Vatican wants speedy probe in seminary rector’s murder

May 31, 2013 by  
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It is reported to have pressurized top political leaders to speed up the investigation.

Fr. K J ThomasKarnataka, May 30, 2013: The Vatican is taking keen interest in the investigation into the murder of seminary rector Fr. K J Thomas and is reported to have pressurized top political leaders to speed up the probe.

“The pressure to solve the case increased after the Vatican ambassador began pursuing the matter with certain political leaders in the country,” said a police official.

The St. Peter’s Seminary in Bangalore, where the priest was a rector, works under the direct supervision of the Vatican.

His murder has therefore been of particular concern to the Vatican.

“Our higher-ups told us they had received special orders from state Home Minister K. J. George that this particular case had to be given special attention. However, we have not found any leads that could help us,” the official added.

Fr. Thomas, 62, was found by another priest lying in a pool of blood in a corridor near his room at St. Peter’s Seminary in Bangalore on April 1.

Preliminary investigations suggest that Fr Thomas was attacked after answering a knock on his door.

The city police and the city crime branch are probing the case and have questioned nearly 50 suspects. But they haven’t made any headway.

Police are not ruling out that the murderers may have been just first-time offenders who came merely to steal and killed Fr. Thomas when he caught them in the act.

Source: deccanchronicle

School bans students from wearing turbans

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The school also barred students from attending classes.

A file photo of school students wearing turbanBaramulla, May 27, 2013: A Catholic school in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir has banned the Sikh students from wearing turbans.

A 107-year-old St. Joseph’s Higher Secondary School also barred some 40 Sikh students from attending classes last week.

The School, which has about 300 Sikh students, imposed the ban saying that the turban is against the school’s uniform code.

United Sikhs, a Sikh organization, wrote to principal of the school Fr. Sebastian Nagathunkal and Rt. Rev. Peter Celestine, Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar diocese that runs the school, last week asking them to reverse the ban as it infringes the students’ right to education and religious freedom.

The Baramulla Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and parents of the students had requested the organization for assistance after the school principal refused to meet them.

The affected students, who were made to stand under the sun as punishment for wearing the turban, have been turning up at school accompanied by their parents.

“We have also written to the Education Minister of Jammu and Kashmir asking him to intervene to ensure that the ban is reversed unconditionally and without delay. There should be no reason to negotiate with parents as the school is wrong in the first place to impose the ban,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, International Legal Director of United Sikhs.

Gurpreet Singh, director of United Sikhs- India, said that they fail to understand why the wearing of turbans by Sikh students is unacceptable to the principal.

“Schools are a place of learning which requires discipline and the wearing of the turban will enhance and not hinder a Sikh student’s discipline. We hope the School will resolve the issue without delay and support the principle of “Unity in Diversity” that is being preached all over India,” he added.

–  sikhsangat.org

Mumbai Catholics to join global prayer with pope

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While Pope Francis will preside over the prayer in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, dioceses across the globe will create history by simultaneously organizing the prayer in local parishes..

Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ Mumbai, May 29, 2013: Cardinal Oswald Gracias will lead Mumbai Catholics to join in a global prayer to mark the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ on Sunday.

While Pope Francis will preside over the prayer in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, dioceses across the globe will create history by simultaneously organizing the prayer in local parishes.

In India, parishes will join the holy hour at 8.30pm on Sunday, to coincide with the Roman clock (5pm local time).

Cardinal Gracias will lead the hour-long prayer at the Holy Name Cathedral, Colaba.

“This is the first time there will be simultaneous prayers on such a large scale and I have asked all parishes to observe it,” said Cardinal Gracias.

“This prayer is not only to mark the feast but to also celebrate the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council,” he said.

According to Cardinal Gracias, while simultaneous prayers have been conducted across continents on previous occasions, this is the first time in the history of the church that all parishes under every diocese across the world will conduct prayers simultaneously.

The Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, also known as the Feast of the Corpus Christi, is observed to commemorate Jesus Christ’s suffering , with bread and wine that symbolize his body and blood.

The Pope has also specified that the prayer focuses on peace, poverty alleviation and respect of women.

“While these intentions are universal, I feel they hold a special significance for our country, given how women are being treated and the stark divide between the rich and the poor,” said Cardinal Gracias.

– hindustan times

Dalit Christians accuse Church of failing them

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Dalit Christians constitute 75 per cent of the laity in Tamil Nadu.

Dalit ChristiansTamil Nadu, May 30, 2013: Dalit Christians in Tamil Nadu has accused the Church of failing to make use of the legal and Constitutional provisions to safeguard their interests.

