Archive for 'Crime'

India Steps Up the Fight Against Piracy

Posted on May 12, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International.

MUMBAI, India — Over the past few years, Somali pirates have posed a bigger and bigger challenge to India, disrupting its trade, capturing its merchants, attacking closer to its shores and — like a game of Calvinball — changing the unwritten rules as they go.

But India will not give up.

Faced with a growing threat from these men in boats, India is stepping up its fight with a variety of measures aimed at ending the menace. The efforts, say maritime security experts, also provide India an opportunity to flex its muscles on the world stage and show that it is willing and able to be a strong regional and global power.

“It’s a very big priority for us,” said P.K. Ghosh, a senior fellow at Observer Research Foundation with an expertise in maritime security. “The Indian government is taking [piracy] very seriously.”

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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A Remarkable Rape Case

Posted on February 8, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — A poor girl in northern India is a member of the lowest caste. She winds up in jail after fleeing her alleged rapists. These alleged rapists are powerful men.

What are the odds the story gets better from here?

Slim, to say the least.

“Here child marriage is rampant, abuse of minor girls is rampant, abductions are very frequent,” said Tapas Kumar Chakraborty, a community volunteer and journalist in Uttar Pradesh, where the girl lives. “The powerful men and the gangsters get away with everything.”

And yet, the story of this girl appears to be an exception — at least so far.

Months after losing her mother, this teenage girl living in Banda, Uttar Pradesh, was abducted. The girl’s father, a farm laborer, pleaded with a state assemblyman to help him find his daughter. The legislator helped rescue the girl and then offered to let her live with him as his domestic help. The father agreed.

“He thought she would be safe there,” said Chakraborty. “But that didn’t happen unfortunately.”

The legislator, Purshottam Naresh Dwivedi, and three other men allegedly raped and beat the 17-year-old repeatedly. The girl tried to flee, but she was caught, beaten, accused of theft and handed over to the police, according to news reports. The girl, a minor, spent a month in jail.

It is not uncommon for powerful men who sexually assault or exploit women in India to use their money or political connections to shield themselves from legal consequences.

“This is one such reported case. There are many, many, many such unreported cases,” said Amitabh Kumbar of the Centre for Social Research. “Exploitation of poor women by politicians is a common trait not just in UP [Uttar Pradesh] but across the country.”

But thanks to a combination of factors connected to her own personality, an active civil society and political games in her state, the girl has not only been freed from jail, but the politician and other accused men have been arrested. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party’s general secretary and heir apparent as prime minister, traveled to Uttar Pradesh on Monday and met with the girl at her village.

In a place like Banda, there is usually little chance that a poor girl will manage to get out of jail or that authorities will arrest powerful men.

Why has this case turned out differently?

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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India: ‘Wife-beating diplomat’ shames nation

Posted on January 26, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International, Media, women.

MUMBAI, India — “Envoy shames India.” “India-UK diplomatic row.” “Diplomatic cover for domestic violence?” “Wife beating hardly diplomatic.” These are some recent headlines peppering Indian news outlets.

Put plainly, the case of a senior Indian diplomat allegedly beating up his wife at their London home has caused quite a stir. Indians are debating everything from the role of diplomatic immunity to what extent one allegedly violent husband can shame an entire nation.

But perhaps most strikingly, the case reflects India’s complicated relationship with and often tolerance for domestic violence. In India, many communities still condone marital abuse.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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Cost of Calm in Mumbai

Posted on October 26, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International.

MUMBAI, India — Each night, after his mother goes to sleep in the kitchen and four other relatives curl up on the living room floor, Fazal leaves his tiny house in North Mumbai to find a little space for himself. Often, he can find a decent night’s sleep on a bench outside near the Jogeshwari East neighborhood market.

But one night last month, Fazal did not sleep so soundly. Five policemen shook him awake. They arrested him and detained him at a nearby police station for what seemed like no good reason, said Fazal.

