Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today's news article

Today’s link is to an article from “The Daily Mail”.


It talks about the work of photographer Nicolas Chorier, who has come with an interesting method of taking photos: he mounts the camera on a kite, flies it up into the air & takes photos from a quite unique perspective.


He’s produced a book called “A Kite’s Eye View” which has stunning photos of India:




Enjoy the article & the photos:


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recently Spotted

These signs have recently popped up around the city of Delhi whenever the police set up their random roadblocks/traffic chaos measures

I feel so much better now:

Party in Delhi

Last night, we went to a party hosted by one of the DFAT folks.

The theme was “Dude! I don’t belong here!!”

Enjoy the photos:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What's in the news today

Today’s articles are from “The Guardian”:

India's clothing workers: 'They slap us and call us dogs and monkeys'

Human rights tribunal hears allegations of abuse and low pay against clothing companies that supply high street stores

Suma, of the Karnataka Garment Workers Union, gave evidence on human rights abuses. Photograph: Gethin Chamberlain for the Observer

Workers making clothes that end up in the stores of the biggest names on the British high street have testified to a shocking regime of abuse, threats and poverty pay. Many workers in Indian factories earn so little that an entire month's wages would not buy a single item they produce.

Physical and verbal abuse is rife, while female workers who fail to meet impossible targets say they are berated, called "dogs and donkeys", and told to "go and die". Many workers who toil long hours in an attempt to support their families on poverty wages claim they are cheated out of their dues by their employers.

The allegations, which will be of concern to household names including Gap, H&M, Next and Walmart, were made at a human rights tribunal in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. The "national people's tribunal for living wages and decent working conditions for garment workers" was convened to investigate widespread human rights abuses in the garment industry.

Sakamma, a 42-year-old mother-of-two working for Gap supplier Texport in Bengaluru, told the tribunal she earned just 22p an hour and that when she finished at the factory she had to work as a domestic help to top up her wages.

"It hurts us to be paid so little. I have to do this and they sell one piece of clothing for more than I get paid in a month," she said. "We cannot eat nutritious food. We don't have a good life, we live in pain for the rest of our life and die in pain.

"Low wages is the main reason. How much burden can a woman take? Husband, children, house and factory work – can we manage all these with such a meagre salary? So we are caught up in the debt trap. Is there no solution for our problem?"

Like many of the women giving evidence, she said workers faced abuse if they failed to meet quotas. "The targets are too high. They want 150 pieces an hour. When we can't meet the targets, the abuse starts. There is too much pressure; it is like torture. We can't take breaks or drink water or go to the toilet. The supervisors are on our backs all the time," she said. "They call us donkey, owl [a creature associated with evil], dog and insult us … make us stand in front of everyone, tell us to go and die."

According to Indian government figures, the national textile industry is worth £35bn a year and employs 35 million people. Garment exports are worth £21bn. But human rights campaigners accuse international brands of subcontracting to firms paying poverty wages to the people who make their clothes.

A spokesperson for Texport denied setting unachievable targets and said abuse of workers was not tolerated. Gap said: "These allegations describe conduct that violates our Code of Vendor Conduct. We are looking into this matter and will take appropriate action with our vendors, depending on our findings."

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), which organised the tribunal, wants companies to pay a minimum living wage of 12,096 rupees (£138) a month, equivalent to 58p an hour. But the tribunal heard that a factory supplying Gap and Next paid as little as 26p an hour. The supplier – Pearl Global, based in Gurgaon, in Haryana state – admits it has underpaid workers for overtime and has required them to work illegally long hours, but said it had now repaid them. It insists it complies with the legal minimum wage, though evidence submitted to the tribunal by one worker indicated that he was paid below the legal rate.

Pearl Global was first exposed by the Observer for rights abuses in 2010 when it traded as House of Pearl, but it has continued to operate and supply the brands under its new name.

Many workers at the tribunal claimed that long hours and poor health and safety conditions made them ill. One worker said that a colleague was electrocuted by a bare wire last year in a factory supplying Gap. Ashok Kumar Singh, 29, who works for Gap supplier Modelama Exports in Gurgaon, gave evidence that he was paid just 5,097 rupees a month (24.6p an hour), although the legal minimum rate for his job was 5,300 rupees.

He said workers were taught to lie to auditors sent to check up on working conditions.

