IAMC Weekly News Roundup - September 30th, 2013 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – September 30th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Communal Harmony

Post Riots, Samajwadi Party committee to strengthen communal harmony in Muzaffarnagar (Sep 29, 2013, Indian Express)

Samajwadi Party on Sunday constituted a “Sadbhavna Samiti” (harmony committee) comprising senior state ministers, in bid to strengthen communal ties after the Muzaffarnagar riots. The committee headed by Shivpal Singh Yadav was constituted by party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is keeping an eye on the developments in west Uttar Pradesh after the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, party sources said.

The committee members include – ministers Shahid Manzoor, Ramgovind Chowdhury, Ram Sakal Gurjar, Sahab Singh, Yogesh Pratap, Virendra Singh, Kamal Akhtar and Balram Yadav. The ministers have been entrusted with the task of maintaining communal harmony by talking to people and visiting their homes, sources said adding, Mulayam held a meeting with the leaders at his residence here and directed them to camp in the affected areas to generate confidence among people.

“The leaders have been asked by Mulayam to personally visit the families of victims of both sides and inform them that the government was concerned about them,” sources said. “Our party is against communalism and wants to maintain communal harmony. We will ensure that people have trust in the government by telling them it will do whatever is needed to heal their wounds,” Shahid Manzoor told reporters after coming out of the meeting.


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Criminal Charges Which Narendra Modi Faces (Sep 29, 2013, Peoples Democracy)

The Zakia Jafri criminal complaint against Narendra Modi and 59 others, supported by Citizens for Justice & Peace (CJP), Mumbai, was ordered to be investigated by the Supreme Court, first on April 27, 2009 and thereafter through subsequent orders. Zakia Jafri and the CJP have been attempting to get serious criminal charges registered and investigated since June 8, 2006. The Special Investigation team (SIT) originally asked to further investigate the major trials was assigned the task on April 27, 2009). An amicus curiae was also appointed to assist the court. The SIT, in its reports from 2010 onwards, arrived at the conclusion that while several of the allegations were found to be correct, there was not sufficient material to prosecute the accused. In stark contrast, the amicus curiae, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, looking at the same evidence collected by the SIT, came to a contrary conclusion, stating clearly that there was evidence enough to prosecute Narendra Modi.

Faced with this dilemma of two contrary assessments, the Supreme Court remanded the matter to a lower court, directing the SIT to file its final report there. The SC specifically directed that if the SIT filed a closure report, the complainants were fully within their legal rights to file a protest petition and access all investigation papers/documents. (This is a right under Indian law but was specifically outlined by the Supreme Court in its final judgement dated September 12, 2011.) Predictably, the SIT filed a closure report on February 8, 2012 and remained adamant against making investigation papers available to the complainants, in contempt o the Supreme Court order. The magistrate granted the complainant her right to the investigation papers on April 10, 2012, but it took Zakia Jafri and the CJP another year to access all the investigation reports of the SIT submitted to the Supreme Court. The SC directed this on February 7, 2013, after which the protest petition was filed on April 15, 2013. From June 24 to August 29, 2013, rigorous arguments in support of the Zakia Jafri protest petition were made before Judge Ganatra, the 11th metropolitan magistrate of Ahmedabad. The final day of arguments on behalf of the complainant took place on September 18, 2013. Detailed written submissions on legal and factual aspects were submitted to the court on that day. Now the judgement of the magistrate is awaited.

Fifteen Serious Charges Against Narendra Modi: 1) Wilfully ignoring messages from state intelligence about the violent repercussions of the RSS-VHP called ‘Mahayajna’ before the tragic Godhra incident on February 27, 2002 and deliberately not initiating precautionary measures that are imperative under standard operational procedure; messages from February 7, 2002 to February 25, 2002, including specific ones that stated that batches of 2,800 and 1,900 karsevaks had left for Faizabad-Ayodhya and had been behaving provocatively and aggressively against minorities on the way. As cabinet minister for home and chief minister, he is directly responsible. MOS home Gordhan Zadaphiya is a constant co-conspirator.

2) Deliberately concealing knowledge of the provocative, anti-Muslim sloganeering by karsevaks at the Godhra station when the Sabarmati Express reached five hours late on February 27, 2002, which information had been sent to him directly by DM/Collector Jayanti Ravi and wilfully failing to take stern action and allowing violent incidents to escalate after the train left Godhra by about 1.15 p m, especially at Vadodara station where a Muslim was attacked and killed, and at Anand where the train stopped, hereafter ensuring that the state allowed a hate-filled and threatening atmosphere against Muslims build right up to Ahmedabad where the train finally reached around 4 p m and where bloodthirsty slogans were being shouted. FIRs in 19 brutal incidents against Muslims are recorded on February 27, 2002 in Ahmedabad itself. Curfew was not imposed despite these incidents resulting in deaths breaking out.

