IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 8th, 2013

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Narendra Modi used officers’ mobiles during riots? (Jul 5, 2013, Times of India)

Zakia Jafri’s counsel raised the issue as to why the SIT did not probe whether chief minister Narendra Modi was using mobile phones issued to his secretaries on the day of Godhra train burning incident and on February 28, 2002. Senior counsel Mihir Desai on Thursday furthered his arguments before a magisterial court on how larger conspiracy was hatched behind the 2002 riots by 60 accused involving Modi.

Opposing the clean chit given to Modi by the SIT, the lawyer submitted that the state machinery had deliberately not taken action to avoid violence that was anticipated on the day of Godhra train burning incident. Blaming the SIT of shielding Modi, senior counsel Desai submitted that it is established that Modi was using mobile phones issued to his secretaries like O P Singh. But the SIT has deliberately not taken statements of Singh, Tanmay Mehta, Sanjay Bhavsar and A K Sharma on whether Modi was using their mobile phones.

The senior counsel also submitted that the SIT did not investigate how Modi and his powerful bureaucrats were located near Gulbarg Society in Meghaninagar in the afternoon of February 27 before they boarded a flight for Vadodara. Besides, he submitted that on February 27, 2002, the police received information regarding mobilization of people and building up of arms and ammunition. The city police received information about a truck load of weapons at Rakhiyal. This information was supplied by then police commissioner P C Pande to the apex court as late as in 2011.

Advocate Desai reiterated that despite enough warnings received from intelligence bureau and elsewhere, the administration deliberately did not act to prevent violence on February 28. He cited various examples like the bandh call and alleged illegal post-mortem of dead bodies on Godhra railway station. Further hearing on this issue is kept on July 18.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-05/ahmedabad/40390642_1_narendra-modi-zakia-jafri-sit

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‘A narrow thinking man cannot serve India’: Maya takes a jibe at Narendra Modi (Jul 8, 2013, Indian Express)

BSP Supremo Mayawati on Sunday hit out at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his reported claim that he rescued 15,000 Gujaratis from flood-affected areas of Uttarakhand saying it showed “the narrow thinking” of the man who is dreaming of becoming the prime minister of the country. “He does not talk of saving people from all states, showing a national thinking. By this, you can yourself judge the personality of the man who, after holding the topmost seat in the country, cannot work with a national and secular thinking, and devotion and honesty,” she said without taking the name of Modi, while addressing her supporters at party’s Brahmin Bhaichara rally in Lucknow.

Mayawati said the people should be cautious of such a person and the party who practices regionalism and has a narrow thinking. She also slammed the Congress-led UPA government, whom her party is lending outside support, “for increasing corruption, inflation and doing nothing for the betterment of Dalits and backwards in the country”. She told her supporters to beware of Centre’s “lures” like the food security law. Terming the UPA government’s ambitious food security ordinance as poll gimmick, she said these new laws and assurances will not give any benefit to the people of state as they are often put in the cold storage after the elections.

The former UP chief minister also did not spare the SP government in the state saying the law and order situation has deteriorated in UP under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. “While incidents of dacoity, extortion, abduction, murder and communal tension are on the rise and government machinery has become helpless, ministers are indulging in vendetta politics against their opponents by getting inquiries conducted and making senseless statements,” she said.

Without naming anyone, she said a senior Cabinet minister had said girls in the state should not become like Mayawati. “This is indicative of fear among goons and mafias towards me. If there are three-four daughters like me, then goons and mafias will have to flee from the state,” the BSP leader said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/1138976/

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Vanzara said he had Modi’s nod to kill Ishrat: Gujarat cop (Jul 5, 2013, Times of India)

The CBI chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan case contains the testimony of a police witness who told a magistrate that he had heard DIG of crime branch, DG Vanzara, telling his junior officer G L Singhal about having obtained permission from chief minister Narendra Modi and then junior Gujarat home minister Amit Shah for killing her in a fake encounter. Deputy superintendent of police in crime branch, D H Goswami, had given this statement under Section 164 of CrPC before the additional judicial magistrate, Esplanade Court, Mumbai. His statement is part of the annexures to the chargesheet submitted by CBI in the Ahmedabad court on Wednesday.

Despite this testimony, the chargesheet, according to sources does not name Modi or Shah as accused. Whether this is because the CBI did not find Goswami’s testimony credible or strong enough or because it wants to investigate the issue further and might include it in a supplementary chargesheet later is not clear. In his testimony, Goswami said he had accompanied G L Singhal to the Shahibaug office of the crime branch in Ahmedabad on June 12, 2004, two days before the encounter in which Ishrat and three other alleged LeT terrorists were killed. He said ADG P P Pandey, D G Vanzara and IB officer Rajinder Kumar were already present there.

