IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 15th, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup


News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials


Indian Americans celebrate Independence Day

Monday August 15, 2011

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, congratulates the nation on its 65th Independence Day.

IAMC recalls the momentous day of August 15, 1947, when India awakened to a new dawn of freedom from over 200 years of colonial rule. Jawaharlal Nehru’s memorable address to the nation expounded a vision of India that was free from poverty, ignorance and disease; of a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, where social, economic and political institutions would ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman regardless of their faith. This vision, as well as his exhortation to build a mansion of free India where all her children could dwell in peace, continues to be as urgent and relevant today as it was on that fateful day 64 years ago.

“Our country has certainly made significant progress on several fronts, and rightfully commands respect globally as the world’s largest democracy. However, our work as a nation is incomplete, as long as any segment of society faces bias, injustice or discrimination”, said Shaheen Khateeb, President, IAMC. “The promise of equal opportunity – social, educational and economic – for all Indians, continues to remain an unfulfilled dream of free India”, added Mr. Khateeb.

On this day of celebration, IAMC urges the Indian Government to pay close heed to the needs of the neglected segment of India’s minorities, and to strive for the peaceful and egalitarian society that we looked forward to when India shook off the shackles of British rule 64 years ago.

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: http://www.iamc.com

Indian American Muslim Council celebrates Republic Day across the United States

IMC-USA Congratulates Indians on 63rd anniversary of Independence

Indian Americans Mark ninth anniversary of Gujarat pogrom

Indian Americans Call for Justice on eighteenth anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition

Khalid Azam
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Some intel records destroyed, says riots probe panel (Aug 10, 2011, Indian Express)

Certain intelligence records related to the 2002 riots and the documents related to the movement of the then intelligence chief of Gujarat, G C Raiger, have been destroyed, the additional director general of police (intelligence) has informed the Nanavati-Mehta Commission in a “confidential” report. The information was made public by Justice (retd) Nanavati on Tuesday during the proceedings of the Commission, which is probing into the 2002 riots.

The Commission had summoned two senior officers, Ashok Narayan and K Chakravartty, who were additional chief secretary (home) and DGP during the 2002 riots, respectively. During the proceedings today, Justice (retd) Nanavati told one of the lawyers appearing before the Commission that the intelligence records of “C” category had been destroyed under a regular process since they were “useless”.

Nanavati said the records related to the log book entries and vehicle movement registers and were not going to prove much as they would merely register the movement of a vehicle and not of the officers travelling in it. “Logbooks will not prove what you have imagined,” Nanavati said during the proceedings. He added that apart from the ‘C’ category documents, records related to the then state intelligence chief G C Raiger were also not available.

Justice Nanavati, though, added that all relevant intelligence records related to the year 2002 are available and that the Commission is examining the report submitted by the additional DGP (intelligence). According to Commission’s secretary C G Patel, the report submitted by the additional DGP (intelligence) is “confidential” and nobody except the Commission itself had access to it. He said an application by Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), a voluntary organisation working for the 2002 riots victims, to have access to the report has also been rejected by the Commission.

Last month, the Commission, on an application by the JSM, had ordered the additional DGP (intelligence) to file a report on the status of intelligence records pertaining to the 2002 riots. The JSM had cited the “contradictory stands” taken by the state government and its counsel over the existence of crucial 2002 intelligence records and sought clarification. Senior counsel S B Vakil, who appeared before the Commission on behalf of the state government to question IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, had stated that certain intelligence records related to 2002 riots were destroyed in 2007. Subsequently, however, reports appeared in a section of media that the state government had denied the claim.



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Gujarat govt chargesheets ‘whistle-blower’ IPS officer Rahul Sharma (Aug 13, 2011, Rediff)

Just a week after suspending Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt, the Gujarat government on Saturday charge-sheeted senior officer Rahul Sharma for alleged misconduct in not submitting the original CDs containing mobile phone call records related to the 2002 communal riots. “Rahul Sharma was today served the copy of the chargesheet,” state government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas told media persons. Sharma, who confirmed he has received the copy, was chargesheeted after his notice period ended on Friday. The DIG rank officer was served the first notice on January 27 and the final one on July 28, seeking his reply within 15 days. In the chargesheet, the IPS officer has been accused of gross misconduct under Section 3(1) of All India Service Rules 1969. He has been accused of not submitting the CDs containing phone call records during the post-Godhra riots to respective Investigating Officers of Naroda Gam, Naroda Patia and Gulburg Society cases.

According to the government, Sharma’s conduct was unbecoming of an IPS officer as he did not submit the CDs even to his superiors when he was transferred from the post of DCP Control (Ahmedabad). “Sharma has committed gross misconduct by taking away vital CDs from the case papers,” Vyas said. Vyas, who is also a minister, clarified that Sharma has not been served a show-cause notice for deposing before courts and commissions looking into riot-related cases. “It is not the case. In fact, it is the opposite. Because of his not giving the CDs to investigating officers or supervisory officers, he has caused serious infirmity to the investigation,” he alleged. “Sharma served as Deputy Commissioner of Police (Control), Ahmedabad from March 24, 2002 to July 3, 2002. He was not the investigating officer or direct supervisory officer in the riot cases for which the compact disks were procured from cell-phone service providers,” Vyas said. “Sharma, on receiving the said CDs, did not include the same as case property,” he said.

From the data obtained from the mobile service providers, Sharma had prepared CDs detailing the calls made by important people in the state administration, including ministers, police officials, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists during the communal violence. Sharma, currently posted as deputy inspector general of police (arms unit) at Rajkot, had later submitted the CDs to the Nanavati Commission, Banerjee Committee and Supreme Court-appointed SIT, who dealt with the Godhra train case and subsequent riots in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state. Sharma’s lawyer Mukul Sinha dubbed the charges against his client as “absurd”. “The charge is that Sharma had taken away the CDs. I think the allegation is absolutely absurd because he was assisting investigations and the Crime Branch had actually asked him to analyse the CDs,” Sinha said. “We are certainly going to challenge the entire action either in the departmental proceedings or even outside,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vyas also took on Home Minister P Chidambaram who had spoken about the possibility of the Centre stepping in over the issue of Narendra Modi government’s action against two senior IPS officers. “This attitude is dangerous to the federal governance of the country,” Vyas said. On Friday, the Gujarat high court rejected Sharma’s plea seeking grounds on which he was served a show-cause notice. IPS officer Bhatt, who has alleged Narendra Modi’s complicity in the post-Godhra riots, was suspended on August 8 for “acts of indiscipline”. Vyas said that the charge-sheet was given to Sharma only after he failed to reply to the issues raised in the show-cause notice. “The officer (Sharma) was also provided with the records he wanted. The government had extended the time for him to reply as per the provisions of the administrative procedures,” Vyas said.

