Indian politician offers $1.5M for beheading of Bollywood star

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Indian politician offers $1.5M for beheading of Bollywood star over Hindu queen, Muslim ruler romance film

A member of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party offered a $1.5 million bounty Sunday for anyone who beheads the lead actress and the director of a yet-to-be released Bollywood film that’s sparked controversy for depicting a romance between a Hindu queen and Muslim ruler.

The film “Padmavati” was set to be in theaters on Dec. 1 and has caused a firestorm over its alleged handling of the relationship.

Suraj Pal Amu, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from the northern state of Haryana, offered the bounty against actress Deepika Padukone and filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali.The film’s producers postponed the release of the movie the same day.

Speaking at a public rally, Amu also said the film would not be allowed to be released at all, local media reported.

FILE - In this June 25, 2016 file photo, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone poses for photographers at the International Indian Film Academy Rocks Green Carpet for the 17th Edition of IIFA Weekend & Awards in Madrid, Spain. A member of India's Hindu nationalist ruling party has offered a 100 million rupee ($1.5 million) reward to anyone who beheads the lead actress Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director of the yet-to-be released Bollywood film "Padmavati" over its alleged handling of the relationship between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler. The film's producers postponed the release of the film, which was set to be in theaters Dec. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Samuel de Roman, File)

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone poses for photographers at the International Indian Film Academy Rocks.  (AP)

The movie “Padmavati” is based on a 16th century Sufi epic poem, “Padmavat,” a fictional account of a brave and beautiful Rajput queen who chose to kill herself rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan of Delhi, Allaudin Khilji. Over the centuries, the tale has come to be seen as history, even though there is little historical evidence to support it.

Padukone plays the role in the film of Padmini, the legendary queen who committed “jauhar,” the medieval Rajput practice in which women of royal households walked into funeral fires to embrace death over the dishonor of being taken captive.

The film has been in trouble since the beginning of the year, with fringe groups in the western state of Rajasthan attacking the film’s set, threatening to burn down theaters that show it and even physically attacking Bhansali in January.

70th Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the film "Nelyubov" (Loveless) in competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France. 18/05/2017. Model Deepika Padukone poses. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe - RC1F97CCB4A0

Deepika Padukone poses at the 70th Cannes Film Festival.  (Reuters)

Most of the anger at the film appears to stem from allegations that Bhansali distorted history by filming a romantic dream sequence between the film’s main protagonists. Bhansali has denied the allegations.

Earlier this month, the head of the Rajput Karni Sena in Rajasthan said Padukone should have her nose cut — a symbol of public humiliation — for being part of a film that allegedly insulted the famed queen.

On Monday, local government officials vowed to take “stringent action” against those threatening Padukone and others involved in the movie, The Indian Express reported.

India’s 1.3 billion-strong democracy is the largest in the world, but despite significant economic progress over the last few decades its politics are held hostage by a complex mix of religion and caste. Books and movies have found themselves at the receiving end of threats of violence and bans because they either offend one religious or caste group, or are deemed offensive to Indian culture in general.

Members of India's Rajput community shout slogans as they protest against the release of Bollywood film "Padmavati" in Mumbai, India, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. The film has been in trouble since the beginning of the year, with fringe groups in the western state of Rajasthan attacking the film's set, threatening to burn down theaters that show it and even physically attacking the director in January. A member of India's Hindu nationalist ruling party has offered a 100 million rupee ($1.5 million) reward to anyone who beheads the lead actress and the director of the yet-to-be released film over its alleged handling of the relationship between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Members of India’s Rajput community shout slogans as they protest against the release of Bollywood film “Padmavati” in Mumbai.  (AP)

In the past, India’s film censor board rejected the erotic drama “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and Hollywood movies that appear on Indian screens are routinely scrubbed of sex scenes. “The Da Vinci Code” was banned in the Indian state of Goa, which has a large Christian population, because religious groups objected.

