Who can talk of Terror now?

By

Faraz Ahmad

The entire world, India included, has forfeited the right to even utter the word Terror because of the way it has capitulated and meekly handed over Afghanistan on a platter to the listed terrorist Haqqani group of Taliban, the brute medieval barbaric proxy mercenaries of Pakistan.

I don’t want to say, “I told you so,” but the fact remains that I was hundred percent certain that the Taliban are incapable of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Also, that Pakistan has been nursing expansionist designs on Afghanistan from the day they lost East Pakistan and Bangladesh was created thanks to the courage and resolve of our former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

I had seen a video somewhere quite sometime back in which a learned scholar of Islam in Pakistan spoke very honestly and frankly on Zia-ul-Haq’s brand of Jihadi Islam which has systematically ruined Pakistan. Asked about Jihadi terror, he said that as long as the young boys in the madrasas are taught day in and day out that Muslims alone have the right to rule the world and the nation state is anathema to the Islamic Ummah, there can be no end to terror, be it inside Pakistan or outside. In an interview with India Today and Kuldip Nayyar soon after Indira Gandhi was voted back to power in 1980, Zia rejected the concept of nation state describing Muslim Ummah as one homogenous entity. He also dismissed modern democracy as alien to Islam and in fact called himself Ameer-ul-Momineen, a title bestowed on Hazarat Ali.

Ironically for their own narrow interest of finishing off the Soviet Union, nee Communism, the United States in collusion with the Wahabi Saudi Arabia and the mullah in khaki, General Zia, nurtured this variety of Islam. Sure enough, they succeeded in sabotaging almost all progressive nationalist democratic movements and governments in Muslim countries. Later after the demolition of Twin Towers of New York by Pakistani-Afghan-Saudi terrorists on September 11, 2001, the hawkish US administration made a huge noise about its resolve to wipe out terrorism from the entire world. All that they did was to wipe out poor Saddam Husain and ruin a prosperous and modern country, Iraq.

As for Afghanistan and Pakistan, they quietly let the Taliban sneak into nooks and corner of Pakistan and thrive there. Imagine Osama Bin Laden was living comfortably with all his harem and brood next to the military base in Abbottabad, evidently under the protection of Pakistan army which runs its military academy in this hill town, around 150 kilometres from Islamabad akin to our Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun on the foothill of Mussoorie. Both the USA and Pakistan feigned that they knew nothing about Osama for a long time. It is obvious that Pakistan was hiding Osama and the USA was aware of when and where. When the time came the US sent its small force to kill him right under the nose of Pakistan army and not a leaf in the academy fluttered barely 800 metres from Osama’s home while the US helicopters descended killed Osama took away his body and flew in a swift operation. Later the Pakistan military establishment blamed it all on a poor doctor whereas it is obvious that this was a US operation in collusion with the Pakistan military establishment.

Returning to the issue of Afghanistan and Pakistan, two things are always clear to all those watching Pakistan. One they have not forgotten the separation of East Pakistan and nurse a grouse against India to this day. I am not talking of ordinary people of Pakistan who are like any of us, perhaps a little more generous and hospitable. After all we both are from the same stock. But the Army-mullah ruling clique nursing a grouse against India over the creation of Bangladesh and unable to do much harm to India, turned their expansionist designs in the direction of North West again under Zia’s leadership and guidance. Pakistanis always looked at the next door smaller state of Afghanistan as easy game and therefore the Afghans always resented and suspected Pakistanis.

And their suspicion and resentment against Pakistan has proven to be justified what with all the assurances extended by the US and its allies on behalf of Taliban proving ethereal. Lt General Faiz Hameed, the chief of Pakistan’s military espionage agency ISI descended upon Kabul on September 4 and on September 7 the Taliban announced, amidst huge demonstration by women and young men against Pakistan on the streets of Kabul, that Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund will be the new Prime Minister of Pakistan. Thus, all the apparent so-called moderates led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar showcased by Qatar and USA in Doha are now out of reckoning and the reins of the government have passed firmly into the hands of the intolerant, hard line medieval communally charged Haqqani group, which eventually implies remote controlled by Pakistan’s mullah-military establishment with no representation of women in the Government nor any pretence of an “inclusive and “representative” government in Afghanistan, tom tommed in Doha.

How much the Afghans fear and resent this mullah dispensation became evident with the kind of risk the people of Afghanistan took to come out on the streets and demonstrate against this treachery and tyranny, knowing full well that the Talibanis will hunt and hound each one of them. But the international community is happily sitting and watching this farce. After all they had a deal with Taliban to let out their men safely and the Taliban honoured their deal. But soon as they left all doors and airports were closed for others. The mediator Qatar sent its aeroplane on September 9 to evacuate more than a 100 US and its white allies from Kabul. That happened with no hindrance by any Talibani who were busy lashing and brutalising journalists who chose to report on women demonstrations against Pakistani Haqqani Talibans. And yet in the BRICS conference the same day chaired by our Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi there was not a mention of the name Taliban or even the listed terror group Haqqanis! Doha has promised more such flights to safely take away each and every person, the US wants out. Others be damned.

The US had been preparing to leave Afghanistan for long. We have invested heavily into Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan love India and Indians. The Northern Alliance which was fighting Taliban at Panjshir was defeated by Taliban yesterday through treachery and deceit. First they offered peace to Ahmed Masoud’s men and while pretending to negotiate thus silencing their guns they succeeded in besieging them, cutting off their supplies and even electricity and then pounding them, while the world looked on amused.  The establishment of Haqqani rule in Afghanistan is not a death knell of poor Afghans alone but more importantly major trouble for us. They are sworn enemy of India. It was incumbent upon us to go to the aid of the Northern alliance with all our resources and provide a bulwark against Pakistani aggression in Afghanistan, not just for the safety of the Afghan people but equally to strengthen our defences. One wonders, had Indira Gandhi been alive today, could Pakistan swallow Afghanistan like this and we would have watched this from the sidelines? She would have raised a hell.

Even out of power Rajiv Gandhi flew across the globe to mobilise world opinion against the 1990-91 US attack on Iraq. The net result was that the then Chandra Shekhar government had to withdraw the offer of refuelling American planes in Bombay then, though by then Congress had withdrawn support to Chandra Shekhar and it was in the process of re-election. That’s what is expected from a visionary leadership.

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Are we being blinded by the communal virus?

Faraz Ahmad

Javed, a resident of Sambhal in western Uttar Pradesh, booked in February this year, by the UP Police for theft and slaughter of a cow, and in jail since March 8, meaning six months, put in a bail petition in Allahabad High Court, pleading that the UP Police had deliberately and wilfully falsely implicated him in the alleged crime, when he was not even present at the said spot.

 Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav before whom the bail petition came up on Wednesday September 1, had before him a simple issue whether there was any substance in Javed’s allegation in his petition– that the UP Police had deliberately falsely implicated him, presumably for his religion, (which is currently prevalent in Yogi raj), as grounds for seeking bail after languishing for six months in prison. This is not the first instance of such cases coming up before the Allahabad High Court. And why Allahabad alone, almost every high court in the country and even the Supreme Court have before them innumerable similar pleas seeking a court relief on merit of the case under the law. That’s where the matter ends. Javed’s case has reached not even the trial stage, which means so far, the Police hasn’t bothered to submit a charge sheet in the court yet and without that the man has completed the maximum prescribed 180 days in prison where the law provides for bail. Besides the Supreme Court has oft times stated in its successive judgements that in most cases except where a heinous crime like murder or rape has been committed, bail and not jail should be the rule. In the case of Arnab Goswami Justice D Y  Chandrachud of the Supreme Court, elevated from the Allahabad High Court, had reiterated this rule while granting bail to Arnab Goswami.

Meanwhile Chief Justice of India Justice N V Ramanna expressed grave concern on September 2, over attempts by a section of the media to give a communal colour to news…, adding “The country is going to get a bad name ultimately. He made these observations while hearing a petition which sought action against certain news channels for presenting news of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi with communal overtones. One wonders though if this communal virus, that Justice Ramanna rightly highlighted, is spreading faster and wider than the Corona virus and whether this is evident in the media alone or is spreading to other decision making institutions crucial to the fair and just treatment of all Indian citizens.

 Justice Shekhar Yadav wrote a 12-page judgement, which according to news reports, spoke at length on the sanctity of the Cow and the need to protect the cow at all costs. Denying bail to Javed, Justice Yadav said, “You can’t take away lives for tastebuds of a few…Eating cow meat can never be a fundamental right…” virtually pronouncing Javed guilty of cow slaughter before the trial has taken place or charges framed. It is apparent from these observations that Justice Shekhar Yadav has undoubtedly presumed Javed’s guilt of cow slaughter even before the actual trial has begun. There might have been some justification for such an observation against Javed perhaps, had even a lower court found him guilty and Justice Shekhar Yadav had been called upon to confirm Javed’s guilt. But here the matter is at a very preliminary stage. Ever since Narendra Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat and 12 years later now ruling the country for last seven years, Muslims have been implicated in so many cases. But after they have been incarcerated for more years than their alleged and unproven crime, the courts found no evidence against them.

