The Candid Eye

March 20, 2010

Pakistan again using mafia links for terror strikes

Saturday’s arrests of the two terror suspects in Mumbai who wanted to set fires at three locations across the city shows that Pakistani planners are now returning to their old ally, the underworld, to plot terrorist acts.

In the recent case, Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu, 29, and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz alias Rehan, 22, were arrested for conspiring to set fires at the ONGC office in Bandra (East), Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi and Thakkar Mall in Borivli. Latif’s uncle, Abdul Bashir Khan, is an absconding accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which was plotted and executed by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is now living in Karachi. Khan is currently living with Dawood in the latter’s Karachi flat and works as his assistant.

Pakistan ISI : Image Courtesy - http://www.topnews.in/

The security establishment in India has been claiming that the D-gang is hand-in-glove with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in the execution of conspiracies in India.

In the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts case, the police arrested a doctor, two engineers and a sotware programmer who did not have any prior criminal record. However, the recent case points to the in-depth involvement of the D-gang. “The two accused were in touch with a D-gang member who had asked them to identify youths for terror training in Pakistan,” said the source.

Officials in the security forces said terror bosses may have returned to the underworld because the police have mentally de-linked the underworld from terror. “The police seem to have formed an opinion that gangsterism is entirely different from terrorism and they do not pay heed to gangsters when it comes to probing terror cases nowadays. This could be one of the reasons why the Pakistani terror handlers are focusing on the use of the underworld,” the security source said.

Pakistan ISI : Image Courtesy - http://trendsupdates.com/

“In 1993, the underworld had first participated in a terror strike. Later, the modus operandi changed and the handlers started recruiting young people with no criminal records as the underworld was already on the police list,” said a security establishment official.

In the 2001 Parliament attack, new faces who were neither in the police list nor connected to the underworld were recruited. In the post-2001 modus operandi, the use of educated youths from the Muslim community was seen.

Software engineer Mansoor Peerbhoy, a Pune resident, who had a job with a Rs 19-lakh-a-year salary, was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch in 2008 for being part of the Indian Mujahideen. He was accused of hacking into computers and sending terror emails.

Earlier, in a string of post-2001 terror-related cases in Mumbai, an MBBS, an MBA, three civil engineers, four mechanical engineers, two chemical engineers, a pilot and a professor working for the National Defence Academy, Pune, had been arrested. While the police had focused on these men, most of them were later acquitted by the court or discharged by the central Pota review committee.

Noteworthy also is that absconding Indian Mujahideen operative, Riyaz Bhatkal, who is also suspected to be in Pakistan, was connected to the Fazlur Rehman gang before he formed his own extortion outfit. Bhatkal later took to terrorism.

Source: TOI

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February 5, 2010

Thackerays need to calm down: Sri Sri

Reacting to the raging controversy on the ‘Mumbai is for Indians’ issue, noted spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar on Thursday advised the leaders of Maharashtra to follow his organisation’s breathing technique and other courses in order to gain peace.

Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar

“There are a lot of problems in society already. Let us not create any new problems,” he told Zee News on being asked if the Thackerays needed to follow his teachings.

“The Thackeray family strictly need Art of Living lessons,” he said.

Sri Sri was in the Capital to announce a mission to clean up the River Yamuna that his Art of Living is starting from March 7. The mission encompasses involving volunteers, 82 NGOs, World Bank, UNESCO etc in a campaign to create awareness about Yamuna.

“India’s strength lies in unity in diversity and this cannot be put at stake because of such insignificant issues. We should look at a united India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” he added.

Having said that the leaders need to bring people together and not divide them, Sri Sri also added that locals should not be ignored.“Regional people should be given due importance, no doubt, but those from other states should not be opposed,” he said, adding “it is not part of our Indian culture.”

In a lighter, yet meaningful, vein he said that cleanliness campaigns needed to be launched everywhere- be it in politics, medical profession, business etc. “But don’t ask me to clean up everything,” he said followed by peels of laughter.

He said peace and reconciliation are possible and even the Maoists had responded positively to his call for talks. “We held a satsang in Orissa’s Maoist zone and there were over a lakh who attended, it was unprecedented.”

