IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 5th, 2013
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- Conclusions of SIT extremely perverse meant to facilitate state gov case: Zakia Jafri’s counsel
- Coalition Against Genocide representative meets Kerry, urges to continue the visa ban on Modi
- Gujarat cop’s balancing act: A VHP swami by his stretcher, Muslims push his wheelchair
- Evidence against Shahzad not “beyond reasonable doubt”
- Doctor files for discharge in Malegaon blast case
- MP govt to ‘saffronise’ Islamic seminaries? Makes Bhagwat Gita teachings compulsory in madrasas
- BSP MP calls use of Vande Mataram as ‘unacceptable’ as per Islamic tenets
- Protest in Tonk against ‘targeted’ police action inside mosque
- Uttar Pradesh govt serves chargesheet to suspended IAS officer Durga
- Telangana statehood: What Andhra Pradesh minus Hyderabad means
Opinions & Editorials
- NaMo: Only A Corner Of India – By Sazzad Hussain
- Give Justice Another Chance – By Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
- Is Durga Nagpal really innocent? – By Zafarul-Islam Khan
- The Great Telangana Gamble – By G Vishnu and Ashhar Khan
- Idea Harvest, The Second Flush – By Pranay Sharma
- Rape and Honour Crimes: The NCRB Report 2012 – By Albeena Shakil
UGC Academic Staff College gets special grant to promote communal harmony (Jul 31, 2013, Twocircles.net)
The National Foundation for Communal Harmony, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has awarded a grant to the UGC Academic Staff College, Aligarh Muslim University for organizing programmes on communal harmony and national integration.
Prof. A. R. Kidwai, Director, UGC Academic Staff College said that programmes will be organized to sensitize the participants of UGC sponsored courses for teachers from Higher Education Institutions. He said that around 1000 University/ College teachers from all over India belonging to a variety of cultures and speaking different languages attend courses every year at the UGC ASC, AMU.
Prof. Kidwai said that under the programme, the Vice Chancellor of AMU, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Brig. (Retd.) Syed Ahmed Ali will be invited to address the participants to encourage them for working for promoting communal harmony in the society. Further, eminent local and outside resource persons will be invited to deliver lectures on the relevant topics.
Prof. Kidwai pointed out that the major activities, however, would include conduct of seminars on plurality in India and multiculturalism in AMU; visit to a site upholding the ethos of composite culture, slogan writing/ poster making/ essay writing competition and an all-state cultural evening. Prizes and participation certificates will be awarded to the participating teachers on behalf of the NFCH, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
Conclusions of SIT extremely perverse meant to facilitate state gov case: Zakia Jafri’s counsel (Aug 2, 2013, Twocircles.net)
The conclusions drawn by the SIT in its final report on complainant Zakia Jafri’s allegation that the political executive and state bureaucracy barring a few upright officials had wilfully misled statutory and Constitutional bodies like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Central Election Commission (CEC) are extremely perverse meant to facilitate the case of the state government and powerful accused. Arguing for the tenth day for complainant Zakia Jafri and Citizens for Justice and Peace, advocate Aparna Bhat stressed that despite repeated observations and findings from independent authorities like the NHRC (April-July 2002) and subsequent reports, CEC (August 2002), Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court that deliberate and systematic attempts were made by chief functionaries of the political executive to paint a false picture of normalcy, repeated indictments had documented how the ground level situation in Gujarat was otherwise. Violence and rioting continued even while the CEC visited the state in August 2002, Muslim students could not give their examinations in the state and as late as February 8, 2012, the Gujarat High Court indicted the government on its obdurate refusal to re-construct and repair shrines and places of worship belonging to the minority community.
Both SIT reports, the one submitted before the Supreme Court (Malhotra, 12.5.2010) and the final report (Shukla, 8.2.2012) deliberately made light of this serious allegation in the complaint, Bhat argued misrepresenting the findings of the CEC and believing instead A-37 former chief secretary Subha Rao over two officers former ADGP RB Sreekumar who had spoken up against the false representations by others before the CEC. Para 20 of the CEC Report in fact clearly chose to accept the State Intelligence Bureau’s independent assessment of widespread disturbance in 20 districts of the state, continued violence in July-August 2002 and an all pervasive sense of insecurity and fear among the minority community. In fact the CEC also recorded how its team had found that powerful accused roamed free, having got bail from the courts and plaint prosecutors had made a farce of the criminal justice system in the state.
Worst of all, the CEC while refusing to bow to the state’s coercive demand to hold elections in August 2002 (the assembly had been dissolved on July 19, 2002) had remarked that when electoral rolls were in disarray, over a hundred thousand displaced from their villages and homes in cities, how could elections, if held be free or fair? The SIT mocking this finding of an independent and statutory CEC that had relied upon two independent officers of the state government, chose to believe those top echelons of the state administration and bureaucracy who had connived and conspired with the chief executive to misrepresent the situation on the ground. What was the SIT’s motives in accepting Subha Rao’s statement at face value and ignoring the findings of the CEC? It is for this Court to arrive at a conclusion at what lay behind the SIT’s motive to misrepresent such critical evidence, Bhat submitted.
SIT counsel, advised by AK Malhotra tried at the onset of the proceedings to prevent any arguments about the NHRC and CEC Reports saying, “Who is NHRC?” to which Bhatt retorted that she was fully entitled to prefer her arguments on the basis of the criminal complaint of Zakia Jafri dated 8.6.2006 and the poor investigation that SIT carried out despite all the resources at its command. Despite the fact that the criminal complaint dated 8.6.2006 specifically made allegations of the deliberate and callous destruction of 270 Dargahs and Masjid, and even quoted extensively from Justice Krishna Iyer, PB Sawant and Hosbet Suresh’s Concerned Citizens Tribunal Report (Crimes Against Humanity 2002), the SIT had simply ignored this aspect of the mass crimes that were committed.
Quoting from the Gujarat High Court judgement dated 8.2.2012 that came down heavily on the Gujarat government for its attitude with regard to the destruction of minority places of worship, Ms Bhat stressed that several independent, statutory and Constitutional body had found serious and grave complicity in the handling of the post Godhra carnage. Yet it was a shame that the SIT had adduced despite substantial and significant evidence that no wrongs had been committed by the powerful.
- ‘SIT manipulated NHRC, CEC reports on 2002 riots’ (Aug 1, 2013, Rediff)
- Zakia: SIT obsessed with proving Sanjiv Bhatt wrong, ignoring crucial evidence (Aug 3, 2013, Indian Express)
- ‘SIT ignored Gujarat riots reports’ (Aug 5, 2013, The Hindu)
- Growth stories on Gujarat propagated: Activisit (Aug 4, 2013, Deccan Chronicle)
Coalition Against Genocide representative meets Kerry, urges to continue the visa ban on Modi (Jul 30, 2013, Twocircles.net)
Following the US tour by BJP President Mr. Rajnath Singh to plead with Members of Congress for a US visa for Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, a representative of the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) met with Secretary of State John Kerry and updated him on the ongoing cases of human rights violations against Modi and his administration. Manzoor Ghori, who represented the Coalition Against Genocide at the annual Iftar gathering organized by the US Department of State, handed a letter to the Secretary of State. The letter stated that rescinding the visa-ban on Mr. Modi would be immoral and inimical to the interests of United States internationally. “The US must take a moral lead when it comes to issues of gross human rights violations and Modi’s visa was revoked because of his role in the 2002 anti-minority massacres,” Ghori said.
