Archive for India

Feminism’s Third Rail

There’s got to be a joke in that title somewhere, but until one suggests itself, we’ll stick with tragedy:

Narinder is one of four sons and only one of his brothers has managed to get married. In his district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, there are only 858 girls born for every 1,000 boys, a ratio that doesn’t occur naturally without medical intervention. The northwestern state of Uttar Pradesh is home to one of the largest skewed sex ratios in India.

“Only the rich and men with government jobs manage to get a bride these days,” he says. “Anyone who earns less cannot find a bride here anymore.”

To be fair, the job doesn’t have a lot to recommend it:

A new bride would help his parents, he says. “They would have had an easier life. They would have had someone to cook and to take care of them.”

She should clean. She should run the household. She should bear children. And Narinder plans to share her with his two unmarried brothers, who live in the same house.

Where do I sign?

On the one hand, they’re snuffing around 15% of unborn girls; on the other, the girls who are permitted to be born grow up to marry rich men, rather than shmoes like Narinder, and his brothers, and his parents, and his children. That’s a decent trade.

Isn’t it?

Decades of sex-selective abortion have created an acute lack of women in certain parts of India. Traffickers capitalize on the shortage by recruiting or kidnapping women ensnared in poverty to sell as brides. It’s a cycle influenced by poverty and medical technologies, but one that ultimately is perpetuated by India’s attitude towards women.

The National Crime Records Bureau estimated in 2012 that about 10 women are kidnapped in Assam every day. Some of these women are found again. Some go missing forever.

Eastern Indian states like Assam, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha turn into source areas for bride trafficking, because they have much more balanced sex ratios. Meanwhile, India’s northwestern states are more conservative and also more affluent, meaning they’re able to afford ultrasound scans and selective abortions.

So, abortion in India effects girl babies overwhelmingly, and leads to such an imbalance between the sexes that teenage girls are routinely kidnapped from their homes and sold as child brides.

Hello? Betty Friedan? Gloria Steinem?

I went to NOW’s website and looked up India. I confess I expected nothing, but I was wrong.

There was one entry on this topic:

Jim Yardley reports for The New York Times: “India’s increasing wealth and improving literacy are apparently contributing to a national crisis of ‘missing girls,’ with the number of sex-selective abortions up sharply among more affluent, educated families during the past two decades, according to a new study.”

Read the original source

That was more than three years ago, and that was it. No comment, no discussion, no nothing. In the meantime, 11,980 girls have been abducted in Assam alone (if the rate is accurate and consistent). I don’t think I can count how many girls were terminated before birth.

To repeat for the thousandth time, I don’t oppose abortion. Though less and less can I morally justify even my limited pro-choice position. Abortion leads to massive abuse against women in India (China’s little better, if not worse) and genocide among African Americans. In a sane world (a fanciful construct if there ever was one), feminists would oppose abortion with every fibroid of their being. Organizations like NOW and Planned Parenthood would be exposed as the brainwashers that they really are.

“Women’s reproductive health”? That’s a locution worthy of Stalin, Mao, or Goebbels. I guess that’s the joke.

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It’s a Long Story

I picked up my Sunday Boston Glob from my front walk this morning (looking like Tony Soprano in my bathrobe and slippers), and this was the front-page story:

She only wanted to change the world

Erin Willinger wasn’t going to be held back by her illness, not by anything. With much to fear, she was fearless. And then she was gone.

Untitled

Erin Willinger left Newton to search the world for purpose. Last July, she settled in Agra, India, marrying a local taxi driver. In February, he killed her and committed suicide.

Something’s wrong here. How does a local girl from Newton North marry an Indian taxi driver, only to die at his hands in a murder-suicide?

It gets wronger:

At Newton North High School, teachers imbued her with a healthy outrage at the world’s shortcomings. She leapt at a chance to travel to Cuba in her senior year, and was desperate to see more of this aching planet.

“I hope you realize, I’m never going to live here again,” she told her father just before she left for Vassar College.

“Are you going to put that in writing?” joked Andrew, who had been raising Erin on his own after he and her mother separated a few years before.

Despite her vow, Erin did come back for a time, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her junior year at Vassar. She worried that her illness would define her, often telling her father she didn’t want to be known as “bipolar girl.” After her treatment, she went back to college — this time to Columbia — then on a journey that her father said was occasionally interrupted by her condition, rather than defined by it.

“I think she was doing what she was meant to do,” Andrew said.

I’m sorry, but that’s crap. I can’t possibly judge a man who’s lost his daughter—I’m only writing about this because I feel something terribly wrong has happened—but people with bipolar disorder are defined by their condition. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s a real thing.

