IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 15th, 2013
In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- ‘Decisive’ words: Kutte ka bachcha – Modi’s analogy splits open riot wounds
- Complaint filed against Modi for riots remark
- Modi draws blood, triggers fresh war of words
- Ishrat encounter had Modi’s nod, two Gujarat cops told CBI
- IB killed Ishrat, Javed to cover tracks?
- ‘Intimidated’ by cops, Ishrat family seeks protection
- SHOCKING: Govt Behind Parliament Attack, 26/11!
- Now Tonk witnesses khaki boots on killing spree inside the mosque
- ‘SIT report contains evidence on conspiracy to target minorities’
- 13 Mumbai policemen get life imprisonment in fake encounter case
Opinions & Editorials
- All The CM’s Men – By Ajit Sahi
- 2002 Gujarat riots and Modi: The continuing absence of grace – By Akshaya Mishra
- ‘Encounters’must be eliminated – By Pupul Dutta Prasad
- Ishrat Jahan’s murder speaks of police’s lack of accountability – By Praful Bidwai
- You Are Hereby A Terrorist: How the UP state apparatus plots to keep innocent Muslims in jail – By Ashish Khetan
- Ilavarsan’s Death And The Ugly Face Of Tamilnadu’s Vanniyar Politics – By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Hindu inmates fasting with Muslims (Jul 15, 2013, Asian Age)
In an exemplary show of brotherhood and communal harmony, 45 Hindu prisoners in Tihar Jail have been fasting along with 1,800 Muslim inmates during Ramzan. Hindu prisoners started keeping rozas from July 11, the first day of Ramzan, and informed authorities that they would continue it for the whole month of Ramzan, said Tihar jail spokesperson Sunil Gupta. “45 Hindu inmates have joined 1,800 Muslim inmates in fasting. It is a wonderful example of unity and harmony,” said Mr Gupta.
According to information, Tihar Jail currently has 3,500 inmates from Muslim community out of which 1,800 are keeping roza. Mr Gupta further said the jail authorities have made all the arrangements so that those fasting do not face any difficulty. “We are making special arrangements for the inmates keeping roza. Various food items are being made available to them at 3 am while seasonal fruits, snacks and other dishes are being arranged for ‘iftar’ (the evening meal),” he said.
Mr Gupta said Hindu prisoners fasting with Muslims symbolises the strong bond of unity among inmates which must be sincerely appreciated. Ramzan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is observed as a fasting period by Muslims, who abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset. Muslims wake up early morning for the pre-dawn “sehri” meal renouncing food and water during the day before breaking their fasts in the evening. The sumptuous evening meals are known as “iftar”.
‘Decisive’ words: Kutte ka bachcha – Modi’s analogy splits open riot wounds (Jul 13, 2013, The Telegraph)
Narendra Modi today projected his “decisiveness” as an imperative in the season of policy paralysis but the message, probably meant for an English-reading audience, was drowned by a “kutte ka bachcha” reference made in the context of the Gujarat riots. The BJP’s presumptive candidate for Prime Minister made the comments during an interview to Reuters, the international news agency, which uploaded edited excerpts on its website today and said that the replies had been translated from Hindi. The interview was given on June 25 at Modi’s official residence in Gandhinagar. In the interview, Modi asserted that he was “decisive” but not “authoritarian”, agreed he was a polarising figure but strictly in a political sense and not a communal one, said he was a “human being” besides being a chief minister and defined the “real Modi” as a “nationalist”, a “born Hindu” and a “patriot”. He saw no contradiction in dovetailing the classic RSS template of “Hindu nationalism” with being “progressive, development-oriented and a workaholic”.
The message that Modi, who mostly spoke in Hindi, wanted to send to an international audience was clear. “If you call yourself a leader, then you have to be decisive. If you’re decisive then you have the chance to be a leader. These are two sides of the same coin… People want him (a leader) to make decisions. Only then they accept the person as a leader. That is a quality, it’s not a negative,” he said. The emphasis on “decisiveness” as a hallmark of “leadership” is a thought-through BJP strategy to show up the Manmohan Singh government as limp and indecisive. Modi is expected to be projected as a leader with little or no patience to look over his shoulders before clinching a decision. But the decisiveness was in danger of being seen as recklessness by the evening. Asked if he regretted what happened in the riots of 2002, Modi said: “India’s Supreme Court is considered a good court today in the world. The Supreme Court created a special investigative team (SIT) and top-most, very bright officers who oversee the SIT. That report came. In that report, I was given a thoroughly clean chit, a thoroughly clean chit.”
Then Reuters’ translated version quoted Modi as saying: “Another thing, any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course, it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.” The word “puppy” drew a firestorm of protests on Twitter and elsewhere amid allegations that a despicable comparison was being made to the riot victims. Later it emerged that the full sentence was, barring five words, in Hindi and many found the choice of metaphor more offensive and insensitive than the translated “puppy”. The footage of the interview shows Modi as saying: “Hum agar car chala rahen hain… aur koi drive kar raha hai aur hum peechhe baithe hain, phir bhi ek chhota kutte ka bachcha bhi car ke neeche aa jata hai, toh humein pain feel hota hai ki nahin? Hota hai.” This evening, Modi tweeted: “In our culture every form of life is valued & worshipped. My original interview with Reuters http://nm4.in/ 138jss0.… People are best judge.”
The tweet did not explain why he had referred to the back seat though Modi was at the decision-maker’s wheel in Gujarat as chief minister when the riots took place. The BJP, sections of which felt that Modi should have articulated his views in a less controversial manner, said it was “despicable” to say he was drawing any comparisons with a community. The tone of the other comments in the interview was in line with the idea of propelling Modi on the stump as a “no-nonsense” head. The objective appeared to be to turn apolitical fence-sitters around and reassure his traditional support base. Some heard in the intemperate remarks an undeclared assessment that Modi’s attempt to cast himself as a moderate had not made much headway among the minorities and that he had decided to focus on those frustrated with the state of affairs, including the economy, and his core constituency. On the 2002 riots, Modi claimed he had “absolutely” done the “right thing” that year. “Absolutely,” he declared, adding: “However much brainpower the Supreme Being has given us, however much experience I’ve got and whatever I had available in that situation and this is what the SIT had investigated.”
Modi addressed a concern among his party colleagues that he has an authoritarian streak. “If someone was an authoritarian, then would he be able to run a government for so many years? Without a team effort, how can you get success? And that’s why I say Gujarat’s success is not Modi’s success. This is the success of Team Gujarat.” Modi claimed he never “dreams of becoming anything”, quizzed on who he would emulate if he became Prime Minister, but humility did not appear a forte. “I can say that since 2003, in however many polls have been done, people have selected me as the best CM,” he said, adding that many of those polled were from outside Gujarat. He said there came a time when he wrote to Aroon Purie, chief editor of the India Today Group, to keep him out of the competition (for best-run states) and “give someone else a shot at it”. On the perception that he was “too polarising a figure”, Modi said: “If in America, if there was no polarisation between Democrats and Republicans, then how would democracy work? …If everyone moved in one direction, would you call that a democracy?” Modi restated his definition of secularism as “India first” and said that while seeking votes, he would not divide the electorate into Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. “Religion should not be an instrument in your democratic process,” he said, less than a week after his political aide Amit Shah had emphasised he would like to see a Ram temple in Ayodhya. Modi denied the suggestion that his evolution as a “brand” was the result of a public relations strategy. He claimed that he had never employed a PR agency. Maintaining that there was a “huge difference” between the West and India, he said neither a PR agency nor the media could “make anything of a person” here.
