MUSLIM HATE OF HINDUS

5,000 Hindus flee Pak every year due to persecution

Omer Farooq Khan,TNN
May 14, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Around 5,000 Hindus migrate from Pakistan to India and other countries every year due to religious persecution, ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Wankwani has told the Pakistani National Assembly.

"During last two months, six incidents of religious desecration happened only in Sindh province. In all incidents, religious books of Hindu minority and their places of worship were burnt," said Wankwani, who also heads the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He said the government has so far neither made arrests nor taken action against any extremist group involved in attacks. "No one from the minority community feels safe in Pakistan," he said on Monday while commenting on law and order situation in the country.

He blamed the government for failing to control frequent attacks against Hindus and maintained it was the community's constitutional right to practice its religion freely in Pakistan.

"But the rights of Hindus have never remained a priority here. The problems of Hindus are multiplying in Pakistan instead of decreasing. Are we not part of this country?" he questioned.

He said it was the teaching of all the religions to respect other faiths but the minorities had failed to get equal rights in Pakistan.

The lawmaker informed the house that scores of Hindu women have been abducted in last few years in Sindh province and later married to their kidnappers after forcible conversion. He urged the government to take steps to counter it.

Wankwani asked why issues of minorities never came up for discussion in the house. "When Jinnah's residence was attacked and destroyed in Ziarat town of Baluchistan, the National Assembly had debated on the issue for four consecutive days,'' he said.

"I request the house to spare some time for taking up the problems faced by minorities.'' He said Hindus are also equal citizens of Pakistan and their holy books should also be considered equally respectful.

Wankwani suggested the government to set up a parliamentary committee to discuss issues related to minorities in this regard.

There was a pin-drop silence in the house as all legislators attentively listened to his emotional speech.

Later, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said the government will ensure the protection of minorities at all cost as it is mentioned in the Constitution.

Hindu burial in 'Muslim graveyard' sparks protests in Badin

Dawn.com
January 5, 2013

Late on Wednesday night, a few people of the town dug the grave and took out the body of the resident of village Yar Mohammad Lund, some four kilometres off the Tando Bago town. The body was buried by his relatives on Monday.

But the body was reburied in the same place by the local police on the wee hours of Thursday, following which the clerics belonging to various mosques of the town made announcements that a Hindu was buried again in their graveyard.

The burial infuriated the Muslim community of the town and its adjoining areas, who gathered in the town and staged a sit-in on the Bago Canal bridge.

Speaking to media persons the protesters threatened to dig out the body from the grave again.

The protesters further claimed that a decision had been reached nearly four years ago according to which Hindus would not bury their deceased in the same part of the graveyard.

It is pertinent to mention that this graveyard had been shared since many years by both the Hindus and Muslims of the area.

There was only a small wall erected by a former taluka Nazim of Tando Bago to separate the parts of the graveyard.

Strict security measures were taken by Badin's district administration to control the law and order situation in the town.

Heavy contingents of the police have been deployed in and around the graveyard under the supervision of DSP Tando Bago.

The relatives of the Hindu man, who was buried in the graveyard, spoke to Dawn.com and claimed that the deceased was buried near the grave of his father.

The people of various rights groups voiced their concern over the issue and demanded that the government functionaries should take security measures for the minority communities.

On Oct 6, in a similar incident the body of another Hindu man was dug out of the grave and thrown away, in a local graveyard of Haji Fakir in Pangrio town of Badin district.

 

Muslim anger explodes against Bangladesh's Hindu community

by Sumon Francis Gomes
03/06/2013 14:24
BANGLADESH

Violence continues after the death sentence is imposed on the leader of an Islamic party convicted of war crimes. Homes and temples have been destroyed in various parts of the country.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Scores of homes have been set on fire, women and girls have been assaulted, temples have been desecrated and statues of the goddess Kali have been destroyed.

For days, Hindu communities in some areas of Bangladesh have been targeted by supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic party, after its leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death for war crimes.

Acts of violence against the Hindu minority got worse yesterday during a hartal or strike called by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat's main ally, to protest against the verdict.

