IAMC Weekly News Roundup - January 20th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – January 20th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Book Review


Witch-hunt against Teesta Setalvad an indictment of Gujarat government say Indian Americans

January 15, 2014

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned attempts by the Gujarat government to use the state security apparatus to harass and intimidate noted human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, and the organization she represents, Citizens for Justice and Peace.

Teesta Setalvad has been at the forefront in the struggle to secure justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. The Gujarat police’s trumped-up charges of fraud against her, are indicative of the aggravation and fear among powerful elements within the Gujarat administration that stand to lose much if the truth about the Gujarat pogrom is established in a court of law. Clearly, the public officials and institutions that were complicit in the genocide, are lending themselves to the silencing of the voices of justice.

The fact that the administration is using law enforcement to intimidate human rights activists is in keeping with Mr. Narendra Modi’s track record. Whistleblowers such as IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, ex-DGP R. B. Sreekumar, and human rights activists such as Fr. Cedric Prakash, have all experienced harassment and intimidation at the hands of the Gujarat government under Mr. Modi. This should give every Indian pause to reflect on the implications of such an individual potentially occupying the highest executive office in the land.

“The cases against Ms. Setalvad are clear vendetta against her for her activism and struggle in the cause of justice,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “This sets the stage for other public officials in positions of power to behave like tin pot dictators, exacting revenge from anyone who dares to hold them accountable,” added Mr. Khan.



IAMC has called on civil society institutions and people of conscience, to stand by the victims of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, and those who are fighting to secure justice for them.

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 15 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: https://www.iamc.com


Statement from Citizens for Justice and Peace


Bombay HC grants interim bail to Teesta Setalvad, husband

Teesta Setalvad disappointed with court decision on Gujarat riots, will appeal

Teesta Setalvad: Wheels within wheels

“The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India’s Future” Martha Nussbaun, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2009)
Ishaq Syed
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Gujarat incident cannot be forgotten or pardoned, Nitish Kumar says (Jan 20, 2014, Times of India)

Slamming Bollywood superstar Salman Khan for defending Narendra Modi, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said what had happened in Gujarat in 2002 cannot be “forgotten or pardoned”. “You may talk anything but what happened in Gujarat cannot be forgotten or pardoned,” Kumar told reporters reacting to Salman Khan’s statement as to why Modi would seek pardon for Gujarat riots as he was cleared by court. Kumar also did not appear to be impressed with Modi’s vision of Bullet trains.

Kumar, who himself served as Railway minister during NDA government, said the concept of Bullet trains was first mooted by late Indira Gandhi in 1980s and the idea kept from coming time to time. “An attempt was made during my time to run a Bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, but later it was found that in India it is a difficult work,” he said on the sidelines of ‘janata durbar’ programme. “We tried to start a train running at a speed of 180 kmph but it was found a loss making proposal,” he said.

Taking an apparent dig at BJP PM pick, he said, “Everybody talks a lot before elections but let us see whether you come to power or not to unveil the visions.” On Modi’s criticism of Congress in the BJP meet in New Delhi, he said, “A few people in a bid to hog prominent space in media talk much…I am not among them.”



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Burqa-clad women were actually male RSS workers: Congress (Jan 14, 2014, Times of India)

The clusters of burqa-wearing women at the Modi rally were actually male RSS workers brought by the BJP to show that the Muslim community is supporting the party, said Congress spokesperson for South Goa Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar on Monday.

He said the BJP is resorting to this trick all over the country.

The former Dhargalim MLA said Sheikh Jina, who is being projected as the BJP’s leader of the minority community, and is a tailor by profession, stitched the burqas himself. “Goans will not fall for this trick,” Azgaonkar said.



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Third ex-judge refuses to probe snoopgate (Jan 15, 2014, Deccan Herald)

Another retired judge of the Supreme Court, third in a row, is learnt to have expressed his unwillingness to head a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to look into the “snoopgate” scandal allegedly involving Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, putting the Centre in an embarrassing situation.

Almost three weeks have gone by after the Union Cabinet decided to set up the CoI but the government is yet to get a retired judge who is willing to accept the assignment. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on January 10 announced that the CoI will be set up “within a day or two”, while admitting that “some problems” had caused the delay.

Sources said Justice Deepak Verma is the latest to decline the assignment. Earlier, they said, the government had approached former chief justice of India Altamas Kabir and Justice Aftab Alam but both of them were not willing to accept the assignment. Shinde, however, has said it was not correct for the retired judges to be unwilling to head the CoI. None of the former judges could be contacted for their comments. Sources said the Centre had now approached a fourth retired judge.

