IAMC Weekly News Roundup - July 1st, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 1st, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Narendra Modi instigated Hindus post Godhra train burning: Zakia Jafri’s lawyer (Jun 29, 2013, Indian Express)

Zakia Jafri’s lawyer today alleged before a court here that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had conspired to instigate Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers and other members of Hindu community after the Godhra train burning incident in 2002. Ehsan Jafri, Zakia’s husband and former Congress MP, was one of those who were slain during the riots across Gujarat after the Godhra incident. Advocate Sanjay Parikh, Jafri’s lawyer, made the allegation during the argument before Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra. The court was hearing Jafri’s petition against closure report of Special Investigation Team which gave a clean chit to Modi and others in the face of the charge of complicity in the riots as levelled by Jafri in her complaint in 2008 before the Supreme Court.

“After the Godhra train burning incident, a large number of kar sevaks indulged in provocative slogan-shouting at Godhra railway station and the situation was tense…And what he (Modi) did was to call VHP Gujarat general secretary Jaideep Patel to go to Godhra and Patel instigated other VHP men and Hindus against Muslims. Therefore, Modi conspired with Jaideep Patel to instigate negative and aggressive feelings of RSS, VHP workers against Muslims,” advocate Parikh contended.

“Real conspiracy began with this instruction to Patel. He (Modi) is the chief executor of the conspiracy,” Parikh said, adding SIT failed to probe this aspect of the case. Jaideep Patel, with 81 others, is facing trial in Naroda Gaam case in which 11 people from the minority community were killed. Jafri’s `protest petition’ demands rejection of SIT report and seeks further investigation by an independent agency. Her complaint accuses Modi of being involved in the conspiracy behind wide-spread violence and misuse of the state machinery during the riots.

“There was no need for the Chief Minister to inform a VHP man and be in close contact with him, knowing fully well that after the Godhra incident, tensions may escalate and what was required was restraint and specific measures to strengthen the law and order situation,” Jafri’s lawyer said. “He, therefore, committed an omission in not discharging his duty. He in fact, by his conduct allowed communal tension to escalate,” advocate Parikh alleged, opposing SIT’s conclusion that no case was made out against Modi and others. Inaction on Modi’s part amounted to conspiracy and abetment, the lawyer said. He further alleged the state government was aware of heavy mobilisation for Maha Yagna at Ayodhya and still did nothing to control the situation by making proper security arrangement.

Parikh also submitted a copy of a statement, dated August 15, 2009, given by the then senior state minister Suresh Mehta to SIT. “As per Mehta’s statement, he was sitting next to Narendra Modi in the assembly on February 27, 2002 when Modi said `Hindus should wake up now’. This shows his mindset against Muslims and that he wanted targeted violence against that community,” Parikh alleged. The hearing would continue on July 3.



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Modi, Shah knew of plot to kill Ishrat: CBI official (Jun 27, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The Ishrat Jahan encounter case is likely to take a politically interesting turn, as evidence gathered by the CBI suggests that the state authorities had prior knowledge of the allegedly staged killings on June 15, 2004. An investigator, requesting anonymity, told HT that chief minister Narendra Modi and then junior home minister Amit Shah could have been “in the loop”. But, he said, the evidence was still being verified.

Ishrat, 19, a Mumbai college student and an alleged Lashkar suicide bomber, and her three associates – Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Jeeshan Johar – were killed in an encounter with the Gujarat police. The police claimed that they had come to Gujarat to kill Modi.

Although state government spokesperson Nitin Patel refused to comment on the issue, former spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said, “These are only media reports… Let the CBI file the charge sheet first.” The CBI charge sheet, likely to be filed on July 4, will claim that the encounter was staged and Rajinder Kumar, then head of the Gujarat unit of the Intelligence Bureau, had colluded with the cops to have Ishrat and her associates killed.

A source in the investigating team said, “Kumar not only generated a false alert and helped organise the prior custody of the four, he also procured an AK 56 rifle that was planted on the bodies to make them look like LeT terrorists.”

Earlier, when Kumar was summoned by the CBI, the IB chief moved the home ministry and the PMO and eventually extracted the assurance that Kumar could be touched only after his retirement on July 31.



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Probe role of IB in anti-terror operations: Rihai Manch (Jun 28, 2013, Times of India)

Rihai Manch, an outfit formed by social activists to struggle for release of innocent Muslim youth falsely implicated in terror charges, has demanded formation of a judicial commission to probe into the role of Intelligence Bureau in the arrest of terror accused in Uttar Pradesh. In a statement, Rihai Manch, which is staging demonstration in the city for last 36 days, said that the suspected involvement of senior IB officers in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has given credence to allegations that intelligence officials often given wrong inputs on terror cases which results in arrest of innocent Muslims.

It said that the family members of terror accused and civil rights groups have been questioning the role of intelligence officials in the arrest of Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasmi, who have been accused of being involved in 2007 serial blasts in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi. Mujahid and Qasmi were arrested by Special Task Force of the state police on December 20, 2007 from Barabanki. Huge explosives were also shown as recovered from their possession. The police claimed that they were involved in the serial blasts.

However, later, Nimesh Commission formed by the state government found anomalies in the police theory. On May 18 this year, Khalid died under mysterious circumstances on his way back from Faizabad court to Lucknow jail. He was declared brought dead by the doctors.

Later, on the complain of his uncle Zahir Alam Falahi, a case was registered against 42 police officers including former DGP Vikram Singh, ADG Brijlal and others who were on duty during the time of Khalid’s arrest. Several civil society groups and individuals have also expressed their solidarity with the Rihai Manch.



