In this issue of IAMC News Roundup
- ‘Central IB officer floated ISI conspiracy theory for Godhra’
- Govt reply full of falsehood: IPS officer Rahul Sharma to CAT
- Narendra Modi, like Nazis, will be remembered for carnage: Cong
- Govt trying to derail legal process in Gujarat riot cases: Teesta Setalvad
- Where was Ishrat killed ?
- Probing ‘Hindu terror’ cases: Why NIA remains clueless
- Media celebrates arrest of ‘terrorists’, but ignores their acquittal
- Kandhamal riots: Court sentences 8, acquits 19
- Swami accused of murder moves High Court for bail
- Don’t sit on sanction for prosecution in corruption cases, says Supreme Court
Opinions & Editorials
- Electoral Mandate, Fake Encounters And Rule of Law – By R. B. Sreekumar
- Where’s the ‘indictment’? – By Abhishek Singhvi
- Clearing the air – Editorial
- Call to Nation – Editorial
- Tiller, Traitor, Developer, Sly – By G Vishnu
- The Other Half: Burn dowry, not women – By Kalpana Sharma
- The Saffron Condition, Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neo Liberal India – By Subhash Gatade
Celebrations across the US by Indian Muslims to commemorate India’s 63rd Republic Day
Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, organized massive celebrations across the US to commemorate India’s 63rd Republic Day. IAMC’s chapters across the nation celebrated the day India’s Constitution came into effect, marking the birth of a modern, secular and democratic Republic.
This year’s festivities, organized on a larger scale, with elected US officials participating at several chapters, were marked by commemorative speeches, entertaining programs for children and adults and various exciting contests.
“The Republic Day celebrations organized by IAMC across the US are intended to be a tribute to the Constitution, a remarkable document that should be cherished and protected and that represents the highest aspirations of the world’s largest democracy,” said Mr. Shaheen Khateeb, President of IAMC. “The celebrations are also an opportunity for us and our families to reconnect with India,” added Mr. Khateeb.
The nationwide celebrations included an online Video and Essay Contest at www.republicday.org which received a tremendous response. Winners of exciting prizes such as iPad, iPod Touch and Sony HDTV are as follows:
Video Contest Winners
1. First Prize: Kolaveri Di Republic Day Remix by Hayaa Hyder
2. Second Prize: Dance Performance by Shivangi Gupta
Essay Contest Winners
1. First Prize: India’s Contribution to World Culture – A few pearls by Mahesh Chandramouli
2. Second Prize: Influence of India in my surroundings by Samah Syed
International Video Contest
1. First Prize Winner – Zidan on Republic Day 2012 by Syed Zidan Ali, Gonda, UP
San Francisco Bay Area Celebrations draw notable public figures and a packed Audience
The Indian American Muslim Council’s (IAMC) Bay Area chapter organized a celebration event to commemorate the 63rd Anniversary of India’s Republic Day on January 28, 2012 in the east bay city of Newark, CA. Featuring a variety of cultural programs and a quiz contest themed on Indian history, the event was attended by leading Bay Area elected officials including Congressman Mike Honda (15th District) and representatives from Congressman Pete Stark (13th District) and Assembly Member Jim Beall, (24th District). Anand Kumar Jha, Consul (Community Affairs) represented the Consulate General of India, San Francisco.
The Republic Day celebrations also drew a large audience from diverse Bay Area Indian American groups including the Malyalee Association of Northern California, Silicon Andhra and Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association.
In opening the event, Mr. Ahsan Khan, President, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of IAMC, stressed upon the historical significance of Republic Day which marks the adoption of the Indian Constitution, a landmark document guaranteeing liberty, equality and freedom of speech and expression for all. Mr. Khan spoke about the Constitution as having paved the way for the rise of modern, secular and democratic Republic of India. Mr. Honda delivered a keynote address on the event and expressed strong support for the Bay Area Indian American community. He commended the work of IAMC in advocating peace, pluralism and social justice for all.
The weekend’s event also marked the culmination of IAMC’s month long India Republic Day online Video and Essay contest and concluded with a prize distribution ceremony. The contest was hugely popular in the Indian American community and drew scores of entries from cities and towns across the United States. “Our main goal in organizing this year’s contest was to bring together the Indian American community, especially our children and youth in the United States in a common quest to rediscover India, to unleash their creative talents, and rekindle our bonds with India”, observed Mr. Khan. Consul Anand Kumar Jha distributed the prizes and expressed deep appreciation for the creativity demonstrated by the contestants in their essay and video entries.
Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.
Indian Muslims in San Diego Celebrate the founding of the Indian Republic
Congressman Bob Filner, Assembly member Marty Block and representatives from several local organizations joined the Republic Day Celebrations organized by the San Diego Chapter on January 29, 2012 at Holiday Inn Express.
Congressman Bob Filner presented a proclamation to the San Diego Chapter, recognizing the Republic Day celebrations. In his remarks Congressman Filner reminisced about his work with Dr. Martin Luther King who advised him to read the works of Mahatma Gandhi. Assembly member Marty Block noted the similarities in some of the challenges faced by India and the US, and urged the audience to be vigilant in safeguarding the Constitution.
Prof. Vinay Lal (Dept. of History, UCLA) delivered the keynote address in which he shared an interesting analysis of the Constitution and what it means to the 1 billion people of India. Mr. Mohammed Nasrullah, President of the San Diego Chapter described the ideals of justice, liberty and equality and the ability to live in a spirit of fraternity with one’s fellow countrymen as the “basic yearnings of every human heart.”
A Fancy Dress competition, a Quiz Contest, a Painting Competition as well as songs by some attendees marked the festivities that were accompanied by a delicious Indian lunch.
Boston Area Indian Muslims Commemorate Republic Day with a Fiesty Celebration
The Republic Day event was held on Saturday January 28th on a warm and sunny afternoon. DJ Bunty Singh’s musical stylings filled the Knights of Columbus event hall in Westborough. Indian fare, including beautiful jewelry and long flowing traditional dresses, lined the wall waiting to be bought up by lucky customers.
Amin Zama, President of IAMC’s Boston Chapter (Indian American Muslim Council) gave the welcome address in which he honored the late Dr. Omar Khalidi, a great writer and intellectual who contributed immensely to the ideals that IAMC is striving for. Dr. Khalidi was also posthumously recognized through an award received by his wife Mrs. Nigar Khalidi. Other awardees included Farukh Ansari and Umang Kumar for their outstanding community service and activism.
The audience was asked to observe a moment of silence for Mahatma Gandhi, as the anniversary of his assassination was on January 30th.
The quiz titled “Who Wants to Be an Informed Indian,” was received enthusiastically the audience. The highlight of the afternoon was a great performance on the sarangi by DJ Bunty Singh.
Northern New Jersey Abuzz with Indian Muslims Celebrating Republic Day
Over 150 people gathered at the Elks Lodge in Northern New Jersey to celebrate India’s 63rd Republic Day on Sunday, January 29, 2012.
The first Muslim mayor of Indian origin, Mr. Hameeduddin (Teaneck, NJ) spoke on the occasion and stressed on the importance of being connected to one’s roots.