Commenting on such a trend recently in Delhi an Additional Sessions Judge, Justice Vinod Yadav had pulled up the Delhi Police for lack of efficacy and fairness in the investigation in a case of alleged assault and grievous injuries caused to one Nasir in the North East Delhi by certain persons allegedly owing allegiance to RSS during the riots of February, 2020 and said that it had been done in a most casual, callous, and farcical manner. “Police have miserably failed in their statutory duties” in the case,” he said, also noting that police had sought to create a “defence for the accused persons named in Nasir’s complaint”.

In another case on Thursday, Justice Vinod Yadav while discharging the brother of former AAP municipal councillor Tahir Husain, named Shah Alam, of the charge of looting and vandalising a shop during the February, 2020 North-East Delhi riots, castigated the Delhi Police in the harshest language stating, “When history will look back at the worst communal riots since the Partition” in Delhi, “the failure of the investigating agency” to conduct a “proper investigations …will surely torment the sentinels of democracy.” Debunking the Delhi Police, he charged it with trying to “merely pull wool over the court’s eyes.” He also commented that there are a “large number of accused persons who have been languishing in jail for the last about one-and-a-half years merely on account of the fact that the trial in their cases are not being initiated.”

As for Justice Shekhar Yadav of Allahabad High Court, he made a remarkable disclosure that “Scientist believe Cow is the only animal that inhales oxygen and exhales oxygen too,” adding “Panchkavyam which is made from cow milk, curd, butter, urine and cow dung is beneficial in the treatment of some ailments and as per Hindu religion, there are 33 gods and goddesses which reside in the cow.”

Justice Shekhar Yadav also warned that “Every time we forget about our culture, foreigners attacked us and enslaved us, and if today also if we don’t become alert, then the example of Taliban taking over Afghanistan is before us and we should not forget it,” he stated in his 12-page long order denying bail to Javed, “falsely” implicated by UP Police in a cow slaughter case.    

Justice Shekhar Yadav’s observations in this case would not have gone down well with the Sanghi brigade either for he said, that “Muslim rulers like Babur, Akbar and Humayun imposed a ban on cow slaughter during their festivals.” Now this would appear a sacrilege to the Hindutva proponents who preach and propagate that Mughal emperors were the worst criminals and tyrants in the history of India.

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For Modi and his Sanghi bhakts is Taliban still a terrorist enemy or a friend?

By

Faraz Ahmad

So we are now sitting across the negotiating table at Doha extending our hand of friendship to Taliban with Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal breaking bread with the Head of Taliban’s Political office in Doha, Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai.

According to media reports soon as the last of American plane took off from Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul, to beat the deadline set by the Taliban marauders, the Indian ambassador called up Stanekzai on phone and invited him over. Within no time Stanekzai drove in to hold a formal and official meeting with the Indian ambassador.

News reports underlined that this meeting was cleared right at the top, implying Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. These reports stated that the Prime Minister keeping a close watch on developments in Kabul, had comprised a high level group comprising primarily of National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and some more senior officials, to ponder over India’s immediate priorities and thereupon evolve Indian strategy vis a vis the emerging situation in Afghanistan and our role therein.

But even before that, India had joined the club of the US-led group of western nations in according recognition and respect to the forcible occupation of Afghanistan by the Taliban, whom till the other day, we considered Pakistan sponsored terrorist marauders. The US and its NATO allies were explicit in their priority of getting out of Afghanistan safely with no damage to their lives and others be damned and they succeeded in that by meeting the deadline of August 31 midnight set by Taliban. But how did it meet our interests to capitulate before Taliban within no time, exposing ourselves to international ridicule and mockery by Pakistan? In fact even Russia and China, already negotiating with Taliban did not join the US sponsored UNSC resolution of August 27.

Evidently at the instance of the US, the UNSC, chaired by India’s permanent representative at the United Nations, T S Trimurti till yesterday, first stated on August 16 , a day after Taliban took over Kabul that, “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan to ensure the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any country, and that neither the Taliban nor any other Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any other country.”

Then on August 27, a day after the Kabul airport bombings that killed more than 100 people including 12 US troops, Tirumurti, presiding over the UNSC, condemned the “deplorable attacks”. on behalf of the Council in a statement.

But while reproducing the earlier August 16 statement one telling significant change was noticeable wherein it was stated, “The members of the Security Council reiterated the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan to ensure the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any country, and that no Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any country.” Here any reference to the Taliban was omitted indicating that the UNSC members, including its current chairman India, did not consider anymore Taliban as marauders, or Pakistan’s proxy mercenaries but as the government of Afghanistan, just because they have usurped the Afghan country by sheer force and not through any consent from the people of Afghanistan.

India’s former Permanent Representative at the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, pointed this out in his Twitter account saying, “In diplomacy…a fortnight is a long time…The ‘T’ word is gone.” When a segment of Muslim population in India overtly or subtly welcomed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, offering all kinds of arguments to support their contention, the typical pro-Modi TV channels picking up some obscure bearded cleric went to town expressing horror at them for supporting a terrorist outfit out to export terror to India and threaten our security and condemned their position as a support to Jihadi terror. Barely two weeks back the T word symbolised terror in the perceptions of our pro-Modi, Sanghi media and the BJP leaders as well.

But on Friday minutes after the Kabul airport bombing, in which hundreds of innocent civilians were killed, as also some US defence personnel, Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, accompanied by two cabinet colleagues including Piyush Goyal and Prahlad Joshi and foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla conceded to the Opposition leaders on Friday that the “Doha process for a smooth transfer of power had not fructified,” implying that while the US and other powers had assured India that the process of US and NATO troops leaving Afghanistan would be smooth and non-violent that has not “fructified.” He however told the leaders of political parties invited by the Government to clarify its stand that, “Let the situation settle. You will have to keep patience on the question of our future policy,” when asked about the government’s approach towards the Taliban. The macho Modi government is completely silent on how, be it the US and NATO or Russia and China axis, both the rival groups who have been negotiating with Taliban for more than a year now have kept India out of any consultation or negotiations with the Taliban whom they were preparing to hand over Kabul on a platter. But this Government owes certain explanation to us Indians and the people of Afghanistan how come it failed to fight for our security and protection of Afghan national interests while the others were busy striking a deal, ignoring the safety, security and well-being of the Afghans and that when we were heading the UN Security Council.

But the moot point is, with Modi doing a complete about turn on the “terrorist Taliban” what would be the stand of the embedded Press? Will they start singing the same tune? And what about all those whom the government arrested for celebrating the Taliban victory in Afghanistan and slapped terror charges at them. If Taliban are our friends then what would they be who celebrated their victory in Afghanistan? Or will the godi media and Sanghi lynch mobs still continue to raise the Taliban spectre to target Indian Muslims by creating a fear psychosis in to keep the communal issue sizzling for the impending UP Assembly elections?

Personally I still maintain that Taliban are medieval barbarian Pakistan trained mercenaries who are terrorising the people, especially women, youth and children in Afghanistan and should only be dealt with force, which Indian alone possesses at this juncture. But then I have no means to persuade either Modi or the large entourage of his Sanghi bhakts.

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This is your moment of reckoning, Mr Modi

By

Faraz Ahmad

This is a moment of reckoning for Narendra Damodardas Modi, our dear Prime Minister as also his alma mater the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS ) and its Sarsanghchalak Mohanji Bhagwat. This is the moment which could make Modi into a great hero, to find a permanent place in Indian history standing shoulder to shoulder with Indira Gandhi whom he has only learnt to envy and dislike.

Yes, it is the hour when he should turn the pages of history and recall how Indira Gandhi tackled Pakistan when the Pakistan army led by General Yahya Khan disdainful of democracy and secularism let loose the butcher of Dhaka General Tikka Khan on the poor unarmed hapless Bengalis of then East Pakistan simply because they seemed more modern, secular and sought their democratic rights, a blasphemy to the Pakistani army. They butchered men and children in thousands and committed mass rape of  women not even sparing young university students by entering women’s hostels in Dhaka and other towns and cities because they hated the audacity of the Bengalis whom they considered mere subjects, to question and challenge them. Basically, the Pakistani ruling elite hates democracy, secularism and anything modern. That is why their Prime Minister Imran Khan a puppet of the Army-mulla mafia could celebrate the occupation of Afghanistan by its Talibani mercenaries.

Today’s situation in Afghanistan in more ways than one, reminds us of what happened in the then East Pakistan and how Indira Gandhi tackled the influx of refugees and how her empathy with the fleeing Bengalis persuaded her to eventually liberate militarily that part and create Bangla Desh. But before that she did a lot of diplomatic exercise for eight gruelling months. Afghanistan today is a vast prison where men, women and children are desperate to escape the tyranny of those moustache less bearded soldiers of fortune. Their brand of Islam means subjugation of women, exploitation of poppy cultivation and making money by exporting  psychotropic drugs. The Afghans are desperately knocking at our doors and seeking refuge here. But we have denied entry even to a woman Member of Parliament. We have cancelled all visas and virtually locked our gates to any Afghan migrants, unmindful of the tyranny of the Taliban on the Afghan people. This tyranny! That’s what they learnt from former Pakistan Martial Law Dictator General Mohammad Ziaul Haq and they know nothing beyond that. Naturally then whatever development Afghanistan has undergone in these last 20 years and that is not too little, will all be undone by these gun-totting, motorcycle riding mullas.