3) Conspiring with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to plot and allow reprisal killings all over Gujarat. The first phone call that Modi makes after DM Ravi’s fax reaches him is, not to appeal for peace and calm, but phone secretary VHP, Gujarat, Dr Jaideep Patel and direct him to Godhra. The conspiracy between Modi and the VHP is hatched and unfurled to cynically ensure statewide reprisal killings. Phone call records show these phone calls between PA to Modi, A P Patel and Jaideep Patel immediately after the chief minister receives news of the Godhra tragedy. Phone call records made available by Rahul Sharma (IPS, Gujarat) also show that the powerful accused were in touch with the chief minister’s office (CMO) and the landline numbers of the chief minister. …



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Caught on tape: Praful Patel admits influencing Ishrat probe, CBI likely to grill Narendra Modi for inspiring, guiding and monitoring every police action (Sep 25, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

The role of then minister of state for home Praful Patel is under scanner for trying to influence the probe in the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others in 2004. According to a Tehelka report, Praful Patel is heard saying (in a sting audio) that he had tried to influence a police officer investigating the encounter killing to go easy on the police officers involved in it. Patel was then a key aide to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. “I had called up (investigating police officer) Satish Verma to my house despite knowing the dangers of it,” the then Minister of State for Home Praful Patel is heard saying during the secret conversation in a closed-door meeting of confidantes on 19 November 2011. The audio conversation was secretly recorded by police officer GL Singhal who is now an accused in the case.

“I had spoken to him (Verma) for more than four hours and had told him to help these 18 persons (who were involved in the encounter),” Tehelka quotes Praful Patel as saying in the audio tapes. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has submitted these tapes to the trial court in a sealed envelope. Apart from Praful Patel and GL Singhal, the participants of the closed-door meeting included Gujarat Advocate-General Kamal Trivedi; senior IAS officer and Modi confidante GC Murmu; Singhal’s lawyer Rohit Verma; then minister of state for law Pradipsinh Jadeja, another accused police officer Tarun Barot and the then Ahmedabad Crime Branch joint commissioner AK Sharma, reports Tehelka. In the meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday questioned Praful Patel in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The questioning, being conducted in Gandhinagar, pertains to the alleged meeting held in November 2011 to decide the strategy “to obstruct the investigation”.

On Monday, the CBI had questioned Pradeepsinh Jadeja in the case. Last week, CBI grilled Murmu, secretary to chief minister Narendra Modi, and Crime Branch Joint Commissioner A K Sharma, pertaining to the meeting held in November 2011. The agency also grilled suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara last week regarding his resignation letter in which he had hit out at Modi government for failing to protect the jailed police officers with regard to fake encounter cases. Senior BJP leader Amit Shah, a close aide of Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidateNarendra Modi, may also be questioned this week in wake of Vanzara’s claims that Gujarat government was “inspiring, guiding and monitoring” every police action from “very close quarters”.

CBI has named Singhal, Vanzara, suspended IPS officers PP Pandey and Tarun Barot, N K Amin, retired DSP J G Parmar and commando Anaju Chaudhary in the chargesheet, accusing them of murder and criminal conspiracy with regard to the encounter killing of 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004. CBI’s probe in the case was still on, it had said when filing the chargesheet in July 2013.



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CBI grills BJP Rajya Sabha MPs Prakash Javadekar and Bhupendra Yadav over fake encounter case (Sep 27, 2013, Economic Times)

CBI on Friday questioned BJP Rajya Sabha MPs Prakash Javadekar and Bhupendra Yadav in connection with a video tape in which they were allegedly seen discussing ways to weaken case against Narendra Modi’s aide Amit Shah by influencing the mother of a victim of an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat. CBI sources said Singh was quizzed early this morning, while Javadekar arrived at 1.45 PM at the agency headquarters for questioning. “I believe in the legal processes. CBI has called me today so I have appeared here,” Javadekar told reporters.

CBI has also summoned party general secretary Ramlal who also figured in the sting operation relating to the Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter case conducted by an independent journalist. The three leaders had refuted the charge and maintained that they are innocent. In the sting operation, the leaders are purportedly shown discussing how Prajapati’s mother Narmadabai can be convinced to change her Vakalatnama. She has filed a case alleging her son was killed in a fake encounter in which BJP general secretary Amit Shah is an accused.

However, BJP has claimed there is nothing “incriminating” against the three leaders in the sting operation. Prajapati, who was allegedly a witness to Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s murder, was killed on December 2006–a year after Sheikh was shot dead in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat. The journalist, who conducted the sting operation, had alleged that senior BJP leaders managed to get undated blank ‘Vakalatnamas’ from Narmadabai to allegedly subvert the judicial proceedings.



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Muzaffarnagar Riot: Proof against Narendra Modi’s aide Amit Shah? (Sep 24, 2013, Oneindia.in)

Two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one BSP leader have been arrested over Muzaffarnagar riot case. Uttar Pradesh Police claim that more arrests would take place in near future. Meanwhile, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav claimed that they have received ample evidence against Narendra Modi’s close aide Amit Shah who has been accused of stoking communal divide. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Akhilesh reportedly claimed that BJP leaders including Shah had ignited communal violence by addressing several sensitive issues in the state.

Shah, former Gujarat home minister, is BJP’s General Secretary in-charge in Uttar Pradesh. During the interview with the TV channel, the UP CM also raised some questions asking, “In Jhansi, there was a temple where Hindus and Muslims were living together since independence. Then why did BJP raise the issue of temple in the area?” The young UP CM also asserted, “Since I joined politics, I wear a cap. If people give me a cap, I wear it. The Samajwadi Party is working for the development of the people.”