It should be noted that Secretary Kerry himself, as a Senator representing Massachusetts, had written a letter in 2008 to the State Department urging the continuation of the visa ban on Modi. The documentation delivered by Mr. Ghori to the Department of State included a copy of the State Department’s response to then Senator Kerry’s letter which assured him that: “The Department is extremely sensitive to your concerns and we are cognizant of the human rights abuses Mr. Modi has committed” and went on to say “..should we receive an (visa) application, we assure you that it would be adjudicated in strict accordance with the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), including Section 212(a)(2)(G) which states that ‘any alien who, while serving as a foreign government official, was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, as defined in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 is inadmissible.”
After the US visa ban was imposed on Mr. Modi in 2005, his administration continued severe human rights and religious freedom violations against minorities in the state of Gujarat, including the use of his Home ministry for conducting fake police “encounter killings” of innocent youth to polarize the masses into voting for him. Mr. Modi also instituted an anti-conversion law which has made religious conversion into a criminal offence. Coalition Against Genocide includes a diverse spectrum of organizations and individuals in the United States and Canada that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to demand accountability and justice.
- Punjabi body in US opposes visa to Modi (Aug 5, 2013, Times of India)
- Pawar Speak: Modi won’t be acceptable to all (Aug 2, 2013, Rediff)
- Gujaratis who praise Narendra Modi should leave Mumbai: Nitesh Rane (Aug 2, 2013, Times of India)
- Maharashtra leader justifies his tweet on Gujaratis (Aug 3, 2013, Hindustan Times)
Gujarat cop’s balancing act: A VHP swami by his stretcher, Muslims push his wheelchair (Aug 1, 2013, Indian Express)
Two days after he appeared in court on a stretcher, with a priest, Swami Akhileshwardasji, by his side, Additional DGP P P Pandey, an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, was escorted by four Muslim men to the special CBI court on Wednesday. The Indian Express had reported Wednesday about the “special bond” between Pandey and the VHP-linked priest, with a photograph of the duo outside court.
Pandey today urged The Indian Express team to speak to the Muslim men. Introducing one of them as Zubair Sheikh, a garment- seller from old Ahmedabad, he said, “Please talk to him, you will know how I am.” Pandey also claimed to be a descendant of Mangal Pandey, the sepoy whose revolt triggered the 1857 uprising. The four men were identified as the sons of a former Congress loyalist and social worker from Shahpur, Chand Mohammad Sheikh, popularly known as Chand Mama, who is now dead.
They said Pandey had asked them to accompany him. “Pandey called up Zubair this morning and asked him to come to the hospital with his brothers. He specified that they should wear skull caps. They went to the hospital, and then accompanied Pandey to court,” said Zubair’s cousin Rafiq Sheikh. “Zubair’s father knew Pandey from the time he was posted as DCP of Shahpur zone in 1991,” he added. At the court complex, Zubair helped Pandey alight from the ambulance, and escorted him inside. He stood beside Pandey throughout the first half of the day.
“When I was DCP in Ahmedabad city, I could walk into the house of any Muslim in Shahpur area,” Pandey said. On being declared a “proclaimed absconder” in the Ishrat case, Pandey said, “I was never running away, I was fighting. I approached different courts during this time. I belong to the clan of Mangal Pandey and I am not going to run away. I will fight against the injustice.”
- Ishrat Jahan fake encounter: Court rejects CBI plea to send IPS officer PP Pandey in judicial custody (Jul 31, 2013, DNA India)
- Among this priest’s friends, top cops Pandey and Vanzara; Kodnani (Jul 31, 2013, Indian Express)
- Ishrat case: CBI court rejects Pandey’s plea (Aug 6, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Ishrat Jahan chargesheet: CBI’s story is full of holes, relies on dubious witnesses (Aug 4, 2013, First Post)
A group of activists under the banner of the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) has questioned the trial court verdict convicting Shahzad Ahmad in the Batla House encounter case. They argued that the evidence against Shahzad was not “beyond reasonable doubt”. The verdict failed to appreciate the evidence presented by the defence and further ignored the gaping loopholes in the Delhi Police story, they argued. A Delhi Court on July 25 upheld the police’s version of Shahzad being present at L 18, Batla House, on September 19, 2008, and that he had fled while firing at the police. The court gave life sentence to Shahzad for firing at the police during the encounter resulting in the death of Special Cell Inspector M.C. Sharma.
While releasing a report titled, “Beyond reasonable doubt? The Conviction of Shahzad Ahmad”, JTSA president Manisha Sethi argued that the Delhi Police presented only “circumstantial evidence” against Shahzad to “indict the accused of crimes of the highest order and demanded death penalty”, but the evidences were “so ridden with contradictions and inconsistency” that even the slightest scrutiny would collapse the entire police case. While arguing that the court totally dismissed the defence arguments without giving any reason, she gave instance of the ballistic report, which said that from the spot of the encounter no extra bullet was found, which can be attributed to the alleged gun of Shahzad.
“The police charge sheet accused him of firing two rounds at the police party before fleeing. But as per the ballistic report, every bullet recovered from the spot had a matching gun, which either belonged to the police or the two guns allegedly attributed to Atif and Sajid,” she argued. “So, the ballistic report in a sense demolishes the entire police case that Shahzad had a gun through which he fired and later fled with; and that he later destroyed that gun. This fact was ignored by the trial court,” added Ms. Sethi. Citing evidence, which she argued went “unnoticed” by the court, Ms. Sethi said this “raises the question if Shahzad was there at all”.
“All the witnesses, who claim to have seen Shahzad fleeing during the encounter, fail to provide the court with any description of Shahzad. Yet, they were able to identify the accused as one of the escapees later during the trial,” she added. “The court took no notice of the above discrepancy wherein an ‘eyewitness’ who is unable to describe the escapee, is later able to identify him,” she added. Satish Tamta, Shahzad’s lawyer, argued that the Court did not appreciate the prosecution witnesses, who by their own admission virtually made the escape of Shahzad during the encounter almost impossible, and also substituted the loopholes in the police narrative by its own story.
“There were only two ways to escape, the roof and the staircase. Now, the police witnesses who were blocking the stairway, which is a very narrow path with grill fitted on it, themselves said that they did not see Shahzad going down. There was practically no way he could have escaped through the roof as he could not have jumped from the fifth floor,” said Mr. Tamta. “Now, the Court in its judgment comes up with a new theory that he could have fled through the staircase, passing himself as one of the residents and later he may have been hidden in the flats, which were not checked by the police. This was an argument which was never the prosecution’s case,” Shahzad’s lawyer added.
- Batla House case: Shehzad falsely implicated, will move SC, says sister (Jul 31, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Batla House verdict is perverse and a mockery of Justice: JTSA (Jul 31, 2013, Muslim Mirror)
- Batla House residents to challenge verdict in HC (Jul 30, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Documentary on Mujahid released on YouTube (Jul 23, 2013, Twocircles.net)
Unani doctor, Farogh Makhdoomi, an accused in the 2006 Malegaon serial bombings, filed an application before the special NIA court seeking discharge. Dr Makhdoomi, who spent five and a half years before being released on bail in November 2011, was shown as a conspirator in the case. He was one of the nine Muslim youth to be arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on charges of conspiring during the blasts. In his application, he pointed out various contradictions in the chargesheets filed by state Anti-Terrorism Squad, CBI and now NIA, which is currently probing the case. NIA has filed a charge sheet in May this year against four right wing Hindu hardliners. Dr Makhdoomi stated in the application that he was falsely implicated in the case and the confessional statement, which is being used as vital piece of evidence against him, has not been taken at par by the NIA. The confessions were taken after torturing the accused, he added.