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IB officials under CBI scanner over Sadiq case too (Jun 27, 2013, Indian Express)

After the Ishrat Jahan controversy, the 2003 Sadiq Jamal Mehtar fake encounter case has landed at the doorstep of the Intelligence Bureau, with the CBI recently questioning two IB officials for their alleged role in “handing over” Sadiq to the Gujarat police. While the CBI has maintained that it would probe the IB angle in the case, the investigation had largely revolved around the Gujarat Police and those involved in the encounter. Here again, doubts were raised on the intelligence input that Sadiq may have been plotting the assassination of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Rajendra Kumar, the IB head in Gujarat and now under the scanner in the Ishrat case, is also slated to be questioned in the case with the CBI planning to press ahead with the investigations over the next couple of months. It is learnt that the CBI may not formally arrest Kumar for now as he retires next month, but is likely to revisit the situation after July 31. Moreover, sources said, he is so far cooperating with the investigations after a decision was taken at the highest levels that the CBI probe must move unhindered. But more than the Ishrat case, it’s the Sadiq Jamal case that has the agency worried, because the investigations are likely to go beyond Kumar and bring into question the role of other IB officials.

While the focus has been on the veracity of the intelligence alert on Sadiq, the main problem relates to the circumstances under which Sadiq reached Gujarat. From what has emerged so far, sources said, it appears that Sadiq had already been taken into custody in Mumbai when he landed from Dubai, well before the encounter. The allegation was that he had joined the Dawood Ibrahim gang, was indoctrinated to become a terrorist and then sent on this mission to kill Modi and other prominent leaders including then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.

But the limited issue in the investigation is that if the IB, with the help of the local police, had picked up Sadiq, then why was he handed over to the Gujarat police? It’s this crucial gap that the CBI has to close because custodial transfer has to be done with good justification. Reliable sources indicate that this handing over was done without a fuss, raising suspicion on the role of IB officials. Sadiq, a 25-year-old from Bhavnagar, was killed in an encounter on January 13, 2003, in the Naroda area of Ahmedabad. The police claimed they were acting on a central agency tip-off and opened fire only in “self defence”. Sadiq’s brother Shabbir later filed a petition claiming that he had been murdered in cold blood.

The Gujarat High Court saw some merit in his claim and asked the CBI to probe the matter. The agency filed its first chargesheet last December in which eight police officials were named for staging a fake encounter. In a recent hearing, CBI said it’s probing the role of other officials including those from the IB. Sadiq, who apparently did have a mention in police records, had first moved to Mumbai and then to Dubai. He later found himself mentioned in an intelligence alert that was probably based on some association of his employers with the underworld.



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Act against IPS officers who ‘framed’ Muslims in Malegaon blasts case: PIL (Jun 25, 2013, The Hindu)

A month after the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) charge sheet exposed the flawed probe conducted by Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) into the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts, a public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed in the Bombay High Court against 15 former and serving IPS officers who conducted the investigation. Among those made respondents in the PIL were former ATS chief K.P. Raghuvanshi; former Mumbai Commissioner A.N. Roy; and Maharashtra DGP Sanjeev Dayal. The petitioner, Sayyad Ameen Mustafa of Muslim-e-Hind, urged the court to set up an independent special investigation team (SIT) to probe the blasts and register an FIR against the guilty officers, who allegedly framed innocent Muslim youth in the case.

The ATS which probed four explosions that took place on September 8, 2006 at Malegaon in Nashik district arrested nine Muslim youths and alleged them to be the members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The Maharashtra government transferred the blasts case to the CBI on December 21, 2006 even as the ATS filed a charge sheet against the nine arrested and few others. The CBI’s probe mirrored that of the ATS and the Central agency filed a supplementary charge sheet on February 11, 2010 attaching forensic reports and additional witness statements. However, after taking over the investigation from the CBI in April 2012, NIA, on the basis of confessional statements of Swami Aseemanand, reinvestigated the entire case. It filed a charge sheet on May 22, 2013 before special NIA judge Prithvi Raj Chavan against four Hindu right-wing activists and three wanted accused. It did not even mention the names of Muslim youths arrested earlier.

The PIL said: “Further investigation by the NIA revealed that Rajendra Chaudhary, Dhan Singh, Manohar and Ramchandra Kalsangra had planted and caused four bomb blasts in Malegaon on September 8, 2006.” The petitioner said the respondents were involved in anti-Muslim, anti-minority and anti-human rights acts. They had no faith in the Constitution of India. “The respondents have acted in conspiracy with each other to frame innocents and worked/working in close coordination for fulfilling the same till date.”

Petitioner’s counsel Ejaz Naqvi said the court should quash the legal proceedings against the accused who are framed in the case. “We have requested the court to order and register a cognisable offence against erring officers and the said investigation may be conducted under the monitoring of the two HC judges or an independent SIT,” said Mr. Naqvi. He said all the police officers who were then part of the investigation and had now reached senior positions should be made accountable. “They destroyed the lives of young innocent men. What right did they have to do this? They should be punished for this,” counsel said.



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Probe VHP role in riots & blasts, release Muslims implicated in false terror charges: Rihai Manch (Jun 30, 2013, Times of India)

Rihai Manch, an outfit formed to struggle for release of innocent Muslim youth implicated in false terror charges, continued its demonstration for 40th day on Sunday. Activists also took out a march demanding arrest of the policemen responsible for the death of terror accused Khalid Mujahid. They also demanded through probe into the role of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in riots in Kosi Kalan area of Mathura last year in June and bomb blasts on May 30 this year.

