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Maharashtra Shutdown: A Clash 200 Years in Making

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One of India’s largest states is burning. Over 16 FIRs were registered and over 300 people detained in Mumbai only on Thursday, furthermore, the strikes, as of 4th January, have spread to over 18 cities.

Clashes broke out between Brahmins and Dalit activists in some districts of Maharashtra during the bandh called by Dalit parties on Wednesday to protest against the violence during the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on Monday.

To understand why the two groups (Dalit and Brahmins) are clashing, one needs to go back exactly 200 years to the Battle of Koregaon.

The Battle of Koregaon and its significance

200 years ago, on 1 January 1818, a fierce battle between the British East India Company (EIC) and the Peshwa (Brahmins) fiction of the Maratha Confederacy was fought at Koregaon, on the banks of Bhima river.

Peshwa Raja Baji Rao II, who was earlier defeated near Pune, was relentlessly pursued by the company forces. He eventually turned towards Pune and, on his way, ran into a 800-strong British EIC force. The Peshwa sent around 2,000 soldiers to attack the company force, led by Captain Francis Staunton. The company troops fought Peshwa’s army the whole day, forcing them to retreat and eventual defeat.

The Battle of Koregaon has come to be seen as a symbol of Dalit pride because they formed much of the company force after siding with the British (Economic Times). The Dalits occupy the lowest place in the Hindu caste system and have been victims of generations of exclusion and extreme poverty. The Peshwas, made up from the higher Brahmin caste, were seen as oppressors of Dalits — so the victory is seen as a moment of Dalit self-assertion.

A pyramid diagram showing the Hindu Caste System. Dalits are considered to be Untouchables

 

Aftermath

The Maharashtra government has sent a report to the MHA, apprising it of the sequence of events that led to the protests.

“The Home Ministry and the Maharashtra government are in constant touch over the situation in the State. The Ministry has also received a factual report from the State government on the prevailing situation,” an MHA spokesperson said.

In its report, the State government is learnt to have linked Left wing extremists to the January 1 violence at Koregaon Bhima in the Pune district, where thousands of Mahars (a part of the larger Dalit community) congregated to commemorate the British victory 200 years ago. A senior Home Ministry official said the information was provided by the State government and the MHA had not made any independent assessment.

On Thursday, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, while alleging that the Maharashtra incident was part of a design to target India, said in a tweet, “Please remember, Brahmin, Maratha, Rajput, Gujjar, Dalits or backwards [Backward Classes] are not on target. Caste would change with the place as India is on target.”

When asked about alleged Maoist links to the incident, Mr. Rijiju said, “I am not aware.”

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Politics

US Conveys A Way Out Of The Aid Blockade

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The United States has laid down a forthright criteria that it reiterates Pakistan must clear to qualify for US aid programs.

“Our expectations are straightforward,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning told reporters.

“Taliban and Haqqani leadership and attack planners should no longer be able to find safe haven or conduct operations from Pakistani soil.”

READ MORE: Trump’s irrational rants find Pakistan

Pakistan’s streets were filled with anti-Trump protests shorty after his tweet

Only last week, followed by a rather delirious tweet from President Trump, US froze over $900 million worth of ‘Coalition Support Funds,’ the coalition funding is set aside to refund Pakistani spending on counter-terrorism operations, on account of Pakistan’s intentionally not “doing enough” to target Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network.

The United States has also suspended the transfer of $1 billion worth of US military equipment that has always allowed Pakistan to acquaint itself with the latest advanced military technology.

“The United States has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take,” Manning said.

“We stand ready to work with Pakistan to combat terrorist groups without distinction. We will continue these conversations with the Pakistani government in private.”

According to Pakistani Newspaper DAWNPentagon officials are waiting to see if Pakistan is going to retaliate against the US by cutting supply lines to US troops from its port at Karachi into Afghanistan. So far, Manning said, there was no sign Islamabad was preparing to take that course of action. He stressed that the suspension of funding was not permanent “at this time” and that the money was not being diverted elsewhere.

Here’s what CIA’s Director had to say about Pakistan:

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Politics

The Cupid Strikes Imran Khan Once Again

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Are there going to be any wedding bells before the general elections?

Reports claim that chairman Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf Imran Khan is getting married again.

Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. PHOTO: FILE

Imran Khan and Bushra Maneka. PHOTO: FILE

PTI issues an official statement

After much pressure, PTI broke the ice by tweeting that their chairman hasn’t gotten married yet but had surely sent the marriage proposal to a very respectable and private lady named Bushra Maneka, a 50 years old Pir (spiritual guide), whom Imran Khan often visited for faith healing. As the marriage proposal hasn’t been accepted yet, it would be wrong to make assumptions just yet.