In Khulna (a town in the country's southwest), various activists from the Jamaat-Shibir (Jamaat-e-Islami's youth wing) and the BNP led protesters towards Dhopapara, a poor area largely inhabited by Hindus. Rapidly, the Muslim extremists set fire to eight homes and looted ten stores before they were dispersed by police.

"Jamaat members entered my house and beat my mother, my wife and my three daughters," said Amio Das, one of the victims of the attack. "They took our stuff and then set fire to the rest."

In the village of Aditmari (in the northern district of Lalmonirhat), some fundamentalists stormed and looted the Hindu temple of Sree Sree Shoshan Kali Mandir, dedicated to Kali, destroying statues of the goddess.

The same occurred to a temple in the village of Lakhirpar and another in Satkania (Chittagong).


Pakistan's minority Hindus feel under attack

November 8, 2012

(AP) They came after dusk and chanted into the night sky "Kill the Hindus, kill the children of the Hindus," as they smashed religious icons, ripped golden bangles off women's arms and flashed pistols. It wasn't the first time that the Hindu temple on the outskirts of Pakistan's largest city was attacked, and residents here fear it will not be the last.

"People don't consider us as equal citizens. They beat us whenever they want," said Mol Chand, one of the teenage boys gathered at the temple. "We have no place to worship now."

It was the second time the Sri Krishna Ram temple has been attacked, and this time the mob didn't even bother to disguise their faces. The small temple, surrounded by a stone wall, is a tiny religious outpost in a dusty, hardscrabble neighborhood so far on the outskirts of the city that a sign on the main road wishes people leaving Karachi a good journey.

Local Muslim residents blamed people from a nearby ethnic Pashtun village for the attack, which took place in late September on the Day of Love for the Prophet, a national holiday declared by the government in response to an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. No one was seriously injured in the attack.

It was the latest in a rising tide of violence and discrimination against Hindus in this 95 percent Muslim country, where Islamic extremism is growing. Pakistan's Hindu community says it faces forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam, a lack of legal recognition for their marriages, discrimination in services and physical abuse when they venture into the streets.

The story of the Hindu population in Pakistan is one of long decline. During partition in 1947, the violent separation of Pakistan and India into separate countries, hundreds of thousands of Hindus opted to migrate to India where Hinduism is the dominant religion. Those that remained and their descendants now make up a tiny fraction of Pakistan's estimated 190 million citizens, and are mostly concentrated in Sindh province in the southern part of the country.

Signs of their former stature abound in Karachi, the capital of Sindh. At the 150-year-old Swami Narayan Temple along one of the city's main roads, thousands of Hindus gather during the year to celebrate major religious holidays. Hindus at the 200-year-old Laxmi Narain Temple scatter the ashes of their cremated loved ones in the waters of an inlet from the Arabian Ocean.

But there are also signs of how far the community has fallen. Residents in a city hungry for land have begun to build over Hindu cemeteries, the community's leaders say. Hindus helped build Karachi's port decades ago, but none work there now.

Estimates of the size of the Hindu population in Pakistan are all over the map from 2.5 million or 10 million in Sindh province alone to 7 million across the country a reflection of the fact that the country hasn't had a census since 1998.

It isn't just Hindus who are facing problems. Other minorities like Christians, the mystical Muslim branch of Sufis and the Ahmadi sect have found themselves under attack in Pakistan, where the rise of Muslim fundamentalists has sometimes unleashed a violent opposition against those who don't follow their strict religious tenets.

The discrimination has prompted some Hindus to leave for India, activists warn, though the extent is not known. Around 3,000 Hindus left this year, part of a migration that began four years ago, sparked by discrimination and a general rise in crime in Sindh, said DM Maharaj, who heads an organization to help Hindus called Pakistan Hindu Sabha.

He said he recently talked to a group of Hindus preparing to move to India from rural Sindh, complaining that they can't eat in Muslim restaurants or that Muslim officials turned them down for farming loans. Even during recent floods, they said Muslims did not want them staying in the same refugee camps.

Other Hindu figures such as provincial assembly member Pitamber Sewami deny there's a migration at all, in a reflection of how sensitive the issue is. Earlier this year, there were a string of reports in Pakistani media about Hindus leaving the country, sparking a flurry of promises by Pakistani officials to investigate.