Not so long ago, Bhagwat had claimed that if the government would permit them, the RSS would defeat Pakistan within no time. Now is their time to prove it. But before that Mr Modi has to remember what he disclosed only recently that he sat on a dharna in July-August, 1971 to urge Mrs Gandhi to send our troops across our eastern borders and drive away the Pakistani forces. That was the instant when Mrs Gandhi was busy signing an Indo-Soviet friendship treaty with the erstwhile Soviet Union, which Modi’s senior leaders in the Jana Sangh suspected and resented—the treaty which gave us the confidence to move our battalions ignoring the explicit threat from US President Richard Nixon and implicit fear of Chinese intervention. But before that she went round the world beseeching Europe and America to intervene on behalf of the people of East Pakistan to restore them their  Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in Pakistani custody somewhere in Pakistani Punjab and honour the people’s mandate. She continued her diplomatic endeavour, while the Opposition right from Jai Prakash Narayan to the Jana Sangh and the mainstream media kept harassing and mocking her as powerless and gutless. Wonder whether Mr Modi would care to remember that. But it is worth remembering to learn from her forbearance, strategy and experience and how she succeeded in her effort.

Cut to our times, when we were welcoming “Doland” Trump as Mr Modi addressed him in Ahmedabad, the US was playing footsie with Imran Khan, working out a plan to withdraw from that country without any serious damage or casualties to US/NATO troops. For that they did a deal with Pakistan to hand over Afghanistan on their departure to these soldiers of fortune, the people, specially, women and children of Afghanistan be damned. Like we ignored the threat of Corona, till it hit us between our eyes, we not merely turned a blind eye to the US plans but even dispatched our External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to Doha not once but repeatedly to register our agreement with the deal US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad who many in Afghanistan call “Zalim Khabeeszad” which roughly translates into a cruel mean fellow . As for China, for all its support to Pakistan, the advent of Taliban regime will encourage Islamic jihadists in Uyghur and endanger Chinese security. Perhaps that is what the US may have in mind as a bonus when they readily handed over Afghanistan to these Pakistani mercenaries. Therefore for all its commitment to Pakistan, China can’t go whole hog and turn a blind eye to the expansionist designs of these neo Islamists. But we kept following faithfully the Americans even to our utter disadvantage. When we were getting oil cheap from Iran and were also offered a direct pipeline, when we were developing the Chabahar port, we dutifully obeyed Trump’s diktat and abandoned all our national interests. Today the only way to approach Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan is via Iran. But that needs some kind of commitment of friendship treaty with Iran and thus help the Afghan people liberate themselves with our support. It’s a test of Mr Modi’s imagination and enterprise and let’s see how he fares.

What was Indira’s ultimate strategy to secure Bangla Desh from the clutches of Pak army Junta? That’s the need of the hour in Afghanistan as well. Yes, we have to reassure the people of Afghanistan that we are with them and would come to their aid and defence in every which way. But before that we need to do a lot of diplomatic homework. Sure, we need to secure our western borders before that, but not by crushing the Kashmiris under the boot of the Indian armed forces, but by winning their confidence and taking them along in this struggle.

It is Modi’s moment. If he succeeds in chasing away the Talibani mullas from Afghanistan and restoring a modern democratic government in Afghanistan, all his past sins may be forgiven and he may long be remembered in history as a liberator. I wonder though if he and the RSS have it in them, given their past narrowmindedness.

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Spare Indian Muslims, confront Taliban in Afghanistan

By

Faraz Ahmad

As in the past, the Phantom of Islamic terror has risen once again in time to aid the Modi-Yogi led Bhartiya Janata Party to win the crucial assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh, whose victory shall determine the success of the BJP in the 2024 general elections. This time it is the scary, bearded, visibly barbarian medieval Taliban who have “conquered” a long-time traditional friend of India—Afghanistan, to establish their “Shariah” rule in that hilly land locked western state.

Ever since the humiliating defeat in West Bengal assembly elections earlier this year by Mamata Banerjee led Trinamul Congress, the saffron brigade is licking its wounds and has not forgiven Mamata for her impunity to defeat simultaneously the combined might of two communally polarising colossal behemoths, comfortable in the general perception of being invincible. But that has not really helped and so the safest bet is, return to the time tested stratagem of raising the spectre of the “evil Muslaman” and so even though the elections are not due in Delhi, but because of its sheer proximity to the largest state in the country, it is witnessing a deliberate and conscious design of holding street corner demonstrations attacking tombs, letting loose lynching mobs. In the poll ready UP there is an attempt to capture the imagination of their bhakts by staking claim to the Gyanvapi mosque of Benares.

Meanwhile friends from UP are descending upon Jantar Mantar to publicly raise the threat of “Mulle (Muslims) kate jayenge ostensibly in the name of “Bharat Jodo’ (unite India) on the call of former BJP spokesman Ashwani Upadhyaya, a leading legal practitioner. Similarly in Kanpur BJP MLA Abhijeet Singh Sangha created tension in the midst of ten-day long Moharram mourning by threatening to bury alive all those who dare bring their Tazias for burial to mark the last day of Moharram mourning. This upfront involvement of BJP men is to send out a message to its constituency who’s leading the charge against that bearded gnome, the Musalman.

Even a survey conducted by a pro-Modi national English weekly has demonstrated a visible fall in Modi’s popularity graph since the Bengal elections. Presumably this might be the outcome of the insensitivity towards the patients dying of Covid second wave this summer or the stubborn refusal to heed the farmers’ demand to withdraw the anti-farmer laws or the multi-billion-dollar scam in the purchase of Rafale fighter planes from French company Dassault. The latest revelation of spying on Rahul Gandhi, judges of Supreme Court and related persons, former Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa and a host of anti-establishment journalists and activists through Israeli spyware Pegasus came in later and could not have influenced the subjects of this survey.

Modi’s Independence Day announcement to observe August 14, Pakistan Independence Day as “Horrors of Partition Day”, also seems to be one more bid to inflame the anti-Muslim hatred. And yet the saffron camp is not exuding the confidence of yore. Then came the capture of entire Afghanistan right into Kabul by the Pakistan-backed Taliban mercenary fortune seekers hankering after power and pelf, in a swift operation as the US forces went home handing over all their highly sophisticated state of the art armoury including fighter planes, helicopters, armoured vehicles and what not worth billions of dollars at the disposal of these barbaric marauders. In 1999 when the same set of Pakistani marauders captured Kabul, Pakistan had merely armed them with AK-47 and AK-56. But now these Pakistani proxies have the best equipment at their disposal as well as an open border into Pakistan for ready replenishment of all supplies.

Modi’s kept media—private TV channels and digital media, including sections of Hindi press are deliberately and consciously interpolating Indian Muslims with the Taliban, by inviting some apparent Muslim clerics to project that the Indian Muslims are celebrating the Taliban takeover of Kabul. No doubt it takes all kinds to make this world and Muslims are no exceptions, particularly those who subscribe to the conservative Wahabi creed of Islam. But they comprise only a microscopic section of Indian Muslim population.

The bulk of Afghan population loves India and is hostile to their next-door Eastern neighbour for I can’t recall since when. Certainly, before I was born, perhaps on account of how the Pakistanis ill-treated great Pathan nationalists led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, nee Frontier Gandhi who opposed the creation of Pakistan till the last day and even after its creation never reconciled to it. Or Baluch leaders like Ghaus Bux Bizenjo or the Marxist guerrilla fighter Sher Mohammad Marri who eventually died in Delhi in 1993 after the collapse of the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan or the former Baluchistan chief minister Atalullah Mengal and even today Ahmed Massoud the son of the Lion of Panjshir Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was killed deceitfully by the Talibanis in 2001 after they took over the country under their vile looking one-eyed leader Mullah Omar who kept his treasure close to his heart in a chest over which he would sleep at night. Unlike Pakistan, before the US succeeded in defeating Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Afghanistan was a modern state, even before Soviet intervention.

We advertise here Modi and his BJP’s great gesture of emancipating Muslim women by decreeing against triple Talaq when, the incident of triple talaq is rare. All Muslims acknowledge that triple talaq is awful. And it is restricted to only a small section of Muslim population. For instance, it is banned among various streams of Shia Muslims. But there are women in Afghanistan who had acquired some degree of independence and autonomy in these last 20 years which is severely threatened by the medieval anti-women Taliban determined to keep women subjugated as chattel. Our dear leader Modi’s help to free Muslim women from bondage of those barbarians, might actually prove how much he cares for the emancipation of Muslim women.

It’s a golden opportunity for our macho saffron Hindutva brigade flexing its muscles and lung power at the hapless unarmed poor old, infirm Indian Muslims to go to Afghanistan and rescue some women from the clutches of those brute Talibani mullas. They are prettier and fairer than Kashmiri women whom these fellows covet only for the colour of their skin. Go, fight there and demonstrate your valour and genuinely win their affection. I briefly heard a Godi media TV anchor tell his viewers how the only one vanquishing the Afghans was the Sikh king Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Fine, that was very long ago we have the wherewithal to take on and defeat the Taliban for all the covert support they receive from Pakistan. Besides, we have invested heavily in developing and creating Afghan infrastructure post the last extermination of Talibans. My younger cousin Abbas Muzaffar set up the Kabul TV there. We did a lot of work and we have no right or business to abandon all that and just flee the country. We have to stick it out and fight and defeat the Taliban. We have to prove we are a martial race and can chase out some medieval barbarians. We have a commitment to the people of Afghanistan, men, women and children young, old and inform, students and scholars, all. 