Gujarat has also set up a CoI to probe snoopgate. The BJP has claimed that the surveillance was part of plan to give discreet security to the woman, but is facing criticism as its Terms of Reference are restrictive in nature. The snoopgate scandal surfaced two months ago when two investigative portals, CobraPost and Gulail, made public purported conversations between Modi’s right-hand man Amit Shah and senior police officers on putting a young woman on surveillance.



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3 POTA accused walk free for want of proof (Jan 20, 2014, Indian Express)

Three accused lodged in Rampur district jail under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) were released Sunday. They were arrested in 2002 for allegedly passing sensitive information about the Indian Army to Pakistan. The release came after a Moradabad court, where the trial was going on, acquitted them Saturday for want of evidence.

Last year, the Akhilesh Yadav government had initiated efforts to withdraw case against them, but the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had stayed the government’s move. The hearing of the case was transferred to Moradabad from Rampur after POTA was invoked. Acting district government counsel Sanjeev Agarwal said, “The court acquitted them for want of evidence.”

Deputy jailor of Rampur district jail Arun Kumar said all three persons – Maqsood, Javed and Taj Mohammad – had been released as they were acquitted in the case. Javed’s lawyer Jalaluddin said, “The police did not follow the due procedure under POTA. The statements of the accused have to be recorded by a SP rank officer while in this case an inspector recorded the statements. The prosecution also failed to establish the allegations against his clients.”

The case dates back to August 13, 2002 when the UP Police arrested four persons – Javed alias Guddu, Taj Mohammad, Maqsood and Mumtaz Mian – from Kashipur village in Rampur district. They were accused of leaking secrets of the Indian Army to Pakistan. The police had then claimed to have recovered sensitive documents from their possession.

The police chargesheeted them under the POTA and the IPC sections 121 (waging, or attempting to wage, or abetting waging of war against the Government of India) and 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121). The POTA against them was invoked after the police claimed that documents recovered from them were sensitive in nature. In 2004, the POTA review committee recommended to withdraw charges against Mumtaz Mian after no direct evidence was found against him. Mumtaz is out on bail since 2004. Mumtaz’s lawyer Nazar Abbas said his client’s case was separated and is pending in a local court of Rampur.



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11 cops convicted in 21 years old custodial death case (Jan 10, 2014, Times of India)

Finding them guilty of eliminating a youth in the police custody more than 21 years ago, a local court has convicted 11 policemen including a DSP and an Inspector of police under murder charges. The DSP wanted to the police also in another murder case has already been declared proclaimed offender(PO) after he had jumped the parole whereas two policemen had died during the pendency of the case. The quantum of sentence will be awarded on January 14.

The Bathinda sadar police station personnel had picked up twenty five years Sikh youth Paramjit Singh on July 17, 1992 accusing him to be involved in terrorist activities. Paramjit then was working as fireman at the ammunition depot at Bathinda. As per prosecution the police then had cooked story that when the police got Paramjit to a nearby village for the recovery of arms, some unknown persons had fired at the police party and Paramjit had fled from police custody.

There was no trace of him till more than two years despite Paramjit’ father Gurdit Singh going from pillar to post to know about the whereabouts of his son. It was in October 1994 that when then Punjab and Haryana high court Judge RN Anand had visited Bathinda, Gurdit Singh prayed before him and the Justice Anand had asked then Bathinda sessions judge KS Garewal to probe the case. The court after investigation had found that the boy was killed in police custody. A murder case then was registered against 11 policemen and the family was provided Rs. 1.5 lac compensation as well.

Prosecution counsel Gurjit Singh Sidhu and ADA Kochhar said taking up the case on Friday additional sessions judge MP Pahwa convicted 11 policemen and announced to pronounce the quantum of sentence on January 14. The convicted policemen included DSP Gurjit Singh, who while cooling heels in Bathinda jail in the custodial death of another youth of Sherpur(Sangrur)had jumped parole in 2007 whereas two had died. The 8 alive convicted policemen includes inspector Barjinder Kumar, an ASI, head constables and two home guard men.

Deceased Paramjit Singh’ brother Sarabjit Singh said “the family is hoping to get justice after more than 21 years and we are waiting for the judgment day”. He said my father had died only last year while waiting for justice.