Earlier BJP President Rajnath Singh, who recently cancelled his visit to riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and adjoining area following an appeal from the state administration, blamed Samajwadi Party for the violence in the area. Whenever the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes to power, “a series of communal riots begin in Uttar Pradesh”, said Rajnath on Saturday, Sept 21. “If we see the history of riots, then we can see that whenever the Samajwadi Party (SP) comes to power, a series of communal riots begin in Uttar Pradesh,” added Singh. More than 40 people were killed and many were injured as communal violence broke out in the sensitive region of the state. BJP leader Sangeet Som, who has been arrested, was accused of igniting violence circulating a fake controversial video.



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Riots in Muzaffarnagar institutionalized, police complicit: JNUSU Report (Sep 29, 2013, Twocircles.net)

A fact finding report by Jawaharlal University Students’ Union (JNUSU) has alleged that the riot was preplanned and institutionalized with the complicity of the police. The JNUSU fact finding team visited Muzaffarnagar and its surrounding riot affected villages on September 21 and 22 with “the objective of presenting a clear and categorical report of the riots and to consider ways in which the JNUSU and wider society can intervene in this situation.” The team comprised 10 members- JNUSU President Akbar Chaudary, Vice President Anubhuti Agnes Bara, Abdul Matin, Chetan, Shadab, Hina Goswami, Fakruzzaman, Alvi, Imtiaz.

They pointed out that the bewildered Muslims of Kawaal are unable to reconcile shrill accusations of being the beneficiaries of “appeasement” by the Samajwadi Party, with their everyday reality of living in their own villages under the protection of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). Highlighting the sinister vitiating of atmosphere by the VHP, which tried to resurrect the old bogey of “love jihad” which it has earlier tried unsuccessfully in Kerala. “It has tried to play upon the patriarchal common sense that women, especially young girls are vulnerable, and easily beguiled by Muslim youth, who, rather conveniently, being unemployed have all the time,” the report pointed out.

Despite the hype, one police officer that the fact finding team spoke to in the thana Shahpur said that the actual number of complaints filed of sexual harassment were not in proportion with this perception of an all-out attempt to harass Jat women, it further added. While it is clear that the incident at Kawaal merely provided a pretext for political entrepreneurs from all sides to fish in troubled waters the local police is yet to conclude its investigation into the killings two weeks after they happened. What is worse the police have not even come up with its version of events based on the current stage of the investigation.

The report has also questioned the role of the political parties, including BSP, SP and BJP for “fishing in troubled water.” Given that Muslim victims have chosen other villages with a substantial Muslim population, and with prospects of returning to their villages a process of ‘forced ghettoization’ is under way, the report further observed. JNUSU has demanded that the Anti-Communal Violence Bill be tabled immediately in the Parliament and that “mixed police stations” are promoted, besides fixing clear accountability in riot cases.…



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Charges framed against Aseemanand, 6 others in Ajmer blast case (Sep 26, 2013, The Hindu)

A special court for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) cases here has framed charges against seven persons accused of carrying out a blast in the Ajmer dargah in October 2007, even as one of the accused has blamed Congress leaders for pressuring him to implicate senior RSS functionaries in the case. The court framed charges against Swami Aseemanand, a key figure in the Hindutva terror network, and his six alleged accomplices under the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosives Act on Tuesday. They have been charged with carrying and planting bombs and exploding them, murdering people, spreading communal hatred and hatching conspiracy.

Besides Swami Aseemanand, the accused are Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Chandrashekhar Leve, Harshad Solanki, Mukesh Vasani and Bharat Mohan Rateshwar. All of them are in judicial custody. The charges against three others – Bhavesh Patel, Ramesh and Mehul Kumar – are yet to be framed, while two are at large. The court has fixed October 3 as the next date of hearing. Two First Information Reports were initially registered in Ajmer in 2007. The investigation was transferred to the NIA in 2011. The NIA filed a charge sheet against Swami Aseemanand in July 2011, describing him as the mastermind of the blast. The explosion in the dargah of Sufi mystic Khwaja Moinddin Chishti on October 11, 2007, during Ramzan, left three persons dead and 17 injured. The dargah was packed to capacity with 5,000 devotees when the blast occurred.

Bhavesh Patel has created ripples in the political circles with his letter to the NIA court, accusing some UPA Ministers and Congress leaders of pressuring him to name RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and his close aide Indresh Kumar as being complicit in the crime. The letter, a copy of which is with The Hindu, was sent to the court through Sawai Man Singh Hospital, where Bhavesh was admitted after his health deteriorated while he was observing a hunger strike in jail. The court received the letter in a sealed cover, which was opened on Monday. Bhavesh was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday morning. After going through the contents of the letter, the court has summoned Bhavesh for a hearing on Thursday, when his statement is likely be recorded. Counsel for Bhavesh B.S. Chauhan said he was shifted from the Jaipur Central Jail to Alwar without any court order, and the NIA’s Investigating Officer had questioned him several times during his judicial custody without the court’s permission.

Bhavesh has accused Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, his deputy R.P.N. Singh, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, Investigating Officer Vishal Garg and NIA Inspector-General Sanjeev Kumar of exploiting him for implicating Mr. Bhagwat and other RSS functionaries in the case. Bhavesh alleged in the letter that Acharya Pramod Krishnan of Moradabad had arranged several meetings for him with the Congress leaders, and Mr. Shinde asked him at one of the meetings in Delhi to name the RSS leaders. “When you [Bhavesh] are brought to the court, you have to name Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar and you have to say you engineered the blast [in the dargah] as per their directions,” the letter quoted Mr. Shinde as saying.

