Saturday, July 31, 2010

For CBI, slander is evidence!

Real target of Congress' Goebbelsian propaganda is Narendra Modi!

There have been more than 5,000 ‘encounter deaths’ in this country. Over 1,700 ‘encounter death’-related complaints are pending in various courts and before the Human Rights Commission. More than 800 ‘encounter deaths’ took place in the last few decades in Uttar Pradesh alone. More than 400 police ‘encounters’ took place in Maharashtra. None of these (incidents) has come to trial as has the Sohrabuddin case. We have never heard that anyone has been convicted for these thousands of ‘encounter deaths’. No policemen have been found guilty or even arrested as it has happened in Gujarat,” says Mr Devang Nanavati, an Ahmedabad-based lawyer who is associated with the BJP, while highlighting the strange obsession with which the death of a notorious criminal who had a mile-long record of serious crimes and whose links with Dawood Ibrahim qualified him as a terror accomplice, is being pursued by the Congress, the Central Bureau of Investigation, congenital liars who pose as human rights activists and a corrosive media which has lost all sense of balance and fair play.

The Supreme Court, which asked the CBI to inquire into the ‘larger conspiracy’ behind the killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife, Kauser Bi, nearly five years after the incident had occurred, was no doubt motivated by the noble intention of getting to the truth. However, such lofty intentions need not necessarily be attributed to the sustained pressure from the slain criminal’s apparently inconsolable brother and jholawallahs who would be rendered jobless (and thus find themselves starved of generous funding by a variety of sources and agencies) if society were to be cleansed of malcontent, to punish those responsible for what they allege to be extrajudicial killings carried out by the police on the instructions of BJP leaders. Their pre-determination of guilt, both by implication and association, which finds more than an echo in what the CBI now alleges through stories which are touted as ‘investigative journalism’ by newspapers and news channels whose bias renders them incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction, cannot be allowed to supplant the judicial process.

Events over the past fortnight have removed all doubts, if there were any, about the CBI’s motives that are anything but lofty. The agency has been most brazen while pursuing a political agenda set by the Congress to defame Chief Minister Narendra Modi through slander and worse with the sole purpose of tarring his reputation and hobbling his Government to a point where it begins to lose credibility among Gujarat’s voters. For, the real target of the Goebbelsian propaganda orchestrated by the Congress with the help of the CBI and a craven media is not Mr Amit Shah, who has resigned as Minister of State for Home after being charged with murder, extortion and obstruction of justice in the Sohrabuddin ‘false’ encounter case and is currently in jail. It is Mr Modi — his invincibility is being sought to be weakened. At the national level, the purpose is to force the BJP on the back foot and tie it down to answering allegations instead of leading a robust campaign to oust the Congress from power.

The use of manufactured taint to stun and paralyse political foes is nothing new for the Congress; it’s a past master at the game of misusing agencies of the state, most notably the Intelligence Bureau and the CBI, to further its political interests. When the Congress needed to put down the Raja of Amethi Sanjay Singh after he fell out with Rajiv Gandhi, it used the CBI, which was inquiring into the murder of badminton champion Syed Modi in 1988, to plant salacious stories in newspapers — there were no 24x7 news channels those days — eager to oblige the party. ‘Excerpts’ from what was alleged to be the personal diary of Syed Modi’s widow, Amita, found their way into the front page of these newspapers day after day, suitably embellished with insinuations and slanderous concoctions attributed to ‘sources’ in the CBI. Public memory being proverbially short, few people would remember today that the charges against Mr Sanjay Singh and Ms Amita Modi did not stick — the courts contemptuously threw them out. Twenty-one years later, the CBI quietly closed the case, having failed to establish the ‘larger conspiracy’ behind Syed Modi’s murder which, not surprisingly, it had claimed to have established in 1988-89.

Nor would too many people remember the so-called ‘St Kitts scandal’ that was manufactured by the Congress with the help of an obliging CBI to embarrass VP Singh and divert attention from the Bofors bribery scandal in 1989. An elaborate exercise was undertaken to forge documents to allege that VP Singh was a beneficiary of his son Ajeya’s ‘offshore account’ in First Trust Corp, a little-known bank in St Kitts of which nobody had heard till then. The forged documents showed that the account contained $ 21 million. Once again, eager-to-oblige newspapers published the bogus story and the Congress’s dirty tricks department had a field day painting VP Singh in the most lurid of colours, pronouncing him as a villain who was not quite the knight in shining armour that people thought he was. In the end, of course, the forgery was exposed, the conspiracy to defame VP Singh unravelled and the Congress lost the general election. Similarly, the Congress had tried to frame Mr LK Advani in the so-called ‘hawala case’ on the eve of the general election in 1996. Not only did the Congress lose that election but Mr Advani — and the BJP — emerged stronger from that attempt to sully his and the party’s image.

Examples of the Congress misusing the CBI abound. It is no secret that after the UPA came to power in the summer of 2004, the agency not only ensured Ottavio Quattrocchi remained at a safe distance from India where he was wanted to stand trial in the Bofors bribery case in which he was the prime accused, but also facilitated the emptying of the London bank accounts where the bribe money had been parked by the Italian middleman. Subsequently, the case was ‘closed’, much to the relief of a Prime Minister who actually believed prosecuting those behind the Bofors scandal was “a shame”. We also know how the CBI’s investigations into the disproportionate assets cases against Ms Mayawati and Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav are used to secure their support for the Government at moments of crisis.

In the Sohrabuddin ‘false’ encounter case, the CBI is back to using its old trick of planting stories about ‘evidence’ that has been clearly concocted to suit the Congress’s insidious gameplan. The fact is, it has filed a chargesheet but has no evidence to substantiate its allegations. And so the CBI has sought more time from the Supreme Court for ‘investigation’. Doesn’t prosecution follow investigation? Or is it the other way round for the Congress Bureau of Intimidation? And is that why it wants the case transferred out of Gujarat?

[This appeared as my Sunday column, Coffee Break, in The Pioneer on August 1, 2010.]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Criminal history of Sohrabbuddin

Teesta's "secular petty criminal" was no innocent lad!

Sohrabbuddin was not an ordinary criminal as projected by the petitioner in the alleged encounter case. Sohrabuddin had spread his tentacles in four states viz. Gujarat, Rajasthan, MP and Maharashtra. He was working in tandem with mafia dons like late Abdul Latif and Daud Ibrahim. With the active support of Dawood Ibrahim, Rasul Parti, and Mammumiya Panjumia, he was continuously smuggling in dangerous weapons and other contraband from Pakistan. In one case alone, detected by the DCB crime branch of Ahmedabad, 24 AK-56 rifles, 27 Hand grenades, 5250 cartridges and 81 magazines were recovered from one of his family owned property in Madhya Pradesh.