Prof. Sushila Gidvani – the veteran social activist and well known personality of the Tri-State area was the chief guest. She thanked the organizers and IAMC for their efforts in serving the Non-Resident Indian community and extended her support to the organization in building bridges with other organizations across United States that were working towards the same objectives. Dy. Director Homeland Security John Page addressed the gathering and distributed prizes to the winners and runners-up of the Quiz Contest, the Drawing Competition and a colorful fancy dress competition. The attendees enjoyed a delicious Indian lunch.
The audience was mesmerized by Lata Mangeshkar’s rendition of India’s National Anthem, which followed the US National Anthem. Beautiful poetry was recited by Shiraz Sharief.
This occasion was special to the migrant Indian community and served as a reminder that the constitution grants equal rights to all residents of the country, and that it is the duty of all Indians, whether they live in India or abroad, to protect those rights for everyone.
Minneapolis Indian Muslims Mark Republic Day with Reflection and Festivities
The IAMC – MN Chapter hosted the India Republic Day event at the Presidents’ Room of the Coffman Memorial Union at the University of Minnesota on Saturday January 28th, 2012. The program started with the American National Anthem followed by the Indian National Anthem by 10 year-old Sidra Khatoon.
Satveer Chaudhry (Former MN Senator) and Dr. Ajay Skaria (Asst. Professor UMN) were among the distinguished guests. Former Senator Chaudhry emphasized the involvement of Muslims and Muslim organizations. The greatness of the US and Indian Constitutions lies in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of minorities, he remarked. Dr. Skaria said that while August 15th marks India’s freedom from colonial rule, January 26th marks the day India made a commitment to what it would like to be. He emphasized the need for vigilance to meet the challenges to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. Kusum Gosain, President of the Indian Association of Minnesota emphasized the importance of strengthening the intra-community relationships.
The audience enthusiastically participated in a jeopardy quiz during the lunch. Dr. Hyder Khan recited Sulaiman Kahteeb’s poem Himala ki Chandi.
The event was moderated by Shajiullah Khan. The quiz was conducted by MN Chapter President Autif Syed and Secretary Hamed Siddiqui.
For more information please visit our new website at www.iamc.com.
NEWS MEDIA COVERAGE
Indians in North Jersey commemorate homeland’s constitution
Boston South Asian – Republic Day Celebration
SAN JOSE MERCURYNEWS – Picture of the Week
Newark celebrates India Republic Day
USA – IAMC celebrates Republic day at California – Tv9
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
‘Central IB officer floated ISI conspiracy theory for Godhra’ (Feb 3, 2012, Times of India)
The officer from the Central Intelligence Bureau (IB) on whose questionable intelligence inputs fake encounters took place, was the one who floated the theory that the Godhra carnage was an ISI conspiracy. Then Central IB joint director, Ahmedabad – Rajendra Kumar came up with this theory within hours of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was torched near Godhra station killing 59 passengers on February 27, 2002. This has been told to the Supreme Court-mandated special investigation team (SIT) on May 9, 2008 by retired DGP R B Sreekumar.
In his deposition before SIT, Sreekumar stated, “Then DGP told me that Central IB joint director, Ahmedabad, Rajendra Kumar had come out with the theory of ISI conspiracy behind the Godhra incident and he had cajoled the DGP to pursue investigation, treating the Godhra incident as a conspiracy.” If Sreekumar is to be believed, the story was concocted by the officer posted in Gujarat by the NDA government. This theory was vigorously pursued by the state government by invoking Pota against the accused. Finally, the theory was demolished by judgments passed by various courts.
Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt also substantiated Sreekumar’s claims. In a letter written to SIT chief R K Raghavan, he stated that as an officer of State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), he conducted an inquiry into this issue and the SIB conclusions “completely demolished the so-called conspiracy theory.”
Expressing disappointment about SIT’s approach and apprehension that it would disregard the vital pieces of evidence, Sreekumar has appealed people to built pressure on the probe agency to be fair in its investigation and conclusions. Sreekumar had also told SIT in 2008 that enough evidence was on record “to establish that the anti-minority genocide, following the Godhra train fire incident, was conceived, designed, organized, prepared and perpetrated by chief minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues and Sangh Pariwar leaders.”
- SIB report demolishes conspiracy theory in Godhra carnage: Sanjiv Bhatt (Feb 2, 2012, DNA India)
- Police chief told about bodies in well: Bhatt (Jan 31, 2012, Indian Express)
- SIT did not exhume bodies from Naroda Patia well: Bhatt (Jan 31, 2012, Times of India)
- No efforts by SIT to probe illegally disposed bodies of riot (Jan 30, 2012, IBN)
Govt reply full of falsehood: IPS officer Rahul Sharma to CAT (Jan 31, 2012, IBN)
IPS officer Rahul Sharma has told the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that the Gujarat government’s reply to his petition challenging chargesheet against him with regard to phone call records CD of the 2002 riot period, was full of ‘falsehood’ and ‘contradictions’. In a rejoinder filed yesterday, Sharma has denied all contentions raised by the state government in its reply filed on January 12 to his petition before the CAT.
Sharma, who had contended that he was being victimised for deposing before the Nanavati Commission probing the 2002 riot cases, claimed full immunity under section 6 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act from all civil and criminal proceeding except for perjury. The state government, which had denied Sharma’s contention and described his petition as premature, today sought time from the Tribunal bench of Mukesh K Gupta and Ashok Kumar, to study Sharma’s rejoinder, which was granted. Further hearing in the case is scheduled for February 21.
In his rejoinder filed yesterday, Sharma has alleged that state government lied on oath before CAT stating it had knowledge about the existence of the CDs. “The reply filed by respondent 1 (government) is full of falsehoods and contradictions, which in effect, ends up supporting the contentions of the applicant (Sharma),” Sharma’s rejoinder stated. Sharma has challenged the claims of the government that there was no connection between the enquiry initiated against him and his deposition before the Commission. He said that it was being done to deny him immunity under section 6 of Commissions of Inquiry Act.
Government has admitted that it did not have knowledge about existence of the CDs and it first came to know about the CDs only through Sharma’s deposition before the Commission, he pointed out. “The deposition of the applicant (Sharma) cannot be used to give birth to any enquiry against him in view of Section 6 of the Commission of Enquiry Act,” he argued. “Once the source of such information is put before the Commission of Enquiry, it cannot be used in any manner to bring up any civil or criminal proceeding against the applicant (Sharma),” he added.
- Ex-DGP puts SRP officer in dock for Naroda massacre (Feb 3, 2012, Indian Express)
- Ex-Gujarat DGP accuses SIT of ignoring vital evidence (Feb 2, 2012, Deccan Herald)
- Court rejects accused’s plea to call 24 witnesses (Feb 1, 2012, Indian Express)
- Court visits Naroda Patia, does not meet witnesses (Jan 31, 2012, Times of India)
Narendra Modi, like Nazis, will be remembered for carnage: Cong (Feb 2, 2012, Times of India)
Congress on Wednesday put Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at par with the Nazis, saying both the regimes would be defined by their carnages. The party made the comparison to dismiss Modi’s claims of ushering in development on a day he was reported to have “blown his own trumpet” in a speech. AICC spokesman Manish Tewari said the claims of development were like saying even Nazis had constructed the famous autobahn motorway system. “But Nazis are known for Austwitz camp,” he said, adding the Gujarat regime would be defined by its inaction and culpability in the 2002 Godhra riots.