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Muzaffarnagar gang-rape victims move SC against police inaction (Jan 18, 2014, Times of India)

Seven women from the minority community, who were allegedly gang-raped during the Muzaffarnagar riots four months ago, complained to the Supreme Court on Friday that UP Police had not arrested any of the accused named in their FIRs, allowing them to roam free and threaten the victims and witnesses. Appearing for the victims, advocate Kamini Jaiswal said the sexual assaults happened on September 8 and the FIRs were registered on September 26. Yet, not a single accused had been arrested by the state police, she said, while also accusing the police of diluting the FIRs.

Jaiswal said the police registered the cases under the gang-rape provision without applying the amended provision under Section 376(2)(g) of IPC that specifically covers gang-rape during communal and sectarian violence. She said by not applying the correct charge against the accused, the police weakened the evidence presented by the victims. Jaiswal also narrated the harrowing experience of the women, who were allegedly berated and treated badly when they were medically examined in the government hospital.

A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, which has been monitoring relief and rehabilitation work of the Akhilesh Yadav government in riot-affected districts, said it understood the urgency of the petition and sought responses from the UP administration and the Centre within two weeks. The petitioners alleged that they were specifically targeted during the communal violence by mobs of men of the dominant community and were gang raped. Citing reports of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Minorities, they said the violence had a disproportionate impact on the minority community.

“In terms of fatalities, injuries, sexual assaults, destruction of homes, properties, loss of livelihood, displacement and destitution, the victims are predominantly and overwhelmingly from the minority community,” they said quoting reports of the two commissions. While six women were from Fugana village in Muzaffarnagar district, one was from the adjoining Shamli district’s Patti Salaan locality in village Lakh. “To silence and intimidate the victims of gang-rape, the accused and their community members are threatening the petitioners and their family members to compel them not to pursue their complaints of gang-rape,” the petition said.

“All the accused continue to roam free even after committing such heinous crimes and continue to pose threat to the lives of the petitioners and their families. In the name of investigation, the Special Investigation Cell is conducting a charade and deliberately weakening the case of the petitioners, so that they can never secure justice for the sexual assault during the communal violence,” they said.



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Court directs police to register case against Muzaffarnagar rioters (Jan 17, 2014, The Hindu)

A local court has ordered the police to register a case of murder against four persons for allegedly killing a man at Katha village in Baghpat district. The court took action on the petition of the deceased man Khalil’s wife Nazrana on Thursday, after the police refused to register a FIR on her husband’s murder during the riots.

The court has directed the police to register a case of murder against the four accused Shovind, Anil, Kallu Singh, and Kana, and has asked the police to file a report within seven days of investigation. According to prosecution sources, the victim’s widow filed the application under Section 156[3] of CRPC in Baghpat court.

Ms. Nazrana said that the incident took place during the riots she was travelling with her husband in a bus from Loni to Baghpat near Katha village on September 10, 2013. She alleged that Mr. Khalil was forcefully pushed out of the bus and murdered by the rioters in front of her, following which they threw his body into a canal. In her complaint, she said that her FIR was not registered by the police.



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At least 24 injured as communal violence erupts in Bahraich (Jan 15, 2014, Daily Mail)

Violence broke out in Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of Julus-e-Mohammadi, leaving more than 24 people injured. Meanwhile, 130km way in the state capital, Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav and SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav were assuring Muslim leaders that there won’t be a repeat of Muzaffarnagar-like riots in future. Four houses, six motorcycles and a tractor have reportedly been torched in the violence that broke out in Mohraba village in Bahraich.

It is also feared that a large number of people have fled from their villages for fear of being killed or being implicated by the police in false cases. Twenty people have been detained for interrogation. Two local youths named Babulal Yadav (22) and Fazlu Rehman (25) have sustained serious head injuries and have been admitted to the district hospital.

According to one eyewitness, some people pelted stones at a procession of Barawafar (Juluse-Mohammadi) and left five people injured. As a result, some agitated youths in the procession caught those who had hurled stones at them and thrashed them. The youngsters were also reportedly pelting stones on houses. Later, both the communities set on fire each other’s properties. A flour mill and a religious place were also damaged.

District SP president Aquil Ahmad, who was the first to reach the village after the incident, said it was the work of local residents through which the Barawafar procession was passing. This is the 108th episode of fully-fledged communal violence in the state ever since March 2012, when Akhilesh Yadav took over as CM.