The details of Sohrabbuddin’s offences registered in different states are as under.

(1) DCB PS Ahmedabad CR No.11/94:
In this case, after the demolition of Babri Masjid, Sohrabbuddin and other accused had indulged in criminal conspiracy with a view to wage war against the Government of India by collecting and distributing arms and ammunition illegally and distributing them to attack during annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in the year 1993 with a view to spread terror among the citizens of Ahmedabad City. After investigation, charge sheet was filed against 60 accused including Sohrabbuddin. During investigation 24 AK-56 rifles, 27 hand grenades, 5250 cartridges, 81 Magazines were recovered from the well located in the agricultural field of Sohrabbuddin. Sohrabbuddin was arrested on 9.11.1995 and was taken in police custody remand up to 9.12.1995.

(i) In this case, Sohrabbuddin along with 60 notorious accused was involved. All accused were arrested except (1) Dawood Abrahim, (2) Mammu Maiya Punju Miya (3) Farooq, (4) Ahmed (6) Sharif Khan, (7) Rasul Patti, (8) Syed Ali and seven others.
(ii) All 60 accused were tried in the Court of Designated Judge at Ahmedabad. The accused in this case were anti-national and anti-social persons having criminal antecedents and were associated with Dawood and Latif’s gang.
(iii) Number of accused who had absconded, are yet to be arrested. Amongst them are anti national criminals such as Dawood Ibrahim, Rasulkhan Party, Sharifkhan @ Dawood Shamsher. Red corner notices have been issued by Interpol for arrest of Rasul Party, Sharifkhan, Dawood Ibrahim. Dawood Ibrahim has been declared international terrorist.
(iv) It is evident that Sohrabbuddin was one of India based leader of these notorious criminals and their gangs. During investigation, Sohrabbuddin confessed to his involvement in this serious offence.
(v) The brief facts of his confession is mentioned in the judgment of this case which is as under:-
(Accused No.26: Sohrabbuddin @ Salimbhai Anvaruddin Shaikh: In his confessional statement he had stated that
he knew Sharifkhan since 1980. He came in contact with Shamim and Babukhan when he was driving a truck in Mahijpur. In March 1994 during the EID he went to meet Mahijpur to meet Shamimkhan and Sharrifkhan and met him at the residence of Shamimkhan. Sharifkhan told him that he was going to purchase one or two trucks and offered him to serve with him. Thereafter he purchased one truck. The driver Pappukhan was the younger brother of Shamimkhan and the conductor of the truck was Afzalkhan and the number of the truck was MOU-686. In may and June 1994 two trips carrying brown sugar in the truck were done by him at the instance of Sharifkhan to Bombay. In April 1994 he was told by Sharifkhan to go to Ahmedabad. He came to Ahmedabad, stayed in Ajanta Hotel in the name of Shohrab and as per the instruction of Sharifkhan, one Sattar Chacha handed over a box to him in the hotel. He brought the said box and handed over the same to Sharifkhan. The box contained 9mm pistols and cartridges. Again he came to Ahmedabad at the instance of Sharifkhan and stayed in Ajanta Hotel where one person handed over Rs. 1 lac as per the instruction issued by Sharifkhan who in turn handed over the same to Sharifkhan at Mahijpur. In June 1994 he came to Ahmedabad along with the cleaner of the truck and he stayed in Ajanta Hotel at Mirzapur. One person came to the hotel and handed over to him one box. The box contained 30 carbine guns and 100 cartridges. He in turn handed over the said box to Ajjukhan who was an accomplice of Sharifkhan and who went to Mahijpur with the box in the truck. He himself went to Mahijpur by train. In July 1994 he again came to Ahmedabad at the instance of Sharifkhan. Sharifkhan had told him that silver belonging to him was lying in Ahmedabad and therefore he was instructed to come to Ahmedabad along with Shamim Pappukhan the driver and Afzal the conductor. He went to Ahmedabad in Truck No.MOU-686. Pappu and Afzal had gone to one factory for the purpose of unloading the goods while he himself and Shamim dropped down at Kathwada and then they came to Astodia. He stayed in Hotel Ajanta. Sharifkhan had given him three currency notes of Rs. 100/- denomination and told them that if the notes were shown to the persons approaching them then he would talk with them. Thereafter he had a talk with Sharifkhan on telephone at Mahijpur. He gave the instruction to change the Hotel. Shamim was asked to stay in Hotel Ajanta while he went to stay in A-1 Guest House near Railway Station and stayed there. Thereafter he contacted Sharifkhan on telephone from A-1 Guest House and on next day at 4.00 p.m., two persons came to the guest house. He had shown the currency notes which were given by Sharifkhan. Thereafter as per their previously hatched plan, he followed the two persons in the auto rickshaw and the persons who came to the guest house followed them on Yamaha. Thereafter they went to the Amardeep Transport where Pappu, the driver of the truck, met him and informed him that the truck was loaded. Thereafter he, Shamim, Afzal and one unknown person followed the Yamaha motor cycle in a truck. The truck was taken near one mosque at Vatva. Thereafter, the persons who came on Yamaha motor cycle requested them to wait. At about 10.00 p.m., three pardanashin ladies came in the Maruti van with three persons including two persons who came on Yamaha. The name of one of the lady was Zarina. The Maruti Van was parked near the truck and the box lying in the Maruti van was loaded on to the truck. Thus, nine long boxes were loaded in the truck. Thereafter, he sat near the driver’s seat with Pappu and went to Mahijipur. Sharifkhan in the mean while managed one truck bearing No. MP-14-B-9177 Tata 1210 LP. The weapons were subsequently shifted in the said truck with help of Afzal and Shamim. It contained 32 AK-56 rifles, cartridges and magazines. The transfer of weapons was made near the pond situated at some distance from Mahijpur. Sharifkhan thereafter told him to keep the weapons at his residence for some days. During the night hours the weapons were kept in the back portion of his house. On the next day he purchased four containers and the weapons were put in the containers and few of them were buried. Sharifkhan, in the month of October-November, came in Maruti Van bearing No. DL-2-8224 and they met at the house of Shamim and at that time Afzal informed that some persons have come from Gujarat and they were interrogating Pappukhan at Malva Transport. In December, January and as well as in February he stayed in Ahmedabad. Salim and Rafiq RD came in Maruti Car bearing No. CTK-4605. He came along with them to Zarania and thereafter they went to the well situated in his field. He had brought 4 AK-56 Rifles, 8 to 10 magazines and one box of cartridges. Then he went with them to Indore and from there he had returned to Ujjain. Subsequently he came to Ahmedabad at the instance of Sharifkhan and stayed in the house of his sister Ramzani Gandhi. Thereafter again in the month of June 1995 he went to M.P. where police came to have a search at his place. He apprehended danger and therefore to conceal weapons, he threw all the weapons in the well and bombs and cartridges were buried near the well."