Mujahid died under mysterious circumstances in police custody on May 18 this year while he was being brought from a court in Faizabad to Lucknow jail. He was arrested along with Tariq Qasmi in December 2007 on charges of engineering serial blasts in Faizabad, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Varanasi in 2007. However, later, Nimesh Commission formed by the state government found loopholes in police theory.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) had promised in its election manifesto in 2012, if voted to power, it will withdraw cases lodged against innocent Muslims. The SP government started the process of withdrawal of cases but it has been stayed by the High Court. Rihai Manch has been demanding release of Nimesh Commission report and action on it. The state government has announced to table the report in forthcoming assembly session.

Activists claimed conspiracy behind implication of Muslim youth in terror cases in Lucknow. They supported their argument by drawing attention towards fake encounters in Gujarat. They also pointed out arrest of a VHP leader for blasts in Mathura. They said that government should probe the role of VHP and other sangh parivar organisations in riots and blasts in the state. A delegation of Rihai Manch activists led by justice (rtd) Rajendra Sachar had also met chief minister Akhilesh Yadav earlier this year. They had informed Yadav about sangh parivar’s design to flare up communal sentiments in the state in view of next Lok Sabhaelections. They also narrated how innocent Muslim youth are being booked under false charges.

Activists also said that several police officers, who were responsible for Mujaihid’s death, would have been at receiving end after tabling of the Nimesh Commission report. Mujahid’s death benefited these policemen the most, they alleged. They also accused SP government of going back on its promise to provide justice to innocent Muslims. Women and children also took part in the protest march.



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Definitely something fishy about Khalid Mujahid’s death: Zafaryab Jilani (Jun 30, 2013, Hindustan Times)

Uttar Pradesh additional advocate general (AAG) Zafaryab Jilani on Saturday said that there was definitely something fishy in terror accused Khalid Mujahid’s custodial death. He however clarified that chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and national president of Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav had no role to play at all. “The circumstances in which Khalid died were certainly mysterious. But the CM and Mulayam Singh Yadav had no role to play,” Jilani told HT on the sidelines of a function organized in Lucknow to felicitate him after a ten day visit to the United States (US). He said that he told this to US based human rights activists and members of US Congress during his visit.

Jilani, who is also convener of Babri Masjid Action Committee (BAMC) and Executive Committee member of All India Muslim Personal Law board (AIMPLB) visited US on invitation of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC)-a US based organisation-comprising mostly Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) alumni. He participated in a series of seminars highlighting the ‘persecution of Muslims in India’ being organised by IAMC in five US cities including a three day event in Washington DC. The ‘cold blooded murder’ of Khalid Mujahid was also an issued discussed there. “I interacted with US based human rights activists and members of US Congress there. We discussed different issues including the Khalid Mujahid death issue.

Khalid, an alleged Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI) operative and an accused in serial blasts that rocked Lucknow and Faizabad courts in November 2007, died on May 18 after he fell sick and fainted, according to police, near Barabanki while being escorted to Lucknow jail after a court hearing. Jilani said that he also apprised participants of the seminars that there were many cases in India where Muslim youth were wrongly implicated in terror cases. “I told them we in India have laws safeguarding human rights but what we lack is an Act that would ensure compensation to those acquitted after being falsely implicated and punishment to the officials found responsible,” he added.

He said he also informed the participants about the action taken by the government that includes ordering a CBI probe and lodging an FIR against 42 police officials as demanded by Khalid’s kin. “I told them that government has ordered an inquiry and reality would come to fore to soon,” he added. …



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Jadalpur killings: Jairam Ramesh alleges conspiracy, slams BJP for ‘poor governance’ (Jun 26, 2013, IBN)

Claiming a political conspiracy behind last month’s deadly Maoist attack in Bastar, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday there are forces which don’t want Congress to come back to power in Chhattisgarh. He slammed the state’s BJP government for its alleged non-existence in most parts in Bastar which Maoists have declared as their “liberated zone”. “It is not a simple attack. It is a political conspiracy. Congress led by Nand Kumar Patel was sure to win public mandate in the polls but some forces don’t want Congress to come back to power,” Ramesh told reporters at Congress Bhawan in Raipur.

“However, Congress will continue its Parivartan Yatra and win assembly elections. I have visited several Maoist-hit districts in the country. I found South Chhattisgarh’s Sukma, Dantewada, Bijapur, Kanker, Narayanpur, Bastar and Maharashtra’s Gadhchiroli to be the districts most affected by Maoists,” he said. He alleged the government is totally missing in these zones and said only the Ramkrishna Mission works in some places. “I was perturbed to find two foreign agencies providing health facilities in critical areas like Bijapur in South Chhattisgarh, which is something the government should have been doing”.

He said the Centre could only provide paramilitary forces and other help to the state government but the primary responsibility lies with the local police and the state government has to play the main role in wiping out the Maoist guerrillas. Several contractors and politicians were linked to the Maoists in Bastar, he said. Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy, who was also present at the press conference, alleged the BJP government had always ignored the security of Congress leaders.



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Back home from Uttarakhand, Gujarat official’s wife says Modi govt claims ‘cheap stunt’ (Jun 26, 2013, Indian Express)

The state government’s efforts to bring back Gujarati pilgrims from flood-ravaged Uttarakhand have left many unimpressed, among them one of its own engineers who too was stranded there along with family members and friends for days. Mahesh Mevada (52), an executive engineer with the state’s Roads & Buildings Department, had gone on the pilgrimage along with his wife Harsha (44), dentist daughter Riddhi (24) and some friends. All of them have returned home after spending around nine nightmarish days in Uttarakhand. They say the arrangements made by the Gujarat government was nothing but a “cheap publicity stunt”.