While Tewari added the caveat that he was not drawing a parallel between the despised German regime and the present Gujarat CM, he added there were some lessons to be learnt from history. The bid to taint Modi’s development claims came a day after Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit praised the BJP leader for development of Gujarat which she said was the reason for his reelection. The praise for bete-noire Modi did not go down well with Congress and she later claimed her comments had been torn out of context.
What made Dikshit’s remark provocative was the controversy over Gujarat Congress unit last week bringing out a pamphlet praising Modi’s record as CM. AICC dismissed charges of the party unit backing Modi by saying it was a satire on the Hindutva leader and little could be done if sarcasm was lost on the BJP. However, Tewari’s acerbic attack on Modi appeared to lay down the bottomline for partymen who are tempted to appreciate the CM for development. He made it clear that Godhra riots would continue to be the Congress measure for Modi’s stature.
“The CM had in 2004 changed the terms of reference of Nanavati Commission to include the role of Gujarat CM and government in its ambit. If the CM or the state government are so innocent in riots, why did they not present themselves before the commission? There has been a wide gulf between the words and deeds of the state government over 10 years and we have been constantly highlighting that,” Tewari said.
- After advertisement goof-up, Cong calls Modi Nazi ruler (Feb 1, 2012, Indian Express)
- SIT shielding Modi from prosecution: Ex-DGP (Feb 2, 2012, Hindustan Times)
- “SIT planning closure report on Modi” (Feb 3, 2012, The Hindu)
- Cong accuses SIT chief of shielding Modi (Feb 2, 2012, Times of India)
Govt trying to derail legal process in Gujarat riot cases: Teesta Setalvad (Jan 31, 2012, DNA India)
Teesta Setalvad, secretary of the human rights organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has refuted the Gujarat government’s allegation that she was involved in filing fabricated affidavits on behalf of the victims of the 2002 communal riots. In a counter-affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Setalvad has stated that the Gujarat government’s use of Rais Khan to get her arrested is intended to embroil her and her organisation in parallel legal procedures.
She has further stated that the state government was trying to dilute the concentration and attention on not just the ongoing trials in critical riot cases but “the historic investigation and prosecution … wherein the chief minister of the state and other influential persons are accused.” She has further stated that the campaign to discredit, by intimidating and harassing those supporting the riot victims, the court’s efforts to ensure justice has to be addressed by an enquiry to find out how people had been planted to file applications that derail the legal process.
The Gujarat government had recently told the Supreme Court that witness accounts supported the allegation that evidence in the riot cases had been fabricated at the behest of Setalvad.The Gujarat police had taken statements of the witnesses after Teesta’s former aide, Rais Khan, alleged in a complaint that he and Teesta had filed doctored affidavits in various courts where proceedings in the riot cases were going on.
- I can’t praise a CM accused of post-Godhra riots: Sheila (Jan 31, 2012, IBN)
- Narendra Modi for PM? Never, decide BJP & Sangh (Feb 4, 2012, DNA India)
- HC reserves order on plea for recovering Modi’s fast cost (Feb 3, 2012, Indian Express)
- Deposition of British envoys delayed (Feb 4, 2012, Times of India)
Where was Ishrat killed ? (Feb 1, 2012, Times of India)
Where were Ishrat Jahan and the three others killed? This question has foxed the CBI which recently took over investigations in this fake encounter of 2004. CBI’s dilemma is fuelled by contradictory reports by earlier investigators of this case. Documents submitted to CBI by the Gujarat High Court-appointed SIT in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case has raised several questions on where exactly the encounter took place on June 14, 2004. CBI officials say that most of the evidence submitted present a contradictory view on the site of encounter. According to crime branch officials the encounter had taken place outside city limits, close to Kotarpur Water Works.
The first enquiry to be conducted in this case was by judicial magistrate SP Tamang. According to Tamang, going by the postmortem and FSL reports the time of encounter mentioned by crime branch officials is wrong and the four alleged terrorists may have been killed elsewhere before their bodies were planted near the water works. Next, Gujarat HC-appointed SIT’s took over the investigation. After a year-long probe the SIT told the court in its Action Taken Report that the encounter was carried out elsewhere. The HC in its order referred to the conclusions of SIT and said: “The resultant effect would be that the deaths of the persons concerned have taken place at a place other than mentioned as the site of encounter.”
However, the same SIT had recorded statements of two witnesses who have asserted that the encounter had indeed taken place near Kotarpur water works. A police constable posted in Ahmedabad, Moti Desai, had allegedly told SIT initially that he was on duty at Arham farms near Koba and had seen one of the four persons killed in the encounter. Acting on his senior officers’ directive Desai brought the victim to Kotarpur. Desai added that the four were lined up near the road divider before being gunned down. Later, though, Desai retracted his statement and said that he had acted under duress of SIT’s members.
The second statement was of a CISF official. When Additional DGP R R Verma took charge as SIT chairman then inspector of CISF L S Minj had given a statement in which he said that he was posted at Ahmedabad airport which is close to the Kotarpur water works from 2000 to 2005. On the day of encounter he was on night duty, when one of his constables told him that he had received a wireless message that the guard on a watch tower close to the runway’s end had spotted and heard firing take place near the water works. Minj rushed to the watch tower and he too heard shots being fired. Since the shooting was taking place on the road, outside the airport campus he could not do much. He could hear different firearms being fired simultaneously for 20 minutes. Though these two witnesses speak about the encounter spot as Kotarpur water works, the confusion remains. CBI officials are now probing which is the genuine encounter spot.
- CBI, state govt against HC hearing Haren Pandya case (Feb 6, 2012, Times of India)
- Sadik, Ishrat probe cases get new office (Feb 2, 2012, DNA India)
- Sadiq encounter: HC raps govt for CBI team’s plight (Jan 24, 2012, Indian Express)
- Sohrabuddin case: Hearing on Abhay Chudasama’s bail plea deferred (Feb 3, 2012, DNA India)
Probing ‘Hindu terror’ cases: Why NIA remains clueless (Feb 3, 2012, Rediff)
It is a fact that the acts of terrorism from Nanded to Malegaon were all inter-linked. Although a different set of individuals carried out the attacks, the fact remains that the entire operation emerged from one module. The National Investigation Agency has ascertained that the ammunition for the blasts in Nanded, Modasa, Samjautha Express, Ajmer, Malegaon and Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad were all procured from Mhow in Madhya Pradesh.
The NIA has many suspects in custody; but there are others who are absconding. It has been almost a year since the NIA was handed over the charge for the above mentioned cases, but there appears to be something wrong with the manner in which the probe is taking place as there is no concrete breakthrough yet. The NIA probe into cases involving ‘Hindu extremists’ went wrong from day one. The Nanded blasts, which is considered to be the mother of these acts of terror, was badly investigated, making it tough for NIA sleuths to make a start.