“Instead of reciprocating (as per) the provisions of the procedures on co-ordination between the government and administration, the officer opted to approach the court,” he said. Vyas also addressed a question regarding Sharma’s claim that he had handed over the original and only kept a duplicate CD. “There is no question of handing over the original and retaining the copy. You cannot retain the copy of the documents which you are not legally authorised to have. Tomorrow, if somebody starts doing it, then I think no government system would work,” he said.



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Gujarat: Another officer drops glove to hit back at Modi govt (Aug 12, 2011, Indian Express)

Gujarat IPS officer Rajnish Rai has put former DGP P C Pande in the dock, accusing him of being part of the conspiracy to kill Tulsiram Prajapati in a staged encounter in 2006 and in the destruction of evidence. Rai listed his allegations in an affidavit he filed in the the Central Administrative Tribunal on Thursday. The officer had moved CAT after his annual confidential report (ACR) was downgraded by his seniors Pande and retired Additional DGP O P Mathur. Rai, who is presently on study leave, has also alleged that Mathur wanted to share investigation details in the 2005 Sohrabuddin encounter case with top ruling party leaders in Rajasthan.

It was Rai who had arrested three IPS officers – D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh M N from neighbouring Rajasthan – while he was probing into the Sohrabuddin encounter case. After he made the arrests, Rai was shunted out and his colleague Geetha Johri was reinstated. Some of the serious charges that Rai has made in his CAT affidavit against Pande and Mathur are as follows:

Pande played an “acquiescent” role in the criminal conspiracy by former home minister Amit Shah and others who tampered with official records pertaining to the Sohrabuddin case in the office of CID (Crime) to hide their role in obstructing the much-needed visit of police inspector V L Solanki to Udaipur for recording the statement of Tulsiram Prajapati. This delay was used by the concerned accused police officers to kill Prajapati in an encounter on December 28, 2006. Pande did not take any steps to prevent the tampering of records despite the fact that Shah had directed the supervisory officer to do so in his presence. This indicates Pande’s complicity in the conspiracy to murder Tulsiram Prajapati with the motive of not bringing on record the testimony of a key witness. These facts have been disclosed by the witnesses, including Solanki.

Delayed further investigation in the case to save the accused persons despite knowing the fact that the preliminary inquiry report dated December 7, 2007, submitted by former CID (crime) DIG Geetha Johri, had clearly established that the accused police officers were involved in cold-blooded murder of Sohrabuddin. Pande first ordered further investigation on January 25, 2007, but cancelled his order on February 2, 2007. Pande thwarted investigations at every stage. He hid the truth from the Supreme Court by deleting the facts from the draft ATRs which were uncomfortable for him or for the state government. Mathur wanted to share the case records with Home Minister and DGP of Rajasthan. Rai advised him against it in writing since they and even Shah had no locus standi to see the case records.

When the SC was informed about the continued interference of Pande, it ordered in May 2007 that the investigating agency shall submit a probe report to the apex court only and that there was no need to take permission from the DGP. Once again, the investigation of the case was entrusted to Johri, which only derailed it. Her investigations were viewed as improper and unsatisfactory by the Supreme Court, which made adverse comments for Johri and her supervision and transferred the probe to the CBI in January, 2010.



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India: Gujarat policemen charged with misconduct (Aug 11, 2011, BBC)

The government of the Indian state of Gujarat has charged two top policemen for their role in riots of 2002. The policemen helped an investigation into the alleged links between officials and the riots. They have been charged with misconduct. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the disturbances. The violence erupted after 60 Hindus died in a train fire. The cause of the blaze was never established. Hindu groups say it was started by Muslims. But one inquiry said the blaze was an accident.

Deputy Inspector General Rahul Sharma was the second police officer this week to be charged with misconduct. He is in trouble for allegedly handing over the records of officials’ telephone calls to a committee investigating the 2002 riots, without first getting permission from his seniors. These telephone calls were made during the eight days of the riots, which resulted in some of the worst violence seen in post-independence India.

On Monday another senior officer who has handed over evidence apparently linking officials to the crimes was suspended. Sanjeev Bhatt has been accused of not reporting to work for nearly 10 months. Last week he gave the Indian Supreme Court copies of emails which he claimed showed that a senior government lawyer had helped defend some of the accused. The Supreme Court set up a panel to investigate the riots in 2008, after allegations that the Gujarat government was doing little to bring those responsible to justice. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has denied any wrongdoing and the allegations are still being investigated.



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‘Policemen involved in fake encounters should be hanged’ (Aug 9, 2011, The Hindu)

Calling fake encounter killings as nothing but “cold-blooded brutal murder,” the Supreme Court said police personnel involved in such incidents should be awarded death sentence and hanged. A Bench, comprising Justices Markandeya Katju and C.K. Prasad, said fake encounter killings should be treated as the rarest of rare offences.

Coming down heavily on police personnel involved in such killings, the court said as custodians of law they were expected to protect people and not eliminate them as might contract killers. “Fake encounter killings by cops are nothing but cold-blooded brutal murder which should be treated as the rarest of rare offences and police personnel responsible for it should be awarded death sentence. They should be hanged,” Justice Katju said.

The court made these observations while directing the surrender of two senior Rajasthan IPS officers, Additional DGP Arvind Jain and SP Arshad, allegedly involved in the fake encounter killing of an alleged gangster, Dara Singh, by the Special Operations Group of Rajasthan Police on October 23, 2006. The Bench said that if the accused police officers failed to surrender they shall be arrested by the CBI, which is investigating the case.