The Mevadas set out from Gujarat on June 8 and were at Kedarnath on June 16 when the calamity struck. “We found our way through floods and jungles to Ramvada village, from where we were brought to Fata by a rescue helicopter, without food and proper potable water. Ultimately, we reached Haridwar on June 22,” says Mahesh, who says he was down with fever and low blood pressure then. At Haridwar, the Mevadas were joined by Harsha’s brother Bharat Suthar, who had rushed from Ahmedabad to Uttarakhand after hearing about the calamity. The Mevadas, Suthar and their friends stayed overnight at Shantikunj Ashram of Gayatri Parivar in Haridwar where the Gujarat government had set up a camp for stranded pilgrims. “Till Haridwar, we saw no signs of the Gujarat government’s rescue and relief operations,” Mahesh says.

Since the family wanted to go home at the earliest, they were ready to charter a flight back for Rs 4.5 lakh, says the engineer. “But state government officials there told us a flight arranged by them would take us back for free. For the next 2-3 hours, nothing happened. Suddenly, we were told the flight had been cancelled and we would be going by train in a sleeper coach,” he adds. Harsha said they agreed since they did not want to take the bus which the government official also offered. Suthar says, “An official accompanied us on a bus to the station and put us on a general coach in which even fans were not functional. We protested initially but were told that under the circumstances, this was the best bet. But then we were not given any identity proof by the authorities that could establish that we were one of the flood victims.”

According to Harsha, throughout the journey the ticket examiners kept asking them for proof to show they were stranded pilgrims from Uttarakhand. “At Mehsana, one Railway Protection Force official threatened to penalise us for illegally occupying the coach. All this happened because we were not given any identity proof,” Mahesh says. Harsha says she overheard people at Fata saying that had this tragedy struck Gujarat, the Modi administration would have managed it excellently. “And I was feeling proud of my state. But after our experience, I think the state government should have done concrete work instead of making cheap publicity stunts for photo-ops,” says Harsha.

When contacted on phone, Bipin Bhatt, a special officer of the Gujarat government camping in Haridwar, says, “Everyone cannot get a flight. What is important is to send them back home at the earliest by whatever mode. We sent them (Mevadas and others) in a coach that was provided to us by the railways. As for what happened to them during the journey, in such circumstances such things happen.” “People have too high expectations,” he adds.



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Shocking: Girl asked to leave class for wearing hijab in Ahmedabad school (Jun 26, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Little Flower English Medium School in Paldi forced a girl to stay away from class on Tuesday for covering her head with a scarf. This comes almost within a fortnight of the GLS Education Trust-run M K Higher Secondary School putting all Muslim students in one division of class IX on the opening day of the new session.

“I wear scarf as I am a follower of Islam. But the school is not allowing it, claiming it to be a burqa. They had given me time to think and decide whether I should wear the scarf. On Tuesday, the deadline got over and when I went to school wearing the scarf, I was not allowed to enter the class and forced to sit in the teachers’ staff room instead. They also called my parents to school,” said the girl, a student of class IX (identity withheld). “I always used to wear a scarf and many Muslim girls also started wearing scarf after seeing me. But when the school authorities asked them not to wear it, they stopped. Only I continued,” she added.

The school authorities, however, had a different take on the issue. “We respect all religions as we have students from all religions studying in our school. But, at the same time, every institute has rules and regulations which should be respected. Students should come to school in full uniform. They have to abide by the school’s rules and regulations. We have even mentioned this in our school calendar book and parents have agreed by signing it,” said Yvonne Shah, the principal of Little Flower English Medium School.

“We have just asked the girl not to wear burqa to school and that she should come in uniform. We have also informed her father about this. We have also told her to wear burqa till she enters the school and wear it again once classes get over,” she added. However, the girl maintained that it was a hijab – a head scarf – not a burqa.

Shah further stated that while schools were in favour of uniformity and equality, the girl would be visibly separated from the rest of the class because of her burqa. “If we allow her, we will have to allow everybody,” she pointed out. “I have not received any such complaint either from the school or from any parent,” said R I Patel, the district education officer for Ahmedabad.



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Opinions and Editorials

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee: The Hindutva Icon Who Betrayed the Freedom Struggle of India – By Shamsul Islam (Jun 26, 2013, Twocircles.net)

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1901-1953) is a prominent Hindutva icon for the RSS/BJP camp. It was he who, on the advice of M.S. Golwalkar, founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) in 1951 and became the first president of the political arm of the RSS. He died in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on 23 June 1953, when he was under arrest. His death is mourned every year as ‘End Article 370 Day’ and ‘Save Kashmir Day’. This year too, meetings were organized to highlight the ‘sacrifice’ of Dr Mookerjee for Jammu and Kashmir. L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi addressed gatherings at Delhi and Madhopur, Punjab, respectively. Dr Mookerjee was lauded as a great nationalist and patriot. Advani in his blog (http://blog.lkadvani.in/blog-in-english/salutations-to-a-great-martyr) on 23 June 2013, under the title SALUTATIONS TO A GREAT MARTYR, apart from giving details of Dr Mookerjee’s founding of the BJS, the Kashmir campaign, his arrest at Madhopur and subsequent death at the state hospital in Srinagar, declared him to be ‘a great leader’ and a ‘great patriot right from his birth’. He went on to add that ‘We in the BJP owe our position in India’s politics to the sacrifices and exertions of thousands who have preceded us, and above all to the vision and martyrdom of Dr Mookerjee.’ On the same day, Narendra Modi wrote the following, which was reproduced in the blog of Advani: “Today we remember the great Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a statesman, thinker and a patriot who devoted his life towards strengthening national integration. The founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, he left us on this day exactly 59 years back in 1953…Remembering him, Advaniji has penned a heart-touching blog today “SALUTATIONS TO A GREAT MARTYR!” which I would like to share with you.”