In his testimony, Goswami said he heard them talking about some LeT operation and Rajinder Kumar asking Vanzara to talk to the chief minister about it. Goswami quotes Vanzara as saying that he would talk to ‘safed dadhi’ (white beard) and ‘kali dadhi’ (black beard) – code names for Modi and Shah. Goswami said he accompanied Singhal to the Shahibaug office again on June 14 at around noon, a few hours before the encounter. Vanzara handed over to them a written document which also mentioned the plan to kill Ishrat, apart from the three men. When Singhal objected to the plan to kill Ishrat, Goswami said he heard Vanzara saying that he had the approval of the political bosses.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/20919821.cms

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Kumar oversaw detention of man murdered with Ishrat (Jul 6, 2013, Hindustan Times)

The CBI’s probe into the Ishrat Jahan case has found that IB’s then joint director (Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau) Rajinder Kumar had allegedly personally supervised the interception and detention of one of the four deceased – Jishan Johar – in Ahmedabad along with a city crime branch (CB) officer.

According to the CBI’s case charge sheet, the joint SIB-CB team had allegedly detained Johar in the last week of April 2004 with the help of two informants employed by Kumar and then assistant commissioner of police GL Singhal, who is among the seven CB officials named as accused in the charge sheet.

Johar was then confined at house number 164/165 in Gota Housing and was “put under audio-tap” by three junior SIB officers and under physical surveillance by a CB team. The CBI, investigating Kumar’s role in the encounter conspiracy, will file a supplementary chargesheet in a month.

Separate CB-SIB teams had picked up and detained the deceased Amjad Ali on May 26, 2004, around Ahmedabad, and Ishrat Jahan and Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai from a tollbooth in Vasad on June 12, 2004.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/1087929.aspx

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In the wake of Ishrat encounter probe, Jamaat demands enquiry into Batla House shootout (Jul 6, 2013, Muslim Mirror)

While congratulating Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for exposing culprits of Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind today demanded the central government to order a high-level probe into the five-year-old Batla House encounter wherein two Azamgarh youths and a Delhi police officer were killed. Addressing its monthly press briefing at Jamaat headquarters today, Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, Ameer (National President) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind congratulated CBI for the honest probe into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter chargesheeting five IPS officers for the June 15, 2004 killing of Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan along with three other persons in Ahmedabad. He, however, demanded CBI to expose all – IB officials and political leaders – who were directly or indirectly involved with the daylight cold blooded murders.

Maulana Umari also demanded the Central government to order fresh probe into all encounters in recent years including the Batla House encounter in which a number of Muslim youths were killed in different parts of the country including Delhi, UP and Maharashtra. On 19th September 2008, the Special Cell of Delhi police conducted an encounter in Batla House area of Jamia Nagar in Delhi. Two Azamgarh youths, whom the police said were suspected terrorists, and a police officer were killed in the encounter. Besides family members of the youths, civil and human rights activists made several holes in the police version of the story and demanded a judicial probe, but the government has not yet ordered any such enquiry into the encounter.

When asked if Jamaat would demand a fresh probe into the Batla House encounter in view of the truths coming out of the Ishrat Jahan encounter, Maulana Jalaluddin Umari said: “There are several questions which have not yet been answered by the government and police, and so we demand a probe into this encounter.” It was reported in the media that Lt. Governor of Delhi Tejendra Khanna had rejected application seeking judicial probe into the Batla House encounter. A few days back President of India has nominated the vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Najeeb Jung as new Lt. Governor of Delhi. This has made a section of the community hopeful that Mr. Jung may order a probe into the Batla encounter.

During the press conference, when Maulana Umari asked if he hoped Najeeb Jung after assuming office of Lt. Governor of Delhi would order judicial probe into the Batla House encounter, he said: “We have good but not high expectations. We are not much enthusiastic about mere installation of a Muslim face. We demand he should also order probe into terror allegations about Jamia Millia.” …

http://muslimmirror.com/eng/in-the-wake-of-ishrat-encounter-probe-jamaat-demands-enquiry-into-batla-house-shootout/

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‘Justice for Ishrat Jahan’ meet disrupted by right-wing Hindu group VHP (Jul 7, 2013, The Hindu)

An attempt to disrupt a “Justice For Ishrat Jahan Campaign” function at the Constitution Club here on Saturday was thwarted. Activists of a little known right-wing group, the Vishwa Hindu Sena, were overpowered after the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy member, Shabnam Hashmi, alerted the authorities. Social activist Madhu Kishwar, who has lately become close to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday tweeted that a conference to express solidarity with Ishrat Jahan would be taking place at the Constitution Club.