In India, a Home office official said the Indian government noticed an upward trend of people coming from Pakistan but called reports of Pakistanis fleeing to India "exaggerated." He said he does not have exact figures on how many Pakistani Hindus have stayed in India after entering the country on tourist visas. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic.

There's more of a consensus of the seriousness of the problem of forced conversion of Hindus.

Zohra Yusuf, the president of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says the pattern goes like this: A Hindu girl goes missing and then resurfaces days or weeks later married to a Muslim boy. During court hearings to determine whether the conversion was voluntary, students from nearby Islamic schools called madrassas often flood the room, trying to intimidate the judges by chanting demands that the conversion be confirmed.

Maharaj says he's tried to intervene in roughly 100 cases of forced conversions but has only succeeded in returning a girl safely back to her family once. If a girl decides to renounce Islam and return to Hinduism, she could be signing a death warrant for herself and her family even if her conversion was forced.

The Hindu community has also been hurt by a lack of unity within its ranks. Hindu society within Pakistan and elsewhere has historically been divided by caste, a system of social stratification in which the lower castes are often seen as inferior. Members of the lower castes in Pakistan say it wasn't until two girls from a high-caste family were forcibly converted this year that high-caste Hindus took the issue seriously, although it's been happening for years.

"We always fight our war ourselves," said Bholoo Devjee, a Hindu activist from Karachi, speaking about the lower castes.

In recent months the government has begun to take the concerns of the Hindu community more seriously. In Sindh province, legislators proposed a law to prevent forced conversions in part by implementing a waiting period before a marriage between a Hindu and a Muslim can go forward, and there's discussion about proposing such a law on the national level as well.

In the case of the Sri Krishna Ram temple, law enforcement authorities opened a blasphemy case against the people who rampaged through the building. But residents here are skeptical that these developments signify any long-term improvement in their plight. Weeks after the incident no arrests have been made, and the Hindus complain that no high-ranking Hindu officials have come to visit them or help them get compensation.

Sunda Maharaj, the spiritual leader at the temple, which was first attacked in January 2011, said he and the other residents do not want to move to India. "We are Pakistani," he said.

But he would like more help from the government, specifically a checkpoint to stop people from getting close to the temple and money for the Hindus to buy weapons.

"Next time anyone comes we can kill them or die defending our temple," he said.


Six Attackers Slain at Shrine in India
Tuesday July 5, 2005 3:01 PM

AP Photo LUC102

By KULSUM TALHA

Associated Press Writer

LUCKNOW, India (AP) - In a likely suicide attack, unidentified militants blew up a security wall on Tuesday and stormed a northern Indian Hindu shrine at the heart of a bitter sectarian dispute, setting off a fierce gunbattle with security personnel that left five other attackers dead, officials said.

Police found the remains of a man they believe either deliberately or unwittingly triggered the blast that launched the assault, said Jyoti Sinha, chief of the Central Reserve Police Force at the Ram Janmbhoomi shrine in the city of Ayodhya. Sinha's paramilitary force guards much of the site, which is claimed by both Hindus and Muslims.

In 1992, Hindu nationalists demolished a 16th century Muslim mosque on the sprawling 80-acre (32-hectare) complex, sparking religious riots that killed more than 2,000 people.

Hindu leaders claim the mosque was built by Mogul rulers on the site of a sacred Hindu temple. They believe the site is the birthplace of Ram, the highest god in the Hindu pantheon, but Muslims say there is no proof of that claim. The dispute is still working its way through India's courts.

``There were six militants. Five of them were killed by the security forces. Another body, torn into pieces, was found near the scene of the blast. He was perhaps used as a human bomb,'' Sinha said. The assault lasted nearly two hours and three security forces suffered injuries, he added.

The attackers used two vehicles in the assault - a jeep loaded with bombs that blew up part of a wall on the periphery of the high-security complex, and a taxi in which they traveled to the complex posing as tourists, said Alok Sinha, the home secretary of Uttar Pradesh state, where Ayodhya is located. The taxi driver was arrested and was being questioned, he said.

Security officials in the capital, New Delhi, said they had advance intelligence indicating that militant groups were planning to attack religious sites.