The rhetoric of these two ‘Iron Men’ of the RSS/BJP camp needs to be cross-checked with the contemporary documents available. The perusal of these documents clearly shows that the claim that Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee was a ‘great leader’ and a ‘great patriot right from his birth’ is a farce. Dr Mookerjee did not participate in the Freedom Struggle launched to liberate India from British rule. If patriotism means being part of the Freedom Struggle and making sacrifices, Dr Mookerjee not only kept aloof from it but also betrayed it by siding with the British rulers and the Muslim League. He was a great votary for partition of Bengal on the eve of India’s independence. In pre-Independence times he was a prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, which was led by V.D. Savarkar. When in 1942 during the Quit India movement the British rulers were asked to quit India, they responded to this mass movement by unleashing a reign of terror. While hundreds of people died in police firings, the Hindu Mahasabha, with the Muslim League led by M.A. Jinnah, ran coalition governments in Sind, Bengal and NWFP. This is corroborated by the following words of ‘Veer’ Savarkar (from his presidential speech to the 24th session of the Hindu Mahasabha at Kanpur in 1942): “In practical politics also the Mahasabha knows that we must advance through reasonable compromises. Witness the fact that only recently in Sind, the Sind-Hindu-Sabha on invitation had taken the responsibility of joining hands with the League itself in running coalition Government. The case of Bengal is well known. Wild Leaguers whom even the Congress with all its submissiveness could not placate grew quite reasonably compromising and sociable as soon as they came in contact with the HM and the Coalition Government, under the premiership of Mr Fazlul Huq and the able lead of our esteemed Mahasabha leader Dr Syama Prasad Mookerji, functioned successfully for a year or so to the benefit of both the communities.”

In Sind, the Hindu Mahasabha entered into an alliance with the Muslim League and formed the government after the great secular prime minister (at that time chief ministers were designated prime ministers) Allah Baksh was dismissed by the British Governor for his support to the Quit India Movement. He headed the Ittehad (unity) Party government. It was a mass based secular party consisting of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs which did not allow the Muslim League to enter Sind, a Muslim majority province. He was murdered by Muslim League goons in 1943. Later on a coalition government between the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha was formed in NWFP also. In a more shocking development, the Hindu Mahasabha of Dr Mookerjee decided to help the British rulers in World War II. It was the time when Subhash Chandra Bose, known as Netaji, was organizing the INA (Azad Hind Fauj) in a military campaign to force the British out. The extent to which the Hindu Mahasabha was willing to help the British masters is clear from the following directive issued by Savarkar as President of the Mahasabha:

“So far as India’s defence is concerned, Hindudom must ally unhesitatingly, in a spirit of responsive co-operation, with the war effort of the Indian government in so far as it is consistent with the Hindu interests, by joining the Army, Navy and the Aerial forces in as large a number as possible and by securing an entry into all ordnance, ammunition and war craft factories… Again it must be noted that Japan’s entry into the war has exposed us directly and immediately to the attack by Britain’s enemies. Consequently, whether we like it or not, we shall have to defend our own hearth and home against the ravages of the war and this can only be done by intensifying the government’s war effort to defend India. Hindu Mahasabhaites must, therefore, rouse Hindus especially in the provinces of Bengal and Assam as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute.” [Cited in V.D. Savarkar, Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan, vol. 6, Maharashtra Prantik Hindusabha, Poona, 1963, p. 460] The Hindu Mahasabha was in direct contact with the then British Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief of the British armed forces for organizing resources, both human and material, for the British war effort. It organized armed forces recruitment camps. Savarkar even called upon all those Hindus who had offered to join British armed forces to “be perfectly amenable and obedient to the military discipline and order which may prevail there provided always that the latter do not deliberately aim to humiliate Hindu Honour.” [Cited in A.S. Bhide (ed.), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours, Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941, na, Bombay, 1940, p. xxviii]

It may not be out of place to say here that I posted a comment on Advani’s blog referring to Dr Mookerjee’s participation in a Muslim League government in Bengal, as narrated by Savarkar, on 23 June 2013 at 9.14 a.m., requesting for his comment. In a short while it was removed. I reposted it at 10.43 but the same story was repeated. It is true that the blog belongs to the RSS/BJP leader, Advani, and that he has the absolute right to decide what appears on it. However, I feel that since he had put up statements he should have responded to my query, ‘Was Dr Mookerjee a patriot for a democratic-secular India?’ His silence suggests to me that he knows that bluff has its limitations. It is not that I am unsympathetic. Even a master of sophistry cannot deal with the contradiction that the Hindu Mahasabha helped to run provinces for the British rulers precisely when a much larger number of Indians was asking the British to leave India. Even Advani cannot explain away the eagerness of Dr Mookerjee’s mentor, Savarkar, to aid the British war effort when countless Indians so badly wanted ‘the Jewel in the [British] Crown’ to be their own land again that Subhas Bose even undertook military action. We should never forget that when Hindu Mahasabha led by Savarkar and Dr Mookerjee were facilitating the colonial masters’ war efforts, the freedom fighters were raising the slogan, “na ek bhai, na ek pai’ (not a man, not a paisa for the War). Finally, as a student of Indian politics and history, I request Advani to reveal his source of information that Dr Mookerjee was a ‘great patriot right from his birth’ about which no one else knows anything. I have been denied my right to be responded by Advani in latter’s blog but hopeful that this write-up will secure the explanation from RSS patriarch to enrich the nation’s memory about Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee.