There are other red flags, as well. What’s healthy at the outrage her teachers propagandized about the world’s shortcomings? If you want to help the people of Cuba, you go to Miami and work with the refugees from Castro’s gulag, not to Castro’s gulag itself.

Anyway, she saw plenty more of this “aching planet”:

Fluent in Spanish and French, Erin did an internship in Helsinki, working on human rights. After college, she visited the Czech Republic, Russia, Bolivia, Peru, Vietnam, Thailand, and other places. She traveled to rural Mali with an African dance class she’d joined in Cambridge. In e-mails, she said felt most comfortable in less developed countries, where there was little structure and no stigma about someone like her, where she felt no pressure to conform in order to do meaningful work.

She searched for purpose — in yoga, in Catholicism, and, on an extended stay in Israel, in Judaism. Eventually, she found her faith not in religion, but in connecting with people who needed help.

May I observe that I feel the presence of her bipolarity in this resume of her life and experiences? No proof, just a hunch.

Last July, just after her 30th birthday, she settled in Agra. Red-haired, with alabaster skin, she stood out there despite her jewel-toned saris. After her traveling companions moved on, she settled in with a local family, eventually beginning a relationship with their taxi driver son, Bunty Sharma. Sharma had a son of 6 or 7 and Erin felt sweetly and irrationally responsible for the child, and desperate for the kind of acceptance her illness had denied her elsewhere. So she married Sharma, over her father’s objections.

Erin Willinger was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while in college and she worried her condition would define her.

“I just thought it was crazy,” Andrew said. “And soon enough she thought it was crazy, too.” Shortly after they were married, Sharma revealed to Erin that he had served time in prison for killing someone. She left him, and began working on a divorce.

“I told her, ‘Don’t go a little way, leave town,’?” Andrew said. “And she just didn’t want to leave the work she had started. She was kind of stubborn.”

Erin saw the masses of tourists passing through Agra to see the Taj Mahal each day, and lamented the fact that the city’s poorest residents never benefited from them. If the city was more inviting, visitors would want to stroll around and spend their money beyond the monument’s walls, she figured. And so she began a movement to clean up the streets, modeled on a program she’d started in Israel. Andrew worried about Sharma, but Erin convinced him her husband was no threat.

It’s a lovely idea, but how can I focus on it when alarm bells are going off in my head? Moving in with a local family and marrying their taxi driving son? Playing step-mom to his boy? “Working on a divorce” after her “husband” admits to being a murderer, rather than getting the hell out of Dodge? Crazy doesn’t even begin to cover it.

“In the back of my mind I was always worried I was going to get a call in the middle of the night from the embassy,” he said. “I told her all the time she should come home and get a real job and get a normal life and she would repeatedly tell me, ‘That’s not very helpful, dad; I’m not going to do that.’?”

It is the loving burden of all parents — to raise kids and send them off into the world, hoping for the best, and dreading the worst. Most of the time, the dread is unfounded, merely an instrument of torture on sleepless nights. But for Andrew, those calls did come over the years, usually from somebody letting him know that Erin had had an episode, and needed treatment.

When the US embassy called at 6 a.m. on Feb. 21, the day after Erin’s triumphant press conference, he assumed she’d been hospitalized again.

No. Erin was dead. Sharma had stabbed her in his taxi and dumped her body by the side of a road. Then he went back to his apartment and blew up a gas canister, killing himself.

I’ll stop here, as we needn’t wallow in the understandable yet incomprehensible grief her father felt. There’s no one to blame, yet everyone’s to blame. Erin herself, who didn’t give her condition the respect it demanded—didn’t see her life and her choices as defined by her condition. Her father, who let her believe she could do what she was doing and not come to such an end. (To be fair to him, he sounds like he did do everything he could do, short of kidnapping his 30-year-old daughter.) Her “teachers” who imbued the outrage that led to so many of her bad decisions.

But most of all to the Boston Gob, and Yvonne Abraham, the author, for implying sense to senselessness. A girl whose bipolarity was as much a part of her as her red hair and “alabaster” skin, made a series of bad choices, most prompted by that condition. And she was murdered for it.

The Indian papers cast the murder as the story of a Bollywood-style romance gone wrong: A beautiful, educated American woman falls in love with an illiterate Indian taxi driver and their marriage goes sour, their two lives extinguished in a crime of passion.

That simplistic story line eats at Andrew. His daughter’s death was uglier than that, her life more beautiful. He wants people to know Erin stayed in India for a love far bigger than some treacly romance.

She stayed because she was fearless. And because she wanted to fix the world.