Called ‘Meri Yamuna, Meri Dilli’, the campaign will see awareness drives, cleanliness campaigns at various banks of Yamuna, coordination between various government agencies involved with Yamuna etc. Sri Sri said they were starting with Yamuna as it was more polluted than Ganga.

“Our Ganga clean up programs are already on, though,” he said. The campaign is being organised in view of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) latest report that the faecal content in the water of the Yamuna is so high that the river resembles a drain.

”I saw devotees drinking and bathing in dirty Yamuna water. I was so pained to see that and decided to do something about it,” he added.

He said people and government were both to be held responsible for the mess in Yamuna that had not been cleaned up despite investment of hundreds of crores and people needed to demand answers from the authorities about the same.

“In our study, we found that the main problem is a lack of coordination between various government and non-government agencies. We will try to be a link for all so that we can plan all plan what to do about the Yamuna,” he said.

The program will not ask for money from those getting involved- corporates, citizens, World Bank etc.- and it would be all voluntary work, Sri Sri informed.

On being asked if it was possible to link development with nature, he said it was the only way for sustainable progress. “There is no other way. A balance will have to be achieved between growth and nature.”

He also dismissed questions about it all being a gimmick. “Our programs are for all to see. We make it compulsory for those who attend our spiritual camps to work for society. Where can we run from our issues? There is no escape…”

Source: Zee News

January 8, 2010

Principal of Convent School chops off Hindu student’s pigtail!

The principal of a convent school cut off the tuft of hair (shendi) of a 14-year-old Brahmin student on Tuesday, allegedly because it violated the school’s dress code.The boy’s irate parents have registered an FIR against the principal – Father Frank Fernandes of St Jude’s High School, Sakinaka – for allegedly beating up their son and hurting their religious sentiments.

Pravesh Dubey, a Std VIII student, had been growing the tuft since he was a year old, as it was of religious significance. He was to grow it until he turned 15 and cut it only after a religious ceremony in April at Vindhyavasini temple in Uttar Pradesh.

Pravesh Dubey and the 8-inch tuft of hair that was cut off

Pravesh Dubey and the 8-inch tuft of hair that was cut off

But on Tuesday, he did not anticipate its fate. “I had gone to the principal’s cabin to collect my fees calendar. He was furious to see that I had not cut my hair. He asked me to turn my back towards him, and took out a pair of scissors from his drawer. I pleaded with him, but he beat me up and snipped off my tuft. When he was about to throw it into the dustbin, I asked him to give it to me,” recalled Pravesh.

School authorities say they had given the boy several warnings. “We have been warning the boy and his parents to cut the tuft of hair. According to the school’s dress code, students can neither have long hair nor can they grow such tufts,” said a representative of the school management.

The boy’s parents allege that the principal took the step despite their request to excuse their son up to April. “My son was not growing his hair for fashion. We were supposed to cut it off according to our rituals. We had requested Father Fernandes to excuse us up to April,” said Umadevi Dubey, Pravesh’s mother.

Pravesh and his parents at the Sakinaka Police Station on Tuesday

Meanwhile, activists from Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Shiv Sena staged a protest against the school management.Narshingh Sherkhane, ACP of Sakinaka division, said, “We have taken the statements of the boy and his parents. We have called the principal to record his statement. An FIR has been registered, and we will interrogate witnesses at the school and also the boy’s classmates.”

Following the FIR, Father Fernandes was booked under Sections 295 (A) (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. The police are also doing a panchnama of the severed tuft of hair, and trying to match it with hair on Pravesh’s head.

Father Fernandes remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.

“I agree that there are dress codes and rules set up by the school. But we would not touch anything that has religious significance to someone. The principal could have taken this step, had the tuft of hair been kept for fashion’s sake. In this case, the principal is wrong,” said Father Gregory Lobo, secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs 150 Catholic schools in Mumbai.

Source:Mumbai Mirror

January 7, 2010

Bureaucracy and Corruption holds India back

Filed under: India,Indian Politics — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This article is little older one by Addison Wiggin which appeared on “The Daily Reckoning”.