The order of conviction in judgement read:-

“ The accused no.1 YUSUFKHAN ALIAS LAPLAP KHUDDADKHAN PATHAN, accused no.2 SHIRAZMIYA AKBARMIYA THAKORE, accused no.5 SAJIDALI ALIAS DENI MOHEMADALI SAIYED, accused no.13 IQBAL ALIAS BAPU SAIYEDHUSSEIN SAIYED, accused no.15 GAJNAFARKHAN ALIAS BABU MINNAKHAN PATHAN, accused no.26 SOHRABBUDDIN ALIAS SALIM ANVARUDDIN SHAIKH, accused no.32 ABDUL SATTAR ALIAS SATTAR BATTERY ABDULGANI SHAIKH accused no.33 ABDULRAOOF ALIAS RAOOF ABDULKADAR SHAIKH accused no.47 HUSSEINBHAI ALIAS BHAJIYA MOHHAMMEDBHAI PATANI and accused no.58 HUJAFARKHAN ALIAS NASHIR LUHAR UMARDARAJKHAN PATHAN are convicted for the offence punishable under sections 3 and 5 of the TADA ACT and sentenced to undergo FIVE YEARS RI under both the sections and to pay a fine of Rs.250/- each and total amount of fine to the tune of Rs.5oo/- in default to pay fine to undergo further RI of ONE MONTH EACH. They are further convicted for the offence punishable under sections 4,5, and 6 of the EXPLOSIVE SUBSTANCES ACT and sentenced to undergo FIVE YEARS RI and to pay a fine of Rs.500/- indefault topay fine to undergo further RI of ONE MONTH. They are further convicted for the offence punishable under section 7 and 25(1)(a) of the ARMS ACT and sentenced to undergo imprisonment.".

For enhancing the punishment awarded to the accused, the state government has gone in appeal which is pending before the Supreme Court.

(2) Offence registered at Vejalpur Police Station of Ahmedabad City CR-II-238/2007 under section 123 B, IPC, 25 (i), B, A of Arms Act, 135 (i) of Bombay Police Station. In this case, Sohrabbuddin @ Salim @ Samir Agrawal was arrested along with other accused. In this case, the accused indulged in criminal conspiracy to commit murder by arming themselves with weapons to extract money from a person who had failed to pay a loan taken by him. In this case, associate of Sohrabbuddin, Sharifkhan @ SK,(known as Chhota Dawood) is absconding and has taken shelter in Pakistan. Red corner notice has been issued by Interpol for arrest of Sharif Khan.

(3) Shahpur Police Station of Ahmedabad City CR No.-II-169/95 under Section 467, 468, 469, 471 of IPC under Section 25 (i), A (i), AA of Arms Act and Section 29, 1 (B3) of Explosive Act. In this case, 32 accused persons entered into a criminal conspiracy by forgery of documents to use them for obtaining No Objection Certificate with a view to obtain a license for transportation as well as purchase of prohibited pistols, revolvers and cartridges and other weapons with a view to indulge in criminal activities in the city of Ahmedabad. Sohrabbuddin was one of the accused along with other anti-national criminals like Rasul Party, Sharifkhan etc. He was charge-sheeted. Rasul khan, Ezazkhan, Sharifkhan are absconding. In this case, the Sessions court acquitted the accused. Against this acquittal, the State Government has filed appeals No. Crl. Revision Appeal. No. 285/2002 and No. 286/2002 which are pending in the High Court of Gujarat. Red corner notices has been issued for arrest of Rasul Party and Sharif Khan.

(4) Navrangpura Police Station of Ahmedabad City CR No.II-1124/04 under Section 307, 427 of IPC, Section 25(i) A. In this case, Sohrabbuddin along with 9 other accused persons had opened fire in the office of Popular Construction Ltd., and had attempted to murder with a view to intervene himself in a property dispute. In this case, all the 10 accused were arrested and chargesheeted. In this case, Shorabbuddin was also arrested. The brother of Sohrabbuddin, Niabuddin is also co-accused.


(1) Chandgad Police Station of Kolhapur District CR No.52/2000 under Section 307, 120(b), 147, 148, 149 of IPC and under Section 25(i) (3), 27 of Arms Act. At that time, Sohrabbuddin was known as Sohrabbudin @ Salman @ Salim Anvaruddin Kureshi. In this case, Sohrabbuddin was involved along with 5 other accused. In this case, Sohrabbuddin was absconding and declared as such. The case has been charge sheeted in Jurisdictional Court and is pending for trial. On 8.11.2000, the accused, who were riding motor cycles, opened fire on 2 persons at Old ST Stand and injured them greviously. In this case, Sohrabbuddin along with Praful @ Tulsi @ Samir, Jalil, and Ramzan Shah were involved. In this case, accused Jalil was arrested whereas Praful and Sohrabbuddin have absconded.

(2) Chandgad Police Station of Kolhapur District Crime Registration No.4/2005 under Section 302, 120(b), 34 of IPC and under Section 25(1) (3) and 27 of Arms Act. In this case, Sohrabbuddin along with 5 other accused involved in criminal conspiracy by arming themselves with illegal weapons and killed Gopal Tukaram Badivadekar. In this case, Sohrabbuddin was arrested whereas other 5 accused had absconded. In this case, charge sheet was filed and the case is pending for trial.


1. Nagda Police Station of Ujjain District of MP Crime Registration No.237/95 under Section 122, 123 IPC and sections 25, 27 of Arms Act. In this incident Sohrabbuddin was caught while selling arms. The case was investigated by local police and C.B.I.
2. Mahidpur Police Station of Ujjain District of MP Crime Registration No.166/95 under Section 122,123 of IPC and 25 and 27 of Arms. Act. In this incident fire arms were recovered from Sohrabbuddin. The case was initially investigated by the local police and later on by C.B.I.
3. Lasudia Police Station C.R No.346/2003 under section 419 IPC in this case on 23.07.2003 Sohrabbuddin along with one Juberbhai were caught riding a motor cycle with driving licence with bogus name. They were arrested and charge sheeted along with two more persons who facilitated bogus licence.
4. On 06-07-1999 Sohrabbuddin was detained under National Security Act (N.S.A) In this case, accused were arrested and later on released on bail and since then they are absconding. Sohrabbuddin was detained under National Security Act on 5.7.1999 by Madhya Pradesh Police.