According to Ms. Hashmi, about 15-20 members of Sangh Parivar had taken their places at the venue two hours ahead of the scheduled 5 p.m. start: “I alerted the Constitution Club authorities and told Ishrat’s family not to come immediately. Later, police personnel took the activists away. On their way out, these activists raised slogans and tore some of our posters and banners.” Meanwhile, the Parliament Street police have arrested six members of the outfit under preventive Sections for trying to disrupt a peaceful meeting.

The meeting finally began around 5 p.m. after the family of Ishrat reached the venue. Describing Ishrat as her own daughter, Ms. Hashmi said: “I am a mother and understand the trauma and grief undergone by this family.” She and other speakers wondered why Intelligence Bureau official Rajinder Kumar, who was allegedly privy to Ishrat Jahan’s encounter, was being shielded. Ishrat’s family and those in solidarity with the 19-year-old slain college student appealed to the media to stop indulging in character assassination or branding her as a terrorist. They urged the government to stop shielding the IB official who planted weapons on her.

Shamima Kauser, Ishrat’s mother, said at the meet: “Since I know what our family has gone through after my daughter was abducted, killed and branded as a terrorist, I would only hope that other mothers do not have to go through this ordeal.” Ishrat’s lawyer Vrinda Grover said it was only because of Shamima Kauser’s struggle and perseverance that the case has been alive for nine years. “Whenever I called Shamima to inform her that the High Court or Supreme Court had made some positive observations, she would only say that the truth about her daughter would come out one day. In June 2004, her daughter was killed and she filed a writ petition in the Gujarat High Court. If people are saying that truth is coming out when the 2014 elections are approaching, I can only say that the delay was due to the Gujarat government. No one wants to deal with such powerful forces.”

Ms. Grover said everyone was asking about Ishrat’s link with Javed Sheikh: “She came from a poor family and gave tuitions to support her family. During the month of June, students do not appear for tuitions in Maharashtra. So she wanted a part-time job. Since people in her locality knew that her father was not alive and the family was poor, someone introduced her to Javed Sheikh. She met him barely one month before the encounter killing. She had even enrolled in second year of B.Sc.” Noting that no one was above the law of the land, Ms. Grover said it was recorded before a judicial magistrate that either the Chief Minister or a Minister of State had given instructions for the killings. “We do not know who ordered Ishrat’s killing but the indications are there. We are repeatedly told about a clash of institutions. Senior IB officer Rajinder Kumar planted arms on her and others. As for Ishrat’s terror link, should we have faith in Lashkar-e-Taiba’s website or double agent [David Coleman] Headley?”

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/justice-for-ishrat-jahan-meet-disrupted-by-rightwing-group/article4890316.ece

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Army refuses to give info on Purohit (Jul 4, 2013, Asian Age)

The Indian Army has refused to furnish information sought by 2008 Malegaon blast accused Major Ramesh Upadhyaya (Retd) under the Right to Information Act. Upadhyaya had sought information on whether Colonel Prasad Purohit, another accused in the case, was given the task to infiltrate into the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) and other right-wing organisations and whether he was also entrusted with the task of carrying out blasts to implicate these organisations.

However, the Army has refused to give any information. Hearing the first appeal filed by Upadhyaya after his RTI application was rejected, Lt. General K. Surendranath, chief of the staff, Southern Command, Pune, dismissed the appeal on the grounds that it was personal information and had no relationship with public activities or interest and would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under Section 8 (1)(j) of the RTI Act 2005.

Upadhyaya was arrested in 2008 for his alleged involvement in the Malegaon blast on September 29, 2008, in which six persons were killed and over 100 injured. He is accused of conspiring with prime accused Lt. Col. Purohit, who is also lodged inside jail. Upadhyaya had filed an RTI application from central prison, Navi Mumbai to the CPIO, headquarters, southern command.

http://www.asianage.com/india/army-refuses-give-info-purohit-559

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Is Modi’s statement linked to Bodh Gaya blasts? Digvijaya asks (Jul 8, 2013, Times of India)

Did Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s teleconference with party workers in Bihar have any connection with the serial bomb blasts in the Mahabodhi temple? Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh asked on Monday. “Amit Shah (BJP general secretary) promises a grand temple at Ayodhya. Modi addresses Bihar BJP workers and asks them to teach Nitish (Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar) a lesson,” Singh said on Twitter, adding: “Next day bomb blasts at Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya. Is there a connect? I don’t know.”