- Shameful that Narendra Modi is justifying the riots: CPI(M) (Jul 13, 2013, IBN)
- ‘Why can’t he say sorry?’ (Jul 13, 2013, Hindustan Times)
- Gujarat Riots: Uproar Over Modi’s ‘Puppy’ Analogy (Jul 12, 2013, Outlook)
- ‘Perverse’ label on puppy parallel ‘Even Hitler loved his dog’ (Jul 13, 2013, The Telegraph)
Complaint filed against Modi for riots remark (Jul 15, 2013, Indian Express)
A complaint was filed against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a police station in Hyderabad Sunday over the controversial remarks made by him about post-Godhra riots in Gujarat during 2002. Ghulam Rabbani, a practising advocate, lodged the two-page complaint with Santosh Nagar police station, seeking legal action against Modi and his immediate arrest terming his statements as “highly provocative and malicious against Muslim community, with an intention to wound their religious feelings and promote enmity between Muslims and Hindus”.
The police, who received the complaint, said it had not yet registered any case and was seeking legal opinion. “The complaint was entered in the general diary of the police station,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Zone) Tarun Joshi said, clarifying that “this is not a jurisdictional complaint falling in our area. We will take legal opinion, otherwise we will transfer the complaint to the police station concerned”. Modi made the remarks during an interview given to a news agency at his official residence in Gandhinagar which was published on July 12, on the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.
The Gujarat chief minister came under sharp attack from the Congress, SP, CPI(M), CPI and JD(U) for his remarks in the interview during which he claimed that he had not done anything wrong with regard to the riots. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Supreme Court had given him a “thoroughly clean chit”, Modi said during the interview. When asked if he regretted the riots, Modi’s answer that even if a “puppy comes under the wheel of a car, one felt sad,” drew particularly sharp condemnation from his political rivals.
- Modi’s mentality not acceptable in India: Chandrababu Naidu (Jul 14, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Narendra Modi doesn’t have the heart of a true Hindu: Kapil Sibal (Jul 12, 2013, DNA India)
- Narendra Modi’s “did nothing wrong” claim irks Muslim leaders (Jul 13, 2013, Times of India)
- Modi’s ‘puppy’ remarks ‘uncivilised’: Narayanasamy (Jul 14, 2013, Hindustan Times)
Modi draws blood, triggers fresh war of words (Jul 15, 2013, Rediff)
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s barbs at Congress “wearing the burqa” of secularism triggered a fresh war of words with the party hitting back at him while senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha was worried that the “spurious” communal-secular debate would only help the ruling party. Sinha appeared to counsel Modi not to fall into the “trap” of Congress which would only benefit from such a debate to cover up its government’s grave financial mismanagement that would take the country into a “dark future”.
Modi’s attack in Pune on Sunday that the Congress wore the burqa of secularism to hide its failures whenever it was in crisis, stung the party which attacked Modi saying that the burqa (veil) of secularism was better than “naked communalism”. “The burqa of communalism is much better than naked communalism. While communalism divides, secularism binds,” Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken told a specially convened press conference.
His party colleague and Union Minister Manish Tewari said the choice before the people was an inclusive India or an India which is sectarian. “The vision of the Congress party is pluralistic and inclusive. And the vision of the section of the opposition has been sectarian, majoritarian and communal right from the beginning,” Tewari said.
Yet another minister Shashi Tharoor also joined the debate reminding Modi of his RSS pracharak days and saying secularism burqa was preferable to the ‘khaki shorts of the Italian fascists which signify intolerance and hatred”.
- Nitish takes a dig at Modi over ‘burqa’ remark, says such language will not yield votes (Jul 15, 2013, Indian Express)
- Veil of secularism better than naked communalism: Congress (Jul 15, 2013, Deccan Herald)
- Tharoor taunts Narendra Modi on RSS link, says ‘shorts’ denote hatred (Jul 15, 2013, Indian Express)
- Cong hits back at Modi, asks him what his definition of secularism is (Jul 15, 2013, IBN)
Ishrat encounter had Modi’s nod, two Gujarat cops told CBI (Jul 12, 2013, Deccan Herald)
Two former police officers, who were with Ahmedabad crime branch at the time of the “fake” encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others, have told CBI that IPS officer D G Vanzara (now suspended) had told them that police had political nod for the operation. The statements are a part of the charge sheet filed by CBI in the special court here on July 3. The charge sheet describes the encounter as fake. D H Goswami, who retired as Deputy Superintendent of Police in 2011, told CBI that he had heard Rajinder Kumar, senior IB officer, telling Vanzara to speak to the Chief Minister Narendra Modi about it (planned encounter).
“On 13th June, 2004, between 7:30 PM-8 PM, I had gone with G L Singhal in his vehicle to Bungalow No. 15, Duffnala, Shahibaug office…,”says Goswami, who was then ‘reader’ to Singhal. “….Kumar, P P Pandey (then joint CP, Crime Branch) and Vanzara were present there (at Vanzara’s chamber). These three seniors were discussing the details of the FIR of some encounter that they were planning,” he further says. “And I remember Rajinder Kumar telling Vanzara to speak to the Chief Minister about it and Vanzara saying he would talk to the ‘safed dadhi’ and the ‘kali dadhi’, the well-known monikers in the Crime Branch for the Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the Minister of State (Home) Amit Shah,” he told CBI.
“On June 14 at around 3 PM, when I was in my office at Gaekwad Haveli, I was asked by Singhal to accompany him to meet D G Vanzara….When both of us reached there and met Vanzara in his chamber, he had shown a complaint written in his handwriting to Singhal. I had also seen it cursorily. It mentioned the killing of some persons of Lashkar-e-Toiba who had come to Ahmedabad with designs of killing the Chief Minister.” “Which officer or commando fired how many rounds was kept blank in this handwritten draft. Singhal had disagreed on reading this draft complaint and I vaguely remember it had something to do with the motive in the draft and about the girl Ishrat. But Vanzara was adamant and even said that he had approval of the Chief Minister and the MoS (Home),” Goswami’s statement reads.
K M Vaghela, who too retired as DySP in 2009, told CBI that Vanzara told him he had got green signal from the ‘kali dadhi’ and ‘safed dadhi’. “On June 14, 2004, I had reported to Vanzara at his Bungalow No 15, Duffnala, Shahibaug office. Singhal and his reader Goswami were also there. Singhal and Vanzara had certain operational differences about this operation but Vanzara was not listening to him. Singhal was very disturbed about it and wanted me to speak to Vanzara and plead with him for accepting what Singhal wanted,” Vaghela says. “I do not know what were the operational differences Singhal had with Vanzara. Singhal had felt that my long association with Vanzara might help convince him,” he said.
“Therefore, I had gone inside the chamber of Vanzara and told him to agree to what Singhal wanted but Vanzara refused. He said that everything was decided yesterday with P P Pandey and Rajinder Kumar,” he told CBI. “He (Vanzara) said that he had already got the green signal from the ‘kali dadhi’ and the ‘safed dadhi’ about everything, referring to the code names for MoS (Home) Amit Shah and Chief Minister Narendra Modi respectively.” Nineteen years old Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh, alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana were gunned down by Gujarat police on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of the city. Police had then claimed that they were terrorists who wanted to assassinate Narendra Modi.
