Sunday, April 22, 2012

Team Anna expels Mufti Shameem Kazmi for recording proceedings

Noida (UP), Apr 22 (PTI) Fresh cracks surfaced in Team Anna today with the expulsion of a Muslim leader after he was accused of secretly recording proceedings of a core committee meeting but he dismissed the charge and claimed he quit the camp as the group was turning anti-Muslim. High drama was witnessed at Team Anna's core committee meeting in Noida this afternoon when Mufti Shameem Kazmi, who was associated with the anti-corruption movement from the beginning, was allegedly found recording the proceedings. Kazmi stormed out of the meeting presided by activist Anna Hazare and announced his resignation to the media outside the venue. "He was caught red-handed," prominent Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, who was one of the key members to face Kazmi's ire, told reporters. Presided over by Hazare, the meeting was called to discuss the anti-corruption movement's future course of action against the backdrop of growing unease in Team Anna over the "one-up manship" of yoga guru Ramdev, with whom they had stitched an alliance to fight for the cause. Team Anna sought to put the blame on all news leaks on the deliberations of its previous meetings to Kazmi and said they were astonished earlier how media was getting details of the meetings while it was underway. Claiming that he does not know how to record a conversation using a mobile phone, Kazmi claimed that Hazare was unhappy with the team and that Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia were trying to run the movement like a "private limited company". Kejriwal said the allegations does not deserve any reaction from their side. "The Core Committee was on and one of us noticed that Kazmi was recording the proceedings. We got hold of his phone and found that there were three clips of recording. We sought his explanation but he walked out in a huff," another Team Anna member Kumar Vishwas said. "On earlier occasions also, the details of the meeting were coming on media even when the deliberations were on. We were wondering who was behind it. This is a breach of confidence. Anna asked him to stay away from the next few meetings but he came out and said something else," he said.

Burmese Muslims seeks refuge in India

New Delhi: Making pavements as their homes, over 500 hundred Myanmar nationals, among them women and children, have camped for the past 12 days near the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office here, demanding a refugee status.

"Life is not easy for refugees like us, who fled our country... at the age of 18... I have faced torture, extortion, trauma and starvation," Dilwana Begum, who works as a maid in Jammu, told IANS. "We are at least happy that unlike in our own country or Bangladesh, in India we feel safe and are not harassed for being Muslims. But the UNHCR is not paying heed to our plight."

Since April 9, Begum and over 500 people like her belonging to Burmese Rohingya community, a Muslim community hounded out from Myanmar (formerly Burma), have made temporary sheds of polythene sheets by the rear compound wall of the UNHCR office in B-2 Block of Vasant Vihar in south Delhi, demanding refugee cards.

"We were issued a asylum seeker card in August 2011 by the UNHCR, but it deprives us from lot of facilities that a refugee would get. We want a refugee card. Our children need education, better living conditions like water to drink and toilets. But we are deprived of this as we don't have a refugee card," said Zia-ul-Rahman, a refugee who left Myanmar two years ago and now lives in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh.

The refugees say that for the past 12 days, most of them did menial jobs to get food and water.

"We are at their doorsteps seeking help, but the UNHCR has not even reached us to see how we are managing here with small children and old people, hope they know the real meaning of human rights," lamented Abdul Hafeez, who stays at the camp.

Hafeez speaks very little Hindi, and through an interpreter told IANS: "I lost my parents four years ago as the Burmese Junta shot them saying that they did not support the military regime. I had to discontinue my education. Like other refugees from Burma and countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, we need a refugee status so that I can continue my studies."

Another refugee, Mamoon Rafeeq who works as teacher in Jammu said that the Rohingyas have been sidelined in Myanmar as they are a Muslim community.

"Unlike other Myanmarese refugees, Rohingya has been sidelined because we are Muslims. Other Myanmar refugees who are Christians and Buddhists are given refugee card," Rafeeq claimed.

However, the UNHCR officials say that they discussed the issue with the refugees four to five times, but were not persuaded by their arguments.

The officials said they will now meet 10 representatives of the community on May 20.

"We don't use the term Rohingya - we refer to this group as Muslims from northern Rakhine state. In India, there is no national legal framework for refugees, and because of this there are different approaches to different groups of people," Nayana Bose, associate external relations officer UNHCR, told IANS.

"We have already registered them as asylum seekers and issued identity cards. The card is similar to the refugee card as it helps prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and expulsion," Bose said.

"Moreover, we are having an on-going dialogue with this group, and for their own safety and well-being, we have asked them to go back to their residential places in India. We have offered to meet their representatives in a more structured manner, to see how best we can assist them, as we do with all groups of refugees and asylum seekers," Bose added.