Modi, while addressing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers on Saturday, said Nitish Kumar would be taught a lesson. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) parted ways with the BJP after Modi was elevated last month as his party’s election campaign chief for the 2014 general elections. Digvijaya Singh, talking to reporters later, appealed to the BJP to allow the NationalInvestigation Agency (NIA) to complete the investigation.

“After the unfortunate blasts at Bodh Gaya, Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP targeted the Nitish Kumar government, of which they were a party a few days ago. The BJP also raised a Muslim angle, quoting Delhi Police and saying that the Pune blast (German Bakery blast of 2010) suspect did a recce at Mahabodi,” he said.

“BJP also gave statements linking the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar to this incident. They are clearly targeting Muslims and I want to say to all that for god’s sake, let the NIA complete the investigation,” he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/20974252.cms

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1992-’93 Riots trial: Convicted Sena leader has a difficult choice to make (Jul 4, 2013, Mumbai Mirror)

A conviction is a conviction. It leaves a stamp on you.” This was what Shiv Sena leader Jaywant Parab had said in May, after a sessions court upheld his conviction under Section 153A (promoting communal enmity) of the Indian Penal Code, for delivering a provocative speech during the 1992-’93 riots. At the same time, the court reduced the sentence pronounced by the trial court from one year to two months.

Parab had checked into a hospital the day the judgment was pronounced, and did not spend any time in jail. Out on bail within days, he and Sena activist Ashok Shinde, whose conviction for the same offence was also upheld, challenged their convictions in the high court. Now, Parab could avoid jail altogether if he avails of the offer made by the high court on Wednesday. Justice K U Chandiwal asked Parab’s advocate Shirish Gupte whether his client wanted to avail of the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act.

This Act allows a person convicted for the first time for an offence punishable by a maximum of two years’ imprisonment, to be released on probation, or after an admonition. It suspends the sentence, but does not set aside the conviction. Parab is an aspirant for an Assembly ticket from the Shiv Sena for next year’s polls, and his conviction may prevent him from getting the ticket. The alternative is to let his lawyer challenge his conviction on merits. If the court does not set it aside, Parab and Shinde face undergoing their two-month sentence, and will have to fight all the way to the Supreme Court against their conviction.

The court has granted the two convicted Sena leaders time to decide. This was the first 1992-’93 riots case wherein the trial court conviction was upheld by a sessions court. The verdict was also historic because it upheld the first and only conviction of Shiv Sena leaders for hate speech. The incident took place in December, 1992. The main accused was former Sena MP Madhukar Sarpotdar, who was also convicted for making an inflammatory speech, along with Parab and Shinde, by the special magistrate’s court set up in 2008 to try the 1992-’93 riot cases. Sarpotdar died in 2010, while three others, all Shiv Sena activists, were acquitted.

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/crime/1992-93-Riots-trial-Convicted-Sena-leader-has-a-difficult-choice-to-make/articleshow/20902989.cms

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Dharmapuri dalit boy who married Vanniyar girl found dead on railway tracks (Jul 4, 2013, Times of India)

A dalit boy, whose marriage to a Vanniyar girl triggered anti-dalit violence in three villages of Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district in November last year, was found dead along a railway track in that town on Thursday, a day after his wife said she would never go back to him and would stay with her mother. Railway police said Ilavarasan was found along a track behind the government arts college in Dharmapuri.

News of the boy’s death led to a tense situation in dalit areas in Naickenkottai, with many of them thronging the Government Medical College hospital, where his body was taken. Dharmapuri superintendent of police Asra Garg said raliway police are conducting an inquiry and that it was too early to say if there any foul play. Police pickets have been posted in sensitive areas in Naickenkottai.

The girl Divya told reporters on Wednesday after appearing for a hearing in Madras high court that she has been under tremendous pressure all along and was unable to forget her father who committed suicide after her marriage. She also said she no longer wanted to live with her husband, but her mother.

The bench comprising Justice M Jayachandran and Justice M Sunderesh had reserved the orders for Friday. Her mother had filed a habeas corpus petition to produce her before the Court and set her at liberty. On July 1, Divya had told the court she would go with her mother “for the time being”. She also said she had no problems in the house of her husband or with her mother-in-law, but was haunted by incidents of her father’s death, who committed suicide after her marriage with Ilavarasan of Natham village.