Dr Makhdoomi’s application stated, “The supplementary chargesheet filed by the investigation agency, NIA, prima facie disclosed that the statements of all the witnesses recorded by ATS under section 161 of CrPc and under 164 of CrPc were obtained by compelling the witnesses under threat, duress, coercion and compulsion. This is false evidence collected by ATS to implicate the present applicants.” Seven Muslim accused have already filed applications for their discharge.
The defence lawyers told the court, “At the stage of discharge under section 227 of CrPc the judge has to apply his judicial mind to the material produced in the chargesheet which can never be taken as gospel truth and if two views are possible, the view favouring the accused should be adopted and if no sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused are found, the accused should be discharged.” The application was filed by advocate Shahid Nadeem Ansari, who is taking care of blast cases on behalf of Jamiat-ul-Ulama, an NGO providing free legal aid to accused. Designated judge YD Shinde adjourned the hearing till August 29.
- HC seeks NIA’s response on Malegaon blast accused’s petition (Aug 1, 2013, Economic Times)
- Can Malegaon blast witness be turned into an accused, high court asks NIA (Aug 2, 2013, DNA India)
- Families claim suspects innocent, ATS framed cases (Aug 1, 2013, Indian Express)
- Govt used me to file fake complaint: Builder Shrenik Shah (Aug 2, 2013, DNA India)
MP govt to ‘saffronise’ Islamic seminaries? Makes Bhagwat Gita teachings compulsory in madrasas (Aug 6, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
The BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government is all set to ‘saffronise’ Islamic seminaries with its latest decision to make compulsory the teachings of Hindu scripture Bhagwad Gita for young students studying in madrasas in the state. In an order dated August 1, the state government has said Urdu textbooks of Class 1 and 2 will include teachings of Bhagwad Gita. The controversial order comes just four months ahead of the state assembly elections. The order is likely to create a huge controversy as it clearly applies to Islamic schools, the only ones to have Urdu textbooks. Congress, the main opposition party in the state assembly, has already termed the decision “saffronisation” of Islamic seminaries and asked the government to immediately revoke the order.
Madhya Pradesh minorities education body has threatened to take a legal action against the move. “Withdraw the order otherwise, we will approach the court,” the body said. Three years ago, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had made a controversial decision to make ‘Surya Namaskar’ and chants compulsory in government schools. This was toned down after Muslim bodies moved court.
- MP govt to introduce Gita in ‘madrassas’, Congress slams CM’s ‘RSS mindset’ (Aug 5, 2013, Times of India)
- Include teachings from Koran, Bible too: Congress on MP govt’s move (Aug 5, 2013, Indian Express)
- MP govt’s order to introduce Gita in madrassas triggers storm in Muslim community (Aug 5, 2013, Times of India)
- MP: Muslim organisations threaten to move court (Aug 5, 2013, Hindustan Times)
BSP MP calls use of Vande Mataram as ‘unacceptable’ as per Islamic tenets (Aug 5, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)
Matters took a twist on the first day of the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha when a BSP parliamentarian walked out of the Lower House during the playing of the Vande Mataram tune. Prior to this, another BSP parliamentarian Dr.Shafikurrahman Warq from Uttar Pradesh, had announced that he would boycott the use of ‘Vande Mataram’ by remaining absent from this year’s monsoon session of the Parliament. Mr. Warq explained his stand saying that he had protested back in 1997 against the use of Vande Mataram song and would continue to do so by staying absent from this year’s monsoon session from the Parliament. He clarified his intention by interpreting the meaning of Vande Mataram song – Vande Mataram essentially means worship or praise of Mother India and Islam religion considers worship to be unacceptable; this is against the tenets of Islam and in this regard his political party BSP agrees with his elucidation regarding the same.
Mr. Warq described the suspension of Durga Shakti Nagpal as inappropriate and had sought transfer as an option for her. The whole world agrees that the lady is innocent and the state government had not suspended her to favor the Muslims. Muslims in the state have nothing to do with it and the state government should not use the Muslim community as a shield for its baser and ignoble purposes.
- Muslim bodies question CM’s secular credentials (Aug 5, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Minorities panel wants monuments re-opened to namaz, ASI worried (Aug 5, 2013, Indian Express)
- Rahman Khan revives minority sub-quota bid, wants entire 4.5% for Muslims (Aug 5, 2013, Times of India)
- Government considering amendments to Wakf Bill on graveyard lands (Aug 5, 2013, Indian Express)
Members of the Rajasthan Muslim Forum and other organisations staged a dharna here on Friday to protest against the “targeted” police action on community members earlier this month in Tonk, about 90 km from here. The Muslim Forum, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Rajasthan Sadbhavana Manch and the Dalit Adhikar Manch staged a sit-in against the government’s “indifference” and demanded justice for the victims of the violence.
A delegation of citizens met Rajasthan Chief Secretary C.K. Matthew last week and gave him a copy of an independent fact-finding team’s report on the incident of July 12, when the police and special task force fired teargas shells and lathicharged Muslims praying inside the Chhawni Mosque. According to the fact-finding team, one person was killed and 50, including elderly people, were injured in the police action.
The delegation and the fact-finding team that visited Tonk, comprised PUCL national secretary Kavita Srivastava, Sawai Singh of the Sarva Seva Sangh, Mohd. Hasan, Satish Kumar of the Dalit Adhikar Kendra, Quari Moinudin of the Rajasthan Muslim Forum among others. “The prayers were over and people were coming out, so why did the police enter the mosque and fire teargas shells,” asked Ms. Srivastava. “More than communal elements, who are anyway always looking to fan tensions, it was the police action that was totally unwarranted and communally targeted,” Ms. Srivastava told The Hindu .
According to the fact-finding team’s report, the police action came after “sporadic altercation between members of the Keer and Muslim communities the previous night.” On July11, during the first Iftar and prayer of Ramzan, a scuffle reportedly broke out between Keers and Muslims over Keer youths playing loud music in a marriage procession. While a motorcycle was set ablaze during the scuffle, the matter was almost immediately resolved by elders of the two communities.
However, members of the delegation that met the Chief Secretary claimed that the next day, several anti-social elements armed with swords, gathered outside the mosque the next day and started shouting inflammatory slogans. As a result, Muslim youths got into an argument with the said elements. At that, instead of chasing the troublemakers away, an “special task force team barged into the mosque by breaking its gates and fired teargas shells indiscriminately, blinding elderly people in prayers…a taxi driver, Nasir,was hit and died of a teargas shell injury,” the report claimed.
- When UP Police ‘turned’ a complainant into a criminal (Aug 5, 2013, IBN)
- Terminate services of ‘cowardly’ Kunda cops: CBI (Aug 2, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Two UP policemen rob jeweller, suspended (Aug 5, 2013, Deccan Herald)
- ‘Cops took Rs 60, 000 bribe not to harass us during probe’ (Aug 5, 2013, Times of India)
Notwithstanding the severe criticism on its decision to suspend an IAS officer, the Uttar Pradesh government late Sunday evening served a chargesheet to Durga Shakti Nagpal alleging that she did not follow legal process in demolishing the wall of a mosque in a village in the state. The chargesheet reportedly stated that the SDM went to the site even though there was no tension in the area over the construction of the mosque. Sources said the chargesheet also said that Durga lacked administrative skills. She has been asked to reply to the chargesheet in 15 days. Copies of the chargesheet and suspension order has been sent to the Centre.