Did she fall in love? Did she want to fix the world? Or was she just off her meds? I’m sorry, but a “beautiful, educated American woman” from Newton North high school doesn’t get stabbed to death in her illiterate “husband’s” taxi and dumped by the side of the road in rural India unless something’s gone terribly, terribly wrong. Either someone should have saved her, or she was going to die—that’s the perverse moral of this story.

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No Way to Treat a Lady

If you’re going to conduct a body cavity search, you should at least buy her dinner first:

An Indian diplomat said U.S. authorities subjected her to a strip search, cavity search and DNA swabbing following her arrest on visa charges in New York City, despite her “incessant assertions of immunity.”

Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was arrested Thursday outside of her daughter’s Manhattan school on charges that she lied on a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper, an Indian national.

Khobragade’s father, Ttam Khobragade, was outraged, saying Tuesday that his daughter had “not done anything to be treated like that. What was done was absolutely atrocious.”

The case has sparked widespread outrage in India and infuriated the New Delhi government, which revoked privileges for U.S. diplomats to protest the woman’s treatment. It has cast a pall over India-U.S. relations, which have cooled in recent years despite a 2008 nuclear deal that was hailed as a high point in the nations’ ties.

On Wednesday, dozens of people protested outside the U.S. Embassy, saying Khobragade’s treatment was an insult to all Indian women.

In an email published in India media on Wednesday, Khobragade said she was treated like a common criminal.

“I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity,” she wrote.

An Indian official with direct knowledge of the case confirmed to The Associated Press that the email was authentic. The official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the case, said India’s priority now is to get the woman returned home.

“India’s top demand right now is: Return our diplomat,” he said, adding that Khobragade, who was released on $250,000 bail, would have to report to police in New York every week.

Khobragade’s case has touched a nerve in India, where the fear of public humiliation resonates strongly and heavy-handed treatment by the police is normally reserved for the poor. For an educated, middle-class woman to face public arrest and a strip search is almost unimaginable, except in the most brutal crimes.

Prosecutors say Khobragade claimed on visa application documents she paid her Indian maid $4,500 per month, but that she actually paid her less than $3 per hour. Khobragade has pleaded not guilty and plans to challenge the arrest on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Brennan reported that a major sticking point between the U.S. and India is whether Khobragade — a junior diplomat — should even be considered immune to prosecution.

Marie Harf, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman, said Khobragade does not have full diplomatic immunity. Instead, she has consular immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.

You know what the media would have made of this had it happened under Bush. Dear God, the misogyny, insensitivity, the cruelty!

Interesting how our relationship with India has “cooled” since Obama took office. I guess they don’t see the aura:

That’s no way to treat a person of color.

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What Happens When We Allow Iran To Build A Nuclear Bomb Or Two?

Saudi Arabia gets some of the same from Pakistan

Another example of the incompetence of the Obama administration.

Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.

While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.

Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.

Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”

Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, “we will get nuclear weapons”, the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions.

Etc. More at the BBC link. But I’ll ask the question that has haunted me since 2008, during the campaign: Is Obama stupid or malevolent? I know that his supporters are dopes, but what about him?

- Aggie

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False Advertising

If ever a story did not deliver what the headline promised… this is that story:

The Bay of Bengal, in peril from climate change

Nearly one in four people on earth live in the countries that border the Bay of Bengal. The region is strategically vital to Asia’s rising powers. Its low-lying littoral – including coastal regions of eastern India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra – is home to over half a billion people who are now acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels. Storms are a constant threat; over the weekend, a cyclone, Phailin, swept in from the bay to strike the coastal Indian state of Odisha, leading to the evacuation of some 800,000 people.

The bay was once a maritime highway between India and China, and then was shaped by monsoons and migration as European powers exploited the region for its coffee, tea and rubber. Today the bay is being reshaped again by the forces of population growth and climate change.

You already said that. Where’s the proof?

The Bay of Bengal’s coasts are under assault in every dimension: by water conflicts in the Himalayas and by drilling for oil and gas in the deep sea. The bay is a sink of pollution borne by the great rivers that spill into it, including the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Salween. Dam construction in China and India threatens downstream communities in India, Bangladesh and mainland Southeast Asia. With sea level rising and deltaic lands subsiding, saltwater intrusion onto farmlands has accelerated, with serious consequences for food production.

The purported rise in sea levels, then, is but one factor, and a small one at that.

If even that:

As Dr. Willie Soon of Harvard shows, ocean level variation is large and affected by many factors. If temperatures rise, water expands, adding to sea level rise. If icecaps melt, levels rise, but if icecaps grow due to increased snowfall, levels fall. If ocean saltiness changes, the water volume will also change.