Divya’s mother too had opposed the marriage on October 14. Three villages of Dharmapuri district – Natham, Kondamapatty and Annanagar – witnessed violence and about 296 huts belonging to dalits were torched on November 7 after the girl’s father committed suicide. Several writ petitions were filed and the court ordered a probe into rehabilitation measures taken in dalit colonies under the committee headed by IAS officer Vaski, which submitted a 5000-page report to the high court.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-04/chennai/40370784_1_dalit-boy-dharmapuri-naickenkottai

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Opinions and Editorials

Sleeping with the enemy: Should minorities get lured by the invitations of Modi And Company? – By Ram Puniyani (Jul 4, 2013, Communalism Watch)

From 2002 Gujarat carnage Gujarat in particular and India in general has seen the rise of Narendra Modi on the political firmament. His propaganda machinery has given him the image whereby he is regarded as the ‘development man, non corrupt, strong and all that. A substantial section of society has bought this propaganda uncritically. Modi asserted himself within BJP to be named as the Chairman of their election campaign committee of 2014 and in turn giving the overt hints that he is the Prime Ministerial candidate from the side of BJP-NDA. Pursuing this path he has begun organizing conclaves to woo the Muslim community. He has been advising the BJP people that they should try to reach the minorities.

As a step in that direction a conclave was organized in Ahmadabad with nearly 200 activists, scholars of different persuasions (June 2013). Thirty of these were Muslims. Many Muslim leaders/activists/scholars were invited but many of them turned down the insistent invitations from the organizers arguing that it is an attempt by Modi to get credibility by inviting the Muslim leaders to his meeting. No community and group are uniform. Some of Muslim leaders turned up for the sessions, one of them Syed Zafar Mahmood attended the meeting and gave a detailed presentation. Before the meeting when Mahmood was asked how come he is attending the meeting as he has been critical of the policies of Modi? He replied that this question should be asked after he has said what he had to say in the meeting. Mahmood has been the Officer on Special duty for Sachar committee and is currently the chairman of Zakat Foundation of India.

His argument in attending the meeting might have been that it is an opportunity to present the plight of his community to Modi and use this space to articulate the grievances of his community. The presentation made by Mahmood was comprehensive, well researched and gave the picture of the community and criticized the BJP for its various policies. He also advised the BJP as to what they should be doing in coming times. In nutshell he said that the BJP’s is ideologically opposed to Muslims. For Mahmood it was not just a question of asking for justice and constitutional rights for the deprived Muslims of India. He quoted from BJP website to show the anti Muslim stance of BJP at various levels. For example, he pointed out that one of essays on website of BJP titled “Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology” was “full of hate and provocations against Muslims.”

Then, he pointed out another essay, with headline, ‘Give us this day our sense of mission’ written by MV Kamath was a “call to Muslims to adopt Hindu names and [for] Muslim women to wear the mangal sutra (a black thread with ornaments to show that a women is married, worn by hindu women in some parts of India).” The third one quoted by him titled `Semitic Monotheism’, saw Muslims and Islam as a problem. This essay posits “We must realize that we have a problem on hand in India, the problem of a stagnant and conservative Islamic society. A national effort is called for to break Islamic exclusivism and enshrine the assimilative Hindutva.” …

Modi’s choosing of this time to hold these meetings with a section of Muslim leadership should have alerted the likes of Mahmood, whose naïve approach that it is chance to express our demands is of no use as the real trick being played by Modi is to gain credibility and to win over elements from Muslim community, the way he lured Zafar Sareshwala a businessman who is now serving the cause of Modi in a most loyal fashion. While Mahmood seems to have done some homework by going to the website of BJP and picking up some of the essays with anti-Muslim tone, what else did he expect? The practice of BJP, the political child of RSS, has constantly shown its anti-Muslim orientation through the issues which it has taken up all through, the ones’ like Ram Temple leading to demolition of Babri demolition, the one like cow slaughter ban, the ones like freedom of religion bills. One has to know BJP is a part of RSS; the BJP is manned by the swayamsevaks trained by RSS, Modi being one of them. What does RSS want, Hindu Nation. What was its role in freedom movement-a total absence and criticizing the freedom movement as being merely anti British! What type of Constitution does it want? Why did BJP led NDA go for review of Constitution? …

http://communalism.blogspot.in/2013/07/sleeping-with-enemy-muslim-leaders.html

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Khaki death squads – By Darshan Desai (Jul 7, 2013, The Hindu)

At a recent function in the state capital, Gandhinagar, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi warned the Central Bureau of Investigation against becoming a tool in the hands of the Congress-led union government. He asserted: “Modi is not scared of the CBI which has become the Congress Bureau of Investigation. Nobody is going to rule Delhi forever.” Mr. Modi obviously knew what was coming because a few days later, on July 3, 2013, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed its first charge sheet in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case that went into minute details of how select police officials of the Ahmedabad’s crime branch, led by the then Deputy Inspector General D.G Vanzara, plotted a sinister conspiracy to kidnap and hold in illegal confinement the 19-year-old Mumbai girl and three others before murdering them in cold blood.

