Justice K T Thomas debunks Rajiv Gandhi assassination case

Justice K T Thomas debunks Rajiv Gandhi assassination case

Accuses CBI of fudging to save Chandraswami

By Faraz Ahmad

Eighteen years after handing down death sentence to four persons and life imprisonment to another three in the high profile Rajiv Gandhi assassination case Justice K T Thomas, who presided over that three member Supreme Court bench, and six months after godman Chandraswami died a natural death, now blames the “Indian criminal justice system” for not probing the role of that one-time Rasputin in the courts of two Prime Ministers of India, P V Narasimha Rao and Chandra Shekhar and a close friend of the third, namely Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Several years after retiring from judicial service Thomas’ conscience suddenly pricked and to undo the damage done to the accused in this case, whom he now considers victims of a larger conspiracy, he has gone public pleading with Rajiv’s widow and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to put her might behind getting all seven languishing in a Tamil Nadu jail, to be released.

His letter apart, the more revealing is his admission that he saw even then  “serious flaws” in the investigations carried out by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of India’s premier investigating agency the Central  Bureau of Investigations (CBI).  In his interview with a leading English daily, after posting the letter, Thomas states that there were “serious flaws” in the CBI investigations, in particular related to the seizure of Rs 40 lakh in cash from the convicts which led him to believe that the probe exposed “an unpardonable flaw in the “Indian Criminal Justice System.”

Justice Thomas also mentioned an interview of one of those convicted in that case which appeared soon after this judgment in The Week magazine and stated, “He claimed that the Rs 40 lakh was paid by none other than Chandraswami, but was warned by an officer to not talk about the godman…I strongly feel that the failure of the Indian criminal system in probing the role of Chandraswami (who died on May 23, earlier this year) is an unpardonable flaw in the Indian criminal justice system.” Thomas is apparently referring to Ranganath who had owned the house in Bangalore in which Sivarasan was gunned down by the SIT. Ranganath was convicted for being an accomplice and harbouring the criminals. He was also the only living outsider, apart from the main accused, who had interacted with Sivarasan regularly till his death.

Thomas now claims that he was “agitated” during the trial over the “serious flaws” by the SIT especially when the agency feigned ignorance about the source of Rs 40 lakh seized from the accused. “The main accused were all from Sri Lanka. I told the solicitor general Altaf Ahmed that I can understand a few Sri Lankan currency but Rs 40 lakh was such a huge amount in that period. That means there were financially powerful forces behind those who were arrested. I asked him whether he investigated the origin of that cash. After a brief chat with the investigation chief D R Karthikeyan, he sought time to reply. The next day Ahmed told the court that the investigators couldn’t find the source of the cash,” Justice Thomas discloses.

Additionally he also questioned the conviction on evidence provided by the CBI and said, “Under the conventional Evidence Act, a confession can be used only as corroborative piece of evidence…” But in this case he said that since his two other colleagues on the bench Justice D P Wadhwa and Justice Shah Mohammd Quadri prevailed upon him, he finally relented in view of the existing Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act.  A G Perarivalan one of those served a death sentence by Thomas’ bench ostensibly for purchasing from the market a 9 volt battery which was used to detonate the bomb on Dhanu’s person which killed Rajiv Gandhi and 18 others, has all along been pleading that he had no personal knowledge of the purpose of this battery and was not privy to the actual conspiracy. But a confessional statement was extracted from him apparently under duress as with all the other accused and all of them sentenced on these statements being held as prime evidence. This is at complete variance to the Indian Evidence Act, which accepts a confessional statement of the accused only as corroborative evidence and without any primary evidence is not acceptable.

So Thomas now tells us that, “I was upset over these serious flaws and shared my concern with the two others on the bench. They suggested we shouldn’t criticize the CBI in the final order considering their efforts. Then I suggested a condition: no criticism or kudos for the CBI in the final order. They agreed.  After drafting the final order we exchanged the drafts for reading. But on the day of the judgment I was shocked to hear Justice D P Wadhwa’s judgment praising CBI officer Karthikeyan whole-heartedly. That made headlines sending out a message that the Supreme Court was fully happy with the probe.”

“Since I was the senior judge he (Wadhwa) read out his draft only after mine. If I knew I would have corrected mine too to stand by my observations.”

Strangely all these years Justice Thomas kept his counsel and would not disclose how the Special Investigation Team (SIT) specially constituted by none other than our present day enfant terrible Subramanian Swamy deliberately willfully botched up the case to earn kudos for having convicted the so-called Rajiv Gandhi killers within no time and instead of chiding the CBI and Karthiekyan, Thomas too joined his two other honourable judges along with the CBI, in the exercise of keeping the real  conspiracy under wrap.

He did not utter a word to date of the Rs 40 lakh, discovered o the person of the dead Sivarasan the chief conspirator. Only now, so many months after Chandraswami is dead, he suggests that this money seemed to have been part of perhaps the advance payment made to Sivarasan to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu.

He wants Sonia Gandhi and her two children to be magnanimous and I do support him on that. But would he care to answer why he woke up to their plight so late in the day?