 But we see the Modi government getting weak in the knee in front of the Talibani marauders. In fact, our External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar attended in September, 2020 a virtual peace conference with the Taliban leaders hosted by Qatar at the prompting of the US special envoy Zalmy Khalilzad. Then on June 9 this year Jaishankar again went to Doha to indicate India’s willingness to “peace” negotiations with the Taliban. Did we have no idea, what it meant to hand over our friendly nation to the mercenaries of our enemy? We did. Even now someone as eminent as the former Army chief General Shankar Roy Chowdhry counsels that “”We need to understand that the victory in Afghanistan is being seen (by terror groups) as a Pakistani victory and an Indian defeat.”

The General stressing upon a more active Indian involvement to save and secure our long term strategic and security interests recalled that “During the period the Taliban rode to power in the mid-1990s, India steadfastly refused to do business with the regime which it saw as a brutal proxy for Pakistan’s military. It continued to support the remnants of the Afghan government and later the Northern Alliance, aiding them with training and supplies.

He also advised the Modi government to urgently sue for peace with the people of Kashmir to secure our western frontiers and then proceed to confront the Taliban in Afghanistan. His counsel is worth pondering seriously. But will Modi’s saffron brigade bite the bullet?

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Will Justice Chandrachud’s counsel deter the police from falsely implicating dissenters?

Will Justice Chandrachud’s counsel deter the police from falsely implicating dissenters?

By

Faraz Ahmad

On a day when respected social activists like Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale’s plea  seeking the intervention of Bombay High Court to release them from the vindictive tentacles of the National Investigations Agency (NIA) at the instance of the BJP led Central government, for their consistent political opposition to the BJP, was challenged by the NIA, virtually condemning them as terrorists,  the public assertion of Justice D Y Chandrachud, of the Supreme Court of India that “criminal law, including anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent or the harassment of citizens” gives dissenters some hope.

Addressing a virtual conference jointly organised by the American Bar Association, the Society of Indian Law Firms and chartered Institute of Arbitrators on July 11, Justice Chandrachud, one of the most respected judges of the apex court of India, stated that the Supreme Court “plays the role of a counter-majoritarian institution,” adding that it is the court’s “duty to protect the rights of the socio-economic minorities.”

He said that “criminal law, including anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent or for the harassment of citizens.” Isn’t it ironical coming on a day when social activists working dedicatedly for the disadvantaged sections of the Indian society, framed by the then BJP led Maharashtra government, have highlighted the political game the BJP government is playing to keep them in prison for over two years now, on what they termed cooked up charges and “planted evidence” and soon as the BJP government fell  in Maharashtra, the case was slyly transferred to the NIA to prevent the successor of the then chief minister Devendra Phadnavis from fairly and honestly reviewing the Bhima Koregaon case slapped against the social activists. It is an obvious instance of the misuse of anti-terror law by the Government to harass dissenters and protestors, which Justice Chandrachud might have had in mind but won’t cite this as an instance.

Instead, he chose to highlight a case which did not quite come in this category. The case of Arnab Goswami, whom he granted anticipatory bail for a case of being accessory to murder on a complaint from the family of the victim. Even when he granted anticipatory bail to Republic TV proprietor he knew  Arnab’s proximity to the ruling BJP. But after Republic TV financier Rajeev Chandrashekhar has been rewarded with a ministerial berth, Arnab falls in the category of promoter and not a dissenter of this government. Instead of this, if right honourable Justice Chandrachud had made some mention of how the Uttar Pradesh government of BJP led by its chief minister Yogi Adityanath has been keeping Siddiq Kappan in jail as some terrorist tied to the cot in the event he had to be treated in a hospital, or how this harassment prevented Kappan from attending the funeral of his dead mother or and similarly how the court delayed giving bail to Natasha till her father died, Justice Chandrachud’s statement could carry more weight and credibility. Nevertheless, one hopes that Justice Chandrachud’s following observation would act as a guiding principle for our courts in future:: “Our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defence against deprivation of liberty of citizens. Deprivation of liberty even for a single day is one too many. We must always be mindful of the deeper systemic implications of our decisions,”

Perhaps he could do some loud thinking here on how the same apex court questioned the Delhi High Court’s order dismissing the charges of sedition against the two Pinjra Tod girls Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal and also Asif Iqbal Tanha, all three brilliant students from JNU and Jamia. The Supreme Court did not overturn Delhi High Court order cancelling their bail, which the state had sought but admitted the need to review the Delhi High Court’s observation that the state had submitted no evidence to substantiate its charges under the draconian law, UAPA. Actually, the Delhi Police which delayed the release of the two young women and a man despite the Delhi High Court specifically directing it to release the three forthwith, rushed to the Supreme Court only to secure overturning of the High Court order by the Supreme Court. Justice Chandrachud’s senior retired Supreme court Justice Madan B Lokur stated, “The conduct of the police suggests that they were desperate to file an appeal in the Supreme Court before Devangana, Natasha and Asif were released. They did use every trick to stall the release and prepare an appeal overnight and get it ready for filing.” Obviously they were confident that the Supreme Court would serve their purpose and stay the release. How much one would have wished Justice Chandrachud referred to this and serve as an eye opener to his esteemed colleagues on the apex bench. 

Justice Chandrachud also mentioned the urgency to decongest prisons and the attempt by the Supreme Court in this direction in these words: “While it is important that prisons are decongested because they are highly susceptible to becoming hotspots for the virus, it is equally important to examine why prisons are congested in the first place. The criminal law, including the anti-terror legislation, should not be misused for quelling dissent or the harassment of citizens.” One wonders whether he remembered how 84-year-old Parkinson affected Father Stan Swamy working for the protection of tribals of Jharkhand, implicated falsely again by the NIA on that fraud and fictitious Bhima Koregaon case, kept pleading for bail but consistently denied even by the Bombay High Court and died in custody.

On the day Justice Chandrachud was telling the world about the role of the courts in India a special court in Mumbai had rejected the bail plea of the highly respected IIT professor Anand Teltumbde also imprisoned along with Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navlakha and more than a dozen others in the infamous Bhima Koregaon case, where a BJP government of Maharashtra first and now the politically motivated biased investigating agency have targeted the victims while not even interrogating those reported to have instigated the violence on 2 January 2018, namely Sambhaji Bhide. Leave alone arresting Bhide, they enlarged on bail within no time his accomplice Milind Ekbote associated with the virulent Hindutva brigade, enjoying BJP patronage..

Senior Supreme Court advocate Chander Uday Singh has stated, “That the UAPA is grossly abused goes without saying. That it is invoked disproportionately against minorities, indigenous people, tribals and, increasingly those who stand up for them, is well known. Bail is hard to get once arrested under UAPA, which often prompts investigating agencies to slap on UPAPA charges after a political dissenter or protestor obtains bail under the regular criminal laws.”

Listing some half a dozen cases where members of the Muslim community have languished in jails for years, even decades only to be acquitted honourably because of unsubstantiated grave charges slapped on them, Singh has suggested the exertion of Law of Torts to demand appropriate and adequate compensation from prosecuting agencies for deliberately keeping them imprisoned maliciously on trumped up baseless charges. Perhaps if Justice Chandrachud had reflected on that it might have acted as some kind of a deterrent to the police and courts against charging political dissenters and protestors with false and fake cases.

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The rise and fall of Ram Vilas Paswan

The rise and fall of Ram Vilas Paswan

By

Faraz Ahmad

I got to know Ram Vilas Paswan soon after V P Singh announced in the Lok Sabha the acceptance of Mandal Commission recommendations on 7 August, 1990, causing a huge uproar of noisy and often violent protests from across party lines and in particular the upper caste youth of North India, or shall we say the Cow land.

Before that even while covering the ruling Janata Dal then as a reporter for the weekly Sunday Mail, I was vaguely aware of Paswan as someone who won as a Janata Dal candidate in that anti-Rajiv Gandhi Bofors wave with the highest margin of votes and who on becoming a young Labour minister in V P Singh government shifted into 12, Janpath, next to the residence of the then Congress president and outgoing Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Outgoing Urban Development Minister Mohsina Kidwai had vacated this bungalow. Ram Vilas and family, so identified with 12, Janpath, that he did several political somersaults, to retain that strategically located prestigious house.

Maybe if Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfills Paswan’s younger brother Pashupati  Paras’ desire to reward him by inducting him into the Union cabinet to fill up the vacancy created by Paswan’s death, for migrating to the NDA camp with other four MPs of Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), he too may be allotted 12 Janpath. Even then, Chirag and his mother Mrs Reena Paswan, might have to vacate the bungalow sooner than later and shift to some smaller accommodation on North or South Avenue. Under the Urban Development ministry rules Chirag is not yet entitled to a type VIII bungalow. And in Modi regime the privilege of enjoying the comfort of a Lutyens’ Type VIII bungalow comes for a price. If you’re of any use to Modi then even a minister of State like Kirren Rijiju gets to live in the bungalow occupied by former Defence Minister of India A K Antony. On the other hand, Ajit Singh was evicted out of his 14 Tughlak Road house occupied first by his father Chaudhry Charan Singh and then him presumably since 1977 when Charan Singh became the Home Minister in Morarji Desai government in 1977. But the BJP did not like Ajit Singh going over to the Congress after the 2009 elections and evicted him unceremoniously soon as they came to power.    