- Ishrat Jahan case: Did Vanzara identify Amit Shah & Narendra Modi as kali & safed dadhi? (Jul 12, 2013, DNA India)
- ‘Forensic officials colluded with Gujarat cops to show Ishrat encounter as genuine’ (Jul 13, 2013, Indian Express)
- Ishrat Case – Policemen’s Statements May Nail Senior Cops (Jul 15, 2013, Tehelka)
- Pressure and threats made us lie earlier: Ishrat witnesses to CBI (Jul 13, 2013, Indian Express)
IB killed Ishrat, Javed to cover tracks? (Jul 15, 2013, Asian Age)
CBI investigations into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case are now focusing on whether she and Javed Sheikh, alias Pranesh Pillai, were killed on instructions of top officials of Intelligence Bureau as the two were eyewitness to the surrender of Amjad Ali Rana who was killed in the same encounter.
Interestingly, the CBI suspects that Rana too was caught alive by IB sleuths on a tip-off from Javed Sheikh who in fact was acting as an informant of a senior IB official Highly-placed sources in the investigating agency claimed that since IB along with the Gujarat police had hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Rana and Zeeshan Johar, both Pakistani nationals, they were fully aware of the fact that both Ishrat Jahan and Javed Sheikh were witness to the fact that Rana had been caught alive in their presence.
It is possible, sources added, that Ishrat Jahan and Javed Sheikh were killed as the intelligence agencies wanted to “cover their tracks” in the case. “As Javed was working as a source for some IB officials he played a key role in getting Rana caught. It is suspected that both Ishrat and Javed were present when intelligence officials caught Rana. Clearly the agencies did not want to take any chances by leaving an eyewitness alive,” a senior official remarked.
The CBI is probing the role of IB’s special director Rajender Kumar along with three other official, P. Mittal, M.K. Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede, in the fake encounter case. Sources said the agency is likely to elaborate on their exact role in the supplementary chargesheet expected to be filed once Rajender Kumar retires by the end of July. It is believed that the investigating agency has concrete evidence to suggest that Javed Sheikh in fact was working as a key informant or source for Rajender Kumar and played an important role in getting Rana into IB’s trap.
In fact, in her statement to the CBI, Javed Sheikh’s wife, Sajida, also revealed that Rana had stayed at their Mumbai house posing as one “Bunty” a few days before the encounter. She recognised Rana from a photograph shown by the CBI. Sajida claimed that Javed Sheikh had introduced Rana as his friend “Bunty”.
- Rajinder Kumar orchestrated Ishrat abduction (Jul 10, 2013, DNA India)
- Ishrat case: Digvijaya links IB officer with L K Advani, Narendra Modi (Jul 11, 2013, Indian Express)
- CBI set to name IB officer in second Ishrat chargesheet (Jul 10, 2013, Times of India)
- CBI takes Gujarat cops’ help to establish IB link (Jul 11, 2013, Asian Age)
‘Intimidated’ by cops, Ishrat family seeks protection (Jul 12, 2013, Indian Express)
The family of Ishrat Jahan accused Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Gujarat Police and politicians Thursday of making repeated attempts to intimidate it. The family said some people who claimed to be police knocked at its door in the early hours of Thursday. Activist Shabnam Hashmi said she learned Wednesday that there was a “grave threat” to the family and its supporters and informed Mumbra police. Two constables were subsequently posted outside the residence of the family in Kausa, Mumbra.
“One of the constables told us while leaving for his police station, the second would be outside the building throughout the night. However, at around 2.30 am, four-five unknown men knocked loudly and repeatedly on the door of the Mumbra residence,” said Rauf Lala, uncle of Ishrat. Her sister Musarrat Jahan said, “The men kept demanding that we open the door and asked who all were inside the house. When we asked who they were, they said policemen. Which policeman will knock on the door of a family of mostly women at 2.30 am?”
Lala claimed when he sent some people to check on the family, the constable who was supposed to be outside the building was nowhere to be seen. “People at the police station said they had not sent anyone.” Hashmi said during a recent trip to Haryana, a vehicle followed the Ishrat family car. “It turned out to be a local IB vehicle.”
She said, “Till now, the probe was against Gujarat police officers. Now, it has moved to IB officers and politicians and these attempts are occurring. Policemen under investigation should be dismissed as soon as possible. Till such time they occupy the posts, they will make such attempts.” Thane police commissioner K P Raghuvanshi said he was not aware of any such incident and that no complaint had been made. “The constable was very much outside the house.”
Lala said considering the intimidation attempts, he had applied for a gun licence a year ago. “The attempts have been on since 2011, when a car with Gujarat number plates was seen parked near Ishrat house for a long time. When confronted, the driver fled and the car number turned out to be fake. In June this year, there was an attempt on the family when they were returning to Mumbra from Gujarat. I was also present. Police have registered an accident case but one of the accused, Firoz Kalia, is a sharpshooter.” Raghuvanshi said: “We rejected his (gun licence) application on merit.” Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, speaking in support of the family, said, “As the noose tightens around the neck of some very powerful people, they will use every trick in the book to terrorise the weak.”
- Ishrat family rattled by midnight knock (Jul 11, 2013, The Hindu)
- Ishrat Jahan family alleges threat; writes to Centre for security (Jul 11, 2013, DNA India)
- Ishrat Jahan case: Probe officer also receives death threats (Jul 12, 2013, India Today)
- Ishrat Jahan encounter: SC dismisses PP Pandey’s petition (Jul 12, 2013, IBN)
SHOCKING: Govt Behind Parliament Attack, 26/11! (Jul 14, 2013, India Times)
In what is certain to escalate the already vicious fight between the CBI and the IB over the IshratJahan “fake encounter case”, a former home ministry officer has alleged that a member of the CBI-SIT team had accused incumbent governments of “orchestrating” the terror attack on Parliament and the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai. R V S Mani, who as home ministry under-secretary signed the affidavits submitted in court in the alleged encounter case, has said that Satish Verma, until recently a part of the CBI-SIT probe team, told him that both the terror attacks were set up “with the objective of strengthening the counter-terror legislation (sic)”. Mani has said that Verma “…narrated that the 13.12. 2001(attack on Parliament) was followed by Pota (Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act) and 26/11 2008 (terrorists’ siege of Mumbai) was followed by amendment to the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).”
The official has alleged Verma levelled the damaging charge while debunking IB’s inputs labelling the three killed with Ishrat in the June 2004 encounter as Lashkar terrorists. Contacted by TOI, Verma refused to comment. “I don’t know what the complaint is, made when and to whom. Nor am I interested in knowing. I cannot speak to the media on such matters. Ask the CBI,” said the Gujarat cadre IPS officer who after being relieved from the SIT is working as principal of the Junagadh Police Training College. Mani, currently posted as deputy land and development officer in the urban development ministry, has written to his seniors that he retorted to Verma’s comments telling the IPS officer that he was articulating the views of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.
According to him, the charge was levelled by Verma in Gandhinagar on June 22 while questioning Mani about the two home ministry affidavits in the alleged encounter case. In his letter to the joint secretary in the urban development ministry, Mani has accused Verma of “coercing” him into signing a statement that is at odds with facts as he knew them. He said Verma wanted him to sign a statement saying that the home ministry’s first affidavit in the Ishrat case was drafted by two IB officers. “Knowing fully well that this would tantamount to falsely indicting of (sic) my seniors at the extant time, I declined to sign any statement.”