"Before a visit they gather all the workers around and tell them what to say. If we don't say what we are told, we are fired," he said, adding that some workers had been dismissed after complaining to auditors about conditions.

Workers who failed to meet targets were verbally and physically abused, he said. "They call us motherfuckers and push us around and some people get slapped by supervisors and managers," he said. "I feel the companies look at the workers like enemies."

The tribunal, in front of an international jury, took evidence in person from workers and will consider written evidence compiled at regional hearings.

Gap and Next were accused of using suppliers that paid below the minimum legal wage, paid below the legal rate for overtime, and required workers to work excessive and illegal overtime. They also faced allegations, along with H&M and Walmart, of using suppliers that verbally abused staff, while there were allegations of physical abuse against a supplier for Gap, H&M and Walmart.

H&M sent representatives to the tribunal and insisted it was committed to improving working conditions. "The social and environmental responsibility that we take puts H&M's sustainability work ahead of the field in the fashion industry worldwide," said a spokeswoman. "We clearly see these issues as industry problems that need to be addressed at industry level by government, suppliers, trade unions, workers, buyers, etc."

A spokesman for Next said: "Next identified that Pearl Global was falling well short of the group's standard codes of practice in 2010. As a result, Next ceased using this supplier in 2011, after making a determined effort to bring about major change at Pearl Global.

Next last reviewed the supplier in July, when the decision to remain disengaged from it was maintained. Next has no plans to recommence manufacturing at Pearl Global."

Anannya Bhattacharjee, international co-ordinator for the AFWA, told the tribunal that despite the recession the garment industry continued to bring in profits. She said workers continued to suffer "shocking, inhuman conditions" and were being paid poverty wages. "Nothing can be more important than a decent living wage for workers working day and night to clothe the world.".

  • © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


India claims disputed borderlands with China in row over passports

Embassy's new stamp for Chinese passport-holders comes after China began using map that claimed Taiwan and South China Sea

The map on page 8 of the new Chinese passport has prompted neighbouring countries to lodge diplomatic complaints Photograph: He Yuan/EPA

The Indian embassy in Beijing has begun stamping Chinese visas with a map showing disputed border territory between the two countries as belonging to India.

The move comes in apparent retaliation to China's newly revised passports, which shows Arunachal Pradesh state and the Himalayan region of Aksai Chin as Chinese territory.
India's external affairs minister Salman Khurshid has described the Chinese passport map as "unacceptable."

China is a longtime weapons supplier to Pakistan, and as such is viewed in New Delhi with deep suspicion. While for Beijing, the presence on Indian soil of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and 120,000 other exiles from Tibet, is a source of resentment.

According to New Delhi, China controls 16,000 square miles of India's territory in Aksai Chin in Kashmir, while China claims that the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which shares a 650-mile border with the Beijing-run region of Tibet, is rightfully Chinese territory.

India and China fought a month-long border war in 1962. Long stretches of the India-China border remain undemarcated, and despite 15 rounds of talks, territorial disputes remain unresolved.

Inside the new Chinese passports, an outline of China printed in the upper left corner also includes Taiwan and the South China sea, hemmed in by dashes. The change highlights China's longstanding claim to the sea in its entirety, though parts of the waters also are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

  • © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Farwell High Commissioner

Today’s article is from “The Australian” & discusses the imminent departure (this week) of our High Commissioner, Peter Varghese, who leaves to take up his new role as Secretary – DFAT:


India relationship beyond cricket


  • by: Amanda Hodge, South Asia Correspondent
  • From: The Australian
  • November 24, 2012 12:00AM
Prime Minister Julia Gillard poses with Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese in New Delhi during her recent visit. Picture: Prime Minister's office Source: Supplied

AMID the faded charms of a Bombay movie house this week, Australia's outgoing high commissioner to India watched alongside Bollywood's biggest stars as the late Perth-born stunt queen Fearless Nadia upended villains and liberated villagers from feudalism.

Peter Varghese's swansong - the thoughtful and diverse Oz Fest cultural festival, of which the Fearless Nadia re-screening was a headline event - is as much glamour as the career public servant has seen in his three-year tenure in New Delhi, or is likely to see in his next five years as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Nadia, born Mary Ann Evans, has become a totemic figure in the new era of Australia-India engagement, her fame as a whip-wielding, blonde Hindi film heroine of the 1930s perhaps useful evidence that our historic cultural links go beyond cricket and British imperial rule.