Today the NIA faces the herculean task of cracking all these cases which are inter-linked. Sources in the agency told rediff.com that the foundation of the case itself is extremely weak, which is why they are finding it hard to give it closure. There are leads in every case, the sources added, but in none of them have NIA detectives achieved a breakthrough.
The NIA confronts problems of inadequate manpower as well as evidence that has either been lost or destroyed. Take for example the Modasa and Malegaon blasts – it has just two officers on the job. The Ajmer blasts case, on the other hand, does not have a leader at the moment as three officers have stepped out due to personal reasons.
- Saffron Terror: Digvijay renews attack on RSS (Feb 1, 2012, Twocircles.net)
- ‘Not to question ATS men again in Malegaon probe’ (Jan 31, 2012, Times of India)
- Resolve differences between party, govt over Batla House: Ajit to Cong (Feb 1, 2012, Indian Express)
- Parzania, a tale of three mothers (Feb 6, 2012, Times of India)
Media celebrates arrest of ‘terrorists’, but ignores their acquittal (Feb 2, 2012, Twocircles.net)
In a development evidently reinforcing its prejudiced and biased attitude towards wrongly picked Muslim youths in terror cases, the mainstream national press chose to ignore the news of acquittal of a youth who spent 14 years in jail in more than 21 fabricated blast cases, but ultimately the court freed him as the prosecution could not substantiate its charges. Md. Amir Khan was arrested in 1998 by Delhi police on the charges of masterminding at least 21 blast cases in and around Delhi and NCR. But it took 14 years for the judiciary to find that 18 cases against him were completely without evidence.
When Amir, then just 18, was arrested, different sections of the media called him the “mastermind” of 20 blasts in and around Delhi and NCR. The media trial went to the extent that a Hindi daily (Ghaziabad edition) on December 11, 2007, had declared him a Pakistani national. But no media considered it even worth reporting, when as many as 18 of those 21 cases turned out to be fabricated, prosecution’s case collapsed and the same “mastermind” was acquitted of all charges in 18 cases. However, the trial court convicted him in three cases against which he moved the High Court, and the High Court has quashed one conviction and hearing the left two cases.
It was only a week after TCN reported Amir’s release that a section of Urdu and Hindi media took notice and started covering it. In fact, it’s very interesting to point out that a very premier news agency of the country, PTI, has reported inaccurately about Amir and didn’t report that out of the three cases in which he was convicted, one has been quashed by the Delhi HC and in two appeal is pending before the HC.
Importantly this wasn’t the only and the last case where media behaved blatantly prejudiced and biased manner. Just recall the arrests in Mecca Masjid blast, Malegaon blast, Jaipur serial blasts. The entire media had front-paged the arrest of Muslim youths in all these cases, but one after another all the accused have been acquitted in these three cases. The problem is that media projects mere arrest or even detention of terror suspects by police as conviction of real culprits by court, and perhaps that’s why when these suspects get acquitted by court after years of legal battle, the media has no answer, and they think it better to ignore the acquittals.
- 13/7 suspect’s kin takes ATS, Delhi police, Home Min to court (Jan 29, 2012, Mumbai Mirror)
- 13/7: Delhi jeweller held for ‘hawala link’ (Jan 31, 2012, Indian Express)
- 13/7: Maharashtra ATS arrest fourth accused (Jan 31, 2012, IBN)
- 13/7 blasts: ATS to question brother of arrested accused (Jan 31, 2012, Hindustan Times)
Kandhamal riots: Court sentences 8, acquits 19 (Jan 31, 2012, IBN)
A fast track court in Phulbani, Orissa, on Tuesday sentenced eight accused in the 2008 Kandhamal communal riots to five years imprisonment. Nineteen others were, however, acquitted by the court. The riots occurred in Kandhamal, a tribal-dominated district, in the aftermath of the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati at the Jalespata Ashram on August 23, 2008.
Hindu groups in the state blamed Christians for killing Lakshmanananda. They cited Lakshmanananda’s claims that Christians were trying to eliminate him for his opposition to conversion, and had attacked him “eight times before”.
On August 25–28, Hindu mobs, allegedly incited by leaders like Manoj Pradhan, an elected state legislator from the BJP, set fire to many Christian settlements, in which at least 38 people were killed. In addition, more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their villages “after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs”.
- Eight convicted in riots case (Feb 1, 2012, The Hindu)
- Two killed in Jamui clash (Feb 1, 2012, Indian Express)
- Re-probe Chattisinghpora, Pathribal cases: Sikh body tells SC (Jan 31, 2012, The Hindu)
- Nithari case: Next hearing on February 14 (Feb 1, 2012, IBN)
Swami accused of murder moves High Court for bail (Feb 3, 2012, Indian Express)
Petlad-based Swami Sachidanand has moved the Gujarat High Court seeking anticipatory bail in connection with the murder of one Babu Mohaniya at the former’s ashram near Petlad on July 17, 2006. An Anand court had rejected his anticipatory bail petition recently. The HC is likely to hear the plea on February 18.
The HC had earlier ordered to initiate criminal proceedings against Swami Sachidanand on a petition by Babu’s cousin Dhana Mohaniya. The HC order was upheld by the Supreme Court after which the concerned trial court had summoned Swami Sachidanand.
However, when he did not respond, the court issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW) against him, which was challenged by Swami Sachidanand at the HC. The HC had dismissed the petition and ordered him to appear before the trial court.Subsequently, Sachidanand had moved an anticipatory bail plea before the sessions court, which was rejected.
According to Dhana, Babu had gone to get some food from Sachidanand’s ashram on July 17, 2006. However, ashram inmates insulted him, which resulted in a scuffle following which Sachidanand came out and fired at Babu from his revolver. Babu died a few days later in Ahmedabad.
- ABVP forces univ to defer Kashmir seminar (Jan 31, 2012, Hindustan Times)
- Hindu Munnani activists rough up anti-nuke protesters (Feb 1, 2012, The Hindu)
- Fissures in BJP visible at RSS camp (Jan 30, 2012, Times of India)
- Assembly polls: Nitish Kumar keeps saffron at bay (Jan 30, 2012, Times of India)
Don’t sit on sanction for prosecution in corruption cases, says Supreme Court (Feb 1, 2012, The Hindu)
In a blow to every corrupt politician or bureaucrat shielded by the executive’s unwillingness to let them stand trial, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set a three-month deadline for governments to decide whether or not to grant sanction for prosecution under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly was allowing a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who questioned the delay on the part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the sanctioning authority, in granting sanction for prosecution of the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, in the 2G spectrum allocation case. The Bench gave two concurring judgments and held that Dr. Swamy had the locus standi to file a private complaint and seek sanction for prosecution.
Justice Singhvi said: “Keeping in view the fact that the Special Judge, CBI, has already taken cognisance of the offences committed by Mr. A. Raja under the PC Act, we do not consider it necessary to give any other direction in the matter.” Justice Singhvi held that had the Prime Minister been apprised of the true, factual and legal position on Dr. Swamy’s representation, he would surely have taken an appropriate decision and would not have allowed the matter to linger for more than one year.
