IAMC Weekly News Roundup – October 3rd, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

IAMC Urges Central Government to Ban Terror Outfits Sanatan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to act on the request of the Maharashtra State Government to ban right-wing terrorist organization Sanatan Sanstha. In a letter to the Prime Minister, IAMC has also urged him to ban terror outfit Abhinav Bharat based on the recommendation of the Maharashtra State Police.

Sanatan Sanstha activists were convicted in the bomb blasts in June 2008 in Thane and thereafter at Vashi, Panvel and Ratnagiri. The organization has also been implicated in the bomb blast in Goa in October 2009 on the eve of Diwali. Abhinav Bharat, a Hindutva terror network similar to Sanatan Sanstha, has been implicated in the bomb blasts at Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid (Hyderabad), Ajmer and Modasa (Gujarat).

“Not only have the terrorist activities of these two organizations resulted in terrible loss of life and property, innocent people that had nothing to do with these crimes, have been falsely implicated and imprisoned, in some cases for several years,” the letter, signed by IAMC President Shaheen Khateeb stated. “Recently, the National Investigation Agency concluded that the nine men that had spent five years in prison on charges of masterminding the Malegaon blasts of 2006 were innocent. This was over a year after Swami Aseemanand’s confession about Abhinav Bharat’s involvement in the multiple terrorist acts throughout the country. This is just one of many instances, where law enforcement agencies have harassed innocent individuals from the minority communities, while the actual perpetrators have escaped punishment. Such incidents further erode the people’s confidence in the government’s willingness to treat all citizens as equal before the law. They also embolden the votaries of emergent Hindutva terrorism,” the letter stated.

Besides urging the Prime Minister to ban Sanatan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat with immediate effect, IAMC has demanded that “the Government direct law enforcement agencies to expedite justice for the countless innocent people serving time in jail for crimes they have not committed.”

IAMC has once again reiterated its position that terrorism, regardless of the religious affiliation claimed by its perpetrators, is a heinous and evil act that deserves the most stringent punishment under the law. IAMC has also called upon citizens of all faiths to work towards strengthening civil society and to be vigilant against extremism in all its forms.

Indian American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.

For more information please visit our new website at www.iamc.com.

RELATED LINKS:

Maharashtra government asked to name Abhinav Bharat as terrorist group
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-07/india/30122364_1_abhinav-bharat-blast-case-maharashtra-govt

Nine Muslim men in jail for Malegaon blasts are innocent, concludes NIA: Sources
http://www.ndtv.com/article/iphone/india/133209?from=ndtv.com

Right-wing outfit may be banned
http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ws130911Maharashtra.asp

Contact:

Khalid Azam
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

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IAMC decries Gujarat government’s misguided witch-hunt in arresting whistleblower IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed grave concern over the discriminatory and vindictive agenda being pursued by the Gujarat State government that is reflected in the arrest of whistleblower police officer Sanjiv Bhatt.

Bhatt had earlier courted the Modi administration’s disapproval by disclosing his presence at the meeting where Chief Minister Narendra Modi directed law enforcement officers to “allow the Hindus to vent their ire on the Muslims.” Although Modi’s complicity in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom has been documented by several independent human rights groups, this was the first time a state functionary had come forward with direct evidence of Modi’s involvement in the pogroms of 2002 that resulted in the massacre and displacement of thousands of Muslims.

Last month, Bhatt had handed over, about 600 pages of documents to the Central Bureau of Investigation which could incriminate several politicians, police officers and bureaucrats for their active connivance in engineering the riots of 2002, whose countless victims are still struggling for justice.

On September 27, 2011, Bhatt filed an affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, alleging that Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah had repeatedly sought to pressurize him to withdraw his report and destroy the evidence he had placed on record regarding the murder of former minister Haren Pandya.

“Failing to persuade me either to withdraw my report or destroy the very important documentary evidences regarding the role of certain highly placed State functionaries/politicians and senior police officers in the killing of Haren Pandya, I was removed from the post of Superintendent of Police in-charge of the Sabarmati central jail and was kept without a posting for over two-and-a-half months,” Mr. Bhatt said in the affidavit.

Against this backdrop, Sanjiv Bhatt’s arrest by the Gujarat state government and the harassment of his family by repeated raids on his home, amounts to a witch-hunt that raises dubious questions about the government’s motives.

“The government’s alacrity in arresting Bhatt, stands in stark contrast to its criminal inaction against police officers who have been charged with complicity in the riots,” said Mr. Shaheen Khateeb, President, IAMC. “It is equally remarkable that barely any arrests or convictions have happened in over 2000 cases filed by the victims of the 2002 massacres,” added Mr. Khateeb.

While reiterating its commitment to the rule of law, IAMC has urged the Gujarat government to eschew the sectarian agenda that have marked Mr. Modi’s 10 years as Chief Minister. It is the Gujarat government’s dismal record in upholding the rule of law, that should serve as a context in which Bhatt’s arrest is clearly part of a pattern of vendetta against whisteblowers and human rights activists. Of the many evidences of the Gujarat government’s sinister pattern of complicity and deceit are the following:

1. People like Babu Bajrangi, Haresh Bhatt and Ramesh Dave who have confessed in sting operations, telecast to the entire nation, to killing hundreds of people are still at large, while whistleblower officers like Sanjiv Bhatt, Rahul Sharma and R. B. Sreekumar and human rights activists such as Teesta Setalvad and Shakeel Tirmizi have been subject to arrests and intimidation on dubious charges.

2. Former Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, who was arrested on charges of running an extortion and a fake encounter killing racket is currently out on bail and is likely to be sentenced. The fact that Amit Shah was the Minister of State for a portfolio held by Modi himself, and the Gujarat government’s repeated but failed attempts to protect him are clear evidences of the government’s duplicitious role towards law and order.

3. The former head of Gujarat ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) D G Vanzara is serving time in jail on charges of fake encounters. Vanzara’s closeness to Modi once made him the most powerful police official in the state.

4. Maya Kodnani, a former minister in the Modi government was forced to resign after her arrest on charges of inciting and arming a communal mob that slaughtered and burnt alive 98 people during the 2002 riots. Maya’s mentor was Narendra Modi who kept her in his cabinet until the findings of the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court made her a political liability.

IAMC believes the CBI should be tasked with conducting a full-scale investigation into the allegations made by Mr. Sanjiv Bhatt against Narendra Modi and other state functionaries. As the Haren Pandya murder case remains unsolved, Mr. Bhatt’s claim of possessing documentary evidence that would point to his killers, should be probed without any regard to the status and position of the people he has implicated. IAMC hopes that despite the active subversion of justice and intimidation of activists and whistleblowers by the state government, the long arm of the law will catch up with the perpetrators of the pogroms of 2002.