Excerpts from the article.

There is a crazy, night-and-day difference between Dubai and Mumbai. We were staying in the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, the most notable target of terrorist attacks this time last year. Much to their delight, the mastermind of those bombings – Hafiz Mohammad Saeed – was released to house arrest this morning after an odd trial in Pakistan.

What strikes me first is demographics. Dubai’s indigenous culture is small and practically invisible to the casual tourist. In Dubai, the ambient noise you hear is construction equipment. Almost no smells stand out. Everything is modern, new and arid.

Mumbai Gate way of India

In India, there are people everywhere…living everywhere…sidewalks, riverbanks, parks, monuments. There are shanties built on any available spot. You hear the sound of people…the murmur of voices, bicycles, car horns. Even today, when the weather is a beautiful 30 or so and the breeze steady, the air is tropical, dank and full of all manner of indescribable odors.

Soon after we arrived at the Taj, a sarapi-wrapped young lady delivered Chris and I personalized letters. Each informed us that due to state elections being held, it would be illegal for the hotel to serve us alcohol of any kind beginning at 5 PM on that day, ending 48 hours later. We found out later too that if our partners here in India were to keep the office open for work on Election Day, they risked being arrested, fined and possibly put in jail.

“Can a democracy be a dictatorship at the same time?” an op-ed asked in this morning’s Times Of India in response to the draconian efforts the Maharashtra state had taken to boost voter turnout. The idea simply: if people weren’t allowed to work and didn’t have the option to spend the day drinking… they might turn out and vote. Right.

In Mumbai, voter turn out was just over 40% – respectable by some US standards – but down a bit from the last election in 2004. “Worth 2 days without the hooch?” might have been our op ed title, had we been asked to submit one.

Mumbai Train Commuters

When we asked one of our colleagues here if he voted or not, he said ‘no’ and laughed. “Maybe if there were a category that gave me the option to choose ‘none of the above’, I would do so. But there isn’t.”

Bureaucracy and corruption, are the two words we’ve heard most this week when asking what’s holding India back. In one example, a national auction for oil and drilling rights held on Monday closed with only half of the contracts even receiving bids. A conflict between the Oil and Energy Minister and his brother have left many would be suitors for the rights contracts unsure who’s calling the shots. This week, no one wants to put their own money down in fear of losing it unceremoniously.

Upon entering one of the security firms we visited we faced a door, but no walls. It looked every bit as if an architect had gotten carried away with “form” and completely forgotten “function”… Or a cubicle concept plan for “open space” office design gone horribly awry. Later we learned they’d planned to install glass walls several years ago during a renovation, but had never received permits to erect walls higher than 7 feet in their own office space. Huh?

“If we were willing to bribe the local building authority,” our host suggested, “the walls could go up this afternoon.”

Bribes, corruption and bureaucracy are part of the culture. But it’s also part of what makes Mumbai work. “This is a ‘make do’ city,” our travel compatriot Chris Mayer observed while we were driving around the city shooting video for a documentary short we hope to produce on the opportunities in the Indian market. We’d stopped in front of the state Police Headquarters for Maharashtra. It’s a formidable colonial era building. But apparently they don’t like you taking pictures… or stopping at all… in front of the building. An angry police officer began yelling at our driver in Hindi. Several officers carrying impressive weapons were standing behind him.

“Uh, maybe they don’t like us shooting here?”

The driver got out and disappeared around the corner behind a truck followed by two of the police officers. One stood watching us in the back of the car. A few minutes later the driver returned.”It’s okay,” he said and we carried on about our business.

Later we learned a quick 100-rupee note had saved us from a trip inside the police headquarters, rather than just gawking at its façade.

With 16 million residents here, many whom live below the poverty line, the roles defined over the millennia help ensure every mouth gets fed. The only part of the city that gets consistent electricity and water is Southern Bombay. The other parts of the city, and everywhere else in the country, go through regular interruptions in basic power.

Traffic is really a sight. Harsh, a twenty-two year old graduate of Northwestern in Chicago, explained that the population has been trained by years of scarcity to try to push their way to the front of the line. It used to be because they didn’t have rice, bread or food; but now, they’ve been doing it for so long, it’s a cultural thing. So, for example, when a train pulls up to the station everyone tries to get on at once. That’s the way they drive, too.