Justice Ganguly said: “Delay in granting sanction has spoilt many a valid prosecution and is adversely viewed in [the] public mind that in the name of considering a prayer for sanction, protection is given to a corrupt public official as a quid pro quo for services rendered by the official in the past or maybe [to be rendered] in the future and the sanctioning authority and the corrupt officials were or are partners in the same misdeeds.”
The Bench rejected Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati’s argument that the question of grant of sanction for prosecution of a public servant charged with any of the offences enumerated under Section 19(1) would arise only when the court decided to take cognisance and any request made prior to that was premature.
- Jaya ex-aide Sasikala’s brother arrested (Feb 3, 2012, Tehelka)
- CBI books 2 ex-Army officers in Rs. 46 cr. land scam (Feb 1, 2012, The Hindu)
- ‘42% of India’s youth have paid a bribe’ (Feb 6, 2012, Hindustan Times)
- Radia tapes: SC asks Centre to examine Tata’s plea (Feb 3, 2012, The Hindu)
Opinions and Editorials
Electoral Mandate, Fake Encounters And Rule of Law – By R. B. Sreekumar (Feb 6, 2012, Countercurrents)
The Apex Court order (25th Jan, 2012) entrusting enquiry to a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice M. B. Shah, of all 21 extra judicial killings by Gujarat Police from October 2002 to December 2006, is welcomed by all law abiding citizens. This has confirmed the representation of the Human Rights activists that the Modi Government, since the days of anti-minority carnage, following the gruesome killing of 59 Hindus on 27th February, 2002 in train fire at Godhra, has unabashedly subverted the Criminal Justice System, to delay and deny Justice to riot victims and carry out its false propaganda of high voltage threat from militants to Narendra Modi and Sangh Parivar leaders. Earlier, the higher Judicial bodies had intervened for equity and justice to riot victims by ordering transfer of trial of two riot cases to Maharashtra State; reopening 2000 odd closed cases by Gujarat police; appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT), to reinvestigate nine major mass killing cases and complaint by Mrs. Ehsan Jafri, widow of former Congress MP, brutally murdered by rioters in 2002; and directing CBI to investigate fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin and others. Of the 21 fake encounter killings, the first was in October 2002, a month before assembly elections in which the Gujarat Electorate gave a massive mandate to riot tainted Chief Minister Narendra Modi and BJP. Many factors contributed to the continuance of fake encounters by a set of police officers like DIG Vanzara from October 2002 to April 2007, when Vanzara and other police officers were arrested for extra judicial killings.
Firstly, the Modi Government has been nurturing an ill-founded and audacious presumption that the electoral mandate in 2002 and in 2007, despite its involvement in planning and execution of anti-minority holocaust, is a blanket license to further marginalize the spirit and practice of the Rule of Law. Any criticism of riots, deviation from the cannons of justice delivery, stereotyped versions about the process of encounters, identity and organizational linkup and antecedents of victims of fake encounters were ultimately countered by Government spokesman on the ground of immense popular support in the elections and public approval to Narendra Modi. Secondly, the mandatory post-encounter structural administrative response, like departmental and executive magisterial probe, under the provisions of Gujarat Police and Revenue Manuals and regulations about State Intelligence Branch’s (SIB) suo motto probe were conveniently flouted. Even hierarchically senior officers to the “the encounter experts” dared not to enquire against these blue eyed boys of the Government and they deemed that the Government, particularly the Chief Minister Narendra Modi, did consent all these fake encounters.
Thirdly, these fake encounters have been part of the satanic heritage of Gujarat Police, since the killing of notorious gangster Abdul Latif of Ahmedabad city in the late 1990s. These are treated as legitimate police action though the means of this crime control strategy was illegal and unethical. General public and community leaders often insisted upon extra-judicial killings of alleged incorrigible and so called desperate goons as a means of preventive action like proceedings under section 107 to 110 CRPC, Externment under the Bombay Police Act and PASA/ POTA detentions. The bitter truth is that no goon or extortionist grows in stature, range of operation and extent of money spinning organized crimes without the active connivance of the ruling political elite and their collaborating police officers. The killing of Abdul Latif in fake encounter was actually to avoid the danger of his speaking out incriminating information about his mentors among politicians and police officers. Reportedly the gang of Sohrabuddin was used by Police and their political masters to extort money, irrespective of community background of the victims. For the reasons best known to CBI, probe on nearly 200 petitions from victims of extortion received by this agency, during investigation of Sohrabuddin case, was not enquired by CBI, instead these complaints were forwarded to the state police which had allegedly coerced the petitioners to submission and withdrawal of the complaints. Were Sohrabuddin and his companions killed to obviate the risk of the gang exposing the culpable role of the powerful and mighty in the State Government who nurtured them? Of late, throughout India, organized crime is a lucrative economic activity, so, instead of merely conniving with the operators of crimes, unscrupulous politicians and police officers make investments in the “business”, i.e. sale of illicit liquor, gambling, prostitution, drugs, illicit firearms, land grabbing and so on.
The failure of the long arm of law in booking the real plotters and perpetrators of the anti-minority bloodbath in 2002, particularly in the hay days of fake encounters, (as on today SIT arrested only one police inspector rank officer from the official hierarchy, for the riots resulting in the death of nearly 2000 people), had emboldened the encounter experts to go ahead with their killing spree for catering to the nefarious political machinations of their masters, career advancements and corruption. The impact of media, public opinion and judicial vigilance, had thankfully resulted in the arrest of encounter specialists. This has not only driven them out of the euphoria of immunity from accountability and punishment, due to their proximity to ruling party, and had also sent the right and pungent message to potential sycophants and roughish careerist officers from indulging in anymore fake encounters. Hence no extra-judicial killings took place since the arrest of Vanzara and company in 2007. This aspect also will disprove the baseless propaganda about Muslim militants dispatching armed assassins for attacking Narendra Modi and Hindu leaders. Are the leaders of Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed afraid of imprisoned encounter specialists than when they were on active duty? Fourthly, fake encounters were executed with obvious unholy political and unethical administrative objectives. Political strategic aims of, 1) Maintaining the publicity of high intensity threat from Islamic Jehadists against Narendra Modi and Sangh Parivar leaders, 2) Silencing critics of Narendra Modi in BJP and NDA and 3) Creation of sympathy and support for Modi and his followers for their unprecedented “brave action” to project and protect Hindu honour and image among the bulk of Hindu community throughout India are discernable. The close men of the CM in police was also keen for one-up-man ship in comparison to police forces of other states through fake encounters and elimination of so called Jehadi elements. They also did indulge in “victim shopping”, viz. arresting alleged Islamic militants from other states and bringing them to Gujarat for interrogation and their subsequent extra judicial killings. Strangely, Gujarat police or central agencies had not succeeded to bring out any collateral or circumstantial evidence relating to the “terrorists” killed in encounters like unearthing the network of these persons, their financers, weaponry, shelters, communication channels, training centers, so on. Let us not forget that in none of these cases any relevant information was unearthed so far. Basic professional requirement even in the arrest of a pickpocket or a thief is to trace out his abettors and associates, up to disposers of booty. Why even the central IB, which reportedly supplied information about the terrorist links of many victims of fake encounters, did fail to unearth relevant incriminating collateral information? This should unravel the deceitful inveracity of practically all encounter stories by Gujarat police.