The Akhilesh Yadav government had earlier said that after it serves a chargesheet to the IAS officer, she can give an official explanation of her actions. The government had further said that a decision on the suspended IAS officer’s future will be taken after receiving her response. Durga, who belongs to the UP cadre, was suspended on July 27 ostensibly for ordering demolition of a wall of a local under-construction mosque without following the due process. Her suspension evoked sharp reaction from opposition parties, including BJP and BSP, which alleged that the Sub-Divisional Officer was removed for her crackdown on the sand mafia operating in Gautam Budh Nagar area of the state.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi also took a note of the controversy and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter and “ensure the officer was not treated unfairly”. Sources said on Sunday that Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was upset with Sonia “interfering” in the matter. Sources said the SP-led Uttar Pradesh government is unlikely to revoke Durga’s suspension order any soon. Sources also said that the SP chief had allegedly taken the decision to suspend the IAS officer, who had cracked down on sand mining mafia in Gautam Budh Nagar area of the state.
Sources said the SP MPs have been told to aggressively defend the Uttar Pradesh government in Parliament if political parties raise the suspension issue during the Monsoon Session, which is beginning from Monday. It has also been learnt that the party has allegedly threatened the government that if the Centre will intervene in Durga’s suspension matter, the SP will not support the Food Security Bill in Parliament. Earlier in the day, sources said the Centre sought an explanation from the Uttar Pradesh government on the issue. According to sources, it was the third letter written to the Uttar Pradesh government on the issue by the Department of Personnel and Training within a week.
The Prime Minister holds the charge of the Ministry of Personnel, the nodal department for administrative matters of IAS cadre. Sources said the PMO stepped into the matter after Sonia wrote a letter to the Prime Minister. The Congress President, in her letter to Manmohan Singh, had said, “There is a widespread concern because the officer in the course of her public duties was seen to be standing up to vested interests engaging in illegal activity. We must ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated”.
- IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal didn’t show foresight: UP chargesheet (Aug 5, 2013, Indian Express)
- In Kadalpur village, Durga Shakti is no hero (Aug 2, 2013, First Post)
- Don’t make Durga Shakti Nagpal an issue, she has not complained: SP leader Naresh Agarwal (Aug 2, 2013, NDA India)
- Villagers demand mosque at the same site (Aug 4, 2013, IBN)
The people of Telangana will count themselves winners after five-decade-long struggle, but many of their neighbours will be crestfallen. The reason is the eventual severance of Hyderabad from Andhra Pradesh. The capital is the jewel in the crown, an information technology hub and a city that hosts the vibrant Telugu film industry. Politicians, industrialists and realtors from Andhra Pradesh’s two other regions, and those in the film industry, are among those who will be disappointed. They have a lot at stake in and around Hyderabad, and their fear is that the Telangana government will seek to take their properties over or cancel the acquisitions. Many of the properties in Hyderabad are alleged to have been acquired dubiously, or at throwaway prices because of government largesse.
The list of those who own prime property and have invested hugely in Hyderabad includes Congress, TDP and YSR Congress MPs and MLAs, film stars, bankers, hoteliers, doctors, academicians and builders. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and his family own the Heritage Foods chain with many outlets and properties in Hyderabad. Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy owns property all over the city and its outskirts, including buildings and printing presses and studios of the Sakshi Telugu newspaper and channel. The Congress MP from Vijayawada, Lagadapati Rajagopal, owns huge plots in Hyderabad and on its fringes, including in Lanco Hills where he has a high-end housing project. He said recently he stands to lose a lot if Telangana is formed.
The owners of Narayana Group and Chaitanya Group have invested heavily in infrastructure and educational projects all over Hyderabad and other Telangana districts. Film star-turned-union minsiter K Chiranjeevi and his family own a number of properties in and around Banjara Hills. Actor Akkineni Nagarjuna and his family own Annapurna Studios. Ramoji Film City belongs to Ramoji Rao, from Krishna. The film industry is dominated by actors and directors from Coastal Andhra. The Telugu film industry produces the highest number of films in a regional language by any state. G M Rao,chairman of the GMR Group that built the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, hails from Srikakulam. And Reddy Labs, Apollo Hospitals and Kamineni Hospitals are all owned by people from the two other regions.
From Coastal Andhra come the entrepreneurs, small businessmen, real estate agents, engineers and farmers, backed by the earnings from agriculture, and from Rayalaseema come the mining magnates. They have invested in the IT infrastructure. Hyderabad also has over two dozen national institutes, including Sardar Vallabhbhai National Police Academy, National Institute of Nutrition, and National Institute of Rural Development. “Telangana agitations have repeatedly attacked properties owned by non-Telangana people,” says K S Prasad, who owns animation studios in Hyderabad. “Their leaders may deny any threat to non-Telangana people and their properties, but the situation may turn out to be scary.”
Of the 4 lakh people working in IT in Hyderabad, over 60 per cent are from non-Telangana regions. “When the agitation started, many techies opted to work in places closer to their home districts rather than Hyderabad. The concern for the IT industry is whether the same good work and investment climate will continue in Hyderabad,” an official with Software Technology Parks of India says. “In the new state, Telangana’s people will have all the opportunities that had so been far available to others,” pledges Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrasekhara Rao.
- Protests continue unabated in Andhra Pradesh over state’s division (Aug 2, 2013, Times of India)
- Muslim politicians of AP welcome Telangana but with skepticism (Aug 1, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- After Telangana, old wounds start bleeding afresh (Aug 1, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Assam: Violent protest for more states continue (Aug 5, 2013, IBN)
Opinions and Editorials
For his admirers and Facebook followers he is the most efficient political leader that can steer the troubled state of India. He is the role model for economic growth and infrastructure development. For the business houses and the corporate world he is the darling for providing hassle free bureaucratic clearances and tax heavens. And for the right wing supremacists he is the mascot of “Hindu” political ideology. On the contrary, for the minority Indians, particularly the Muslims of post-Godhra Gujarat, he is the symbol of injustice and a Chief Minister that by-passes them in the “Vibrant Gujarat” development landscape. For his critics, from economists to sociologist and activist, he is a person who resorts to stereotype profiling for his ideology and a smart PR stunt who hypnotizes a euphoric followers to swell frenzy for support. By taking account everything from the either side of the divide it is clear that Narendra Modi is not what India is – diverse, pluralistic, inclusive. All his public utterances and actions ever since he has been elevated as the core leader of the BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha Polls, reveals his identity to be an exclusive, polarized and hegemonic leader – an entity that does not fit to lead a country like India. NaMo, the popular nickname given to Narendra Modi in the social networking space, represents only a part of India – not the whole.