The letter claimed that Bhavesh met Mr. Digvijay Singh, Mr. R.P.N. Singh and Mr. Jaiswal at different points of time and all of them told him that his case would be solved if he followed their instructions to frame the RSS functionaries. Bhavesh has demanded protection for him and his family because of his revelation. His letter also demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter and urgent action against the Congress politicians and NIA officers.



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Ensure no innocent Muslim is detained in terror cases: Shinde to CMs (Sep 30, 2013, IBN)

Union Home Minister Sushil Shinde has written a letter to all chief ministers on the issue of wrongful detention of Muslim youngsters in terror cases. Shinde’s letter states that a number of cases have come to light which shows members of Muslim community have been wrongly picked up by police in terror cases. Interestingly Shinde has refused to intervene in the Pune German Bakery blast case in which Himayat Baig is one of the accused even after Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal claimed Baig was not involved in the terror strike. …

Shinde’s letter says Centre has received several representations on alleged harassment of innocent Muslim youngsters by law enforcement agencies. “Some of the minority youth have started feeling that they are deliberately targeted and deprived their basis rights. The government has to ensure that no innocent person is subjected to undue harassment,” he wrote. The Home Minister emphasised that the government is committed to its core principle of combating terrorism in every form and manifestation.

Shinde asked the state governments to constitute special courts in consultation with concerned High Courts for trial of terror-related cases, appoint special public prosecutors for trial of these cases and give priority to terror cases over other pending cases. The Home Minister said law enforcement agencies should be satisfied with regard to communal and social harmony while ensuring zero tolerance for terrorism.



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Accused seeks fresh probe into 13/7 blasts (Oct 1, 2013, Indian Express)

Claiming that the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has wrongly implicated him, an accused in the July 13, 2011 Mumbai triple blasts case has written to the President and the Prime Minister seeking a reprobe in the case. Nadeem Akhtar, then a college student, was picked up in connection with the blasts that killed 27 persons. In the letter, the 25-year-old has sought a probe by the National Investigation Agency.

Lodged at Arthur Road prison in Mumbai, Akhtar has claimed in his letter that he was initially asked to cooperate with Delhi Police Special Cell officers in finding a person named Imran. Akhtar claimed that he and his relative Naquee Ahmed, also an accused in the case, extended full cooperation to the police. However, in January 2012, the ATS arrested them, he wrote.

In the letter dispatched on September 24, Akhtar has claimed that he is ready to undergo polygraph test to prove his innocence. Quoting media reports, Akhtar claimed that the NIA should probe claims made by IM operative Yasin Bhatkal allegedly taking responsibility for the blasts. In his letter, Akhtar has also alleged that his confession was taken under duress. “In police custody, ATS officers brutally tortured me and forcefully took my signatures on blank papers,” he wrote.



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Fodder scam: Lalu Prasad Yadav, 44 others convicted; RJD chief can’t fight polls (Sep 30, 2013, Indian Express)

In a body blow to RJD before next year’s Lok Sabha polls, its President Lalu Prasad was on Monday convicted by a special CBI court here in the fodder scam corruption case that disqualifies him from Parliament and renders him ineligible for contesting elections for at least six years. Another 44 accused, including former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra, six politicians and four IAS officers, were also convicted by court of Pravas Kumar Singh for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury. The court fixed October three for pronouncement of sentence against Yadav, Mishra and others. The RJD chief was taken to the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi after being convicted by the court.

The RJD chief faces immediate disqualification as Lok Sabha member under a recent Supreme Court order that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more and under some other laws even without jail sentence. The August judgement of the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the electoral law that provided protection to sitting MPs and MLAs by allowing them to continue in their posts if they appeal against a lower court conviction and secure a stay of the order. Lalu would have got protection from disqualification if the ordinance promulgated by the Centre was cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee but he is said to have some reservations and raised questions over it.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi has compounded problems by attacking the ordinance and calling for its withdrawal, virtually sealing its fate. RJD Spokesperson Manoj Jha said they would challenge the order in a higher court after the sentence is known. Earlier, Prasad arrived at the special CBI court here before delivery of the verdict in the 17-year-old case. The court had on September 17 set today’s date to pass orders in the case. Among others, IAS officers Mahesh Prasad, Phoolchand Singh, Beck Juleus, K Arumugam, Income Tax officer A C Choudhary, former AHD officials and fodder suppliers were also among the accused.

Prasad had begun arguments on September 9 and ended it on September 17 after the Supreme Court turned down his request to change the current special court to another court after he apprehended political conspiracy. Following the Animal Husbandry scam, popularly known as the Fodder Scam, Prasad had to resign as chief minister of Bihar. After installing his wife Rabri Devi as the chief minister, Yadav had surrendered to a court in Patna on July 31, 1997. Later, he came to Ranchi following a court order that Ranchi had the jurisdiction of the case. The Mecon Guest House was converted to a camp jail in Ranchi before he was shifted to the old Birsa Munda Jail at Circular road here. After Jharkhand’s bifurcation on November 15, 2000, the litigations were brought before the Supreme Court whether the Patna High Court had the jurisdiction on the cases in this part of the undivided Bihar and trial was stayed till December 2000 to December 2001.