“Harsh represents the future of India,” his father Jayesh told us proudly. Jayesh and his family have been stockbrokers since 1954 when his grandfather founded KC equities “For years Indians have felt like second class citizens of the world. But not these guys. They grew up with the Internet. They’re highly educated, motivated, confident. Rather than striving to stay in the United States after university, they’re coming back to India to participate in the development of the economy, the markets here.”

Having been to Dubai and meeting Moe, we were struck that a trend seems to be underway. In 1976, Richard Dawkins authored a book called The Selfish Gene, in which he identified a cultural unit – called a meme – that evolves and transforms as it gets passed from one human being to another.

Today, the “capitalist meme” is still actively cultivated here in the US. But because of access and speed of modern communications … coupled with the crisis in markets and entitlement programs in the West… that meme is being carried by young, intelligent, educated, active and motivated youth to the far corners of the earth. Indeed, in today’s Wall Street Journal’s op ed pages, Susan Hockfield, the president of MIT, laments that the current immigration policy in the US is actively aiding and abetting the return of science and engineering students to their home countries.

But more so, opportunities in Dubai, Mumbai… Shanghai… are inviting students back home in droves as well. At dinner one night, Jayesh made this suggestion to his son: make a list of all the things you take for granted in the US and start businesses to provide them to the Indian market. Refrigeration, for example, or electricity and roads. India is the world’s second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, but it loses 30-40% of them because lack of refrigeration.

Indeed, the small cap companies we looked at while working with our partners at Equitymaster.com included:

India’s largest financier of trucks and construction equipment The company leading the introduction of RFID and AIDC technology into retail purveyors. The leading LED displays and light bulb maker in India.The world’s second largest steelmaker

Largest producer of roses in the world

Foreign direct investment into the Indian stock market is still restricted and won’t be ava ilable until the rupee and dollar become fully convertible. And that won’t likely happen for several years. India is a net importer of grains etc. If the rupee were to float openly on the world’s forex exchanges speculation alone could cause major disruptions in India’s ability to feed itself.

For now, there are several companies available on the NYSE via ADR. And People of Indian Origin (PIOs) can invest in special accounts directly in the Indians markets. Likewise, Indians are now able to invest $250,000 a year outside the US. But progress in opening the flow of capital between India and the West remains a question for the future.

Bureaucracy, corruption and regulation are indeed impediments to short term growth. And reforms in a democratic society may come slowly… but the long-term opportunities are abundant. We intend to be there when they break.

November 29, 2009

Cost of keeping Kasab alive: Rs 31 crore and counting

Filed under: Congress,India,Jihad,Terrorism — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Courtesy : TOI

Guess how much India is spending on keeping the sole surviving 26/11 Pakistani terrorist alive and healthy in prison? Over Rs 30 crore.Maharashtra govt has so far spent a staggering Rs 31 crore to keep 26/11 attacker Ajmal Kasab safe and secure enough to stand trial.

As India observes the first anniversary of the terror attack on Mumbai, the cash-strapped Democratic Front government in Maharashtra has so far spent a staggering Rs 31 crore, or nearly Rs 8.5 lakh per day, to keep the 21-year-old terrorist from the Pakistani town of Faridkot safe and secure enough to stand trial.

Incidentally, the state is set to wind up its presentation of evidence in the ongoing trial in the special court at Arthur Road jail on Thursday. However, the trial, which began in May, is not likely to finish soon – special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam reckons it will take another two-three months to come to completion.

 

Ajmal Kasab

“The state’s debt has crossed the Rs 1.85 lakh crore mark. But of course, where security of the state and the country is concerned, we don’t discuss the financial situation,” a senior government official told TOI. Of course, the Rs 31 crore figure is strictly unofficial since the government is wary of letting out any information on Kasab.

On the post-terror attack expenditure, the official said, following the directives of the Centre, besides procuring weapons for emergency use, vehicles and equipment, two special cells were created inside Arthur Road jail and JJ hospital.

