IAMC Weekly News Roundup - June 30th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – June 30th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Bhatt accuses Nanavati panel of misleading HC (Jun 25, 2014, Indian Express)

Accusing the Nanavati-Mehta Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government, of misleading the Gujarat HC on the issue related to inspection of intelligence records pertaining to the 2002 riots, suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt wrote to the Commission Monday to take appropriate measures to clarify the “misrepresentation” before the HC.

The issue pertains to a related to Bhatt’s demand to inspect some documents. On June 16, a division bench of the HC had ordered the Commission probing the 2002 riots to let Bhatt inspect at least 38 documents since the state had stated that nine of those documents had been “destroyed” by it.

But when Bhatt went to inspect the documents at the office of the Commission in Ahmedabad, the Commission did not allow him to inspect them. Accordingly, on June 18, the Commission moved a review petition before the HC, seeking to quash the June 16 order.



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Trend of intolerance towards dissent under Modi: Amnesty calls for decriminalization of free speech (Jun 27, 2014, Counterview)

In an important submission before the Law Commission of India, the Amnesty International India has insisted on the need to undertake critical legal reforms to better defend the right to free speech. Saying that this is important against the backdrop of a “growing trend of intolerance towards dissent and criticism” in the recent weeks, elucidating the submission, Amnesty’s senior policy adviser Shailesh Rai said, “Authorities have shown a worrying eagerness to arrest and detain people for the lawful exercise of their constitutional rights to free speech, especially when it concerns the new Prime Minister.”

Giving reasons for the submission, Rai said, “In May 2014, police in Bangalore arrested a man for sending a photograph on his phone depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a funeral pyre. The same month, police in Panaji, Goa filed a First Information Report against a man who said in an online post that if Narendra Modi came to power, it would lead to a holocaust.”

Rai added, “In both cases, police relied partly on section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which criminalises online communication that is ‘grossly offensive’, and persistent sending of information known by the sender to be false, to cause ‘annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will”.

Rai further said, “In June, police arrested students and staff at a college in Kunnamkulam, Kerala, over an article that featured the Prime Minister in a list of ‘negative faces’ in a college magazine. The next week, police in Guruvayur, Kerala arrested students and staff at a different college over a crossword puzzle that used derogatory language to refer to the Prime Minister and other political leaders.In both cases, the police said that the expressions amounted to criminal defamation, among other offences”.

“While these expressions may be offensive to some, they certainly do not merit arrests and criminal cases,” said Rai, adding, “Unfortunately, some Indian laws, including those on defamation and online speech, fall short of international standards on freedom of expression and enable the criminalizing of opinion. The government must act to urgently amend these laws.” Amnesty’s submission follows the Law Commission of India’s request for comments in May 2014 on a consultation paper on aspects of media laws. …



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Days after he pulled up Amit Shah, CBI judge shifted (Jun 26, 2014, Indian Express)

Days after special CBI judge J T Utpat pulled up BJP general secretary Amit Shah for failing to make an appearance before the court hearing the case pertaining to the alleged fake encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati in Gujarat in December 2006, the judge received his transfer order on Wednesday.

Sessions judge Utpat, who was transferred to Pune, has been replaced by judge B H Loya. The transfer order came on the day the special CBI court was expected to pass an order on the discharge application filed by Shah, a close aide of prime minister Narendra Modi and one of the key accused in the alleged fake encounter case.

When contacted, Utpat declined to comment. Registrar general of the Bombay High Court Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi told The Indian Express that the High Court had acceded to a request made by Utpat towards the end of May or early June.

“He had made a representation to the High Court for a transfer to Pune because of his daughter’s education. We often get such requests from judicial officers who seek transfers because of personal or family reasons,” Joshi said. She said apart from Utpat, three other judges had also been transferred.