Giving the context in which Verma allegedly levelled the serious charge against the government, Mani said the IPS officer, while questioning him, had raised doubts about the genuineness of IB’s counter-terror intelligence. He disputed the veracity of the input on the antecedents of the three killed in June 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad with Ishrat in the alleged encounter which has since become a polarizing issue while fuelling Congress’s fight with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. Gujarat Police has justified the encounter citing the IB report that Pakistani nationals Zeeshan Zohar, Amzad Ali Rana and Javed Sheikh were part of a Lashkar module which had reached Gujarat to target Modi and carry out terrorist attacks.
In its first affidavit, filed in August 2009, the home ministry had cited IB inputs that those killed with Ishrat in the alleged encounter were part of a Lashkar sleeper cell, and had objected to a CBI probe into the “encounter”. In its second affidavit, filed in September 2009, the home ministry, irked by the Gujarat government treating the first affidavit as justification of the encounter, said the IB input did not constitute conclusive proof of the terrorist antecedents of those killed. It supported the demand for a CBI probe. Mani said Verma doubted the input saying MHA’s first affidavit was actually drafted by IB officer Rajinder Kumar, who looked after IB’s operations in Gujarat at the time of Ishrat “encounter” and now runs the serious risk of being chargesheeted by the CBI for hatching the conspiracy behind the alleged extra-judicial killings. Mani said Verma stuck to his guns even after being told that the home ministry did not need outside help. The former home ministry official said Verma insisted that the “input” was prepared after the encounter.
- Govt behind Parliament attack, 26/11: Ishrat probe officer (Jul 14, 2013, Times of India)
- Civil society demands independent probe into allegations that govts orchestrated Parliament attack, 26/11 (Jul 15, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- Home Ministry may not share records with CBI (Jul 12, 2013, Economic Times)
- Verma did not intervene during Mani’s questioning (Jul 12, 2013, DNA India)
Now Tonk witnesses khaki boots on killing spree inside the mosque (Jul 15, 2013, Muslim Mirror)
The Tonk district of Rajasthan Friday noon witnessed infamous brutal khaki boots entering the mosque and unleashing rein of baton attack on the Namazis (who were offering Friday prayers). One person died in police attack inside the mosque while more than 50 others got serious injuries. A similar condemnable attack took place more than one and half years ago in Goplagarh district of the state – more than 10 Namazis were killed in the police firing. A representative delegation of Muslim organizations and civil rights groups on Sunday visited the Police Chhaoni area of Tonk district, met victims and members of other community besides Collector and Inspector General of Police of the region.
Giving details to Muslim Mirror, Er. Rashid Hussain, a member of the delegation said it was a repeat of Gopalgarh. Though police claimed, he said, that some Muslim youths had first pelted stone on the police team kept vigilant outside the mosque, the retaliatory action of the police was far more brutal and cannot be justified. On Thursday night (July 11) a baraat (wedding) party was passing by a mosque in Tonk district. Members of the wedding party were playing DJ in full volume – and this was reportedly objected by some Muslims. This led to minor clashes and stone pelting on each other. However, it was controlled by the elders of the two communities – and soon everything was normal. But what happened next day (Friday) looked planned to teach a lesson to Muslims.
As during Ramazan, a good number of Muslims visit mosque to offer prayers everywhere in the country. There is an old mosque in Police Chhaoni area of the district. The managing committee was making extra arrangement for the namazis on the first Friday. But this was rumored as Muslims were planning for retaliation and thus large contingent of police and paramilitary forces were deployed in the area surrounding the mosque. Soon after the Friday prayer, some youths came out of the mosque and as per police, they pelted stone on the police team. But what police did in response was simply brutal and unwarranted.
The police surrounded the mosque, they fired tear gas shells inside the mosque and then 60-100 policemen entered the mosque and started mercilessly beating the Namazis. One person named Nasir, 35, died on the spot while over 50 people got serious injuries. A tear gas shell hit a child’s eye inside the mosque and his eye came out and fell on the floor. The fact finding team found tear gas shells and its impact near the member (the central place in the front row of the mosque where the Imam leads prayers).
The nine-member delegation had representatives from Rajasthan Muslim Forum, Sadbhavana Manch and People’s Union for Civil Liberties. The delegation members included Er. Khurshid Hussain of Jamaat-e-Islami, Nazimuddin of Rajasthan Muslim Forum, Prof. Ratan Singh of Rajasthan Muslim Forum, Sawai Singh of Sadbhavana Manch, Er. Rashid Hussain of Sadbhavana Manch and Satish Kumar. The delegation has demanded a high-level probe into the incident and adequate compensation to the victims. They raised doubt over the motive behind the incident when the election is round the corner.
- Communal clashes in Tonk leave a dozen injured; tension prevails (Jul 13, 2013, IBN)
- Tension in Meerut after lathi-charge (Jul 13, 2013, Indian Express)
- 11 injured in communal clash between two groups (Jul 12, 2013, IBN)
- 1984 anti-Sikh riots case: SC refuses to hear Jagdish Tytler’s plea (Jul 12, 2013, Times of India)
‘SIT report contains evidence on conspiracy to target minorities’ (Jul 10, 2013, The Hindu)
Continuing arguments the whole of last week in the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri – the wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, who was killed during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat – her advocates pointed out that there was enough evidence in the Special Investigation Team’s own report regarding a conspiracy to generate mass reprisal attacks on minorities after the Godhra carnage. Zakia had filed the petition after the SIT absolved Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of responsibility for the riots. Giving a comprehensive overview of arguments in the case, Zakia’s counsel Mihir Desai argued that the key issue before the court was whether the events after Godhra were spontaneous outpouring of people’s anger, which could not have been anticipated, prevented or controlled, or if it was likely that certain people in power conspired to create an environment in which targeted violence was unleashed on the minority community.
The advocates of Citizens for Justice and Peace, along with its secretary Teesta Setalvad, were present in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate during the entire week. Mr. Desai argued that the political head of the State, the Home Ministry and the administration were in full knowledge of and allowed the “build up of aggressive and communal sentiments, violent mobilisation, including carrying of arms, and a general outpouring against the minority community even before 27.2.2002 [the day of Godhra train carnage].” “During the course of our arguments from the documents generated by SIT we will show that there was a conspiracy among the persons named or some of them to generate hatred towards the minority community either by an active participation in this generation or by an omission to act against the perpetrators though they were legally bound to do so,” he said.
“In this connection we will show that the persons named are not merely constitutionally but also legally forbidden from acting or omitting to act in a manner they did,” the counsel added. He said there was a conspiracy not just to generate hatred for the minority community, but also to target people from the community and their property and religious places, and “aid and abet this process by acts and omissions of persons liable under law to act otherwise.” The counsels pointed out that the SIT had documents, which it ignored, to show that there was mass mobilisation of forces by Hindutva groups much before the Godhra carnage and an atmosphere of communal hatred was being created against minorities in Gujarat. Not only this, they claimed the SIT was aware that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had a communal mindset, which was by his support for the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.
Zakia’s lawyers said the SIT ignored all documents which gave away the conspiracy. “The State Intelligence Bureau (messages contained in the SIT documents) had been clearly and consistently informing the State Home Minister from February 7, 2002, onwards that members of the VHP, BD [Bajrang Dal] and BJP were preparing themselves armed with trishuls etc to go to Ayodhya to celebrate the Mahayagya.” “This Mahayagya was meant for building the Ram temple at the Babri Masjid site. The Sabarmati Express left Ahmedabad on the night of February 24 2002 and the same train was returning from Ayodhya. The Sabarmati Express started from Faizabad-Ayodhya on morning of February 26 2002. Further reports of the State intelligence reveal that the provocative slogan-shouting against Muslims was taking place throughout the train journey. In particular, incidents took place at two places, including Rudali, where stabbing and attacks also followed.”