The SC had said in November, 2001 that trial would be conducted by special courts in Ranchi. Trial in Ranchi began in March, 2002 by seven special courts. The case was posted for defence of Prasad from May 15 and Prasad’s counsel examined 29 witnesses in his defence. But when the defence continued to skip dates, the court fixed July 15 to deliver the judgement and asked the accused to complete arguments by July 1. Subsequently, Prasad moved the Supreme Court pleading shifting of his case from the court of Pravas Kumar Singh on the ground of political conspiracy, which the apex court struck down, paving the way for the first judgement against Prasad.



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SHOCKING: ‘Brahmakumari’ raped for four years at Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya in Patna (Sep 24, 2013, Daily Bhaskar)

Country’s one of the most well-known “Godly University”, which offers courses that focus on the benefits of moral and spiritual approaches to life was defamed on Monday. In a shocking incident, a 22-year-old spiritual leader Brahma kumari was allegedly raped for four years by a sewak on the pretext of marriage at the famous Brahmakumaris Ishwariya Vishwavidyalaya here. Sewak Lallan has been accused of raping the spiritual leader. The shameful incident came to light on Monday when the victim along with members of Prem Youth organisation reached Mahila Police station and reported the matter.

The victim alleged that she was not the only Brahmakumari to have faced the sexual assault, but there were also many other, who were going through the shameful act. Moreover, the brahmakumari was also threatened of dire consequences by the sewak. She informed that she had reported about the matter to Brahmakumari Anju, who heads the Fatuha located University but to no avail. Whereas, Brahmakumari rubbished the allegations on Monday. “All the allegations are false,” adding, “The 22-year old was accused of misconduct and expelled from the University sometime back.”

Notably, Brahmakumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU) is a well known spiritual value based educational institution that has gained global acceptance and unique international recognition. One of the most famous faces of Brahmakumari sisters, “Brahmakumari Shivani” has given many speeches about ‘Art of Joyful Living’ at several reputed institutes including the Indian Institute of Management (IIM).



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Opinions and Editorials

When Modi deciphers Gandhi – By FPJ Bureau (Sep 27, 2013, Free Press Journal)

One of the qualities of the Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, that endears him to his loyal fan following is the panache with which he delivers the punchline in his speeches. In his quest for the prime minister’s post, he has discovered that he cannot get this coveted prize unless he finishes the Congress Party. So, he exhorts his followers to create an India that is free of it. For those who are believers in his credo, this is an endearing thought. In one of his customary oratorical flourishes, he has drawn a link between a concept enunciated by the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi at the time of Independence in 1947 to his current quest for power. Let us refresh our memory about the father of nation’s idea. He had said: “Though split into two, India having attained political independence through means provided by the Indian National Congress, the Congress, in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine, has outlived its use. India has still to attain social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages as distinguished from its cities and towns. The struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power is bound to take place in India’s progress towards its democratic goal. It must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies. For these and other similar reasons, the A. I. C .C. resolves to disband the existing Congress organization and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh under the following rules, with power to alter them as occasion may demand.”

Now we can be generous and excuse the Gujarat chief minister if he has not gone into the fine print of this statement, and has simply latched on to the idea that the Congress had outlived its use in 1947. Putting two and two together, he has cleverly envisioned that if something was not done in the wake of Independence, then in a spirit of the cliché better late then never, it would be good to achieve the ‘ Gandhian goal to finish the Congress,’ now and by that logic, help him realise his dream of becoming the prime minister. We can see that Modi has used his old trick to introduce this connection between his unabashed personal desire to be the prime minister with a 63-year-old Gandhian goal. This is a well-practised technique. Much in the same way he used to tell his Gujarat audiences in 2002 that if he won, they would celebrate, and if he lost, then Mian Musharraf would be celebrating. This clearly skips the reality. Neither was Musharraf a factor in the Gujarat elections, nor is the late Mahatma Gandhi much of a revered figure for the Sangh Parivar that they should mourn for his unfulfilled dream. After all, this was not the only dream the father of nation had, which has remained unfulfilled.

But this distortion is not the only problem when Modi deciphers Gandhi for us. All of us have lofty, impractical ideas that we keep expressing. The beauty of the Mahatma was that he was a prolific writer and most of his thoughts have survived in the collected works. He used to think aloud, and this idea that the Congress should disband itself and transform into a Lok Sevak Sangh to ensure that “the struggle for the ascendancy of civil over military power ….India’s progress towards its democratic goal… must be kept out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies” makes it clear that the nature of the party’s basic commitments was not to change. But when Modi talks of a Congress free- India, he is clearly rooting for dictatorship. He is trying to sell a dream that should he emerge victorious in the 2014 elections, as his convinced supporters tell us, then there would be no opposition party. He carefully chooses his words, he is making it clear from the roooftops that he wants a Congress free-India. He is not suggesting or asking the people to merely defeat the Congress in the polls, but he is exhorting his supporters to ‘finish the Congress’. He is actually talking of the end of democracy through a ballot, and this is essential fascism.