Fazal Ahmed Shaikh, 21, said he spent three days in jail, silent and fearful of the police and his cellmates. He stayed in his cell with bugs of “all sizes,” he said, until the police eventually released him. Fazal was never charged with a crime.

Fazal, who wears his shaggy black hair swept across his forehead and sports the flicker of a goatee, was one of 7,000 people arrested in Mumbai ahead of a controversial court case ruling in late September. Mumbai authorities, fearful the verdict would spark riots, used Section 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code to detain people they suspected might disturb the peace, according to Mumbai’s Additional Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter @Hanna_India.

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Murder of Muslim Lawyer Angers Community

Posted on March 18, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International, Religion.

MUMBAI, India — When Shahid Azmi was 15, police gathered outside his home in a slum area of Mumbai. As he, his brothers and mother huddled inside between the bed and cupboards, his older brother Arif recalls, police stoned the home and fired shots over the windows.

Shahid had a front-row view of Mumbai’s 1993 riots in which mobs of Hindus burned down homes, destroyed businesses and killed hundreds of Muslims as police looked on. His brother said Shahid also saw officers storm a Muslim home in their Shivaji Nagar community, drag women out of the apartment and try to rape them in the street. He witnessed an officer tell a Muslim neighbor to run, only to get shot by another cop.

Another brother, Khalid, recounts Shahid’s life as he sits in Shahid’s former office in Mumbai’s middle-class suburb of Kurla. Shahid had become a lawyer, representing Muslim Indians he considered wrongly accused of terrorist charges.

Last month, three armed gunmen entered this office and shot Shahid dead at point-blank range. He was 32.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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24 Hours in Addis Ababa

Posted on August 30, 2009, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, International.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — I have been in Ethiopia for less than 24 hours and have had my first experience with armed robbery.

I was walking around an open-air market – in broad daylight – in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, with a friend who has lived here for over a year. The Merkato is considered the biggest open-air market in Africa. With the exception of an Ethiopian contemporary art gallery, it was the one thing in Addis I really wanted to see – mostly for the photo opportunities.

My friend and I, the only two white people there, spent the afternoon strolling through the market.  She chatted with the men and young children calling after us. I took photos: men sitting on the street selling everything from sneakers to power cords to videogame controllers; Muslims lined up on their knees for the afternoon prayer; stalls selling bushels of leaves called chat that men chew as a stimulant; women in a variety of dress – some Ethiopian Orthodox Christians wearing white veils for church, Muslims in headscarves and some, presumably Somalis, in gowns that fully covered their bodies with only slits for their eyes. One wore a long black gown, fully covered, and as she walked, pretty silver high heels peaked out.

As we were on our way out of the market, two young guys ran up from behind us. One grabbed the digital camera out of my hand. The cord was wrapped around my wrist, so he had to tug. As I soon as I realized what was happening, I let go easily. Just in case.

Then I saw the other young man struggling with my friend for her clutch purse. She put up a decent fight, even running after him a little. Damn it, I thought as I watched my guy take off through the stalls, I should have put up a fight.

But the second guy pulled a knife out on my friend. As soon as she saw the knife, she dropped the purse and fell backwards on the ground. He ran off.

People gathered around, watching. No one ran after the guys or even asked if we were OK.

We quickly found a taxi and jetted away.

I have told a few Ethiopians about the incident, and the reaction has been the same: the Merkato is known for theft, but armed robbery? That is very rare here, they say. A fellow writer told me that armed robbery is almost unheard of in Ethiopia, and that the crime rate here for serious crimes is very low compared to other African countries. He also said that had we gone to the police (which we didn’t – how could they find these guys in a huge market?) – and they had arrested the men, the men would have gotten 10 years in prison.

I am in Ethiopia with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which will be taking me around the country to visit their maternal health sites. Today we will visit teenage girls who have fled their homes in rural villages due to child marriage and have resettled in the capital. Many now work under harsh conditions as maids for very low-income Ethiopian families. UNFPA helps educate the children and give them life skills.