NaMo has been the lover boy for the business and industry since the very beginning and likewise has done a lot to the corporate world that any other sector of the state. For big business infrastructures like super highways, flyovers, glass-chromed buildings housing malls and multiplexes are developed at a faster pace changing the urban scape of many Gujarati cities. Undeniably, a number of people are benefited by these developments. But on the agriculture, health and education sector the indexes are dismal in Gujarat . The continuous drought in the Saurashtra region and its poor management by the Gujarat government tell a different story of “Vibrant Gujarat” of NaMo. In his political rhetoric, NaMo always stresses on development than any other things, even the talk of secularism in Indian society and politics is unimportant for him. But whenever the election comes, it is he who returns to the secular vs. communal discourse again and again. If secularism is obsolete for his type of politics NaMo also should have shun the verbosity emotive issues centered around religion intended to target a particular religious community. He should have asked his followers about the irrelevance of the religious identity in Indian politics. But in 2002 December assembly polls he campaigned that voting for Congress would mean voting “Miyan Musharaf”.
In 2012 polls he again resorted to “Miyan Ahmed Patel” rhetoric to polarize the voters on communal sentiments despite his stated comfortable position of the development plank. Since that poll result NaMo has been showing his gestures of vying for the highest office at Delhi and for that he launched “India First” campaign. It is very encouraging that NaMo envisages the nation first and religious faith to the backyard in that campaign aimed at the youth of the country. But very soon he diluted his nationalism with religion while giving the interview to Reuters. Here we find echoes of European xenophobic far right groups like Front National where nationalism is defined in terms of Christianity and colour of the skin (in fact the interview was given to the prospective western audiences). Then he unnecessarily dragged “burqa” to attack secularism. Thus, by his selective use of words and terms like “Miyan” and “burqa” NaMo always create controversy and meaningless public debates on the issue of secularism vs. communalism divide. Though he tries to make secularism irrelevant in Indian politics, he himself creates controversies by his select words and ambiguity that bears a communal undertone.
Besides the corporate moghuls NaMo enjoys supports from many Bollywood stars, celebrities and yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Writer Chetan Bhagat and one man Janata Party supremo Dr. Subrahmaniam Swami also are die hard fans of him. For a long time these figures have endorsed NaMo as India ‘s would be chief executive – to replicate the development of Gujarat in the entire country. But the critics have been apprehensive of him since the beginning. Economist like Lord Meghnad Desai and historian Rama Chandra Guha has been dismissing the form of governance and development of NaMo. Presently Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen has also disapproved NaMo to lead a pluralistic country like India . For NaMo the seventeen years old bonhomie between BJP and Janata Dal (U), the main block of the NDA, is over. It is unlikely that Mamata Banerjee’s TMC or Jayalalitha’s AIADMK would be in NDA if Modi is made to lead it. That means NDA is left only to Shiv Sena of Maharastra, a party which does not have any existence outside that state for its xenophobic policies, and the SAD in Punjab or the almost extinct AGP in Assam. The rest of the dominant political parties like the BSP and SP in Uttar Pradesh, BJD in Odisha, Telegu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, NCP will also not join the NDA if NaMo is there. All these parties and their support base, their issues and agendas and ideologies differ greatly with the stated objectives of Narendra Modi. Even without leaving side the issue of secularism, an allergy for NaMo, all these political parties do not share his views and ideologies. These constituencies represent the larger picture of India , the majority view of the country that does not endorse a policy which is based on bellicose jibe and hatred and intolerance (look the way Chandan Mitra snubbed Prof. Amartya Sen for his anti-Modi remarks).
Even within his own party Narendra Modi’s hurried climb to the ladder of elevation is not liked by equally successful Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan, LK Advani and Sudhanshu Kulkarni. Likewise Modi will not be sent to Karnataka for his party’s campaign after its rout in the recently concluded assembly polls. We must not forget that NaMo was also kept away from campaigning in Bihar when JD (U) was with the NDA. Therefore, long before Narendra Modi was brought to the national team of BJP for the 2014 polls, he was neither an all India leader nor the current political landscape indicates such a possibility. Besides the Congress – all the other political parties, barring the Shiv Sena and IMUL are representing the secular credentials of the Indian society albeit in different forms and expressions and they reflect the majority’s view. But the way NaMo speaks acts and idealizes represents only a fringe element of India, a corner of the vast Indian space. The success of the traditionally business doing Gujaratis with a two century old diaspora in a globalized neo-liberal economy and a corporate friendly policy attracting investments does not represent whole India which has so many geographical, climatic terrain related adversities with people with so many different problems and issues. Earlier Andhra Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu, whom President Clinton also came to meet, lost polls despite transforming Hyderabad to a silicon valley. That is not the whole India.
- Narendra Modi’s image will hamper BJP’s coalition prospects – By Amulya Ganguli (Aug 3, 2013, DNA India)
- India first or Upper Caste elite first? – By Irfan Engineer (Aug 1, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Communal Violence: Who Is To Be Blamed? – By Ram Puniyani (Aug 2, 2013, Countercurrents)
- Communalism gaining ground in North India – By Syed Ali Mujtaba (Aug 5, 2013, Twocircles.net)
The court verdict on July 25 and sentencing of Shahzad Ahmad on July 30 in the infamous Batla House encounter case has too many gaping holes in it. As some of the crucial issues involved were overlooked by the judge, justice must be given another chance at it. We have been dismayed by the judgment. We, as the minority suffering most from police prejudice and excesses, do not feel reassured to see the police version being endorsed by the court without giving a proper consideration to the written argument by the defence lawyers.
It is encouraging to know that already the defence has prepared to go in appeal to the High Court. Rightly so, as all the six witnesses in the case were police personnel. Curiously, even they had not seen anybody getting into or out of the Batla House flat during the siege or firing, or soon after it. The point is, how did Shahzad escape unscathed from the flat surrounded by heavily armed policemen during the encounter and go to a media house. He was arrested a couple of hours later several kilometers away from the encounter site. At the time of the encounter he was not in Batla House, while the prosecution lawyer has been gloating over his achievement in “proving” that he was in the besieged flat during the encounter.
Enigmas like no bullets recovered from the body of Inspector M C Sharma, who died from injuries sustained in the counter, nor any matching of it with the weapons supposedly used by those under siege. Shahzad’s impossible escape from the spot has been taken for granted by the judgment, a “fact” not supported even by the six witnesses, who had not seen anybody getting in or out of the flat. The six bullet holes in the centre of the top of the crown of the slain youth, Atif, leave everyone amazed as it is impossible to shoot somebody in the centre of the crown in an encounter. The only way of doing it is to force him to sit and shoot him from above.
A number of such questions central to justice in the case, have been left unaddressed. The judge had also rejected the defence plea to visit the area to ascertain the impossibility of a cornered person escaping out of the flat. As the defence argument and facts have not been given a proper consideration, and the judgment has been merely an endorsement of the police version, the aggrieved must go in appeal to a higher court to complete the due process left incomplete in the judgment.
At the end one must take note of Finance Minister P. Chidambram’s hasty endorsement of the judgment as justification for the police encounter. As lawyer he should know that it was a lopsided judgment of a sessions court most likely to be overturned by a higher court that would take into account all crucial issues overlooked by the lower court. We expect patience and dignity from important government leaders like Mr Chidambram, who happened to be the Home Minister at the time of the encounter.
