Thursday, May 26, 2011

Delhi HC explosion: Terror or accident?

No casualties, explosion occurred in the parking lot outside high court’s Gate No 7
In New Delhi Alow-intensity blast occurred in a parking lot outside the Delhi High Court around 1.15 pm on Wednesday. Security agencies said that the explosive was kept in a plastic bag near a Ford Figo car, belonging to Delhi HC lawyer Rajiv Jain. No casualties were reported after the explosion.

Till late evening, sources from the Delhi police said that at this stage it's difficult to pinpoint if the blast was the handiwork of an individual or a terrorist group.

“There are no tell-tale signs or footprints to link this event to any group. It could simply be the act of an individual who might be aiming to disrupt court proceedings, considering high-profile cases such as the 2G bail hearing is going on,” said security analyst Ajay Sahni.

The Home Ministry simply refused to comment on the incident and directed all questions of breach of security to the Delhi Police.

The Delhi police maintained that there was no breach of security as the explosion happened outside the court premises Gate number 7 of the parking lot.

Eyewitnesses claim there was a package near the spot that had smoke emanating out of it. Some eyewitnesses claimed that there were nails in the explosive bags.

“It was a small blast. The explosion took place in a small plastic bag that was kept near the car's bonnet,” said Delhi Police Special Commissioner (Law and Order) Dharmendra Kumar.

He added that the type of explosive is unknown and the samples have been sent for forensic examination.

High Alert across Delhi

Soon after the blast, Delhi Police sounded a high alert across the capital. “We have given a security alert across the city, particularly to all the markets and crowded areas. Security has been beefed up in crowded places and extra personnel have been deployed,” Kumar said.
(With Agency Inputs)

Blast investigation

» The low-intensity blast occurred in the parking lot around 1.15 pm

» The explosive was kept in a plastic bag near a Ford Figo car

» No casualties were reported after the explosion

» Eyewitnesses claim there were shrapnel in the explosive bag, however police say otherwise

Makkah Masjid firing enquiry report a mockery of Commission of Enquiries act: Shafeeq Mohajir

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hyderabad, May 25: Renowned Lawyer Mr. Shafeeq Ur Rahman Mohajir who had submitted concrete evidence to justice Backer Rao Enquiry Commission which was enquiring the police firing after the Makkah Masjid bomb blast, reacted harshly on the report and expressed dissatisfaction.
He said that justifying the police firing is an act of covering the failures of the Govt. He further told that this report is a mockery of the Commission of Enquiries Act and an insult to the spirits of the martyrs and their families.
By doing so, the commission has ridiculed the institutions of justice and governance. Police firing could not be justified from any angle. The commission has tried to conceal the facts. If the commission and the Govt. think that by justifying police firing and by absolving police officials, they can refrain the public from agitating, it an utopian dream. He said that the Govt. should not be under misconception that the Muslims and people honouring justice will keep quiet. They will challenge the report in court.
The claim of the police that it had used rubber bullets proved false before the commission.
--Siasat News

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'Parade of Ships' arrives in New York for Fleet Week

Last Updated: 2:27 PM, May 25, 2011
Posted: 9:24 AM, May 25, 2011

New Yorkers will be tipping their hats to the members of the armed forces who arrive in town Wednesday for Fleet Week.

Thousands of Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen from the US Navy and the US Coast Guard are expected.

A fleet of nine Navy and Coast Guard ships arrived Wednesday on the West Side of Manhattan.
The "Parade of Ships" included the USS Iwo Jima, USS Kauffman, USS Carr, USS John L. Hall, USS New York, USCG Katherine Walker, USCG Tampa, USCG Willow and USCG Reliance.

They sailed up the Hudson River, under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the George Washington Bridge, then turned around to dock in Manhattan and Staten Island.

Sailors stand on deck as the warship USS New York passes the Statue of Liberty to kick off Fleet Week Wednesday.
Sailors stand on deck as the warship USS New York passes the Statue of Liberty to kick off Fleet Week Wednesday.
Photos: Fleet Week returns to New York
Fleet Week runs through June 1.

New York City's official website says there will be "dozens of military demonstrations and displays throughout the week as well as public visitation of participating ships."