In fact the fake encounters by the right hand men of the Chief Minister was an extension of the official policy of the State Government. The Chief Secretary, G. Suba Rao, in May-June 2002 wanted DGP and Additional DGP Intelligence to organize encounters as a preventive action. Evidence about such illegal verbal instructions was advanced by me to Justice Nanavati Commission, probing into the riots and SIT, in my Third Affidavit (April 2005). The fake encounters by Gujarat police was started after my transfer from the post of ADGP Intelligence in Sep 2002. Another relevant fact is the reluctance of senior police officers to initiate any inquiry about alleged undesirable activities of DIG Vanzara. A report in Sep 2002 about this officer allegedly planting illicit firearms on members of minority community in Ahmedabad city on the eve of Rathyatra was not acted upon by the Commissioner of Police. Strangely, the Chief Secretary had started an enquiry against the ADGP Intelligence, who sent this sensitive information to the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad city. Had the Government acted on this information and corrected Vanzara, the right message would have gone to the police officers and they would not have indulged in extra judicial killings, which brought incalculable infamy to the Gujarat State Government. The agility of media and Human Right activists like Javed Akhtar, Teesta Setalvad and B. G. Varghese coupled with the alacrity of the Apex Court to order a probe on all fake encounters had energized the Rule of Law in Gujarat. This will have a deterrent impact on all conscienceless politicians and knavish police officers from denying right to life and liberty to innocent Citizens of India.
- Supreme Court turns the heat on fake encounters by Gujarat Police – By Tehelka (Feb 11, 2012, Tehelka)
Where’s the ‘indictment’? – By Abhishek Singhvi (Feb 7, 2012, Indian Express)
The apex court judgement on grant/ denial of sanction is a purely legal exercise. That should hardly need emphasis because courts are supposed to, and invariably do, eschew political comments. But for those, like the BJP, who see politics lurking in every bush, who want to sensationalise and try to make political capital out of every event, this judgment has provided another opportunity to tilt at windmills. First, the legal aspects: The judgment has brought about much-needed certainty and clarity, but mainly by reiterating principles of law enunciated in earlier leading apex court judgments. It starts by reminding us of the established principle that sanction is not required once the public servant concerned has ceased to be employed in the post in which the alleged delinquency occurred. Several judgments, 30 to 40 years old, are cited in support. Secondly, the apex court relies on the venerable judgment of A.R. Antulay (in the original round of which I had occasion to appear as a young lawyer), to state the twin principles that locus standi is a concept foreign to criminal law and that anyone has the right to set the criminal justice system in motion by filing a complaint before the appropriate magistrate.
Thirdly, it rejects the government’s contention to the effect that the issue of grant of sanction does not arise at the stage of filing a complaint but only at the stage of cognisance of the complaint. Again, several older apex court judgments are cited to make the point that the magistrate cannot even entertain the complaint and cannot deal with it without sanction and that sanction should ideally be filed with the complaint. Fourthly, it reiterates the well-established principle that action on a complaint can be taken even without a police report and that the latter is not a sine qua non for action. Fifthly, it rejects the contention that investigation must compulsorily precede the taking of cognisance. Sixthly, it reiterates the principle that grant of sanction is not a quasi-judicial process, that it is administrative in nature and that it does not require any hearing to be given to the accused. In adumbrating each of these salutary principles, Justice Singhvi quotes copiously from older apex court judgments. In agreeing with him, Justice Ganguly does the same, though quoting fewer judgments.
Seventhly, in deprecating the delay in deciding pending applications for sanction, the court again reiterates no more than the 15-year-old principle of Vineet Narain’s case that sanctions should receive urgent attention and repeats the latter judgment’s time limit of four months. In all this, the apex court has tread cautiously and surely, basing itself on established and venerable earlier apex court precedent. Turning now to the political aspects, it is clear that for over 18 months, the opposition has tried to drag the prime minister (as also the present home minister) repeatedly into the issue, and has also tried to elicit some comment or the other, howsoever innocuous, from the apex court, so as to embarrass the head of government. Subramanian Swamy’s links to the BJP and RSS are well known, and he has publicly declared that he is on the threshold of joining the BJP. Clearly, his attempt to implicate the PM has boomeranged, since the judgment categorically gives the prime minister a clean chit and copiously discusses the issue in several paragraphs. In particular, Justice Ganguly notes that no mala fides were even alleged by Swamy, and both judges note that the delay in grant of sanction was, at best, on account of wrong advice, with no personal involvement of the prime minister. I wonder if the BJP will emphasise this part of the judgment in any print or visual media.
Secondly, the same applies to the home minister to the extent that while he has not been given a clean chit, not a single comment attaching culpability to him has been elicited by Swamy from the apex court, despite assiduous and strenuous efforts. As far as the home minister is concerned, the scene shifts to the magistrate. Thirdly, and significantly, the very raison d’etre of sanction has been questioned by the apex court. Its existence and use over the last several decades, at least according to Justice Ganguly, raises the issue of unfair discrimination in favour of public servants and against the common man by providing an additional protective arc to the former. The parliamentary committee on the Lokpal, which I had the privilege to chair, had, for the first time in 60 years, strongly and with several reasons, recommended the abolition of all external administrative sanctions, including those under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Aact, Section 197 CrPC and the infamous single directive in Section 6A of the CBI Act, for Lokpal-covered offences. Our recommendations were accepted and the bill with these three deletions was passed in the Lok Sabha, despite vociferous BJP opposition. In the Upper House, the initiative failed, due to lack of numbers. Those who want to politicise and sensationalise must explain to the nation why they prevented the abolition of sanction.
Fourthly, the reiteration of the four-month Vineet Narain time limit for sanctions and its application even to ministers is welcome, since it brings clarity and stability. The reality is that sanctions have been languishing because of bureaucratic indifference in all governments, irrespective of political colour, for well beyond four months. Lastly, one area where larger discussion by the apex court would have been welcome but is lacking is the area of logistical management of this issue. Theoretically, in this country of over one billion, complaints by anyone against any public servant, on the basis of newspaper reports, with no locus limitations, can arise. Sanctioning authorities may well be flooded with such requests at all administrative levels. They will have to create special and highly focused and efficient departments to deal with the flood of requests likely to arise as an unintended fallout of this judgment. In conclusion, to describe this judgment as a “slap in the government’s face” or as “an indictment” or as a “severe embarrassment” is not only to ignore logic and twist facts but also to distort the English language!
- Wrong Code – By Arindam Mukherjee (Feb 13, 2012, Outlook)
- Account for the delay – By RaviShankarPrasad (Feb 7, 2012, Indian Express)
- The case against the AG – By Ashish Khetan (Feb 11, 2012, Tehelka)
- Musketeers Of The Court And The Ledger – By Anuradha Raman (Feb 13, 2012, Outlook)
Clearing the air – Editorial (Feb 7, 2012, Indian Express)
The trial court’s judgment rejecting Subramanian Swamy’s petition against Home Minister P. Chidambaram should bring some sanity and perspective to the 2G case. Swamy said that Chidambaram had gone along with A. Raja’s first come, first served policy to allocate spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices and that he let two new telecom licensees dilute their equity later. These two decisions were central to Swamy’s criminal conspiracy theory against Chidambaram.