Mandal threw up two bright young and energetic leaders or shall we say three in the V P Singh government. Paswan, Sharad Yadav and also Nitish Kumar, all three first time ministers and that too directly in the Centre. Two of them Nitish and Sharad belonged to the Devi Lal camp of Janata Dal and Paswan too came from the socialist stock which had later merged into Chaudhary Charan Singh’s Lok Dal and still later into Chaudhary Devi Lal’s parallel Lok Dal. In effect all three Paswan, Sharad and Nitish and Lalu Prasad, heading the Bihar government as its chief minister were a product of Jai Prakash Narayan’s Sampurna Kranti movement and left a lasting imprint on our impressionable minds then as ideal revolutionary politicians.

Almost immediately after V P Singh announced acceptance of the Mandal Commission report, awarding 27 per cent reservation in Central All India services to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Devi Lal held a rally in which for the first time Kanshi Ram appeared on his platform and Devi Lal rejected Mandal for excluding Jats from it. Kanshi Ram the great messiah of Dalits and all deprived sections of the population stood with Devi Lal to effectively oppose the Mandal Commission. It must have been on or around 23 September, 1990 the anniversary of the signing of Poona Pact by Dr B R Ambedkar when Paswan and Sharad held a counter rally of the Dalits and OBCs at the Boat Club lawns and the response was phenomenal. Paswan thence emerged as a champion of the Dalits and backwards and became a household name in Delhi and national media.

That government did not last long and fell on 10 November, 1990 leading to a brief interregnum of Rajiv Gandhi supported Chandra Shekhar government for four months and then the mid-term elections of May, 1991 wherein Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, completely changing the course of Indian history. In the immediate aftermath of the polls in which the Congress led by P V Narasimha Rao returned to power, Ram Vilas Paswan emerged as the most trusted lieutenant of V P Singh because neither Sharad nor Nitish Kumar could return immediately to the 10th Lok Sabha. And a militant Paswan was active and agile to take on the BJP’s saffron clad Sadhu, Sadhvi brigade occupying the Lok Sabha benches, on each Hindutva issue, endearing himself to people like me sitting in the Press gallery listening to Paswan’s counter attacks against the noisy BJP members.

Janata Dal parliamentary party office in room number 4, Parliament House became our second home, chatting up Paswan. Sharad and Nitish returned to the Lower House after a couple of months in by elections from Bihar because their elections had been countermanded by politically hostile pro-active Election Commissioner. Till then there was only one man at the top in Nirvachan Sadan and that was T N Seshan.

Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar too became our (meaning me and Smita Gupta the then Bureau chief of The Independent) friends and sources for daily stories. Initially though we found Sharad a little distant. Perhaps because in the runup to the 9th Lok Sabha there were news reports in a section of the media alluding some sex scandal involving his Feroze Shah Road residence. Since then, Sharad would be wary and suspicious of women journalists till he had ascertained that they had not been set up to trap him.

In 1993 V P Singh quit his position as Leader of the Janata Dal parliamentary party and went on a nationwide travel to spread awareness about the need for reservation for the OBCs. Before resigning he sought to make Ram Vilas the leader of Janata Dal parliamentary party. But Sharad, Nitish and at their instance Lalu sitting in Patna together resisted the move and Paswan could not inherit V P Singh’s mantle. By 1994-5, Nitish with George, Hari Kishore Singh, Syed Shahabuddin, Chandrajit Yadav and others left the Janata Dal to float the Samata Party. Still in 1996 an anti-BJP front named the United Front formed the government with the then Karnataka chief minister and a JD leader, H D Deve Gowda as the Prime Minister. But since Deve Gowda was then not a member of either of the two Houses of Parliament and later returned to Parliament as a Rajya Sabha member Paswan became the Leader of the House . Also, he bagged the prized Railways portfolio.

In the 1994 Bihar assembly elections despite Seshan’s Brahmanical animus against Lalu that resulted in the elections carrying on for six months and Lalu ceasing to be even caretaker chief minister in the interregnum, in the end he still won overwhelmingly. His political competitors even within the Janata Dal now became even more envious of Lalu emerging as an invincible leader of Mandal forces and started conspiring to displace him. Lalu’s biggest enemy the BJP started besieging him soon after, with trumped up charges against him on the fraudulent fodder scam. Even as a Janata Dal led United Front government was ruling at the Centre, the CBI was let loose on Lalu to forcibly eject him from the chief minister’s chair. It is said that Deve Gowda guided by Paswan gave a free hand to the then CBI Director Joginder Singh who later exposed his saffron proclivity when the RSS invited him to address its most important annual event the Vijay Dashmi Divas celebrations at Resham Bagh, Nagpur. Janata Dal circles were agog with the gossip that Joginder Singh was chosen to head the CBI at the instance of Paswan who nursed the secret desire to rule Bihar by displacing Lalu as its chief minister.

Both Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan couldn’t stomach Lalu’s rise whom they perceived as a non-serious “joker” towering above them politically like a colossal by his deft handling of post Mandal situation. While Nitish having walked out of Janata Dal with George Fernandes and other anti-Mandal MPs to form the Samata Party, collaborating with the BJP and his dear friend and trusted ally Sushil Modi, to challenge Lalu’s supremacy, had to struggle for nearly 15 years before he and his dear saffron friends could finally vanquish Lalu, Paswan acted surreptitiously. Meanwhile after Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister an element of distrust developed between the Prime Minister and  the then Congress president Sitaram Kesri, also from Bihar and an ally of Lalu Prasad because even though Rao had soon been replaced as Congress president, Gowda pursued Rao’s agenda to fix Kesri. Paswan used this opportunity to fix Lalu. Paswan had the knack of winning the trust and confidence of each Prime Minister he worked with and so had the best the equation with Deve Gowda. That’s why he, fully knowing Joginder Singh’s proximity to the Sangh, colluded with the BJP, to appoint Singh as the CBI Director. with whom Deve Gowda too was acquainted when Joginder was posted in Karnataka at one stage.

But while Kesri withdrew Congress support to Deve Gowda, he also offered to continue his party’s support to UF government provided they replaced Deve Gowda with another leader acceptable to him. Thereafter a meeting of the United Front coordination committee comprising of all the parties was held at Andhra Bhawan hosted by the then Andhra chief minister and Telugu Desam leader Nara Chandrababu Naidu. The night before the announcement of the decision to elect Inder Kumar Gujral to replace Deve Gowda, I with Ajaz Ashraf went to see Paswan at his bungalow and Paswan appeared exuberant. Why? Because he was seriously hoping that he could emerge as the consensus candidate and be sworn in as the next Prime Minister of India. He didn’t much care how long this government would last for he quoted former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar how becoming Prime Minister even for a day would entail such huge lifetime perks of type VIII bungalow in Lutyens’ zone, a SPG cover for all the family members and all the accompanied paraphernalia.

However once Gujral became the Prime Minister it took him no time to endear himself to Gujral as well. Incidentally Abdul Khaliq who has remained loyal to Chirag Paswan when all other LJP MPs deserted him, was Paswan’s discovery from Rail Bhawan where he was the OSD to Paswan as Railway minister. The United Front was a real khichdi Sarkar from the beginning comprising of disparate forces like the DMK and Tamil Manila Congress from Tamill Nadu  led by G K Moopanar, who, along with P Chidambaram, had broken away from the Congress to spite Narasimha Rao. V P Singh was widely perceived as the leader of this Front but there were any number in and outside the Front, including Narasimha Rao who won’t brook a second term for V P Singh as the Prime Minister. Karunanidhi’s insistent choice was V P Singh. V P Singh’s choice to lead this front was Jyoti Basu and while Basu and the then General secretary of the CPI (M) Harkishan Singh Surjeet were agreeable to the proposal and most other constituents of the UF too seemed willing, the CPM central committee led chiefly by E M S Namboodripad put its foot down and rejected outright the proposal to make Jyoti Basu the PM. Both Lalu and Mulayam were in this Front and both had good number of MPs in their kitty, But in those days there was tremendous rivalry between the two Yadav leaders. Lalu had more than double number of MPs in the 11th Lok Sabha than Mulayam and would not brook Mulayam as the PM. With Fodder scam sword hanging over his head, Lalu was automatically out of the race.  In the first round, Deve Gowda became the consensus candidate, also because for the first time 14 MPs had been elected from Karnataka under Deve Gowda who just two years back had become the state chief minister. But with Gowda out, the UF again faced a leadership crisis and with Karunanidhi opposed to Moopanar, the final choice fell on Gujral. Gujral made no change to the composition of Deve Gowda’s cabinet which had for the first time two CPI stalwarts Chaturanan Mishra and the legendary CPI general secretary Indrajit Gupta as the country’s Home Minister, who continued to reside in one room of Western Court which he had occupied for decades as a member of Parliament.

