India’s ruling BJP lawmaker threatens to shoot protesters

Dilip Ghosh (L) with Narendra Modi. (Photo/Twitter)
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Updated 14 January 2020

India’s ruling BJP lawmaker threatens to shoot protesters

  • Dilip Ghosh: “Look at Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, our government has shot these demons like dogs”

NEW DELHI: The head of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the state of West Bengal has threatened to shoot and jail people who protest a new citizenship law that has triggered a month of nationwide demonstrations.
Dilip Ghosh, a member of India’s Parliament and the president of the BJP in West Bengal, made the comments to party members on Sunday in a district of the state that borders Bangladesh.
Cabinet Union Minister Babul Supriyo distanced the BJP from Ghosh’s comments, calling them “very irresponsible” on Twitter on Monday.
The citizenship law provides a path to naturalization for people from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, unless they’re Muslim.
Many Indians worry the law will be used in conjunction with a National Register of Citizens that could require all Indians to produce documents proving their origins, a challenge in a country where many people lack official records including birth certificates.
Ghosh called out West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee of the opposition All India Trinamool Congress party, comparing her government’s treatment of protesters to BJP-controlled governments in other Indian states.
Banerjee, one of several state chief ministers from opposition parties who have pledged not to comply with the citizenship law, has led massive street marches to protest it.
“Look at Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, our government has shot these demons like dogs,” Ghosh said.
“You will come here, eat our food, stay here and then damage property? We will beat you with (batons), shoot you and put you in jail,” he said, referring to demonstrators in West Bengal.
Twenty-three people have been killed nationwide since the citizenship law was passed Dec. 11. Massive protests erupted across the country, with Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam states the hardest hit.
Police in Assam have acknowledged fatally shooting five people, and Karnataka authorities offered compensation to the families of two men killed by police during protests.
Sixteen Muslims were killed in Uttar Pradesh on a single day after the BJP chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, promised to take “revenge” against protesters. Uttar Pradesh authorities have denied any responsibility for the deaths.


Bosnia Muslims mourn their dead 25 years after Srebrenica massacre

Updated 19 min 35 sec ago

Bosnia Muslims mourn their dead 25 years after Srebrenica massacre

  • At 1100 GMT, a ceremony laying to rest the remains of nine victims identified over the past year began at the memorial cemetery in Potocari
  • On July 11, 1995, after capturing the ill-fated town, Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in a few days

SREBRENICA: Bosnian Muslims began marking the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre on Saturday, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II, with the memorial ceremony sharply reduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Proceedings got underway in the morning with many mourners braving the tighter restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.
At 1100 GMT, a ceremony laying to rest the remains of nine victims identified over the past year began at the memorial cemetery in Potocari, a village just outside Srebrenica that served as the base for the UN protection force during the conflict.
On July 11, 1995, after capturing the ill-fated town, Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in a few days.
Sehad Hasanovic, 27, has a two-year-old daughter — the same age he was when he lost his father in the violence.
“It’s difficult when you see someone calling their father and you don’t have one,” Hasanovic said in tears, not dissuaded from attending the commemorations in spite of the virus.
His father, Semso, “left to go into the forest and never returned. Only a few bones have been found,” said Hasanovic.
Like his brother Sefik and father Sevko, Semso was killed when Bosnian Serb troops led by Ratko Mladic entered the Srebrenica enclave before systematically massacring Bosnian men and adolescents.
“The husbands of my four sisters were killed,” said Ifeta Hasanovic, 48, whose husband Hasib was one of the nine victims whose remains have been identified since July 2019.
“My brother was killed, so was his son. My mother-in-law lost another son as well as her husband.”
The episode — labelled as genocide by two international courts — came at the end of a 1992-1995 war between Bosnia’s Croats, Muslims and Serbs that claimed some 100,000 lives.
So far, the remains of nearly 6,900 victims have been found and identified from more than 80 mass graves.
Bosnian Serb wartime military chief general Ratko Mladic, still revered as a hero by many Serbs, was sentenced to life in prison by a UN court in 2017 over war crimes including the Srebrenica genocide. He is awaiting the decision on his appeal.
Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb wartime political leader, was also sentenced to life in prison in The Hague.
The Srebrenica massacre is the only episode of the Bosnian conflict to be described as genocide by the international community.
And while for Bosnian Muslims recognizing the scale of the atrocity is a necessity for lasting peace, for most Serbs — leaders and laypeople in both Bosnia and Serbia — the use of the word genocide remains unacceptable.
In the run-up to the anniversary, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic described Srebrenica as “something that we should not and cannot be proud of,” but he has never publicly uttered the word “genocide.”
Several thousand Serbs and Muslims live side by side in impoverished Srebrenica, a town in eastern Bosnia with just a few shops in its center.
On Friday, the town’s Serbian mayor Mladen Grujicic — who was elected in 2016 after a campaign based on genocide denial — said that “there is new evidence every day that denies the current presentation of everything that has happened.”
Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik has also described the massacre as a “myth.”
But on Friday, the Muslim member of Bosnia’s joint presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, said: “We will tirelessly insist on the truth, on justice and on the need to try all those who have committed this crime.”
“We will fight against those who deny the genocide and glorify its perpetrators,” he said at the memorial center where he attended a collective prayer.
In order to avoid large crowds on Saturday, organizers have invited people to visit the memorial center over the whole month of July.
A number of different exhibitions are on display, including paintings by Bosnian artist Safet Zec.
Another installation, entitled “Why Aren’t You Here?” by US-Bosnian artist Aida Sehovic, comprises more than 8,000 cups of coffee spread out on the cemetery’s lawn.
“We still haven’t answered the question why they are no longer here,” she told AFP.
“How could this have happened in the heart of Europe, that people were killed in such a terrible way in a UN protected area? Not to mention the fact that the genocide is still being denied.”