According to the counsel, the State Intelligence Bureau messages on February 7, 2002 to the DGP, Gujarat, the State Home Department and all police stations in Gujarat had warned of the communal mobilisation, especially near temples, recruitment of volunteers for the programmes, and aggressive posturing in Gujarat.
- Mass Ramzan prayer meet in Kerala to take pledge against terrorism (Jul 14, 2013, Deccan Chronicle)
- ‘Govt misleading people on Khalid’s forensic report’ (Jul 12, 2013, Twocircles.net)
- 7 yrs after train blasts, prosecution case falls apart (Jul 11, 2013, The Hindu)
- I had to wait for 12 years for justice, says acquitted SIMI man (Jul 10, 2013, Times of India)
13 Mumbai policemen get life imprisonment in fake encounter case (Jul 12, 2013, Times of India)
Twenty one people, including 13 policemen, were sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court on Friday in connection with the 2006 fake encounter killing of Ram Narayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya, an alleged aide of fugitive gangster Chhota RajanThe court had held 21 people guilty, while former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, who is credited with gunning down over 100 criminals, had been acquitted. Sessions judge VD Jadhvar sentenced all the accused to life imprisonment under various charges including murder, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. The court also imposed fine on them.
As soon as the court hearing started, the judge said that accused No. 1 (Sharma) is acquitted of all charges and shall be released forthwith if he is not wanted in any other case. The court later began pronouncing the sentence. Senior inspector of police Pradeep Suryavanshi, who led the encounter team, was awarded life imprisonment on five different counts. Immediately after pronouncing the sentence, special public prosecutor Vidya Kasle told the court that some strict conditions should be imposed on Sharma.
“As per the Bombay high court, the trial court has power to impose strict conditions on the acquitted person till the end of the appeal period,” she said. Kasle also told the court that the prosecution intends to file an appeal in the Bombay high court to challenge the acquittal. She also told the court that Sharma should not be allowed to leave the country and his passport should be impounded.
At this, Sharma’s advocate informed the court that the former’s passport has expired and said that they did not have any objection to the rest of the conditions. The court later passed an order that Sharma will not leave the country without the permission of the court and he should furnish all the details regarding his passport with the prosecuting agency. The court also directed Sharma to file a bail bond of Rs 10,000.
- 555 fake encounter cases booked across India in last 4 years (Jul 15, 2013, The Hindu)
- Sohrabuddin case: German lab finds no remains of Kauser Bi in soil samples (Jul 10, 2013, Indian Express)
- Police version of Batla House encounter opposed (Jul 13, 2013, The Hindu)
- ‘Why BJP thinks of Ayodhya during polls only?’ (Jul 12, 2013, Hindustan Times)
Opinions and Editorials
All The CM’s Men – By Ajit Sahi (Jul 20, 2013, Tehelka)
Ever since Hindu rioters killed 69 Muslims, including former MP Ehsan Jafri, at his house in Ahmedabad on 28 February 2002, Gujarat Chief MinisterNarendra Modi has denied any complicity in that massacre. But Jafri’s widow, Zakia, has now furnished mobile phone records to claim that six of Modi’s close aides visited their neighbourhood, Meghaninagar, just a day before the murderous mob attacked their house. Last week, Zakia Jafri told a metropolitan magistrate in Ahmedabad that she believed Modihimself visited the area with his aides on 27 February and, during that visit, conspired with Hindu zealots linked to his BJP to carry out the next day’s attack on her apartment in the housing complex named Gulberg Society. As such, she told the magistrate, Modi’s role in the conspiracy behind that attack needs to be investigated.
Anil Mukim, an IAS officer now posted in New Delhi, is the highest-ranking official among the six whose presence is shown in Meghaninagar. Phone records show Mukim (9825049391), who was then additional principal secretary in Modi’s office, visited the area twice on 27 February: first at 3.33 pm, and at 10.01 pm. JM Thakkar (9825037429), the PR officer in Modi’s office, too, was in Meghaninagar at 3.34 pm. Around 4 pm, both officers had left with Modi for Godhra town, 160 km east of Ahmedabad, where earlier that day a train fire blamed on local Muslims had burnt 57 passengers to death. Most of the dead had been workers of BJP affiliates, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. Jafri claims that Modi himself had told a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which the Supreme Court had set up in 2009 on Zakia’s petition to probe Modi’s role, that the two officials went with him to Godhra.
The log at Ahmedabad’s airport, quoted in the SIT report, confirms that Modi drove in there earlier from his office in the state capital, Gandhinagar, adjoining Ahmedabad, and flew to Vadodara city in an aircraft chartered from the Reliance Group. From Vadodara, he flew to Godhra in a helicopter of the State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Commission. “Meghaninagar is not on the route from his office in Gandhinagar to the Ahmedabad airport,” says Teesta Setalvad, a civil rights activist who has worked closely on this case. “It needs to be investigated why Modi went there.”
The other four officials whose presence in Meghaninagar is indicated were Modi’s personal assistants. Records show three of them – OP Singh (9825000836), Sanjay Bhavsar (9825037432) and AP Patel (9825037439) – were at Meghaninagar at 3.48 pm. The fourth, Tanmay Mehta (9825000837), was there until later at 4.01 pm, by whenModi had likely left the location. What were they doing that day so far away from their offices in Gandhinagar? On his way back, Modi left Godhra by car at 7.45 pm for Vadodara, from where he flew back to Ahmedabad. Mukim was on the plane with Modi.
Mukim also joined a meeting Modi called of his ministers, bureaucrats and police officers, at 10.30 pm at his residence. But in between, phone records show Mukim at Meghaninagar at 10.01 pm. Did Modi go to Meghaninagar with Mukim after returning to Ahmedabad? If yes, why? Or did Mukim go to Meghaninagar alone from the airport? If yes, then to what business? The presence of Modi’s closest aides in Meghaninagar that day is perplexing as the state government has consistently maintained it did not think the area would see any violence as it wasn’t traditionally communally sensitive. Jafri says the SIT erred in not investigating these phone records. “The SIT went out of its way to not probe Modi’s role in the killings,” says Setalvad. “Modi should be tried for the crime.”
- The Man Who Keeps Knocking – By Panini Anand (Jul 22, 2013, Outlook)
- BJP, Ideological Moorings And Its Fall-out – By Asad Bin Saif (Jul 13, 2013, Countercurrents)
- The Modi-Shah Game Plan In UP – By Virendra Nath Bhatt (Jul 20, 2013, Tehelka)
- Kerala Versus Gujarat “Model” And Redefining Development – By Prahlad Shekhawat (Jul 11, 2013, Countercurrents)
2002 Gujarat riots and Modi: The continuing absence of grace – By Akshaya Mishra (Jul 12, 2013, First Post)
A bit of grace and humility – that is what it takes to change perceptions. Public opinion is, after all, about perceptions. Narendra Modi is still defined by the Gujarat riots of 2002 because he has not been gracious enough to admit, despite attacks from all corners over a decade, that the riots were unfortunate and that he feels sorry for the lives lost. We have not yet heard him saying all Gujaratis are equal and the lives of members of one community are as precious as of the members of another. If he has said it, he has not been convincing enough. Such statements don’t alter existential realities, but they affect perceptions, in a positive way.