In my book titled, ‘Rajiv Gandhi Assassination: An Inside Job,’ I had convincingly argued how the entire CBI thesis of Rajiv being killed out of fear in the LTTE of his return to power or as a revenge for the IPKF operation in Sri Lanka, was bogus and without any basis. Besides I had also pointed out with evidence that Sivarasan the chief conspirator was quite capable of contract killing and therefore such a possibility appeared more plausible. In this context I had mentioned the role of Chandraswamy.

That there was considerable circumstantial evidence to suspect Chandraswami, was evident from the fact that the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led not by Sonia Gandhi but Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy PM L K Advani constituted a Multi Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) to probe the godman’s role. Chandraswami is dead and gone. But the MDMA still exists and God knows what has it done in the 17 years of its existence spending the precious money of the Indian tax payer.

But the only thing it did in all these years is to thwart all attempts of this one time all powerful godman to flee the country and go abroad maintaining in the courts that his role in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is being probed.

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Pakistan Politics

Pakistan Politics

Nawaz Sharif wrote his obit

By Faraz Ahmad

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif ousted from power by a deceitful judgment of Pakistan Supreme Court two months back is facing the same existential crisis which confronted exactly forty years ago Pakistan’s first duly elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Only, the Pakistani military establishment’s hand maiden the judiciary of the Mulke Khudadade Pakistan (God’s own gift) won’t dare hang Mian sahib because he happens to be a Punjabi. The rest of the story is almost identical to what befell Bhutto, the charismatic, aristocratic and arrogant connoisseur of good life who carried alongside his populist symbolism addressing the poor, deprived and mercilessly exploited sections of the Pakistani society.

Mian Nawaz Sharif was a creation of that mullah in Khaki , the cock eyed General who fought no wars, Mohammad Ziaul Haq who ruled Pakistan with an iron hand in collusion with the mullahs and a kept judiciary. It was Zia, who in a bid to contain the continued popularity of Bhutto even after his death, made a young Mian sahib a minister in the Punjab government apprehending Benazir’s rising popularity in the late 70s and early 80s.

But soon as Zia was bombed into smithereens in the Presidential plane in October 1988, Benazir rode to power in an election held after 11 years’ gap. But the Pakistan army did not trust her for two reasons. First she was a woman which the patriarchal conservative mullahs of Pakistan could not digest. Besides she had been reared by her father on some amount of considerably diluted liberalism and secularism, an anathema to Pakistan’s mullahs for whom any such trait is to date Kufr which made Bhutto and Benazir Kafirs and Kafirs for them lived and ruled in India so by implication Bhutto and Benazir too were Indian agents. They even carried an insidious campaign that Bhutto’s mother was actually a Hindu woman whom his father Shahnawaz had secretly married. Worse Benazir’s mother Nusrat happened to be a Shia Muslim, another red rag for the Wahabi Sunni sect to which Zia too belonged.

It is worth mentioning because all this was brought out against Bhutto when he decided to take on the Pakistan Army and successfully negotiated with Indira Gandhi to take back over 90,000 Prisoners of War interned in India after Pakistan was defeated by India in 1971-72 war and liberation of Bangla Desh.

Initially after the historical 1969 elections when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League won an overwhelming majority in Pakistan National Assembly by virtue of sweeping then East Pakistan which had more seats because of greater population density, Bhutto was an accomplice in the excesses committed against Bengalis and therefore when eventually General Yahya Khan had to step down after the humiliating dismemberment of Pakistan, Bhutto created a history of sorts by becoming the first civilian Martial Law Dictator perhaps anywhere in the world.

But as things progressed and Bhutto decided to push the army behind the barracks, introduce some  administrative reforms to set the Pakistan bureaucracy and later the judiciary to order, and make Pakistan a modern state, the Army-judiciary-mullah combine in Pakistan decided to teach him a lesson. Mind you at the height of his popularity Bhutto had the gumption to declare to wide acclaim at a massive public meeting in Lahore “Haan main sharab peeta hoon, kisi ka khoon to nahin peeta hoon.”

His Punjab chief minister Ghulam Mustafa Khar had dragged out mullahs by their beards from the famous Mughal masjid in Lahore and beat them in public for their audacity to pronounce Bhutto a Kafir. But when Bhutto superceded six general to make the apparently pliant and submissive Ziaul Haq the army chief, whom Bhutto disdainfully considered supine, the entire Army establishment decided not to forgive him for this sacrilege and tell Bhutto who was the real boss. So a blasphemous Bhutto was sentenced to death on the most specious plea. The allegation against Bhutto by Ahmad Raza Kasuri, still alive, contained in the FIR registered after Bhutto deposition was that at Bhutto’s orders the secret service of Pakistan called the CIA shot at him while he was driving, carrying his father sitting next to the driver’s seat. The bullet missed him. Instead it hit his father who died. The most basic student of law knows that since the ostensible target of the attack was the complainant who survived without the least injury, Section 302 of the PPC identical to IPC cannot apply and therefore no law could prescribe a death sentence for the accidental unintended death of Ahmad Raza Kasuri’s father.