``We had already taken some preventive steps. That is why our security forces were able to successfully repulse the attack,'' said national Home Secretary V.K. Duggal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly condemned the attack and said the government would deal firmly with any terrorists.

``All state governments have been alerted to take adequate precautions to protect monuments, security installations, religious places. Particular attention has been drawn toward maintaining communal harmony, peace and public order,'' Singh's media adviser, Sanjay Baru, told reporters.

Ayodhya is guarded at all times by thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers, and the site has multiple barricades where visitors are frisked before being allowed in. Security is so tight that even pens, pencils, lighters and matchboxes are prohibited.

No militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, and Duggal declined to single out a particular group.

But Hindu nationalists quickly blamed Pakistan-backed militants from the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, and said the incident proved India's recent peace overtures with Islamabad were a failure. India and Pakistan, traditional rivals, are pursuing peace after years of acrimony.

It was ``an attack by jihad terrorists,'' said a spokesman for the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. ``There should be protests against this across the country, peacefully,'' spokesman Ram Madhav said.

The group is the ideological fountainhead of all Hindu organizations in India, including the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which called for a nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest the assault.

``To attack the Ram Janmbhoomi, the holiest shrine of the Hindus, is a very serious thing and there should be an equal reaction,'' said party president Lal Krishna Advani.

Pakistan condemned Tuesday's attack in Ayodhya. The largest militant group in Kashmir, Hezb-ul Mujahedeen, also condemned the assault.

A leading Islamic scholar in India called for peace, describing such attacks as futile.

``No movement can succeed with violence. They should give up the guns, bombs and violence and solve this through peaceful dialogue,'' said Maulana Wahiuddin. ``Those who are doing it are helping neither their country, nor their religion.''

The violence Tuesday was the first major attack on a Hindu temple site since a 2002 assault on the Akshardham temple in western Gujarat state which left 32 people dead, including two attackers. That attack was blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyaba group - one of more than a dozen guerrilla groups fighting for Kashmir's independence or its merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan.

Associated Press writer Rajesh Mahapatra in New Delhi contributed to this report.

 

HAF releases Hindu Human Rights report India Post News Service

NEW YORK: The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) released recently its first annual report on the status of Hindu human rights in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Entitled “Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kashmir: A survey of Human Rights 2004”, the report was prepared by HAF and compiles media coverage and first-hand accounts of human rights violations perpetrated against Hindus because of their religious identity. The 71-page report was delivered prior to its release to the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), who endorsed the report.

“The human rights violations that are occurring against Hindus must no longer be ignored without reprobation,” said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, after reviewing the HAF report. “Hindus have a history of being peaceful, pluralistic and understanding of other faiths and peoples, yet minority Hindus have endured decades of pain and suffering without the attention of the world.”

Congressman Ackerman stressed the fundamental nature of religious freedom and supported the concept of the annual report produced by HAF. “The Hindu American Foundation has done some important work in this regard by compiling their 2004 Survey of Human Rights by helping to defend the rights of Hindus around the world to practice their religion without intimidation and by shining a light on those who would take away their religious freedoms,” said Ackerman in a statement distributed on July 12.

The Hindu human rights report—the first in what is to be an annual publication—was prepared, according to the HAF Board of Directors, to document a humanitarian tragedy largely omitted in reports by the United States State Department and larger human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While these groups often mention the attacks on Hindus according to HAF, the group maintains that the massive scope of this human rights disaster requires the extensive coverage that this report provides.

“With over 600 documented attacks of murder, rape and physical intimidation of Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India’s state of Jammu and Kashmir last year alone, the ongoing atrocities against Hindus can no longer be ignored,” said Ramesh Rao, member of the HAF Executive Council who contributed to the report. “We are gratified that leaders in the U.S. Congress understand the magnitude of this tragedy and are determined to raise their voices in outrage.”

The report specifically denounces Bangladesh for a long-history of anti-Hindu atrocities that have recently spiked following the ascent of the Bangladeshi National Party-Jamat-e-Islami coalition. The decline of Hindus in Bangladesh from 30% of the population in 1947, to less than 10% today is analyzed in the report. The report alleges that the estimated loss of 20 million Bangladeshi Hindus is a consequence of an ongoing genocide and forced exodus.

