Choking Free Voices

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
The Media in Pakistan has long faced the brunt of the all-powerful military establishment. Of late, with elections around the corner, there has been an intensification of the crackdown against journalists and news establishments. On June 6, 2018, The New York Times thus wrote
Continuing Justice
On May 10, 2018, the International Crimes Tribunal-1 (ICT-1) awarded the death sentence to war criminal Reaz Uddin Fakir (69), a member of the Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), for crimes committed during the Liberation War of 1971. According to the verdict, all the four charges brought against Reaz had been proved beyond any shadow of doubt. He was handed death sentences on two charges and a jail term until his death on two other charges. Reaz received a death sentence for murdering eight Hindu villagers in village Rishipara, Mymensingh District, on November 5, 1971. He was awarded the second death sentence for his complicity in murdering 43 villagers at Asimbazar, Bashdi and Valukjan, all under the Mymensingh District, on November 13, 1971. Reaz was handed a life term until death for murdering Abdul Mazid, Shahidullah Master, Jamshed Ali and two other unknown men at the Phulbaria town of Mymensingh District on August 25, 1971. He received the second life term until death for murdering three siblings, Altaf Ali Mondol, Taleb Ali Mondol and Sekander Ali Mondol, of village Bhalukjan in Mymensingh District on November 21, 1971.
Surviving the Motion
On April 4, 2018, Parliament comfortably defeated a No-Confidence Motion brought by the Joint Opposition group led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Of the 225 Members of Parliament (MPs), 122 MPs – 104 of the United National Party (UNP), 16 of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), and one each of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) – voted against the No-Confidence Motion.  76 MPs – 70 of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and six of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – voted in support of the No-Confidence Motion. Another 26 MPs including 25 SLFP MPs and one MP of the UNP absented themselves from the House during the vote. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, a UNP MP, did not vote. Significantly, it was the first No-Confidence Motion brought against the current National Unity Government, formed on August 20, 2015.
Balochistan: Insecure Security
At least 10 Policemen were killed and another 15 injured in two separate suicide attacks in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, on April 24, 2018. In the first incident, a suicide bomber drove his motorcycle into a Police truck, on Airport Road, killing seven Balochistan Constabulary. According to law enforcement sources, an estimated 20 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack. In a separate incident, three Frontier Corps (FC) personnel were killed and six were injured in the Mian Gundi area, when two suicide bombers targeted an FC check post in an attempt to enter the FC camp. Hizbul Ahrar, a splinter faction of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), claimed responsibility for both the attacks.
Pakistan: Minorities under Collusive Terror
At least two members of the Christian community, Rashid Khalid and Azhar Iqbal, were killed and another five were injured in a firing incident near a church in the Essa Nagri area of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, on April 15, 2018. Quetta’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Abdur Razzaq Cheema, stated that the incident occurred when worshippers were leaving after attending the Sunday service at the church. Islamic State (IS, also Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attack through the Amaq ‘news agency’, its propaganda wing.
Andhra Pradesh: Collapsing Movement
A woman cadre of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), identified as Irothu Sundaramma akaSadhana, carrying a reward of INR one million on her head, surrendered before the Superintendent of Police (SP), C.M. Trivikrama Varma, in Srikakulam District on March 17, 2018. Sadhana was involved in a number of Maoist-linked offenses, including an attack at National Aluminium Company (NALCO) Company at Damanjodi in the Koraput District of Odisha on April 12, 2009, in which 11 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were killed.
Tripura: Enduring Peace
Tripura once again remained as the most peaceful among the seven troubled States of India’s Northeastern region, in terms of insurgency-related violence, as the State Government continued the stabilization process through 2017. In 2017, the entire Northeastern region registered its lowest insurgency-linked fatalities since 1992 (103 – including 34 civilians, 13 Security Force (SF) personnel and 56 militants; SATP data available since 1992). Tripura and Mizoram did not account for a single such fatality in 2017.
Kerala: Nascent Threat
According to a February 15, 2018, report, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA) is likely is to include two Districts from Kerala – Palakkad and Malappuram – in its list of Districts affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in the country. Never in the past, has any District from Kerala been included in such a list. The last such list, released on July 18, 2017, included 106 Districts across 10 States, but made no mention of Kerala.
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