“The same parameters will apply and the law shall take its own course,” Justice Katju observed when counsel for Singh’s widow Sushila Devi said that one of the accused, Rajender Rathore, a former Minister, was also absconding. “…If crimes are committed by ordinary people, ordinary punishment should be given but if the offence is committed by policemen much harsher punishment should be given to them because they do an act totally contrary to their duties.”

The apex court had in April last directed a CBI probe on an application moved by Sushila Devi accusing the Rajasthan police of abducting her husband, killing him in cold blood and passing it off as an encounter. Dara Singh was a proclaimed offender carrying a reward of Rs. 25,000 on his head.



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Mecca Masjid blast: Panel wants action against cops who ‘fabricated’ case (Aug 10, 2011, Indian Express)

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has minced no words to conclude that its “assumption” that the case against those Muslim youths who were detained in the immediate aftermath of the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts “had been fabricated, stands confirmed”.

Acting on a petition by Maj S G M Quadri (retd), the president of NGO Help Hyderabad, the NCM asked the state government to proceed immediately against those police officers who “fabricated” the case and enable the rehabilitation of the affected youngsters (Rs 3 lakh each) in accordance with the draft Communal Violence Prevention Bill, for “mental harassment, depression and psychological harm”.



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NIA to seek Purohit’s remand to nail Indresh (Aug 11, 2011, Indian Express)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will seek the remand of Lt Col Srikant Prasad Purohit, arrested in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blasts, as it believes that he can help them nail RSS leader Indresh Kumar regarding his alleged involvement in terror cases. The NIA is dwelling on the statement of Aseemanand before the magistrate in which he had mentioned the role of Indresh in the blasts. In his statement before the magistrate, Aseemanand had said, “Purohit once told me that Indresh is an ISI agent and he also has documents related to the same with him. However, Purohit never showed me those documents.”

The agency wants to question Purohit on the role of Indresh since it believes that as an intelligence officer, Purohit might be holding information about Indresh’s involvement. The RSS leader was questioned by the CBI last year. “The role of Indresh is being probed, but we need evidence to corroborate and question him. We have gathered technical details about his movements. We need to establish his active role other than his financing the terror modules,” said a NIA official.

The NIA has used Purohit’s statements as one of the prosecution witnesses in the Mecca Masjid blasts case. The former Army officer figures in the list of prosecution witnesses as PW (106) in the NIA case at Hyderabad. The NIA had taken his statement to provide evidence that Sunil Joshi and Aseemanad knew each other. Purohit in his statement to the agency had corroborated Aseemanand’s statement before the magistrate where the Swami says, “I called up Purohit after the murder of Joshi in December 2007 and told him that Joshi was behind Ajmer blast and asked Purohit to find out who were behind his murder.”

The NIA had not named Purohit in the Samjhauta blasts case when they filed a chargesheet in June. The agency is keen to probe the role of Indresh in connection with Ajmer, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta blasts cases for which they also plan to question him. The NIA has filed its chargesheet in Samjhauta, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid cases against Aseemanand, Joshi and others. However, the agency has been unable to establish the role of Indresh conclusively.

The agency said money was given to Joshi by Indresh before the blasts. The agency has declared reward for information on the remaining accused named in Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts cases. When contacted, Indresh’s counsel, Aman Lekhi, said, “This is political propaganda, there is no material against Indresh. The NIA has not been able to prove anything. All four chargesheets filed by the NIA are self-contradictory.”



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Cops survey madrasas, masjids (Aug 9, 2011, Indian Express)

Less than a month after the Mumbai blasts, the Surat police have started a survey of all masjids and madrasas in the city, seeking information on the maulvis, students and other visitors, their affiliations and family antecedents. While Surat police commissioner Rakesh Asthana said this was a “routine exercise”, officials said the formal identification and survey, which surprised many Muslim establishments, were being undertaken extensively for the first time in the city.

“We are doing it to update our information, so that when needed the correct person can be contacted fast. We are similarly surveying cyber cafes, hotels and restaurants. It is a routine practice of police functioning. There is nothing to worry about… we have also informed our men to behave in a disciplined way while noting down the details,” said Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana. However, Gujarat DGP Chitranjan Singh said he was not aware of such an exercise and there were no plans to conduct such surveys across Gujarat. “But having such detailed information will help the police to work intelligently in any circumstances. However, I will talk to the Surat police commissioner and seek details,” said Singh.

The Muslim community has expressed surprise since the exercise is being carried out during the month of Ramzan. The Special Operations Group (SOG) officials with survey forms are visiting every madrasa and masjid in the city, tabulating the details. The survey form for the madrasas seeks information on the number of teachers, their residential addresses, the trustees, contact details, e-mail addresses, sources of income and expenditure. It also seeks details of students, including their birthplaces. Information on Kashmiri students has been sought separately. The officials are also cross-checking if the details of all the students, with their photographs, have been submitted at the local police station or the SOG’s office.

Similarly, the survey form for the masjids seeks information on the masjid adminstrators, maulvis and their family members. Both the survey forms for masjids and madrasas also seek details on the adminstrators’ affiliation – whether they are Sunni, Tablighi, Barelvi, Ahle Hadees or Deobandi. Details of visits by any Tablighi Jamat, especially in the last two months, the names of the visitors and other information are being specifically sought from the masjids and madrasas.

Maulvi Kherul Hasan of Masjid-e-Kuba at Rampura, one of those questioned for the survey, said: “This is the first time that the police contacted us and took all details of the mosque and people associated with it. They even noted down who bears the expenses of the mosque, including the salary of the maulvi and his assistant. I have come from Bihar, so the police took the address and phone number of my family members in Bihar. We don’t know how this information will benefit police.”



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13 injured in Moradabad communal clash (Aug 10, 2011, Express Buzz)

Curfew prevailed in parts of Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad city Wednesday after a communal clash involving Kanwariya pilgrims left 13 people injured, including two cops, police said. Violence broke out in Dasarai locality late Tuesday following heated arguments between some Hindu Kanwariya (Lord Shiva devotees) pilgrims and local Muslims.