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Seven killed, nine injured in Bodo militant attacks (Jan 18, 2014, DNA India)

Suspected Bodo militants continued with their violence in Assam, killing seven civilians and injuring nine others in three incidents in less than a day, officials said. A faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) opposed to peace talks killed one person Saturday evening at Ambagan in Udalguri district in the Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD), police said.

NDFB militants also fired indiscriminately at Bagidara village in Chirang district, killing one person and injuring five others. Bodo militants had killed five civilians and injured four others in Kokrajhar district Friday night. “In today’s incident, Visham Sharma, a barber by profession, was shot dead by armed NDFB cadres from close range,” police said.

The militants had Friday killed five people at Aathiabari Tiniali along NH-31 in Kokrajhar district. “The militants first stopped four night service buses, coming from North Bengal to various locations in Assam and Meghalaya, paraded a few of them and shot at them, killing five people instantly and injuring four others,” police said. The victims were all Hindi-speaking people from Bihar and West Bengal, they said.

All the injured were admitted to a hospital in Bongaigaon and the condition of three was stated to be critical. “We have taken all measures to ensure law and order in and around the area. Additional forces have already been sent to the troubled areas and a massive operation has been launched against the militants,” Commissioner (Home) G.D. Tripathi said Saturday. “Security forces killed a cadre of the NDFB faction yesterday (Friday) at Moinaguri in the district. The series of attacks since yesterday could be retaliation by the outfit,” he said.

Friday’s attack came a few hours after newly appointed Director General of Police Khagen Sarma took charge and said the United Liberation Front of Asom, NDFB and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) were planning to carry out serial blasts. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had asked the DGP to deal with the situation firmly.



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Policemen caught on camera slapping a group of women; three suspended (Jan 14, 2014, IBN)

In an incident of police brutality, policemen allegedly slapped and cane-charged a group of women protesting on the national highway in Firozabad against the death of two persons in a mishap.

The protestors had gathered on Monday night at Subhash crossing under Uttar police station area and squatted on the National Highway after a rumour that the driver of the tractor involved in the road mishap had been let off, sources said. Police officials, including SHO Sri Prakash Yadav were then caught on camera slapping and baton-charging the protesting women, while trying to clear the road.

Superintendent of Police Rakesh Singh said that after a probe into the matter, three policemen – Sanjiv Kumar, Neeraj and Giriraj – posted at Rasulpur police station, were suspended. Singh said police used force to disperse the mob gathered on the busy crossing as the protestors were indulging in stone-pelting during the late hours amidst heavy fog.



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Opinions and Editorials

Gujarat: 2002 riots: Twelve Years And Counting – R.K. Misra (Jan 27, 2014, Outlook)

The Nanavaty judicial inquiry commission, set up on March 3, ’02, by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in Gujarat to probe the Godhra train carnage and the subsequent communal riots, was mandated to submit its report within three months. One hundred and forty-two months or almost 12 years later, it’s just got its 21st extension, till June 30, 2014. Dr Mukul Sinha, whose Jan Sangharsh Manch has been fighting the cause of the riot victims before the commission, is candid when he states that so much time’s elapsed that people may have well forgotten the very incidents that the panel was meant to inquire into. “The 2002 violence saw Modi turn into a Hindutva icon. Now the man aspires to lead the country in the general elections of 2014. Yet the question as to who was responsible for the death of some one thousand people still awaits an answer,” he says.

Initially headed by high court judge K.G. Shah, the state government later decided to appoint retired Supreme Court judge G.T. Nanavaty as commission chairman while widening its scope to cover the post-Godhra communal riots and again in 2004 to bring the role of the CM and the administration into the ambit of the probe. Justice Shah passed away in 2008 and was replaced by another retired judge of the high court, Justice Akshay Mehta. The commission has also been mired in controversy. Justice Mehta was outed in a sting operation on 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre accused Babu Bajrangi. There’s also the small matter of Justice Nanavaty’s son Maulik taking over as additional public prosecutor at the Gujarat HC as also the fact of his brother Dhaval becoming an empanelled lawyer of the BJP-controlled Ahmed-abad Municipal Corporation.