“Minority rights never helped Dalit Christians enjoy equity, equality, social justice and fraternity, because of the caste affinity displayed by the Church,” said A Xavier, one of the representatives of the Dalit Christians.

He was speaking at a review meeting, highlighting the failure of the Church to know the socio-economic status of Dalit Christians, caste discrimination and denial of right to quality education.

The meeting was presided over by State Minorities Commission Chairman M. Prakash at the Collectorate in Dindigul yesterday.

Dalit Christians constitute 75 per cent of the laity in Tamil Nadu.

C Bastin from Kodaikanal insisted that all Catholic institutions should take initiatives to introduce reservation for Dalit Christians.

Another representative, Jennifer, alleged that the church did not have any concrete infrastructure, policies and programs to ensure that the most oppressed enjoyed the minority rights.

Even quality education was denied to Dalit Christians, she alleged.

Commission Chairman Prakash said he would take up the issues highlighted by the speakers with state Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

He said educational aid of over 20 million rupees had been disbursed to 13,723 students from the minority communities and welfare assistance to 112 women in the district.

– the hindu

Iran: Church closed over refusal to stop services in Farsi

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Church in Iran closedIran, May 28, 2013: A church in Iran that has refused to stop holding services in the national language, Farsi, has been closed following the arrest of one of its leaders.

The Central Assemblies of God (AoG) Church in Tehran was raided during a prayer meeting on 21 May. The Rev. Robert Aserian was detained and taken to an unknown location; the church building was searched, and books, documents and equipment seized.

Before going to the church, the security forces had raided the minister’s home and confiscated items including his computer and books.

On 23 May, State Security agents returned to the site and ordered the caretaker to put up a sign stating that the church was now closed.

It has been under mounting pressure to shut for some time over its refusal to stop services in the Iranian national language, Farsi, which are accessible to Muslims and converts from Islam.

One local source said:
The pressure has become unbearable. They constantly threaten the church leaders and their families with imprisonment, unexplained accidents, kidnapping and even with execution. We cannot go on like this.

The church elders were expecting a move from the authorities after they requested, a few days before the raid, information about Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh, who leads an Assemblies of God church in Ahwaz, and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan. On 1 May, an appeal court had upheld the one year prison sentence issued to the couple in October 2012 following their arrest on 23 December 2011.

The elders were told that if the Central AoG Church closed voluntarily, the couple might be released. But they refused to give in. The Central AoG Church has been under close surveillance for many years, and a number of its members have been killed.

Its activities have been greatly restricted over the last few years in particular. In 2009, the church was banned from holding services in Farsi on Fridays, an order that was recently extended to their Sunday services also.

Discipleship classes run on Saturdays for new Christians have also been closed down. The Assemblies of God Church in Iran began in 1955 as a single house church in Tehran. It has since planted a number of congregations in the capital and then across the country.

– barnabas team

Syria – European union

May 31, 2013 by  
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As hundreds of Europeans join anti-Assad jihad, EU split over Islamist threat Support for Syria’s warring sides threatens not only the stability of the Middle East but also that of Europe. Russia ships anti-aircraft missiles to Assad. Dutch and Belgian Foreign Ministers express concern about the presence of their nationals, including teenagers, among jihadist forces in Syria, fearful they could carry out acts of terrorism once they come home.

syriaDamascus, May 28, 2013: The recent session of the European Parliament on the renewal of the arms ban to Syrian rebels has revealed serious divisions within the European Union. France and Britain have said that they are ready to provide military support to the rebels, but are faced with the opposition of other EU countries.

In recent months, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and other EU countries have reported disturbing news from Syria, showing how a number of Europeans left home and work to take part in the anti-Assad jihad. British and French officials have reported much of the same.

According to EU sources, as of late April more than 500 European nationals had joined Islamist groups in Syria. Of these, at least a hundred men are from the Netherlands. In February, they were only a few dozen.

This prompted Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and his Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders to express serious concern about this trend, hitherto underestimated by Western media and the EU itself.

“Once this youth returns, they are likely to be traumatized and brainwashed, and may pose a potential security risk in the Netherlands,” Timmermans said.

In March, Dutch TV related the story of Rogier, a 26-year-old man who converted to Islam in 2011 thanks to the internet.

Before leaving for Syria, the young man recorded a video where he explained to his parents the reasons for his action, that he had answered Allah’s call and had left in order to stand by the Muslims who are suppressed in Syria.