Indian American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.

For more information please visit our new website at www.iamc.com.

RELATED LINKS:
1. Sanjiv Bhatt gives CBI 600 pages of documents
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2397554.ece

2. Sanjiv Bhatt moves High Court challenging govt decision
http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/other-states/article2417518.ece

3. Don’t feel relieved, Bhatt tells Modi
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2453801.ece

4. I was pressured to withdraw my report on Haren Pandya’s murder’
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2491315.ece

5. “Bhatt forced me to sign false affidavit”
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2501246.ece

6. Bhatt on Modi govt’s radar since 2003
http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/752856.aspx

7. NDTV: Tehelka sting exposes Modi, Gujarat government nexus with 2002 killers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z114wnwXtQ

Contact:

Khalid Azam
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

Address:
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
email: info@iamc.com

Forward email

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Modi, Shah may be behind Pandya murder: Bhatt (Sep 28, 2011, Indian Express)

Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has filed an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court (HC) putting on record a possible link between the fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati and the killing of former state minister Haren Pandya. Bhatt has also hinted at the possible involvement of CM Narendra Modi and former minister Amit Shah in Pandya’s murder. The CBI had arrested Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, but he is now out on bail.

Bhatt says in his affidavit that he has “intentionally refrained” from disclosing the details of the evidence in this regard since he would be required to depose before other “legally empowered” fora. Bhatt made these revelations while contesting one of the state government’s contentions with reference to a 1990 case of custodial torture and murder registered against him and six other policemen in Jamnagar district.

According to Bhatt, in November 2003, when he was posted as the Superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail, he had sent a very important documentary evidence regarding the role of certain “highly placed state functionaries/politicians and senior police officers of the state of Gujarat” in the killing of Haren Pandya to the Home Department. However, on the same day, Bhatt added, the then minister of state for home Amit Shah telephoned him and expressed severe displeasure about the evidence forwarded.

Bhatt claimed Shah also asked him to immediately destroy the report under which the “unsavoury documentary evidence” was forwarded. However, Bhatt thought it “fit” and “prudent” to immediately send another report along with a copy of the documentary evidence directly addressed to Shah. Bhatt added that he did so to put on record the telephonic conversation and to ensure that the said crucial evidence was not disregarded or destroyed by “interested parties”.

By this act of his, Bhatt added, Modi and Shah were “highly disturbed” and “agitated” and they repeatedly asked him to withdraw this particular communication. Bhatt has also stated that the killings of Sheikh and Prajapati and arrests of police officer Abhay Chudasama and Shah in the case fortified his suspicion about the “real motives” behind efforts by Modi and Shah to persuade him to destroy the communication containing details of the evidence related to Pandya’s murder. Not divulging further details on the evidence, Bhatt has added that he has been under legal advice to do so.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/852952/

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Gujarat: Support for jailed cop Sanjiv Bhatt swells, Opposition slams Modi (Oct 3, 2011, India Today)

Politicians and commoners stood behind the suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Gujarat – Sanjiv Bhatt – even as his family anxiously waited for an Ahmedabad court’s decision on his bail plea, which was on Monday deferred till Tuesday. Bhatt, who had accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 post-Godhra riots, has been in judicial custody since September 30 for allegedly forcing a constable to sign a false affidavit. The Congress launched an attack on Modi over Bhatt’s arrest. Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi called it the chief minister’s dictatorship in Gujarat.”Modi and BJP’s naked dictatorship is apparent in Gujarat. Modi’s word is law in Gujarat. If Modi sneezes in Gujarat, the BJP runs here and there. They have thrown all democratic sprit. Narcissist megalomania runs,” Singhvi said.

Earlier, senior Congress leader from Gujarat, Shankarsinh Vaghela visited Bhatt’s family on Sunday to express support for the suspended officer. He described Bhatt’s arrest as a case of political vendetta. Apart from Vaghela, Congress leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Narhari Amin also met the family of the arrested IPS officer. They alleged that over 40 policemen carried out searches at Bhatt’s house on Friday and that shows that the state police were acting directly under the orders of the chief minister. Around 100 people staged a protest in front of the Bangalore town hall against Bhatt’s arrest as social activist from several NGOs gathered to support the IPS officer. Placards reading “Save Sanjeev Bhatt, Save Democracy” could be seen all over the protest venue. The protesters also called out to anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to save Bhatt.

Congress MLA Roshan Baig, who was also part of the protest, claimed Modi’s recent fast for sadbhavna in an air-conditioned hall was a complete sham. He said that the protest was being staged to oppose the dictatorial government run by Modi in Gujarat. “An honest officer, Sanjeev Bhatt, was arrested on false charges. What message are you sending across the country to police officers,” the MLA said questioning the Gujarat government’s way of functioning. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt also expressed regret that Bhatt was still in judicial custody three days after his arrest. “When the whole country is celebrating Gandhi Jayanti, a whistleblower like Sanjeev Bhatt has been put behind the bars,” the filmmaker said on Sunday.

Social activist Shabnam Hashmi said Modi was orchestrating the drama to retain the chief minister-ship in the state. “Modi is not looking at prime minister-ship. All his drama is only to retain his chief minister’s post. There are around 50 police officers who are waiting to give evidence. But they will do so only after Modi leaves Gujarat, out of fear…,” Hashmi said. “Support for Sanjeev Bhatt is growing all over the country, even in Gujarat,” she added.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gujarat-support-for-jailed-cop-sanjeev-bhatt-swells/1/153551.html

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Sanjiv Bhatt has been on Modi government radar since 2003 (Oct 2, 2011, Hindustan Times)

Contrary to popular perception, the suspended Gujarat IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt had first earned the ire of Narendra Modi government eight years ago following his refusal to withdraw his report on the Haren Pandya murder case, much before his sensational disclosure earlier this year on Modi’s role in the 2002 riots. Bhatt, in his affidavit filed in the Gujarat high court on September 27, which also appears to be the immediate provocation for his arrest on Friday, has disclosed that he was shifted from his position of superintendent of Sabarmati Central Prison, Ahmedabad, shortly after he refused to destroy documentary evidence on Pandya murder case in 2003. “In November 2003, I had come across very important documentary evidence regarding to the role of certain highly placed State functionaries/politicians and senior police officers of the State in the killing of Shri Haren Pandya,” Bhatt stated in his 13-page affidavit.

