Outrage as Indian minister suggests opponents be ‘tied under jets’

The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the opposition. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 06 March 2019
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Outrage as Indian minister suggests opponents be ‘tied under jets’

  • The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Modi’s Hindu nationalist party with the opposition

NEW DELHI: Indian opposition leaders who question the country’s bombing raid on Pakistan last week should be tied under fighter jets and dropped like bombs when they stage a new mission, a government minister said Wednesday.
The comments inflamed an already bitter showdown between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the opposition over its claims that he has used the military strike to boost his standing ahead of a national election.
The BJP has given conflicting accounts about the success of the air raid on a militant camp run by a group blamed for a February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir that left 40 Indian paramilitaries dead.
Twelves days later Indian jets bombed what New Delhi called a “terrorist” training camp inside Pakistan territory taking the neighbors to the verge of a new war.BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, claimed up to 250 people were killed in the cross-border raid. But the opposition has demanded the toll be backed up and accused Modi of making political capital out of the attacks.
“I think when India does something (like this) again then the people from opposition parties raising these questions can be tied under the jets during the raids so that they can look at the targets,” junior foreign minister V.K Singh told media.
“They can look at the targets when the bombs are fired and then can also be dropped (there) to count before coming back,” Singh added.
After the raid, the Indian government said “a very large number” of Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, commanders and trainers had been “eliminated.”
But no official figure on the damage has ever been given and Pakistan has denied there were any casualties.
With a national election to be called imminently, Modi’s BJP has still touted the mission at political rallies across the country.
“The government under Modi’s leadership carried out the air strike and killed more than 250 terrorists,” Shah, one of Modi’s closest lieutenants, told one rally this week.
SS Ahluwalia, a junior minister, came up with a different claim earlier however, saying the raids were intended to give a lesson and not kill anyone.
The differing accounts have increased demands that the government clarify its toll.
“PM Modi has blatantly politicized the bravery and martyrdom of India’s soldiers as a political pamphlet,” said Randeep Singh Surjewala, spokesman for the main opposition Congress party.
Modi “is indulging in shameless credit-seeking for the valour of armed forces as a last resort for the 2019 elections,” Surjewala added on Twitter.
A heated exchange between a top Modi cabinet minister, Piyush Goyal, and a television journalist went viral earlier this week.
The journalist, citing international media reports, asked Goyal why the government has not given more details to back its claims of the mission’s success.
Goyal said such questions were part of a “shameful” campaign “to belittle our armed forces.”


Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

Updated 16 July 2019
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Duterte ‘seriously considering’ cutting ties with Iceland over UN rights probe

  • Iceland spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the Philippines' deadly anti-drug crackdown
  • Philippine police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016.

MANILA: The Philippine president is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which spearheaded a resolution that asked the UN’s top human rights body to look into the thousands of deaths of suspects under his anti-drug crackdown.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters late Monday that the Iceland-initiated resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in a vote last week in Geneva showed “how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people from the scourge of prohibited drugs.”
Panelo says President Rodrigo Duterte “is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland” for initiating the “grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan” resolution.
Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.
The Philippines’ highest-ranking lawmaker said on Monday a UN resolution to probe the country’s bloody war on drugs should be ignored, and its chief backer Iceland be investigated instead for human rights abuses in allowing abortion.
“They have more unborn babies that they have aborted or killed. There are more killings in abortion than the drug pushers who are fighting the police,” Senate President Vicente Sotto told ANC news channel.
The Nordic nation lacks moral grounds to lecture the Philippines on human rights, Sotto said. “So we should disregard that resolution.”
His remarks are the latest in a series of comments from lawmakers urging the government to not cooperate after the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday adopted Iceland’s resolution to investigate thousands of deaths under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.
Police have killed more than 6,600 suspected drug dealers in sting operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Critics and rights group said authorities summarily execute suspects, which the police deny.
“The criminals can fight back, the babies cannot. What human rights are they talking about?” Sotto said, adding that drug dealers that fight back and destroy families lose their human rights.
His comments about abortion echoed those made by incoming Senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Rights groups, which hailed the UN vote as a step toward accountability, point out that the bloody anti-narcotics campaign is marked by systematic cover-ups, planted evidence and impunity.
The president’s spokesman on Monday warned countries not to meddle with the state’s affairs.
“All incidents in the war on drugs are tallied, recorded. All they have to do is ask us, not to pre-judge us,” presidential spokesman Spokesman Panelo told a regular news conference. “It behoves them to render respect to a sovereign state.”
Duterte on Friday mocked Iceland as an ice-eating nation without understanding of his country’s problems.