- The Washington Times - Friday, September 3, 2004

INDIA

Freed hostages get hero’s welcome

NEW DELHI — Cheering crowds and tearful relatives greeted three Indian truckers who returned home yesterday after being released by their kidnappers following 42 days of captivity in Iraq.

They were welcomed with marigold garlands and hugs as they emerged from the airport.

Tilak Raj, Antaryami and Sukhdev Singh were taken hostage by Iraqi militants on July 21 along with three Kenyans and an Egyptian.

Their employer, Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Co., said it paid $500,000 ransom and they were released Wednesday.

NEPAL

Muslims pray at home after mosque attack

KATMANDU — Muslims in Nepal’s capital held Friday prayers at home as the city lay under a curfew after a mob ransacked the main mosque protesting the killings of 12 Nepalese by an Islamist militant group in Iraq.

There was no new violence on the third day of the curfew, as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba visited the 450-year-old mosque, Jama Masjid, and promised to investigate the attacks and punish those found guilty.

SRI LANKA

Government gets majority

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s coalition government secured a working majority in Parliament yesterday after a small party that represents Indian-origin Tamils pledged its support but stopped short of joining the ruling alliance. The Ceylon Workers’ Congress said it was prepared to back the government with its eight parliamentary seats — giving the government a majority in the 225-seat house — in its efforts to seek a lasting peace with Tamil Tiger rebels after a two-decade civil war.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance won a midterm election in April but fell short of an absolute majority.

INDIA

Court rejects plea on homosexuality

NEW DELHI — India’s high court Thursday dismissed, on a technicality, a petition to legalize homosexuality.

The petition filed by a voluntary group had challenged laws that deem homosexual acts “unnatural criminal behavior.”

But the court said the laws’ validity cannot be challenged by anyone who is “not affected by it,” meaning the voluntary group, the British Broadcasting Corp. radio reported.

The Naz Foundation, an HIV and AIDS organization, had argued it was wrong to make homosexuality a punishable offense in 21st century India.

Attorneys for the government argued that homosexuality cannot be legalized in India because society strongly disapproves of it.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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