“Persecution, discrimination and outright violence is the horrid reality for Hindus in Bangladesh today,” said Dr. Aseem Shukla, member of the HAF Board of Directors. “The international community must demand that the Bangladesh government immediately investigate the ongoing religious cleansing within its borders and empower minority and human rights commissions there.”

The HAF report also discusses the consequence of Pakistan and Al-Qaeda sponsored Islamist violence in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that has left tens of thousands of Hindus and Muslims dead, and 350,000 Hindu victims of religious cleansing. Similarly, the Pakistan government is condemned for systematic state-sponsored religious discrimination against Hindus through elaborate “anti-blasphemy” laws, and for failing to investigate numerous reports of millions of Hindus being held as “bonded laborers” in slavery-like conditions.

“While HAF supports all efforts to bring lasting peace between India and Pakistan,” cautioned Sheetal D. Shah, member of the HAF Executive Council and a contributor to the HAF report, “Pakistan must continue to be held responsible for a recent upsurge in violence in the Kashmir valley, and even possibly on one of Hinduism’s most sacred shrines this month alone.”

HAF leaders were gratified by Congressional support for the report and discussed plans to follow-up the report in personal interactions with many other legislators planned later this year. A congressional resolution emphasizing aspects of the report is being actively discussed. Rep. Ros Lehtinen and Rep. Ackerman pledged to continue working with HAF on these human rights issues.

“I applaud the Hindu American Foundation for bringing awareness to this issue,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “I look forward to working with it to help address this scar on the international human rights community."
Ackerman discussed the obligation of Congress to speak out against international human rights abuses. “By working alongside organizations such as the Hindu American Foundation, we can help to ensure that violations to religious freedom are documented, and challenged across the world,” he added.

The survey findings

BANGLADESH
• Over 400 documented attacks have taken place on Bangladeshi Hindus between January and November 2004.
• These attacks include the day to day acts of murder, rape, kidnapping, temple destruction, and physical intimidation.
• Hindus are labeled as “enemies” of Bangladesh. The Enemy Property Order II of 1965, under which property belonging to Hindus was identified as enemy property, was renamed as Vested Property Act in 1972, and under which, the Government of
• Bangladesh vested itself with alleged enemy properties. Still in force, this Order of the President and the Enemy \ Vested Property Act has not been subjected to any judicial review.
• Hindus, who comprised nearly 30% of Bangladesh’s population in 1947, now constitute less than 10% of the population.
• By 1991, 20 million Hindus were unaccounted or “missing” according to expected population trends.

PAKISTAN
• Hindus, who constituted between 15% and 24% of Pakistan’s population in 1947, now comprise less than 1.6% of the population.
• Nearly 2 million people, many of them Hindus, are held as slaves in “bonded labor” in southern Pakistan.
• Kidnapping of vulnerable Hindus is a well-established multi-million dollar industry.
• Pakistan officially discriminates against non-Muslims through a variety of laws and strictures. Discriminatory laws include the “anti-blasphemy law” under which anyone who is accused of criticizing the Prophet Muhammad is imprisoned without trial for long periods of time, and mandatory religious identification in passports. Specific discriminatory laws are the Hudood Ordinance of 1979 (offence of Zina, offence of Qazaf, execution of punishment of whipping ordinance), the Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order of 1984 and Qisas & Diyat Ordinance (Section 306 C) of 1991.

JAMMU & KASHMIR
• Over 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus have been forced to leave due to ethnic cleansing abetted by Kashmiri Muslims.
• These 300,000 Hindus are refugees in their own country, sheltered in temporary camps near Delhi and elsewhere.
• More than 3,000 Hindu civilians have been killed, and thousands more Hindu police and army personnel have succumbed to terrorist violence.
There are virtually no Hindus left in the Kashmir Valley; they have all been driven out.

Conclusion

Of these regions, Bangladesh represents an ongoing crisis for Hindus and is of utmost immediate concern.

Human rights violations against Hindus are repeatedly ignored by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and government commissions like the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom that routinely fail to specifically highlight the plight of Hindus in regions where they comprise a minority.

Minority and human rights commissions in these regions must be created and/or empowered to pressure the governments of these countries to provide security and uphold the rights of minority Hindus.