“On that day (Saturday) Kanwariyas wanted to take out their procession from an undeclared route, while members of the minority community were strictly against it. The Kanwariyas had then resorted to arson and vandalism. We believe Tuesday’s communal clash is linked to that earlier incident only,” said a police officer, who declined to be identified as he was not supposed to speak to the media.

Members from both communities Tuesday resorted to firing, stone-pelting and fought pitched battles with the police. A police outpost in Aslatpur area and several vehicles were also set on fire. “A deputy superintendent of police and an inspector are among those injured. Five people, including the inspector, have received bullet injuries. The condition of all of them is stated to be out of danger,” Superintendent of Police (City) Piyush Srivastava told IANS on telephone from Moradabad, some 250 km from here. “Around four-five injured people have already been discharged from the hospital,” he added.

Inspector General (Moradabad range) M.K. Bashal told IANS, “We have sought police force from various nearby districts. Besides police, Provincial Armed Constabulary and Rapid Action Force have been deployed in and around trouble-torn areas.” Moradabad’s District Magistrate Sameer Verma told IANS, “Curfew has been clamped in areas under six police stations. Senior police and district administration officials are camping in violence-hit areas to ensure no untoward incident takes place.” The six police stations are: Katghar, Galshaheed, Majhola, Kotwali, Nagphani and Mughalpura.



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Rural India on boil: 4 killed in Pune firing (Aug 10, 2011, Times of India)

Three persons, including a woman, were killed and 14 were injured when the police opened fire on farmers and workers from political parties near Baur village in Maval taluka, around from 45km from Pune, on Tuesday morning. Unofficial sources said another person had succumbed to his wounds later in the day. The protesters, numbering around 500, were holding a rally on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway against the acquisition of their land for a water pipeline project.

As the violence escalated, traffic on the expressway came to a standstill, forcing the local authorities to close it from 11.30am to 4.15pm. An 8-km-long pileup saw unsuspecting motorists stuck for as long as five hours. The mob had blocked the expressway near Baur, close to Kamshet tunnel, around 11am. It was meant to be a peaceful protest, but by mid-morning it took on an ugly note when the farmers refused to leave the highway.

They threw stones at several vehicles, including three police vans. By noon, the mob frenzy intensified, and protesters set a police van and a state transport bus ablaze. At least 32 policemen were injured in the incident. A police inspector is in a coma and fighting for his life. Police officials say they had no choice but to open fire as the violence was escalating by the minute. Doctors who conducted the preliminary autopsy told TOI that all the victims died from head and chest bullet injuries.

District superintendent of police Sandeep Karnik said the police initially tried to pacify the agitators and requested them to vacate the expressway. “They refused to budge. They later exchanged words with the police personnel and also ‘gheraoed’ them. Then they started pelting stones at us and overturned a police van that was occupied by personnel. When the men inside rushed out of the vehicle, the protesters set it ablaze. Three other police vehicles and at least five private vehicles were also damaged,” he said.



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Opinions and Editorials

Killers in uniform – Editorial (Aug 10, 2011, Deccan Herald)

The Supreme Court’s harsh observations about fake encounters should wake up the law-enforcement authorities to the undesirability and dangers of extra-judicial killings. The court is right in condemning them as cold-blooded murders which fall into the category of the rarest of rare crimes that call for the most stringent punishment. It is a different matter whether the killers in uniform should be hanged to death but the observation may be taken as an expression of the court’s dismay over the tendency of the police and other security agencies to take the law into their hands and award summary capital punishment to suspected law-breakers. It is not only those who are suspected to be involved in criminal activities or terrorism who are killed in fake encounters. Even innocent people become victims of arbitrary killings, and there are a number of such cases, especially in disturbed areas like Kashmir.

The latest incident is from Poonch where a special police officer and a territorial army jawan picked up a mentally challenged young man, shot him in the forest and passed it of as an encounter with a Lashkar-e-Toiba gang. It was claimed that the man who was killed was a divisional commander of the LeT from Pakistan. The fake encounter was staged to claim rewards and promotions for a brave fight against terrorists. The culprits have now been arrested and are facing interrogation. Similar killings have taken place before also. They tarnish the image of the security forces and alienate common people. It is not only in Kashmir and the North-East that men in uniform resort to such killings. Though on paper there is a zero tolerance policy towards human rights violations, in practice they are quite common all over the country.

The rule of law demands that even the worst criminals are entitled to a proper investigation and fair trial. The argument that inadequacies and problems in the investigative system and delays in the judicial process make punishment difficult in many cases is wrong and unacceptable. In many cases, as in the Poonch incident, it is not even suspects but innocents who are done to death. A fake encounter does not happen on the spur on the moment. It is planned and executed with careful consideration and is therefore no different from deliberate crime. Such killings should have no place in a civilised and legal society.



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A fall in Karnataka – By Ravi Sharma (Aug 13, 2011, Frontline)

An unlikely stormy petrel. That is what B.S Yeddyurappa, who has been forced to step down as Karnataka’s Chief Minister, has turned out to be for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A dyed-in-the-wool Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) worker and the archetypal party loyalist who rose from the ranks and remained in the legislative opposition for decades before donning the mantle of Chief Minister in May 2008, Yeddyurappa was not supposed to defy the diktat of the party’s central leadership. After all, discipline is the hallmark of the “party with a difference”. But the 68-year-old leader, who spearheaded the BJP’s drive to seize power in Karnataka and led the party’s first government in the South, would have none of it. He kept the party leadership on tenterhooks by rejecting its call for his resignation. When he finally relented, it was only on the date and time he chose. In an uncharacteristically belligerent and combative mood, Yeddyurappa faced the party’s central leadership and pressured it to concede a set of demands, which included the choice of D.V. Sadananda Gowda as his successor and himself as president of the State party.