In the interview, he explained that he “could not sit and watch his sisters in Syria being raped and his brothers being beheaded,” convinced that it was his duty “to defend his brothers and sisters.”

In the Netherlands, dozens of families turned to the Foreign Ministry and international organisations to see how they could bring their children back.

In a case similar to Rogier’s, a Belgian father (anonymous for security reasons) crossed into Syria from Turkey looking for son, contacting leaders of rebel groups in a desperate attempt to locate the young man.

A conference is scheduled for 10 June in Geneva on a diplomatic solution to the Syria War with the participation of representatives of the Syrian regime. However, the main issue on Western and Russian agendas remains military support to the conflicting parties.

In response to possible British and French support to the rebels, Russia yesterday announced it was sending new anti-aircraft missiles to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

For Bloomberg analyst Nicole Gaouette, this could threaten the fragile balance in Lebanon, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, with far-reaching consequences in Europe.

In less than a week, 23 people were killed in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon in armed clashes between Sunnis and Shias.

Yesterday, a series of bombings killed 58 people in Baghdad. For the month of May alone, the death toll stands at 450.

– asianews

The Barber Shop

May 31, 2013 by  
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Barber & CustomerA man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation and talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”

“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”

beggarThe customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber.

“I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”

barber“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.

“Ah, but barbers DO exist! That’s what happens when people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! Because people do not look to God for help is why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world.”

– spritual-short-stories.com

 

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Mathew 11:28

 

Modi Inaugurates YMCA National Meet

May 28, 2013 by  
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Modi Inaugurates YMCA National MeetGujarat, May 24, 2013: Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the National Consultation of the YMCA Brand Building on Friday, 24th May 2013 in Ahmedabad.Shri Narendra Modi said that even though one could find Gujarat tourists in all parts of the world, there was a time when Gujarat was never a tourist destination. With the efforts from the government, the scenario has changed and Gujarat is considered has made a place on the tourism map top and is regarded as a top tourist destination now. Shri Modi also welcomed the concept of conference tourism. Shri Modi stated that Gujarat is lucky to be hosting so many conferences as it gives a boost to tourism.

Shri Modi said that he was touched that the Prime Minister has taken note of his speech at SRCC during the Prime Minister’s recent speech but wondered why he said that he inherit an empty glass. Shri Modi opined that the glass of the UPA government is completely full with corruption and that the people’s trust has been completely eroded by the current government.

Shri Modi said that the mission of Youth Empowerment is very close to his heart and complimented the YMCA for its efforts in the same field. Shri Modi further stressed on the importance of harnessing the power of youth in a country like India where 65% of the people below 35 years of age.  Shri Modi said that such a huge youth population is a blessing. Shri Modi expressed his displeasure at the current scheme of things where youth is considered merely as a voter. He stated that we need to change such a mindset and according to him, youth is not merely a voter, but the power of the country. He said that the youth comes with fresh ideas and a fresh approach to things and it is essential to empower the youth.

Modi Inaugurates YMCA National MeetShri Modi talked about the steps taken in Gujarat to empower the youth and to harness their potential. Shri Modi informed how Khel Maha Kumbhs are held in Gujarat to promote sports and sportsmanship. Around 18 lakh people have taken part in the Khel Maha Kumbhs. Shri Modi stressed on the importance of sports in our lives. He said that sports are an essential part of our life because it helps cultivate a feeling of sportsmanship and promote healthy and amicable relations among people. He added that without such a spirit there can be no harmony in the society. Shri Modi affirmed that Gujarat’s initiatives have not stopped with Khel Maha Kumbhs. Sports events for the specially abled children have also been organized which have witnessed record participation. He expressed happiness at Gujarat being able to meet the 100% target for enrollment in schools.

Shri Modi stressed on the importance of Skill Development. He said that in today’s times when comparisons are made between India and China, we must take a cue from China’s skill development initiatives. In order to compete on a global level, we must equip our youth with skills. He said that all necessary endeavours must be undertaken to provide skill development to the youth. Shri Modi also rued the lack of innovation in our country in present times. Enough importance is not being attached to research. Shri Modi told that Gujarat has taken an initiative with iCreate, a centre to foster and promote entrepreneurs and innovators. He also talked about the Chief Minister’s Fellowship Program where the youth can come and learn about governance and related issues . He informed that there were a lot of applicants who left plum jobs and came to work for humble amounts under the CM Fellowship Program.

Shri Modi was all praise for how social media was emerging as a medium to connect people. He added that he would be happy to maintain contact with the members of YMCA on the social media.