(1) Hathipol Police Station of Udaipur District of Rajasthan State Crime Registration No.214/04 dated 31.12.2004 under Section 147, 148, 149, 302 IPC and Section 3/25 of Arms Act. In this case, Sohrabbuddin along with other 6 accused persons formed an unlawful assembly and opened fire with fire arms and killed one Hamid Lata at a busy thoroughfare of Suraj pole in the heart of Udaipur City. These accused had come on motor cycles. In this case, 2 accused were arrested whereas other 5 accused are absconding.
The deceased was killed after he was pointed out by Sohrabbuddin. In this case, charge sheet was filed in the jurisdictional court. A reward of Rs. 2,000/- was declared on 11.1.2005 for arrest or help in arrest of Sohrabbuddin. The letter was circulated to all concerned police units of Rajasthan. As more record of criminal antecedents of Sohrabbuddin came on record, Director General of Police of Rajasthan on 27.10.2005 declared a reward of Rs. 25,000/- for the arrest or help in arrest or for assistance in use of lawful force during arrest if he resisted arrest.

Role of Sohrabuddin’s family members:

The Petitioner namely Rubabuddin and his brothers were also aware of the movement and activity of Sohrabbuddin. These facts have come on record during inquiry and investigation conducted. The details are as under:-

[1] Conduct of Rubabbudin(petitioner in Supreme Court) - The Petitioner in his writ petitions and additional writ petitions, had concealed criminal antecedents and activities of Sohrabbuddin. In no petition he has stated that his brother was terrorist and involved in serious offences deliberately to project picture of Sohrabbuddin as an innocent person, nor such details he has given to media, to whom he has given many interviews.
Sohrabbuddin was absconding after committing an offence of murder, for which an offence was registered at SurajPole police station of Udaipur District of Rajasthan in day light at a major thoroughfare. A reward of Rs. 25,000/- was also declared for his arrest or information. However, Petitioner who has constantly maintained relations with Sohrabbuddin, never informed local police station or other jurisdiction police about Sohrabbuddin during period of his absconding to save him from arrest. In fact, all acts of omission and commission of trial by media by the Petitioner are to hide his own culpable misconduct. From the signed statement of Rubabbuddin given to inquiry officer and statement given to the Investigating Officer on 3-2-2007 on 1.4.2007 and on 25.7.2007 following facts have come on record.
1. Rubabuddin provided photographs of Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi to the Inquiry officer which is borne out by statement given by Rubbabuddin. These photographs show visit to Agra by Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi, as in the background “Taj Mahal” is visible.
2. Rubabuddin was also aware of the movement Sohrabbuddin while on run and was actually harbouring him alongwith his brother at Jharania house. It is evident from the subsequent paras in the signed statement given to inquiry officer on 25/07/06. From his statement, following additional information and facts are revealed.
(a) Brother Niamuddin informed Rubabuddin on 23/11/05 at 05.20 hrs about Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi going to Sangli from Hyderabad by his mobile phone.
(b) Rubabuddin was aware of mobile telephone No. of Sohrabbuddin
(c) Brother Naibuddin was aware of Seat number of bus occupied by Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi when they went out from Hyderabad.

In the signed statement of Petitioner recorded by Inquiry Officer of this encounter case on 03/02/07, petitioner Rubabuddin has confessed and gave facts that on 16/17-11-05 in the morning Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi had gone out of house at Jharania to go to Indore and at that time Sohrabbuddin informed him that he and Kauser will go to Hyderabad and stay with one Kalimuddin (b) Rubabuddin was informed that Sohrabbuddin would travel in maruti car owned by Kalimuddin from Indore to Hyderabad bought from previous owner Dr.Prakash Bandel. (c) Sohrabbuddin and Kauser had stayed in their joint family house at Jharania for a week.(d) Sohrabbuddin was living in Indore at Hizrabad Colony in the house of Ibrahim. (e) Sohrabbuddin was living in the house of a relative of Azam Dadhi. (f) Medical treatment records of Kauserbi of Bombay and at Indore were with him. (g) He was not aware of goods lying in the houses occupied by Sohrabbuddin. (h) Sohrabbuddin informed him on 22/11/05 on telephone that he was going out to Hyderabad for treatment of Kauser and after that he would return to Jharania. (i) List of goods of Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi in house at Jharania was given to Inquiry Officer. (j) Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi used to attend all religious functions and social functions of relatives by coming at Jharania. Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi used to come frequently to the house of Rubabuddin.

[2] Conduct of Sababuddin Anwaruddin Shaikh aged 42, Advocate (Brother of Sohrabbuddin.)
Sababuddin was arrested in Nagda Police Station (M.P) C.R No. 237/95 u/s 122,123 IPC and 25-A,27 of Arms Act. The case was initially investigated by local police and later on by C.B.I which charge sheeted the case against him and other ten accused. In this case his brother Sohrabbuddin was also co-accused. Sohrabbuddin was absconding after committing day light murder in major –cross ways at Suraj Pole area of Udaipur City on 31.12.2004 and was hiding. As per statement recorded during inquiry of Sohrabbuddin encounter, on 16/17 November, 2005, Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi were present in their house and then from his house Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi had gone to board a bus of Nagda private travels to go to Indore. Sababuddin was also enjoying confidence of Sohrabbuddin as he has also stated in his statement that Sohrabbuddin was to stay at the house of Kalamuddin.

[3] Conduct of Niabuddin s/o Anvaruddin, aged 31 brother of Sohrabbuddin.
On 3.2.2007, Niabuddin admitted in his signed statement before Inquiry Officer of State CID Crime (Inquiring into death of Sohrabbuddin) following facts.

(1) On 16/17.11.2005, Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi had gone from Jharania village by a private bus to Indore and while going Sohrabbuddin disclosed that he is going to meet Kalimuddin.
(2) Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi were living at Shalimar township, Devas Road in Indore.
(3) Rubabuddin had informed that Dr. Prakash Bandel’s maruti van was used by Sohrabbuddin.
(4) Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi stayed for one week in their house in Jharania.
(5) Earlier Sohrabbuddin was living at 111, Khijrabad Colony on rent in the house of Ibrahim.
(6) Sohrabbuddin was also living in the house of relative of Azam Dodhi in Udaipur. Sohrabbuddin and Kauserbi were living alternatively in Udaipur and Indore in above mentioned houses.
(7) Where ever Sohrabbuddin used to go, Kauserbi used to accompany him.
(8) Sohrabbuddin before going out of Hyderabad had rang him up and told him that he was taking Kauserbi for treatment to Sangli.
(9) Sohrabbuddin got married with Kauserbi in the house of Samabhai Khanjipir, Machla Magra.
The statement shows that Naiumuddin was very much aware about Sohrabbuddin’s activities, places of stay and movement. However, in spite of knowing Sohrabbuddin as an absconder and wanted by police in many cases, he never informed police station and actively harboured Sohrabbuddin. Naimuddin is also wanted in Navrangpura Police station (Ahmedabad) in CR No. 1124/04 u/s 307, 427 of IPC and section 25 of the Arms act. In this case Sohrabbuddin was also a co-accused.
[4] Conduct of Jabbunisa W/o Anvaruddin Quereshi , 60 years R/o Jharnia (Mother of Sohrabbuddin).
From the signed statement given to inquiry officer, following facts have emerged.
(1) Sohrabbuddin’s mother admitted that she had five sons. (1) Sababbuddin, (2) Sohrabbuddin, (3) Shanawajuddin (4) Rubabuddin and (5) Niabuddin.
(2) She had admitted that her son Sohrabbuddin had gone to Hyderabad and from Hyderabad he was going to Sangli by bus for treatment of Kauserbi.