The central leadership was not initially prepared to concede these lest it should antagonise the rival camp led by party general secretary and Member of Parliament Ananth Kumar, Karnataka Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Jagdish Shettar (both known rivals of Yeddyurappa), Home Minister R. Ashok and president of the State unit K.S. Eshwarappa. This group nominated Shettar as its candidate for the post of Chief Minister. The stalemate – which turned into a proxy war between Yeddyurappa and his bete noire Ananth Kumar – not only made the choice of a consensus candidate next to impossible but also created rifts within the State unit that will be hard to heal. The dirty tricks departments of both camps also dug out unpleasant details about their rivals. The reference to Ananth Kumar in the Niira Radia tapes and the alleged violation of building bylaws by Sadananda Gowda, the party’s Udupi-Chickmagalur MP, were highlighted. Failing to evolve a consensus on the issue at the Legislature Party meeting held on August 3, the central leadership conducted a secret ballot to choose the new leader. The affable Sadananda Gowda, backed by Yeddyurappa, got 62 votes as against 55 for Jagdish Shettar. Sadananda Gowda, who has grown from the ranks and has been a Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, has no administrative experience. But his supporters say that given time and cooperation he will perform.

Sadananda Gowda told Frontline that there was nothing wrong in party members fighting over a post: “It is quite natural in politics. This has been going on in every political party since 1950.” He, however, agreed that “considerable damage had been done to the party” and “collective work was necessary to rectify this”. Predicting that a political churning was bound to take place, he said although discipline was important, the party had to maintain unity first and then ensure discipline. The new Chief Minister said he would seek to implement the programmes formulated by the Yeddyurappa government. For Sadananda Gowda, who will be seen as Yeddyurappa’s hand-picked man, donning the Chief Minister’s mantle may be the easiest part. Holding the party together and handing out ministerial berths are more challenging tasks. Hours after he was declared elected, there were insinuations that the rival camp would stay away from the swearing-in ceremony. The Ananth Kumar camp lost no time to organise a meeting to take stock of the situation. A Minister remarked: “Given the friction and hardening of positions that have occurred between the two camps, the new Chief Minister cannot afford to have any dreams. He will only have nightmares.”

According to a senior BJP functionary, although there were differences between Yeddyurappa and Shettar (both belong to the Lingayat community), they could have been amicably solved as had been done in the past. But the presence of Ananth Kumar, a known Yeddyurappa baiter, is what widened the divide. The functionary opined: “A few years ago when Sadananda Gowda was the president of the State unit, he was instructed at a meeting by L.K. Advani to ensure that Ananth Kumar and Yeddyurappa stayed united. Sadananda Gowda told Advani that the two were ‘a dangerous combination [for the party] either together or separately’.” Most political observers feel that an unrepentant and despotic Yeddyurappa and a weak BJP central leadership had to take much of the blame for the unsavoury turn of events. Allowing Yeddyurappa, admittedly the only leader in the BJP to have some degree of mass appeal, especially among the Lingayat community, to keep wrangling showed the leadership had become totally dependent on him. Were key functionaries in the central leadership beneficiaries of the largesse from Karnataka’s illegal mining? It is alleged that the wedding expenses of a prominent functionary’s daughter were bankrolled by the Reddy brothers, the mining barons of Bellary.

According to a senior Cabinet colleague of Yeddyurappa, the central leadership allowed Yeddyurappa to become larger than the party. The Minister said: “Because of the spectacular results in the various byelections, it was believed that Yeddyurappa could do no wrong. He became the mascot of the BJP. The central leadership should have woken up at least six months ago, if not earlier, when the first allegations of misdemeanour started emerging. Unfortunately, this did not happen. It was busy projecting the positive side of the Chief Minister. What should be clear is that ultimately the image counts more than achievements. One scandal takes away months of achievements. This crisis is also the result of all that happened during the past three years. Outsiders were brought into the party through Operation Kamala [Lotus] and given plum ministerial berths. These entrants were encouraged to be indebted to one individual [Yeddyurappa]. There was no attempt to make them part of the BJP. As a result they have not been able to adjust to our ethos and ideology and have no emotional attachment to the BJP.” Younger members of the party feel that the State BJP is going through a transition phase and that new forces want to take over from some of the tainted leaders. They said that so far the accusations against Yeddyurappa had been of a political nature, but the Lokayukta report was an investigative report and the central leadership could not have kept quiet. …



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Spiritual Bedfellows: The Norway massacre and the Indian connection – By Meera Nanda (Aug 6, 2011, Openthemagazine.com)

On 22 July, Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, set off bombs in the heart of Oslo. He then went on a shooting spree on a nearby island where young members of the Labor Party were holding a summer camp. All told, he killed 77 people that day, many in their teens. He targetted Labor Party youth because he saw them as part of a multicultural left-wing cabal that was allowing a Muslim takeover of Norway. In his view, they were ‘category A traitors’ who had to be eliminated to save Europe from Islam. Even though Anders Breivik alone pulled the trigger, the massacre in Norway was by no means the work of Breivik alone. He is a product of years of immersion in a worldwide web of anti-Islamic ideas espoused by cultural purists and nationalists of all stripes. India, it turns out, figures quite prominently in this web of hate. So far, the India connection has been limited in media reports to the 100-odd references to India that appear in Breivik’s massive manifesto, including his ringing defence of ‘Sanatan Dharma movements’. The irony of a Muslim craftsman from Banaras embroidering the skull-and-sword badge for his army of ‘Knights Templars’, modelled on the 12th century Christian crusaders, has also evoked much commentary. But there is a lot more to the India connection than it appears at first glance. The simple fact is that some of the most revered personalities of the Hindu Right have actively cultivated and nurtured links with the European New Right. We don’t have to go as far back as the Nazi-loving founding fathers of the Sangh Parivar. The Savarkar and Golwalker generation that admired Adolf Hitler for trying to exterminate the ‘Semitic races’ has been replaced by a newer generation of Hindu chauvinists that raves and rants against ‘Semitic monotheistic religions’ – Islam, above all.