Rejecting it, the court pointed out that there’s nothing to prove that Chidambaram’s decisions were motivated or that he stood to gain any personal advantage from them. Special Judge O.P. Saini noted: “A decision taken by a public servant does not become criminal for simple reason that it has caused loss to the public exchequer or resulted in pecuniary advantage to others. Merely attending meetings and taking decisions therein is not a criminal act.”
Judge Saini’s clear-headed judgment sets some useful terms for further progress on the 2G case. It sorts out many of the tangled associations of corruption in the 2G scam. It warned against smearing someone as guilty by association (“innocuous acts done in association with others do not make one a partner in crime”); the fact that some pecuniary advantage or abuse of official position must be proved before accusing a public official of corruption. It also made a clear distinction between Chidambaram and the other accused, against whom there is seriously incriminating material.
The verdict should bring some sense of proportion to the politics around the 2G scam. For months, the opposition has vilified the home minister, treating him as guilty before any legal process touched him, even boycotting Parliament if he participated. This campaign might suit their purposes, to make sure that the muck from the scam implicates the entire government, the Congress as well as Raja’s DMK. But the court’s verdict should settle the question.
For the Congress and its beleaguered government, too, this is a chance to pull itself out of the hole which it has driven itself into. Of course, Swamy has vowed to soldier on against Chidambaram in court, the BJP says that it will “pursue the matter before the people”, the Left has suggested that it is unconvinced. But the court’s word should finally separate the facts from the political hot air.
- Carrots? Here’s A Stick! – By Paranjoy Guha Thakurta (Feb 13, 2012, Outlook)
- Everyday Corruption and the Political Mediation of the Indian State – By Jeffrey Witsoe (Feb 11, 2012, Economic & Political Weekly)
- Dr. Subramanian Swamy Vs. A. Raja & Others – By O.P. Saini (Feb 13, 2012, Outlook)
Call to Nation – Editorial (Jan 27, 2012, Central Chronicle)
The President Mrs. Pratibha Patil in her Republic Day message urged the people that in the name of reforms and change, we should not disturb our established democratic institution. The recent Anna Hazare movement against corruption tried to undermine the prestige of Parliament. The team behaved as if it was ordering the President how to act and enact the Lokpal Bill. There are pressure and challenges in every governing systems. But rejection and negations are not the way of public life. One has to listen and respect the views of others.
This year despite apprehensions about terrorists actions the Republic Day celebrations passed off peacefully without any untoward incident. Only one minor health problem occurred at Raipur where the Governor of Chhattisgarh Mr.Shekhar Dutta fainted while delivering the address.
This year the civilian award of ‘Bharat Ratna’ was not given to anybody. There is a time gap of one year for much decision and some choice should have made. The Madhya Pradesh has a role in the promotion of classic ‘Drupad’ and it is very apt to honour Gandecha brother Ramakant and Umakath with Padma Shri.
Mr. Vijay Dutta Shridar has done a yeoman service to journalist by establishing a unique and prestigious institution of Sapre Museum at Bhopal. He deserves all congrats for getting Padma Shri. The Padma Vibhushan to great singer Bhupen Hazarika is a filling tribute to the departed soul. Earlier he received the National Phalke Award for films.
The first women Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluk Sinvatre graced the capital R-Day ceremony in Delhi as Chief Guest this year. The Republic Day should not be confined to parades and ceremonies alone. The Nation must take note of how far we have advanced in making the nation and life of the people prosperous. Mobocracy is the biggest threat to democracy and ‘Republic’. We must realize that in the past decade mocracy is gaining ground and this trend must not persist any more.
- Marching orders – By T.S. Subramanian (Jan 28, 2012, Frontline)
Tiller, Traitor, Developer, Sly – By G Vishnu (Feb 11, 2012, Tehelka)
Sheila Devi, 54, of Nangal Kalan village in Haryana’s Sonepat district cannot comprehend how Taneja Developers and Infrastructure Ltd (TDI) procured her two-acre plot in 2004, ‘signed’ with thumb impressions of her husband Narender Singh, who died in 2002 and his brother Bhupender, who went missing the next year. The documents are obviously forged. But how did a farmers’ family get cheated in Haryana, where the land acquisition policy formed in 1975 is reputed to be one of the most farmer-friendly pieces of legislation? Its prime claim to fame is that in case of urban development, the private developer has to enter into a ‘collaboration agreement’ with the landowner. The collaboration is meant to ensure that the landowner has some stake – which brings in regular income – in the development project being constructed on his/her land. In these cases, the landowner will always be the rightful owner, even as the ‘coloniser’ earns profits for his investment in the land.
However, farmers in Rai block of Sonepat allege that documents such as power-of-attorney, licence applications, collaboration agreements and land transfers were made in their names through forged signatures and fake thumb impressions. The landowners allege that more than 2,000 acres of prime agricultural land, which is worth more than Rs 2.5 crore per acre today, was bought by deceitful means at an average of Rs 20 lakh per acre.
In the course of the month-long investigation, TEHELKA spoke to 12 villagers in Nangal Kalan, 10 in Rasoi and six in Aterna, who hadn’t a clue about a ‘collaboration’ with developers when they were made to sign some papers. Almost all of them fear a forged agreement in their name. TEHELKA verified at least 15 cases in Nangal Kalan, where the thumb impression in the collaboration agreement was highly suspect.
When confronted with the possibility of forgery, TC Gupta, Director, Town and Country Planning (DTCP), Haryana, ducked the question. He states that his department is not accountable in cases of failure in fulfilling contractual obligation or forgery in documents pertaining to that. General power of attorney (GPA) is a legal arrangement wherein an individual empowers another to handle asset matters on his/her behalf. GPA is necessary in cases where a licence has to be obtained for a collaborative project of the developer and the landowner. …
- Land Acquisition and Dispossession – By Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt , Radhika Krishnan , Nesar Ahmad (Feb 11, 2012, Economic & Political Weekly)
The Other Half: Burn dowry, not women – By Kalpana Sharma (Feb 4, 2012, The Hindu)
In a season where every other person seems to be taking offence at something or the other, let me add what offends me. I was deeply offended and hurt when I read the following headline: “One bride burnt every hour”. No, this is not a headline from a newspaper of the 1980s but from Sunday, January 29, 2012. The women the headline writes about are killed for not bringing in enough dowry. Yes, indeed, the giving, taking and killing for dowry is still alive and kicking in “Incredible India”. According to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 8,391 reported cases of dowry deaths in 2010. That is just under double the number of cases registered in 1995 – 4,648 cases. Statistics tell a story, but not the whole story. For every dowry death reported, there must be dozens that go unreported. Of the 8,391 reported cases in 2010, although 93.2 per cent were charge-sheeted, the conviction rate was a miserable 33.6 per cent.