His primary, and indelible, identity has been that a hardcore Hindu nationalist – the image makeover as the messiah of development came as an afterthought, in 2007. For people following his career since the Ayodhya Ram temple movement of early 1990s and the years before that, through the riots of 2002 and the Gaurav yatra a few months later, it would be difficult to set him apart from political Hindutva, with all its negative connotations. He has done little to dispel that impression. Acts such as refusing to accept the skull cap from a Muslim follower during a rally only strengthened it. The impression is further reinforced when he says he is a ‘Hindu nationalist’. In his interview with Reuters, Modi utters the words with extreme care: “I’m nationalist. I’m patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I’m a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So, I’m a Hindu nationalist so yes, you can say I’m a Hindu nationalist because I’m a born Hindu. I’m patriotic so nothing is wrong in it.”
In normal circumstances, with any other leader, such a remark would have carried lesser weight. But Modi’s case is different. He comes with a baggage from the past, a difficult one to shed. Even if he wants to, his ardent followers on social media, his favourite stomping ground, won’t allow him to. Imagine the reaction if Modi tweets out one fine morning that he believes in the Gandhian-Nehruvian model of secularism and minority communities need special developmental focus from all governments. Among his die-hard supporters, he is still the icon of political Hindutva. Modi comes across as timid leader simply because he is scared of breaking out of the mould. His efforts to be a pan-India leader with appeal across communities are still unconvincing. It’s possible he doesn’t want to let go of the image that he has presently.
To be fair to Modi, his reference to the ‘puppy’ in the context of the 2002 riots is being blown out of proportion in the media. “…any person if we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad[sic],” he says in the interview. The media savvy Chief Minister would be aware that any such remark would be grabbed by the hungry media and twisted out of shape. There would be questions on its intention and about who the ‘puppy’ really refers to. However, what does not come across from the interview is a genuine sense of remorse – “Up till now, we feel that we used our full strength to set out to do the right thing”. He is careful again, not to upset his core supporters.
On secularism, his take could be read in different ways. “… But what is the definition of secularism? For me, my secularism is, India first. I say, the philosophy of my party is ‘Justice to all. Appeasement to none.’ This is our secularism,” he says in the interview. Fair enough. But does ‘India first’ mean equal opportunity for all communities? The allegation of minority appeasement has been the standard argument from the Hindutva forces against the liberal view of secularism. It has been turned into an instrument by the advocates of political Hindutva to promote a version of secularism that is intrinsically illiberal and intolerant of the ‘others’ . …
- Narendra Modi’s Subconscious Self Speaks For Real NaMo – By V. Arun Kumar (Jul 13, 2013, Countercurrents)
- Turning 2002 Into A Poor Tokenism – By Teesta Setalvad (Jul 13, 2013, Tehelka)
- Shock and haw as Narendra Modi speaks – By DNA Correspondent (Jul 13, 2013, DNA India)
- NaMo’s ‘Kuttay Ka Bachcha’ Is Not A ‘Puppy Dog’ – By Mirza Yawar Baig (Jul 15, 2013, Countercurrents)
‘Encounters’must be eliminated – By Pupul Dutta Prasad (Jul 10, 2013, Hindustan Times)
The Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case naming senior police officers for abducting and killing four people has once again drawn public attention to a harsh and recurring reality about so-called ‘fake encounters’. ‘Encounters’ are one of the main reasons why the police is viewed negatively and why people fear the force. Therefore, for the police to become worthy of public trust, they must stop illegal killings. Whether persons killed in an encounter had intended to commit a crime or had a past criminal record is not even a material question to ask. The police have no right to execute even a hardened criminal as if India were a lawless country. It is a cardinal principle of democratic policing that any use of force by the police must be properly subject to the rule of law, and to various layers of accountability and scrutiny.
‘Encounters’ are seldom what they purport to be: a genuine confrontation between the police and suspected criminals, in which the police open fire in self-defence. However, in reality, on most occasions, an ‘encounter’ is a euphemism for a cold, calculated and premeditated murder. This is often meant to pass off a custodial death (the victims being already under informal/illegal custody of the police) as a spontaneous and unplanned shootout. Instead of submitting to the process of justice for an extra-judicial killing (because, to begin with, that is what even a genuine ‘encounter’ is, unless held by the court to be a killing in the exercise of the right of private defence after a trial), in an utter travesty, the police foists a case of attempt-to-murder (Section 307 IPC) on the deceased persons whose voices will never be heard in court, making such a trial, at best, a formality. At a time when the death penalty handed down by the judiciary is regarded as an abomination in a democracy, a police ‘investigation’ into an encounter is nothing but a brazen attempt to give illegality a veneer of legality.
Banking on the parroted statements of fellow officers, as credible scientific evidence is rarely collected and produced, the police often manages to sail through court and prove the deceased guilty. A triumph indeed! We must understand why ‘encounters’ take place in order to be able to do something about it. Jyoti Belur, a former IPS officer now teaching and researching at University College, London, in her book Permission to Shoot? Police Use of Deadly Force in Democracies (2010) finds that, in Mumbai, with its organised crime and underworld gangs, the police use of deadly force in ‘encounters’ was not widely perceived as a form of deviance by police officers, the media, or in public discourse. In fact, political and public approval only encourages officers with a mistaken sense of mission in the police service of ridding society of all crime and disorder.
‘Dirty means for noble ends’ soon mutates into a bloody business in which it does not matter whether the individuals eliminated are innocent. This is how ‘encounter specialists’ are born or created in a particular context. They are then glamourised by the media and Bollywood, which tends to focus excessively on the violent crime-fighting role of the police. It becomes a vicious cycle. Explanations of police encounters are, of course, more complex and multi-dimensional than indicated here. However, with senior IPS officers themselves being accused of hatching conspiracies to carry out ‘fake encounters’, a few conclusions are in order.
First, whatever the origins of ‘fake encounters’, any effort to even obliquely justify them on apparently reasonable grounds is patently wrong. Second, internal professional supervision by the police alone cannot be relied upon to end this ghastly practice. Further, those subordinates who believe they have acted on the orders of their superiors in conducting an encounter would do well to remember the lesson of the Nuremburg judgement: one cannot shelter oneself behind the doctrine of respondeat superior while committing an illegal act. Third, there is an urgent need for a fundamental reassessment of the role of the police in our democracy. Fourth, police accountability must be enforced by putting in place both, a credible and uncompromising external civilian oversight institution, and an independent complaints-redressal mechanism. It is surely going to take a lot of effort to root out the menace of police encounters. But persist we must.
- The Rocky Road To Justice In Ishrat Jahan Case – By Rana Ayyub (Jul 20, 2013, Tehelka)
- Bullets Speak A Story – By Saba Naqvi (Jul 22, 2013, Outlook)
- When facts are least sacred – By Prashant Jha (Jul 12, 2013, The Hindu)
- India: The Importance Of Being Ishrat Jahan – By Mukul Dube (Jul 9, 2013, Countercurrents)
Ishrat Jahan’s murder speaks of police’s lack of accountability – By Praful Bidwai (Jul 11, 2013, DNA India)
The CBI’s chargesheet for the cold-blooded extrajudicial killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others falsely branded by the Gujarat police as terrorists constitutes a legal landmark. It’s unclear whether it will become a political game-changer, by showing how murderous policemen could flourish with impunity under Narendra Modi, or more damagingly, by linking Modi to DG Vanzara, the senior-most policeman involved, quoted by a fellow-officer in the chargesheet annexure as saying Modi “authorised” Ishrat’s killing. At minimum, the case will highlight Gujarat’s distinction in faking one of the highest number of “encounters” anywhere, with a record number of senior policemen in jail. We must fervently hope however that Ishrat’s murder will become a social and legal game-changer by removing impunity for “encounter” killings. These are a euphemism for cynically planned, premeditated, murder by the police, often for narrow, partisan reasons such as inventing terrorist threats to build politicians’ personality cults.