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Encounters Of The Fake Kind – By Mukul Sinha (Jul 6, 2013, Tehelka)

Javed Ahmed Shaikh took 14 bullets from assorted weapons, including AK-47s, while he sat helplessly behind the steering wheel of the blue Indica car. When he left his father’s house in Kerala on 5 June 2004, he did not have the slightest idea that he was driving towards his death that was awaiting him at Ahmedabad in Gujarat. As he was driving through Karnataka towards his hometown Pune in Maharashtra, he received a phone call late in the night of 6 June. A mysterious call from Gandhinagar asking him to immediately come over to Gujarat. A call that he could not disobey. Javed did not stop at Pune and kept driving towards Ahmedabad. On the way, he first drove to Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar city, where he dropped his wife and children at his sister-in-law’s house on 9 June.

On the morning of 11 June, after a day’s rest at Ahmednagar, Javed started for Ahmedabad via Nasik. He reached Vasad in Gujarat around noon and to his utter shock, two police officers from Gujarat literally abducted him along with his car and drove him to a farm on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway in Ahmedabad. Early in the morning of 15 November, around 3 am, he was driven in the same Indica car, along with another person he did not know and a girl named Ishrat Jahan, to a lonely spot near the Kotarpur Water Works in the Sardarnagar area of Ahmedabad. A large posse of policemen were waiting for the rendezvous. Ishrat was dragged out of the car and then the firing started. Javed and the other person sitting at the back of the car were mowed down. He didn’t live to see Ishrat being shot in her head and pushed next to him in the car, nor did he see the third man who was blindfolded and gunned down outside the car.

The nation was told that Javed, Ishrat and the other two men shot down that morning were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives who had come to Gujarat to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Coincidentally, the same story had been told a couple of times earlier: when Samir Khan Pathan was gunned down in 2002 and also when Sadiq Jamal was shot dead on 13 January 2003. The modus operandi in all three cases was the same. In 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were killed under the cover of similar allegations. Tulsi Prajapati met the same fate in 2006. Four young Kashmiris from a madrasa near Surat were gunned down in March 2006, and guess why? Because they wanted to kill Modi!

Now that almost all these so-called encounters have been established as fake by investigation agencies functioning under the orders of either the Supreme Court or the Gujarat High Court, the big question is: who was organising these killings to promote the myth that jihadi terrorists were after Modi’s life? Who were the people in authority that could manufacture false intelligence inputs to justify the murder of innocent citizens, including teenagers like Ishrat. One name that has repeatedly surfaced for allegedly not only creating many such false inputs but also actively participating in the murder conspiracies is Rajendra Kumar, the then Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau posted at Ahmedabad during 2003-04.

There is overwhelming evidence in the Sadiq Jamal case, with the Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police naming Kumar as the person who phoned him on 29 November 2002, asking him to detain Sadiq. In the Ishrat-Javed case, the CBI has even uncovered evidence establishing that Kumar participated in meetings with police officers conspiring to kill Javed and the others. The BJP and its prominent leaders, however, are trying hard to tarnish the CBI’s image in order to scare them off from arresting Kumar. Perhaps they are worried that many top BJP leaders may be next in line in case Kumar is arrested. If the CBI fails to apprehend Kumar, it would be a failure of the rule of law. We have to wait and watch. Will our great democracy win or will a handful of killers write the future of this nation?



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Modi’s Himalayan miracle – By Abheek Barman (Jun 26, 2013, Times of India)

On the evening of Friday, June 21, as India reeled from the shock of the calamity in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi landed up inDehradun with a handful of officers. By Sunday, it was claimed that he had rescued 15,000 stranded Gujaratis from the wreckage of Uttarakhand and sent these grateful folks back home. This miracle was played up in media. But how was this feat achieved in a day or so, when India’s entire military establishment has struggled to rescue around 40,000 people over 10 days? Reports say that Modi pulled off this coup with a fleet of 80 Innovas. How did these cars manage to reach places like Kedarnath, across roads that have been washed away, over landslides that have wrecked most access routes? But let us assume Modi’s Innovas had wings as well as helicopter rotors. Including the driver, an Innova is designed to carry seven people. In a tough situation, assume you could pack nine passengers into each car. In that case, a convoy of 80 Innovas could ferry 720 people down the mountains to Dehradun at one go. To get 15,000 people down, the convoy would need to make 21 round trips.

The distance between Dehradun and Kedarnath is 221 km. So 21 trips up and down would mean that each Innova would have to travel nearly 9,300 km. It takes longer to travel in the hills than in the plains. So, assuming an average speed of 40 km per hour, it would take 233 hours of driving to pull off the feat. This assumes non-stop driving, without a second’s rest to identify the Gujaratis to be rescued and keeping the rest of the distressed folk at bay, or any time to load and unload the vehicles. And forget about any downtime for the gallant rescuers. That is nearly 10 days of miraculous work. And Modi pulled it off in a day. Actually, in less than a day: a breathless media reported that by Saturday, 25 luxury buses had brought a group of Gujaratis back to Delhi. For some reason, four Boeing aircraft also idled in some undisclosed place nearby. Modi, ever modest, himself did not make the claim of rescuing 15,000 Gujaratis from Himalayan disaster in a day. It was likely dumped on a gullible media by his public relations agency, an American outfit called Apco Worldwide. In 2007, Apco was hired, ostensibly to boost the Vibrant Gujarat summits, but to actually burnish Modi’s image, for $25,000 a month. He is in good company. Apco has worked for the dictator of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, the governments of Malaysia and Israel and the American tobacco lobby.