The commission’s first report in 2008, on the burning of the Sabarmati Express in 2008, called it a pre-planned conspiracy and gave a clean chit to the state government. Former Gujarat top cop R.B. Sreekumar, who was the state intelligence bureau chief around the time but later fell foul of Modi when he refused to comply with ‘illegal’ orders, points to the timing of that report. “The first report giving a clean chit to the Modi government was submitted in September 2008, just in time for the LS polls in early 2009. The second report providing a similar clean chit should come timed before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” he says adding that he has submitted nine affidavits to the commission, two of them from the time when he was in service, that “provides enough corroboratory evidence but to little avail”.

State Congress spokesperson Dr Manish Doshi calls all the commissions appointed by the Gujarat government “Modi Bachao Commissions”. “Has any of these commissions indicted the government on any count? They are all whitewash jobs,” he says. Mukul Sinha finds it “strange that the main person against whom allegations were made for responsibility of the 2002 riots has never been examined by the panel set up to find out how it happened!” All this while, according to an RTI application, the state government had spent Rs 6.32 crore on the panel till 2011. There have been contradictions galore as well. While the Nanavaty Commission held that the Godhra train carnage was a well-hatched conspiracy, the U.C. Banerjee panel appointed by the UPA’s then rail minister Laloo Yadav found no evidence to suggest such a thing. The Nanavaty Commission held Maulana Umarji as the key Godhra conspirator while the special court trying him acquitted him.

Incidentally, the POTA review panel headed by retired Allahabad HC judge S.C. Jain had on May 16, 2005, recommended the removal of POTA provisions from the Godhra train carnage case as the burning of the compartment was “certainly not part of the conspiracy as envisaged under POTA provisions”. Ironically, in March 2010, then home minister Amit Shah had stated in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha that the Nanavaty Commission would submit the second part of its report by June end of the year. But it’s been extension piled up on weary extension and the report is still awaited, 40 months later.



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A bad bargain on communal violence bill – By Gyanant Singh (Jan 15, 2014, India Today)

The Centre recently cleared an amendment to the draft law against communal violence to make it community neutral. But it did not do much to ensure that a partisan bureaucracy, police or the political class at the helm was not able to frustrate the objective behind the proposed law which seeks to treat religious and linguistic minorities and nonminorities alike.

The decision of the Cabinet to replace a ‘national authority’ with National Human Rights Commission ( NHRC) for monitoring implementation of the law and to change the basic nature of the law by including the majority communities within the ambit of protection of the law could help build a political consensus on the draft Bill.

But the objective of the law might be lost in translation in the absence of corresponding changes to the draft law which initially did not envisage anyone from the minority community as accused.

With the proposed law now envisaging pre- emptive and penal actions against minorities as well, the wideranging administrative and police powers and several other provisions – that were probably included in the initial draft to protect the vulnerable minorities – could now put them at the receiving end. …

If not worse, repeated incidents of violence against people termed as ‘outsiders’ in some parts of the country show that the problem today was as grave, and was here to stay. In this backdrop, leaving people with regional identities without protection would only make the law communal.



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The Ghazals Savarkar never wrote – By Mohammed Ayub Khan (Jan 15, 2014, Twocircles.net)

It is an election season and we shouldn’t be too surprised at the many personal and ideological transformations taking place across the spectrum of Indian politics. A parallel attempt is also underway in rehabilitating the images of divisive figures in the nation’s history like V.D. Savarkar—a man well-known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric through his numerous writings. The unveiling of his portrait in the parliament, in 2003, caused a minor controversy after the Congress and the Left expressed their discomfiture at the last moment. Ten years later another sensation has been created, but there was no controversy as the media and the scholarly & literary community lapped up claims that Savarkar’s Urdu ghazals have been discovered.

In August of this year, his fans and the media went on an overdrive arguing that he wasn’t a bigot he is made out to be, and that he was a ‘great believer’ in Hindu-Muslim unity. A recently discovered scrap-book containing Urdu poetry was cited as evidence of his secular credentials. A closer examination reveals that the story has many holes. The scrapbook, identified as a ‘notebook’ by the media, was apparently found in the library of the late S.P.Gokhale, an associate of Savarkar. It has eight pages of Urdu poetry written in Urdu and the Devanagari script. Ranajit Savarkar, grandson of Savarkar, claims that it was written in the last few months of his incarceration in 1921 when he was able to get access to paper and ink.

The claim that this poetry is Savarkar’s is spurious on several grounds. First of all there is no evidence that this scrapbook actually belongs to Savarkar. His name is not written anywhere in the book. It has the name Pyaray Mohan written on one page. Another page is a history sheet of a prisoner sentenced for dacoity in Moradabad. It contains cuttings of imagined illustrations and pictures of Lord Rama, Jesus Christ, Gandhi Ji, Swami Vivekanand, Tilak, George Washington among others, with some notes written by their collector.