The crime is especially odious because it’s conducted by the guardians of the law. It’s even more repulsive when the victims are ordinary, totally innocent civilians, like 19-year-old Ishrat in probability was. By letting off the culprits of such killings, or by rewarding them, we compromise and criminalise the police and create new social and political tyrannies. Nothing could be more foul and undesirable. And yet, India witnesses scores of fake “encounters” year after year. The National Human Right Commission alone reported 809 cases between 2002 and 2011. There were many more during the counterinsurgency operations in Punjab and Kashmir in the 1980s and 1990s, and earlier in the Northeast, when even suspected militants were summarily executed.
“Encounter” became a transitive verb when applied in respect of “notorious” criminals/gangsters. “Encounter specialists” in the police like Daya Nayak, Praful Bhonsle, Pradeep Sharma, Rajbir Singh and Vanzara became celebrities although it should have been apparent that they would crassly abuse their power. Some of them were weeded out, but few exemplarily punished. The September 2001 attacks on the US were a turning point. All actions against alleged terrorists, real or suspected, including fake “encounters”, gained currency and a degree of elite legitimacy in India with the counter-terrorist offensive launched by the US, including the waging of war, targeted assassinations through drone attacks, and extraordinary “renditions” of suspects, besides the PATRIOT Act abridging civil liberties and thousands of indiscriminate arrests domestically. Our courts have treated “encounters” relatively benignly because they are supposedly directed at terrorists who could kill hundreds of people at one go. And some commentators have justified them, and even advocated tit-for-tat retaliation or “controlled violence”.
Terrorists, they hold, deserve no better. Like Dirty Harry, our police must shoot them first and ask questions later. “Due process”, a legal imperative, must be severely redefined to adapt to the “new realities” of terrorism. This view is profoundly mistaken. Civil liberties are sacrosanct and must not be subordinated to reasons of state on the plea that the fight against terrorism is “asymmetrical”, in which “the enemy doesn’t play by the rules of the game”. It’s specious to argue that “war is hell” or all’s fair in war. It’s not. Wars, even just ones—when waged against tyranny or aggression—must also be fought in a just manner, with scrupulous regard for non-combatant immunity, without disproportionate force, indiscriminate violence, or use of cruel or degrading methods. “Encounter” killings violate all these criteria and create a new tyranny. They must be outlawed and exemplarily punished—starting with Ishrat’s case.
- Ishrat Jahan Encounter: A Case of Cold- Blooded Murder – By Seema Mustafa (Jul 12, 2013, Newsclick.in)
- Murder or Mere Aberration? – Editorial (Jul 20, 2013, Economic& Political Weekly)
You Are Hereby A Terrorist: How the UP state apparatus plots to keep innocent Muslims in jail – By Ashish Khetan (Jul 22, 2013, Outlook)
The Akhilesh Yadav government’s ‘benevolence’ in the dropping of a few terror cases against Muslim suspects is leading to a communal polarisation in the state of Uttar Pradesh (perhaps this was the ruling dispensation’s intention anyway) ahead of the looming Lok Sabha polls. Five high court lawyers, all from the Hindu community, have now filed a PIL challenging the UP government’s “unconstitutional act”. In the first week of June, a two-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court stayed the process of withdrawal of prosecutions and referred the matter to a larger bench. The matter is due for a hearing sometime next month. The general impression the whole episode has created is that the Muslim community ought be indebted to the Samajwadi Party for extending it inordinate privileges. The only ground touted before the courts by the government in defence of its decision is the “fostering of communal harmony and public interest”. But a fundamental question is still not addressed here-were the Muslims against whom the cases are being sought to be withdrawn guilty of said acts of terrorism? In other words, the government has proceeded to drop the cases without first establishing the innocence of those whom it wants to exonerate. Not surprisingly, the courts are unwilling to accept this fallacious method, especially since the cases involve not any ordinary act of criminality but the actual cynical mass murder of innocent civilians.
A year-long research based mainly on the internal and classified records of different anti-terror agencies, including the UP anti-terrorism squad, revealed that successive regimes in the state have consciously followed a process that is calculated to thwart the course of justice. In a letter petition filed with the Allahabad HC a week ago, I have annexed dozens of classified documents that have been in the possession of the UP government but were never shared with the courts. These documents compellingly establish that the police agencies in UP have all along had evidence of the innocence of at least nine of the accused Muslims (three of whom are Bangladeshis) arrested in seven different terror cases but still persisted with the prosecutions. Now the Samajwadi government, instead of revealing the full truth and restoring the constitutional rights of these innocent Muslims (most of them are poor and very young), is turning the issue of national security and justice into an incendiary communal discourse. Clearly, the object is the potential electoral gains in the coming elections. These documents also show that one of the ‘suspects’, Khalid Mujhaid, who recently died in mysterious circumstances in judicial custody and whose death has led to widespread protests, was not involved in the terror act for which he had been incarcerated. If these documents had been shared with the courts in time, Khalid may have still been breathing today, living a free life with his family.
This politics over terror is not only perpetuating a gross injustice against those wrongly implicated but also denying justice to the victims of the terror strikes. Over the last 10 years, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost to terror attacks across the country. The least that the near and dear ones of the victims deserve is the full truth established through a credible and fair process of law. In Uttar Pradesh, this is how the story of the terror investigation unfolded. Between 2005-07, different cities in UP were repeatedly hit by bomb attacks. Dozens of ordinary citizens perished and many more were maimed. Different agencies of the UP police like the Special Task Force, the UP ATS and district police of Lucknow, Faizabad, Gorakhpur and Varanasi investigated these cases. The end result: about a dozen Muslim youths like Khalid Mujhaid, Waliullah and Tariq Qazmi were arrested for different bomb attacks. Tariq was a Unani doctor and married with four children-three girls and a boy, the eldest is now 11 years old – when he was picked up. Khalid was a teacher at a madrasa in Jaunpur. He got married less than a year before he was arrested. Both Tariq and Khalid were shown as being involved in the Lucknow and Faizabad court blasts. Similarly, Waliullah was a cleric at a mosque in Allahabad. He was made an accused in the Sankatmochan mandir blast case. Many of these accused were separately booked for the possession of arms and explosives that the police claimed to have recovered from them at the time of their arrest. Waliullah has already been given a 10-year sentence in one such case of recoveries. The question is, if they were not involved in the bomb blasts to begin with, then how credible is the case of such recoveries.
