NEW DELHI: Protesters burned copies of a magazine yesterday in protest at an article that linked a string of deadly attacks on Muslims to a Hindu nationalist leader close to India’s main opposition party.
The Caravan, a monthly that covers politics and culture, published the article in its February edition based on interviews with Swami Aseemanand from the jail where he is awaiting trial for militant attacks around India that killed more than 100 people between 2006 and 2008.
In the interviews, Aseemanand said the attacks were sanctioned by Mohan Bhagwat, who leads Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India’s largest Hindu nationalist organisation, which has close ties to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Opinion polls show the BJP has a chance of forming India’s next government after elections due by May. Most BJP leaders have been members of the RSS — considered the ideological incubator for Hindu nationalism. The RSS has denied the allegations against Bhagwat and said the interviews were fake. Since the magazine’s publication, Aseemanand has denied making the comments.
Hindu hardliners protesting outside The Caravan’s offices accused the magazine of working with the Congress party government. “We’re protesting against Caravan because it’s hand-in-hand with Congress,” said Vishnu Gupta, president of a group called Hindu Sena, or Hindu Army.
Vinod K Jose, executive editor of The Caravan said that instead of criticising the magazine, the BJP and the protesters should call for an investigation of Aseemanand’s allegations. “They are trying to attack the messenger,” he said.
Kashmiri minister accused of sexual assault resigns
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir minister Shabir Ahmad Khan yesterday resigned from the ministry after being accused by a woman doctor of sexual assault, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said.
“I have received the resignation of Minister of State for Health Shabir Khan and am forwarding (it) to the Governor for acceptance,” Abdullah said on twitter.
Official sources said Abdullah earlier told the Congress leadership to advise the minister to resign after a police complaint was slapped against him.
Congress sources said that the party told Khan to step aside until he was proved innocent.
A Srinagar doctor has alleged that Khan attempted to sexually assault her when she met him at his office on January 28.
A First Information Report was registered against the minister at the Shaheed Ganj police station Thursday following a direction from the chief judicial magistrate, Srinagar. If proved guilty, Khan can face imprisonment up to two years.
Kalashnikov to open weapons factory in India
MOSCOW: The maker of the Kalashnikov rifle plans to start producing arms in India, the biggest importer of Russian weapons, this year, it said yesterday. Kalashnikov Concern, based in the Siberian city of Izhevsk, mass produces the AK-47 assault rifle.
The company, in which state-owned Rostekh owns a controlling stake, said it would produce 50,000 weapons a year at the factory in India, working with an unspecified partner. Total investment was forecast to be $20m.
“India is a very promising market, and the best way to enter it is to set up production there,” said Alexei Krivoruchko, chief executive and part-owner of Kalashnikov Concern.