This house should condemn this,” he said.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said no comments should be made on the issue as the facts of the incidents had not been established yet.
“Whatever has to be done, the government will do,” he added.
There was however huge pandemonium when Shiv Sena MP and union Heavy Industry Minister Anant Geete said no such incident took place at the Maharashtra Sadan.
But soon television channels started flashing a video clip shot by a local channel, which clearly showed that the first time MP Vichare was trying to force a chapatti into the staffer’s mouth.
The staffer was seen pleading with the MPs who were angry over the poor quality of food served at the state guest house.
Vichare and some other Shiv Sena MPs are residing at the New Maharashtra Sadan in central Delhi during their stay in the capital.
When Vichare was forcing the food into the Muslim staffer’s mouth, other Shiv Sena
MPs watched quietly, the video clipping showed.
In the Lok Sabha too members from almost all parties trooped near Speaker Sumitra
Mahajan’s podium forcing her to adjourn the house for 15 minutes.
When the house reassembled, BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri was made to apologize for his
Outside Parliament House, Congress criticised the Shiv Sena MPs behaviour.
Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily said the incident was the “biggest crime against
secularism in the country.”
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the incident
obstructed an individual’s right to practice his religion, which is guaranteed
under the constitution.
“This is against the very basic tenets of the constitution of India which provides
freedom to every individual to preach or practice his religion,” Azad added.
As the incident snowballed into a major controversy, Uddhav Thackeray in
Aurangabad said: “We may have a Hindutva agenda, but we shall never play with the religious sentiments of any community.”
Party spokesperson Sanjay Raut said that these people who are trying to put a
communal colour on the incident “have lost their mental balance”.
MP Asaduddin Owaisi said: “I am not surprised with the Shiv Sena MP’s behavior.
The question is that even if the employee named Arshad was not a Muslim, he should
not have been treated this way”.
“This is unbecoming,” said the chief of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
“The Maharashtra resident commissioner should register a complaint against the MPs.
After all forcefully breaking the fast of a Muslim is hurting his religious
sentiments,” Owaisi added.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.