- Batla House Shahzad Verdict Is Perverse And A Mockery Of Justice: JTSA – By Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (Aug 1, 2013, Countercurrents)
- Batla House verdict: a slap on the face of patriotic Muslims – By Kaleem Kawaja (Aug 3, 2013, Twocircles.net)
The 24×7 media has once again succeeded in turning a clear case of high-handed, arrogant, if not communal, behaviour of a bureaucrat to an act of highest national service. It was a clear case of rash high-handedness by an officer intoxicated by the powers the “steel frame” still enjoys six decades after the departure of the British raj, which made her demolish a “place of worship” (read mosque – can she touch any other community’s place of worship?). The blackmailer-paid-news-media donning the patriotic garb, quickly turned it into an act of mafia revenge because the said officer was fighting against sand mafia in her area. Soon a misinformation was fed quoting the district magistrate that the villagers, being told that the mosque was illegal, themselves demolished the wall (!). It is repeatedly being said that the mosque was being built without permission but it has not been made clear since when permission is needed to build something in a village? The “law” to make a prior permission from the local administration obligatory before building a place of worship [which in practice was going to be applicable to mosques alone] that the BJP government in UP tried to sneak in, in 2000, never got passed.
The alert-as-ever 24×7 media never bothered to go and talk to the villagers whose mosque was demolished. This is a basic duty of media and was not difficult either as the village Kadalpur is situated in Noida, on U.P.-Haryana borders, within a stone’s throw from Delhi. It is a Muslim-dominated village with a population of 5000 out of which 80 percent are Muslims. Previously, it had only one mosque at one corner of the village. Residents on the other end of the village had to walk a distance of two kms to reach the mosque. In view of the need due to growing population, a gram Sabha vacant land was chosen according to a decision made way back in 1982. Villagers came forward to donate to first fill and prepare the land at a cost of one lakh rupees, then they built walls around the plot and placed a tarpaulin, water tank, built a place for ablutions and placed mats for offering prayers. Urdu daily Inquilab (Delhi, 2 August) quotes villager Muhammad Shamshad, an eyewitness of the demolition on 27 July, as saying, “We had taken our sehri (pre-dawn food taken at the fast) and offered fajr (dawn) prayers and were preparing to go to the fields, when we were surprised to see a force from the area police station arriving in the village at around 9-10 in the morning. They sat next to the mosque. Soon a force of PAC came, followed by an ambulance vehicle and a JCB machine. Then, at around 12 pm, SDM Durga Nagpal arrived amid wailing sirens. Her vehicle halted with a screech at the mosque causing such a frightening sound that the villages got scared and ran to their homes for safety. We soon understood the reason why this force had come. Now village pradhan Sher Mohammad and other dignitaries of the village mustered courage to approach the SDM and talk to her. When we went to talk to the SDM, at first she spoke politely but soon she lost her temper warning us that if anyone came forward, I will send ten policemen behind him.”
Pradhan Sher Mohammad, who had appealed to the SDM not demolish the mosque, told Inquilab: “I spent some fifteen minutes reasoning with her and beseeching with her not to demolish the mosque in Ramzan. I told her: we have built the mosque with great effort. I told her: after Ramzan we will get the official papers ready. But she refused to listen and ordered the demolition of the mosque. The policemen first smashed the tarpaulin, then threw away the prayer mats, then they broke the water tank which we had bought after collecting donations for twenty days.” The pradhan added, “we were in a bind as to what should we do while the police were destroying the mosque: should we resist or not? But seeing the temper of the SDM and her threat to turn it into a Bhatta Parsol, we kept quiet. The demolition activity continued till 4 pm, after which the SDM, tahsildar and the police force withdrew leaving behind a police team.” Inquilab further reports, quoting locals, that a state of disquiet prevailed over the village and the news spread to the neighbouring villages. People from 50 neighbouring villages assembled. The situation was going to turn from bad to worse but the saner elements prevailed and pressed for a peaceful solution. Muhammad Zakir, a villager, said that zuhr (noon) and ‘asr (after-noon) prayers were not offered on that day but we offered the maghrib (evening) prayer in the same mosque. He said Nagpal is a communal person who destroyed a place of worship in which even Hindus had contributed. He said the former pradhan Chandra Pal had paid 11,000 rupees while Mahindra Jat had paid 5000 rupees for the mosque.
Inquilab quoted 71-year old villager, Muhammad Shakir, as saying, “We are pained at the illegal way our place of worship has been destroyed but we are more pained because no one listens to us, the victims.” He said, “every one is listening to the IAS officer, who will listen to us?” Another Urdu daily, Qaumi Salamti on 3 August quoted Zakir Husain, pramukh of the neighbouring village of Anwargarh, “Clean chit has been given to the SDM though the DM [district magistrate] has not bothered to visit the place not has he spoken to any panchayat member. He has sent a wrong report. Why should the villagers demolish their own mosque?” Zakir Husain further said the officer [Durga Nagpal] herself had come to destroy the mosque walls endangering communal peace. Qaumi Salamati quotes the pradhan of Kadalpur as saying that they had collected donations for a whole year before they were able to build the mosque on an uninhabited piece of land for which no permission was sought from the administration. Daily Sahafat on 3 August published a similar report adding that “once the wall was demolished, people were ready to go to any length but saner elements opposed violence.”
- Civil disservice – Editorial (Aug 5, 2013, Indian Express)
At 6.45 pm on 30 July, the first shouts of celebration were heard in front of the University College of Arts and Social Sciences at Hyderabad’s Osmania University. Students who were glued to TV sets in their hostel began running towards the avenue in front of the college as soon as the decision to create a new Telangana state was made public by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the Congress, which leads the UPA coalition. Nearly 500 students, who owed their allegiance to the Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), started bursting crackers, and throwing gulaal at each other, amid shouts of “Jai Telangana”. The Telangana movement, which rode on the feelings of victimisation, discrimination, cultural differences and a strong ethno-nationalistic sentiment for the past 44 years, was finally close to fulfilment. However, the jubilation did not mask the reasoned cynicism of the students. The question almost everyone had on their minds was: Will things actually change?
“Sixty years of struggle. This is what we fought for,” said Krushank, a student leader of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of OU, struggling to catch his breath. MCA students Suman and Fatima, who were among the handful of girls at the gathering, were more cautious. “We are happy that we have a state. But we don’t know whether things will change on the ground. Political parties may benefit. But will things change in the society and Osmania?” they wondered. Perhaps, this scepticism of the grand narrative was the main reason why celebrations were muted in much of Hyderabad, a city that has been at the heart of the movement. Telangana will comprise of 10 districts. Hyderabad, where businessmen and politicians from Andhra Pradesh have invested thousands of crores of rupees, will be the shared capital for the next 10 years, until a new capital for the residual AP is built. This came as a relief for pro-Telangana leaders and activists, who were anxious about the Congress’ plans of adding the non-Telangana districts of Anantapur and Kurnool and calling the new state Rayala Telangana.
For a movement that reportedly saw over 900 suicides and self-immolations in the past four years, the climax came much less dramatically with the Congress’ electoral considerations – a desperate attempt to avoid completely losing the region – taking more airtime and column inches than the movement itself. “You will find that elite Muslims and Hindus don’t like the idea of Telangana, whereas the poor seem to be in favour,” says Zahiruddin Ali Khan, managing editor of Siyasat, one of India’s largest Urdu dailies that is published from Hyderabad. “The movement has always been about setting the balance right. Despite being a tiny part of the population, the Reddys and Kammas, two of the upper castes, enjoy a lot of power and wealth.” Meanwhile, in Seemandhra (the combined region of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema), protests, mostly instigated by political parties, erupted in the districts of Anantapur, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Chittoor and Tirupati. Schools and colleges in many towns along the coastal areas remained shut on 31 July, owing to bandh calls given by political formations such as the Seemandhra JAC, an amalgamation of parties fighting against the separation. Most Seemandhra supporters have questioned the necessity ofTelangana, arguing that Rayalaseema has more poverty and fares worse in terms of social indices.