But then Bhutto was so popular that alive, even interned within the Kot Lakhpat jail, he was a threat to Zia.  So he had to be removed from the political scenario of Pakistan.

Main Nawaz Sharif faces an identical situation. He was created by the conservative Army-Mullah-judicairy clique of Pakistan and the benevolence and generosity of Zia and the Pakistan Army extended to his entire family. Thus father Sharif within no time became from a moderate businessman to a multi-millionaire steel mill owner and the family continued rising in wealth and prosperity along with political power.

In 1990 when the Pakistan army and mullahs wanted to get rid of Benazir the then Pakistan President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir’s duly elected PPP government on corruption charges and then ordered fresh elections where the Army-mullah coalition not just backed Nawaz Sharif led Muslim League, but pumped huge money into his campaign and even rigged the elections to ensure his victory.

But Ishaq Khan another proxy of the same conservative establishment and a relic of Zia era had tasted blood. So in 1993 he decided to dismiss Sharif again on corruption charges. But this time since the Army-mullah combine was divided in its loyalty the Supreme Court too was indulgent to Nawaz and eventually the Army intervened asking both to quit bringing back Benazir for a second term, much to the chagrin of the Pak establishment.

Again Benazir was dismissed by President Faroooq Leghari this time and Mian sahib put back into the seat of power. Mian saheb’s politics encouraged or rather patronized the private Wahabi armies like Sipahe Sahaba and  Lashkare Jhangvi  let loose on Pakistan’s Hindu, Christian, Shia and Ahmediya minorities. He toed the Army line targeting India as an enemy.

But by 1999 Mian sahib started having second thoughts on relations with India and invited the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Lahore, receiving him and the Indian delegation with a warm welcome. The move may have been welcomed all over the world. But certainly did not go well with the Army-mullah coalition and within no time the Army led by the then Army chief General Parvez Musharraf launched the surreptitious Kargil aggression embarrassing Mian sahib and making his position untenable. Musharraf deposed Nawaz soon after but the mullahs and their patron Saudi Arabia had not lost all hope in Mian sahib, an old and tested friend and so Musharraf was forced to allow Nawaz Sharif exile in Saudi Arabia where he remained till 2007.

But if the USA succeeded in persuading Musharraf to allow Benazir to return to Pakistan and contest the elections proposed to be held in 2008, the patriarchal, Wahabi  Islamist Saudi Arabia couldn’t stomach Benazir once more and forced Musharraf to take back Mian sahib too to politically challenge Benazir. So far so good. But then Pakistan’s politicians do not believe in forget and forgive thesis and once back in the saddle in June 2013 he contemplated trying out Musharraf for treason against the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. Simultaneously he refused to send in his troops to Saudi Arabia to fight its battles against the Yemenis. With the PPP being largely leaderless and rudderless he also decided to cultivate the Hindu minority, participating  in their Diwali and Holi festivities as also breaking ice with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All this put together caused tremendous suspicion and  resentment against Mian sahib whom once the Army-mullah combine and its hand maiden judiciary adored.  So their proxy that Imran Khan was let loose and finally the Supreme Court deposed him.

In Pakistan therefore you cannot dream of ruling if you show any indulgence towards the Hindu minorities or “Hindu India.” Pakistan was created on Hindu enmity and the Army has perpetuated its iron rule on Hindu India enmity. The day they let their guards down on this front the raison d’ etre for Pakistan ceases and could lead to the state falling apart. At least that the conservative establishment of Pakistan fears and this is yet again evident in incarceration of Mian Nawaz Sharif. This notwithstanding the fact that there is a groundswell of support within Pakistan for amicable peaceful coexistence with India and a warm feeling for we Indians.

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Gujarat elections

Gujarat elections

Back to Muslim bashing

By

Faraz Ahmad

Even a child could tell you that Gujarat elections are impending and how? Inspired by earlier successive victories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindutva Sena led by General Amit Shah, Brigadier Yogi Adityanath and a host of other colonels and majors like Sangeet Som, Ananth Hegde and Vijay Rupani have started firing their mausers in the direction of that eternal rogue enemy, the Musalman.

The terms of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assemblies were ending shortly and the new assemblies were to be constituted before the end of December and as in the past the Election Commission was expected to announce the dates of polling of these two states simultaneously any time early this month and so for more than a month now both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are virtually in an election mode, never mind if the former Gujarat cadre bureaucrat Achal Kumar Jyoti waited for the BJP to seduce the voter with a surfeit of goodies before finally succumbing to all round criticism and announcing the polling dates for the state, bringing into immediate effect the Model Code of Conduct for the respective governments. There is a Congress government in Himachal so it has to be restrained first from announcing any last minute sops to its state voters. In Gujarat it is the Government of the Prime Minister’s beloved nationalist party the BJP so it needed a special protection which required another fortnight or so to sink into the voter’s mind the significance of bringing back the BJP to power.