The international community must compel the governments of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India to respect the human rights of Hindus as an urgent priority.

 

Procession runs into violence in Vadodara

Express News Service

Vadodara, September 17: ALL day long, calm prevailed in Vadodara. It shattered on Saturday night when violence erupted in Muslim-dominated Chaukhandi area after a Ganesh procession was stoned at.

Police said the last few of the Ganapati idols from Wadi area were being taken out in a procession when there was heavy stone-pelting, which resulted in a clash.

Five people were seriously injured, two of them with bullet injuries. However, it was not known if those who were hit by bullets were injured in police firing or when some procession members reportedly opened fire.

Locals said tension prevailed in the area after president of the Chaukhandi Yuvak Mandal received an anoynymous letter reportedly abusing him for the manner in which Ganapati had been displayed slaying Dawood Ibrahim and Osama bin Laden.

Later in the evening, when Ganapati idols were being taken in a procession to Sursagar lake for immersion, there was slogan shouting near Moghul Restaurant which led to stone-pelting. As the mob grew in number, some of the members resorted to firing. Security forces, including the Rapid Action Force, rushed to the area and cordoned it off.

Police confirmed that five rounds of tear-gas shells were fired at the rioting mob. Five rounds of police firing occured during the incident. ‘

 

Temple, Station Attacked in India
Authorities Urge Calm After Deadly Back-to-Back Blasts

By John Lancaster
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, March 8, 2006; A14

NEW DELHI, March 7 -- Bombs exploded in a crowded Hindu temple and a railway station in the holy city of Varanasi on Tuesday evening, killing at least 15 people and raising fears of retaliatory violence against India's minority Muslim population. Authorities appealed for calm and police officers in major cities were placed on high alert.

Even before the blasts, communal tensions had been rising in India. Angry Muslim protests against President Bush, who visited India last week, as well as against cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, first published in a Danish newspaper, have erupted into violence in several cities.

The first blast Tuesday ripped through the Sankat Mochan temple shortly after 6 p.m. as Hindu devotees gathered to make offerings to the monkey god Hanuman, Indian news agencies reported. Among the dead was a bridegroom who had come to seek the deity's blessings, according to the Press Trust of India news service. Tuesday evening is the traditional time for visiting the temple.

The second explosion came minutes later at the railway station. The blast left a foot-deep crater, shattered windows and splattered the station with blood and body parts, the Press Trust reported. Four more unexploded bombs were found at another site next to the Ganges River.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency, Navneet Sikera, senior superintendent of police in Varanasi, put the death toll at 15, with 60 injured. The Press Trust said 20 people had died, including 14 at the train station. [Five people died overnight of injuries, according to a police official cited by the Associated Press.]

Indian television footage of the bombed temple showed pools of blood and chunks of flesh amid scattered shoes and other debris. Injured survivors were carried to private vehicles and ambulances, and crowds of angry men waved their fists in the air. Many of the injured were said to be in critical condition.

Situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh about 400 miles east of New Delhi, the historic, densely packed city of Varanasi is sometimes called the "Hindu Jerusalem" to underscore its significance to the followers of India's dominant faith, who make up about 81 percent of the population. The city is a magnet for pilgrims who travel there for ritual baths in the Ganges River. And the most religious Hindus believe there is no better place to die than Varanasi, whose waterfront is lined with cremation grounds.

Authorities feared the bombings of such a sensitive site could trigger communal bloodletting. In 2002, reports of a Muslim attack on a train carrying Hindu nationalists in the state of Gujarat triggered rioting that left more than 1,000 people dead. Most of the dead in that episode were Muslims, who make up about 13 percent of India's billion-plus people.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "has appealed for peace and calm," said his media adviser, Sanjay Baru. "He is constantly monitoring the situation."

Interior minister Shivraj Patil was en route to Varanasi Tuesday night, as was Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress party, which heads the country's governing coalition.

Spokesmen for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the opposition, blamed the bombings on what they said was the government's lax attitude toward terrorism, and called for a strike in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.

One key unanswered question Tuesday night was whether the bombings were the work of homegrown Islamic extremists or militant groups based in Pakistan. In the past, the Pakistani government has used such groups as a weapon in its conflict with India over the divided Himalayan province of Kashmir.