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Gopal Subramanium opts out, attacks Narendra Modi government, cites Amit Shah case (Jun 25, 2014, Financial Express)

Eminent lawyer Gopal Subramanium today opted out of being considered for appointment as Supreme Court judge after lashing out at the Narendra Modi government accusing it of ordering CBI to “scrounge” for “dirt” against him to scuttle his elevation. Subramanium, who had assisted the Supreme Court in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in which Amit Shah, a close aide of Prime Minister Narender Modi is now an accused, said that he was being “targeted” because of his independence and integrity.

He suggested that his role as amicus curiae, a friend of the court, in the Sohrabuddin case, could have been the reason for government opposing his elevation, although he had no direct evidence. Subramanium, a former Solicitor General, sent a 9-page letter to the Chief Justice of India R M Lodhawithdrawing his consent to be appointed as a judgesaying that he did not want his elevation to be “the subject matter of any politicisation”.

His name had been recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court bench by its collegium along with three others, Chief Justices of Calcutta and Odisha High Courts Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goyal respectively and senior advocate Rohinton Nariman. Recent reports have suggested the NDA government’s reluctance to Subramanium’s appointment while it is said to have cleared the other three names. The CBI and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) are said to have given adverse reports against him.

Subramanium said that he had been informed by the Chief Justice on May 15 that he had been given a clean chit by both IB and CBI.But in the past two weeks media reports had spoken about alleged adverse reports against him by the two agencies. The events of the past few weeks “have raised serious doubts in my mind as to the ability of the executive government to appreciate and respect the independence, integrity, and the glory of the judicial institution”, he wrote to the Chief Justice, adding, “I do not expect this attitude to improve with time”.

He said that he had never met Modi except once when he was the Solicitor General and the former was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He had been greeted “with a measure of respect” by Modi who had invited him and his wife to Gujarat as his guests of honour although he had not availed of that hospitality. Subramanium said that he had never met Amit Shah and had only seen his photographs in newspapers recently. In the course of hearing on Shah’s bail application, he had said that his liberty should not be infringed and he may be allowed bail but asked to remain outside Gujarat. …



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Why a former minister is making BJP, RSS leaders uneasy (Jun 25, 2014, First Post)

Many senior BJP and RSS functionaries in the country find their heartbeats linked to the fate of former minister Laxmikant Sharma, once a key aide to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Sharma, now in the custody of the special task force (STF) for his pivotal role in the Professional Examination Board scam, is being treated with kid gloves while over 150 students and young professionals apprehended through a couple of days’ swoop were treated like hard core criminals. The detainees include many girls.

Sharma is expected to confront his former aide OP Shukla, who spilled the beans on Sharma’s omissions and commissions. Shukla’s confessions include details of how the former overlooked merit to promote acolyte Pankaj Trivedi as controller of PEB examinations. Sharma has alleged that three bureaucrats have framed him at the instance of a senior BJP leader. He has not elaborated. Bureaucrats are closely watching Sharma’s interrogation as more skeletons might tumble out.

The Jabalpur high court had warned it would hand the case to the CBI if STF continues to soft-pedal it. Chouhan is facing the heat after Sharma’s arrest spurred the proceedings. Sharma headed the higher education ministry during the vital period covering the scam. He quit the party on his arrest. The BJP accepted his resignation through a terse SMS.

Though Laxmikant Sharma was named among the core culprits over six months ago, the STF avoided arresting him. With his proximity to senior RSS and BJP members, Sharma wielded immense power. Many party bigwigs ate out of his hand. He even nurtured chief ministerial ambitions. …



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Rightwing groups call upon Hindus to prepare physically, spiritually to fight against Muslims (Jun 26, 2014, Daily Bhaskar)

In a move that can cause embarrassment to the Narendra Modi government, some rightwing organisations, as per reports, have intensified their efforts to expand their base in the country and called upon Hindus to “prepare themselves physically and spiritually to fight against Muslim terrorists”.

In a convention – All India Hindu Convention – being organised under the banner of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti at Ponda in Goa, around 125 organisations from India and abroad (as claimed by organisers) are set to give a “call for establishment of India as a Hindu nation”, an ideal “long abandoned by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)”,Business Standard reported.