The land itself moves continuously. Some shorelines are rising and some are subsiding. The land around Hudson Bay in Canada is rising, freed of ice from the last ice age. In contrast, the area around New Orleans is sinking. Long-term movement of Earth’s tectonic plates also changes sea level.

Tides are a major source of ocean variation, primarily caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, the sun, and the rotation of the Earth. Ocean water “sloshes” from shore to shore, with tides changing as much as 38 feet per day at the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The global average tide range is about one meter, but this daily change is still 300 times the three-millimeter change that scientists claim to be able to measure over an entire year.

Storms and weather are major factors affecting satellite measurements. Wave heights change by meters each day, dwarfing the annual rise in ocean level. Winds also change the height of the sea. The easterly wind of a strong La Niña pushes seas at Singapore to a meter higher than in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Satellites themselves have error bias. Satellite specifications claim a measurement accuracy of about one or two centimeters. How can scientists then measure an annual change of three millimeters, which is almost ten times smaller than the error in daily measurements? Measuring tools typically must have accuracy ten times better than the quantity to be measured, not ten times worse.

What the dire assertion of calamity lacks in science, it makes up for in timing.

The last time a storm as powerful as Cyclone Phailin struck the eastern coast of India, 10,000 people died.

So the sense of relief is strong in the state of Odisha, where Phailin made landfall this weekend.

“I felt like I was going to die, everyone was so tense,” said Raju Pradhan, who lives with his family in Odisha.

At least 13 deaths were reported in Odisha, among fewer than 20 recorded across India.

Every death is tragic, but considering Phailin was the strongest tropical storm to hit India in more than a decade, the toll could have been much higher.

You can sense the disappointment, can’t you? Can you also sense the illogic? In what sense are the “one in four people on earth” living in the region be at peril when 99.8% fewer people died this time than last? Evacuation made the difference, presumably, but isn’t that thanks to the technology made possible by the very first-world lifestyle under attack today?

Pollution and subsidence may be serious problems (how would I know?), but claims of imminent peril based on unproven (even disproven!) fright scenarios are rank dishonesty.

Besides, as India proves with distressing frequency, an ingrown toenail can lead to mass casualties:

The death toll in a weekend stampede outside a temple in central India has risen to 112, and more than 100 others are injured, authorities said.

The stampede happened Sunday on a bridge over the Sindh River in Ratangarh, where pilgrims were headed to a temple for a Hindu festival.

A rumor that the bridge was about to collapse caused panicked people to stampede, police told CNN sister network CNN-IBN. About 25,000 people were on the bridge at the time, said D.K. Arya, a local deputy police inspector.

Nearly six times as many people died at a religious festival as in the cyclone. Maybe the water level in the Sindh River was rising due to global warming.

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Islamic “Extremism” Watch

If “extremism” is the mainstream, is it still extremism?

A series of small bombs went off in and around a world-famous Buddhist temple in eastern India Sunday, injuring two people, authorities said.

Four of the eight explosions occurred at the Mahabodhi temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Bihar state that houses a tree where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.

The temple itself was not damaged.

The other four blasts hit other sacred locations around Mahabodhi, said Bihar police official S.K. Bhardwaj.

A 50-year-old Tibetan and a 30-year-old Myanmar national were injured in the attack, Bhardwaj said.

While no one took responsibility for the attack, suspicion fell on the home-grown Islamist group Indian Mujahideen, Bhardwaj said.

When asked for comment, John Kerry said: “Arrrgh, mateys, these scurvy dogs will walk the plank for their misdeeds.”

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Terrorists Love Springtime

Maoists in India

Officials reacted with outrage Sunday to an audacious attack by about 200 suspected Maoist rebels who set off a roadside bomb and opened fire on a convoy carrying Indian ruling Congress party leaders and members in an eastern state, killing at least 24 people and wounding 37 others.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by party President Sonia Gandhi, visited the injured in a hospital in the Chhattisgarh state capital and said the government would take firm action against the perpetrators.

“We are devastated,” said Gandhi, who denounced what she called a “dastardly attack” on the country’s democratic values.

Proving that terrorism is a technique and although Islamists love it, others can play too.

- Aggie

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Don’t Tase Me, Ho!

Good old Indian ingenuity!

A group of Indian engineering students have created electrified lingerie in hopes of protecting women from rape attacks inside the country.

The lingerie, called Society Harnessing Equipment, shocks anyone who touches the outside of the bra, while the women wearing it are protected by an inner polymer lining, The Daily Express reports.

“A person trying to molest a girl will get the shock of his life the moment pressure sensors get activated,” said co-inventor Manisha Mohan, a student at SRM University.