For the latter, it set up front organisations to rubbish evidence which proved that tobacco causes cancer. Apco has also worked for pariah regimes like Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and Nigerian strongman Sani Abacha. Its powerful advisory council includes former Israeli diplomats Itamar Rabinovich and Shimon Stein, as well as Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, who was the highest ranked officer in the Israel security agency. Apco is credited with Modi’s makeover and his holographic campaigns. Before Apco, Vibrant Gujarat was a tame affair: the first three summits generated investment promises between $14 billion and $150 billion. After Apco, in 2009 and 2011, these jumped to $253 billion and $450 billion. Apco worked tirelessly to rope in investor interest from America. It also lobbied with politicians in Washington to remove the ban on Modi travelling to the US. The ban was imposed after the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat as Modi presided over the state in 2002. So far, Apco hasn’t succeeded in getting Modi a US visa. And the Vibrant Gujarat numbers are all hot air. An analysis by my colleague Kingshuk Nag in his biography of Modi shows that only 3.2% of the 2009 number has materialised on the ground. Of the 2011 figure, a mere 0.5% is for real. But Modi does not need Apco to lie. In 2005 he announced that state-owned company GSPC had made India’s biggest gas discovery: 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) valued at more than $50 billion, off Andhra Pradesh. This was 40% more than what Reliance had found in the same area. Modi then egged on GSPC to grab projects in Egypt, Yemen and Australia.

Many suspected that Modi’s gas claim was hot air, but in the absence of evidence few could say so. But by 2012, the Centre’s directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH), which analyses and certifies all energy finds, said that it could vouch for only a tenth of Modi’s claim: there was only 2 tcf of gas. And that too in areas tough to exploit. Meanwhile, under Modi’s rousing leadership, GSPC had poured in nearly $2 billion into exploration, much of it raised as debt based on its supposed 20 tcf gas find. When the gas vanished, GSPC went bust. To rescue it, Modi asked the company to venture out into more areas, like city gas distribution. There have been problems with these businesses as well, including a very dubious transaction with a company in Barbados. In every area the Modi narrative is a tale of bluster and bluff. But his Himalayan miracle is a barefaced, cynical lie.



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A Tech Battle For The Bastar Ballot – By Anil Mishra (Jul 6, 2013, Tehelka)

Polling in the tribal-dominated remote interiors of south Chhattisgarh always poses a huge security and logistical challenge, with the Maoists carrying out aggressive propaganda to enforce their poll boycott call and intimidating both voters and polling officials. In the recent past, polling booths have often had to be shifted to “safer” locations near police stations. Yet, many booths reported nearly 90 percent polling in the 2008 Assembly election. This has given rise to suspicions of bogus voting. For ensuring free and fair elections, the Congress’ new state unit chief Charan Das Mahant has recently written to the Election Commission demanding that hidden cameras be installed in polling booths to check bogus voting in the Assembly polls scheduled for November.

Mahant has also asked for polling officials to be equipped with GPS devices so they can be tracked constantly as they traverse the deep forests. Polling officials sometimes have to trudge through the woods for days to reach the polling booths in the remote areas, lugging the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and other polling material. Sometimes they run into Maoist cadres who snatch away the EVMs and let them go only after warning them not to come back. Some villages are so deep inside the forests that it is impossible for polling officials to walk all the way there and risk being stopped by Maoists on the way. In such cases, helicopters are used to airdrop the officials and the polling equipment. In November 2008, the Maoists fired at a helicopter that was on a sortie to bring back the election officials from Pedia village of Bijapur district after the voting was over. A flight engineer lost his life in this incident, and for the Lok Sabha election held four months later, the polling booth was shifted 40 km away to Gangalur, which is near a police station.

During the 2008 Assembly election, the Maoists looted EVMs from the Handawada polling booth in the Dantewada constituency. Re-polling was announced and another polling team was sent to the area. The polling officials reached the village in the evening after a 25-km trek. The officials recount how they could hear the Maoists singing songs calling for election boycott all through the night. They knew the Maoists were close by, in the hills surrounding the village. Despite the clear and present danger, there was 19 percent polling the next morning and the officials managed to return safely with the EVMs. However, the story was somewhat different for the team of officials sent for re-polling to Gaugunda polling booth in neighbouring Konta constituency. Scared of the Maoists, they did not even go to the village and returned after casting the votes themselves in a certain ratio for the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India and the Bahujan Samaj Party. The matter came to light later and members of the polling team were sent to jail.

“The Maoists were nearby and had we gone any further, they could have killed one of us,” says a polling agent of a political party who was with this polling team. “Even the policemen were not ready to move and everyone decided to cast the votes themselves.” Later, another polling team was sent to Gaugunda, accompanied by the then Dantewada Superintendent of Police, late Rahul Sharma. The polling booth was shifted from the village and set up at the foot of a nearby hill, considered a safer location. Yet, only 10 votes were cast in this area that has more than 700 voters. Though places connected by road are considered relatively safer, that does not always ensure unhindered polling. EVMs were looted by Maoists from the Gorkha polling booth, which is close to a national highway (NH-30) and only about 10 km from the Injaram Salwa Judum camp. (Salwa Judum was an anti-Maoist campaign during which villagers were shifted from Maoist-affected villages to camps guarded by security forces.) When the polling officials were sent for a re-poll, they allegedly brought people from the Injaram camp under police protection for voting. Barring one, these people were not on the voter list, and so only one vote could be cast in an area with 938 voters.