“To think that the recent change of power at the centre is conducive for the establishment of the Hindu Nation is a delusion, because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the offspring of the RSS, which distances itself from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Swatantryaveer Savarkar, will never take up the mission of the Hindu nation. The struggle for the liberation of the Hindus that commenced in the year 711 is not yet over,” the report quotes Charudatta Pingale, national guide of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, as saying.

“A time has come for Hindus to restart the freedom struggle with the same old exceptional will-power and unmatched bravery to protect our self-respect and seats of pride. Mind you, the Hindu Nation is not going to be established through the ballot, it will simply be the culmination of a battle; and hence, Hindu sects and organisations have to blow the bugle for the second freedom struggle,” he added.

According to the report, Advocate Harishankar Jain, who is fighting Ayodhya’s Ram temple case in the Supreme Court, told the gathering, “This is the ideal time to make our country a Hindu nation. It is time to implement the slogan ‘Jo Hindu hit ki bat karega, vahi desh pe raj karega’ (Whoever talks about the welfare of the Hindus will rule the nation).” …



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National Commission for Minorities expresses concern over “delay” in arrest of Muzaffarnagar riots accused (Jun 28, 2014, IBN)

The National Commission for Minorities on Saturday expressed concern over the “delay” in arrest of accused in Muzaffarnagar riot cases, but said it was satisfied with the relief works in the affected areas.

Chairman of the Commission Naseem Ahmad on Saturday held a meeting here with district magistrates and district police chiefs of riot-affected districts of Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Saharanpur and Baghpat to review the progress of relief and rehabilitation works.

“Even after more than nine months of the riots, all the accused have not been arrested,” Ahmad said while talking to reporters after the meeting. “Though some accused have been arrested in several cases related to the riots, the Commission is not satisfied with the delay in the arrest of all the accused,” he said.

“The Special Investigation Team (SIT) and court have initiated attachment proceedings against people who were found involved in the riot cases by the SIT, but they have not been arrested,” he added. …

He said he has directed officials to take prompt action to gain confidence of both the communities, especially the riot-affected people. Ahmad along with a member of the Commission Farda Abdulla Khan also visited Palda village in Muzaffarnagar district. …



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Inspector suspended for Titlagarh violence (Jun 30, 2014, The Hindu)

Normalcy returned to the western Odisha town of Titlagarh a day after violence erupted over death of a person allegedly due to police torture. Heavy police bandobast was made in the tiny town to ensure that locals do not take to the streets over the issue. There was no report of any untoward incident from the town on Sunday. Prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC were also lifted from many places.

Agitating locals had set Titlagarh police station on fire and attacked police personnel after Basant Pradhan, a shop keeper, died on Saturday. Locals had alleged that victim’s health condition had deteriorated after prolonged torture by police.

To bring the situation under control, the State government has ordered a crime branch probe into the death and placed inspector-in-charge of Titlagarh and Bolangir police stations under suspension.… “The situation is under control. Fourteen platoons of police have been deployed in Titlagarh,” said Sunil Joshi, Additional Superintendent of Police of Bolangir.



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CBI files FIR against entire police station for murder, sexual assault (Jun 27, 2014, Mumbai Mirror)

The Central Bureau of Investigation late on Wednesday night filed an FIR against all policemen working in the Wadala railway police station for the alleged murder of detainee Agnelo Valdaris and sexual assault of a minor, among other charges.

This is also a rare case where alleged sexual assault perpetrated by policemen on detainees has been documented in detail in a First Information Report. While naming the 10 policemen identified by the victims, the specially constituted CBI team has also charged all the other personnel attached to the station.

The premier investigation agency has booked the policemen for murder, falsifying evidence, wrongful confinement, using force to get confession, kidnapping, unnatural sex. They have also been booked under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a minor.