On Monday, India’s Supreme Court refused to ban the controversial film, saying it is not inclined in the matter and the fate of the film needs to be decided by the country’s censor board, India Today reported.

In its decision, the court said: “The censor board has a role and the Supreme Court cannot assume that role. Why should the court interfere to stop the release of a movie which has not been cleared by the censor board?”

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone interacts with the media during a news conference promoting the upcoming film "xXx: Return of Xander Cage" in Mumbai, India January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade - RC1C7813B2F0

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone interacts with the media during a news conference in Mumbai.  (Reuters)

In 2014, the publishing house Penguin India pulled from shelves and destroyed all copies of American historian Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” after protests and a lawsuit from a Hindu right-wing group. The group’s main objection was that the book described Hindu mythological texts as fictional.

India-born writer Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” has been banned here since 1998, since many Muslims consider it blasphemous. Rushdie was forced to cancel a 2012 appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival amid protests and threats by prominent Muslim clerics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

New ISIS ‘Minister Of War’ Was Trained In U.S. Military Intelligence Procedures!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

MOSCOW — In a propaganda video released last year, an Islamic State militant wearing a black bandanna and cradling a sniper rifle made the usual grim threats against the United States. Now, there may be a new twist to his warnings.

The militant, Gulmurod Khalimov, a former police commander from Tajikistan, boasted of his extensive American military training — truthfully, it turns out. But some news accounts say he was subsequently promoted to military commander of the Islamic State.

“I was in America three times,” Mr. Khalimov said in the video, which appeared online last year. “God willing, I will come with this weapon to your cities, to your homes, and we will kill you.”

That prospect remains highly unlikely. But there is no doubt that as he rose in the ranks of a special police force in Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic, Mr. Khalimov received extensive taxpayer-funded military training from the United States to help counter drug-running and extremism along the border with Afghanistan.

Continue reading the main story

Now, Mr. Khalimov appears to have become the second senior commander of the Islamic State, the terrorist group he defected to last year, to have benefited from American military training provided to former Soviet states.

Mr. Khalimov’s precise rank is unclear; he could be the group’s so-called minister of war, or military commander-in-chief. In any case, the State Department, which oversaw his training, thinks he is important enough that on Aug. 30, it offered a $3 million reward for information on his whereabouts. The Islamic State’s previous military commander was killed in an airstrike earlier this year.

The State Department has been publicizing the reward in Tajikistan, where relatives or acquaintances might have salient information.

Kurt R. Rice, the department’s acting assistant director for threat investigations, told Tajik journalists in September that Mr. Khalimov’s American training made him a particular danger, but he did not elaborate on Mr. Khalimov’s role in the terrorist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“He can use this knowledge to create difficulties for our countries,” Mr. Rice said. “He’s a person who can create difficulties.” Mr. Rice’s office declined a request to interview him about Mr. Khalimov’s training, citing his travel schedule.

After the State Department announced the reward, an Iraqi news agency, Alsumaria, reported that Mr. Khalimov had been promoted to military commander for the Islamic State, replacing Omar al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen from Georgia who was killed in the airstrike. Russian news outlets have also said Mr. Khalimov was promoted, but neither those accounts nor the Iraqi report could be independently verified.

“The U.S. putting a bounty on his head is significant,” Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, in London, said in a telephone interview. “But it’s not possible to know if he’s the strategist of military operations.”

Further muddying the picture, the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist propaganda, has found no formal Islamic State announcement of Mr. Khalimov’s position, according to Adam Raisman, an analyst who studies the group’s postings.

If Mr. Khalimov was, in fact, promoted, he would be the second Islamic State commander-in-chief to have been trained in American military aid programs in the former Soviet Union. Mr. Shishani, whose real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili, had served in the Georgian Army, which is equipped and funded by the United States as a bulwark against Russian expansion.