It would be injurious to our democratic health, if we condone this excess as a mere election rhetoric. There are enough indicators in Modi’s track record to assess the ruthless manner with which he deals with his political opponents. Indeed, there is a long list of persons who have suffered thus at his hands in Gujarat. Besides, this approach is completely in sync with the political approach of the Sangh Parivar that has pushed for his propulsion to the national centrestage. It is not for nothing that the Sangh is described as fascist and fundamentalist. Interestingly, democratic elections have been held in this country for the last six decades. The Congress has been one of the major parties that has been in the fray right from the first general elections. No one, including some of its fiercest opponents like the socialists Ram Manohar Lohia and George Fernandes have ever used these expressions in their anti-Congress discourse. This is because they were all anti-Congress, but they were all committed to the values of democracy.

The delicacy of the language is the essence of democratic discourse. You have every right to be critical, but then there is no need to be inimical or venomous. The problem when Modi deciphers Gandhi is that the soul of the discourse is not in the decoding process. When Gandhi wanted the Congress to disband, he was setting a higher purpose for it, but when Modi seks the same goal, he is guided by narrow personal goals of political power. Gandhi wanted the Congress to shun power for a higher goal, but with Modi it is quite the opposite. This is something that reminds one about the devil quoting the scripture.



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“Mini Gujarat” in and around Muzaffarnagar – By Zafarul-Islam Khan (Sep 27, 2013, Milli Gazette)

Uttar Pradesh saw over 200 small and big communal riots since Samajwadi Party came to power in February last year. The UP government itself conceded on the floor of the state assembly that 27 serious riots have taken place since it came to power. The riot party is well-known. Their weapons too are well-known: lies and rumour-mongering, now made much more easy with electronic gadgets. With the huge network of its parent organisation and innumerable allied outfits, it has learnt how to win elections: create a riot, polarise voters and win elections. They have been doing this since its former supremo LK Advani discovered the Ram Mandir issue and periodically played Holi with Muslim blood, during his rath yatras, which started in September 1990, after the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992 and moved on to the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 which enjoyed his support crucial for Modi to retain his post.

The plan for UP was clear when the notorious Amit Shah, out on bail now, was shamelessly appointed as the party in-charge in India’s most populous state. It was understood that the veteran of Gujarat pogrom and fake encounters would unleash the weapons he knows best. Preparations had been afoot to foment big communal flareups in various parts of Uttar Pradesh ahead of the general elections early next year. In western UP, which has a strong Muslim presence, work was on in earnest. The area has always been an eyesore for the Hindutvadis. They had tried and failed to cleanse this area even in 1947. Posters of Modi appeared in villages, slogans of “Modi zindabad,” “Modi lao, desh bachao” were frequently raised. Meetings of BJP supporters were being held for weeks. A spark was needed for a big explosion. A collision of motocycles in Kawal village on 27 August led to a heated argument.

Later, one party came back with its supporters and killed the other motor-cyclist (who happened to be a Muslim). Now relatives and supporters of the slain youth killed two youth of the other party who happened to be Hindus (Sachin and Gaurav). It was a clear case of murder and people responsible from both sides should have been arrested and legal formalities started against them. The administration failed to take this logical and necessary step. Instead, it clamped prohibitory orders (Section 144) on the district but did nothing else. During these prohibitory orders, mammoth meetings continued including the three “mahapanchayats” of Jats whose passions were aroused by concocting a story that the Muslim youth slain was in fact teasing a “Hindu” girl who was related to the slain Hindu boys. The girl herself, who lives in a hostel in Lucknow, later denied the story and said she never knew of any such person. But the passions were aroused in the name of Jat honour and hundreds of thousands from across three districts were mobilised through the mahapanchayats while the administration sat idle.

All kinds of inflammatory speeches were delivered by BJP MLAs and leaders and latest gadgets apps were used to spread rumours. The last of the three “mahapanchayats” was held at Nagla Mandaur on 7 September. Some Jats on their way to that mammoth gathering taunted some Muslims, a clash occurred at Ganga canal and a few from both sides were killed (four Muslims and three Hindus, according to Prof Vipin Tripathy of IIT Delhi who visited the place soon after the incident). A Muslim woman was wounded and another Muslim was killed on that day by the Jats. Weapons were brought in from neighbouring areas and distributed among Jats. The violence started in earnest the same night. Muslim houses were attacked in a number of villages like Phugana, Kutba, Laakh, Lasaadh and Batawdi. Many kept the attackers at bay during the night using bricks and barricading themselves. They kept phoning the police but no one came.

Uprooted people told us that the police instead abused them on the phone and told them to defend themselves on their own as this was going to be the norm from then on. Many houses were burnt that night but some with heavy iron gates withstood the attack and people took refuge there. Attackers were both locals as well as outsiders who killed males, raped women and girls, stripped them naked and made them dance. Many girls were kidnapped and at least two dozen remain untraceable according to the refugees. The initial list of the Muslims killed was 48 which later rose to 64 but survivors in the relief camps we visited told us that over two hundred had been killed. Bodies of most of them were burnt in the fires of their own homes torched by the rioters who brought petrol and kerosene cans with them.…



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Hyderabad’s Fall And Sunderlal Report – By Syed Ali Mujtaba (Sep 29, 2013, Countercurrents)

There are so many facts that the successive Indian government has hidden from its citizens and one such is the publication of the Sunderlal report that probed the Hyderabad communal flare up, soon after the military action against India’s largest Muslim Princely state in 1948. The report that has been kept in wraps, chronicles the horrendous crime committed against humanity in the aftermath of the amalgamation of the Princely state with the Indian dominion. More than 40,000 people perished in that act of retribution and revenge. The report that was commissioned by the government of India was considered to be so sensitive and inflammable that it was kept under lock and keys and was never brought to the public domain. Now almost Sixty Five years after its submission, the report is available at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, as part of declassified document.