“The said documentary evidence was immediately forwarded under a report to the State Home Department, Government for further appropriate action as required by law. On the very same afternoon, I received a phone call from the then MoS for Home, Amit Shah, expressing severe displeasure about my report,” Bhatt wrote. The whistleblower IPS officer, a graduate from IIT Mumbai and now in the same jail of which he was the in charge in 2003, has further revealed that Shah asked him that the “unsavoury documentary to should be immediately destroyed and obliterated.” The refusal by Bhatt to obey the repeated verbal orders led to his transfer by the Chief Minister from the post of Superintendent of Police in-charge of Sabarmati Central Prison, in November 2003 itself, “within a period of under two and a half months and was kept without any posting.”

Months later, this was followed by the state government withdrawing its eight year-old application from a sessions court in Jamnagar district, in 2004. The state had filed the application in 1996, challenging a magisterial court’s order for criminal proceedings against Bhatt and six other policemen in an alleged custodial death of 1990. “As part of their ongoing coercive tactics and measures, the Legal Department of the State, at the instance of the Home Department headed by the chief minister Shri Narendra Modi, wrote a letter to the Public Prosecutor at Jamnagar in September 2004, directing him to withdraw the Criminal Revision Application of 1996,” Bhatt’s affidavit states. Bhatt escalated the confrontation with a sensational affidavit in the Supreme Court in April 2011, in which he pointed out at Modi’s complicity in the 2002 riots.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/752856.aspx

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Ex-CJI concerned over delay in Gujarat riots cases (Oct 1, 2011, Thaindian.com)

Former chief justice of India J.S. Verma Saturday expressed concern that the perpetrators of human rights violations in the 2002 Gujarat riots are still unpunished. “That’s something that disturbs me as it would disturb every reasonable person in our country,” Justice Verma told NDTV 24X7 news channel in an interview.

Responding to the recent Supreme Court judgment asking the trial in these cases to be held in the state, he said if there is a reasonable doubt the trial will not proceed as expeditiously as possible, and that there would be obstacles, the cases must be transferred out. “The duty of the state is to see that no one among the jurisdiction by any act or omission commits a violation of human rights,” he said.

Verma, who served as chief justice for ten months (March 1997-Jan 1998), was chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from 2000 to 2003. Responding to Team Anna’s rejection of parliamentary standing committee’s version of the judges accountability bill, Justice Verma said entire governance of the country cannot be conducted by just one Lokpal.

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/ex-cji-concerned-over-delay-in-gujarat-riots-cases_100567641.html

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Held for ‘9/11-type’ plot, no case 4 years later (Oct 3, 2011, Indian Express)

It was a sensational claim. Presenting 24-year-old Imran Kirmani before waiting cameras on November 21, 2006, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell called him a member of “a Lashkar-e-Toiba module” that was “planning a 9/11-type strike in Delhi”. Kirmani had a degree in aeronautical engineering from Jaipur, had done a six-month course at Amritsar Flying Club and was working with Star Aviation Academy – nobody asked any questions. Four years, five months and 21 days later, Additional Sessions Judge Surinder S Rathi acquitted Kirmani, ripping apart the police case. All Kirmani has left are questions. “My dream has already died, there is no future,” he says. “How will I begin again? Who will accept me in the aviation industry? Who will return me five years of my life?”

The “distortions” began with the chargesheet filed in Kirmani’s case. While before the media police alleged a 9/11-like plot, in its chargesheet, the Special Cell claimed a tip-off from a central intelligence agency that a Lashkar militant had set up base in Delhi and was funding terror through hawala, and that his brother was an Imran, a resident of Dwarka. And that Imran also collected and transferred terror funds. The police claimed to have recovered “around 1.5 kilogram of RDX, two automatic timers and 4.5 lakh rupees hawala money” from Kirmani and his “accomplice”. While releasing Kirmani, the court ordered that the money be returned to him because his family had produced substantial proof that they had sold a piece of land in Sopore to help Kirmani buy a single-bedroom flat in Delhi.

The house was part of a dream that Kirmani had only then started believing was possible. Belonging to Magam in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, he had left his village at an early age and after Class V, joined Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Kupwara. Later he went to Chandigarh to finish his schooling. “I wanted to become an aeronautical engineer. It was my dream,” he recalls. In January 2000, he joined the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial College of Aeronautics in Jaipur. It was a three-year course after which he took six-month training at Amritsar Flying Club.However, unable to find a job, he returned to Kashmir. Then, in 2005, he found a job with Star Aviation Academy in Delhi.

Things were falling into place, till that knock on the door of his Dwarka house on the afternoon of November 16, 2006. “When I opened the door, a group of men in civvies walked inside. They introduced themselves as officers of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell. They placed their pistols on the table and told me they needed my help to solve a case,” Kirmani recalls. “I was scared and confused. But before I could say anything, they asked me to accompany them. They told me that they didn’t want to create a scene and harm my reputation among the neighbours.” Kirmani had Rs 4.5 lakh with him in the apartment, and the policemen confiscated the money. Kirmani was taken to a shopping complex in Sector 6 of Dwarka. “After some time, the police brought another Kashmiri. I didn’t know him then. He was Ghulam Rasool Bafanda. I saw the policemen give a bag to him (Bafanda) and ask him to leave. But as he walked a few metres, they ran after him and caught him, shouting ‘Pakdo, pakdo (Catch him)’,” he says. “It was a drama to show that they had arrested him from the shopping complex.” A bag was then put over Kirmani’s head, he says. “They took me to some place. I heard cries of a man. It was Bafanda, they were torturing him. I didn’t know what was going on. It was scary.”

Bafanda, it later turned out, had actually been picked up from the exit gate of the domestic airport. Kirmani himself was kept in police custody for five days before being “produced”. “When the Special Cell told the media I was part of an LeT module and we were planning a 9/11-type attack in Delhi, I was shocked,” Kirmani says. “But then I understood their game plan. Every Kashmiri living in Delhi is under watch and the Special Cell officers had found my credentials fit to cook up a sensational story.” It was a nightmare for both him and his family. “I realised that my lawyer too is working against me. So I decided to argue the case myself.” Soon, he adds, the truth emerged. “They (Special Cell) couldn’t manage to hide their lies.”…

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/854879/

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Police ignore desecration of Quran; Kill 4 when they come out protesting (Oct 3, 2011, Twocircles.net)

In a time when Muslims as well as secular minded people are crying for justice in the police firing at Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, another incident of communal violence accompanied by police firing at Muslims has been reported on October 2 at Rudrapur town in Uttarakhand. The death of four Muslims has been confirmed while several others are injured who are under treatment at hospitals. The town is still tense and curfew continues. The atmosphere at Rudrapur town of Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand has been normal for past several years but for last one year some anti-social elements have been trying to disturb the communal harmony here.