Yogi Adityanath never hesitant to draw his gun was the first to shoot from the hip at that eye sore to the Hindutva brigade that huge white marble ‘monstrosity’ the Taj Mahal. Yogi dismissed the Taj Mahal as alien to Indian heritage and took it off the newly designated heritage sites of UP. Why? Yogi did not say this in so many words but obviously because it was built by a Muslim monarch.

But what Yogi left unstated, his lieutenant Sangeet Som the hero of 2013 Muzaffarnagar pogrom of Muslims stated filling in the blanks by virtually demanding its demolition saying it was a built by traitors. Sangeet Som can be excused for his ignorance when he mixed up Shahejehan who built the Taj with Aurangzeb whose mother Mumtaz Mahal is interned in that mausoleum. For they don’t make these insignificant hair splitting in the RSS shakhas. But one wonders who was Shahjehan or even Aurangzeb traitors to? They were the monarchs of their time. Who could they be traitors to?  Perhaps with his limited understanding what Som wanted to convey was that Taj was built by a Muslim king and Muslims are all traitors to date and thus Taj was built by traitors. So the message was loud and clear: Beware of the Musalman. And while the Modi government turned a deaf ear to these war cries, pretending these were coming from some other planet, the one time Bajrang Dal hero Vinay Katiyar revealed to us his great academic research that Taj Mahal was actually a Hindu Raja’s temple to Lord Shiva called Tajo Mahal, which if not demolished should at least be appropriated and restored to the Hindus.

This is election time and the message has to be drilled into the mind of the voter, that the Musalman is a traitor, a threat to the poor Hindus and so vote only the BJP which alone can protect the poor Hindus.

Next came the minister for Skill Development, Ananth Kumar Hegde who has honed his skills at Muslim bashing for many, many years now warning the Karnataka government  against celebrating the memory of Tipu Sultan, the Mysore king who died in the battle field fighting the British all alone even when his troops fled.

That too did not suffice so Brigadier Vijay Rupani took command of a third front accusing Ahmed Patel the Political Secretary to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi of being mixed up with Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) responsible for all the sabotage activities in India. It is still unclear by what stretch of imagination he established the connect between Ahmed Patel and ISI. But who cares about these minor details. Who would know better than the chief minister and once he pronounced Ahmed Patel, ISI, then he is ISI. After all Ahmed Patel is a bloody Muslaman and all Musalmans with the exception of A P J Abdul Kalam are traitors, said India’s Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma much earlier.

The latest goal was fired by none other than the Prime Minister himself who pronounced former Home Minister P Chidambaram and the entire Congress party as traitors because Chidambaram had the audacity to suggest restoration of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) at a time when the Modi government after fighting pitched battles with Kashmiri militants for a year and a half, has finally come round to realize that it is necessary to talk to the disenchanted Kashmiris.

For Modi, Chidambaram committed a blasphemy by pleading that the Kashmiris be given the autonomy provided in Article 370 of the Constitution. Who has bothered to read Article 370 to know that J&K does enjoy a special status by virtue of its accession and that autonomy has over the years been snatched away progressively from the people of Kashmir and the best way to counter the Pakistani propaganda and campaign is to grant greater autonomy in a gesture of reassurance. The Kashmir valley has been on the boil since Mehbooba Mufti formed a coalition government with the BJP on 4 April, 2016 and all the force used by the Modi government has not been able to quell the uprising. Finally the Prime Minister himself held out an olive branch this Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort and now his Home Minister Rajnath Singh has appointed an interlocutor to negotiate with the agitators. Why resent if the former Home Minister of the country, the only efficient and competent one in our living memory, is offering some sane advice? But no, Kashmir means Musalmans and that kettle has to be kept on the  boil till the Gujarat polling is over.

Each instance shows the desire of Modi and his Hindutva brigade to turn the Gujarat elections yet again into Hindus versus Muslims issue. Gone is all the big talk of development, of the great feat of demonetization of the midnight tryst with the GST. None of that finds any mention in the speeches either of Modi or his lieutenants. Remember Kabristan versus Shamshan debate Modi set off in UP elections and reaped a bonanza. So why not try this one here too.

Well it might succeed and we better keep our fingers crossed. But then in Delhi the debate was between Ramzadon and Haramzadon. In Bihar it was about the Pink revolution, implying slaughter of cows but it failed to work. But let us not count our chicken before they hatch on December 18.

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Pb & Haryana HC lets off rape accused

Pb & Haryana HC lets off rape accused

Hindutva mindset influencing higher judiciary too

By Faraz Ahmad

In the hype and build up over that charlatan of a godman Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his conviction on charges of raping two young inmates of his ashram, by a Panchkula court leading to violence and arson in Panchkula and adjoining Chandigarh by his disciples, the news of a horrifying judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court letting out three young men from evidently well off families convicted  by a Sonipat court for serial gangrape of a young class fellow over a period of two years, on the specious plea that this would ruin their career, failed to attract the requisite attention of the media. Well off because they were pursuing professional courses in a private expensive institution the O P Jindal University in Haryana.