Secondly, there is no evidence that Savarkar ever mastered enough Urdu to compose his own poetry. He didn’t learn Urdu in his schooling years. It is widely believed that he learnt it in either Europe or later in the Andamans. In his book, The War of Independence, he does quote Bahadur Shah Zafar’s poetry, demonstrating a grasp of the language but that doesn’t mean he was capable of composing original verses in Urdu. Third, since his early activist career he had been a vocal advocate of replacement of Urdu with Hindi and other regional languages. This aggressive pro-Hindi activism began in 1906 when each member of Abhinav Bharat was asked to take an oath of making all efforts to make Hindi in the Devanagari script the national language of India. Similarly, we find frequent references of him asking his followers to purge Hindi of Urdu and Persian words. …

To claim that Savarkar was a lover of Urdu or that he was free of bigotry on such thin evidence is spurious to say the least. His followers and fans need to come up with stronger proof in order to establish his supposed secular credentials. Lastly, such attempts are an insult to the memory of the Ghadarite revolutionaries whose centenary communities across North America are commemorating this year. They had dreamt of a free, secular, cohesive and united India. Savarkar’s divisive agenda was completely antithetical to their dreams.



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Akhilesh is turning into a ‘despot’. Here’s proof – By Sharat Pradhan (Jan 14, 2014, Rediff)

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav appears to be fast turning into another Mayawati, the Bahujan Samaj Party chief minister who was outvoted by the Samajwadi Party in March 2012. This was amply demonstrated in an abrupt move by the chief minister to get two TV channels – Times Now and India TV – off air across the state. Both channels had severely angered Akhilesh and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav by condemning the UP government for its extravagance in the Yadav clan’s native village of Saifai in Etawah as well as for allowing its eight ministers and nine legislators to go on a 20-day foreign jaunt even as Muzaffarnagar riot victims were dying in poorly-run relief camps.

While most TV channels were quite critical of the government’s “insensitivity”, Akhilesh got cracking against these two channels in particular and has used all his clout to make a frontal attack on the media’s freedom of expression. Even as no formal ban order was issued, cable operators across the state were warned to take Times Now and India TV off air, or else face persecution. “We have been intimidated by authorities to black out the two channels; we have no choice but to follow the directives,” said a top official of a leading cable operator who did not wish to be named.

Significantly, the unofficial diktat came exactly 24 hours after Akhilesh displayed his anger against the channels for focusing on the government’s splurge on the Saifai festival – loaded with Bollywood biggies. He not only came out blatantly in defence of the foreign jaunt by a team of 17 of his ministers and MLAs, but also left no stone unturned to ridicule and humiliate some senior journalists, particularly those belonging to these two channels. Perhaps unwittingly, the young chief minister has forgotten that it was the media campaign against Mayawati’s undemocratic and despotic ways that helped him to romp home with a clear majority. Ironically, Akhilesh had also made it a point to flay Mayawati for playing the “dictator.”

The manifestation of Akhilesh’s anger was preceded by several other acts which are reminiscent of his predecessor and Samajwadi Party’s bete noire Mayawati. Inaccessibility – that had Mayawati’s bane, has now become virtue for the father and son. The father is still available, at least to his partymen who flock at the Samajwadi Party state headquarters which he frequents. But the son is available only to a select few who are privileged enough to penetrate the high security of the chief minister’s official residence, where Akhilesh spends most of his time. Like Mayawati, he too finds little time for office and prefers the confines of 5 Kalidass Marg, to which only a chosen few have access. …

While Akhilesh did pay a customary visit to the riot hit town, Mulayam did not even care to look towards Muzaffarnagar. The fact that bulk of the victims were Muslims, who remained at the receiving end ever since communal clashes broke out in the region ion August 27 last, failed to awaken the SP supremo from his slumber. … However, he and his father both have drawn enough flak on account of their poor handling of the riots, which not only left Muslims at the receiving end but also made them languish in the so-called relief camps, from where many were unceremoniously uprooted. Mulayam even went to the extent of terming them as “conspirators, planted in the camps by Congress and BJP.”