On September 30, 2011, a bag containing a copy of Holy Quran and flesh of pig was thrown by some miscreants at a local temple. When local Muslims came to know about that, they went to the local police station and demanded action against those who are behind desecrating the Holy Quran. The police assured them of action and sent them back. Two days passed but no action was taken by police. And then on Oct. 2 another such incident happened the same area in which some people of Hindu community desecrated and burnt a copy of the Quran. The local people again reached the local police station and demanded immediate action but police this time too remained inaction. Then angry Muslims started protesting outside the station.

“Muslims were protesting for their demand to arrest those who were involved in desecration of Quran. Police asked protestors to leave the place but they refused to do so untill their demand was accepted. Then police started lathi charge which resulted in stone pelting from protestors. It was enough for police to open fire at the protestors which killed four Muslims while injured many others”, Shah Jilani, a physician living in Rudrapur, told TwoCircles.net over phone on Monday afternoon. He said that when the police firing was going on, a mob of Hindu community came out on the road and started destroying shops and setting vehicles on fire. “No Muslim shops in the market were left unattached. All were looted and destroyed” said Mr Shah who has his clinic in the affected area.

“It is a very painful matter that four Muslims have been killed in the attack by police and Hindus and after the incident Muslims are being arrested in large number. Every Muslims in the town are afraid” said Abdul Qadir, secretary of Udham Singh Nagar district unit of Jamit Ulema-I-Hind. He recalled that last year also a similar incident happened when pig flesh was thrown inside Jama Masjid. “At that time police arrested some members of Hindu community who were later released without any strict action” he added. Bharatiya Janata Party has been ruling Uttarakhand since it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in November 2000. However, the situation in the town is tense but under control. Security has been strengthened in the area with police patrolling all the vital installations. Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel are also being deployed in the area as a precautionary step.

http://twocircles.net/2011oct03/police_ignore_desecration_quran_kill_4_when_they_come_out_protesting.html

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Evidence of bullet marks on Gopalgarh mosque removed: SFR (Sep 27, 2011, Twocircles.net)

During the 14th September violence, the police had shot hundreds of rounds of bullets at and in the Gopalgarh mosque killing nine Meo Muslims but even before CBI or judicial commission begins their enquiry and visits the spot, the evidence of bullet marks has been removed from the mosque by giving a new plaster to its walls. The Students For Resistance (SFR), a Delhi-based group of students, social activists and journalists, visited Gopalgarh in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan on 25th September 2011 to get first-hand information of the police killings.

The SFR team visited homes of each of the nine Meo Muslims who were killed in the violence. The team was informed about three persons who are missing since the day. They are Shauqeen (18) son of Md. Umar, village, Dhond, Firozpur Jhirka; Rayees (15) son of Ashraf, village Dheyondi; Shareef (22) son of Nassar, Andhwadi village. The team was also informed that 150 people were actually wounded but fearing police case they did not turn up to hospital for treatment. Moreover, 11 shops and nine houses of Meo Muslims were looted and put on fire. Gopalgarh has 50 homes of Meo Muslims and 250 of Gujjars.

During the visit, when the SFR team tried to entre the village mosque which was the centre of the killings on 14th September, the policemen standing near the mosque used filthy language for the team members and did not allow them in. The team found that a new plaster was done on the mosque apparently to remove the evidence of police bullets on its walls, the SFR team said in a press statement in Delhi after returning from Bharatpur. The SFR team said the Muslims are facing economic boycott after the killings. Children are not going to schools and people are not moving out for work. The entire area has been turned into a police camp.

The group has lambasted the media for not highlighting the gruesome killings of Gopalgarh. The nine-member team of SFR comprised Kusum (JNU), Raghib (JNU), Arun (DU), Mirtyunjay (DU), Haseen (DU), Abid Anwar (Journalist), Faizan (JMI), Om Prakash (Sangam Park Basti), Md. Urfi Qasmi (Social Activist).

http://twocircles.net/2011sep27/evidence_bullet_marks_gopalgarh_mosque_removed_sfr.html

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Subramanian Swamy booked on charges of spreading enmity among communities (Oct 3, 2011, Times of India)

Delhi Police today registered a case of spreading enmity between communities against Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for his remarks suggesting revoking of voting rights of Muslims. The crime branch registered a case under Section 153A (spreading enmity between communities) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for his newspaper article in July this year, a senior police official said. A senior lawyer R K Anand had filed a complaint against Swamy in this regard. The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) had in August decided to file a case against Swamy for his remarks in the article. The Harvard-educated economic scholar, Swamy in an article in a newspaper had suggested Indian Hindus collectively respond to terror acts.

He wrote, “We need a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the Islamic terrorist… If any Muslim acknowledges his or her Hindu legacy, then we Hindus can accept him or her as a part of the Brihad Hindu Samaj (greater Hindu society) which is Hindustan.” “Others, who refuse to acknowledge this, or those foreigners who become Indian citizens by registration, can remain in India but should not have voting rights (which means they cannot be elected representatives),” Swamy had written.

Reacting to the registration of the case, Swamy said it was a “very stupid act” on the part of Delhi police because they know very well that two police stations have already declined to register the FIR and many police stations around the country have refused to do so. “I think I should really welcome such things because it really makes people understand how difficult it is to fight corruption when the people in power indulge in corruption,” he said. “I think they feel that I am not going to stop after getting A Raja’s head or Kanimozhi’s head, I am going to the root of the matter and somehow they want to stop me,” Swamy, who filed complaint in 2G scam, said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/10220869.cms

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Under Mayawati, Muslims fare worse than dalits in education (Oct 2, 2011, Times of India)

Mayawati may have demanded reservation for the Muslims in proportion to their population, but the community has little to cheer about during her five years’ rule in Uttar Pradesh. An analysis of Muslims’ share in employment and education shows how since 2007 the Muslims have fared worse than dalits in UP on the education front. Demolishing the tall claims of the minority concentration districts’ programme to smithereens, the study shows that per capita consumption expenditure of the Muslims was the least (Rs 781 against Rs 948 for upper caste Hindus, Rs 846 for Hindu OBCs and Rs 808 for Hindu SCs), where the community’s population is above 40%. Economist Abusaleh Shariiff, who conducted the study, has called for revoking the programme.

“We want money from the HRD ministry for the development of education opportunities for our children, not from the ministry of minority affairs. The minority concentration districts programme should be closed down,” Shariff said. Shariff is the chief economist of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), and was member secretary of the Sachar Committee that was formed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 to look into the social, economic and educational status of Indian Muslims. He presented his findings at the Institute of Objective Studies on Saturday.