From the signed statement of mother Jabbunisa and three brothers Niabuddin, Sababbuddin, and Rubabbuddin as briefly stated herein above given to the Inquiry Officer, they all have accepetd that they were aware that Sohrabbuddin was absconding and wanted in a case under sec. 302 of IPC and for whose arrest a reward of Rs. 25,000/- was declared by DGP Rajasthan, and yet they along with their family members actively harbored him violating section 216 of IPC.

[This is excerpted from a larger note sourced from official files.]

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Media's campaign of calumny

All are equal, media is more equal than all!

Interviewing prospective students for a media school can be a useful experience. It provides you with an insight into how media is perceived among the young who shall inherit the world from us. I usually begin by asking the applicants whether they want to pursue a career in print journalism or in the audio-visual media. During one such interview recently, a young woman told me, “I want to join a news channel.” And do what? “I want to become an anchor.” Why? “I have many things to say and as an anchor I can say anything I want.” What makes you think so? “I watch television regularly. I know.” And why do you think you can actually say whatever you want? That left her slightly flustered. “But we have freedom of expression, right? And media is free in our country, right?” I seemed to have planted doubts in her mind and she wanted me to disabuse her of them. I asked her to tell me about her other interests in life.

I was reminded of that conversation on Friday evening when editors of television news channels, feigning great outrage, queued up to condemn the smashing of glass panes and upturning of potted palms in the lobby of Videocon Tower in Delhi, where the offices of Headlines Today, Aajtak and Mail Today are located, by a crowd of people protesting against the ongoing campaign of calumny against the RSS which is being accused of promoting ‘Hindu terrorism’. The violence was uncalled for, unfortunate and unacceptable. The protest could have been peaceful. Indeed, those leading the protesters should have ensured that no damage was caused on account of the demonstration. Having said that, let us look at what was said in condemnation by editors of other channels.

“This is an attack on freedom of expression. The media is being muzzled. Ideas must be combatted with ideas, not violence. It is despicable and deplorable,” said a news channel editor, virtually frothing at the mouth. Others pitched in with elaborate denunciation of “goons” and “hooligans” — the protesters did not look like either category of social malcontents — and condemned the attack. What was most amusing was to see Ms Ambika Soni, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, waxing eloquent on how the cherished values of our democracy are under assault. Ms Soni heads a Ministry which is a relic of our fake Socialist past when the Government controlled newspapers (there were no news channels then) and information flow by adopting strong-arm tactics — newspapers critical of the Government were denied newsprint quota — and by regulating the release of advertisements — obedience fetched you a greater share. More importantly, her entry into politics was through Sanjay Gandhi’s Youth Congress during the Emergency, when all freedoms and rights, including the right to life, were suspended and journalists who didn’t extol the virtues of the Great Leader were sent to jail. All that and more seems to have been forgotten.

However, we need not be distracted by what certain practitioners of the world’s second oldest profession have to say in defence of their emulating the practices of the world’s oldest profession. It’s a free country and people have the right to say whatever they want. But what is objectionable is the attempt to disguise biased writing and distortion of the truth as “freedom of expression”. The ongoing campaign of calumny to demonise the RSS and denigrate Hindus by painting the first as a sponsor of terrorism and the second as a community of terrorists is by no stretch of the imagination ‘freedom of expression’. Nor does media have the freedom to malign or defame individuals and then seek shelter in its presumed immunity from scrutiny.

Without going into the specifics of the campaign that has been launched to tar the RSS and label Hindus as terrorists, I would like to make three points. First, neither the stories published by some magazines and newspapers nor the reports that have been telecast by some news channels present even a shred of evidence. What we have read, seen and heard so far are aspersions, accusations and alleged admissions, all of it attributed to unnamed sources in the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation. These have been neither cross-checked nor corroborated with indisputable facts. Second, it is amazing that in a country which is supposed to be governed by the law of the land, there should be such organised trial by media which is really trial by insinuation. Years later, if nothing is proved in a court of law, media will conveniently choose to forget that they had already declared individuals guilty of horrible crimes. Third, since when has speaking to someone on the phone, irrespective of whether or not that person is guilty of having committed a crime, a crime in itself?

There is, of course, the other aspect about the IB and CBI leaking like sieves with a billion holes. If the alleged offence of planting bombs in Malegaon, Ajmer and Hyderabad is to be treated seriously, shouldn’t the agencies be conducting their investigations in absolute secrecy? If they must go public with titillating tid-bits, then IB and CBI offcials should formally brief the media on record. If they are planting stories, as they are doing, then this is no investigation but a political conspiracy: The RSS is being targeted to weaken the BJP. The conspiracy to defame and demonise Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has now been enlarged to hobble the BJP at the national level. There are no prizes for guessing who are the conspirators. Sadly, sections of the media have offered to play the role of co-conspirators. During Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Emergency regime, few editors stood up against the criminal abuse of power. Most of them chose to crawl when asked to bend. Tragically, many editors have kept up that tradition, offering space on the front page and time during prime-time news bulletins to the Establishment’s dirty tricks department.

This is not about ideology. Nor is it about political loyalties. To suggest so would be as bogus as those crying themselves hoarse that media’s freedom and freedom of expression are under attack. If anything is under attack, if anything is being questioned, is the peddling of fiction as fact under the garb of ‘investigative reporting’. Had it not been so, our ‘free’ media, a large section of which thrives on ‘paid news’, would have reported that the investigating agencies have failed to come up with any evidence to make their charges against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Srikant Prasad Purohit stick. That the courts have refused to let them be tried under MACOCA, saying there was nothing on record to justify such a trial. That it’s been two years since they were arrested and have been in jail without being prosecuted or formally charged.

Or shall we just burn them at the stake because ‘free’ media has pronounced them guilty?

