Brazil army arrests 10 soldiers after family car shooting

An Army soldier walks near a car in which a man was killed during a military operation, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil April 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 09 April 2019
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Brazil army arrests 10 soldiers after family car shooting

  • Brazil has the largest number of annual homicides in the world and new President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to unleash security forces to battle rampant violence

RIO DE JANEIRO: Ten members of Brazil’s military were under arrest Monday after soldiers fired 80 shots at a car carrying a family, killing a 46-year-old man and stirring outrage in the country.
Evaldo dos Santos Rosa was driving Sunday to a baby shower with his 7-year-old son, his wife, her stepfather and another woman when soldiers started shooting at them, according to relatives. The stepfather and a passerby who was trying to help were injured but the rest of the family was unharmed.
The military initially said in a statement that the soldiers had responded to gunfire from attackers. But police said no arms were found in the car and the military eventually changed its statement.
“All evidence point to a homicide,” police investigator Leonardo Salgado told TV news Globo after inspecting the site.
On Monday, the military said soldiers patrolling the area mistook Dos Santos Rosa’s car for that of criminals.
“Due to inconsistencies between the facts initially reported and other information later received by the eastern military command, we determined the immediate removal of the military (members) involved,” the armed forces said in statement. Ten of the 12 men questioned by investigators were under arrest.
Luciana Dos Santos, the victim’s wife, went to the morgue Monday to identify her husband’s body. In tears, shock, Dos Santos told reporters her 7-year-old thought his father was still alive.
“My God, why did the (soldiers) do this?” Dos Santos said, almost struggling to breathe.
“Murderers, that’s what they are,” said Dos Santos’ sister Deborah outside the forensic institute. “It’s like the governor said: Kill first and then see. And that’s what they did: First they killed and then they went to see that it was a father, that there was a family inside, that there was a kid inside.”
“This can’t keep happening. We want justice,” the victim’s 29-year-old son, Daniel, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Brazil has the largest number of annual homicides in the world and new President Jair Bolsonaro has vowed to unleash security forces to battle rampant violence. But the armed forces have long been criticized for extra-judicial killings, especially in the state of Rio de Janeiro. In 2018, the police killed 1,534 people in the state, according to government data.


Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

In this handout photo taken and released by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) Communication Department on July 19, 2019, Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (2L) meets Sonbhadra massacre victims at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Trauma Centre in Varanasi. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2019
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Priyanka standoff ends with visit to victims’ families

  • Priyanka Gandhi’s protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families

NEW DELHI: A political standoff over detained Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi ended on Saturday after she was allowed to meet relatives of 10 people killed in a caste clash in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress general secretary and sister of outgoing party president Rahul Gandhi was detained in Mirzapur on Friday while traveling to Sonbhadra to visit family members of 10 people shot and killed in a land dispute a day earlier.
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh, led by Yogi Adityanath, detained Gandhi for violating the peace and stopped her from traveling further. The Congress leader then began a sit-in protest with her supporters at the Mirzapur guest house where she was held.
Her protest continued throughout Friday night while she demanded the right to visit the victims’ families. Television images showed Gandhi sitting in the dark after power and water supplies in the guest house were allegedly cut off by the local administration.
Her presence in the area, which also falls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in Varanasi, galvanized Congress workers who staged protests across the state.
Early on Saturday, relatives of some of the victims visited the guest house to meet the 47-year-old leader of the Gandhi-Nehru family, India’s pre-eminent political dynasty.
“My objective has been served as I have met the victims of the shooting,” said Gandhi before calling off her protest.
“The responsibility for the Sonbhadra massacre lies with the Yogi government,” she said.
Gandhi told her supporters, “I will be back,” before flying to New Delhi.
The BJP has accused the Congress leader of playing politics over the shootings.
“Congress has a history of playing politics over dead bodies,” said Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP president in Uttar Pradesh.
“The drama should stop. That is what I will say to Priyanka. All the accused have been arrested, and the officials responsible have been suspended,” he said.
The fatal shootings in Sonbhadra, 800 km southeast of New Delhi, drew mainstream media attention only when the Congress leader arrived in the state.
Observers say that the killing of 10 socially marginalized and landless tribes people by members of the dominant caste has highlighted the fragile caste situation in India’s most populous state.
The people of Gond tribe have been working the disputed land for generations. According to reports, the village head wanted tribes people to vacate the farm land. This led to conflict, and on Friday more than 200 armed men attacked the helpless villagers, killing 10 and injuring several others.
Gandhi, who entered politics only a few months before the general elections in May this year, seized the opportunity to connect with the people.
For the BJP, Uttar Pradesh is the jewel in the crown. The state gave the party 62 of its 303 parliamentary seats, and it is determined to maintain its political grip.
Political analysts say that Gandhi is determined to revive the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh by 2022 when the state goes to the polls.
“Priyanka Gandhi handled the Sonbhadra incident in a mature way, exposing the ham-fisted attitude of the Yogi government,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi-based analyst and author.
“She also managed to expose the BJP’s class bias  and how the ruling party is protecting the interests of  dominant caste in the state,” said Mukhopadhyay.
“This incident gives the party a chance to go back to the people immediately after the huge loss in the elections,” Mukhopadhyay told Arab News.
Lucknow-based political analyst Ram Dutt Tripathi said that Gandhi has “shown her courage as a political leader willing to fight administrative injustice.”
“Her detention was illegal and the Congress has high hopes that she can lead the revival of the party,” said Tripathi.
“It is unfortunate that the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has not visited relatives of the victims so far and is putting restrictions on political opponents who want to stand with them,” he said.