Paswan’s dexterity lay in the fact that he managed to get close to Gujral too within no time. Meanwhile the CBI was closing in on Lalu Yadav who was also then the Janata Dal president and Bihar chief minister. He had made his best friend and confidant Sharad Yadav the Working president of the party to look after day to day affairs in Delhi, since he was preoccupied with Patna. Seshan as the Election Commissioner put the Janata Dal on notice setting a deadline for holding party elections, otherwise to derecognise the ruling party. At this point Sharad who was licking his wounds for not becoming a UF minister because of the Hawala case still pending against him, was holding tight to this presidential position, while Lalu realising that the CBI was closing in on him and he might have to relinquish the chief minister’s post pleaded with Sharad and the party to let him continue as the JD president but Sharad would have none of it and now Deve Gowda, Paswan and other Lalu baiters in the Janata Dal came together to fell Lalu. The night before that crucial meeting Lalu went to Paswan’s house and was there for a couple of hours. Paswan sneaked out of the backdoor to avoid meeting and committing anything to Lalu. Finally a dejected Lalu left after midnight, Paswan told some of us the next day when Lalu announced splitting the Janata Dal and forming his Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), taking away 16 of the 20 Janata Dal MPs from Bihar.

Immediately after that Lalu was made to quit Bihar CM’s post and arrested by a vengeful and dubious CBI officer named U N Biswas. Soon thereafter the Gujral government too did not last long. Mid-term elections were held in 1998 bringing to power Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA government with the BJP at the helm. In Bihar while Lalu released on bail, led his RJD to a resounding victory winning another 20 seats, this time against his erstwhile party, the rump Janata Dal which was wiped out in Bihar. Sharad Yadav lost to Lalu in Madhepura. Ram Vilas Paswan was the lone winner from the rump Janata Dal. Even in Karnataka Deve Gowda and only two others returned on Janata Dal ticket. But this first NDA government too did not last long with AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa withdrawing support because the Central government failed to scuttle in time all the corruption cases slapped on her by Subramaniam Swamy, who by then had joined Jayalalithaa and became her trusted political adviser.

By 1999 when the NDA returned to power riding on the nationwide Kargil wave, Lalu’s party was wiped out in Bihar and now all three Paswan, Sharad and Nitish were back as colleagues in this government which almost completed its full term in 2004. Paswan of course quit the NDA and resigned his ministership a little earlier citing the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi. Privately he admitted to my friend G Chandra Sekar then of UNI, his disenchantment with the Vajpayee government for depriving him of the high-profile Communications portfolio and relegating him to the inconsequential Mining ministry. Incidentally though Sharad too was unhappy with the Civil Aviation portfolio being taken away, he stuck on. As for Nitish, he was always the apple of BJP eye and thus aided Modi’s endeavour to vitiate the Sabarmati Express burning report by sitting on the passenger list of the hapless S-6 sleeper coach which became Modi’s alibi for the Gujarat massacre.

  • One remarkable thing about these socialist politicians is they change their friends in the media along with their professed ideology. So, when Nitish Kumar walked out of NDA in 2013 protesting BJP’s decision to field Modi as the PM candidate, he called me, Zafar Agha, Seema Mustafa and such “secular” journalists to non-vegetarian lunch to brandish his secular credentials. Similarly, Paswan who had forgotten all his old-time friends suddenly started calling me, Chandra Sekhar, Smita Gupta and such others for his press conferences. By the year 2000 Paswan had broken away from JD-U and formed his own Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) which aligned with the Congress and Lalu’s RJD to contest the 2004 elections wherein the RJD won 24 seats while LJP secured four including Paswan’s own from Hajipur and brother Ramchandra Paswan from Rosera because of joining a secular RJD led alliance. But when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave the Railway portfolio to Lalu Prasad, who proved his competence by making the Railways profitable for the first and last time since independence, Paswan was most upset and annoyed. Never mind the fact that he managed to return to the 14th Lok Sabha with three more MPs only because of aligning with Lalu Prasad. But when Lalu returned with 24 MPs and naturally he was therefore a big force in the 14th Lok Sabha an envious Paswan could not stomach Lalu being given more importance than him. Not that he was badly off. The Prime Minister gave him two important ministries, Steel and Chemicals and Fertilisers.
  • So, in 2005 Bihar Assembly elections he sabotaged the RJD prospect of forming a government by refusing to align with “a fodder scam tainted” corrupt and discredited Lalu Prasad, forgetting that barely a year back he had bounced back into Bihar politics only thanks to Lalu. In the process, he paved the way for the rise and final crowning of Nitish Kumar, his traditional enemy as the Bihar chief minister which post Nitish holds till date.
  • In spite of Sonia Gandhi fully supporting Lalu Prasad, the Brahmanical Congress party in Bihar has all along been averse to Lalu and but for Sonia’s pressure they would have preferred Nitish or Paswan to Lalu any day and as the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha approached in 2009, the Congress jacked up its demand so high, much beyond its ability to win, that it became impossible for Lalu to accommodate the Congress party. Instead Lalu, ignoring the past slight, offered a large number of seats to Paswan’s LJP. Eventually the anti BJP forces were decimated. RJD, including Lalu himself won only four seats, Congress only one the Kishanganj seat and Paswan himself lost to Ram Sunder Dass of JD-U. For nearly a year Ram Vilas Paswan was not a member of any House of Parliament and consequently he might have had to vacate his 12 Janpath bungalow. Then again Lalu came to his rescue and sent him upto Rajya Sabha with the support of RJD MLAs in 2010.

By the time the 2014 elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi came, Lalu Prasad had been disqualified as a member of Parliament convicted of fodder scam. He had not yet gone to jail. But on the other hand, Paswan’s immediate concern was to see his son Chirag Paswan, a failed Bollywood actor, settle in politics. The then BJP president and Modi’s trouble shooter Amit Shah was out wooing all and sundry to hop on to the Modi bandwagon which Paswan readily did. Some said then that it was at the instance of his son Chirag who counselled that with Lalu convicted RJD was a sinking ship and thus to tie up with Modi instead and so Paswan betrayed Lalu once more when Lalu most needed his support. Of course, he got a good deal in return with him, his son, Chirag, brother Ramchandra Paswan and three others all entering the Lok Sabha on LJP ticket.

By 2019 Paswan was not in good health and therefore preferred not to contest the Lok Sabha polls and so Modi sent him to the Rajya Sabha and also made him a minister. In his second term as PM. But by 2020 with Bihar elections approaching Chirag became a bit too ambitious. Paswan was alive though he was not active anymore and therefore it can be easily assumed that Chirag broke away from the JD-U led NDA in Bihar assembly polls under the guidance of father Ram Vilas. He came a cropper and could secure the victory of only one MLA who too crossed over to JD-U. It was said in political circles then that Chirag had the tacit support of the Bihar BJP leadership which wanted to become the leading party in the NDA and thus stake claim to the chief minister’s post. Paswan died in the midst of the Bihar assembly election campaign. And eventually BJP did better than the JD-U, but of course the RJD won maximum number of seats and even its alliance partners in the Left did pretty well.

However, Modi was miffed with Chirag for having scuttled his endeavour to defeat the RJD decisively. Modi hoped Chirag would realise his limitations that he is no Ram Vilas. But Chirag on the other hand was hoping that with the BJP having supported him all along he would enjoy the same pre-eminence that his father did. But Modi is an impatient man and brooks no nonsense and so after a while the LJP MPs led by Chirag’s uncle Pashupati Paras and cousin Prince Raj  have made their peace with Modi and Nitish and Paras is working at getting the ministerial berth vacant on Paswan’s death. Chirag has hinted, and it seems he has not much of a choice but to realign with the RJD, and Lalu being a magnanimous leader is likely to take Chirag under his wings too.

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How long would we continue punishing mere accessories to Rajiv’s murder?

How long would we continue punishing mere accessories to Rajiv’s murder?

By

Faraz Ahmad

Thirty years ago former Prime Minister and the then Congress president Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a Sri Lankan woman carrying explosives under her Salwar Kameez dress at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu around 10.30 pm.

The recently elected chief minister of Tamil Nadu, M K Stalin, leading the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) has written to the President of India Ramnath Kovind demanding immediate release of seven persons incarcerat4ed for last thirty years for Rajiv’s assassination, namely S Nalini, Murugan, Santhan, A G Perarivalan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and P Ravichandran convicted for their involvement in the said assassination. Political parties and opinions are sharply divided and polarised in Tamil Nadu along adversarial lines with no agreement on almost any major current issue, be they allies of the Congress party led by Rajiv’s widow Sonia Gandhi or now to the ruling BJP at the Centre. But the one issue on which all of them are united and agreed upon, is their desire to see the release of these seven hapless individuals, who had a peripheral role, if at all, in the assassination of the former Prime Minister, even going by the charges levelled by the CBI in its charge-sheet.

I support this demand too I am convinced after thorough study that the entire planning and execution to kill Rajiv was restricted to Sivarasan and his two women accomplices. First the woman who bombed herself to kill Rajiv, whom we call Dhanu for convenience sake and the other, her companion  Subha, also no one knows her real name or identity and of course those who gave the contract to Sivarasan. Meanwhile Dr Subramaniam Swamy, who also happens to hail from  Tamil Nadu, has opposed this appeal. But Dr Swamy being a proud Brahmin has always been at loggerheads with Dravidian forces in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, there are those, once close to Dr Swamy, who have questioned his role in the conspiracy. To acquit himself of the charge Dr Swamy wrote a book not providing any evidence to disprove the charge. Instead, he hurled charges at others.