Yet, as Australia's rather less flashy representative in India, Varghese, 56, has pulled off some impressive feats of his own. Most notable has been the resetting and strengthening of a relationship that last month's Asian Century white paper recognised will be crucial to Australia's future.

His term as high commissioner has seen off the two biggest obstacles to better relations: rancour over attacks on Indian students and the Labor Party's refusal to sell uranium to India, which remains outside the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Julia Gillard announced an end to the uranium ban to widespread appreciation last month during a visit in which she also "added flesh to the bones" of the strategic partnership, with an agreement that the two prime ministers should meet annually. Varghese believes that visit marked a turning point in the relationship from repair work to building phase.

His legacy is a bilateral relationship in better condition than that in which he found it. Now that he is tasked with steering DFAT through the Asian Century, that can only be a good thing.

The former head of the Office of National Assessments, and a former senior foreign policy adviser to prime minister John Howard, stepped into the high commissioner's role at one of the lowest points in the relationship, as Australia's reputation in India was shredded by a series of attacks on Indian students.

Much was made at the time of his Indian heritage - he is Kenyan-born to south Indian parents - though when he arrived in 2009 his sum experience in India was three months as a 17-year-old backpacker and a few subsequent government trips.

Cynics suggested Varghese was an Indian face parachuted into the job as an emergency measure. In fact, he had asked for the job in 2007, convinced the room for growth in the "underdone" relationship provided a wonderful professional opportunity. By the time it came his way it was more like a poisoned chalice.

"The student safety issue was peaking as I was arriving. To deal with that, not just in the media but in day-to-day interactions with Indians at all levels, was difficult because it required a very patient explanation of what was happening in Australia, often in an environment where you were dealing with people who had made up their minds based on what they had seen on TV.

"Every time you went out to a dinner party - and you go to lots of those - you would get a constant stream of questions or, if less polite, harangues. That's the business of diplomacy. If all you had was good times you're probably not doing your job. Or you're incredibly lucky."

Like his predecessor John McCarthy - another respected diplomat with a reputation for poise and calm - Varghese forged a straight path through the storm with a determined public diplomacy campaign, an unfailing politeness and an eye on the longer-term goal.

Varghese insists that even at its worst both countries recognised that their converging interests - Australia can supply what India needs - were constrained only by awkward political dialogue over uranium and student safety. The relationship is now "uncluttered by obstacles".

Energy exports to India, in coal but later perhaps also natural gas and uranium, are running strong, as are partnerships in green technology, skills training, education, science and defence. And Varghese believes the pace of Indian migration to Australia - India is now our largest source of migration - has helped expand trade and will also broaden the relationship "in dimensions completely outside of government". But for Varghese the best marker of the relationship's growth is that both countries are finding common ground in institutions such as the G20 and East Asia Summit.

He rejects "outdated" notions that India views Australia as a second-order partner, though acknowledges the relationship will probably never be an alliance (such as that with Britain or the US) given India's historical preference for "strategic autonomy" - diplomatic speak for fence-sitting.

Rather, he believes, as India's interests pull it further towards East Asia it increasingly recognises Australia as a useful strategic partner in its own right. "The fact we now have a dialogue with the East Asia Summit, that we sit and talk together about East Asia issues, is recognition of that. We're both very focused on strategic stability." (At this month's summit in Cambodia both countries sought to lower regional tensions over access to South China Sea islands.)

Varghese recognises his has been a charmed career. He joined the foreign service in 1979 and served in plum posts in Vienna, Washington, Tokyo and Malaysia. As ONA chief, and even in his time as Indian high commissioner, he inherited budgets on the rise. In Delhi he has overseen an 85 per cent increase in the size of the mission, the opening of six trade offices and the expansion of two consulates.

But he takes on a DFAT with decidedly little fat and the likelihood of still further budget cuts. Varghese says he had no input into the white paper, but agrees with its message that stronger Asia relationships can only come through broader engagement.