This new Hindu Right has managed to move beyond the old Nazi fixation on racial purity to a new ideology of hate based on cultural and religious purity that is proving to be attractive to ‘crusader nationalists’ such as Breivik and his fellow ‘patriots’ from Europe, North America and Israel. The new Hindu Right has been honing its radical critique of Islam and Christianity from the perspective of ‘yogic spirituality’ largely through books published by the Delhi-based publishing house Voice of India (VoI), which was founded in 1981 by two ardent Hindu revivalists and anti-Communists, Ram Swarup and his friend, Sita Ram Goel (both now deceased). VoI’s goal is to produce ‘bauddhik kshatriyas’ (intellectual warriors), who will defend Hindu society against the triple ‘threat’ of Islam, Westernisation and Marxism. The signature theme of VoI thinkers is to attribute these three ‘evils’ to ‘Semitic’ or monotheistic religions that are ‘inherently intolerant’ because they believe in One True God, One Truth and One Book. In recent years, VoI has emerged as the hub where ‘Sanatan Dharma movements’ make common cause with Islam-bashers, anti-Christian pagans, New Age seekers, deep-ecologists/eco-feminists and other disaffected right-wingers from Europe and the US. Evidence of the global reach of the VoI-school of Hindutva can be found in the 1,518-page-long manifesto titled 2083: European Declaration of Independence that the Norway killer posted on the internet just hours before he went on his rampage. The manifesto makes two references to a Belgian writer, Koenraad Elst. The first time Elst is mentioned is as the authority behind the highly contested claim that Muslims enslaved Hindus and drove them to their death in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges, now in Afghanistan. (This reference appears in an article by Srinandan Vyas, which is reproduced in the manifesto.)

The second reference to Elst appears in his ‘recommendations to the West’ on how to make the life of Muslim minorities in Europe so difficult that they will either give up Islam or leave. Elst is quoted here to suggest that though Islam is in decline, it can still take over Europe before it collapses. (Here Elst is quoted in an article by Fjordman, the anonymous Norwegian blogger well known for his anti-Islamic views and greatly admired by Breivik). It so happens that Koenraad Elst has one foot firmly in the European New Right and the other foot in the Hindu New Right spawned by the VoI school. In Europe, he is considered a ‘leading Orientalist’, and writes frequently for The Brussels Journal, a European nationalist anti-Islamic blog, cited repeatedly by Breivik in his manifesto. Elst has also worked with think-tanks and publications suspected of links with Belgium’s far right, anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant party, Vlaam Belang. In India, Elst is the darling of the Hindu Right, and is held in great regard as the ‘intellectual heir’ of Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel, who practically took him under their wing when he was researching the Ayodhya conflict in the late 1980s. His book, Ram Janmbhoomi v Babri Masjid, was published by VoI and released by LK Advani. VoI has published at least eight more of his books, and he is counted among VoI’s bestselling authors. VoI has quite a few other European and American fellow travellers apart from Elst.

Among the more notable is David Frawley (aka Vamadev Shastri), an American convert to Hinduism, who teaches Ayurveda and Vedic astrology in the US. Like Elst, Frawley follows Ram Swarup and Goel in decrying Islam and Christianity as inherently intolerant and fit only for ‘lower’ intellects. Like Elst again, Frawley tops the VoI bestseller list. Francois Gautier, a follower of Sri Aurobindo, and more recently of Sri Sri Ravishankar, is another VoI author who had a long career with the French newspaper La Figaro, which has been described as the mouthpiece of the French New Right. Gautier is the brain behind the idea of creating a museum showcasing the Hindu ‘holocaust’ at the hands of Muslims. A collection of his ‘Ferengi’s Columns’ has been published by VoI. VoI, predictably, has also published Daniel Pipes, a well-known American critic of Islam, who also finds many mentions in Breivik’s manifesto. Well-known tracts of anti-Islamic literature, including Sir William Muir’s The Life of Mohamet and David Margoliouth’s Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, dating back to the 19th century, have also been reprinted under the VoI imprint. In addition to nurturing extreme critics of Islam and Christianity, the founding fathers of VoI also tried to encourage the revival of pre-Christian and pre-Islamic pagan religions on the assumption that these ancient Indo-European religions shared the polytheism and ritualism of Hinduism. Ram Swarup personally mentored neo-pagans from many parts of Europe including Lithuania, Russia, Britain, Ireland, Iceland and Belgium (including Elst himself, who at one time harboured pagan sympathies). VoI’s overtures to neo-pagans have not been terribly fruitful, as the nationalism favoured by ‘indigenous Europeans,’ who want to bring back pre-Christian gods of ‘blood-and-soil’, has been overtaken by an openly anti-Islamic ‘crusader nationalism’ exemplified by Breivik. …

Once they got rid of the mantra of sarva dharma samabhaav, VoI militants declared an open war against Islam. Their new consensus is that rather than ‘appease’ Muslims by pretending to respect their religion, Hindus need to debunk the claims of the ‘false’ and ‘monstrous’ doctrines of Islam. Indeed, Koenraad Elst has himself applauded this new war on Islam. In accordance with the VoI line on Islam being ‘asuric’, he has proclaimed that, “Every Muslim is a Sita who must be released from Ravana’s prison. We should help Muslims in freeing themselves from Islam.” This is exactly the agenda of the Norway killer – to ‘educate’ Norwegian society, including Muslim immigrants – that ‘Islam is not a religion but a political ideology.’ This is the ‘non-violent’ component of the ‘crusade’ against Islam in Europe: to create an environment so hostile that the practice of Islam becomes difficult and that Muslims have no choice but to either leave or give up their faith. Indeed, if there were any doubt about the shared ground between the VoI and European Islamophobes, Elst gives the same advice, in almost the same words, to the Norway killer as he does to his VoI admirers. The solution to the ‘Islam problem’ is not to use violence, ‘but to liberate Muslims from the mental prison-house of Islam’. This war against Islam is the thread that dubiously binds Extremist India with the Norway massacre.