The shocking part is that the court has obliquely held the “promiscuity” of the victim responsible for the crime committed against her. In an age and time when numerous judgments of the apex court and several high courts, including this court has held the absolute right of the woman over her body even if she be a sex worker, in the sense that a forced sexual intercourse with a sex worker too amounts to rape and her being a person of “easy virtue” is no defence of the accused in such a situation, this is clearly regressive.

We had the judges here suggesting that the issue in this instance was not, repeat was not,  “sexual violence” committed by the accused one of whom happened to be a close and intimate friend of the victim, “but of a generation which is unable to comprehend the worth of a relationship based on respect and understanding.” How condescending to the convicts! They are virtually demonstrating their paternal indulgence and benevolence towards the accused who in the judges’ perception on account of the current social condition, failed to “comprehend the worth of a relationship…”

The judges further observed, “We are conscious of the fact that the allegations of the victim regarding her being threatened into submission and blackmail lends sufficient diabolism to the offence, but a careful examination of her statement again offers an alternative conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and voyeuristic mind.”  This on the girl’s complaint that the main accused her boyfriend Hardik Sikri who first developed intimate relations with her and photographed her in the nude then threatened and blackmailed her to submit to sex with the other two accused as well and soon they continued coercing her to submit to them over a period of two years, till she gathered courage to report this. Now the judges did not dismiss the main accusation of the victim for the trial court had conclusively and satisfactorily established the substance of the victim’s allegations. So the High Court went into promiscuity to covertly mitigate the gravity of the crime.

The court set them at large observing, “It would be a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for an inordinate long period. Which would deprive them of their education, opportunity to redeem themselves and be a part of the society as normal human beings. Long incarceration at this stage when the appeal is not likely to mature for sometime is likely to result in irreparable damage…”

The judges also suggested counseling for the accused at AIIMS and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim to be jointly shared by all three. Every sentence, every word here smack of tremendous sympathy for the accused, without disputing the substance of the accusation leveled by the victim. There is also an implicit accusation in this on the victim condemning her as a person of easy virtue for whom a payment of Rs 10 lakh would suffice. That is shocking.

But is this not a one off judgment, to be taken merely as an exception, or to be ignored as the idiosyncrasy of two rather conservative judges?

It reflects the current social atmosphere created by the Hindutva forces led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in which vigilante groups of various Senas go around  chasing and attacking young women in Bengaluru for being seen at Bars or those social media trolls which implicitly justified the killing of Gauri Lankesh recently alleging that she drank and smoked.

There are only two notable achievements of Yogi Adityanath in his seven month tenure. Closing down the meat shops of poor Muslims and forcing them and Dalits out of honest livelihood and setting the UP Police upon young couples strolling in the parks, attacking them and video graphing the whole exercise to ingratiate themselves to their new Hindutva masters.

The submission of the bureaucrats or the Police officers to their political masters of the day can be understood though not justified, but if the judiciary too succumbs to the forces of Hindutva what remedy is open for someone seeking justice from this increasingly oppressive system under the current political dispensation?

But then the judges of the High Court seem to be guided by their superiors sitting in the apex court. A little before this judgment came the observation of two judges of the Supreme Court Justice Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta who held that marital rape is no rape. The highest judiciary of the country upheld Section 375 f the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which defines the offence of rape has an exceptional clause that says the intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not a rape.

The learned judges further observed that, Parliament has extensively debated the issue of rape. Therefore it cannot be considered as a criminal offence.”

That the judges in these two instances seem to be influenced by the stand taken by the Central Government is evident from the submission of the Central Government in a case in the Delhi High Court to the bench of Justices Gita Mittal and C Hari Shankar wherein the petitioner’s counsel Colin Gonsalves argued that a married woman has the same right of full control over her body as an unmarried woman and that marriage license cannot be viewed as license for a husband to forcibly rape his wife with impunity.

To this Government counsel  Monika Arora argued in an affidavit  that “If all sexual acts by a man with his own wife qualify to be marital rape, then the judgment as to whether it is a marital rape or not will singularly rest with the wife.” This affidavit exposes the medieval mindset of this RSS patronized BJP government which believes in Manu’s edicts that the woman is a property of the Man with no right to decide what she wants. The whole Love Jihad campaign is a product of the same mindset which refuses to allow a woman the right to decide who she would befriend or marry. Sadly successive court judgments too seem to be coming round to this larger vision of the saffron brigade.

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Modi’s reshuffle

Modi’s reshuffle

Looking for combatants

By

Faraz Ahmad

With just 19 months to go for the 2019 general elections, it is imperative that the coming elections were uppermost in the mind of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he effected a minor reshuffle of his council of ministers Sunday.

But what was the criterion in his mind or the mind of his Alma Mater the force behind the throne that is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in making the choice of candidates to be inducted/elevated?