–  modi blog

Killing of Khalid Mujahid and creeping police state

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The security establishment’s war on human rights has emerged as the greatest threat to Indian democracy.

Killing of Khalid MujahidMay 25, 2013: India’s greatest strength is its democracy. If the country has been on the march of progress in the face of a million mutinies and boasts stability and functioning institutions, it is chiefly because of its vibrant democracy. If the idea of India has worked defying its mindboggling religious, linguistic and cultural diversity, you know where the credit belongs.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that while Pakistan lost its architects soon after its birth and paid a heavy price for it, India has had the opportunity to be shaped in its formative years by the first line of leadership that had steered the freedom struggle. Whatever the explanation, India’s worst detractors would concede that it is thanks to the blessings of a democratic polity that the nation’s ship sailed through savage seas and storms to safety.

And now this democracy is under attack from a creeping police state and the same fascist mindset that proved the undoing of Europe in the last century. Increasingly, you see events and trends that challenge the idea of a democratic and plural India. Something has terribly gone wrong somewhere. Things fall apart and the centre cannot hold, in the words of Yeats. Every passing day adds to questions marks hanging over the state of the nation and future of its vulnerable groups and communities.

The death of Khalid Mujahid this past week in police custody may look like just another tragedy that routinely happen in the length and breadth of the great republic. It was anything but routine. The coldblooded fashion in which Mujahid was eliminated by the Uttar Pradesh police after six years in detention has an already insecure community totally shaken.

Mujahid wasn’t a typical terror suspect. Both Mujahid and Tariq Qasimi, who was picked up with him as executors of the 2007 serial blasts in UP, were religious scholars and went by the honorific of Maulana. The case against the two had fallen apart after the Justice Nimesh commission gave them a clean chit and confirmed the complicity of top cops in framing the duo who had graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband, Asia’s most respected Islamic university.

Police claim that Mujahid, in his early 30s and good health, ‘died’ following a heart attack—they first blamed it on the heat!–on the way back from Faizabad court to Lucknow jail, a distance of just 79 miles. His family and lawyer, who was brutally attacked a day later in the court compound by fellow lawyers for defending ‘the terrorists’, say his neck was broken and he was bleeding from his nose and ear. There were bruises all over his face and body. On the way back from the court, the deceased had also managed to change from his traditional white attire into a T-shirt and shorts!

Of course, Mujahid isn’t the first young Muslim to die in detention and this reign of state terror is unlikely to end with his death. Last year, another innocent man, Qateel Siddiqui, was killed in Pune’s high security prison a day before he was to be moved to Delhi.

From Ishrat Jahan to Maulana Mujahid, there’s a long list of the usual suspects ending up dead in detention or in staged police encounters. There have been others like the Mumbai lawyer Shahid Azmi, another defender of the indefensible, whose killing remains a permanent mystery.

If Ishrat, her three friends, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife were killed in Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat, Mujahid met his fate on the watch of the secular Samajwadi government. It is the same government that recently bent over backwards to bail out Varun Gandhi in the infamous hate speech case.

As many as 88 witnesses, including journalists and officials, were silenced to kill the case against Nehru’s great-grandson, who vowed to chop off the Katuwas’ (a derogatory word for Muslims) hands and heads. He has been made general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which hopes to replace the Congress in power in next year’s elections.

This killing has reinforced the Muslims’ fears that they are facing a calibrated terror campaign at the hands of police and security-intelligence establishment. Like the military industrial complex in the United States, it has become so powerful that it is its own master and calls the shots no matter who is in power.

Perhaps because of the violent separation of India and Pakistan along religious lines and collective historical baggage that preceded it, the security establishment has come to view the Muslims as the problem—the fifth column of the Enemy and often the enemy himself.

So whether it is the grand old Congress, Muslim-bashing BJP, socialist pretender SP or champion of the oppressed Bahujan Samajwadi Party in power, there’s little change in the policies, attitudes and actions of the security establishment or the Deep State as the Turks would call it.

The cancer of communalism has spread so far and wide that no section of society, from police and administration to media and universities, appears to be exempt. Every time a bomb goes off somewhere—now you do not even need an explosion or excuse–the nearest Muslim must be put away as the perpetrator.

The recent National Crime Bureau statistics speak for themselves. While Muslims, according to 2011 census, are just 13.5 per cent of the population, their share in the country’s prisons is nearly 25pc. Every third prisoner in Maharashtra and every fourth one in UP and West Bengal is a Muslim. In Gujarat, it is 23pc prisoners against less than 10pc of the population.