For more on this story, please go to

Sick and tired of harassment, women seek help line number


JEDDAH: Women in the Kingdom, fatigued by repeated cases of harassment, are calling for a help line number.
Nawal Bukhari, 45, called for more security measures on behalf of all her Muslim sisters, saying it is imperative the law derives a method to protect women in emergencies.
Nawal and her daughter Madiha, who were on Sari Street in Jeddah on a recent weekend, told Arab News they were followed, chased, and profusely invited to sit in the cars of men, asking for their phone numbers for almost an hour.
“There is no barrier, every age and class of men who were there that night — maybe doing it for a thrill — asked us for our numbers and even opened doors to their cars for us to sit with them,” said Nawal. “It scares me to think how our sisters deal with this situation. I was scared, helpless and the worst fear was that I could not protect my daughter if something happened.”
Nawal says her husband was out of the country at the time, and because she uses taxis to get around she faces harassment on the street frequently and has never been able to call for help.
“Who do I call? It is not a crime, what these men do, so it would be an awkward situation calling 999,” she said. “But in the Kingdom, for women this is a real emergency situation. I barely see police cars patrolling an area looking out to help in these situations.”
Describing what happened that weekend, Nawal said that even after she and her daughter waved down a taxi, ill-mannered men temporarily blocked the car from moving, telling the cab driver they would give them rides. Before they could enter the cab, the driver became scared.
“This taxi driver locked the doors and did not let us in. Instead he sped off,” she said.
Nawal had to call a friend with a driver to pick them up. And even then five cars of men were trying to block them from crossing the road to enter the vehicle.   The incident — which occurred at night — left her afraid to go out on her own for weeks.
“Women are esteemed and highly respected in Islam, contrary to current state of affairs,” she added. “Would these men be okay with this if it happened to their mothers and sisters?”
Marwa Nasser, 21, said the prevalence of sexual harassment in her day-to-day life needs to end.
“This passé attitude toward the harassment of women, and passing it off as nothing, is ridiculous. It is about time they enforce the law that is there to protect us.”
Marwa described one incident in a mall with her friends when several young men were following them, insisting on getting their phone numbers. An onlooker took a “blame the victim” mentality.
“This passerby just glared at us and murmured, ‘you girls deserve this for roaming around without a mahram (male guardian).’ I didn’t know with whom I was more furious with: the men chasing us or this man who could not help the situation and instead lashed out at us.”
Marwa stated a lot of her friends have faced similar and even intense situations and have had no one to help them.
“Someone to call for help or to simply assist you out of this situation would help us,” she said. “It is about time men on the street realize we are not chattel they can use or abuse whenever they like. They should be made to understand by the authorities that they cannot get away with this.”
Women here say they feel caught between the lecherous behavior of some men and the self-righteousness of others when it comes to how they dress.
Maha Hamran, 25, recalled an incident at Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport where a group of men “pretending to be religious” sneered at her and her friends.
“Even though we were in abaya with our hair covered, one of them demanded with a look of disgust: ‘Cover your face.’ I just told him I would do no such thing and that he should take his Taleban approach elsewhere.”
Maha said fanatical approaches like this tarnish the face of moderate Islam, that men who fixate on women who don’t cover from head-to-toe only reflects poorly on what they are thinking.
“Firstly, why are you looking at me and my lady friends? It is lecherous and demeaning, especially  if you come up to me and talk about it. And, if you have a problem, then look away.”

Suicide blast kills five policemen in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a truck bomb into a Pakistani police station at dawn Wednesday, flattening the three-storey building in a massive explosion and killing five people.

The country’s main Taliban faction claimed responsibility for the attack in the protected military zone of the northwestern city of Peshawar, saying it was their fourth reprisal for the US killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Five policemen died in Wednesday’s explosion, a relatively low toll given the enormity of the blast, but officials said the building normally had only a skeleton staff at the time of the attack.

An AFP reporter saw flames from the stricken building, shattered glass on the ground, pancaked rubble, burning tyres and the charred remains of at least three vehicles, including a small truck.

Constable Farid Khan, who had his shoulder fractured in the attack and was admitted to a hospital told AFP that he was saying his morning prayers inside the police station when a deafening explosion took place.

“The roof of the building collapsed with the impact of the blast,” he said, adding he could not get up because of his shoulder injury and his colleagues later took him to the hospital.
Rescuers were trying to reach four or five people believed trapped alive in the rubble, police official Mohammad Ijaz told AFP.

“It was a huge blast which completely destroyed the three-storey building,” Ijaz added, saying there were usually 10 to 15 people present at that time in the police station.
Police said another 23 people, including nine policemen and a child, were wounded in the blast.

The razed building housed the police Criminal Investigation Department and was located in the Peshawar Cantonment area just 150 metres from the US consulate. The area houses military families and security is normally tight.
Police said the attack was carried out with a small truck containing at least 200-250 kilograms of explosives, and that body parts were hurled more than 300 metres away from the blast.

“We will further step up these attacks to avenge Osama bin Laden’s martyrdom,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“These attacks will continue until the US drone strikes and ongoing Pakistani military operations are stopped in the tribal regions,” he added.