Even though the formation of the state will not happen until next March, procedures have been set in motion. Whereas leaders from Seemandhra are hoping for the prospect of a favourable resolution in the Assembly rejecting the separation (becauseTelangana backers don’t seem to enjoy a majority support in the House), proponents ofTelangana are confident that matters will end at the Parliament – where a resolution can be passed under Article 3, granting statehood. Even though many who have accepted the decision – like a section of the Congress, BJP and CPI – have welcomed the decision to keep Hyderabad as a common capital, BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu disgarees on that particular detail. “You can’t have a shared capital. That will be against the interests of the Andhra citizens who will have to cross a border to access their capital. The Congress needs to formulate an immediate plan for law and order in the city before anything else,” he says. Whereas Hyderabad is the biggest bone of contention, there are other issues such as the massive administrative intricacies involving names, office spaces and dizzying challenges of allocation of resources and sharing of power within Hyderabad.Telangana will also have to deal with several issues such as sharing water withSeemandhra, which is dependant on the Krishna, the longest river in south India, flowing from Mahabalweshwar in Maharashtra for more than 1,400 km before meeting the Bay of Bengal.
“I think Telangana will benefit as it will have a bigger voice in keeping more water for itself as a state,” says Padmaja Shaw, an academic with the English and Foreign Languages University. These issues notwithstanding, the industry and trade bodies heaved a sigh of relief. “Every year, Andhra Pradesh exports goods worth Rs 40,000 crore. Over the past 10 years, there was a lot of uncertainty in the state. Thus confidence among investors was lacking,” says V Laxmikanth, MD of Broadridge Financial Solutions, a multinational finance firm. “We lost a bit of momentum in growth owing to lack of clarity. But now, I expect stability and hope that we will be able to better utilise the massive talent that Hyderabad and the rest of the state has to offer. I believe it is a step in the right direction.” Ashok Reddy, president (global HR and corporate affairs), Infotech Enterprises Ltd, says the decision has brought a much-needed end to the prevailing uncertainty. “It’s an emotional issue and there could be differences. The industry is neutral and appreciates that there’s no ambiguity now. We hope that the governments that come up will be investment friendly,” says Reddy, who is also the chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries’ Andhra Pradesh chapter. …
- Telangana and the Muslim question with MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi – By Mohd. Ismail Khan (Jul 30, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Show N Tell Time – By Saba Naqvi (Aug 12, 2013, Outlook)
- Telangana-An Inevitable Decision – Editorial (Aug 10, 2013, EPW)
- Separate State of Telangana – Editorial (Aug 4, 2013, Peoples Democracy)
After a period of relative quiet, the hills of Darjeeling are brought to a simmer once again. Demonstrations and bandhs, which had become a thing of the past, have staged a comeback, with hundreds of local people joining leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to voice their demand for a separate state. On July 30, a young boy tried to set himself on fire in Kalimpong – one of the three subdivisions of the Darjeeling hills – to bring national focus on the demand for a separate Gorkha homeland. In the aftermath of the decision towards a separate Telangana, the renewed demand for a separate state in Darjeeling is not an isolated one. As if on cue, similar demands for separate states have started coming up from the hills and plains of Assam, with the Bodos and Karbis both trying to revive their long forgotten demand, as well as from Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous and, with 80 LS seats, politically its most important state. Many believe that in the coming days, many more such demands from other parts of the country are also going to be raised.
Most calls for separate statehood are not new. Some, like that of the Gorkhas, who had asked for a separate homeland from the British in 1907 through the Darjeeling Hillmen’s Council, are over a century old. Others came in the wake of the formation of the first State Reorganisation Commission in 1953, while many more followed in subsequent years. But the Congress-led UPA government’s decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh has rejuvenated many such causes that lay dormant for well over decades. However, after decades of struggle if Telangana can be a reality, what stops the others from pressing on? At a rough estimate, there are about 15 demands for separate states. Some, like the Gorkhas, Bodos and Karbis, who had earlier accepted an autonomous council, are now demanding full-fledged states. But the demand for a separate homeland also varies in length and area. While the Gorkhas’ presence is limited within only the three subdivisions of Darjeeling and does not even comprise a full district, the Bodos’ demand spans 11 per cent of the state of Assam. Some demands, like that for Bundelkhand, involve not only UP but also neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
Political observers say that all claims cannot be taken with the same seriousness as many are trying to jump on to the bandwagon set in motion in the wake of the Telangana announcement. But at least five should be watched closely, as they could well turn into a major movement and turn into a political headache for the states concerned as well as the Centre. The Gorkhaland movement would definitely top that list. Though the demand for statehood was made during colonial days, it came to the fore in independent India when former Indian army solider Subash Ghising launched the movement for a separate state in the 1980s. The three-year-long agitation was marked by large-scale violence – over 1,200 people were reportedly killed and properties worth crores destroyed – and finally culminated in an agreement between Ghising, the West Bengal government and the Centre with the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988. But after 23 years of calm, trouble started once again from 2004 onwards, when Ghising’s former allies revolted against him, accusing him of betraying the cause, and floated the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, sidelining him and reviving the demand for a separate state. There was relative peace for a few years after the new leadership entered into a fresh agreement and formed the Gorkha Territorial Council. The brief honeymoon between the Council members and chief minister Mamata Banerjee may have got over a year back on differences over allocation of funds and extent of autonomy, but the decision on Telangana has injected a new vigour and energy into the movement.
“We will intensify the movement and continue with it till we achieve statehood,” the gjm leader Roshan Giri told Outlook. In neighbouring Assam, the Bodos, who had agreed to set up an autonomous council after a violent movement, are now showing signs of renewing their statehood demand. The hardliners among them, though currently in negotiation with the state government, have decided to settle for nothing less than a separate homeland. The Karbis, who were for years were satisfied with their autonomous council, have also decided to seek statehood. There are indications that a few more sections in Assam may pitch in with similar demands. Interestingly, in UP, it was incumbent chief minister Mayawati who had formally written to the Centre, asking to split the state into Paschimanchal (the old Rohilkhand, or as Union civil aviation minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh calls it, Harit Pradesh), Purvanchal, Bundelkhand and Awadh Pradesh. As the main opposition in the state, she renewed the demand on July 31 for breaking up a state with a population of over 170 million people into four. “She will definitely try to turn this into a movement which in turn will yield votes for her,” social scientist Badri Narayan of the G.B. Pant Social Science Institute in Allahabad said. He pointed out that while Mayawati had formally raised the issue as CM, this time around she will adopt the Telangana model and try a grassroots movement, to gather overwhelming support for the states claimed.