Chairman Secretariat, following the code of ethics, has also requested media and other parties to avoid any kind of exasperating comments and to respect the privacy of related persons in the meantime.

PTI’s official Twitter account issued a statement on 7th January, in which it was humbly requested not to take the news into the limelight until Imran Khan announces this news officially as it is a sensitive matter. Furthermore, the statement also declared the publishing of such a sensitive matter “unfortunate” and “regrettable.” 

Statement issued on PTI's official Twitter account

Statement issued on PTI’s official Twitter account

PTI leaders not happy

Umar Cheema, the man who first published the news of Imran Khan’s marriage, also published some absurd and highly unaccountable news stating that Mr. Khan had secretly married on January 1. Several other reports even claimed that the couple had tied the knot in Lahore and that the Nikkah ceremony was performed by Mufti Saeed, a prominent member of the PTI.

PTI, on the other hand, strictly calls for a halt to all the baseless news and articles that are going viral on social media and television. The second largest political party, moreover, went on to call the news as “propagated by Jang Group,” and even threatened to take “legal action” against Geo News and its CEO Mir Shakeel ur Rehman.

PTI leaders Shireen Mazari and Awn Chaudhry also rejected the news stating that it is ridiculous to spread such irrational stories without any proof. Shireen Mazari took upon Twitter to her feelings:

Who is Bushra Maneka?

Bushra Maneka

 According to Express News, she is around 50 years old and belongs to the influential Wattoo clan from Punjab’s Pakpattan district. She is known as Ms. Pinki in the area and is an spiritual guide.

The report says that Imran Khan first met Bushra, shortly before the 2015 by-election in Lodhran for the NA-154 seat. She has recently divorced her former husband Khawar Farid Maneka, a customs officer and son of former federal minister Ghulam Farid Maneka. Bushra is a mother of five; two sons and three daughters

While Bushra Manika takes her time regarding the wedding proposal of chairman PTI, it is our duty and responsibility to let her take her time and to decide in peace.

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Politics

Capital protest shakes Iran

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Iran braces

The reasons behind the protests

Iran’s capital has been left paralyzed by anti-government protests. The rebels have taken to the streets to protests the nation’s weak economy. After the Iran protests began on December 28th, protesters expanded their critiques towards Iran’s clerical rule, as well as rising food prices, falling wages, unemployment, and corruption. Unemployment in Iran sits at 12%, while unemployment among youth is around 28% inspiring many students to join the protests.

Although the rebels demand the government cease their squandering of resources abroad and instead invest in their own people in light of the economic difficulties, the actual setting running the protests seems to be following the same old pattern of the USA: divide, establish a dummy government, and rule.

President Donald Trump recently issued two delirious tweets, starting off the new year with threatening remarks against Pakistan and Iran. In his tweet regarding the Iranian Government, Donald Trump, “… the wealth of of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!” The same change the world saw in Libya, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

This month, Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, too, stated in a speech, “It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.”
At the moment the Iranian government is believed to be arming the Houthi rebels in Yemen as well as financing Hezbollah, an organization known for terrorism and trafficking.

Pro-government counter-protestors rise up across Iran

Pro-government counter-protesters across Iran marched Wednesday “in solidarity with the regime,” according to Iranian state media, in an attempt to neutralize what the country’s leaders have identified as “foreign agitators.”

“(Wednesday) is the day that the people are denouncing the recent events and the agitators (protestors),” the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Images on Iranian television channels Wednesday morning local time showed protestors in a variety of locations, waving Iranian flags and holding handwritten signs in support of the government, along with photos of the country’s rulers.
Counter-protests are a common reaction to anti-government dissent in Iran.
“Every time when we have a demonstration or riot there will be a backlash from pro-government institutes,” LA Times Tehran correspondent Ramin Moshtagim told the news channel CNN.
“The government has its own followers and supporters so (it’s) no surprise that they take the opportunity to show support for their government.”

Enter the US

President Trump has given full-throated support to the anti-government protesters in Iran. But the rising tide of unrest there complicates an already vexing decision for him: whether he should rip up the nuclear deal struck by President Barack Obama.

Starting in two weeks, Mr. Trump faces a series of deadlines on whether the United States should reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted as a result of the agreement. Mr. Trump has already disavowed the deal, and he warned Congress and European allies in October that if they did not improve its terms, “the agreement will be terminated.”

With little progress on that front, and signs of a crackdown in Iran, analysts worry that Mr. Trump’s patience will run out. But they fear that if he acts now, it would shift the blame from the Iranian government, which is besieged by the protests and charges of corruption, to the United States, which would be seen as forsaking an agreement with which Iran is complying, furthermore, the US Government will be exposed of carrying out propaganda.

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