India is protesting what it calls an incursion by some 30 Chinese troops from across the Line of Actual Control in the Himalayas. New Delhi says the troops entered from Tibet on April 15, and established an encampment 10 kilometers within India-controlled territory, in Depsang valley of Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir state. Chinese helicopters also reportedly entered India's airspace. Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid is to visit Beijing next month to discuss the border tensions, but China denies its troops have entered Indian territory.
In a landmark ruling April 18, India's Supreme Court today rejected an appeal to allow Vedanta Resources to mine the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa state. The court decreed that those most affected by the proposed mine should have a decisive say in whether it goes ahead, recognizing the rights of the Dongria Kondh indigenous people. The decision found that the traditional land rights of the local residents must be "protected and preserved." The project is now suspended until a traditional community assembly, or gram sabha, of the impacted villages can be held to assess the project.
Tehran and Islamabad will sign an agreement March 11 for Iran to build the largest refinery in Pakistan, a $4 billion facility at Gwadar in the country's southwestern Balochistan province. (See map.) The refinery, projected to handle 400,000 barrels per day, will be linked to the planned Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, with an extension to western China envisioned. China last month took over operational control of Gwadar's port, where a major expansion is planned. China's Great United Petroleum Holdings Company (GUPC) has agreed to conduct the feasibility study for a "petrochemical city" project in Gwadar. A pipeline from Gwadar to China would reduce the time and distance for oil transport from the Persian Gulf to Chinese markets. (Asia Times, March 6)
Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri militant who received the death penalty for participating in the 2001 attack on India's parliament, was executed on Feb. 9. Guru was hanged after India's president, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, turned down his plea for clemency. Following Guru's execution, India's government imposed a curfew in the India-controlled section of Kashmir and deployed hundreds of police in anticipation of protests and potentially violent clashes. A group of 400 protesters gathered in the Kashmiri city of Muzzafarabad vowing to continue Guru's mission. Guru's hanging was only the second execution carried out by India's government since 2004, with the other being Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, a gunman in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, who was executed in November.
Following a series of raids on the strongholds of Naxalite rebels and the slaying of top commanders, authorities say the guerillas' leaders have taken refuge in India's northeastern hinterlands, seeking to regroup and resupply—through control of opium production in their traditional strongholds. Home Ministry Joint Secretary MA Ganapathy said that Naxalites in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh are producing opium in their jungle territories. "Intelligence reports say that the Maoists have joined hands with drug cartels to cultivate opium, which is subsequently delivered to the mafia, who convert raw opium into heroin and smuggle the drug outside the country," he said. The proceeds are reportedly used to purchase weapons in the northeast that come across the border from Burma.
The deadly gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus in Delhi has sparked outrage across India. But it remains to be seen if the protest movement will address the institutionalized use of rape to enforce India's caste system. Since the notorious Delhi case, horrendous incidents against low-caste women and girls have been reported in India's press—but have failed to galvanize the same outcry. A 15-year-old Dalit ("untouchable") girl was apparently held captive and repeatedly raped for 15 days by three men in Dharauli village in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. The incident was reported after she was "freed" on Dec. 30. According to police the girl went missing on Dec. 14 while going to school.
The only surviving shooter from the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks was executed at a prison in India Nov. 21 hours after President Pranab Mukherjee finally rejected the gunman's clemency appeal. Pakistani national Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was hanged and buried in the prison yard in the central Indian city of Pune just days before the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks. Kasab was convicted in May 2010 on more than 80 charges of waging war against India, multiple murders and conspiracy for his participation in the attacks, during which the group of gunmen killed more than 160 people in three days of targeted assaults on luxury hotels, Mumbai's main railway station and a Jewish cultural center.
Authorities in Bangladesh say Muslim rioters over the weekend torched at least a dozen Buddhist temples and some 50 homes, in Cox's Bazar district near the Burmese border (Chittagong division, see map). Authorities said the attacks were prompted by a photo posted on Facebook that showed a local Buddhist trampling on a Koran. (Mizzima, Oct. 2; ANI, Sept. 30) After the rioting, more than 100 Buddhist monks protested at the Bangladeshi embassy in Rangoon, Burma, where a banner read "No Terrorist Muslim War on Religions." Hundreds of Buddhist monks also demonstrated in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (AP, Oct. 5; VOA, Oct. 4)