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)
Much of India was shut down Sept. 20 in a Bharat Bandh—an all-India general strike—called by opposition parties to protest new neoliberal economic measures by the center-left United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. The bandh was most widely observed in Calcutta and Bangalore, which were virtually paralyzed. The Confederation of Indian Industry estimated losses of over $2 billion to the national economy. At issue was the UPA government's decision to hike fuel prices and allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector—which the opposition charges will allow foreign-owend box-store chains to squeeze out local businesses. WalMart, reacting swiftly to the government announcement, has already announced plans to open outlets in India in the coming months.
A months-long civil disobedience campaign against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) at Idinthakarai village, Tirunelveli district, in southern India's Tamil Nadu state, turned violent on Sept. 10 when the police used teargas and baton charges against protesters at a checkpoint near the plant. Protesters later massed at police stations, and set police barricades on fire at another checkpoint, and the uprising spread to neighboring districts. One man was killed when police fired on protesters who attempted to storm the police station in Manapadu village of Thoothukudi district.
An Indian court in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's main city, on Aug. 29 convicted 32 individuals for their roles in the deaths of 95 people during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Among the convicted was Maya Kodnani, the minister of education and child welfare in the Gujarat government, who was arrested in 2009 on charges of murder and criminal conspiracy. She resigned from her office when she was arrested but remained as the member of the state's legislative assembly. The riots began following the death of 60 Hindus in a fire aboard a train for which Muslims were blamed. The riots resulted in death of more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims. With the conviction, the court acquitted 29 other defendants. The court is expected to announce the sentences imminently.
In his inaugural speech July 25, India's new president, Pranab Mukherjee, called the fight against terrorism the "fourth world war," and portrayed his own country as a frontline state. Said Mukherjee: "We are in the midst of a fourth world war; the third was the Cold War, but it was very warm in Asia, Africa and Latin America till it ended in the early 1990s. The war against terrorism is the fourth. India has been on the frontline of this war long before many others recognised its vicious depth or consequences." (Hindustan Times, July 25)
Regional security has been seen as the biggest challenge for the planned trans-Afghan gas pipeline—officially the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project, which would pass the war-torn Afghan provinces of Herat and Kandahar as well as Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province. But recent reports of a rival pipeline project being negotiated between China, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan may pose a more fundamental threat to the TAPI. On June 6-8, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperations Organization summit in Beijing, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and China National Petroleum Corporation's (CNPC) head Jiang Jiemin to discuss the proposal. CNPC offered to conduct a technical and economic feasibility study for the proposed project on Afghan and Tajik territories. That the route would avoid the conflicted Pashtun-dominated areas of southern Afghanistan, making the project more attractive for investors. India's Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses says the Chinese pipeline could undermine the TAPI "akin to the manner in which TAPI played spoiler to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project." (IDSA, July 31)