He cites as a perfect example the public diplomacy campaign in India designed to overturn negative sentiments about Australia (from urgent media troubleshooting to the Oz Fest arts and culture extravaganza). "It was always going to be necessary to give India a more rounded and modern sense of Australia. If you want a serious relationship with any country you really need to have communication at a people-to-people level, which means you need a pretty clear understanding of each other."

Keen India watchers such as the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalf, himself a former Delhi-based diplomat, say Varghese's influence on the white paper is obvious by virtue of India's significance in it. He credits Varghese with "guiding the relationship's historic transition to a strategic partnership" through the student crisis as well as the challenges of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, which gave rise to the unflattering acronym "I'll Never Do It Again".

Medcalf agrees Gillard's Delhi visit last month marked a "breakthrough" in the relationship. But it was also a crowning achievement for Varghese, who engenders widespread goodwill among diplomats and public servants. Varghese says the white paper will guide his strategy for the neighbourhood, but not at the expense of a robust diplomatic presence across the world.

"I have always seen my job a little bit like house renovations," he says. "You inherit a structure and try to improve it to the extent you can. Sometimes you get an opportunity to do big renovations and sometimes you might only do a paint job."

Copyright 2011 News Limited. All times AEST (GMT +10).

Happier news

What's making the news today

Today’s articles continue the discussion about the execution of Ajmal Kasab. It’s very big news here at the moment. The first article is from “The Australian”, the second is from “The Diplomat” & the remainder from “The Guardian”:

Mumbai killer Ajmal Kasab hanged 'for political gain'

  • by: Amanda Hodge, South Asia correspondent
  • From: The Australian
  • November 23, 2012 12:00AM
INDIA'S government has been forced to defend its timing for the hanging of Mumbai terrorist Ajmal Kasab this week against accusations from opposition parties and Pakistan that it rushed the execution for political mileage.

The Congress-led administration is now under pressure to hasten the execution of at least one other death row inmate, Afzal Guru, convicted and sentenced eight years ago for the 2001 deadly bombing of India's national parliament in New Delhi.

Kasab was hanged on Wednesday morning at Pune's Yerwada jail under a strict cloak of secrecy, with an announcement made more than an hour after his burial within the prison grounds.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has questioned the decision by President Pranab Mukherjee, formerly the government's long-standing finance minister, to skip the queue and reject Kasab's mercy plea, though his was the last petition received.

Pakistani media too questioned the timing, with conservative English-language newspaper The Nation, a mouthpiece of Pakistan's security apparatus, suggesting it was a "well-thought plan by India's 'deep state security apparatus' to unleash a propaganda campaign against Pakistan's ISI".

In India, The Indian Express regretted the taint of political expediency over the execution in an editorial that blamed both sides of politics for attempting to gain mileage from the issue.

"Each day (Kasab) spent in prison was sought to be projected as the weakness of a terrorist-appeasing government," it read. "The government, in turn, visibly equivocated and spoke of queues.

"In such a context, the timing of the execution could be read as politically expedient for a besieged government poised on the edge of a crucial parliamentary session."

Kasab's execution, after a two-year trial and appeals process, represents particularly swift justice in India, where the legal system can take years if not decades.

In a curious defence of the timing, newly-appointed Foreign Minister Salman Kurshid explained it as an administrative clearing of the decks by a new president not wishing to be burdened by old issues.

"Why it happened now is the change of office from one president to another," he said. "A new president wanting to start with a sense of purpose and not wanting to continue burdened with files that were obviously in the presence of the office for a while."

Mr Kurshid said he hoped Kasab's hanging would prompt Pakistan to bring to justice those suspected of training and directing the 10 Pakistani gunmen during the three-day siege of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

He said Pakistan's delay in handing over evidence, including voice samples taken from conversations between the gunmen and their handlers, would not set back relations between the neighbours.


By Rajeev Sharma
November 23, 2012

On the morning of November 21, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government executed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. What is striking about the execution of Kasab, a Pakistani national, was that it was carried out in almost complete secrecy.

This is all the more remarkable when one considers that this is the first time in the history of independent India that a foreigner has been executed in the country. Politically speaking, Kasab’s hanging is a development fraught with deep foreign and domestic implications.

The government accorded budget-level secrecy to Kasab’s hanging and the news of his execution came as a complete surprise to all but a few top officials. In fact, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters that even UPA Chairwoman Sonia Gandhi was not informed of the execution beforehand.

