South Asia Theater

Rural violence in India

Dozens of police in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh were killed when their forest outpost was raided by Maoist [Naxalite] rebels March 14. Fighting has intensified between leftist insurgents and police and paramilitary forces in vast swathes of central India. Over 50,000 people have been displaced by ongoing violence.

Pakistan: girl was poker debt bride

Police are seeking 10 men, including several tribal elders, accused of pressuring a Pakistani woman to hand over her teenage daughter as payment for a 16-year-old poker debt. Nooran Umrani of Hyderabad says that, despite paying off her late husband's debt of $165, she was threatened with harm if she failed to hand over her daughter, Rasheeda, 17. (AP, Feb. 27)

India: police torch homes in Northeast border dispute

Among the world's many escalating cycles of terror and militarization that fail to make headlines is that in Northeast India, the scene of multiple tribal and ethnic struggles which the government has long been attempting to crush or co-opt. We recently noted rising terror and repression in Assam state. Now the Assam violence is spilling across the border into Nagaland—where a tribal insurgency maintains a ceasefire in exchange for unofficial autonomy over their territory. In addition to the insurgencies, Delhi may soon be faced with an internal war between the two remote states. From Calcuta's The Telegraph, Feb. 20:

India: completion of Sardar Sarovar dam announced

Despite a long activist campaign against India's controversial Sardar Sarovar dam project on the Narmada River, authorities have just announced the project's completion. From Planet Ark World Environment News, Feb. 1:

AHMEDABAD - India completed construction of a highly ambitious and controversial dam on Sunday, nearly two decades after it launched the project environmental groups say will destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands.

Nepal: Madheshi people reject marginalization

Nepalese PM Girija Prasad Koirala has vowed to amend the country's constitution to meet the key demands of Madheshi protesters from the country’s southern plains, BBC News reported on Feb. 8. He pledged to introduce a federal system of governance and more representation of the southern plains in the parliament.

Taslima Nasrin: fundamentalism "destroying" Bangladesh

The current violent unrest in Bangladesh is generally portrayed (when the global media bother to take note of it at all) as a contest between the secular, left-leaning Awami League which governed until July 2001 and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has been ascendant since then in alliance with political Islam. But Taslima Nasrin, the dissident writer whose novels have been repeatedly banned by the government, says both parties have betrayed the country's founding secular values. From the Malaysia Sun, Jan. 11:

India: more ethnic terror in Assam

Since the beginning of the year we've been keeping track of ghastly acts of (non-Muslim) terrorism from around the world which the media have largely played down or completely ignored. The latest entry is from India's restive Northeast. From BBC News, Jan. 7:

Suspected separatist rebels have carried out more attacks on Hindi-speaking migrants in a third day of violence in India's Assam state.

Pakistan: rape laws challenged, Islamists exploit backlash

Now this is pretty depressing. Pakistan finally moves to overturn the atrocious anti-woman Hudood ordinances, under which women are punished for "adultery" if they report a rape. The Islamist opposition links backlash against this long-belated bit of progress with (legitimate) calls for democratization. This exemplifies how the US can do no good in this part of the world: the State Department doubtless pressured the Musharraf dictatorship to do away with the Hudood ordinances, to give Washington's GWOT ally a minimally plausible imprimatur of secularism. But because it happens in the context of a military regime being pressured by its imperial patron, this allows the would-be jihadist totalitarians to dress up their clerical reactionary agenda as a pro-democracy struggle. And even elements of the idiot left in the West get confused. From the Pakistan Tribune, Nov. 25:

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