An important point missed out by the BJP and those critical of the CBI is that the agency is investigating the case not at the instance of the central government but on orders from the Gujarat High Court. Secondly, this is not the only encounter case for which Mr. Modi’s police officials are in the dock. Two other cases have been equally sensational, the triple murder of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kauserbi and accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati and the suspected fake encounter of Sadiq Jamal Mehtar. Mr. Vanzara, who is already in jail for the Sohrabuddin encounter, is also an accused in the Sadiq Jamal case. Mr. Shah, who is an accused in the Sohrabuddin encounter, has been released on bail and has since taken charge as the BJP’s campaign manager in Uttar Pradesh. He is also under investigation in the Sadiq Jamal case.

What raises the suspicion of conspiracy in these cases is the recurrence of the same names in all of them. Mr. Vanzara, in particular, emerges as the lynchpin common to the Ishrat, Sohrabuddin and Sadiq Jamal encounters. Even more curiously, the suspected terrorists in all the cases were said to be on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leaders. Senior Intelligence Bureau official Rajinder Kumar’s name figures in the Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal cases. The CBI’s charge sheet in the Ishrat case suggests that Mr. Kumar was involved in planning and facilitating the conspiracy. Senior lawyer Mukul Sinha, who has been fighting these as well as several 2002 pogrom cases, says the Gujarat Government used the encounters both to sustain the propaganda that Muslim terrorists were out to kill Mr. Modi to avenge the 2002 violence and to show that the State police would not tolerate this. Mr. Sinha attributes the official complicity in the encounters to the eagerness to please the Chief Minister. “Those officials who refused to toe the line during the 2002 violence were all sidelined.” Gujarat saw 21 encounter killings between October 2002 and December 2006. As Mr. Sinha remarks, “It is strange that the threats to Mr. Modi stopped after this period.”

Then Director General of Gujarat Police RB Sreekumar said the State government rewarded loyal officers with the choicest placements, post-retirement assignments and other favours and punished those that did not toe the line with sinecure postings, supersession in promotion and disciplinary proceedings.” Mr. Sreekumar, who as a senior intelligence officer reported that Mr. Modi’s speeches in 2002 were incendiary, was himself sidelined. The travails of Inspector-General of Police Satish Verma underscore this point. Mr. Verma, a 1986 batch official, was attached by the Gujarat High Court to the CBI to assist in the Ishrat Jahan investigations. Mr. Verma’s zeal placed him in opposition to the State government which tried its best to detach the officer from the investigations, only to find the court standing rock-like behind him. A Division Bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Abhilasha Kumari gave a tongue-lashing to the Modi government for obstructing the investigation by insisting on Mr. Verma’s return to the state services.

The court told the State’s Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta, “not to get psychologically disturbed” when he asked, “Has the CBI become so insolvent that it cannot work without an officer (Verma)?” Mr. Verma was shunted out to the Police Training School, Junagadh by the government last year. Yet when he was asked to assist the CBI, the same government pleaded that his services were very critical to its functioning. Mr. Verma challenged his transfer before the Central Administrative Tribunal, contending that it was to hamper the Ishrat Jahan investigations. The tribunal sought an explanation from the government. Investigations in the Ishrat case have changed several hands. The case was handed over to a SIT comprising IPS officials Pramodkumar, J.K. Bhatt and Mohan Jha. Following their failure to complete the probe, the Gujarat High Court formed another SIT with Mr. Satish Verma and Mr. Jha as members and Karnail Singh of the Delhi Police as the head. …

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/khaki-death-squads/article4889338.ece

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Blind ambition – By R. B. Sreekumar (Jul 7, 2013, The Hindu)

Self-appointed champions of unbridled police raj in Gujarat are making a hue and cry, ridiculing the letter and spirit of the law, because numerous senior police officials and men are under arrest and facing prosecution for alleged fake encounters. They argue that such arrests will demoralise the police. This stance could be true, if encounter killings are genuine, necessitated by the exigencies of the situation, done as the last resort in self-defence or to save lives. But an analysis of the encounter deaths from October 2002 to April 2007 in Gujarat, where the bulk of victims were from the minority community, leads to many startling conclusions about the veracity and legality of the police version.

The long 2002 anti-minority carnage after the Godhra train fire and subversion of the criminal justice system against the riot victims (the Supreme Court termed the Gujarat bureaucracy ‘Neros’) was carried to mobilise Hindu sentimentalism for electoral dividends. Significantly, all official functionaries who were committed to the Modi government’s hidden agenda were rewarded and ‘deviants’ were punished. Thanks to the reach and resources of the forces behind anti-minority violence, no senior Gujarat bureaucrat was arrested, prosecuted and penalised, for acts of omission and commission in the 2002 communal disturbances and subsequent sabotage of administrative response to riot victims. Only one head constable was convicted in the Bilkis Banu mass rape case and one inspector was arrested in the Gulberg Society massacre case.