As for Muslim representation in police and security forces, it’s less than 2pc. It’s the same story in elite civil services as well as lower administration. Is it any wonder then India’s largest minority feels perpetually persecuted and under siege?

Former inspector general of UP police SR Darapuri, who has among others set up Rihai Manch for the release of innocent Muslims, talks of thousands languishing in secret prisons across the country. “Khalid Mujahid is not the only one (to be victimised), there are many Muslim youth who have been missing from their districts and even their families do not know about them. They are kept in secret detention to implicate them in a bomb blast some time in future,” he said at a press conference this week.

Journalist Ashish Khetan, who has extensively reported on Gujarat and done path-breaking stories on false terror cases and targeting of Muslims, attributes the problem to “a dangerous prejudice pervading India’s criminal justice system” and security establishment.

The killing of Khalid Mujahid marks a new low and turning point in this relentless war on rights. A terrorised minority is the target of the state terror. The cases of Ishrat, Shaikh, Maulana Naseeruddin and others reveal that every such frame-up involves several states.

If a Qateel Siddiqui is picked up in Delhi, he is immediately implicated in attacks in the distant Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and every other case that the collective memory of security agencies could summon up. The condemned spend years, as Mohammed Aamir did, hopelessly fighting multiple and endless cases across the country.

Where will all this end? Home Minister Shinde has talked of special courts to deal swiftly with such cases probably with an eye on 2014. But courts alone cannot sort out this issue. Sickness lies elsewhere. And it’s not the problem of a community struggling on the margins of society. This creeping police state has emerged as the greatest threat to the idea of India.

If a community as large as nearly 200 million is endlessly targeted and driven to the edge, India itself will not remain unaffected by the chaos. The secular and plural character of the polity and the rule of law that goes with it is not merely the need of Muslims; it’s the lifeblood of constitution and body-politic. It is the glue that has held together this great, complex melange of a nation. Do not let an extremist fringe kill the idea of India in the name of security.

– tcn

UPA – Nine years in office

May 28, 2013 by  
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Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam of Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) comments on the nine years of UPA in office.

May 25, 2013: Now that the Congress-led UPA has completed nine years of uninterrupted rule at the Centre, it is the moment of introspection and stock-taking by both the government and the people of this country. The UPA has a patchy record of both achievements and failures as far as common Indians are concerned, but for Muslims these years have been pretty difficult.

The UPA rule began on a note of hope as the Sachar Committee was constituted to look into the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in order to start correction measures on the basis of its findings and suggestions. In the wake of the Sachar Report some progress has been made, for which the UPA should get its due credit.

Landmark policy achievements like Right to Information, Right to Education, National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, Direct Benefit Transfer scheme, National Rural Health Mission and Bharat Nirman are duly recognised as significant.

However, what has tarnished the image of the government is uncontrolled inflation, lawlessness on the streets and crime against women. The weaker sections, particularly Muslims, feel more vulnerable than in some of the worst periods after independence.

Even though law and order is a state subject, the Centre has the authority to intervene in cases of serious law and order problems. But the Centre has barely raised a finger in the worst anti-Muslim atrocities. As many as 400,000 people, mostly Muslims, were forced out of their homes and into refugee camps in Assam, where a Congress-led coalition rules, without any substantial resistance from the state. The culprits roam free as the refugees are prevented from coming to their villages, even though their homes and property documents have been turned to ashes.

Since the beginning of Akhilesh Yadav government in UP, as many as 27 anti-Muslim riots have been organised and staged without the Centre raising a finger. Congress-run states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have created new records of police brutality against Muslims.

The communal prejudice among the police has deepened so much that when a Muslim young man, whom the Nimesh Commission had found not to be guilty of involvement in a blast case, died in police custody on May 18, a former director general of police said he considered the man guilty even if the Commission and a court of justice found him innocent. Such blatant contempt of the institution of Commission and court of justice has failed to stir anyone.

Sadly, the tenure of UPA government has been marked by consistent harassment, humiliation, imprisonment, torture and murder of innocent Muslim youth across India. Those who survive the ordeal are scarred and defamed for life. The number of such youth is growing by the day.

Muslim organizations, the All India Milli Council in particular so, have made representations and got assurances of fair play from the high and mighty for the umpteenth time, but nothing has changed on the ground.

The death of the Muslim youth in UP police custody has virtually sealed the fate of Samajwadi Party. Because of the uninterrupted witch hunt against Muslim youth, Congress does not fare any better. This disappointment with so-called secular parties does not augur well.

– tcn

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