The State of Hyderabad was one of 500 Princely states of India that enjoyed autonomy under the British rule. At the time independence, all of the Princely states agreed to join the Indian Union, except Hyderabad, Junagarh and Kashmir. While the story of Junagarh and Kashmir is a different narrative, Hyderabad’s Muslim ruler Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam, insisted on remaining independent. This led to an acrimonious stand-off between New Delhi and Hyderabad and the dispute was taken to the United Nations. Meanwhile, armed militia called Razakar, sprung up to protect the Hyderabad state. Some say, it had tacit support of the ruler, but apparently, it was the armed wing of a Muslim political party, that had issues with the princely rule. The members of the militia supposedly held drills in and around Hyderabad and terrorized the non Muslims population. This incensed people and New Delhi was ceased of the matter.

After a yearlong high drama and without any settlement in sight, the government in New Delhi sent its armed forces to take over Hyderabad in September 1948. One division of the Indian army and a tank brigade under Major General Choudhry marched into Hyderabad. The battle was swift, the Nizam’s troops and the Razakars were defeated within few days of army’s invasion. Since the case of Hyderabad at the United Nation, the military action was called ‘Police Action’ and was code named ‘Operation Polo.’ Surprisingly, the so called Police Action was peaceful in taking over Hyderabad and there was no significant loss of life of the civilian population in the city. The Nizam saved himself and his kith and kin, with witnesses saying that he had tacit agreement with the government India. Facts or fiction, some say, the Hyderabad ruler allowed the India army to plunder his treasury, and each solider made a killing in that loot of the treasure trove.

However, what followed the invasion of the Indian army in the ruler areas of Hyderabad was a sordid tale against humanity about which the current generation is totally unaware. The poor Muslim population was left at the mercy of the wolves and for several days’ arson, looting, rape and massacre continued with impunity in many districts. The Hindus formed special vigilante groups and singled out poor Muslims in the villages and put them to death. There was total silence in Hyderabad, when bigotry, savagery, and brutality nakedly danced at its diabolic best in its districts. Those innocent Muslims who perished in that organized crime, had nothing to do with the standoff between the ruler of Hyderabad and the Indian Union. They were left with no protection and became scapegoat to the Hindus anger against the Princely state.

Commentators have analyzed the animosity as the desire of the Hindu populace to extinguish a Muslim state at the heart of India. Some call it extraction of cancer from the predominantly Hindu country. It’s estimated that more than 40,000 people perished in that act of retribution. The tale of the atrocities of this crime were so horrifying that then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru commissioned a small team of Congress leaders to investigate the matter. The commission was led by a Congressman, Pandit Sunderlal and included Kazi Abdul Ghaffar and Moulana Abdulla Misri were its other members. The Sunderlal team made a three weeks tour of Hyderabad in Nov-Dec 1948. It visited 7 district headquarters, 21 towns and 23 important villages, and interviewed over 500 people from 109 such villages. At each place the team carefully chronicled the accounts of Muslims who had survived the appalling violence. …



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Mr Shinde, you are not the Home minister for minorities – By Akshaya Mishra (Oct 1, 2013, First Post)

Someone must remind Sushilkumar Shinde that he is the Home Minister of the country, not the minister in charge of a particular community. He needs reminding because he never fails to learn from his mistakes. His letter asking all chief ministers to ensure that no innocent Muslim youth is wrongfully detained in terror cases smacks of a political opportunism. It adds credence to the suspicion that the government is trying to communalise the social environment before the 2014 general elections by adopting a blatantly partisan approach.

There is no denying the communal malice in the treatment of terror cases by a large section of our law enforcing agencies. Arrest them, frame them, damn them and don’t worry about the courts. This has largely been the approach of the police towards the Muslims. The low conviction rate in such cases – about 10 percent – only reinforces that point. The police ‘sources’ come up with impressive, nearly believable stories about terror modules, sleeper cells, indoctrination, cross-border machinations and what not after every incident of terror in the country. Ever wondered why the stories, popular in the media, hardly stand up in courts? But communal prejudice among a section of the policemen is only part of the story. Shinde, an ex-cop himself, must be aware that the real problem is poor crime detection, stemming from the lack of basic skills. There are weaknesses in gathering and processing evidence.

Witnesses go hostile in a majority of cases and there’s clear lack of knowledge of the law among investigating officers. Good stories before the media are only a cover-up exercise designed to please the public. They provide a breather to the police, but hardly serve the cause of justice. Not long ago, the Supreme Court of India expressed exasperation at the abysmal conviction rate in rape cases. “What is wrong with the system? Why are 90 percent of rape cases ending in acquittals? a bench said. As many as 63 percent of people charged with corruption were acquitted last year and just about 28 percent of cases in the country end up in conviction. The dismal numbers mean the policing system is working to the detriment of the innocent citizens. It is creating a large number of victims and not all of them are Muslims. Was Shinde’s letter deliberate? Couldn’t he have stopped at saying, “…The government is committed to its core principle of combating terrorism in every form and manifestation… It has to ensure that no innocent person is subjected to undue harassment”?