The students who invented the lingerie say the bra is capable of sending out 3,800kV shock waves, and it can also alert police to the location that the victim is being attacked, The Daily Express reports.
Violence against women, and the huge publicity generated by recent attacks, is threatening India’s $17.7 billion tourism industry.

Not to mention the women!

I confess I like India a lot more than I like China (like, a subcontinent more), even if India engages in some of the same appalling practices as the evil Chinese (female infanticide, to name one). I have been to India, and would love to go back—whereas you couldn’t pay me enough to go to China. But they have some seriously effed-up people in India (and some brilliant and beautiful people too). Don’t be raping the women, you Aryan a-holes. Don’t even touch them. And if you do, I hope you like your hair curly.

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Hitler And Frankenstein Running For Office In India

Isn’t that cute?

This week’s local elections in India have brought into the spotlight an unusual practice left over from colonial days, according to AFP, with some of the candidates sporting somewhat distinctive names.

For Hitler and Frankenstein are apparently among the 343 political wannabes hoping snag one of 60 spots open on the state legislative assembly in Meghalaya.

History professor Sanjeeb Kakoty of the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong, the capital of the northeastern state of Meghalaya, told AFP that the outlandish names are a throwback to British colonial rule, and new parents often name their offspring at random, with little thought to the actual meaning of a word.

If the list of candidates is anything to go by, this is indeed the case; AFP says that joining Hitler and Frankenstein in the race are Boldness Billykid, Hilarious Pochen and Hopeful Bamon.

Adolf Lu Hitler-Marak told AFP that his parents had not been aware of his namesake’s bloody history and was adamant that aside from his mustache, he has nothing in common with the Nazi dictator.

This dude is running around with a Hitler mustache? Not much could be creepier. I have a relative who loves to travel to India and believes that they are simply naive. So they have a popular burger joint called Hitler, with all sorts of swastikas and military items used as decoration.. they don’t know any better. I think this is racism on my relative’s part. He’s saying that they are too dumb to know any history, but I’m pretty sure that a country as sophisticated as India today, and an owner that can put together a successful business plan, certainly understands. They apparently identify with genocidal lunatics.

- Aggie

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UK No Longer Granting Aid To India

Changing times.

Since the East India Company was granted a royal charter in India in 1600, the U.K. has always had a foothold in India, be it through business, trade or international aid programs. On Friday, however, the U.K. has announced that it will no longer be giving financial aid to India, a sign that one of the world’s original BRIC economies is now more “established” than “emerging” economy.
From 2015 the U.K. will no longer give any financial aid grants to India with immediate effect, the British government’s development secretary Justine Greening announced on Friday, citing “progress” in the country as a reason to evolve the U.K./India relationship into one of partnership rather than patronage.
“After reviewing the program and holding discussions with the Government of India this week, we agreed that now is the time to move to a relationship focussing on skills-sharing rather than aid,” Greening announced.

I wonder if India will thrive on her own? Will she someday be granting aid to the UK?

- Aggie

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Apartheid State Update

The nerve of Israel—thinking it knows best!

India is considering the possibility of integrating Israeli technologies in a national initiative to clean the Ganges River. For this purpose, engineers, researchers and representatives form water technology companies will visit Israel next week.

Over the past two months, the Indian government has been promoting a large scale endeavor to clean the Ganges River, which is considered holy in Hinduism.

Due to the river’s importance as a fresh water source for as well as a ritual site, and considering that the river has become a source of infection and disease, the Indian government treats this initiative very seriously.

Recently, the Indian government decided to invite leading Israeli water technology companies to take part in the efforts to clean the river.

Next, you’ll tell me that Israeli doctors flew to Haiti after the earthquake and… oh that’s right, they did.

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Journalist Arrested In Terror Attack

Is this the first arrest of a journalist, in a democracy, for working to implement a terror attack?

Indian authorities have arrested a local journalist working for an Iranian news agency in connection with last month’s Israeli embassy car bomb blast, a police official said on Wednesday.

It was the first arrest over the Feb. 14 attack that Israel has blamed Iran of perpetrating. An Israeli diplomat’s wife, her driver and two others were wounded, and the blast coincided with an attack on another Israeli diplomat in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The 30-year-old freelance Indian journalist, Mohammed Kasim, was arrested in a southern district of the capital, New Delhi, on Tuesday evening and charged with criminal conspiracy, Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.

News channel NDTV reported that Kasim, who was produced in a local court on Wednesday, had been in touch with one of the attackers. He was not directly involved in the attack itself, in which a motorcyclist attached a bomb to the car and set off the device.

Do you think that journalists collaborate with terrorists often?

- Aggie

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