The study showed that the Muslim participation in the UPA’s flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is minimal (8.6%) in Uttar Pradesh, where the community’s population is more than 18%. SC/STs’ share in the scheme is 53.5%, followed by OBCs (33.9%). Only 11.3% of workers in the formal sector in urban areas are Muslims, and 30.6% of them are employed in the private sector against just 5.3% in the public sector, turning the very principle behind demands for reservation in the private sector on its head. On the contrary, 17.5% workers in the sector are SC/STs and 19.7% are OBCs.

On the education front, the study showed that literacy among the Muslims on the OBC and general categories has gone up by about 7% in both urban and rural areas of UP over the last five years. Only Hindu STs are worse off at 4%. General category Hindus have shown the highest leap of 17% in rural and 22% in urban areas. The Muslims’ plight worsens as level of education goes up. In matric education, Muslim OBCs showed just a 2% rise, while there was a dip of about 3% for those who belong to the general category. Correspondingly, Hindu STs showed a surge of close to 20% and SCs of about 3% in rural areas and 5% and 8% in urban areas, respectively.

Muslims’ share in higher education was the most dismal, with the OBCs registering a fall of 13% in urban and 12% in rural areas. General category Muslims showed a fall of 9% in urban areas and 14% in rural areas. “Education data shows that the present trend of politics in UP has worked in favour of OBC Muslims and dalits whereas general category Muslims have lagged behind in many cases,” Shariff added.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/10200823.cms

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Vachathi verdict: 269 convicted, 17 for rape (Sep 29, 2011, IBN)

A special court on Thursday pronounced the much-awaited judgement in the 1992 Vachathi case and convicted all 269 accused for atrocity on Dalits and 17 for rape. The forest, police and revenue officials were accused of brutal assault of tribal people and rape of several women during a search for smuggled sandalwood.

Originally a total of 269 persons were cited as accused but 54 of them died during pendency of the case. According to CBI, on June 20, 1992 a team comprising 155 forest personnel, 108 policemen and six revenue officials entered Vachathi in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu for a search for smuggled sandalwood.

On the pretext of inquiry, they allegedly assaulted about 100 villagers, detained women and children and raped 18 of them besides ransacking their properties.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/vachathi-verdict-9-convicted-for-rape/188610-3.html

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Opinions and Editorials

The slips are showing – By Rajindar Sachar (Sep 29, 2011, Hindustan Times)

The media covered Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s recent fast, which critics have rightly termed an image-building exercise. Modi wants to project himself as a prime ministerial candidate and, under the cover of ‘sadbhavna’, wash off his sinful involvement in the post-Godhra riots. The media, though somewhat critical of Modi’s sadbhavna/secular pretensions, has unfortunately swallowed the propaganda of development-oriented programmes. But it’s ignored some policies that have led to a greater pauperisation of the people of the state. All the information uncomplimentary to Modi was placed in a public hearing when Anna Hazare visited Gujarat in May 2011 (in a report prepared among others by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) (Gujarat), the Socialist party and other concerned citizens of Gujarat).

Recently, about 30,000 farmers walked nearly 350 km to protest against the setting up of a cement plant in Mahuva, Bhavnagar, which will lead to the loss of 25,000 bigha land on which about 1,25,000 people live. The factory will provide direct employment to only 498 people. One of the biggest scandals and an act of human rights violation is taking place in the much-touted Narmada dam project. Hundreds of families have been displaced despite the fact that a complete rehabilitation of the displaced was promised. Modi’s assurance that the Narmada will supply water to farmers belies the fact that only 29% of the canal work has been completed. As recently as 2009, a Rs260 crore-worth scam in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme was also reported. The state government is also, ironically, closing 3,000 primary schools on the alleged excuse of lack of attendance. It plans to lease them to private bodies. This violates the right to education, a fundamental right, of thousands of children.

Another big scandal took place when land was allotted in the capital, Gandhinagar, at throwaway prices to private industrialists. No public auction took place and the beneficiaries comprise big builders, construction companies and other corporate houses. As per market prices, this has resulted in a loss of R5197, 1622, 317 (ie five thousand one hundred ninety-seven crore, sixteen lakh, twenty-two thousand, three hundred and seventeen rupees) to the state. Labour disputes in the state have increased by 600% over the last five years. While there is a need to increase labour machinery staff by 100%, the government has reduced it by 40-60%. When it comes to the expenditure in the social sector by 18 large states of India, Gujarat stands embarrassingly at the 17th spot (Monthly Bulletin of Reserve Bank of India February, 2007). It ranks 14th in infant mortality rate for 0-1 years and 13th for 0-5 years. About 47% of children between 0-5 years are malnourished. About 67% women are anaemic and, among them, 80.1% are girl children between the age group of 6-35 months. In 2008, the International Food Policy Research Institute placed Gujarat at the 69th spot, as low as Haiti, on its global index on hunger.

I accept the positive aspects of Gujarat – 90% roads to villages are paved, 98% villages are electrified with 18 hours of daily electricity supply and piped water supply stands at 86%. But unfortunately, one can’t overlook the high levels of poverty, hunger and a lack of sense of safety among the minorities in the state. For instance, to overcome the ‘Muslim deficit’ in various levels of education, the central government launched a nationwide scholarship scheme on April 1, 2008. All states have responded favourably, but Gujarat hasn’t implemented even the pre-matric scholarships for minorities. Out of the 55,000 scholarships allocated to Gujarat, 53,000 are to be given to deserving Muslims. But Gujarat hasn’t implemented this programme either.

At his ‘sadbhavna jamboree’, Modi proudly proclaimed that he doesn’t believe in doing anything in particular for the minorities, as they are treated on a par with other Gujaratis. It seems he hasn’t been properly coached about the Constitution. Of course, all 6 crore citizens of the state are Gujaratis; that’s their one identity. But minorities also have other identities – they are Indians and Muslims. Just like those in the majority, who are Indians, Hindus and Gujaratis. As emphasised by Noble laureate Amartya Sen, all of us have multiple identities and we deserve equal recognition and protection. It is an axiomatic truth that in any country the faith and confidence of the minorities in the impartial and even functioning of the State is the acid test for being a civilised State. Let’s see if Modi modulates his future policies according to these constitutional and wise pronouncements.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/751698.aspx

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Will SIT again speak, hear, see no evil in govt? – By RB Sreekumar (Oct 1, 2011, DNA India)

The Supreme Court order of September 12, 2011 instructing that the special investigation team (SIT) to submit a final report on the riot cases before the trial court, along with all the evidence collected by it, has re-kindled hopes of justice among the victims. But will the SIT actually deliver justice this time or will it again manipulate the investigation to shield the officials and politicians who allegedly played a dubious role during the 2002 riots? Following the Supreme Court order, the SIT has now two options. Taking a clue from Jakia Jafri’s complaint, it can collect more evidence against senior government officials and politicians believed to have played a role in the riots and correct the defects in its earlier probe. It would then have to register fresh offences besides forwarding all the evidence it has collected to the relevant trial courts. Such a course will, of course, be a complete reversal of what it has done so far.