It takes a great deal of coordinated efforts to reach hundreds of polling booths in the jungles and return safely after conducting the election. “There are many areas that you can reach only after two days of trekking. Sometimes the polling team gets lost in the forest,” says an official who has been thrice to the Maoist-affected areas on election duty. “When that happens, they look for a safe place and either call people from the nearby villages only or cast the votes themselves to complete the formality of voting. These bogus votes do not go to any particular party, but it does benefit the ruling party to an extent.” During the 2009 Lok Sabha election, many polling booths in Maoist-affected areas were moved to “safer” locations. In Bijapur constituency alone, more than 50 polling booths were shifted. But polling was reported to have taken place in the Assembly election just four months earlier in many such booths. Voting was also shown in several polling booths that polling officials say are “impossible to reach”. Most of these votes went to the BJP. …



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No Country For Countrymen – By Arun Sinha (Jun 17, 2013, Outlook)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been trying for years to make us believe that agriculture is a vast marshland in which a huge population is stuck ankle-to neck-deep and it is his duty to rescue them. “Our salvation lies in moving people out of agriculture,” he says in one speech. “We need to move people out of agriculture by giving them gainful employment in non-agricultural sectors,” he says in another. He says it whenever he talks of agriculture. His alter ego, Montek Singh Ahl¬uwalia, echoes it whenever he can. Whether agriculture is a marshland or a Garden of Eden – and how it came to be so – is another thing. First, Dr Singh, we need to ask where you will take the evacuees.

Your government departments and public enterprises are cutting down on staff. Private companies are buying technologies to replace labour. Traditional industries, such as the glassware industry of Firozabad and the shoemaking industry of Agra, where labourers’ hands and not machines produced goods, are devastated with the opening of international trade and inundation with foreign brands. Artisan industries are closing down because of growing consumer preference for the machine-finished quality of goods from big cities. Companies are not investing their surpluses in rural manufacturing, saying Manmohan Singh must first create infrastructure. Manmohan says his government has no money; only private capital can do it.

So, you see, the country is in a fix. Seventy per cent of Indians, who live in villages, are in a fix. And that makes more than 80 crore farmers, labourers, artisans…men, women and children. Where do you want to take them? You say there is no food in the villages; food is in the towns. But how will you feed them? How will you house people from six lakh villages in 8,000 towns? How will you guarantee that they will not have to live in cramped, disease-breeding slums with open drains and no toilets? How will you ensure that they get tap water and electricity? Will they have public transport? If you can’t ensure all that, why are you moving them out of the villages in the first place? Why are you playing host in a royal Indian wedding when you have no food, accommodation, comfortable transport and no fans and lights to offer to the baraatis?

Messrs Manmohan Singh and Montek Ahluwalia, you have already humiliated them enough. By saying that they are trapped in a marshland, you have made them feel there is disgrace in being a farmer. They have come to believe agriculture is an accursed occupation. They feel they have brought themselves greater disgrace by reproducing more. You are shrewd enough not to betray your Malthusian humour, but when you say the proportion of our population dependent on agriculture is very high and unsustainable, your attitude towards them barely remains secret. But is overpopulation really why they are in the bog? Are you not to blame?

The nation has benefited more from farmers than farmers have from the nation. The nation has used them as horses to gallop to the goal of food self-sufficiency, to come out of the crippling shame of the ship-to-mouth days. As long as the political leadership was assured of enough food in the stocks, they were not bothered how the farmers were producing more and more. The consequences are there for everyone to see in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. This was a region consciously selected by the national leadership for cruising to self-sufficiency because it was well-endowed with fertile soil, irrigation and robust husbandry traditions. The natural minerals of the soil have been driven away by chemicals. So much water has been pumped by tubewells that the groundwater aquifers have shrunk. The same hybrid seeds that produced plenty are not yielding more any more. Farmers have been left in the lurch.…



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Keeping Women Safe? Gender, Online Harassment and Indian Law – By Richa Kaul Padte (Jun 29, 2013, Economic& Political Weekly)

From sexual harassment, to rape threats, to gender-based hate speech, women face disproportionate levels of abuse online. In “‘Don’t Let It Stand!’: An Exploratory Study of Women and Verbal Abuse Online in India”, research findings indicate that this is a growing issue across the world, to which women develop various strategies and responses. However, research also shows that these strategies very rarely include the law. This article asks how and to what extent can the law in India help?

For many women living in India, there are several reasons why legal recourse is an absolute last resort, or simply not a resort at all. Engagements with the police often result in women being disbelieved, or worse, blamed, for the harassment they face. Given that cyber laws are relatively new, a lack of knowledge around these provisions – on both the part of women and the police – may pose additional barriers.

In other cases, the law itself may be considered problematic. For example, the most well-known internet-related law in India is the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act (IT Act) 2008, which has been extensively criticised for making possible widespread censorship. The particular difficulties that women face online have in fact been frequently used as a justification for this law, which Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal says was created to “protect women”.

But do women feel protected? Research shows that even women who face a great deal of abuse online refrain from resorting to Section 66A, given the implications that it has for free speech. Furthermore, women’s reluctance towards and negative experiences of engaging with the law and law enforcement raises various questions around the ways in which the legal structure as a whole addresses women’s issues and their rights.

This article seeks to understand whether existing legal provisions to address verbal abuse online in India are sufficient, and begins by asking the question: how do laws in India construct women? Do they seek to empower women, or are they largely predicated on a notion of “protection”? While considering the various laws that can be drawn on to specifically address the verbal abuse of women online, the article will also put forward a number of possible alternative legal solutions, intended to serve as a starting point for further discussion.…



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