What for instance is the secret of Nirmala Sitharaman’s or for that matter Smriti Irani’s swift rise to phenomenal heights in the Modi dispensation—Combat, I dare say. As a BJP spokesperson in the crucial period when the party was in the Opposition,  Nirmala as once upon a time M Venkaiah Naidu was, in front of the camera, combative when faced with a tricky or critical question concerning her party. Instead of a direct reply, she would throw back a question to your question, implicitly accusing the questioning journalist to be an agent of the rival political forces, say the Congress party. Significantly though both she and earlier Naidu were most amiable and amenable to answering all your questions sincerely in the off the record briefings. It was as though they were aware that the Big Brother was watching and they had to put up a show to impress someone up there. Sure enough Sitharaman has succeeded in this endeavor as did Naidu earlier.

Anyway returning to the subject of Modi’s choice making, he chose for instance one more Ananth Kumar from Karnataka, Ananth Kumar Hegde, a congenital, vituperative and demonstrative Muslim baiter. His much publicized public conduct of assaulting three doctors at the Bangaluru hospital because he felt his mother was not being given the VIP treatment befitting a ruling party MP’s mother, actually added to his esteem to join Modi’s team, never mind if he has no apparent qualifications to head the ministry of Skill development and entrepreneurship. His predecessor in this ministry Rajiv Pratap Rudy at least had been in the government earlier and if he supposedly failed to generate the much promised two crore jobs annually, one wonders what magic wand this street fighter has, to perform this miracle. Maybe he could hand over swords and guns to Bajrang Dal, ABVP and other affiliated Sangh outfits to attack Muslims for that is the only thing he has learnt over the years of his political apprenticeship. Sure he is a combat.

Then there is Hardip Puri, who missed the opportunity to be India’s Foreign Secretary, because his turn came during the UPA government and his proximity to the Sangh was well known. In fact he played a crucial role while posted in London those days along with our Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in pushing L K Advani’s ex daughter-in-law Gauri Advani to agree to an out of court settlement in separating from Jayant Advani . BJP insiders used to say with some degree of pride how thanks to Hardip’s aid they managed to secure some private correspondence of Gauri locked in a safe in her London home, putting her on the defensive. In effect Hardip engineered a burglary in Gauri’s house. Actually he deserved a more meaty ministry than his current portfolio of Housing and Urban Development.

Then there is that former Union Home Secretary Rajkumar Singh who won the Lok Sabha on BJP ticket from Maoist den Arrah in Bihar. He is a true bureaucrat, an established time server. His claim to fame is that as the District Magistrate of Samastipur in 1991 he promptly implemented the then Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad’s orders to arrest L K Advani and terminate his rath yatra, which he did. He is a true weathercock who in UPA good times as Union Home  Secretary released the names of RSS men allegedly involved in Samjhauta Express blast but as the tide seemed to be turning against UPA blamed the then Home Minister P Chidambaram for changing the Ishrat Jehan affidavit and once out of government with retirement, accused another UPA Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of interfering in postings and transfers of Police officers. Naturally then he drifted towards the BJPP well in time and got elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 riding a Modi wave. With life long stint in the bureaucracy Singh is adept at manipulating data and figures much needed to exaggerate their achievements in the runup to the next general elections.

The Modi dispensation had totally marginalized Brahmins, in particular the north Indian meaning UP/Bihar Brahmins. The elevation of Yogi Adityanath a die-hard pahadi Thakur as the UP chief minister further disappointed the Brahmins of UP, whose votes maybe crucial in the coming elections. Rubbing further salt into their wounds two Brahmins in Modi’s cabinet Kalraj Mishra and Mahendra Nath Pandey have been dropped in this reshuffle. So we have Shiv Pratap Shukla from Gorakhpur, Ashwani Chaubey from Bihar and Ananth Hegde from Karnataka, three new Brahmin faces in the Union government. None, however with any significant clout or power in this government to carry any weight.

Modi’s kept media has gone to town of how the BJP is pandering to Shias, citing Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s elevation. True there is an attempt by the Sanghis to coopt sections of Shia clerics and this was evident on how the likes of Kalbe Jawwad sold themselves to this Government, but after serving the BJP faithfully all these years Naqvi has been given a cabinet berth no doubt but has remained confined to his Minority, meaning Muslim affairs only. We had a joke in Aligarh about the Unani medicine students from Aligarh’s Tibbiya College. Their degree was abbreviated as BUMMS, expanded to Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Modern Surgery, which we had distorted to “Muslim surgery, bracket mein Khatna (circumcision),” meaning the Hakims of Tibbiya College were not capable of anything more than performing Sunnat or circumcision on Muslim children. Similarly the Muslims in Modi’s eyes are capable of only looking after Minority Affairs. Actually the position was vacant ever since Najma Heptullah was sent off as a Governor to North East.

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Cabinet reshuffle

Cabinet reshuffle

Why choose Satyapal  Singh?

By

Faraz Ahmad

More than half way through his five year tenure Prime Minister Narendra Modi has effected a much hyped reshuffle in his council of ministers, inducting a set of “tried and tested bureaucrats” with “proven records” of efficiency and integrity or so his admirers claim.

So we have the likes of Satyapal Singh, a former Mumbai  Police Commissioner a IPS officer from Maharashtra cadre now a Union minister.