I believe that those who ought to have been probed and punished for their involvement overt or covert in enabling killer ‘Dhanu’ reach upto Rajiv to kill him (to date we have no evidence to establish her real identity) have been happily let off without so much as being questioned. A few whom the CBI, investigating  that heinous crime, wilfully and deliberately overlooked were former Congress leader Margatham Chandrasekhar contesting Lok Sabha elections as the Congress candidate from that constituency; Margatham’s daughter Lata Priyakumar, who was also contesting the assembly elections from one of the assembly segments of this Lok Sabha constituency; R K Raghavan, the then I G of Tamil Nadu Police who turned his back and walked away, (by his own admission in his affidavit submitted to the J S Verma Commission) and who also tampered with crucial photographic evidence; or N K Singh, the then Joint Secretary (Police) in the Union Home ministry who was responsible for denying adequate security to Rajiv, even when Rajiv faced Z category threats, assessed by the Home ministry. Rajiv was accompanied by a single unarmed Delhi Police Inspector Mr Pradeep Kumar Gupta for proximate security who died with the Congress president. Instead of being questioned and penalised both Raghavan and Singh in fact have enjoyed plum postings and positions in the Indian establishment, whoever may have ruled in Delhi even to date nearly two decades after retirement from government service.

That is because the official narrative about the conspiracy theory behind Rajiv’s assassination has remained unchanged, though without any credible evidence. The Verma Commission of inquiry appointed by the then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar with a brief to ascertain security lapses if any, causing Rajiv’s death, turned a blind eye to so many, in your face, security lapses which enabled the assassinators succeed in their mission, evidently for no other reason but to save Chandra Shekhar and his four-month long government. In the process, Justice Verma, considered as one of the most upright judges, virtually acquitted N K Singh, R K Raghavan and others responsible for wilful negligence in providing fool proof security to Rajiv, despite repeated reminders to the Government by P Chidambaram, a Minister of State for Home in Rajiv’s council of ministers, expressing fear of a terror attack on Rajiv.

The Jain Commission to probe the conspiracy angle remained mired in controversies with court cases filed to put spokes in its progress and thus obstructing its assigned task. In 1998-99 under the premiership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Parliament took up the Jain Commission report together with the Action Taken Report (ATR) of the government. The government then set up a CBI-led Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) to probe further the charges levelled by the Jain Commission implicating several top men including the then well-known godman Chandraswamy with proximity to successive prime ministers, ministers and bureaucrats. The MDMA exists to date at the expense of Indian tax payer but has not filed a single word of report, citing some vague stay order by some sessions level court for over two decades. We neither know nor are allowed to ask what work if any they have done in all these 21 years. It implies that even 30 years after Rajiv’s death there must be enough explosive material pointing fingers not at LTTE but those within the country whom even this right wing establishment seeks to protect. Who could these be? It also needs some explanation how come Nandu Singh and Raghava Raghavan are the apple of successive regimes. It surely is not competence, proven by their intentional or unintentional involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination. Then what is it that endears them to successive regimes?

What are the compulsions and whose interests were served that the two officers whose wilful negligence in this case has not only gone unpunished but even rewarded, with both enjoying eminence to this day? The only logical reason appears to be that once the truth comes out (which may never happen) the entire thesis of LTTE involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination might have to be debunked and those who keep harping on LTTE role may have to face the music, while the needle of suspicion may point closer home. The establishment may be unwilling to admit that but frankly speaking the official narrative of LTTE killing Rajiv is so bogus and fallacious that any right-thinking person would dismiss it out of hand (Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: An Inside Job?)

The entire premise was built on the thesis, extended by the CBI then that Rajiv led Congress was thunderously rushing to power in the 1991 general elections and LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, fearing that Rajiv on return would send back the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka to liquidate the LTTE and Prabhakaran, conspired to get him killed. This is in fact the version of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), as against that of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), as the then Law and Justice Minister Dr Subramaniam Swamy admitted in his book on Rajiv Gandhi assassination. that while in the first cabinet meeting held early morning on May 22, he promptly announced that LTTE was behind Rajiv’s assassination, the R&AW chief immediately disputed this and ruled out LTTE involvement.

That apart, returning to the reasoning extended by the CBI and accepted by successive courts as well as the mainstream media, was that LTTE chief Prabhkaran was terrified of the prospect of Rajiv Gandhi returning to power and sending back the IPKF to liquidate him. So, in his desperation to rule out such a possibility, he hatched this conspiracy and assigned the task to a trusted lieutenant Sivarasan. Any one having even a rudimentary understanding of international affairs knows that Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation and India could never send its troops to Sri Lanka, except at the invitation of Sri Lanka, Rajiv Gandhi or no Rajiv Gandhi. In 1987 the then Sri Lankan president J Jayawardene had urged Rajiv to send his troops to cool down the rising temperature of the LTTE. And Rajiv himself was forced by Jayawardene’s successor Premadasa to withdraw the Indian troops, even before he went out of power in 1990.

So even if Rajiv wanted, he could never send his troops to Sri Lanka and Prabhakran being aware of all these nuances knew this too well to fear or imagine the return of Indian troops to Sri Lanka. So that argument holds no water. Second, the LTTE enjoyed a comfortable relationship with the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and therefore it doesn’t require some genius to imagine that the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi would create such hostility against Prabhakaran and the LTTE as to shut the doors of this sanctuary for Prabhakaran and his men forever. That’s exactly what happened eventually. The CBI stated that Sivarasan had with him a video recorder and would listen to TV news every day and despatch these videos to Prabhakaran in Jaffna regularly. While we have no evidence that this was actually happening, but assuming this was, it means that Prabhakaran was keeping a keen eye on political developments in India during the 1991 mid term general elections. Even without this he must be keeping a watch. It would have been in his interest to ensure the return of DMK-V P Singh to power.in Delhi. So, he would have had a stake in the return of V P Singh government. Why would he want to jeopardise the prospect of DMK/V P Singh returning to power, which did happen finally, consequent upon Rajiv’s assassination? Any body with a little understanding of Indian politics and Tamil Nadu would have estimated that killing Rajiv would have the reverse effect which it did. In that election while V P Singh’s Janata Dal-National Front was badly mauled post Rajiv assassination, DMK was wiped out in Tamil Nadu which was going for both Lok Sabha and state assembly polls. Prabhakaran had lived off and on in Tamil Nadu so often and interacted so frequently with Tamil Nadu leaders and journalists that there is no way he did not understand the adverse consequences of killing Rajiv in Tamil Nadu of all the places.      

I have worked as a crime reporter in three major cities of the country in the Indian Express, Mumbai (then Bombay), Chandigarh during the height of Punjab militancy and Delhi. I earned some degree of respect from the police officers in all three cities, for only one reason. I never accepted the police version on its face value and always tended to probe the story behind it, rarely with any success though. In the process I did lose in getting exclusives or shall we say police plants which take the reporters to great heights and earn the endearments of the editors. The police version is that Sivarasan was despatched by Prabhakaran to execute the assassination and for that he was given a free hand to plan and organise the entire act. Sure, enough Sivarasan had joined the LTTE. But when and what was his background? That’s when the version of the police needed to be questioned which none of our great editors cared to do. Sivarasan was originally from TELO, even his father was a supporter of the TELO. In fact, the people of his town were largely averse to the LTTE for several reasons not necessary to mention here, but which is there on record. The LTTE and TELO were competing forces in which the LTTE wiped out TELO. Only after that Sivarasan joined the LTTE or perhaps made a show of joining it while working on the sly for others. One thing is on record, that he was an employee of the Sri Lanka electricity department and thus also had government connections. Premadasa was then the Sri Lankan president and while he did come together with Prabhakran to oust IPKF from Sri Lanka he was no less inimical to Rajiv than Prabhakran. Besides if Rajiv was assassinated by Tamil militants, perceived to be LTTE it would be killing two birds with one stroke, which did happen eventually. No one cared to follow that lead even though it was so obvious.

Third, Sivarasan came by boat to Chennai along with a couple of LTTE men in June, 1990 and killed the entire Politburo of EPRLF including their leader Padmanabha living secretly in Chennai. After killing them in indiscriminate firing, the four men hijacked a Maruti van and drove to the coast some 60 kilometres away hid till late night. Then took their motor boat and sailed back to Jaffna. But after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination from where the coast was a mere walking distance and the police was too stunned to notice any escape, they could easily take the boat back to Jaffna. They didn’t do that. They went back to Chennai, taking a lift in an auto and after reaching their temporary quarters, slept peacefully. The next day too they did not stir. Then the third day when the newspapers carried Dhanu’s photo they decided to move out and still they made no attempt to sail back to Jaffna by sea. They went to Tirupati even though the LTTE was an atheist organisation and Prabhakaran did not approve of his men breaking party discipline, consuming alcohol, womanising etc.

Eventually instead of trying to sail away from Chennai/Tamil Nadu long coast back to Jaffna Sivarasan was moving in the direction of Delhi. One of his men had come and even rented a house in South Delhi’s Moti Bagh area. In this effort Sivarasan succeeded reaching Bangalore undetected when one of his confidants betrayed him and reported to the police. Logically then it means from day one Sivarasan was avoiding going back to the safe haven of Jaffna which remained out of bound for the Indian security forces till the LTTE was liquidated and Prabhakran was killed by Sri Lankan forces. Why? On the other hand, he was trying to reach Delhi?