To the public, the execution seemed unlikely even while the Indian government secretly began its “Operation Kasab” several weeks ago. Sources said President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected Kasab’s mercy plea on November 5 (though this was only made public recently) and signed the necessary orders. This was followed by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and the government of the Indian state of Maharashtra, where Kasab was excuted, also signing the necessary orders on November 7 and 8, respectively. About a week later Union Home Secretary RK Singh formally told Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in a letter that the decision on Kasab’s execution had been made while ordering that the convict’s family in Pakistan to be notified. Kasab himself was informed of the decision on November 12; 9 days before his hanging. On the night of November 19 he was moved from Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail to Pune’s Yerawada jail, which is authorized to host executions.

Kasab’s execution also had international consequences. For example, just days before the Indian government opposed a non-binding UN resolution against the death penalty that no less than 130 countries, with some countries, such as the U.S., lending their support to the resolution despite the fact that they employ capital punishment at home.  

A more delicate matter was how to handle the situation with Pakistan, which Kasab was a citizen of. India informed Pakistan of the impeding execution on Tuesday, the day before the execution, but Pakistan has not acknowledged this communication at the time of this writing. Indeed, Pakistani officials stationed in India refused to accept a formal letter from Indian officials about the imminent hanging, forcing the latter to fax a copy of it to Pakistan.


Pakistani Taliban demand return of Mumbai terrorist's body

Group threatens revenge against India unless body of executed Mohammad Ajmal Kasab is given to familyback

  • Associated Press in Peshawar
  • guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 November 2012 10.35 GMT
Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was executed by India. Photograph: Reuters

The Pakistani Taliban have threatened revenge unless India returns the body of a Pakistani man executed for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

Spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan demanded that Mohammad Ajmal Kasab's body be given back to his family or handed over to the Taliban.

"If his body is not given to us or his family, we will, God willing, carry on his mission," Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location. "We will take revenge for his murder."

India secretly hanged Kasab on Wednesday and buried his body at the jail in the city of Pune where he was executed.

Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said on Wednesday that the government would consider any request from the Pakistani government or Kasab's family to hand over his body, but no such request had been received.

Kasab was the lone surviving gunman from the three-day attack in Mumbai, India's financial capital, which targeted two luxury hotels, a Jewish centre, a tourist restaurant and a crowded train station.

The nine other gunmen were killed during the siege.

The attackers entered Mumbai by boat on 26 November, 2008, carrying cellphones, grenades and automatic weapons. Their rampage through the city was broadcast live on television, transfixing the nation and the world.

It severely damaged relations between Pakistan and India, nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought three major wars against each other.

After Kasab was captured, an Indian judge sentenced him to death in May 2010 for waging war against India, murder and terrorism, among other charges. Kasab confessed that the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the Mumbai attack.

The gunmen were in regular phone contact with handlers in Pakistan during the siege.

Indian officials accuse Pakistan's intelligence agency of working with Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan the attack – an allegation Islamabad denies.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was formed with the help of Pakistani intelligence over two decades ago to put pressure on India over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan has since banned the group but has seemingly done little to crack down on the militants. Many analysts believe they still have state support.

Unlike Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani Taliban have focused their fight against the Pakistani government, not India. The group has rarely spoken out about issues related to India, making its comments about Kasab unusual.

Ahsan, the Taliban spokesman, said the group was unsure whether Kasab was working on behalf of Pakistani intelligence, as the Indians claim, which would make him suspect in the eyes of the Taliban.

"If he was used by someone, then it was between him and God," said Ahsan. "If he did all this to please God and was not used by someone, we will complete his mission."

India offered no official comment on the Taliban's threat. However, an Indian government official said it will be a test for the Pakistani government to see whether it will allow its soil to be used again for an attack on India.

India has complained that Pakistan is not doing enough to crack down on the militants responsible for the Mumbai attack. Seven people including Lashkar-e-Taiba's chief military commander, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, are facing trial in Pakistan for suspected links to the attack. But the proceedings have moved very slowly.

  • © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


Mumbai terror attacks: surviving gunman hanged in India

Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab is executed in Pune in India's first use of death penalty since 2004

  • The Guardian,

  • Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab during the attacks on Mumbai in November 2008. Photograph: Sebastian D'souza/AP

    Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only gunman to have survived the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, has been hanged in the central Indian city of Pune and buried in the prison yard.