His tenure as Pune Police Commissioner witnessed the 2010 German Bakery bombing in Pune that killed 17 people and injured at least 60 more. His so-called action resulted in a big embarrassment to the then Government when it turned out that he apprehended wrong persons for that blast solely on his intuition since they happened to be Muslims. He however earned kudos for defeating the formidable Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh in his home territory Baghpat and become a member of the 16th Lok Sabha.

So let us examine the past record of Satyapal Singh. Before he quit as Mumbai Police Commissioner, hardly anyone outside Maharashtra and many even within Maharashtra had heard of this Jat from Meerut who joined the IPS in 1980.

His opportunity to head the high profile Mumbai Police also came as sheer godsend, following the riotous demonstration by Muslims in Azad Maidan over the killings of Rohingyas in Maynamar for which the then Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik was blamed by the communal Shiv Sena and BJP for handling the rioting Muslims with kid gloves and unceremoniously bundled out. And so a wimp of a Home Minister in Maharashtra  belonging to the NCP R R Patil chose  a supposed tough cop with proven record of targeting Muslims and Maoists, Satyapal Singh.

The Wikipedia tells us that on 31 January 2014 Singh tendered his resignation and applied for Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) and sought to be relieved immediately to contest the upcoming the general elections on BJP ticket. That Patil, post haste accepted Singh’s request and hurriedly granted him VRS to facilitate his joining the BJP, to enable him to attend a rally in Meerut for joining that party in the presence of Narendra Modi and the then BJP chief Rajnath Singh.

On quitting the Police service and joining the BJP, Singh announced grandly, “My inner voice is telling me that it’s time to change profession. As a police officer, I have worked for the people of Mumbai and Maharashtra for many years, but now it’s time to work for the entire country with a renewed energy.”

Less than six months of quitting and within a month of being elected the MP from Baghpat on June 2, 2014, the Mumbai Police busted a prostitution racket running from a flat in the fashionable Versova in Andheri west facing seaside owned by Singh and arrested two women and a man we were told was the caretaker of that flat. Singh first avoided any reaction to the news report and later claimed he had rented it out to IndiaBulls (his close proximity to IndiaBulls is another story, reflecting on his financial integrity but that for another day) and had no idea who all were using his flat and for what purpose. This coming from a former Police Commissioner of the Metropolis showed how efficient and competent this man was even if he was really ignorant of the goings on his own flat. And Modi has rewarded Singh for his supposed “integrity and efficiency.”

As for the prostitution racket and the IndiaBulls connection, the company claimed with documentary evidence that it had vacated that flat quite sometime back and returned it to its owner,  that is Singh. Nothing was heard of that disgraceful racket run from the Police Commissioner’s home. And why would it, he was the chosen one. The embedded media buried that story and we never ever heard of it after the first news broke.

Singh was a first time MP and so had difficulty in securing government accommodation for a couple of months. In that situation new MPs are either made to stay in their respective state guest houses in Delhi or in government owned Ashoka Hotel. Singh being the MP from UP was naturally entitled to a room in UP Niwas. But then who would pay this first time MP any special VIP attention in UP. So he decided to park himself in the newly constructed and tastefully furnished Maharashtra Sadan at Kasturba Gandhi Marg and occupy not one but a couple of adjoining rooms there for the staff knew him as a former Police Commissioner of Mumbai.

This in turn caused considerable heartburning among other first time MPs from Maharashtra and one of them Ravindra Gaikwad of Shiv Sena took it out on a Muslim caretaker on August 4, force feeding him while the poor man was fasting during the month of Ramzan. The Sena later went public explaining the anger and annoyance of its MP over the VIP treatment being given to Singh.

Singh was spotted by the Sanghis when as Nagpur Police Commissioner, he started forming Mritunjay clubs mainly of ABVP students from college and university campuses ostensibly to aid the Police hunt for terrorists (read Muslims) and in effect spy on Muslims neighbours  and acquaintances. He formed 386 such clubs in Nagpur from 122 senior colleges and 86 junior colleges. The state’s minority commission then questioned its legitimacy and intent.

But what endeared him to Modi and helped his decision to join the BJP as a better career prospect was his role as a member of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat High Court to probe the Ishrat Jehan fake encounter case which implicated Modi and his Gujarat government  In June 2011, within weeks of being appointed as chairman of that team comprising also of two other members Mohan Jha and Satish Verma, he quit citing his differences with the other two members who as it turned out later, came to the conclusion that it was a fake encounter.

So it is neither financial nor personal integrity which has been rewarded in the case of Singh. Grapevine has it that Sanjeev Balyan who quit paving way for Singh and other entrants in Modi’s ministry had become a bit of an embarrassment for Modi all the time harping on corruption. But then he had to keep the communal cauldron boiling among the western UP Jats which he and Amit Shah had ignited in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining western UP Jat belt  in 2013 and that’s where Singh came in handy.

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Bharat Mata ki Jai

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

Do they really love Mother India?

By

Faraz Ahmad

 

They say they love India. They say to prove your love for India, you have to loudly proclaim “Bharat Mata ki Jai.”