“There was a huge expenditure on the construction of a special cell inside the high-security Arthur Road jail. It has been designed in such a manner that even if a truck laden with explosives were to ram into it, the cell would not be dented. Such safeguards are essential to protect Kasab’s life – and to establish Pakistan’s involvement in the attack,” he said.

Besides the special prison cell, another cell was created inside JJ Hospital for Kasab’s treatment.

“We spent nearly Rs 1 crore for the creation of a bullet-proof cell on the JJ Hospital premises. But he was never taken there, instead, doctors were summoned to the Arthur Road jail, whenever Kasab had a health problem,” he said. Incidentally, Kasab, who was wounded before being captured, has been attended to by anywhere between 16-24 doctors for his various ailments in the past year.

The official pointed out that there was also a huge outgo on deployment of central forces to guard the Arthur Road jail and towards payment of fees for the public prosecutor and lawyers appearing for Kasab.

“It’s a costly affair, but we had no option,” he said.

Meanwhile, home minister R R Patil, who was asked to resign, following public anger over police inaction during 26/11, has promised full security to the city on Thursday. “Nothing should happen tomorrow,” Patil, whose reappointment in the new government raised quite a few eyebrows, said on Wednesday. What may have added to his confidence is the fact that an NSG battalion with 258 commandos has already landed in the city from Delhi as a security-boosting measure.

Patil also told TOI that while 15,000 police vacancies had been filled in the last year, another 21,000 posts were still vacant.

November 24, 2009

Arrogant Congress, absent Opposition

There are three striking features about anniversaries. The first is their sheer arbitrariness — what, for example, is so significant about the 100 days we so love to observe? The second, and this applies mainly to societies (not India) which have a marked sense of history, is their commercial potential. The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall proved very lucrative for publishers, just as ‘royal’ occasions in Britain are a good time for the producers of memorabilia. Finally, the decision which anniversary to observe and which to ignore is dictated by expediency and politics.

Corrupt Indian Politicians

This week India will be commemorating the first anniversary of the jihadi attack on Mumbai on November 26 last year. If initial trends are any indication, it is likely to become another occasion for media-sponsored indignation by celebrities — the spurious enough-is-enough syndrome until the fire next time. It will also be the occasion for some mindless repetition of meaningless homilies such as the mantra that “terrorists have no religion”. That their astonishing conviction stems from theology is something we can’t discuss in polite company. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, quite fortuitously, will not be there to share the popular grief over independent India’s most astounding show of ineptitude. He will be busy telling those Americans who care to listen that India harbours no ill will towards those who are determined to set our house on fire.

Despite the odd outbursts of anger at those responsible for the monumental cock-ups in Mumbai, the anniversary of 26/11 is good news for the Government. Since it is just not done to inject partisan politics into the proceedings, India will use the occasion to demonstrate its amazing resilience, the proverbial stiff upper lip we didn’t even know we had. Politically speaking, Hindu fatalism and the cheapness of human life are the best guarantees of a pernicious culture of non-accountability.

This week, however, marks another anniversary. Exactly six months ago, on May 22, Manmohan Singh was sworn in Prime Minister for a second time. It was an occasion that was greeted by most Indians with a sigh of great relief: Not because the electorate was star struck by the first innings of the UPA but because it spared India a bout of instability and Madhu Koda-type governance at the Centre. The UPA-2 assumed office with everything going for it: Continuity at the top, enhanced self-confidence of the Gandhis, a stronger Congress and weakened coalition partners and, above all, an Opposition in total disarray. The UPA-1 was a post-election construction and was prey to conflicting political pressures and blackmail. There were no mitigating factors holding back UPA-2.

Six months is too short a time to judge a Government’s performance but it is sufficient to assess the broad direction in which it is heading. It allows us to take a call on where India will find itself at the time of the 2014 poll. Sadly, the broad conclusions don’t inspire great confidence in the future of a country that believes it is a world power and doesn’t behave like one.

To begin with, there are unmistakable signs of the Government pulling in different directions and Cabinet Ministers doing their own thing. The sugar kerfuffle which led to Delhi being overrun by angry farmers was a classic example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was up to. The contentious Ordinance was blamed on Sharad Pawar’s proximity to an organised lobby. That was always well known. Why did the Cabinet not apply its mind to the Ordinance in the first place?