The CBI action follows a strongly-worded high court order in a petition filed by Agnelo’s father Leonard Valdaris and his three friends who were also allegedly tortured in custody on the night of April 15 after they were picked up on suspicion of chain snatching. …



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Balad Kalan village clash: SFS protests cops’ ‘anti-Dalit’ action (Jun 29, 2014, Hindustan Times)

The members of Students for Society (SFS) staged a protest against the alleged police action at Balad Kalan village of Sangrur district in Punjab, at the student centre in Panjab University on Saturday. The members raised slogans claiming that police action was anti-Dalit.

SFS president Arishdeep Singh said they strongly condemned the inhumane action of the police and these incidents reflected ‘bitter realities’ of the society, where the oppressed were unable to avail of even their legal and constitutional rights.

“We demand inquiry into the incident so that erring officials can be brought to trial and strict action should be taken against the erring policemen,” he said.

Nearly 23 persons, including 11 cops, received injuries in a clash between police and members of the Dalit community in Bhawanigarh in Sangrur on Friday. The Dalits had gathered in Balad Kalan village to get auction of panchayat land, reserved for Scheduled Castes, cancelled.



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Opinions and Editorials

India’s New Prime Minister: Does He Belong To The Times? – By Graham Peebles (Jun 23, 2014, Countercurrents)

The landslide election earlier this month of Narendra Modi does not bode well for the 800 million or so Indians living in destitution, or the 120 million minority Muslims in the country, or the Adivasi (indigenous) people and Dalit groups sitting on resource-rich land in Orissa, Jharkhand and elsewhere. He may well come from a humble background, but Mr. Modi’s loyalties lie firmly with the corporations of India, not the chai wallahs working the train station at Vadnagar in Gujarat State like his father once did.

And certainly not the Adivasi families being forced from their homes to make way for multi national bulldozers, or the marginalized millions on the fringes of India’s cities living in tin shacks with no sanitation or health care, where children play alongside open sewers, and women work on mountains of refuse collecting Chinese plastics for a few rupees a day.

Modi is a far right Hindu Nationalist whose election suggests India is “entering its most sinister period since independence.” [The Guardian] Hindu nationalism is an exclusive club made up of upper-caste Hindus who form the ruling elite; it is of course closed to the devout worshipers from the lower castes. The Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) openly promotes the ideal of an India run by and for Hindus. It is “quite open about its belief in the Hindu India…where everybody else lives…as second-class citizens.” Modi’s rise to electoral stardom is a “terribly sad thing and something to be ashamed of.” [ Arundhati Roy ]

His election campaign was the most expensive ever staged in India, funded as all these political games are by the men with the money. The billionaires and millionaires, the rupee resplendent corporations that own India; her sacred putrid rivers; the forests and bauxite rich mountains; the media – print, radio, Television, the schools, hospitals and water ways. Everything of value, catalogued within the business portfolios of a tiny few, whilst the majority starve, defecate in public, are violated, exploited, ignored. Nobody knows the precise cost of the new PM’s campaign: it is estimated to have exceeded Rs. 5,000 crore – that’s about $840 million. …

Massive exposure facilitated by the corporate media that avoided asking probing questions, or ” pointing to some of the clear dishonesty in the claims made about his success in Gujarat.” [The Guardian] Such are the benefits of being in bed with the corporations. Big business rightly saw in Modi someone who would deliver all the benefits they have become used to.



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Environment, Development and Corporate Hindutva – By Archana Prasad (Jun 29, 2014, Peoples Democracy)

Almost a year before it came to power at the centre, the present minister for environment, Prakash Javadekar termed environmental clearances as a new form of “license raj.” This comment was made in the context of the slowdown of the economy and he accused the ministry of environment and forests of being a “roadblock” in the path of development.

Then, following this very line of argument, the BJP manifesto promised that it would relook into the procedures for environmental clearances and reframe the environment clearance laws in a manner so that there is no confusion and there are “transparent and time bound clearances.” This has been reiterated by the new environment minister who aims to provide clearances to 200 infrastructural projects on a priority basis – literally within the first hundred days.

