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Smita Sharma
Friday , April 25, 2014

1971 wounds: Bangladesh needs a healing touch

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Last February of last year, thousands of young people flocked to Dhaka's Shahbag Square, seeking justice. Like Lucy Akhtar, the 23-year-old protest organiser everyone called 'Slogan Kanya', most were born decades after the 1971 war crimes that had brought them out on to the streets. The massacres, the torture, and above all the brutal rape as a war weapon, however seemed alive in those young peoples' minds, as if they had taken place yesterday. Now, the Bangladesh government is about to begin identifying the survivors of the 1971 rape victims: though justice will remain elusive, it will at least be an acknowledgment of the hideous crimes that happened. I was in Dhaka reporting about these protests when I first met Maleka Khan, Maleka Apa, or older sister, as she is fondly called. A 70-something old, soft spoken with a heart-warming smile, Ms Khan a very busy woman. She....

Monday , May 20, 2013

Postcard from Pakistan

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A journalist visa is a good barometer to measure the Indo-Pak warmth or the 'heat'. If the visa comes through smoothly, know relations are hunky dory (and perhaps not much to report on the beat). But if the relationship has hit a low, an eleventh hour visa is perfectly normal. So on Wednesday, May 8, a day before campaign was all set to end ahead of historic May 11 elections in the 'Holy Land', I stepped out of home with a packed suitcase, and a PIA ticket for the 5.40 pm flight from Delhi. Forex and Matrix card arranged, the only thing remaining was a visa. As things would have, given the eye for eye policy followed in the wake of Sarabjit attack with Sanaullah fighting for life in the ICU , it was a long wait for us journos outside the Pakistan High Commission. We perched ourselves....

Sunday , October 07, 2012

Where anonymity is bliss, and rial-ity harsh: Welcome to Tehran!

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I was onboard the Prime Minister's Special Air India One to report the 16th NAM summit last August. As the plane began its descent towards Tehran, my first visit to Iran's capital, I was excited at the prospect of a glimpse into a country that is both modern and troubled. Iran is constantly in the news, mostly for the wrong reasons.This time around for the freefalling Rial, its currency,caused both by Western economic sanctions and mismanagement at home.A growing list of Sanctions on it's oil ,gas, petro chemical sectors as well as its central bank.Sanctions imposed to force Iran to halt its alleged uranium enrichment program .Sanctions that have led to Iran defaulting payments to the few international trading partners left , including India. (A recent Reuters report points out Tehran has defaulted on payments for around 2lakh tonnes of rice imported from India : http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/07/us-india-rice-idUSTRE8160CX20120207) A massive....

Tuesday , April 03, 2012

Road to Islamabad : Should the Doctor prescribe a historic journey for himself?

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General Zia ul Haq, General Musharraf and now Asif Ali Zardari - yet another President of Pakistan is all set to visit the 12th century sufi shrine at Ajmer. The President, who unlike his predecessors is one without any stars on his shoulders, will offer prayers at the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti on 8th of April. Enroute Ajmer on his private visit, he will also stop over for a lunch in Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Now having frequently lost sleep while covering many a summit level meetings between India and Pakistan, I am hoping against hope that media coverage of this "private' visit is strictly restricted. And that the two gentlemen meet without the burden of mounting expectations with every single click of the shutterbugs. It is important that the top leadership of the two neighbours with interlinked destinies stay engaged- regardless of all cynicisms....

Monday , March 12, 2012

Damascus diaries: of Syrian smoke and mirrors

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It was my first date with the Arab World. A fortnight ago, I was all set to fly to Syria, a country caught in conflict, a country under sanctions and a country, as Damascus claims, fighting "Western ploys". Despite all the books, articles and columns which had come to my rescue over the years each time I needed to get an insight into Arab geopolitics, I still had lingering questions. How should I dress on Damascus streets? How should I behave? Should I shake hands with the men in power or stick to a coy Salaam? Would I witness destruction and death from the moment I step out of the airport? I was flying on a government invite with a group of Indian journalists. So would I be allowed to move around freely or would propaganda be served on a platter? With these questions on my mind, I landed....

Thursday , October 13, 2011

Sikkim earthquake: Lonely in Lachung

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I somehow get to visit exotic locales when tragedy strikes. When the earth shook on the evening of 18th of September , with its epicentre at Mangan in North Sikkim, my studio in Noida shook too, and so did my laptop, though very slightly and JUST for a few seconds. I was more worried about the camera lights falling off from the studio ceiling. Nevertheless as time passed by that Sunday evening, every single news update was driving home the realization that it was serious and the devastation would not be assessed too easily and quickly. So Monday early morning we flew down to Bagdogra hoping to reach Sikkim at the earliest possible .A silent prayer crossed my mind .I was hoping fervently for the devastation to be not as massive and heart breaking as in Leh Ladakh in August of last year. Overcast skies and Bad weather awaited us....

Saturday , August 09, 2008

Fighting the enemy outside and inside

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Rewind to 26th/27th July - 12.20 am- Its my roomie on the phone- "hey Smits we at Pindis for dinner ..u wanna join in? ..."I would have but just that I am in the studio for last three hours "... she asks - "But why?" ... "hello.. ain't u aware of blasts in Ahmedabad this evening? 40 killed and more than 100 injured..toll rising every minute...there's high alert in the country... Delhi on red alert..u watch out' ..."What!! ..am clueless.ok ,I'll call u back...need to check on my cousin in Ahmedabad..."' and even as she disconnects...I hear a man in the background letting hell loose upon the waiter for the pooor service in the restaurant.. Well, I do not blame my roomie or other people for being where they were at the time referred to ... and it's not even....


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Associate Foreign Editor/ Anchor, IBN7


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