The other choice before the SIT is not to arrest or prosecute those in senior echelons of the establishment on the technical grounds of inadequate evidence, systemic failure, lack of cooperation from citizens and even erosion of moral values! To make matters worse for the riot victims, instead of handing over the entire evidence to the trial court (as directed by the Supreme Court), the SIT can chose to forward only those materials which validate its suspected cover-up of the riot crimes. This can be achieved by getting legal opinion from pliable advocates chosen by the probe team itself. This approach, of course, will be music to all those who gained from the riots. They can now vigorously pursue their careers in politics and administration while the victims find themselves mired in endless litigations and appeals that fetch them no justice.

Then can one hope that the probe team will admit its mistakes and move to deliver justice quickly? Or, will it further strengthen the protection it has apparently extended to the guilty by continuing with the travesty of an investigation it has conducted so far? Given the SIT’s past performance, there are misgivings among riot victims about the probe team’s commitment to justice. And it is difficult to blame them. The general perception among people concerned with rule of law in the state is that during its investigation, the SIT acted as if it saw no evil, spoke no evil and heard no evil against the Modi government. Of the numerous officials and politicians known to have played a dubious role in the 2002 riots, the SIT could arrest only one politician and a police inspector. The probe team appears to have been keen to keep the suspected complicity of the government machinery under wraps. In particular, it has been keen to insulate the senior bureaucracy and the ruling political establishment from the reach of law.

The people who actually organised and executed the worst riots in independent India were apparently granted immunity from prosecution. During its investigation, the SIT travelled religiously down the road shown to it by the Gujarat police, many of whose senior officers are themselves among the accused in the petition filed by Jakia Jafri in the Apex Court. In doing so, the SIT did what I had apprehended it might do in two articles written for DNA in 2009. Its investigation turned out to be an exercise whose only purpose was to cause the least damage to those who had conceived and executed the killings during the riots under state patronage.In something that is unusual for any investigating team, the SIT avoided following normal procedure such as re-creation of major crime scenes and procurement and verification of records of distress phone calls, among other routine work. It now remains to be seen whether the SIT enacts a safe and quiet burial of the riot cases, or teaches a lesson to those responsible for the 2002 violence. We can only hope that the probe team does not again let down those who have already suffered beyond imagination.

http://www.dnaindia.com/print710.php?cid=1593828

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The Iron Man’s Masque – By Neelabh Mishra (Oct 10, 2011, Outlook)

Forced by the RSS to outright deny any prime ministerial ambitions behind his planned anti-corruption rath yatra, and outmanoeuvred by Narendra Modi and his choreographed fast, Lal Krishna Advani has now decided to play a different hand. The senior BJP leader’s rath yatra will now make a detour: he has now decided to make a bid for his long-cherished goal of becoming prime minister via the NDA route. Modi, it must be said, has elbowed Advani about a bit, and jostled the compulsive charioteer even for his taken-for-granted mantle of Loh Purush Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He even made Advani change his original plan of starting the yatra from the Sardar’s hometown, Karamsad, in Gujarat. Not only that, for the first time in 20 years, Advani was made to miss his September 25 date with Somnath, from where he had begun his only ‘successful’ rath yatra, the 1990 one, which took the BJP to victory with the Ayodhya campaign. Advani would have us believe the missed date does not matter, the purpose being fulfilled by the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya. But everyone knows the real reason: by announcing his own rally on September 25, Modi had displaced the old veteran.

Advani has had to content himself with planning his rath yatra from Sitab Diara in Bihar, the birthplace of Jayaprakash Narayan. Sending out a patent signal, he has invited Modi’s bete noire and rival in the NDA, Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar, for the flagging-off. The decision to start from an NDA-ruled state (in which the BJP is a junior partner) rather than BJP-ruled Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka or Uttarakhand is his reaction to the lukewarm fashion in which the Sangh parivar and the BJP have welcomed his idea of starting again on a rath yatra. Given Nitish’s political distance from Modi, Advani is driving a point home to his own political parivar. Nitish would rather project himself as the NDA leader nationwide than have Modi claiming prime ministerial candidacy, and till then, he would gladly suffer Advani’s leadership than that of any other BJP leader. So Advani’s message in kicking off from Bihar is that he’s the BJP leader most likely to be acceptable to all allies.

Going by the way the RSS made Advani publicly shed his prime ministerial ambition in Nagpur recently, it wouldn’t like being outflanked like this, even though it might publicly go along for fear of showing dissension within the parivar. Taking lessons from some disappointments during Vajpayee’s NDA regime, the RSS would like a firmer grip on the alliance next time round. This is not possible without a firmer grip on the party it mentors, the BJP. Hence, it has gradually been tightening its hold on the BJP, first by installing its man Nitin Gadkari at the helm, and then, through him, people at every organisational level. But a major obstacle it faced was stagnation in the Sangh’s own organisation. Because of this, the RSS had failed to provide a new generation of efficient, enthusiastic and committed foot soldiers for the BJP. The RSS saw this, and also the fact that its pet Ramjanmabhoomi agenda had run out of steam. Its outdated communal mobilisation and the Hindutva-nationalism hyphenation had failed to connect with a young and increasingly aspirational middle class.

The RSS saw an opportunity in Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, even though it was not the agitation’s prime mover. Dismayed with the mainstream political class on corruption and unexposed to any alternative political vision, aspiring young Indians enthusiastically followed voices proclaiming their ‘civil society’ status in what was put out as an apolitical fight against corruption. So it lent unconditional support to the agitation without staking any claims to leadership. Its youth wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, more active in the agitation, was careful in pushing an anti Nehru-Gandhi family agenda. In the long term, the RSS, through its ideological combination of nationalism with an anti-corruption platform, hoped to find new recruits from the milling crowds of youths. In the short term, the RSS possibly believed that the anti-UPA and anti-Congress fervour generated by the anti-corruption agitation would benefit the BJP by default at the time of voting. As an arrogant and blundering Congress seemed to walk into this trap, an impatient Advani jumped the gun, in the process prompting Modi to outbid him with his farce of a fast and bringing the RSS and Nitish openly into the power-play, thereby exposing the fissures in and between the BJP, the Sangh parivar and the NDA.

http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?278498

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‘And I am not a terrorist’ By Mohammed Wajihuddin (Sep 18, 2011, Times of India)

Among the blizzard of reactions to the September 7 bomb blasts in Delhi, the one allegedly aired in a classroom in Jamia Millia Islamia was truly shocking. On that day, P K Basu, an honorary management professor, parroted the anti-Islamic rhetoric of the West, declaring to his class that Islam “sanctioned” violence. Basu, who later denied the charges, has since been banished from Jamia. The professor did it openly but the scenario is not uncommon. After every blast, Muslims face a fresh wave of hate-mongering, taunts and vilification. In Mumbai too, the numerous terror attacks have forced the community to reconcile to the fact that Muslims must carry the albatross of being “sympathisers” of terrorists, if not actual terrorists themselves.