Despite a 1989 amendment to Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), shifting the burden of proof to the husband and his family, the process of getting a conviction remains fraught because of loopholes in the law and the inability of the victim’s family to establish the link between dowry demands and the death. Often, it is impossible to take the dying declaration, as the victim is barely alive. Even when it is taken, the police handling is shoddy and careless, allowing a clever defence to tear it apart during trial. The official figures of dowry deaths are obviously just the tip of the iceberg. A truer picture would emerge if we added the cases of young married women registered as having committed suicide as well as cases filed under Section 498A of the IPC dealing with harassment from husband and relatives. In the NCRB crime data, there were 94,041 cases filed under 498A in 2010, up from 28,579 in 1995. There has been considerable controversy around 498A with some organisation, comprising apparently aggrieved husbands, claiming that women were misusing it to harass and blackmail their husbands. But even if there are a few cases of this kind, surely over 94,000 cases cannot all be false.
If further proof were needed of the prevalence of dowry, one only has to look at the sex ratio in this country. Why are girls not wanted? The fact remains that despite changes in the law, growing awareness of it, more education, more economic progress, women are bought and sold for a price under the institution of marriage. In the 1980s, at the height of the campaign against dowry, one read of brave young women who rejected proposals when asked for a dowry. Women’s group demonstrated outside marriage halls where dowry was given. There was much writing in the media against the custom. Today we don’t hear about it. Does that mean it has vanished? Or has it become so entrenched that no one thinks it is worth talking about?
I did a random sampling of one matrimonial page in one Mumbai newspaper last Sunday. Of the 127 advertisements for “brides wanted”, listed neatly in caste categories, I found 16 that stated specifically “Caste no bar” and only four that said “No Dowry”. All the other advertisements went into details of the caste, the height, the looks etc of the bride they were looking for – “tall, beautiful, educated, cultured girl” stated one, for a “Kayastha, handsome, bachelor, doctor and managing director”.
Dowry has not disappeared. It has morphed. Seema Sirohi, in her interesting and relevant book Sita’s Curse, Stories of Dowry Victims (HarperCollins, 2003), gives this humorous yet apt description of dowry as it has come to be today: Dowry has become a bribe paid to a husband to keep the bride’s body and soul together. A woman is a mere conduit to a ‘good’ dowry – the definition of good being flexible and expandable. The boys are on sale and there are few discounts in the marriage market. There is no ‘buy one, get one free’ here. It is a transaction weighted against the woman. In fact, it is a sale where even after the price is paid, satisfaction is not guaranteed. And ironically, the sale is never complete with marriage – the buyer is expected to keep paying in cash and in kind during festivals, to celebrate childbirth and to mark ritualistic occasions. Any excuse is good enough to keep the one-way street laden and moving with gifts. Touchy as we Indians are about a whole host of things, the fact that women are still being burned for dowry in modern-day India should enrage us. Why are we accepting of this outrage, this insult to the sensibilities of all women? We should be burning dowry, not women.
- Anti-Dowry Law Viewed from the Prison Cell – By Chandrakala (Jan 28, 2012, Economic & Political Weekly)
The Saffron Condition, Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neo Liberal India
Author: Subhash Gatade
Reviewed by: Ram Puniyani
Available at: Three Essays Collective, B-957 Palam Vihar, GURGAON (Haryana) 122 017 New Delhi ISBN: 978-81-88789-75-7 Pages 475, Rs 500. http://www.threeessays.com/
Chronicling The Hindutva Threat (Jan 30, 2012, Countercurrents)
The phenomenon of rise of Hindutva politics, the politics of RSS and its affiliates, has posed a severe threat to the democratic polity of India, to the rights of Minorities and dalits. This politics becomes grossly visible in the form of outbursts of violence. But that’s just the superficial part of the phenomenon of Hindutva or for that matter of any politics in the name of religion. Its invisible part is creeping communalization of our system, bureaucratic, judicial, media and education. There is an onslaught on our liberal plural values and cultural ethos as they emerged through the freedom movement. Subhash Gatade in this compilation of his articles, written over a period of time takes this threat head. He begins with the superficially visible phenomenon of a violence and then takes us deeper to the real politics which is the agenda of Hindu right. He warns us time and over again that Hindutva is a reaction of section of society to the rise of democratic values, to the rights of minorities and dalits in particular.
Popularly it is perceived that RSS came up to counter the Muslim communalism. The book tells us that its anti Muslim stance is just a face of RSS politics. When one digs deeper one sees that formation of RSS is a reaction to the rising dalit assertion against the Brahmin hegemony which in turn was the accompaniment of our feudal land relations. This is the point of crucial importance. To see RSS politics just as anti minority one, leaves out the core part of the deeper agenda of Hindutva formation. The core part of this agenda relates to suppress the rights of dalits, to suppress the concept of ‘rights’ as such. This point comes over and over again in the book as Gatade deals with contemporary issues related to the dalits on one hand to the issues like state harassing the Human rights activists like Dr. Binayak Sen. So unless the anti-communal, secular movement takes these points into consideration the struggle for a secular-democratic society will remain an impossible dream. The point that RSS-Hindutva politics is a Brahminic counter revolution needs to be kept in mind, while outlining the strategies for plural democratic society, is the major undercurrent of the book.
One can point out that while this analysis has its merit, we also need to explain as to why a large section of middle classes form the fulcrum of this counter revolution. The explanation of this lies in the neo liberal economic phase of the country. In this phase the middle classes suffer from an ‘existential anxiety’, making them embrace the Hindutva ideology as this ideology or of any political ideologies basing themselves on religious identity. Such politics stands for status quo at various levels. The book’s emphasis on the rise of Hindutva politics in the neo liberal era deserves appreciation, as unless we focus on deeper process of society and nation we will not succeed in deciphering the nature of divisive politics in the name of religion. The book also tells us the import of judgments like the ‘Hindutva as a way of life’ and the Ayodhya verdict going off tangents from legal angel and basing itself on the faith, assertively imposed on the society. The essays in the book elaborate that the ‘Right’ has become ‘center’ and that’s where the crux of the matters lies. So the issue just does not remain whether BJP, the political child of RSS, is occupying the seat of power at the center or not, the issue becomes the all round percolation of the right wing ideology becoming a part of communal common sense.
Gatade also takes up the Soft Hindutva of Congress, which has been a supporting factor for the rise of RSS politics. Congress supposedly secular, is hardly able to uphold the secular values, leading many to think that it is other side of the coin of communalism. While conceding that Congress, particularly after Gandhi-Nehru has committed blunders after blunder while dealing with threats posed by communal politics, its nature has to be properly understood. While theoretically a secular party, it has compromised time and over again when the crunch come. Still, no party in India can be equated or compared to the BJP, the poltical child of RSS. BJP as the upholder of Hindutva agenda has been proatviely promoting Hindutva, while Congress has not been able to protect the secular ethos in a forthright manner. It is a matter of conjecture whether it will be able to gather strength to stand up more strongly against the communal forces. The themes relate to Saffronization of Neo Liberal state, Logic of caste and state of Human rights, The book is a compilation of the prolific writings of the author who seems to have been burning the mid night oil to keep our consciousness alive to the threats and challenges faced by our republic. It is a must for the scholars and concerned citizens.