His counterpart in the power and coal ministry is adding to the pressure by vocally stating that one time expansion plans for existing coal mines and power projects should get “automatic clearances.” Though this thrust is not new in this drive, it has acquired a new meaning today as the Modi government has used the rhetoric of nationalism and religious symbolism to showcase its priorities in the environment and development debate. …

Rather than studying the best way of water use for local needs along the 2500 km long banks of the Ganga, the plan aims to develop a tourist hub along the bank. This is clearly inspired by Gujarat’s Sabarmati project which displaced at least 5,000 local families and became a conduit for the sale of prime real estate to corporate developers. Not surprisingly, many eminent ecologists have termed this plan as old wine in a new bottle. The newness of this plan is precisely that it is intended to be linked with Hindutva revivalism. Hence the term being used is not river development but river rejuvenation, by which they mean restoration of the spirituality of the river, along with its purity.

From the above discussion it is clear that the environmental agenda of the Modi led BJP government is meant to serve the interests of corporate Hindutva. While regulations are being eased in the name of national economic security, the genuine issue of environmental protection is being used, in fact misused, as a cover for religious mobilisation. In this situation, compliance with and strengthening of environmental regulations can serve as a good political instrument to stop the corporate penetration in conflict ridden but natural resource rich regions.



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Mohsin Sadique’s Murder And The Solapur Jigsaw – By Siddharthya Roy (Jun 25, 2014, Countercurrents)

The murder of 28 year old computer technician Mohammad Mohsin Sadique Shaikh, on Monday the 2nd of June 2014 in Pune has been called shocking by many on more accounts than one. For one the crime was a ghastly violent one. After being severely with hockey sticks and thick wooden staves, his head was smashed in with a heavy stone to finish the job.

Secondly, despite its proximity to Mumbai which has seen repeated communal violence, the biggest one being the 1992 riots which killed many hundreds and displaced over two million people; and despite being a well known hub of extreme Hindu Right wing groups, Pune has little history of communal riots. So the hate crime enacted at around 8:30 pm in the Hadapsar area of the city, wherein two dozen odd motorbike riding people bludgeon a young man to death is a troubling exception.

But what seems to have struck people most is the sudden and unfortunate tragedy that befell a random innocent citizen. As was his daily routine Mohsin came back from work, freshened up and went for the Isha Namaz and collecting his tiffin from the mess next door was headed home for dinner with his roommates when this gang of two dozen odd men belonging to a hitherto unknown group, the eponymous Hindu Rashtra Sena, came riding on eight motorbikes and even though completely unprovoked, chose a man randomly picked out from the street and bludgeoned him to death. The randomness of the killing and the question it entails “who next?”, has been hard to digest for many. …

While it may be too early to take a call on whether there will be communal for sure, the political air in Solapur is tense. With nearly 40% Muslim voters in Solapur and the state assembly elections just round the corner, the Muslims are wary that all of these stray episodes may well be adding up to a widespread communal flare up.



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Malegaon blasts case: Political patronage of ATS investigation – By A. Mirsab (Jun 27, 2014, TwoCircles.net)

The 2006 Malegaon bombings were a series of bomb blasts that took place on September 8, 2006 in Malegaon, a town in the Nashik district of the Indian state of Maharashtra, located at some 290 km to the northeast of state capital Mumbai. The explosions – which resulted in at least 37 fatalities and 125 injuries – took place in a Muslim cemetery, adjacent to a mosque, at around 13:15 local time after Friday prayers. A stampede ensued after the devices exploded.

Though the site (a compound housing a mosque and Muslim cemetery), the date (Alvida Juma) and the time (during afternoon prayers on Friday) of the bomb blasts clearly indicated that Muslims were the target, but the ATS promptly blamed Muslim terrorists and arrested nine persons from the community. Even at that time, ATS investigation met with skepticism and disbelief by many NGOs, but the ATS explicitly ruled out the involvement of Hindu right-wing groups although there were leads suggesting Hindu radicals’ involvement in the case.