That could have delivered the message he wanted to convey well. But he sought to bring in the minority matter. In fact, that was the point raised by BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy. “Has our Home Minister forgotten the oath that he took where he promised to protect citizens from all religions? Then why did he have to say Muslim youths?” Rudy said, adding it would have been better if Shinde had said ‘innocent Indian youths’ instead of ‘innocent Muslim youths’. He could have said things in a better way, but he represents a desperate party. The Congress is losing the plot in the run-up to the elections.

While the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has started cleverly positioning himself as a mainstream, non-partisan leader by eschewing any reference to communal issues or anything contentious in his speeches across the country, gaining popularity in the process, it serves the Congress’ purpose to pin him and his party down to a communal – read anti-Muslim – position. Controversies of this nature are par for the course in this strategy. The fact is the party does not seem to be capable of think of anything better at this point. Given the perverse nature of our politics, it does not surprise though. But Shinde must decide whether he wants to be the home minister for the minorities or the entire country. If he is serious, he should show some urgency in tackling the crippling inefficiency in the police force.



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Yes to the no-vote option – Editorial (Sep 28, 2013, The Hindu)

By ordering that voting machines in future should have an additional provision for voters to record a ‘none-of-the-above’ (NOTA) option to reject all candidates in the fray, the Supreme Court has ushered in a key electoral reform that has found favour in the past with the Election Commission of India and even the Law Commission. The idea of according to a negative vote the same sanctity and secrecy as a vote in favour of a particular candidate is indeed laudable in a parliamentary democracy.

Advocates of electoral reforms have encouraged voters to make greater use of Rule 49-O, the provision by which one can record a ‘no-vote’ option by signing a form in the presence of election officials, in the hope that a large number of such negative votes would induce political parties to field candidates known for their integrity. The verdict holds that the rule violates election law and the voters’ freedom of expression alike by denying voters who exercise that choice the required secrecy. The Court believes that the extra provision in the voting machines would promote free and fair elections, ensure greater voter participation and reduce bogus voting.

In recent times, the Supreme Court has struck down a provision to prevent immediate disqualification of convicted legislators and, more controversially, barred those in custody from contesting elections. The NOTA ruling fills a significant lacuna in electoral law, and is a welcome addition to the series of decisions it has rendered to protect the integrity of our elections. A doubt arises as to what will happen if a very large percentage of voters go in for the no-vote option. Even a meagre turnout is considered good enough to declare a valid result now, but a heavy quantum of negative votes may affect the legitimacy of the election process. Perhaps, the EC could fix a limit beyond which the percentage of NOTA votes would entail re-polling. All this raises a question: why has Parliament left electoral reforms to the courts instead of deliberating over and passing appropriate laws?

Thanks to an assertive EC, the potential for irregularities by the political class has been effectively kept under check, but this inherently adversarial relationship may have prevented the ushering in of sweeping reforms through legislation. There is no agreement on some reforms mooted by the Election Commission, such as making the framing of charges in serious criminal cases the basis for disqualification instead of conviction. Ranging from the need to check money power and paid news to the need for transparency in the funding of political parties, there are a host of issues that ought to be addressed through comprehensive legislation rather than ad hoc adjudication.



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The ghost returns – Editorial (Oct 1, 2013, The Hindu)

Sixteen years after Lalu Prasad lost his Chief Ministership to the Rs. 950 crore Bihar fodder scam, the ghost has returned to deal him a second staggering blow. Ironically, the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief’s conviction, along with 44 others, in the Chaibasa treasury case, comes at a time when his political career appeared to be on the mend. The Chaibasa case, which is related to the withdrawal from the State treasury of Rs. 37 crore, is one of six fodder-related cases against Mr. Prasad and the first in which the verdict has been pronounced.

The fodder scam was of epic scale, with a plot so byzantine that it took investigators years to comprehend the full extent of the loot, how it was executed and how many people participated in it. What started as a minor case of embezzlement in the mid-1970s, grew in size over the next two decades, and finally burst into the open as a huge scandal involving ministers, bureaucrats and even sections of the Opposition. The conviction of 45 persons in just one of the cases is indicative of the size of the theft and its spread.

The tragedy is all the more for the dazzling start to Mr. Prasad’s political career and the promise his advent held to an underclass crushed by the double burden of poverty and upper caste oppression. Such was the hopelessness in which Bihar was caught that Mr. Prasad was able to make a virtue of just the fact that he had given his people swar (voice). Unfortunately for the State he ruled, that was all he did. Bihar became a basket case even as politicians and bureaucrats exploited its wealth to feather their own nests. In the event, his fall was as dramatic as his rise. By May 1997, the CBI had closed in on him, leading to his arrest and removal from office in July of the same year. What followed was the bizarre drama of Mr. Prasad installing his wife Rabri Devi as Chief Minister with her as his proxy. It was against this backdrop that Nitish Kumar finally dethroned the man whom he once mentored.

Today, Mr. Kumar himself is in trouble, having exited his successful alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. For Mr. Prasad, the break-up was just the opportunity he needed to get back into the political reckoning. He would have likely succeeded in the plan had the UPA government pushed through the ordinance aimed at preventing the disqualification of lawmakers. But the past has a way of catching up. With Rahul Gandhi’s public fulminations scuttling the proposed ordinance, Mr. Prasad has been left with no escape but to face up to the reality of the conviction and return to a life of political oblivion.



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