[This appeared as my Sunday column Coffee Break in The Pioneer on July 18, 2010.]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't defame the armed forces

How many men in khaki die defending India every day?
Major killed, Col injured in encounter with LeT in Poonch
Jammu, July 13: An Army Major was killed and six other personnel including a Colonel injured in Mandhar sector of Poonch in an encounter tonight with Lashkar-e- Tayyeba terrorists. Major Amit Phunge was killed in the operation while Col.Ajay Katoch of 47 Rashtriya Rifles was injured when the terrorists resorted to heavy fire and lobbed grenades, official sources said. The Army team had gone to the spot following information that about 15 Pakistan-based terrorists had sneaked in. The Army cordoned off the area and launched a search operation. The injured included Dinesh Kumar and Satinder Kumar, both Signalmen, Naik Jasbir Singh, Sepoy Samir Kumar and Rifleman Dasharat.
It’s now considered fashionable and politically correct to berate the security forces and accuse them of violating human rights. The Delhi commentariat, whose ill-informed members are often indistinguishable from jholawallahs with a certain fondness for candles, having run out of abuse to heap on Hindus and organisations that speak up for Hindu rights, has now decided to pour its bile on our men in khaki. Real and imagined instances of alleged ‘encounter killings’ are being recalled, professional human rights activists are being interviewed, separatist leaders are being flown down to Delhi and panel discussions are being organised with the sole purpose of painting the security forces in the bleakest of colours. It would seem suddenly the Army has become a four-letter dirty word and there’s no crime that jawans cannot be held guilty of having committed.

Last Sunday I was invited to a popular television show in which participants were supposed to discuss whether the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 — subsequently amended in 1972 — requires amendments to make the security forces operating under this law accountable for their actions. We need not go into the specifics of who said what — much of it was predictable: The politician from Jammu & Kashmir described the law as “draconian”; the Kashmiri separatist accused the ‘Indian’ Army of “killing Kashmiri children”; the human rights activist said the colour khaki makes boys (she meant militants) see red and hence should be banned; and, the person representing Delhi’s exalted commentariat pompously demanded that “the law must go”. Two retired Generals of the Army and a Brigadier valiantly fought back. As usual, I was in a minority of one.

The point to note was that none of the critics of the Army and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act had a clue about the specifics of the law, nor did anyone offer to validate sweeping allegations of rights violations. Instead, what we heard were bizarre figures being cited and implausible charges being levelled. To be fair, the host repeatedly made it clear that the purpose of the show was not to attack or belittle the Army, but to debate the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. But that served little purpose because the critics were either not interested in this particular issue or they were keen to push their own agenda. In the process, nothing of substance could be discussed and debated.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, I ventured to suggest, was not meant to place the Army or the security forces above the law of the land but to empower them to function effectively while dealing with situations that have defied resolution through normal means — intervention by civilian authorities, action by the police and call for calm by the political class. The Army cannot be expected to function in a vacuum and requires to be given autonomy of decision and action, I argued, hence the need for the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

This fetched a volley of furious reactions: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gives the Army and security forces the licence to kill; it militates against the spirit of democracy; its provisions fly in the face of rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The Kashmiri separatist thought he was being profound when he said, “The right to life is inalienable, it cannot be violated,” and then went on to allege that “thousands are being killed by the Indian Army”. For a moment I was tempted to point out that having repudiated his allegiance to the Republic of India he had also forfeited the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. But I desisted from doing so because it would be meaningless trying to engage him in a debate on the provisions of the very Constitution which separatists like him find sufficiently repelling to want to secede from the Union of India.

I had taken with me some notes, which proved to be of no use when the discussion drifted into irrelevant issues and bogus allegations. But some of the details, culled from data sheets hosted on the South Asia Terrorism Portal, need to be placed on record, if only to nail the lies of those who seek to defame the Army and other security forces drafted for counter-insurgency operations. These essentially deal with fatalities suffered by our men in uniform.

For instance, 5,962 security forces personnel have been killed by terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir between 1988 and July 5, 2010. This year alone 45 security forces personnel have died in the State fighting militants. There are other insurgencies being fought by the security forces. Since 1992, as many as 939 officers and jawans have lost their lives in Manipur; 783 in Assam; 81 in Meghalaya and 22 in Mizoram. There’s more: 1,226 security forces personnel have died fighting Maoists between 2005 and 2010; this year, till July 5, we have lost 204 men in uniform to Maoist bullets.

Don't these lives count for anything? Do men who don khaki automatically surrender their right to life guaranteed by the Constitution? Are young men and women who join paramilitary forces and the Army no more than cannon fodder? And, more importantly, what about their human rights? Their right to dignity? Are these meant to be scoffed at? To be spat upon? To be violated with impunity?

The parents of a young Army Captain who went down fighting terrorists in Kashmir Valley earlier this year recounted during the show how their son was not felled by the militants’ bullets, but by a bullet fired from a nearby house. His mother, wiping her tears, said in a firm voice: “I have no more sons. If I had any, I would have sent them to join the Army. Since I have none, I am willing to offer my services.” The Kashmiri separatist slyly retorted, “We have heard thousands of such stories.”

There are two points that merit mention. First, contrary to propaganda, despite the so-called ‘sweeping provisions’ of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the security forces virtually operate in terrorist and insurgent-infested areas with both arms tied behind their backs. Or else the fatalities would not have been so high. That’s commonsense. Second, nobody, least of all the Army, condones wilful violation of human rights. But allegations cannot be deemed to be actionable unless proven to be true. Since 1990, the security forces have faced 1,511 cases of human rights abuse. These were investigated by various agencies, including the National Human Rights Commission, and 1,473 were found to be false. In the remaining cases where culpability was established, 104 men have been punished.

A last point. There’s nothing called a pretty war fought with roses and daisies. Collateral damage is inevitable in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations. It’s an asymmetrical war being fought out there by men who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation; we must get real and learn to live with the consequences. Stuff happens.

[This appeared as my Sunday column Coffee Break in The Pioneer on July 11, 2010]

The spies who came in from the cold

Back to the Cold War era!

As spies were swapped in Vienna between the US and Russia on Friday in a replay of the Cold War years when men who came in from the cold would be exchanged after secret negotiations, officials in both White House and the Kremlin would have heaved a sigh of relief.

Curtains were drawn on the fortnight-long drama which began with the FBI busting a Russian spy ring in America in end-June and arresting 10 Russians, some of them couples, who had been living staid suburban lives since the 1990s, when they were exchanged for four Russians spending time in Russian prisons on espionage charges. The fate of an 11th Russian spy, said to be on the run, who was arrested in Cyprus and brought to the US, remains unclear.

Soon after the Russians were arrested, the FBI claimed that they had been “serving for years” as secret agents of the SVR, the intelligence organisation which has replaced the KGB. Their main aim was to infiltrate official American policy-making circles. In its submission to the court after the arrests, the FBI said that it had intercepted a message from SVR headquarters, Moscow Centre — popularly known as the ‘Centre’ — to two of the Russians, describing their main mission as “to search and develop ties in policy-making circles in the US”.