    The execution – carried out days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks – was the first in India since 2004 and only the third in the past 17 years. The Indian minister for home affairs, Sushil Kumar Shinde, announced the execution, saying the president, Pranab Mukherjee, had turned down Kasab's appeal for clemency. "It was decided then that on 21 November at 7.30 in the morning he would be hanged. That procedure has been completed today," Shinde told reporters on Wednesday morning.

    Kasab, 24, was the only survivor of the group of gunmen who killed more than 160 people over three days in a string of attacks targeting luxury hotels, a railway station, tourist cafes and a Jewish centre. A photograph of Kasab walking through Mumbai's main railway station with an AK-47 assault rifle and a rucksack crammed with ammunition became an enduring image of the attack.

    Sachin Kalbag, editor of Mumbai's popular MidDay newspaper, said news of the execution had brought "considerable relief across the city and joy in some pockets where the most murders were committed.

    "Any happiness is not over the execution but because there is now some kind of closure for the families of those who died that day," he said.

    Leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba – the extremist group blamed by India for the attacks – said Kasab "was a hero and will inspire other fighters to follow his path".

    The Pakistan Taliban said they were shocked by the hanging. "There is no doubt that it's very shocking news and a big loss that a Muslim has been hanged on Indian soil," a spokesman told Reuters.

    Others in Pakistan said the execution of Kasab would make it harder to prosecute those who co-ordinated the attack by mobile phone from a house in Karachi, the southern Pakistani port city.

    "If we are to go after the network we have to have living evidence, but now we only have what is in the files," said Khalid Munir, a retired army colonel. "[Kasab] may have only been an operator, a foot soldier for those guiding him, but he could have given more information, given evidence in the Pakistani courts. The Bombay case ends here," he said.

    Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, has in the past said the country has been unable to take action against Hafiz Saeed, the cleric accused of heading Lashkar-e-Taiba, because evidence provided by India is "vague and insufficient". Delhi has denied the claim.

    Talat Masood, a former general, said the more important problem was a lack of political will in Pakistan. "If they were really determined they could punish these people, but the problem is the weakness of the state," he said. "They think that at the moment they can't afford an angry reaction from the militants."

    Pakistan has denied that its security agencies are in any way connected to the attack and says it is prosecuting seven suspected militants for their role.

    Testimony to American and Indian investigators from David Headley, a Pakistani-American involved in the plot, implicated junior officials within the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's main military security agency. There was no evidence that senior officials had knowledge of the plot, or at least its full extent, Headley indicated.

    Human rights groups criticised the execution. "The hanging of Ajmal Kasab marks a concerning end to [India's] moratorium on capital punishment. Instead of resorting to the use of execution to address heinous crime, India should join the rising ranks of nations that have taken the decision to remove the death penalty from their legal frameworks," said Meenakshi Ganguly, the south Asia director of the campaign group Human Rights Watch.

    On Tuesday a United Nations committee adopted a draft resolution calling for a moratorium on capital punishment. India was among 36 countries – including Pakistan, the US, Singapore, Egypt, Japan, China and Sri Lanka – who opposed the resolution, citing the right of each sovereign nation to decide its own legal system.

    Few analysts thought the killing of Kasab would interfere with political efforts in Delhi and Islamabad to improve relations between the two countries. On Tuesday the Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, ratified a long-planned relaxation of visa requirements for Indians travelling in Pakistan.

    Indian analysts, however, say a repeat attack like that of 2008 could bring about a war between the two countries and criticise precautions taken to prevent such an attack. The absence of sectarian violence after the attack has been seen as a testament to the strength of India's secular democracy. Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, who runs the Delhi-based English-language Milli Gazette newspaper, said Indian Muslims had no "concern" for Kasab. "Any terrorist should be hanged. He should have been executed long ago," Khan told the Guardian.

    • This article was amended on 22 November 2012 because the original described the Milli Gazette as an Urdu-language newspaper

    • © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


    Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab: film-loving boy who became mass killer

    Mumbai gunman, who has been hanged in India, remembered as a baby-faced, playful teenager before his radicalisation

    • Reuters in New Delhi
    • guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 November 2012 14.01 GMT

    Indians in Gauhati celebrate the news of the execution of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab. Photograph: Anupam Nath/AP

    When police asked Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab whether he felt pity for the people he gunned down during one of India's bloodiest militant attacks, he said he had given it some thought beforehand. He had been told "you have to do these things if you're going to be a big man and get rewarded in heaven", according to video footage of his interrogation, in which he talked of his training and handlers.