While Telangana might well be the model, there are all indications that there is bound to be stiff resistance. To start with, Mulayam Singh’s ruling Samajwadi Party is against any division. He may try and garner support among the UP elites and try and consolidate his position. However, Mayawati will be joined in her move, at least for the creation of Paschimanchal in western UP, by Ajit Singh. But the two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, are yet to make their stand clear on UP. This ambiguity among parties is evident in West Bengal, Assam and elsewhere, where none of the major political parties is in support of a further division of their state. BJP’s Jaswant Singh won the Darjeeling LS seat with gjm’s help and promised party support for the Gorkhaland cause, but the state BJP unit emphatically gainsaid any such pledge. Votaries for a separate Vidarbha, with claims as one of the older statehood demands, have also raised a cry for carving out a homeland from eastern Maharashtra. But every time a strong leader has emerged from the area to spearhead a movement for a separate Vidarbha, the leadership in Bombay has succeeded in coopting him within the state’s power structure. As a result, only those leaders who fail to make it big in Maharashtra or at the Centre seem keen to highlight the demand. Additionally, there is no major support among other political players for such a move. While the Shiv Sena is opposed to the creation of Telangana, Nationalist Congress Party leader and Union minister Sharad Pawar threw his weight behind the decision. Pawar’s position on the demand for a separate Vidarbha remains ambiguous, as is the stand the BJP – otherwise vocal in championing demand for small states – might take on the issue. So what do we expect in the coming days? There is no denying that Telangana has given momentum to many of these demands and at least some of them would try and intensify their call for statehood by even resorting to violence to show ‘serious’ intent and get the Centre’s attention. But the political Pandora’s box that the Congress has opened up with the Telangana decision would only overflow in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
- An Uneasy Calm In Kokrajhar – By Ratnadip Choudhury (Aug 10, 2013, Tehelka)
- Look Beyond Hyderabad For The Growth Of Telangana – By Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Aug 1, 2013, Countercurrents)
- The Song Of Telangana – By Madhavi Tata (Aug 12, 2013, Outlook)
- The Telangana tangle begins to unravel – By Anant Maringanti (Aug 10, 2013, EPW)
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released the “Crime in India 2012” report recently. The report reveals the sorry state of affairs regarding crime trends and the criminal justice system of our country, especially vis-à-vis the crime of rape. It is most alarming that the singular crime of rape is the fastest growing crime in India and has increased by 902% over 1971 to 2012. The incidents of rapes reported increased from 24,206 in 2011 to 24,923 in 2012. These figures for rape, however, should be taken with a pinch of salt because of the manner in which the NCRB collates data. We are all aware that criminal incidents often involve more than one crime. As a result, FIRs often invoke multiple Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections. The figures provided by the NCRB are segregated into very neat categories of rape, murder, kidnapping etc. This is because only the most serious charge mentioned in a FIR is taken into account. By this logic, an incident of rape and murder is recorded as murder, because murder is a more serious offence in law than rape. As a result, ironically, even the 16 December gang-rape incident that shook the entire country would not be a part of the rape statistics compiled for the year 2012, alongside numerous other cases where the rape victims also lost their lives.
Additionally, the extent of numerous other crimes that have recently been recognised by the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, like gang-rapes, acid attacks, stalking, etc., will be known from next year onwards. The exact extent of “honour” crimes, which are still not recognised by law, will still remain unknown. In view of the rising incidents of crimes against women in general, and rapes in particular, it is often claimed that the figures presented are a reflection of greater awareness and better reporting, rather than an increase in absolute numbers. While “awareness” is undoubtedly improving, the claims made by those in government are underlined by a sense of satisfaction that they are contributing towards a creation of a more conducive environment for women. This is contrary to the situation on ground, as the entire criminal justice system continues to remain extremely hostile to women across the country. While the impact of “awareness” on reporting may be difficult to measure, what can certainly be measured is the response of the criminal justice system to the reporting of crime.
A total of 1,07,82,638 oral, written, telephonic or suo-moto complaints were recorded by the police across the country in 2012. But 15 states and 3 union territories did not provide separate records for complaints and FIRs, and recorded only FIRs as complaints. The remaining states provided disaggregated data for the total number of complaints received as well as those converted into FIRs. 13 states and 4 UTs received a total of 71,47,332 complaints in 2012. Out of these only 24,06,253, that is 33.66% were converted into FIRs. Delhi has the worst record of converting only 2.49% complaints into FIRs. Since no separate data is available for this rate of conversion regarding crimes against women or rape, one can assume that the general average must be the same (in other departments the figures for crimes against women are in fact much worse). Of the total 38,144 rape cases pending investigation in 2012, charge-sheets were submitted in 21,565 (56.5%) cases. Investigations were still pending in 14,695 (35.9%) rape cases at the end of the year. The charge-sheeting rate calculated by the NCRB does not take the pending cases into account, hence the rate provided is as high as 95.6% for rape. This manner of calculation is highly questionable and conceals more than it reveals.
Of the total 1,01,041 rape cases pending trial in the courts, trials were completed in 14,717 (14.6%) cases. Of these, convictions happened in 3,563 cases, 292 were compounded or withdrawn, and the accused were acquitted or discharged in 11,154 cases. The conviction rate for rape, therefore, was as low as 24.2% in 2012, down from 26.4% in 2011 and 26.6% in 2010. The average number of IPC cases per police personnel was 2.5 in 2012, the same as in 2011, contrary to constant refrains of overburdening by the police. The rapes were committed by the following: parent/close family member – 393 (1.6%), other relatives – 1,585 (6.4%), neighbours – 8,484 (34%), other known persons – 14,008 (56.2%), and unknown persons – 453 (1.8%). Moreover, 1,175 incidents of rape by juveniles were reported in 2012. Out of these, 881 were committed by 16-18 year olds, 391 by 12-15 years, and 33 by 7-12 year olds. 28 rapes were also reported in the railways in 2012. For every one hour, 2.84 cases of rape were reported across the countries in which on an average 3.55 persons were arrested during the year 2012, suggesting a significant number of gang rapes. A total of 1,00,727 rape cases were pending in the criminal justice system at the end of 2012, with 14,695 pending investigations by police and 86,032 pending trial in the courts. From the above data the following can be discerned about the state of the criminal justice system vis-a-vis rape: The rate of conversion of complaints into FIRs was 33.66%. Of these charge-sheets were submitted in 56.5% cases, trials completed only in 14.6% cases, of which convictions happened in a meagre 24.2% cases. So, if a total of 1,000 women approached the police with their complaints, FIRs were registered in 337 cases. Of these, in cases of rape, charge-sheets were submitted in 190. Trials were completed in 27.7 cases and convictions happened only in a total of 6.7 cases, that is in less than 1% cases. Thus, on an average our criminal justice system managed conviction in only 7 out of a 1000 complaints for rape. Even if one assumes that FIRs were registered in all the complaints of rape (which was certainly not the case), our system managed conviction in only about 20 out of a 1,000 rape FIRs, i.e., in less than 2% cases. This calculation still does not take into account cases which are not reported to law. This abysmal performance needs to change drastically. With this record, it is a miracle that women still come forward with their complaints. The government certainly does not have any cause for satisfaction, and the enhanced reporting of rape is evidently happening in spite of it. The people who came out on the streets to demand justice in December 2012 were demanding a change in this entire scenario and strong deterrent measures to curb the sheer impunity with which the crime was perpetrated. The response of the government to the protests will not be measured by the number of laws passed by the Parliament but in terms of the actual change that can be brought about in the ratio of conversion of complaints into convictions. …
- ‘A living hell’ – By Seema Mustafa (Aug 9, 2013, Frontline)
- Scandal In The Ashram – By Imran Khan (Aug 10, 2013, Tehelka)
- A Festering Wound – Editorial (Jul 20, 2013, EPW)