Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Iraq Civil War

It is civil war in Iraq. ISIS is in war with Iraq’s government headed by Nuri Al-Maliki. ISIS captured Mosul on 10/6/2014. The world noticed. Soon ISIS captured Tikrit.
There are Indians in Iraq. Nurses don’t want to come back. They have taken education loan and loan for visa. In Mosul 40 construction workers did not leave on time. They are in captivity except for one who escaped. In Tikrit there are 46 nurses.
Many Indian Shias have volunteered to fight in Iraq against ISIS. If Sunnis also want to join the fight India will have a problem. It can be Shias and Sunnis fighting in India. Government should take steps to prevent such occurrence.
Barack Obama talked about sending 300 advisers to Iraq and air strikes on ISIS but ruled out boots on the ground. He wants Nuri Al Maliki to quit.
Al-Sistani called on Shias to fight ISIS. The Shias marched in Baghdad displaying their weapons. They don’t want American air strikes on ISIS.
Iran and Saudi Arabia do not want to meddle in Iraq.
Some Americans want military intervention in Iraq. Otherwise it will become a base for terrorists to attack USA. Americans opposed to military intervention in Iraq say USA supplied weapons to rebels in Syria. Area under rebels is jihadist wonderland. In Libya a dictator was removed. Libya became a jihadist wonderland.
ISIS has captured Qaim, Rawah, Anah, Rutba, Turaibil crossing with Jordan and Waleed Crossing with Syria. Many Iraqi soldiers surrendered their uniforms and weapons. It seems they were promised safe passage if they surrendered. ISIS is known to be brutal, ferocious and ruthless. There are videos of ISIS fighters shooting captured soldiers. ISIS had support from locals, mostly Sunnis disaffected with Maliki government, so they could march quickly.
ISIS wants to capture Najaf and Karbala and if they get close to those cities Iran can enter war on the side of Shias. At that time Saudi Arabia and some other countries are likely to join war against Iran.
It is an opportunity for Kurds to establish themselves as a country. If Kurds succeed, Kurdistan will have territories from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. In 1919 when Ottoman Empire was dismembered, Woodrow Wilson wanted Armenia and Kurdistan to be independent countries. It did not happen then. Armenia became independent in 1991. Kurds wait for their country.
Continuation of civil war will affect oil supply. Price of oil will go up and adversely affect India.
Maharukh Inayet on To The Point, Headlines Today, asked about ISIS being equal to thousand Obamas. Barack Obama is confused with Osama Bin Laden. This has happened to many journalists. Report of ISIS having a plan to target Iraq and Indians being is not credible and seems intended to drag India into war against ISIS. India has ISI problem, not ISIS problem.

Train fare hike

Government decision to hike railway fare has hit many people hard. It is immaterial it was hidden in interim budget of UPA government. Now BJP is in power.
Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda said “I am merely implementing the decision taken by the previous government.” There was a circular on fare hike on 16/5/2014 which was later withdrawn. Arun Jaitley said “The Railway Minister has taken a difficult but a correct decision.”
People did not vote for BJP to implement the decision taken by the previous government. If railways were making losses why BJP members kept quiet about it during budget discussions? Dinesh Trivedi had proposed increase in railway fair. He had to quit because TMC leader Mamata Banerjee did not approve it. When his successor moved the amendment to do away with fare hike BJP did not oppose it. They did not talk of passenger safety and world class railway.
BJP promised good days. It seems a cruel joke. Prices of onion and other commodities have gone up. Train fare hike is a problem for commuters.
Long distance train fare increase is 14.2% and freight hike is 6.5%. Freight hike will result in other increase. For most people long distance train travel is once a year or so. Suburban train fare increase is 100% or more except for short distances. Commuters have to pay more than double fare.
It is one thing increase fare of long distance trains. Another thing is to increase suburban train fare. Cost of season ticket has more than doubled. For monthly passes charge is doubled from 15 single journeys to 30 single journeys. For card tickets the fare is up by 50% except for travel up to 4 km. Commuters who had to pay 280 rupees for second class monthly pass from Vasai Road to Churchgate will have to pay 645 rupees. For Andheri/Borivali/Bhayander rate has gone up from 190 rupees to 480 rupees. There is no good reason why train fare should be same from Andheri to Borivali to Bhayander. Many in Bombay and suburbs had voted for Modi. They are disappointed.
For most people long distance train travel is once a year or so. For them fare increase does not make much difference. For suburban train commuters, fare hike hits hard. The increase could have been done differently. For long distance it could have been double, for season tickets less than 50%.
Government should find ways to increase revenue without increasing train fare. Various concessions like half fare to senior citizens can be done away with. Routes that are not profitable can be shut down. During railway budgets ministers announce new trains. Many trains are to please the people of constituency or state of the minister and cause losses.

Campa Cola residents

Residents of 96 Campa Cola flats have a tough time. The owners had bought them legally. They had paid registration charges and stamp duty at the time of buying and property tax over the years. The builder made his profit. BMC officials did not demolish them when they came up. Thousands of illegal structures are regularised. These flats were not regularised. Some years back there was problem of illegal flats in Ulhasnagar. Maharashtra government passed a law to make them legal and residents were spared. That did not happen to Campa Cola residents.
The builder and BMC officials should have been punished for any illegal act. Punishing residents is travesty of justice. Innocent are punished. Guilty are free. Supreme Court which admits petitions of murderers who are sentenced to death by Supreme Court and whose mercy petitions are rejected by President, and shows mercy to murderers by commuting death sentences to life sentences did not show mercy to Campa Cola residents who were innocent. Lawyers who jump to the defence of murderers did not jump to the defence of Campa Cola residents.
Last time when BMC officials went to demolish Campa Cola flats there were many politicians expressing support to Campa Cola residents. This time apart from Shaina NC and Bala Nandgaonkar no famous politician was seen. Last time Lok Sabha elections were due. Milind Deora was present. He lost the election and seems not interested in Campa Cola. Legislative Assembly elections are four months away. Some politicians give the excuse that Supreme Court judgment has to be followed. That is duplicity and hypocrisy. Laws have been passed and Constitution has been amended many times to set aside Supreme Court judgments. If they want they can help Campa Cola residents. Supreme Court had struck down ban on dance bars. Politicians of all parties united and passed a law to set aside that judgment.
BMC officials who are otherwise lethargic showed zeal in attempts to demolish Campa Cola flats. They came even on a Sunday, 22/6/2014. Bala Nandgaonkar led a delegation of residents to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. A compromise was worked out. BMC officials will disconnect electricity and water supply of illegal flats. Prithviraj Chavan assured residents he would do everything within legal framework including regularise are within permissible FSI. If that is done, number of illegal flats comes down to 22.
Assurance is just words. If Prithviraj Chavan wanted he could have got an ordinance issued or law passed to help Campa Cola residents. He did nothing. In this country laws are amended with retrospective effect going back to 50 years and doing everything within legal framework is a sick joke. Why residents of 22 flats should suffer when residents of 74 flats get reprieve?
Residents have sent a mercy petition to President Pranab Mukherjee and he should decide in favour of Campa Cola residents.

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