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Swamy’s Anti-Muslim Diatribe: Recipe For Disaster – By Yoginder Sikand (Aug 12, 2011, Countercurrents)

Subramaniam Swamy’s recent article, titled ‘How To Wipe Out Islamic Terror’, has provoked widespread comment in the media. Advocating a hard-hitting approach to the phenomenon of Muslim extremism and urging the Hindus to take to militant Hindutva-style politics, the former Union Cabinet Minister and President of the Janata Party can safely be said to represent the convictions of a sizeable section of middle-class, ‘modern’-educated ‘upper’ caste Hindus, who, despite the thin veneer of Western ‘liberalism’ that they sport, are deeply wedded to the pernicious doctrine of Brahminical supremacism in the guise of Hindutva. Swamy’s article is full of gaping holes, gross exaggerations, unfounded claims and downright lies. Conforming to the usual pattern of Hindu chauvinist writings on Muslims and Islam, the article serves several goals simultaneously. It aims at demonizing Muslims and Islam as supposedly inherently violent and hate-driven, while, contrarily, presenting Hindus as the supposed epitomes of virtue. In this way, it conveniently denies the undeniable reality of terror engaged in by Hindu groups (including Hindu mobs) that, since 1947, has taken a much heavier toll of innocent lives (mainly of Muslims but also of Dalits) than has the terror resorted to by fringe Muslim groups in India in recent years. Equating being Indian with being ‘Hindu’, it denies non-Hindus the right to live as equal citizens and with dignity. It seeks to pit Hindus against Muslims, advocating a wide-range of anti-Muslim measures that can easily lead to large-scale violence against the latter and used to justify their slaughter if they dare protest against such brutalities.

But the article’s sinister intentions do not stop there. Like any other piece of shoddy anti-Muslim Hindutva propaganda, the article is also geared to shoring up Brahminical supremacy and the interests of the ruling castes/classes. Thus, in true Brahminist fashion, Swamy calls for a hard-hitting military approach to ‘eliminate’, as he puts it, the Naxalites, as if they were a mere law-and-order problem and not one rooted in the mounting oppression faced by vast numbers of Dalits and Adivasis, who, finding other means of securing justice closed to them by a system that is based on their exclusion and subjugation, feel compelled to take to the militant path. Further, rubbishing the entire legacy of the non-Brahmin Dravidian Self-Respect movement, Swamy mocks its challenge to the hegemony of the Tamil Brahmins, the community to which he belongs. It would thus seem that any dissenting voice that dares to critique Brahminism (for which the term ‘Hinduism’ is a euphemism) and Brahminical notions of Indian culture and nationalism is to be readily branded as an affront to Indian (read Brahminical) identity, and, hence, anti-national. There is nothing at all here to distinguish Swamy from any other run-of-the-mill Hindutva ideologue. Nothing what he writes here is at all original or novel.

Swamy’s article is also geared to promoting Brahminical supremacy in another way – by maintaining a deafening silence on the enormous and rapidly mounting caste-class contradictions within the so-called ‘Hindu community’ and the daily violence to which Dalits and other oppressed caste-groups are subjected to by caste Hindus. By deliberately and constantly projecting Muslims as the menacing ‘other’ of the so-called ‘majority Hindu community’, and castigating Muslims as a violent threat to the very existence of the latter, Brahminist ideologues like Swamy deliberately cover-up the fundamental role of the ruling caste-class establishment (which they represent) in generating violence on a massive scale, of which the oppressed castes/classes are the principal victims. This strategy of ‘otherizing’ Muslims through consistently demonizing them is crucial to the project of constructing the notion of a singular ‘majority Hindu community’ which conceals internal caste-class differences within the ‘Hindu’ fold. This concealment is necessary so that the wrath of the oppressed castes/classes can be diverted from their real oppressors – the ruling caste-class establishment – onto the demonized Muslim ‘other’. The trope of a singular ‘Hindu’ community (whose internal caste-class contradictions are conveniently denied in the name of ‘Hindu unity’) is an indispensable tool for enabling the Brahminical caste/class minority to use the logic of majoritarianism to claim to speak for the ‘Hindu majority’ simply in order to promote the interests and worldviews of this hegemonic minority, which hardly counts for more than a tenth of the Indian population. In true Hindutva fashion, this is also precisely what Swamy’s article seeks to do.

Swamy begins his article with a reference to the recent bomb attacks in Mumbai. Although viscerally anti-Muslim Brahminist Hindu terror groups are known to have engaged in terror blasts in various parts of the country in recent years, besides, of course, in murderous anti-Muslim pogroms on a massive scale, many Hindus, even in the absence of any evidence, would readily blame Muslims, or a known or even imaginary Muslim group, for any blast that may occur. This has now become an instinctive reaction, so deeply-rooted has the notion of Muslims being linked with terrorism become. This is precisely what Swamy does in this case, too, appearing to suggest that the recent blasts were the handiwork of Muslims, even thought there is no confirmed evidence to support this contention. Swamy does not stop there, though, and goes on to speak of India’s very existence being threatened by what he calls ‘Islamic terrorism’, which he terms as an ‘existential threat’ and India’s ‘number one problem of national security’. The reality of Hindu or Hindutva terrorism and state terrorism thus completely eludes him. Swamy’s visceral hatred for Muslims makes him completely blind to the enormity of anti-Muslim violence engaged in by Hindu mobs (often in league with the state) for decades, which is definitely a major cause for Muslim dissatisfaction, and which, in some cases, might even have led to retaliatory violence, especially in the face of an indifferent and hostile state apparatus. ‘Let us remember that every Hindu-Muslim riot in India since 1947, has been ignited by Muslim fanatics’, Swamy announces, completely oblivious to or, possibly, ignorant of, reality, which is quite to the contrary.

Swamy appears to paint all Muslims with the same baneful brush. ‘Muslims cannot be divided into “moderates” and “extremists” because the former just capitulate when confronted’, he claims. Thus, in his view, it is by definition almost impossible for a Muslim not to collude in extremism, whether actively or otherwise. Accordingly, for Swamy there can simply be no hope for better Hindu-Muslim relations in India, unless, as he ardently advocates, Muslims agree to effectively Hinduise themselves. If Swamy is to be believed, till the Indian Muslims consent to reclaim their supposed ‘Hindu past’, all efforts to promote harmony between Hindus and Muslims are useless and it would serves no purpose to work for it. But Swamy does not rest content simply with this depressing prognosis. Instead, he goes further and passionately advocates a vast range of policies that seem calculated to suppress, humiliate, demean and, inevitably, provoke Muslims, all in such a manner as to completely sabotage any prospects for Hindu-Muslim camaraderie and to set off a Hindu-Muslim war of cosmic proportions across South Asia. Al-Qaeda, one supposes, would certainly be delighted at having discovered a comrade who shares its Manichaean world-view! After all, destroying India by igniting Hindu-Muslim conflict on a massive scale is, so it is said, and as Swamy himself notes, precisely what Al-Qaeda wants. …