A few days after Kasab’s terror attack on Mumbai, a Muslim journalist visited a an event in an art gallery in South Mumbai. Looking at the journo’s card, the manager remarked, “Terrorists are not allowed.” Sensing the pain he had caused, he quickly added, “I was joking. Please come in.” “That was a cruel joke I will never forget,” recalls the scribe. Mohammed Altaf, who works with a multinational company, saw the attitude of his colleagues change after the July 13 bomb blasts in Mumbai. “A co-worker told me. ‘Yeh sab tum logon ki wajah se hota hai (All this is happening because of you people),’ ” he says ruefully. Another Muslim had to endure an entire train journey listening to an angry co-passenger say that Hindu youngsters would have to “keep pistols to deal with these Pakistanis” (read Muslims).

“Muslims undeniably carry the guilt that Muslim terrorists are wreaking suffering on innocents,” says Salim Alware, convener of the Federation of Muslim NGOs in Maharashtra. “Even if the involvement of Muslim terrorists is not proved, the impression is that Islamic terrorists are behind all blasts.” The Federation strongly condemned the September 7 Delhi blasts through a press conference and keeps a banner saying ‘We condemn the bomb blasts’ always at hand. The need to repeatedly condemn every act of terrorism shows the pit of fear that Muslims have fallen into: the fear of being maligned and framed. The practice began after the Mumbai train blasts of July 2006 with a big conference being held at KC College. Thereafter, Muslim clerics, especially those belonging to Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind, held a series of anti-terrorism conferences. Exactly a year after the terrorist attacks on the Taj and Trident, an international conference against terrorism was held at the Taj. Even Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband sounded a fatwa against terrorism.

Today it has become a ritual to hold a conference against terrorism immediately after every attack. “Take the speeches made on Ganpati visarjan day at the podium created near Nagpada junction to welcome Ganesh bhakts,” says Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi, president of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind (Maharashtra). “Hindu speakers invariably talked of Bappa’s blessings and raised slogans like ‘Ganpati bappa moraya’. But almost all Muslim speakers said they wanted the culprits of the Delhi high court bomb blasts hanged outside Parliament House. This betrays the fear in the Muslim psyche.” Azmi gives his own example. “A few months ago, I was going from Nagpada to Haj House,” he recalls. “It was raining heavily and I saw a young man with a briefcase standing near the JJ Hospital junction. When he put out a hand, I stopped but apologised that I couldn’t give him a ride because I didn’t know him.” The story of Ghulam Yahya, the imam of Haj House who was accused of sheltering terror suspects a few years ago, was at the back of Azmi’s mind. “What if the youth was a suspect and I got framed too for sheltering him even if just for a few minutes?” he asks.

The antennae of anti-Muslim folk also get activated after terror episodes and vitriol is spewed from different platforms. Janata Dal president Subramanian Swamy’s poisonous piece in a national daily after the July 13 blasts in Mumbai titled ‘How to wipe out Islamic terror’ declared, “The Muslims of India can join us (in the fight against terrorism) if they genuinely feel for the Hindus. That they do I will not believe unless they acknowledge with pride that though they may be Muslims, their ancestors were Hindus.” “It was an open humiliation of Muslims and an attempt to create discord among communities. Yet the police ignored it,” protests former vice-chairman of Maharashtra state minorities’ commission Abraham Mathai, who petitioned the high court after the police refused to lodge a complaint. Little wonder, therefore, that most Muslims now dread their own shadow and feel the need to reiterate their patriotism at every opportunity.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-09-18/mumbai/30171922_1_muslims-jamiatul-ulema-e-hind-bomb-blasts

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Subscript Writers – By Saba Naqvi (Oct 10, 2011, Outlook)

The mirror is cracked, shards of glass are falling out. Hydra-like, the 2G scam rears its head time and again, leaving the UPA emotionally exhausted, like a bruised soldier who no longer comprehends whose battle he’s fighting. Congress leaders are getting philosophical, almost resigned to the spectacle of men at the top sniping and undermining each other, shaking down to its core an edifice that had in any case ceased to inspire any confidence. This past week witnessed another pummelling of the Manmohan Singh government, capped by an uneasy truce. By now, however, such episodes seem a routine and serialised affair, with no real closure. What everyone wants to know is: who’s bashing who? Pet theory No. 1 is that Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has serious prime ministerial ambitions. So he triggered trouble: it was in his ministry that a note critical of previous finance minister and present home minister P. Chidambaram was finalised. It suggested that Chidambaram, as finance minister, could have insisted on a 2G auction but finally chose to act against his own counsel. “There’s no doubt the guys at the top are fighting,” says a Congress source, “and the prime minister seems to have little authority.” On September 29, after the crisis had played out for several days, the Congress launched its typical damage-control exercise. First, a series of meetings. Chidambaram and Pranab met the prime minister at 7 Race Course Road. Party chief Sonia Gandhi met Chidambaram, Pranab and defence minister A.K. Antony. She also held a separate meeting with Manmohan. At the end, a dour Pranab read out a prepared text that said “the inferences drawn in the note were not mine”. Rather strange, considering the controversial note sent to the PMO-and accessed by an RTI activist-had a covering letter saying the finance minister had seen it. Even stranger was Chidambaram saying he “accepts” the remarks of his colleague. That comment actually revealed the thinking within: that, in this case, Pranab has instigated the problem. But this forced show of solidarity would not satisfy the critics of the government. The BJP was quick to trash the whole thing, calling it a weak and unacceptable attempt at face-saving.