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Why Was RK Singh Reluctant To Clean Up His Department? – By Ushinor Majumdar (Jan 25, 2014, Tehelka)

Former Union home secretary RK Singh recently remarked that Sushilkumar Shinde is not fit to be the country’s home minister. The quip was in response to a question on whether Shinde should resign for his alleged interference in transfers and postings in the Delhi Police and giving wrong information about the US helping India to bring back underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Ironically, new revelations have come to light, which show that Singh has some skeletons in his closet. Why did he back off from ordering a CBI inquiry into his own department despite three home ministry officials recommending an investigation into allegations of corruption in purchases made for the CRPF. Copies of these documents are in TEHELKA’s possession.

The year 2010 was one of the lowest periods for the paramilitary force, which was engaged with the armed militia of the CPI (Maoist) in central India. That was the year of the infamous Dantewada massacre in which 75 jawans were killed in Chhattisgarh. The media went to town about how the jawans didn’t have good camps and equipment. They did not even have proper toilets and attending to nature’s call in the morning was fraught with risk. Soon, a file made its way to the CRPF headquarters with a proposal to build bamboo structures for the jawans. Since bamboo was not an authorised material, the force required the home department’s special clearance. On 18 November 2011, the CRPF applied for the home ministry’s nod to place an order for 110 bamboo structures at a cost of Rs 4.8 crore.

Additional secretary (home) SC Panda, one of the three officials who later scrutinised these files and recommended a CBI probe, noted in his report of December 2012 that the “reasonability of the product had not been established” before placing the order. His note also showed that an advance payment of Rs 1.9 crore was made despite there being no such clause. The order was given to a government agency called the National Mission for Bamboo Applications (NMBA). Between February and May 2011, the NMBA wrote four letters to the government changing specifications of the structures with a Rs 10 lakh spike in the price estimate.

Following this, the CRPF ordered another 131 structures for Rs 7.9 crore and after authorisation, Panda notes, there was another unwarranted advance payment of Rs 3.1 crore, bringing the total of advance payments to Rs 5.1 crore. Again, there was a revision of the size and a resultant price increase of Rs 41 lakh. In March 2012, a home ministry official stumbled upon suspicious payments made to the NMBA’s account with a nationalised bank. A further investigation led the official to suspect embezzlement through this account. Detailed studies into the supply order and prices quoted to other offices showed that the NMBA was charging the CRPF an unreasonable price. In fact, it was charging the CRPF between 11 to 17 times of what the suppliers had quoted for the bamboo structures at other centres. …

Meanwhile, last March, a retired government official named EV Satyamurthy wrote to the home department and the CVC claiming that bureaucrats in the home department were allegedly given undue promotions along with pay and benefits just before retirement so that they would get higher pension. The internal oversight cell took notice of these and wanted to probe further. If exposed, it could reveal decades of manipulating transfer postings and thus, crores of rupees of taxpayers’ money paid out in undeserving pensions. But Singh refused to order an investigation. After his retirement last June, Singh joined the BJP and there is speculation that he will contest the Lok Sabha polls from his native Supaul district in Bihar.



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Politics of Massacres and Resistance – By Sushmita (Jan 11, 2014, EPW)

The Sone river has continued to remain incessantly cruel. There have been so many massacres of the poor and the landless on both the banks of this river that its water would have turned red. But even then, it kept flowing nonchalantly. This was not a mere indifference of the river; rather it took sides with the feudal forces, irrigating their agricultural lands and adding to their muscle! Neither the hundreds of women, youth and children who were slaughtered nor their wailing families could wield any influence over the river. It is very similar to how the middle classes of our country have remained indifferent towards the massacres, rapes and plight of the oppressed masses. On the contrary, they believe the governmental agencies are doing a commendable job for the sake of national security!

This river which originates in Rinhad in Uttar Pradesh flows through various regions where feudal dominance is very strong and has witnessed hundreds of massacres. Laxmanpur Bathe, a village situated at the banks of Sone, suddenly popped up on the world map in 1997. Similarly, Arwal which is located around 10-12 kms away from this village also emerged on the world map in 1986. On 1 December 1997, some butchers of Ranvir Sena (upper caste private militia), who came from Sahar, brutally slaughtered 61 people among whom 56 were members of a peasant organisation called Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad (currently a Maoist organisation) and three were the members of Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninst) (CPI(ML)) Liberation. All the persons killed were of dalit community.