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Muslims need quotas more than SC/STs – By By Kancha Ilaiah (Aug 10, 2011, Twocircles.net)

A debate is likely to be triggered by the Union minister for minority affairs, Mr Salman Khurshid’s proposal for reservations for Muslims in Central institutions of education and employment. Though the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission and the Minority Commission in their reports recommended 10 per cent reservations for Muslims based on their social and educational backwardness, so far the Indian state has not taken any steps in that direction. In this context, we must appreciate the minister for taking the initiative. Though certain sections would say that this proposal is being made keeping the Uttar Pradesh elections in mind, it is still an issue that needs to be dealt with. Several commissions – the Gopal Singh Commission, the Ranganath Mishra Commission and the Sachar Committee – have examined the socio-economic conditions of Muslims and come to the conclusion that the condition of Indian Muslims is as bad as that of people from other weaker sections.

In terms of employment, their position is, in fact, worse than that of SC/STs. According to a white paper prepared by the All-India Milli Council (AIMC) and presented to former prime minister, Mr I.K. Gujral, in 1998, there were only 116 Muslims out of a total of 3,883 administrative service officers (2.98 per cent), 45 out of 1,433 police service officers (3.14 per cent) and 57 out of 2,159 foreign service officers (2.64 per cent). In other words, in the Central government, Muslims constituted 1.6 per cent of all class I officers, 3.9 per cent of all class II officers and 4.4 per cent of the technical supervisory staff. The situation has not changed even now. The Sachar Committee concluded that in 12 states where the Muslim share in total population is 15.4 per cent, their representation in government jobs is only 5.7 per cent. In police, administrative and diplomatic services their representation varies from 1.6 to 3.4 per cent. Other studies have shown that Muslims are poorly represented in judiciary and military and are almost absent in intelligence agencies such as the RAW and the NSG because they are mistrusted.

These statistics and the assessment of various commissions and committees go to show that there is a need for affirmative action for Muslims, especially in the spheres of education and employment, where they are worse off than some of the historically backward castes within the fold of Hinduism. But how did this happen? Muslims as a community study the Quran, then how and why did such a religious community remain backward in literacy rate and education? According to the 2001 census, the Muslim literacy rate is 60 per cent against 75.5 per cent of Hindus. The Christian literacy rate is 90.3 per cent, the Sikh literacy rate is 70.4 per cent, for Buddhists it is 73 per cent and Jains’ literacy rate is the highest, at 95 per cent. We can understand the Jains having the highest literacy rate because the community constitutes mostly the Baniyas who live by trade. All the Jains, therefore, at least make their children literate. Obviously, the Hindu literacy rate includes the literacy rate among the SCs, which is 54.69 per cent, and the STs, whose literacy rate is just 47.10 per cent. Overall the Hindu literacy rate has grown quite well, as against that of the Muslims. The phenomenal rise of SC, ST and OBC literacy rate in the recent past is because of the hope of getting jobs through the instrument of reservation.

If one goes by the evolutionary history of Islam, there is clear evidence that it was a religion that brought a revolution in the sphere of reading and writing in the Arab world. Then why does such rampant educational backwardness exists among Indian Muslims? Why are people who read the Holy Book illiterate? One reason could be that most of the Muslims in India are converts from lower and untouchable castes. Unlike a poor Dalit, a poor Muslim lives without the hope of a job. The Muslim poor are not so worried about their education because there are no job opportunities for them. Though the Muslim population is more urbanised than the SC, ST and OBC population, their educational awareness is confined to reading of the Quran, whereas the SC, ST and OBCs are more worried about their children not getting English education. The failure, therefore, is of both their religious leadership and the political leadership.

After the September 11 attacks, the lives of Muslims became more insulated. Even in elite English-medium schools Muslim children face discrimination and suspicion. In many non-Muslim middle-class and upper-middle class colonies they do not even get a house on rent nor can they buy one. Untouchability has come to them in another form – through religion, not caste. An all-India reservation debate alone can open up their closed mind in relation to education, or, at least, create a churning among the Muslim intelligentsia. But reservation for Muslims should not be pitted against the OBC 27 per cent quota. The debate must also look at the 50 per cent cap that the Supreme Court of India imposed on the national reservation formula but did not explain the reason and logic behind it.



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A Battle for India’s Soul – By Rachel Saltz (Aug 11, 2011, New York Times)

Nothing less than India’s soul is at stake in Prakash Jha’s “Aarakshan,” a Hindi movie about the battle – as intense as any gang war – between a righteous teacher and the hucksters who would make education a commodity available only to the privileged.

Mr. Jha likes to take political stories and turn them into pulpy, populist epics. His last film, “Rajneeti,” a sort of “Mahabharata” meets “The Godfather,” set in present-day Bhopal, was about corruption in a dynastic ruling family. Here he grapples with caste prejudice and the Indian version of affirmative action: the reserving of spots in schools for low or “backward” castes. (“Aarakshan” means reservation.)

To help tell his big story, he has enlisted Bollywood’s Mr. Big, Amitabh Bachchan, who plays Prabhakar Anand, a Bhopal college principal whose integrity costs him his job. Among his proteges is the low-caste Deepak (Saif Ali Khan).

“Tell us about your father,” job interviewers demand of Deepak in the opening scene. Yet even as the film works to overturn the idea that family status determines worth, it can’t help placing its hopes in a good daddy figure: namely, Mr. Bachchan’s Prabhakar, who looms as large to his students as the man who plays him does to generations of Indian moviegoers.

At times “Aarakshan” comes off like a pep rally for pluralism and inclusion. (“Just give me a chance -and watch me take flight” go the lyrics to one song.) But Mr. Jha doesn’t stint on the melodrama, unabashedly pitting smirking corruption against heroic rectitude. Subtle it ain’t and subtle it needn’t be. It is, though, mostly involving (if Bollywood long, at 2 hours 45 minutes) and even occasionally stirring.



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