People in Addis have been friendly; many men and children see a white woman and eagerly begin practicing their English. “You! You!” “Hello.” Or they shout out the Amharic words for “Foreigner!” and “White Face!”

The city is not exactly “attractive.” Tiny shops line the streets selling beer or snacks. And then out of nowhere, these huge, incredibly gaudy modern hotels pop up. Shack – shack – shack – huge gaudy hotel—shack – shack – shack.  To be fair, I have only been here for 24 hours. Maybe the beautiful parts of the city are hiding.

Luckily, though, the modern hotel where I am staying has Internet access in my room, a big TV and a clean, comfortable bed. I will spend much of the week outside Addis, where I hear bedbugs prevail. I will get my rest in Addis, while I can.

Despite the fleas, the rest of the country should be very beautiful – thank goodness I brought a second camera.

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Back To Mapquest

Posted on December 14, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

My car was broken into this weekend. Glass everywhere. For a GPS system. Thoughts while sitting on the street, in the cold, waiting for two hours for police to come: Jerks. Violated. Pissed. Annoyed. Not excited about waiting for police, filling out report, dealing with GEICO, finding a glass repair shop on a Sunday night, buying a new GPS stysem because now I am dependent on it to get anywhere. At least I have something interesting to write on my Facebook status. But so not fun.

Update: Passers-by very sympathetic. One gave me suggestions for glass repair shops, and offered me cashews. The police eventually came, after I called three times. Not so sympathetic. They said no, they haven’t seen more theft because of the economy. Not yet anyway. GEICO was rather helpful and will be here tomorrow. I parked it in a garage over night. The garage man said they have seen a lot of these GPS-thefts. The kids who steal them sell them for five, ten dollars, according to the garage man. I would have given them five dollars. I didn’t even have the GPS visible, but the suction thing was on the windshield. The garage man said the kids see the charger and know it’s there. Oh Brooklyn.


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Fire and Naturalization Applications

Posted on August 12, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, Immigration.

A couple more stories I did during my stint at the NY Sun:

U.S. to Process Applications for Citizenship More Quickly

Two Killed in Fire on Upper East Side

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Crime, Police Stories in NYC

Posted on August 7, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

I’ve been working at the New York Sun for the past couple weeks on their crime beat. Check out some of my recent stories here:

New York May Weigh Sex Offender Act

Civil Rights Lawyer Sues City Over Handcuffing of Girl, 10

School Crime Decline Recorded

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Woman Arrested for Airport “Joke” Responds

Posted on May 28, 2008, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime.

I wrote a post on April 22 highlighting the illegality of making a bomb joke at airports by discussing the arrest of a woman, Rosalinda Baez, for doing just that at JFK. A JetBlue flight attendant denied Baez access to the plane carrying her luggage, and she asked: “What if I had a bomb in my bag?” She was then arrested for falsely claiming there was a bomb in her suitcase. She has written in to this blog, explaining that she wasn’t joking at all:

I actually was NOT joking. I was asking a very serious security question after being denied boarding onto a flight I’d checked in for, with a bag, 96 minutes prior to departure. I was denied boarding because the gate agent decided to “close the flight early” (evidently to try and make a jump in the queue at JFK so that Jetblue wouldn’t miss it’s ‘on-time departure status’ quota). The agent closed that flight KNOWING that there was a bag on board for a passenger who had not yet boarded. I asked her: “Isn’t it a security risk to allow a bag to fly without a passenger? What if there was a bomb in the bag?”

As a frequent world traveler, it struck me as (more than) odd that policy in post-911, fear-mongering, check-in your shampoo unless if it’s even 3.1 OZ would ALLOW this OBVIOUS security flaw. It is LAW in over 19 developed nations to remove the bag of a passenger if said passenger does not board the flight. But, evidently NOT in the USA. And as a result, my life is being balanced by some over-zealous FBI agents who don’t want to allow the obvious question asked by me to become public question……….hmmmmm….

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