The military rushed to seal off the area around the Peshawar police station after the 4:38 am blast.

Why can’t women in Saudi Arabia drive?

In recent times, the Middle East region has been in the news pretty regularly, but perhaps, no reason for making the headlines has been as bizarre as this one: A woman was arrested because she decided to drive a car on the streets of Saudi Arabia, and then posted a video of herself driving.
On the 23rd of May, the Associated Press reported that “Saudi authorities have re-arrested an activist who defied a ban on female drivers in the conservative kingdom. Manal al-Sherif was accused of “violating public order” and remanded in custody for five days while the case is investigated, a security official said.
Sherif launched a campaign against the ban last week by posting a video on the internet of herself behind the wheel in the eastern city of Khobar. A Facebook page called “Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself” urged all Saudi women to drive on 17 June, and drew 12,000 supporters before it was removed. The campaign’s Twitter account also was deactivated.
Najla Al-Hariri, another woman who dared to defy the oppressive law and drove around the city claims that there is no enforceable law which prevents women from driving, rather it is only a cultural and religious norm. Tariq Al Maeena, a prominent Saudi writer stated in an article that it is only some fundamentalist scholars who oppose women drivers.
If one explores further into ‘religious’ ruling, one learns that during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) when there were no cars, and horses and camels were the only means of transport, and the blessed members of the Prophet’s family, his wives and daughters used them. In fact the Prophet (PBUH) commented in an authentic hadith of Al-Bukhari, “The best women who ride camels are the women of Quraysh.”
That said, the ban on women driving in KSA is indeed mystifying, when women from every other Muslim country are driving freely on the roads. Certainly, it does not make them any less ‘Muslim’ than their Saudi counterparts, who it seems have been hard done by a law which has roots, at best, in a culture full of prejudice against women.
Isobel Coleman author of the book Paradise Beneath Her Feet, senior fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, revealed that in Saudi Arabia, at one time, girls were not allowed to attend school. In 1962, in an agreement with the United States, the then king allowed females to get formally educated at school. Now, nearly half a century later, in the Kingdom, 63 per cent of all college graduates are women.
In a place where more women than men are graduating from college, naturally a sizeable per centage of people in the work-force will be females. A driving ban such as this means that a male would be ferrying the woman to and back from work, to the mall, even for groceries! Either a salaried driver must be hired (remember women using public transport such as buses in KSA is still taboo), or taxis must be hailed or the woman must be at the mercy of her husband, brother, son or father to take her around.
A skill such as that of driving must never be underestimated – it is immensely useful in day to day life, it can be used in dire situations, and can even save lives! How many people reading this can disagree to the fact that a woman who drives is an added bonus for any family, and is in fact a great relief to her male counterparts? Moreover, it grants women a measure of independence and subsequently confidence in their own abilities.
Scholars who have given the religious ruling that disallows women to drive claim that a woman driving would be open to harassment, sexually and otherwise, and maybe even abuse. One wonders though – is there any guarantee a woman will not be harassed at the workplace? Since a threat such as that obviously exists, is it correct to pull out women from the workforce altogether?
Another example one can cite here is of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, where during circumambulation around the Ka’aba, men and women often come in close contact. ‘Eve-teasing’ or in plain terms, sexual harassment happens to thousands of women inside the Haram. Does the religious police ban women from entering the mosque altogether? No, of course not.
Arab News of Saudi Arabia ran an article titled “Not all Saudi women seeking to drive cars” which talks about how not having to look for a parking space and the luxury and comfort of having a driver means Saudi women prefer to be driven around. However, people in Saudi Arabia refuse to buy that as one reader indignantly states in a comment: [Are you kidding?! this is real life! there are single moms, divorced women, daughters with father who are sick, wives who need to care for their husbands, mothers who have to attend to their children’s school meetings, Muslim sisters who just want to go to the masjid to listen to Quran!] sic.
The Kingdom, in recent times has seen a lot of development. From the trains that are being built to connect the sites of pilgrimage, to the great amount of construction that is being carried out in cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, and even Madinah and Makkah (where the clock tower which will break several construction records is under construction) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has forayed ahead in many areas. Yet this one policy still remains, even after it has been challenged many times by Saudi women in the past. Is it a form of sexism and male chauvinism at its worse, or is it really a law to protect women?
As always, the social media has seen thousands of people voicing their opinions and a great number of them support Manal Al-Sherif’s cause. Considering the fact that Facebook was instrumental in over-throwing the regime of a dictator in the same region, one hopes that this time round too, oppression, (though in another form) will be defeated.
Mehmudah Rehman is a freelance writer based in Dubai who blogs at Notes to Self.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily represent the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.