[The London Conspiracy]

Other messages intercepted by the FBI showed, or so the American agency claimed, that the Russian spies had been “asked to learn about a broad swath of topics, including nuclear weapons, US arms control positions, Iran, White House rumours, CIA leadership turnover, the last presidential election, the Congress and political parties”. Which pretty much covers everything that a spy could be tasked with. American media went into a tizzy, as did the Western Press.

Given the scale of the alleged operation, and the involvement of a high profile woman ‘entrepreneur’ with an extraordinary lifestyle — Anna Chapman was virtually into everything that can titillate the imagination — spy watchers on either side of the Atlantic came to the conclusion that this was the biggest bust since the arrest of Soviet Colonel Rudolf Abel in 1957 in New York.

The only difference: Abel was picked up as the Cold War was beginning to slide into sub-zero zone and the world was beginning to feel the chill a decade after the Iron Curtain descended, dividing the world into what then seemed frozen forever Eastern and Western Blocs. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Empire, which also marked the end of the Cold War, nobody could have imagined spies surfacing as spikes in US-Russia relations which have been on the ‘reset’ mode for a while now, with both Washington DC and Moscow trying their best to put the past behind them and work as friends if not allies.

[Spies not bound by law]

But Friday showed how the past can never be erased entirely. Journalists crowding Vienna airport reported how a maroon-and-white Boeing 767-200 charter flight, carrying the 10 deported Russian agents, flew in overnight from New York’s La Guardia Airport. Within minutes of its arrival, the plane came to a halt behind a Russian Emergencies Ministry plane carrying the four Russian double agents to be exchanged for the Russian spies picked up in America. For a while, it seemed the world had gone back in time.

We will never really get to know what the Russian spies, and we must presume they were spies as they pleaded guilty in court before being ‘deported’, were actually up to behind their carefully cultivated cover as part of America’s laidback suburbia. What we do know, however, is that the four Russians who were exchanged to secure their freedom were spying for America.

Anna Chapman may or may not have been a modern day Mata Hari, seducing American men into parting with professional secrets, but the four Russian double agents operating in Moscow both for their country and for America bring to mind the Cambridge Five.

Interestingly, the memoirs of Anthony Blunt, the fourth man in the Cambridge Five spy ring, were made public during the latest tran-continental espionage drama. The Cambridge 5 were behind what has been described as the “biggest security scandal of the 20th century”.

What is obvious is that the US has more to gain by securing access to the four Russian double agents than by prosecuting and jailing the Russian Ten. Nothing else explains why the US Administration should have moved so swiftly and agreed to a swap. Similarly, it could be argued that Moscow, while officially (and strenuously) denying that the Russians arrested in the US were on the payroll of the SVR, was desperate to get them out of America without being subjected to further interrogation. What secrets could they have spilled? Would they have squealed on other Russian spies operating in the US and in certain European countries, for instance in Britain? While this cannot be entirely ruled out, it's unlikely. For, undercover agents are never ever informed about others working in the same country; rarely, if ever, do spies know of their colleagues in the field. That’s basic standard operating procedure: If a spy gets caught, he or she should be in no position to squeal.

[Who killed General Zia?]

Are we then to assume that standards have drastically fallen ever since the KGB was wound up and replaced by the SVR? Is the migration of the best brains in the KGB (among them Vladimir Putin) from Intelligence-gathering to politics beginning to tell on the espionage skills of new age Russian spies?

If the FBI is telling the truth, and we need not entirely believe the Americans, the Russian spies were not only technologically-challenged (even schoolchildren would do a better job of erasing their browsing history and safeguarding their computer passwords) but wrote secret notes with ‘invisible’ ink.

If the 10 Russians, including Anna Chapman with her taste for the outrageous behind closed doors and between silken sheets, arrested in the US were dumb, the four Russians arrested in Russia were amazingly skilled in their job, excellent double agents and belonged to the old school of espionage which flourished during the Cold War. Two of them are former Russian Intelligence colonels who were found to have cheated on their bosses and ‘compromised’ — that is, helped expose — “dozens of valuable Soviet-era and Russian agents operating in the West”.

Alexander Zaporozhsky, one of the former Russian colonels, is believed to have provided crucial information to the Americans that led to the capture of Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, “two of the most damaging spies ever caught in the US”. He was sentenced to 18 years of hard labour in 2003. The other former Colonel, Alexander Sypachev, was found guilty of “passing Russian State secrets to the CIA and planning to betray Russian colleagues working abroad for money” and sentenced to eight years of hard labour in 2002.

Of the other two Russian spies doing time in Russia, Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear scientist, was found guilty of passing on secret information to a British firm, believed to be a CIA front. He was sentenced to 15 years’ labour in northern Russia near the Arctic Circle in 2004. The fourth man freed by the Russians on Friday is Sergei Skripal, a retired GRU colonel, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2006 for working for Britain’s MI6 in the ’90s.

If the charges levelled by the FBI against the Russian spies appear incredible — even a rooky spy would think twice before taking his or her laptop to an unknown person to solve a technical glitch, leave alone someone allegedly as accomplished as Anna Chapman — then it is equally arguable that the charges ‘proved’ against the Russian double agents held in Russia are untenable; after all, none of the four men admitted to their guilt, which the Russians held in America did, if only to escape prison and secure freedom. What, then, makes the whole affair so significant?

There are two theories doing the rounds. Both emanate from Moscow. According to the first theory, there are powerful sections in the FBI and the CIA which are appalled by the pace at which relations between the US and Russia have been stabilising, if not improving, in recent times. The ‘reset’ button was supposed to be just there, to be seen and not to be pressed. But US President Barack Obama has been itching to press the button (his predecessor, George W Bush, kept his finger firmly away). That would have meant fast-tracking improvement in bilateral relations and an equally fast cutback in the role played by American Intelligence agencies in determining the course of the US policy vis-a-vis Russia. It is significant that the Russian spies were arrested a day after President Dmitry Medvedev concluded his visit to the US, which was described as “successful” by both the White House and Kremlin.

The second theory has it that the Americans were desperate to secure the release of the four Russian double agents — the humanitarian reasons cited by Washington have been brushed aside by Moscow. Why does the US want these men out of Russia and in its safe custody? Is it because given their long and difficult prison terms, sooner or later they would have sung like the proverbial canary and told all to the SVR?

A former KGP spymaster says the end of the Cold War has no doubt de-escalated tension between Moscow and Washington and removed all chances of direct or proxy military conflict. But espionage and counter-espionage has, instead of decreasing, actually increased. According to his estimate, there are at least 400 Russian spies operating in the US. If there is any truth in that claim, there would be at least that many, if not more, American spies lurking in the shadows across Russia. While it is easy for Russian 'immigrants' to mingle with Americans, the opposite is not that easy. So the US continues to seek out and secure the services of Russian agents in Russia, lures them into double-crossing their bosses, and gets hold of information of strategic value.