After September 2008, anti-terror agencies across India came together claiming to have unearthed a single, integral terror plot hatched by a mysterious terror outfit named Indian Mujahideen. Combined efforts led to the arrest of dozens of terror suspects across India and subsequent pooling of information. Many of the suspects arrested post-September 2008 apparently told their interrogators of their involvement in several blasts across UP besides blasts in other parts of the country like Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. Our portal Gulail has managed to unearth interrogation reports of six terror suspects-Sadiq Israr Shaikh, Arif Badar alias Laddan, Mohammed Saif, Saifur Rahman, Sarwar and Mohammed Salman-who were nabbed by different agencies like the Mumbai Crime Branch, Madhya Pradesh ATS and UP ATS on different dates between September 2008 and March 2010. According to the internal records of these agencies, all six accused have given a detailed and meticulous account of their involvement in the ‘single terror conspiracy’ of which the seven terror strikes pertaining to the state of UP were also a part. … Significantly, these ‘interrogation’ reports make absolutely no mention whatsoever of the involvement of the nine youths who were originally arrested and chargesheeted by the UP police for these blasts. In fact, the terror plot as narrated by these six terror suspects (as recorded by different agencies on different dates) completely debunks the state prosecution’s case as its stands today in all seven terror strikes in both material and minute details. The narrative given by these six accused is consistent with the case of different agencies in different cities outside Uttar Pradesh.
But in UP, instead of reinvestigating all these cases and finding the real culprits, the UP police launched a massive cover-up. Either the revelations of this new set of six accused were brushed under the carpet or were doctored by the UP police to persist with prosecutions that they full well knew to be completely farcical. So, in the case of the Lucknow and Faizabad court blasts and also in the Gorakhpur triple blasts case, the UP police fabricated an imaginary connection between the accused originally arrested and the terror suspects arrested many months later (in some cases a few years after the arrest of the original ‘accused’). Two completely conflicting narratives were thus married to retrospectively validate the old investigations and to cover-up the wrongful arrests made previously. So, while on the one hand the investigating agencies kept pursuing sham prosecutions, state regimes like the Samajwadi Party made a wishy-washy attempt to withdraw some of these farcical prosecutions. But even here, the evidence of innocence was not presented before the courts trying these cases. Nor was it made public.
- Friend of the court – By Gopal Subramanium (Jul 26, 2013, Frontline)
Ilavarsan’s Death And The Ugly Face Of Tamilnadu’s Vanniyar Politics – By Vidya Bhushan Rawat (Jul 9, 2013, Countercurrents)
The death of E.Ilavarsan in Tamilnadu might be a single column report in our newspapers but it has reflected the mindset prevailing in India and deep rooted caste prejudices against the Dalits in our society. It has also proved that the Dravidian politics has not been able to overcome its own prejudices against Dalits and they large represent the politics of powerful politicized OBCs who at the social level have been at the loggerheads with Dalits. It is not strange therefore that none of the mainstream Dravidian parties have spoken unambiguously on the issue though the political parties particularly representing Dalits, such as Puthia Tamilgam and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi have sought action against PMK, yet so far no visible action is seen on the ground by the Tamilnadu government. The Madras High Court is now observing this matter as the family of Ilavarsan has asked for a second autopsy as they refuse to believe that it is a case of suicide.
It is deeply regrettable that the party which is responsible for this act and has outrageously spoken against Dalits by supporting the anti-Dalit violence among the Vanniyar community in Dharmapuri district of Tamilnadu is roaming freely and propagating its hate philosophy. In fact, PMK had warned against the love marriages as well as abrogation of Prevention of Atrocities Act. The Vanniyar community members have been instigated by PMK and its leaders who had been organizing various meeting against the marriage of Divya, their community girl with Ilavarsan, a Dalit boy from Dharmapuri. It saw violence by the Vanniyar community against Dalits after the marriage. Afterwards, Divya’s father committed suicide under intense social pressure resulting in more pressure of breaking of marriage. The social pressure was so high that Divya was compelled to break the marriage unilaterally in the High-Court without informing Ilavarasan. She told Madras High Court that she would not like to live with Ilavarasan anymore. It is reported that heartbroken Ilaverasan committed suicide after that.
PMK has been part of government both at Centre and in the state and it is reprehensible that they could be so irresponsible in addressing this issue. Their stand replicates the values of Khap Panchayats in Haryana who have been violating the laws of the land but without any action from the government of Haryana merely because of political reasons. Contrary to this action has been taken against Dalits who have been speaking against violence. This shows the connivance of the state with powerful communities. It is true that these issues are socio-cultural in nature and need social response. Unfortunately, politicians have proved to be too petty in such cases and we still feel a big vacuum after Periyar’s death in Tamilnadu who could have spoken against such violence. Today, some of the parties might condemn the incident but just as a passing reference while many pretend that it is a ‘social issue’. One does not understand what is the meaning of ‘social issue’? Is Indian constitution not applicable on ‘social issues’? If that is true then we have accepted that it is the Manusmriti which rules India and not the constitution of India and all those parties who speak against brahamanical order have in fact strengthened them to strengthen their own political position and anti Brahmanism remained a mere rhetoric for them to control the levers of powers. Unfortunately this tendency and pattern is absolutely contrary to the thoughts and actions of Periyar who not only raised a banner of against the system but also provided alternatives through self-respect marriages but today it look as if these marriages are more political and less social. Therefore, a few such marriages will not change the situation in Tamilnadu.
It death of Divya’s father actually reveal the reality of village life of Tamilnadu where religiousity and caste supremacy remain intact. It means that Periyar’s movement did reach and ignite some of the OBC communities but not all. And more over, these communities revolved around him not in their social process but purely for political empowerment. Dr Ambedkar had always mentioned that in the absence of social equality our political power would be nothing but a big humbug and would help the lowest of the law. In a society where caste prejudices are highly prevalent and where individual’s choices are secondary to community, the role of politicians and local goondas promoted by them cannot be absolved. The fact is that Divya’s father committed suicide because of the very thought of facing possible humiliation of having married his daughter to a lower caste boy as PMK had already been organizing people on those lines. He could not accept his daughter’s choice and the daughter pursued her own choice and was happily living with Ilavarsan because individual’s choice never matters on ‘social’ issues and give a big ‘agenda’ to political parties to actually ‘celebrate’ without working too much for people. And this is one of the reasons where parents face social pressure, mostly the local politicians, relatives who make politics of everything and use it for their benefits. Definitely, her father committed suicide to force his daughter to break the marriage which she refused.
This means that Divya did not agree to family blackmail of not marrying to Ilavarasan as he was her love. But after his suicide, the pressure came on the daughter. Once you live with your family where your marriage or action is considered as the reason of father’s death then one can understand what decision would a girl or a boy take. They are emotionally blackmailed and if that too fails then they are ‘managed’, whether through calling off the marriage or getting ‘rid’ of the ‘obstacles. There is no other option for them except than surrendering to ‘community’ wishes. And therefore Divya’s affidavit in the highcourt cannot be taken on face value as it is six months pressure on her which resulted in her statement. The pressure of isolation, losing everything and most importantly pressure of losing her own life, a sense of guilt for being ‘responsible’ for her father’s death. How could a girl alone face such pressure from a brutal and barbaric society? After having lost her father, it was possible she might have felt the intense pressure on her mother and she would not like to lose her mother. And this resulted in another death. Whether the death is suicidal or a murder, it needs to be thoroughly investigated but the cause of Ilavarsan’s death for sure is the caste system and the political parties using this for their own purposes. You will have to deep into the reasons of death and you will find the dirty games of political parties and that is why it is important for the government to bring out a law against honored killing which had been shaming humanity. …
- Fighting Caste Fighting Patriarchy – Editorial (Jul 20, 2013, Economic& Political Weekly)
- Tragic end – By R. Ilangovan (Jul 26, 2013, Frontline)
- Atrocities Against Dalits: The Pabnava Incident – By Ratnesh Katulkar (Jul 13, 2013, Economic& Political Weekly)
- Pride & prejudice – By R. Ilangovan (Jul 26, 2013, Frontline)