Pro-Beijing politician wounded in Hong Kong knife attack

Pro-Beijing politician Junius Ho has become one of the most loathed establishment figures among democracy protesters. (AP)
Updated 06 November 2019

Pro-Beijing politician wounded in Hong Kong knife attack

  • Video posted online showed the moment the attack took place
  • Junius Ho has become one of the most loathed establishment figures among democracy protesters

HONG KONG: A firebrand pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong was wounded in a knife attack on Wednesday, the latest tit-for-tat political violence to break out in a city engulfed by months of pro-democracy protests.
Video posted online showed the moment the attack took place.
A man holding a bouquet of flowers approached Junius Ho on Wednesday morning as the politician was campaigning with party members in his constituency of Tuen Mun, a town on the outskirts of Hong Kong near the border with China.
The man gave Ho the flowers, asked to take a picture and then pulled a knife from his bag before striking his victim in the chest.
Ho and his aides quickly subdued the man who could be heard shouting in Cantonese: “Junius Ho, you scum!”
Police said three people were wounded in the incident, including the attacker.
A police source, who declined to be named, said that Ho received a stab wound to the left side of his chest and the attacker was arrested.
Ho, 57, was conscious when he got into the ambulance.
Alongside Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam and police chief Stephen Lo, Ho has become one of the most loathed establishment figures among democracy protesters.
He has long been one of the most stridently pro-Beijing politicians in the city.
But he shot to notoriety on 21 July after he was filmed shaking hands with a group of men in the town of Yuen Long who went on to beat protesters with sticks and poles, hospitalizing 40 people.
He has delivered multiple speeches supporting Hong Kong’s police force and echoing Beijing’s condemnations of protesters, often using incendiary language.
Last month he accused a prominent opposition lawmaker of “eating foreign sausage” because she is married to a British journalist.
After the Yuen Long attack, Ho’s office was ransacked by protesters and the graves of his parents were also vandalized.
Hong Kong has been upended by nearly five months of huge and increasingly violent protests calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.
Beijing and the city’s leadership have taken a hard-line against the protests, refusing concessions.
With no political solution in sight, street fights have broken out on both sides of the ideological divide with growing frequency.
Beijing supporters have attacked opponents throughout the summer, often in targeted assaults against prominent government critics and opposition politicians.
Eight pro-democracy figures have been attacked, including protest organizer Jimmy Sham who was hospitalized last month by men wielding hammers.
On Sunday, a man with a knife attacked democracy protesters including a local politician who had his ear bitten off.
But the violence is far from one-sided.
Crowds of pro-democracy protesters have also routinely beaten their ideological opponents, usually in spontaneous mob violence during rallies.
On Saturday, a man was beaten unconscious and stripped naked in the district of Mongkok.
Beijing has shown no willingness to meet demonstrators demands and activists show no sign of leaving the streets with 22 consecutive weekends of unrest.


Indian court accused of ‘betrayal’ over mosque verdict

Updated 01 October 2020

Indian court accused of ‘betrayal’ over mosque verdict

  • Senior BJP officials acquitted of conspiracy to destroy historic Muslim place of worship

NEW DELHI: A special court in the northern Indian city of Lucknow on Wednesday acquitted all 32 politicians and senior leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of conspiring to demolish the 16th-century Babri Mosque in 1992, ruling that the move was not “preplanned.”

Muslims described the judgment as “yet another betrayal by the judiciary.”

The BJP under the leadership of then-party president Lal Krishna Advani led a political campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s to build a temple on the site of the disputed 16th-century mosque in the eastern city of Ayodhya, claiming that it was built by the first Mughal ruler Babar. 

On Dec. 6, 1992, in response to a call by BJP leaders, hundreds of Hindu extremists gathered at the disputed site and demolished the mosque, resulting in religious riots across the country that claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Most of the BJP leaders and its affiliates were blamed for razing the Babri Mosque.

However, on Wednesday, Surendra Kumar Yadav, the judge at the special court, said that the demolition of the 500-year-old mosque was not pre-planned.

“They have been acquitted for lack of evidence,” defense lawyer K.K. Mishra said after the verdict.

Muslims reacted to the verdict with disappointment.

“The judgment pronounced by the special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court is wrong. We will appeal in the high court,” Zafaryab Jilani, general secretary of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said.

The BJP was elated with the court’s decision.

“It is a moment of happiness for all of us; we chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ (Hail Ram) after the court’s verdict. The judgment vindicates my personal and BJP’s belief and commitment toward the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement. Along with millions of my countrymen, I now look forward to the completion of the beautiful Shri Ram Mandir (temple) at Ayodhya,” 92-year-old Advani, one of the accused in the case, said.

Another BJP leader and former party president, Murli Manohar Joshi, who was also among the accused, called the judgment “historic.”

“This proves that no conspiracy was hatched for the incident in Ayodhya. Our program and rallies were not part of any conspiracy,” Joshi, 86, said.

The verdict comes 10 months after the Supreme Court’s controversial judgment giving the disputed land to a Hindu trust and awarding five acres of land to Muslim petitioners to build a structure of their choice at another location in the city.

“It’s a betrayal by the court,” Ayodhya-based Hajji Mahboob, one of the original Muslim petitioners, told Arab News.

“So many BJP leaders have claimed openly that they were involved in demolishing the Babri Mosque. If the court gives this kind of one-sided verdict, I can only say that it is compromised,” he said.

“We know that there cannot be any justice for Muslims in this country because all the decisions given by the courts are wrong,” he added.

Reacting to the verdict, the main opposition Congress party said it was “counter to the Supreme Court judgment.” 

The apex court held that the demolition of the Babri mosque was clearly illegal and an “egregious violation of the rule of law.” 

“But the Special Court exonerated all the accused. It is clear that the decision of the Special Court runs counter to the decision of the Supreme Court,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

The demolition of the mosque was “a deep-rooted political conspiracy to destroy the country’s communal amity and brotherhood, and to usurp power at any cost,” he added.

According to Hilal Ahamd, of New Delhi-based think tank Center for the Study of Developing Societies, there is a growing belief among Muslims that India is a Hindu country and “they have to adjust themselves accordingly.”

Meanwhile, former chairman of the minority commission Zafar ul Islam Khan said the verdict will encourage the BJP to take the law into its own hands in the belief that the police and judiciary will protect them.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi political analyst who has written several books on the Hindu right-wing politics, said: “The demolition of the mosque was a criminal offense and the failure to establish guilt after 28 years is unfortunate.”

He described the verdict as “a betrayal for Muslims and risky for the security of the country if its largest minority keeps getting marginalized like this.”