    Captured as he tried to escape in a stolen car, Kasab was the only survivor among 10 gunmen who killed 166 people on a three-day rampage across Mumbai in 2008, spraying bullets and throwing grenades as they hit some of the city's most famous landmarks.
    Kasab was hanged in secret on Wednesday in the western city of Pune, just days before the fourth anniversary of the attacks. He had no last request. Friends in his home village in Pakistan's Punjab province remember a boisterous, playful boy who loved films and karate. His aunt said she was proud of him.

    But the film of Kasab as a baby-faced youth toting an AK-47 on a killing spree at a crowded Mumbai railway station, became the face of the carnage often described as India's 9/11. The violence, which India blames on the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, temporarily ruptured a fragile peace process between the traditional foes.

    Kasab was charged with 86 offences, including murder and waging war against the Indian state, as part of a charge-sheet that filled more than 11,000 pages. The twists and turns of his trial captivated a country that remained in fear of further attacks.

    "For the lives of the innocents who were killed in the attacks perpetrated by Mr Kasab, justice has been done," Sanjeev Dayal, director general of Maharashtra police, told Reuters. "Their souls may now find some solace."

    At the start of his trial, Kasab smiled and occasionally broke into laughter. He initially confessed to the killings, only to later retract his statements and claim he had travelled to Mumbai in the hope of landing a Bollywood film role.

    Reports of his tantrums while in prison, including throwing his prison food into the bin and demanding mutton biryani, sparked outrage in the Indian media.

    "Though Kasab has been hanged, our sorrows continue and we have to live a painful life," said Kalpana Shah, the wife of a property developer who was killed in the attacks. "It was such a cruel incident. But what can be done? We have to live with it," she said, wiping back tears.

    Kasab was from the village of Faridkot, Punjab – Pakistan's farming belt. Indian authorities say he was born in 1987, although his age became the subject of a dispute at the trial, as his lawyers argued he was not even 17 during the attacks and should be tried in a juvenile court.

    A former classmate, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Kasab had left his village in search of work when he was a poor teenage labourer. Another schoolmate remembers taking karate lessons with him.

    Haji Mohammad Aslam, Kasab's neighbour who owns a shop where his family lived, said: "He comes from a very humble but noble, honest family. His father was a street vendor selling snacks on a cart. Kasab did not send any money home and his family is still as poor as they were before he left. He was probably trapped by some religious group.

    "He was very active, always jumping around. He loved watching films," Aslam said. "He would stay out until midnight watching TV in shops and street restaurants. He grew up in our hands; he was a playful boy and it's not possible that he did all this."

    According to investigators, Kasab said he had undergone months of commando-style training in an Islamist training camp organised by Lashkar-e-Taiba and conducted by a former member of the Pakistani army. Lashkar made its name fighting Indian rule in Kashmir but was also blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that brought the two nuclear-armed rivals close to a fourth war.

    Kasab was one of a squad of 10 who entered Mumbai on three inflatable speedboats shortly after dusk on 26 November 2008. The group had sailed across the Arabian Sea from Karachi for days, hijacking an Indian trawler on their way and killing its crew. The group fanned out, attacking targets including two luxury hotels, a bar popular with tourists, and a Jewish centre.

    Kasab was filmed walking through the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a grand train station and Unesco world heritage site, shooting nearly 60 people and leaving them to die in pools of blood.

    An effigy of Kasab, with a noose around his neck, was hung from the entrance gate of the station by a rightwing local party. A crowd of about 30 shouted "Pakistan murdabad" (death to Pakistan) as they beat the effigy, which had shoes hung around its shoulders.

    In contrast, a senior commander of Lashkar celebrated Kasab as a "hero" who would inspire others to follow in his footsteps. "This news is hell for us," Shahnaz Sughra, Kasab's aunt, told Reuters. " … Even if he did something wrong, we just want his body.

    Even if he did something wrong, I am proud that he taught the enemy a lesson in their own country."

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