American military aid to Tajikistan is more narrowly focused on fighting terrorism and narcotics, because the country is a close ally of Russia. The aid has flowed even though Tajikistan is ruled by an eccentric and authoritarian president, Emomali Rakhmonov, whose police forces are often accused of abuses.

Along with jailing dissidents and using excessive force — in one case, killing 20 civilians in a paramilitary action — Mr. Rakhmonov’s police forces have been accused of more unusual human rights abuses. A provincial governor recently said that he had forcibly shaved the beards of 13,000 men suspected of sympathizing with fundamentalist Islamists.

Muhiddin Kabiri, the exiled leader of Tajikistan’s main opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Khalimov “was always against the moderate opposition” and that his police unit was known for abuses, but that the United States had turned a blind eye.

The State Department provided five training courses for Mr. Khalimov, three of them in the United States, including at least one run by the company once known as Blackwater in Baton Rouge, La. A spokesman has said the department vetted Mr. Khalimov and did not violate the Leahy Law, which prohibits the government from providing military training to foreign military units that violate human rights.

With American training programs on his résumé, Mr. Khalimov became commander of a paramilitary police force in 2013, raising alarm among human rights groups about the training even before he defected to the Islamic State.

“The U.S. military has been providing a lot of expertise and training to abusive and repressive governments in Central Asia,” Steve Swerdlow, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in a telephone interview.

“Military cooperation has to be contingent on human rights,” Mr. Swerdlow said. “Tajikistan got a free pass despite the atrocious situation with human rights.”

American military training programs are generally carried out by the Defense Department but overseen by the State Department, an arrangement that broke down in Tajikistan, according to a 2015 report by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General that looked into the American response to the Tajik police operation that killed 20 civilians in 2012.

Mr. Khalimov, then a deputy commander of the special police unit, took part in that operation but still continued his American military training until 2013.

The report found that the Office of Military Cooperation, the Pentagon group that arranged training for the suspect police units, had also conducted the investigation into the killings — effectively determining that Mr. Khalimov’s training was legal — rather than the political section of the United States Embassy in Tajikistan, which should have overseen the military education programs.

The report concluded that the lack of oversight undermined “confidence that the embassy provides a full and reliable picture of local developments.”

While it is unclear exactly what training Mr. Khalimov received, a 2008 diplomatic cable from the embassy released by WikiLeaks explained what the paramilitary police and other units requested.

The groups wanted training in “mission analysis and the military decision-making process, intelligence preparation of the battlefield, direct action, raids and ambushes, special reconnaissance, close quarters combat and battle, sniper and observe operations, military operations in urban terrain.”

My Name Is Nod: (About The Garden Of Eden)

OF THE SEVERAL HUNDRED POEMS THAT I HAVE WRITTEN THROUGH THE YEARS THIS IS MY OWN PERSONAL FAVORITE.

This is a poem that is designed to make you think, to get you to maybe get the book of Genesis out for another look-see. Maybe, if you are not good at world geography you might want to dig into some maps of the known world of about 5,000 years or so ago. I hope that you enjoy it, quite a bit of research went into making this poem be accurate. Nod is “The Land” that is just east of the Garden of Eden.

Do you know me

Listen, does not the wind whisper

Do not the mountains echo my name

How is it you do not know me

Did not the man Moses lay out the path to my door

For two of your human generations

The Valley of The Garden of God

Was my western door

My Sister, Lake Urmia was fast a sleep

Within her no bounty ever found

As the West Gate of God’s Garden she guarded

Now she is but salty ground

Did not my mountains rumble

And spew forth fire and rocks

How is it you can not find me

Can you not hear the ticking of the clock

Many of your years ago now

One man came forth unto me

Spewed forth from the Garden of God

He came unto me, with a mark upon his head

So all my inhabitants would know

That whosoever dared touch him

Would also soon be dead

The Garden has now so long been gone

It’s land like mine is scorched

The Face of God once again I seek

But when He does once again return

Will He echo my words to you

Child, how is it you do not know me

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