The MDMA and the CBI have not disclosed to date what, if at all they discovered anything  in all these years. But till Chandraswamy died a couple of years back they kept his passport and won’t allow him to travel abroad pleading before the court that he was being probed for involvement in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.  Despite that Chandraswamy was not arrested or jailed even for a  day.

On the other hand, these seven men and women who had, if at all, a very tertiary role. For instance the charge against one of them was he bought a 9 volt battery cell on Sivarasan’s orders. Nalini for instance did not know till the date of the assassination that they were planning to go and kill Rajiv Gandhi. Nor did poor Haribabu, the photographer who died on the spot, had he known of the actual conspiracy, might have maintained a safe distance from Rajiv like R K Raghavan and Margatham Chandrasekhar and her son and daughter did, though they were the main organisers and the daughter was also contesting the assembly seat.

None of this is unknown. Yet the great stalwarts of journalism, many of whom have personally interacted with Prabhakran, though much before that assassination, are willing to question the IB plant.

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Has the PM woken up to deaths and pestilence?

Has the PM woken up to deaths and pestilence?

By

Faraz Ahmad

Evidence emerged on camera of half burnt pyres and graves spread all along the Ganga bank in Allahabad/Prayagraj for as far as the naked eye could see, and in fact in each district of UP from where Ganga passes,  just two days after the Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath held a special meet with a select group of Delhi journalists to buttress the point that all is fine in UP and the reports of death and pestilence striking almost the entire state were merely an attempt to malign his government. He, of course, made it a point to invite only reporters loyal to him and pointedly kept out the Dainik Bhaskar whose team of reporters panned the entire length of Ganga throughout UP.

More than two score Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) professors, teachers and retired staff have so far died of Covid and of course, the university has not reported about students if any who might have died of this deadly disease.

AMU is a residential university and the campus is spread over 1155 acres of verdant land with not just a majority of students but most teachers, professors and even Minto Circle High School and its teachers all living on the campus. The teaching community in AMU is like an extended family whose social interactions are also mostly restricted within the campus and therefore anything happens to any teacher, within no time the word spreads and others come rushing in.

The Aligarh exhibition, called Numaish, (the Urdu/Hindi/Hindustani word for exhibition) is an annual feature held almost on the outskirts of the town, not very far from the campus. Visiting the Numaish, where, someone from Delhi might not find much to see, every evening is like a ritual to every Aligarian– the AMU teachers, students and non teaching staff, for that is the only time they freely inter mingle with the Aligarh city residents who too visit the exhibition with equal enthusiasm. The Numaish arrives in town around the Republic Day in the peak of winter and is held for around ten days or a fortnight.

 All this is worth mentioning because friends from AMU disclosed that the sudden spurt in Covid cases took place soon after the Numaish. Since the university is still not fully reopened after the first wave of Covid and most students have not returned, the hostel occupation is generally low, except for a handful of research scholars or those in the Medical College including the resident doctors. Perhaps that is why many more cases are being reported from the doctor community of AMU. As for the Aligarh city dwellers, how many of them might have been affected or succumbed to this disease is difficult to state with the Yogi government bent upon suppressing the real data and instead warning hospitals, doctors and even crematoria to face severe consequences for disclosing any thing without the permission of the district administration, never mind if dead bodies are seen floating and flowing down the Ganges for lack of firewood or lack of resources with the next of kin to respectfully bid adieu to their dead. This from a saffron clad chief minister claiming to be the protector of Hindu honour and pride.

Aligarh Numaish is actually an Agro-industrial fair travelling around the year in several districts of the state on different fixed months and dates. For instance, when it is held in Meerut it is called Nauchandi and it is also held in Bulandshahr, immediately before or after Aligarh. It also goes to Kanpur and Allahabad. It’s very old. All I know, I heard my father talking about visiting it as a child and in his youth in Allahabad. That means it must have been established during the British period. So, this exhibition is travelling throughout UP and is providing the residents of that area the opportunity for assembling and enjoying close contact, forgetting about any social distancing. This means that the Kumbh mela or the panchayat elections alone are not responsible for the wild spread of corona in Uttar Pradesh. Unmindful of the consequences of creating an environment for assembly and social interaction, the fiefdom of Ajay Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath has been carrying on in a cavalier fashion. The point is that even after the Kumbh mela fiasco the UP government made no effort to at least ban all such fairs. UP teachers’ association claimed that among the teachers who were put on panchayat elections duty held in late April, 1621 died of Covid complications. The state government however vehemently denied that.

Pick up any state from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, to UP, to Bihar, each state is under reporting Covid deaths to cover up their failures in providing hospital beds, oxygen, life-saving drugs and eventually cremation facilities of those dying due the state negligence. The Central government meanwhile is busy promoting one more “magic potion” of another of its favourite saffron clad business man Ramdev and his Patanjali products. First the health minister himself promoted Ramdev’s ‘Coronil’ claiming that it had been approved by the WHO. Once that claim proved wrong, causing a big loss of face to the Government, on May 17 the Central government launched 2-DG another drug of Ramdev’s Patanjali claiming magical therapeutic qualities for Covid patients, while the medical community is protesting only under its breath, lest they are identified by the Sanghi Gestapo. This 2-DG, according to the official version has been developed by Patanjali Ayurved in collaboration with the Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories. What has the DRDO got to do with such activity is anybody’s guess.

In the wake of such adverse national and international publicity, despite keeping a tight leash on the mainstream embedded media, the Prime Minister finally woke up and in the name of Tauktae cyclone announced a relief package of Rs 1000 crore for those affected by the cyclone in Gujarat. But is this announcement a reflection of the Prime Minister’s concern for the death and destruction caused first by Covid and then by Tauktae? According to an extensive survey conducted by Divya Bhaskar in Gujarat 1.23 lakh death certificates were issued in Gujarat between March 1 and May 10 while the state government, evidently suppressing the numbers merely claimed the death of 4218 persons of Covid. Gujarat’s celebrated poet Parul Khakkar once highly regarded by the right-wing Modi bhakts, wrote a scathing poem ‘Shav Vahini Ganga’ wherein she talked of the naked King and mentioned the notorious legendry Ranga Billa duo. It is anybody’s guess who the allusion is to. Perhaps the Prime Minister feared the carpet under his feet moving which made him turn his attention to his home state first and offer a succour.

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Could Modi really be concerned about East Pakistani refugees in 1971?

Could Modi really be concerned about East Pakistani refugees in 1971?

By

Faraz Ahmad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi went all the way to Bangladesh to make an unverifiable claim of his compassion and empathy for the refugees from the then East Pakistan, subjected to inhuman atrocities by the Punjabi West Pakistani troops on 25 March 1971, after the arrest of the founder of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the night before on March 24.

While it is very nearly impossible to confirm or deny Modi’s claims, one in a line of many he makes from time to time, since Narendra a RSS shakha attending swayam sevak from a small town Vadnagar in Gujarat was unknown even in the Jana  Sangh circles in Delhi where he professedly sat on a dharna along with other Jana Sangh leaders to express his concern for the plight of refugees from East Pakistan, but in effect to scuttle Indira Gandhi’s long term plan and strategy to liberate and create Bangladesh, his claims for the refugees from across the border is equally hollow and unconvincing, going by the way he and his government is acting towards the refugees of atrocities by military junta of Myanmar on its people agitating against the suspension of all democratic activities and rights and the unwarranted arrest of the popular democrat leader Aung San Suu Kyi. One thing though as an aside. Modi claimed he was 21 or 22 in March 1971 and presumably he is September born. But if we go by his officially announced date of birth, September, 1950 then he was only 20 years old. But he says he was 21 or 22 years, which means he must have been born in 1949 or 1948 only then he could be 21 or 22 years old in March 1971.

Significantly these current refugees from Myanmar are not even Rohingya Muslims, who, according to Modi-Amit Shah’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), deserve no compassion or human consideration because they happen to be Muslims. But the CAA is meant to open our doors to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and even Christians subject to atrocities across our borders. As for the Muslims, they, going by Amit Shah’s public utterances, are termites who have to be squashed and exterminated. That is why Modi-Amit Shah regime has been most cruel to the poor Rohingyas fleeing large scale massacre by the Burmese troops. But this time the refugees belong to precisely the sects mentioned in the CAA.

Yet Indian troops have been posted all along the Indo-Myanmar border to prevent these refugees seeking shelter and security from the Myanmar troops. The Indian government is determined not to allow any of them on the Indian soil. Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga on the other hand, declaring that the Burmese are only “our people” does not just want to shelter them by setting up camps, but is offering them temporary employment under the MNREGS to enable them to sustain themselves on the Indian soil long enough to await a change of regime in their native country.

On the other hand, the BJP-NPP government in Manipur issued instructions last week directing its officials not to set up any camps for the refugees in its territory, thus causing clash between the outlook of the neighbouring Mizoram. Once the rival political forces went to town protesting this, chief minister N Biren Singh meekly retracted his instructions to the district administrative machinery. This merely proves the hollowness of Modi’s claims of being “concerned” at the age 21-22 for the Bangladeshi refugees, who were predominantly Muslims, in the first instance, to travel all the way from Vadnagar to Delhi a completely unknown territory for him to join a protest for the Matuas and Hindus and Muslims fleeing from the then East Pakistan when as the Prime Minister he has no love for any refugees from any of the neigbouring territories, whatever their caste, creed or plight may be.

The test of the pudding is in its taste and in this case its sour.

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