I say anyone who loves India would draw a lesson from next door Pakistan and would want India not going down the Pakistan road.

India and Pakistan got their independence simultaneously. In fact Pakistan got it a day earlier because before the British rule ended in India the British empire had to create Pakistan and so on August 14, 1947 it created Pakistan and a day later on August 15, India was declared independent.

Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam became its undoing. On October 15, 1951, Islamic fanatics shot dead Liaquat Ali Khan the first prime minister of Pakistan for his reluctance to wage holy war (Jihad) against India. Before that on 11 September, 1948, just a year after its creation its creator Mohammad Ali Jinnah died a lonely, broken and despairing man regretting his whole effort in creating the state of Pakistan, though he died of advanced stage of tuberculosis.

Husain Shaheed Suhrawardhy the man who helped Jinnah create Pakistan due to his efforts in what then became East Pakistan was expelled, at Jinnah’s instance from the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and virtually declared a persona non grata in Jinnah’s lifetime for having shared a roof with Mahatma Gandhi to end the communal massacre of Hindus in Noakhali, Bengal.

It was Jinnah a Gujarati, barely acquainted with Urdu, who imposed Urdu upon the people of Pakistan, Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis, Pashtuns and Balochs, none of whom spoke Urdu before the creation of Pakistan. Others swallowed their pride and relented though except for the Punjabis, they continue striving for better recognition of their regional language as well. But the Bengalis stood in rebellion and that produced the sentiment for the ultimate creation of Bangla Desh, proving greater influence of national sentiments than religion even Islam.

Soon after the death of both Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, Pakistan started getting buried slowly but surely into quick sand leading to the rise of the military and mullah power, because the moment you created a state in the name of Islam, you opened a window for the mullahs with their various conflicting and contradictory perception of Islam to seek an Islamic state and so in February 1953 first time the clerics made a public assertion rioting on the streets of Lahore to declare Ahmediyas, who participated enthusiastically in the creation of this supposed Islamic state, Kafir ‘heretics’. So by 1953 the attempt to create one nation on the basis of one religion, one language, was already in tatters. But even before that Sir Chaudhry Mohammad Zaffrullah Khan, an Ahmediya, the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan who represented Pakistan for five years in the United Nations on Kashmir issue and was the closest associate of Jinnah was prevented from joining the Namaze Janaza (last prayer) for Jinnah. This when Jinnah himself was a scotch drinking, pork eating Shia Muslim. Thankfully till then they did not declare Shias as heretics too. But now that is their current credo and I wonder in which case what would they do with the portrait of Jinnah adorning all official walls of Pakistan.

In 1974 under pressure from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and succumbing to agitation led by Jamaat Islami, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, supposedly a liberal, amended Pakistani laws to declare Ahmediyas non-Muslims. But that did not help Bhutto, who hoped to buy peace with the mullahs thereby. Brushing aside this appeasement, the Jamaat Islami in 1977 brought together Jamiat Ullema Islam (JUI), led then by Mufti Mehmood, and Jamaat ul Ulemae Pakistan (JUP) of Shah Ahmed Noorani Pakistan Democratic Party (PDP) of Nawabzda Nsrullah Khan and such other fringe elements of clerics, to commence the street agitation for “Nizame Mustafa” implying return to the medieval Islamic state. This agitation supported discreetly by Pakistani army, gathered momentum and soon enough all elements determined to rid Pakistan of Bhutto, including Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s son Khan Abdul Wali Khan, his wife Naseem Wali Khan and their party the National Awami Party (NAP) and the Army’s proxy in civilian politics, Air Marshal (retired) Asghar Khan with his one man party Tehrike Istaqlal, all joined hands with these mullahs to pull down a duly elected government and legitimse the rule of Chief Martial Law Dictator (CMLA) General Mohammad Ziaul Haq, honouring him with the title Ameerul Momineen (the king of the believers) for enforcing Hudood Ordinances which paved the way for turning Pakistan into a narrow minded sectarian anti-secular state.

Zia, as is wont, prescribed heavy punishments and even persecution of Ahmediyas for practicing their religion. That’s what came of the Ahmediyas’ zeal to create an “Islamic state”.  The rest is well known, after the Ahmediyas, Wahabi mullahs targeted the Shias. And then came the turn of Barelvis. But now each of the 72 sects of Islam existing in Pakistan consider the others heretics and are campaigning for cleansing Pakistan of all the others.

This was a nation created in the name of religion, in the name of Islam, believing that Muslims are one people, one Nation and they had one language Urdu.

What is Sanghi Bhajpai nationalism all about? One people (read only Aryavrats), one language (Hindi), one flag (Bhagua), one slogan “Bharat Mata ki Jai.” They are neither blind nor ignorant to the descent into morass of their next door neighbour. They know very well what fate awaits India were it to go the Pakistan way. Yet they persist with it surely and determinedly. Is this love for Mother India? Are they Hindu nationalists or simply inimical to modern India? Are they sons or vindictive stepsons of Bharat Mata.

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