Consequently, by the middle of 2002, a crop of statute-blind careerist police officers could be enrolled by the Modi government, ignoring the structures and hierarchy in the police department. In fact these officers and their hit men had enjoyed powers and clout much beyond their posts, positions and legal status. In the pre-Assembly Election days in 2002, soon after the riots, the political strategy of the BJP, and particularly Mr. Modi, was to project the image of an ultra agile and efficient Gujarat police, engaged in nullifying any move of militants and jihadists from the minority community at the incipient stages.

The validity of the encounter versions was proved to false by 1) Failure of Gujarat police to bring out the background, pre-planning, material and human resources, communication network, shelters and sanctuaries and related matters of persons killed in the encounter, in the post-encounter investigation. 2) Non-supply of any corroborative intelligence or information from the Central IB or State Intelligence about associates, organisations and antecedents of the encounter victims, projected by Gujarat police as terrorists. 3) No probe, or only a perfunctory enquiry done, diluting the stipulations of Gujarat Police Manual about custodial death and encounters. 4) Conspicuous suspension or by-passing of normal monitoring process by superiors on encounter incidents and so on, thanks to extra legal nexus of ‘encounter experts’ with the highest echelons of the Modi government.

Morale of an individual or an organisation rests on the ideals of truth, courage of conviction, commitment. Many officers in Gujarat did keep police morale high during the riots, particularly in South Gujarat (Surat City) and Saurashtra, curbing riots with an iron hand. Restoration of time-tested structured supervisory mechanics, now under strain in Gujarat on account of competitive sycophancy in the higher rungs of the civil bureaucracy and police is the imperative.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/blind-ambition/article4889351.ece

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Bodhgaya Bomb Blasts : Moving Beyond The ‘Usual Suspects’ – By Subhash Gatade (Jul 9, 2013, Countercurrents)

Mr Praveen Swamy has ‘discovered’ the ‘usual suspects’ once again. Narrating .'[t]he same old, depressing story of incompetence and apathy’ behind the Bodh Gaya bombings he has shared with the readers how “[I]ndia’s police and intelligence services knew there were plots to attack the temple.” and how “.. jihadists quite publicly announced they intended to attack Buddhist targets. From January, government sources have told Firstpost, the Intelligence Bureau had issued several warnings pointing to heightened risks to Buddhist religious targets in India, as a consequence of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar.” …

Of course, after giving enough hints about who the perpetrators could be, he has been careful enough to add – supposedly to maintain objectivity of his profession that “It’s too early to come to conclusions on who the perpetrators might have been—unlike Internet conspiracy theorists, who’ll be blaming everyone from Islamists to the intelligence services themselves in coming hours. Criminal investigators need evidence, not guesses about motives. There are some pieces of evidence already available, though.”

Readers of his erstwhile employer namely ‘The Hindu’ group of publications can vouch that it is not for the first time that he has done it. They have been witness to his similar write ups, providing enough juicy details of the cross-border connections of these terrorists, after every such terror attack. It is a different matter that later it turned out that many of these write ups were pure work of fiction as it was discovered that the actual perpetrators were Hindutva terrorists only. e.g. Any independent reader can see for herself/himself what Praveen Swamy had written about say Mecca Masjid blasts, Ajmer Sharief blasts and Samjhauta Express bomb blasts (all in the Year 2007) and what were the conclusions of the investigators later. Any cursory glance at the media scene in this country can make it clear that Praveen Swami is not an exception.

It is important to remember this fact because with the bomb blast at Bodh Gaya, the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment and which is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha – the remaining being Lumbini, Sarnath and Kushinagar – the whole debate around terrorism has entered a much difficult terrain. One expects added caution on part of any of the experts / commentators for another important reason as well. It has been widely reported how in two of our neighbouring countries – namely Burma and Sri Lanka – Buddhist extremists have unleashed a wave of terror against the hapless Muslims. And any such news without proper confirmation that Bodh Gaya, has come under attack of Jihadi terrorists, can make matters more difficult for the minority Muslims there. …