Cabinet Ministers, it would seem, love doing their own thing. Mamata Banerjee has chosen to use the Railways as a parallel administration for West Bengal. Her priorities are building sports stadiums, shoring up bankrupt Bengali newspapers, giving lectures to Bengali IAS officers and even indulging Maoists; trains comes low down on her dhobi list.

Black-money-and-Corruption

Mamata, it may be said, is not under the political control of the Congress. Moreover, she has to be indulged for her undeniable success in breaching the hitherto impregnable Red bastion in West Bengal. But that rule doesn’t apply for Jairam Ramesh who appears to have put self-glory ahead of everything else. It would interest the PM to know that officials are mortified over what Ramesh may concede inside the ‘green room’ at the climate change conference in Copenhagen next month. His perception of national interests seems at odds with the national consensus.

Giving Ministers autonomy is a good thing but the Cabinet seems to be operating like a confederacy. There are pro-China Ministers, pro-America Ministers, and pro-highest bidder Ministers doing their own thing. The External Affairs Minister, on his part, is emerging as the Shivraj Patil of the UPA-2 Government. The impending Commonwealth Games fiasco epitomises the crisis triggered by a lack of direction. No wonder the Finance Minister despairs of the alarming state of public finances — the austerity drive having been quietly punctured by angry politicians. As for reforms: What reforms?

What is particularly alarming is that the collapse of the Opposition has injected into the Congress an astonishing degree of arrogance. Thus, convicted killer Manu Sharma is let out by an unfazed Delhi administration to drink in pubs and campaign for his father; Madhu Koda is handled with kid gloves because of a fear that he may talk; the scandals of A Raja are left to the media to unearth because officials can’t displease the DMK; and, as for the soaring price of food, no one is responsible.

It would have been a good time to be in the Opposition. Except that the Opposition is busy either spinning yarns or imagining that the future lies in gau, gram and, presumably, gobar. India has got the Government (and Opposition) it deserves.

Source : The Pioneer

November 19, 2009

War in defence is acceptable, but not guerrilla or proxy war that is un-Islamic

Tributes to the victims of the 26/11 terror attacks began Tuesday in solemnity with various religious leaders coming together to express their condemnation of killing of innocent people in the name of religion.

Yet, the sombre occasion was not devoid of representatives of the two largest religions in India — Hinduism and Islam-— conveying their feelings and reactions in a subtle manner. Hindu leader Swami Gnanatej of the Art of Living Foundation in his opening remarks stated how India for ages had welcomed various kinds of people and taken the path of non-violence.

But with the recurring acts of violence on the nation, “we will not take it lying down and need a mass rising at this moment,” he told an inter-faith gathering organised by US-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre and India’s Art of Living Foundation.

Dr. Khwaja Iftikar Ahmad, Founder, Interfaith Harmony Foundation of India, said: “We should not talk about mass uprising but a mass awakening. We have to get together and fight together. Human misery is common to all and we have always condemned all acts of violence.”However, he stressed that it was important to convict all culprits of communal violence which has not happened in the country.

In response to the Swami’s statement that the media did not publicise how the 26/11 terrorists had not harmed Muslims, Ahmad said that 33 out of 177 who had died last November were Muslims.Echoing his sentiments was Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. “War in defence is acceptable, but not guerrilla or proxy war that is un-Islamic. Violence begins in the mind and to reach a solution, one must first kill the violence present in the human mind,” he said.

“We will never forget the victims of 26/11 and hope that the victims here are the last ones ever here and anywhere else in the world,” said Israeli Consul General Orna Sagiv.The Swami said that it was unfortunate that “outdated fatwas” were still being issued and condemned those, especially politicians, who divided the people on the basis of religion.

Wake up call

The Swami stressed that “26/11 was a wake up call as it targeted the rich and mighty. All that happened (bomb explosions) in Jaipur, Ahmedabad or Delhi largely went unnoticed as the common people suffered.”

Sources:

Mid Day

Gulf News

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