Recently, Bathe has been once again in the news. On 9 October 2013, the Patna High Court acquitted all the accused in Laxmanpur Bathe massacre. In this case the lower court had awarded death sentence to 16 of the accused while giving life sentence to 10 other convicted. But the high court acquitted all of the accused on grounds of “lack of concrete evidence” resulting in various reactions on the judgment. While various parliamentary parties are looking at the incident from their electoral prism, certain so-called communist parties are hailing the verdict of the lower court while criticising the high court judgment. But one does need to understand whether there is a contradiction in the judgments of the lower and higher court.

Some people are trying to explain these incidents from a dalit-caste perspective and are trying to cover up the character of the ruling class which has played its role behind the scenes of these incidents. In this context, in order to understand the entire politics of massacres as well as resistance one needs to place the matter in its proper historical context. In Bihar, in between 1976 and 2001, around 700 dalits and backward caste people have been killed by upper caste private armies and police. To understand the politics behind these massacres it is important to comprehend the historical background of the same.

These massacres executed by the feudal forces with aegis from the ruling class are phenomena of a particular period which spanned from the 1970s to the 1990s. Here the question is that if these incidents were mere attacks on the dalits by the feudal forces, then why only after 1970? The dalits have always been vulnerable. The politics that emerged in 1970 raised new questions and challenges in front of the country. This radical politics tried to establish that the questions of feudal oppression, land and dignity cannot be addressed within the purview of statist laws, but these contradictions have to be resolved only by intensifying the fight against the ruling classes. …



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Book Review

Destruction of Hyderabad

Author: AG Noorani
Reviewed by: Muzamil Jaleel
Available at: Tulika Books, Tulika Publishers, 24/1 Ganapathy Colony Third Street, Teynampet, Chennai – 600018, Tamilnadu, India Pages: 388 Price: Rs 825. http://www.tulikabooks.com/
Destruction of Hyderabad (Jan 18, 2014, Indian Express)

The recent public spat between the leadership of the BJP and the Congress about the political legacy of Vallabhbhai Patel has led to a debate on the ideological moorings of the first home minister of independent India. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who plans to set up a 600-foot-high statue of Patel in Gujarat, designed an entire poll campaign around the memory of the Congress stalwart, even as PM Manmohan Singh countered that Patel was “in principle a secular man”.

Constitutional expert AG Noorani’s thoroughly researched Destruction of Hyderabad, a revisionist account of the “police action” led by the Indian army against the government of Nizam of Hyderabad in 1948, sheds new light on this debate. To do so, it cites a detailed record of letters, diaries, memoirs and diplomatic exchanges between various players – it also reproduces in full the Sunderlal committee report on the massacre of Hyderabad’s Muslim population.

A four-member goodwill mission led by Pandit Sunderlal had spent a month in Hyderabad at the request of Nehru in November 1948. The report filed at the end of it estimated that 27,000-40,000 people died in communal violence during and after the “police action”. It was never made public by the Indian government, as Patel repudiated the report, says Noorani. Noorani’s account questions the narratives put forth by the “court historians of Indian nationalism” who misleadingly called an army operation “police action”. But it is the contrasting portraits of Jawaharlal Nehru and Patel which explain why the BJP is so eager to claim Patel’s legacy ahead of the crucial general elections this year. “Their (Nehru and Patel) differences were fundamental and stemmed from their different conceptions of what India should be. Nehru was not against the military option (to annex Hyderabad) in principle. He supported it only as a last resort. For Patel, it was the first resort. He had no patience with talks,” Noorani writes.

In Noorani’s telling, Nehru was contemptuous of the Nizam’s government but bore no malice towards him. He also held Hyderabad’s culture in high regard. In contrast, “Patel hated the Nizam personally and was ideologically opposed to Hyderabad’s composite culture. Nehru’s concern was to … [defeat] Hyderabad’s secessionist venture. Patel wanted to go further. He wanted to destroy Hyderabad and its culture completely. In Hyderabad, as in Kashmir, Nehru was an ardent Indian nationalist. On both states, Vallabhbhai Patel was a strident Hindu nationalist”, he writes. When Patel repeatedly described Hyderabad as an “ulcer in the heart of India”, the metaphor, says Noorani, revealed a vindictive mindset . …

The Babri Masjid demolition, Noorani argues, was an outcome of similar divisions within the Congress where the contradictory legacies of Nehru and Patel continued to inform the politics of several leaders. One of them, Andhra Pradesh Congressman P V Narasimha Rao, says Noorani, “nursed old grudges” and “presided over the demolition of the Babri Masjid”.