Posing a question ‘why Hindutva terror groups were kept out of this investigation’ it pointed out the duplicity of IB in no uncertain terms. According to them while investigating agencies have no qualms in stigmatising ‘Girls Islamic Organisation’ active in Maharashtra as a ‘terrorist organisation’ and are later forced to eat their words but turn a blind eye to the ‘open arms training undertaken by Durga Vahini, an affiliated organisation of RSS, many of whose activists have been found to be involved in terror acts and are languishing in jail.’ Would it be asking for too much that a thorough investigation be done in this case and not only the pawns involved in the case but their patrons are also apprehended.

http://www.countercurrents.org/gatade090713.htm

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Kamduni shocker – By Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay (Jul 12, 2013, Frontline)

West Bengal has the dubious distinction of having the highest incidence of crime against women for the second consecutive year in 2012 according to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The ruling Trinamool Congress government and the State administration have desperately tried to play it down, but the people’s confidence in the police is at the lowest and their patience with the government is wearing thin. The brutal gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old college girl in Kamduni village in the Barasat sub-division of North 24 Parganas on June 7, which came to light when the girl’s body was discovered in a fish pond, brought the people on to the streets in protest and anger. Trinamool Congress MP Nurul Islam faced the full wrath when he visited the place the next day; his car was attacked. State Food Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick also faced the people’s ire.

As more and more people joined in the demonstration, the protest assumed the proportion of a mass agitation. “The situation has been going from bad to worse. We are fast losing confidence in the police here; it looks as though we ourselves will have to protect the women and children of our families from these wolves who openly defy the law and cause havoc among decent folk,” a resident of Barasat told Frontline. The government’s usual offer of a job and monetary compensation for the victim’s family was turned down. “We do not want employment or money, we want the culprits to be hanged,” said one of the brothers of the victim after meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Writers’ Buildings, the State Secretariat. The arrest of all eight people accused of the crime was not enough to quell the agitation.

The people of Kamduni were keen that Mamata Banerjee visit the area. However, if they, particularly the women, were looking for sympathy or even an assurance of security from their Chief Minister, they were in for a shock. When Mamata Banerjee did make a supposedly “secret visit” to the victim’s house 10 days after the rape and murder, she lost her cool with the women there who were shouting slogans demanding security and justice. “Shut up. You are all CPI(M) supporters” she shouted at them. “I do not care about political parties. I came to meet Didi to tell her that I am afraid to even go outside my house these days,” said one visibly distraught woman.

Cornered by criticism from all quarters for her reaction, Mamata Banerjee quickly labelled the incident a Maoist conspiracy to kill her. “The Maoists, along with the CPI(M), had planned to kill me when I visited the victim’s family,” she said later trying to justify her outburst while campaigning for the upcoming panchayat elections. Mukul Roy, Trinamool Congress general secretary, too called this a “conspiracy hatched by the CPI(M), the Congress and the Maoists to destabilise the State”. Mamata Banerjee’s reaction and her subsequent justification has worried many in her own party. “We must be careful not to anger the rural people at a time like this. They are very sensitive,” a Trinamool source told Frontline. Earlier, 13 women activists were detained by the police for protesting near Mamata Banerjee’s residence in Kolkata.

http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/kamduni-shocker/article4846033.ece

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Stripped of dignity – By S. Dorairaj (Jul 12, 2013, Frontline)

With the imposing Puthur hillock surrounded by lush green sugarcane fields offering a picturesque backdrop, Vadugapatti in Usilampatti block in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu gives the impression that all is well there. But the humiliation inflicted on a 11-year-old Dalit boy on June 3 and the abuses hurled subsequently at his widowed mother by a caste Hindu youth have unmasked the moral pretensions of the tiny village in the heartland of the Piramalai Kallars.

In a place where footwear is considered a status symbol rather than protective gear, a Piramalai Kallar youth, P. Nilamaalai, forced the Dalit boy, P. Suresh (name changed), to carry his sandals on his head as punishment. His crime: wearing footwear in the caste-Hindu area!

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) tooksuo motu notice of the case and held an inquiry in the village on June 11. D. Venkatesan, Director of the NCSC (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry), who was accompanied by A. Iniyan, investigator, confirmed that the incident had taken place. Dubbing it a “heinous crime against a juvenile”, he said that persons guilty of the crime would have to face “serious legal consequences”.

Following a complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, P. Nagammal, a brick kiln worker, the Usilampatti Town police registered a first information report (FIR) on June 6 and arrested Nilamaalai, his brother P. Agni and their father, A. Pathivuraja. The police have registered cases against them under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Even 10 days after the incident, Suresh found it difficult to come to terms with the humiliation he had undergone. Narrating his ordeal, he said it occurred when he and two other boys were returning from the Government Kallar High School where he was studying in Standard VI.

http://www.frontline.in/social-issues/stripped-of-dignity/article4840220.ece

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