ATS investigation of implicating and blaming Muslims for the bomb blasts at a Muslim cemetery was strongly condemned by Muslim community and who called ATS investigation as illogical and against the victim which was carried out with predetermined and jaundiced perspective. …

The present case was investigated under R R Patil’s supervision and another controversial case of Pune Germany Bakery blast; for which Himayat Baig was convicted; was also investigated under his supervision. Investigations of both these cases by ATS have been blatantly rejected by central agency NIA and have termed ATS accused as innocent.

Even the case of 7/11 train blasts in Mumbai was also investigated by ATS in 2006 under full eyes of R R Patil which has also come to the stage of controversy after the alleged confessional statements given voluntarily by Indian Mujahideen suspects after their arrests by Crime branch in 2008.



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Stirring up a judicial storm – Editorial (Jun 27, 2014, The Hindu)

Gopal Subramanium might have sought to give a quietus to the controversy surrounding the NDA Government’s opposition to his nomination as a judge of the Supreme Court by withdrawing his consent, but the episode has raised troubling questions over the roles of the executive and the judiciary in judicial appointments, and the process of their interaction. In his statement, Mr. Subramanium has suggested that the reason for his exclusion from a list of four names recommended for appointment by the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India was that he was considered too independent to toe the government’s line. He has also faulted the judiciary for failing to stand up for him.

It is understandable that he should feel let down after being invited by the collegium to be a judge of the Supreme Court, in a rare instance of a member of the Bar being sought to be directly elevated to the Bench of the highest court. However, his claim that the splitting of the list by sending three of the four names to the President for appointment compromised the appointment process is debatable.

Sending a recommendation back to the collegium is part of the consultative process and there is no reason why the appointment of those about whom no issues had been raised should be held up, particularly if seniority within the list would not be affected. More serious is his allegation that his independent role as amicus curiae in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case may have been the real reason behind the Narendra Modi government’s rejection of his candidacy.

The government’s silence has not helped its case, as the nature of its reservations about Mr. Subramanium remains unknown. Now that the matter is in the public domain, it may have to clarify whether it had communicated to the collegium why it considered him unsuitable. The collegium had the option of reiterating its recommendation, a move that will be binding on the executive, but Mr. Subramanium has chosen not to wait for its decision. By voicing his “sense of unease over the judiciary failing to assert its independence,” he is actually charging the collegium with meekly acquiescing in the rejection of its own recommendation.

It implies that even a valid recommendation could be circumvented by unverifiable intelligence reports and unproven allegations in an opaque process. It also raises the question whether the present legal position that accords primacy to the Chief Justice’s opinion has goaded the executive to find other means of having its way. The present opaque procedure needs to be replaced by an appointments process that is genuinely consultative and transparent, so that the best legal brains are attracted to the bench.



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The IB Report: A Potential Threat To The Real National Interest And Security – By Sukumaran C. V. (Jun 30, 2014, Countercurrents)

The following is the first paragraph of the notorious IB report (IR/IS No. 002): “A significant number of Indian NGOs (funded by some donors based in US, UK, Germany and Netherlands) have been noticed to be using people centric issues to create an environment which lends itself to stalling development projects. These include agitations against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPPs), Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), mega industrial projects (POSCO and Vedanta), hydel projects (at Narmada Sagar; and in Arunachal Pradesh) and extractive industries (oil, limestone) in the North East. The negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3% p. a.”

If you peruse the 20 page IB report, you will feel that even if the IB is very poor in its linguistic skills, it is very rich in its unconditional support to the corporate giants that destroy the Environment and the livelihood of the vast majority of common people of this nation and are potential threats to the national security and wellbeing, if national security means the security and wellbeing of the common people.

On the 7th page of the report, the IB says that ‘Greenpeace expanded its activities to oppose Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPP) and coal mining activity… While its efforts to raise obstacles to India’s coal-based energy plans are gathering pace, it has also started spawning mass-based movements against development projects and is assessed to be posing a potential threat to national economic security.’ …

Does the IB have the intelligence to see that the words of the INSAF will turn to be prophetic if the largest democracy’s Intelligence Bureau and Government behave as if they are the advocates of the likes of CIL, VAL, Essar and POSCO that undermine the safety and security of the people of this great nation?



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