In fact, earlier in the week, the crisis, as reflected in the media, reached fever pitch. Rumours flew thick and fast that the prime minister would quit and Mukherjee would be sworn in. Senior journalists started calling up sources in government for either a confirmation or denial. As an insider says, “It’s a madhouse out there, with 15 TV channels driving each other crazy to get the story first.” An innocuous lunch hosted by the prime minister for former British premier Tony Blair was described as a “critical meeting between Chidambaram and the PM”. Actually, the two barely spoke and only exchanged greetings. While the chatter about the crisis went on incessantly on television, the Congress’s response ranged from sweeping denial – “the whole premise of the story is wrong” – to utter banalities like “the cup is hot but the tea is lukewarm” and a more honest “Frankly, we have no idea what is going on.” But certain decisions had apparently been taken at the top. If the Supreme Court was to decide in favour of Subramanian Swamy’s appeal that Chidambaram should be investigated by the CBI, the consensus in the Congress was that Chidambaram would have to quit. But if there was no clear indictment of the home minister, he would be defended to the hilt, as the target was really the prime minister.

Moreover, Congress leaders say that as a mass politician the home minister is a lightweight; in fact, his own election to Parliament is being looked at by the courts. As an MP says, “Even if he survives this, there is no denying his election could be struck down.” These are certainly bad times for the politician from Tamil Nadu. A decision on the Swamy petition has been adjourned to October 10. Till then, it’s one day at a time. But the real question is over the role of the prime minister and his declining image, and that is certain to dog him for the rest of his term. If Chidambram did indeed act in a questionable manner, he apparently did so because of a decision at the top that Raja should be allowed to have his way on spectrum. As a senior minister put it, “There’s the issue of collective cabinet responsibility. We have never had any choice but to gloss over this principle.” The prime minister, meanwhile, has said that “forces are keen to destabilise the government. The opposition has found some weak points and is trying to bring about an early poll”. But not really. The opposition is very happy to get opportunity after opportunity to attack the government but is itself not too keen on early elections. A senior BJP leader says, “The dal is only half-cooked.” In other words, the BJP believes the government should have more time to score self-goals. Besides, although there is now a perception that the national mood is anti-upa, there is great uncertainty within the BJP and potential allies on the leadership question.

The greater crisis, though, is perhaps in the current ruling dispensation. First there is the problem of the prime minister, and the 2G storm could gather strength again, depending on what the court says. In case the prime minister does get into the frame more directly, the possible alternatives to him are Antony and Pranab. Although there was a separate meeting between Sonia and Antony, at the time of writing, one could only speculate about what discussions might have happened behind closed doors. But certainly if there is the question of trust, there is no doubt that the quiet, self-effacing Antony would be trusted by 10 Janpath more than Pranab. Pranab remains the great political manager and coalition man in the UPA. Every Parliament session, he plays the most critical role. But certainly the latest controversy-and the ensuing embarrasment-would not have endeared him to Mrs G. His sniping and differences with Chidambaram have a history and the question now is whether he has cooked the younger man’s goose. Or has dada lost the trust of Sonia? Either way, both Chidambaram or Pranabda are well out of comfort zone. As far as the home minister goes, one could not miss the irony of Digvijay Singh (who famously called him arrogant) now rising to his defence and suggesting he was being targeted only because he was now pursuing the cases of saffron terror. Meanwhile, the prime minister seems to have decided that the only way to survive the remaining days in office is to distance himself from his own government. So he makes vague statements about “forces destabilising the polity” and that “there are no differences within the government” and continues with the day-to-day business of office. An aide says that in today’s economic situation, across the globe, there is hardly any leader who would be re-elected to office. “With his frequent travels, the prime minister is well aware of this and just hopes to survive the days left in office,” says a party source.

But the problem really is that no one knows how strong the centre of authority in New Delhi is. Sonia has been unwell and there is still no clarity on what ails her, although Congressmen enthusiastically report that she looks “fighting fit”. It’s only when she speaks that the centre seems to hold together. Rahul Gandhi occasionally makes a brief appearance on some public issue in some part of the country, but not too convincingly. Manmohan seems pulverised. And now we have the spectre of an apparent squabble between two top ministers. No one appears to be in charge of the house. A recovery from here seems a long shot, for no one has any big idea. Congress leaders only say it is life as usual as they have now developed great immunity, having endured scam after scam. The media gets hysterical and it sounds as if the government’s collapse is imminent, but in the party, it’s just another day in a five-year term that has gone wrong even before hitting the half-way mark. Congress leaders also mutter about the “corporate forces and vested interests” who have turned against them and back phenomena like the Anna Hazare movement. Now, these leaders would like to believe those forces are spreading the 2G taint about. For the party knows it may be down but the sheer logic of electoral democracy means it is not yet out.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?278499

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Justice, at last – Editorial (Oct 1, 2011, The Hindu)

In many ways, Vachathi was a test case: not so much for the judiciary as for India’s social conscience. In June 1992, this tribal hamlet in northern Tamil Nadu was witness to what brutal law enforcers and callous government officials could do to the poor and the powerless. Women were raped, men were assaulted, houses were looted and destroyed, and cattle were killed, all in the name of upholding law, of preventing the illegal felling and smuggling of sandalwood. The planned, systematic attack on Vachathi was carried out quite brazenly. The 269 persons arraigned as accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation must have thought that they could get away with crimes against the hapless villagers, who were offenders in the eyes of the law. Nothing else can explain the seeming impunity with which they went about the assault on the village. While men in the lower ranks indulged in violence, senior officers watched from a distance. The subsequent attempts at denial and cover-up were indicative of sanction for the attack from elements at the higher levels of the government.

That the tribals of Vachathi slowly found their voice in the face of such repression, and fought for justice in the courts during these 19 years with support from social and political organisations and human rights activists, is reflective of the strengths of a democratic society, notwithstanding its obvious inequities and deficits. The wait for justice might have been long and tiresome, but was finally rewarding. That people’s struggles can have a decisive impact on the course of justice was clearly demonstrated in the Vachathi case.

But what is worrying is that such attacks can happen in the first place. Those given charge of enforcing the law often see themselves as above the law. Uniformed forces, especially, think nothing of trampling on the rights of ordinary citizens. Misuse of power and abuse of authority are seen as perks of office. Security personnel and government officials are themselves steeped in social prejudices, and tend to show little respect for the rights of those lower down in the societal hierarchy.

The correct lessons must be learnt from Vachathi. The verdict of the district and sessions court, holding all the 215 surviving accused in the case guilty of various atrocities, should serve as a reminder that the rule of law will have to be upheld everywhere, including in the remotest of villages. Atrocities and violations of rights anywhere shall not go unnoticed, and there can be no refuge for the law-breakers, especially for those from among the law enforcers. Civilised India cannot afford a repeat of Vachathi.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/article2500974.ece

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