In late 2001, an attack on India's Parliament that India blamed on Pakistan triggered a military standoff that raised fears of a nuclear exchange. The crisis was defused only under heavy U.S. and British diplomatic pressure.

India and Pakistan embarked on peace negotiations that have lowered tensions, but Indian officials have continued to express skepticism over claims by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, that he has ended state support for militant groups. Indian authorities have identified the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is based in Pakistan, as a primary suspect in the bombings of two New Delhi markets that killed 60 people Oct. 29. Musharraf has banned the group, although it continues to operate under a different name.

Some analysts saw a possible connection between the bombings and Hindu-Muslim clashes in the city of Lucknow on Friday that left four people dead. The clashes grew out of Muslim protests against Bush. Communal clashes also erupted in the coastal state of Goa.

 

Suspect identified in deaths of Anaheim Hills father, daughter

Former boyfriend of surviving daughter arrested in Phoenix airport carrying a one-way ticket to Bangladesh.


By GWENDOLYN DRISCOLL, GARY GRADO and DENISSE SALAZAR

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Van Nuys man carrying a one-way ticket to Bangladesh has been arrested at a Phoenix airport in connection with the deaths of two Anaheim Hills residents last week, the beating of a third, and a house fire, Maricopa County Superior Court officials confirmed Tuesday.

Iftekhar Murtaza,22, is identified in court papers as the ex-boyfriend of Shayona Dhanak, the 18-year-old daughter of one of the two murder victims, Jayprakash Dhanak, 56. The other victim, Karishma Dhanak, 20, was Shayona Dhanak’s sister. Jayprakash’s wife, Leela Dhanak, 53, was severely beaten in the attack but survived.

The victims were stabbed, strangled and burned, according to the documents. The Dhanaks’ Anaheim Hills home was set on fire.

Murtaza was identified by a “victim,” according to police documents presented to the Superior Court.

Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez described Murtaza as a “person of interest” in the case.

“This is still a very wide and complex investigation,” Martinez said. “We are not discounting anything.”

Martinez noted that “based on the brutality of the crime, we believe there was more than one suspect involved.”

The motive for the crime appears to be a dispute over religion.

“Information developed revealed the suspect was upset with Shayona’s parents and sister for discontinuing the relationship due to different religious backgrounds, Hindu and Muslim,” the papers said.

The Dhanaks were reported by friends and neighbors to be devout members of the strict Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism. Murtaza is Muslim.

Court documents do not specify how police knew that Murtaza was in Phoenix. His description was forwarded to Phoenix police and to the U.S. Marshal’s office at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. About 2 a.m. Saturday, a man fitting Murtaza’s description was spotted.

“A person matching the description was seen inside a terminal at the airport,” the documents said. “He was contacted and identity was confirmed through a passport and identification card.  He was subsequently detained for questioning.”

Murtaza was connected with the crime through telephone toll records that revealed that his telephone was used on the day of the murders less than two miles from the crime scene and about 50 minutes before the attack began, documents say.

After his arrest, Murtaza gave a voluntary statement in which he said he was “not in Anaheim on the day or evening of the homicide,” according to the court papers.

Murtaza was arraigned about 5 p.m. Saturday and charged with being a fugitive from justice. He is being held without bond by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department because he is considered a flight risk.

The crime to which he is now linked occurred May 21 about 11 p.m. when police responded to reports of a fire on the 6100 block of East Camino Correr in Anaheim Hills. When police arrived, they found a badly beaten Leela Dhanak lying unconscious outside her house. Her husband and daughter Karishma were missing.

Shayona Dhanak was not living at home at the time and was unharmed.

About 4:15 a.m. Tuesday morning, police responded to a second report of a fire in Irvine – a brush fire next to a bike trail. Jayprakash and Karishma Dhanak’s badly burned bodies were found nearby.

Court documents list the nature of the injuries as “head trauma, strangulation, stab wounds to abdomen, moderate burns.”

A second court date for Murtaza is scheduled for May 31.

Anaheim police spokesman Martinez stressed that tips from the public were still important to solving the crime.

“This is one of those 5,000-piece puzzles,” Martinez said. “That’s why we want the public’s help because they might have the missing piece.”

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