In the end, as the Cold War showed us, espionage is a zero sum game. And, that game still continues.

[This appeared as the cover story of The Pioneer's Sunday magazine section 'Foray' on July 11, 2010.]

Friday, July 09, 2010

Intercepted: Tell-tale messages

Who’s behind surge in violence in Kashmir Valley?

Here’s a PTI report:
Involvement of hardline separatists in engineering some of the violence in the Kashmir Valley is indicated by an intercepted conversation between two of them during which they discussed killing of at least 15 people in a procession near Srinagar on Wednesday (July 7).

A large procession had started in Budgam district on the outskirts of Srinagar in the evening and two senior office-bearers of the hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani discussed how to utilise it to create casualties, according to the transcript of the conversation available with the Home Ministry.

According to the transcript, one of the office-bearers, Ghulam Ahmed Dar, was heard telling Shabir Ahmed Wani, another office-bearer, that a procession of nearly 20,000 people had started from Magam and was going towards Budgam.

Wani tells Dar, "You guys enjoy payments sitting at home and do nothing."

Dar, in his response, says, "The management of crowd becomes difficult later... it gets difficult to manage the mob later."

Dar then ends up by saying, "At least 15 people should be martyred today."

However, in the event, the police dispersed the procession with a mild cane charge and no untoward incident took place.

Yet another intercepted communication (see transcript alongside) exposes Pakistan’s role in fomenting the latest round of violence in Kashmir Valley.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Paid 'protests' in Kashmir!

Four stone-pelters 'associations' in Valley
'Protesters' paid Rs 150-300 per day
Pakistan-LeT routing money via Dubai

The Ministry of Home Affairs on July 8 revealed startling details about the phenomenon called 'stone-pelting' in the Kashmir Valley which has led to the re-imposition of curfew in Srinagar and other towns, and putting the Army on stand-by.

The intensity of stone-pelting (during which stones are hurled at security forces, usually CRPF jawans patrolling the streets) can be gauged from the fact that till now 1,875 jawans have been injured -- 211 of them since the latest round of stone-pelting began on June 11. Scores of Jammu & Kashmir Police personnel have also been injured in the stone-pelting.

It has long been obvious that the Hamas-inspired intifada-style 'protest' by young Kashmiri Muslim men, their faces covered by chequered kaffiyeh or balaclavas, hurling stones at security forces was neither spontaneous nor genuine.

Interception of communications between separatists in the Kashmir Valley and their Lashkar-e-Tayyeba/ISI handlers in Pakistan by intelligence agencies have led to the following findings:

.There are four stone-pelters 'associations' functioning in the Kashmir Valley, organising the 'protests' in the streets by mobilising young men, some still in their teens.
.These are -- Jammu & Kashmir Stone-Pelters Association; Stone-Pelters Association of Kashmir Valley; I Am a Stone-Pelter Association; and Stone Throwers Association.
.These 'associations' have been received funds from Pakistan routed via Dubai and sent to recipients in Jammu & Kashmir through agencies like Western Union.
.The money is transferred in small amounts so as to not attraction attention of official agencies.
.This money is used for paying stone-pelters between Rs 150 and Rs 300 a day. Their task is to hurl stones at security forces and try to provoke them into reacting, and disrupting normal life.

Hamas used the same methods during the intifida it organised in the Gaza Strip.

Also see the editorial comment I wrote for The Pioneer.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Are we headed this way?

From the film, The Stoning of Soraya M. It is a drama based on the true story of a young Iranian woman who, after being falsely accused of adultery by her estranged husband, was stoned to death by her fellow villagers.
Woman to be stoned to death in Iran
By Hala Jaber

She was only 14 years old when she was forced into a loveless marriage with an older man.Yet within a year of her wedding Azar Bagheri had been charged with adultery and sentenced to be stoned to death.
The sentence could not be carried out until she reached 18.So for the past four years she has been languishing on death row while courts waited for her to reach maturity.
According to Mina Ahadi,an Iranian human rights activist,Bagheri was denounced by her own husband,who accused her of committing adultery with two men.
Ahadi said the teenager had been subjected to two mock stonings.On each occasion she was taken out of her cell and buried up to her shoulders in the yard of Tabriz prison,in northwest Iran,as if being prepared to be pelted to death with stones.
Bagheris lawyers are now planning to ask judges to reduce her sentence to 99 lashes,Ahadi said.Buoyed by an international campaign against Irans death sentence for women convicted of adultery,they hope the court will show mercy.
Last week,after widespread condemnation of the sentence of stoning passed on another woman,Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,43,the Iranians backed down.
Their embassy in London said that according to information from the relevant judicial authorities,the stoning would not go ahead.But campaigners warned that Bagheri could still be executed by other means.
Amnesty International noted that three Iranians sentenced to death by stoning last year had been hanged instead.A mere change of the method of execution would not address the injustice, said Amnestys Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.SUNDAY TIMES,LONDON. [Courtesy: Times of India, July 12, 2010.]

Plight of a mother

This Iranian woman, a 42-year-old mother of two children, has been held guilty of 'adultery' by sharia'h court on the basis of a forced confession extracted under duress (which she has since retracted), punished with 90 lashes and sentenced to death by stoning. She will be buried neck deep and then stones will be hurled at her. The stones, by law, will be big enough to inflict pain but not kill her instantly.

Her son and daughter have appealed for help to save their mother.
Beware the ominous signs in India
It's no doubt barbaric and horrific. But aren't we who flaunt the secular credentials of the Republic of India heading the same way? Look at the atrocities being committed by khaps in western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and even in the national capital, Delhi, in the name of caste and gotra. Young men and women are being murdered in cold blood and the murders are being glorified by the murderers as 'honour killings'.

Meanwhile, in Kerala an illegal Taliban-style sharia’h court (Darul Khada or god's abode or god's court) ordered that the right hand of Prof TD Joseph, a professor of Malayalam at Newman's College, Thodupuzha, holding him guilty of “insulting Mohammed” through “derogatory references” in a question paper he had set. The sentence was carried out by members of the Islamist organisation, Popular Front, on July 4 when Prof Joseph was waylaid while returning hom from church along with his sister and mother.

Prof Joseph was arrested in April after the question paper set by him for the BCom second year internal exams sparked protests by Muslim outfits, which claimed it had “hurt their religious sentiments”. He was later suspended from college and was out on bail when attacked. Ironically, the disputed question referred to a book written by a Muslim writer of Kerala.

And another story reported from Bihar:

Woman stripped and whipped on orders of kangaroo court
Katihar, July 13: A 35-year-old woman was allegedly stripped and whipped after she defied the diktats of a kangaroo court in Bihar's Katihar district to remarry her second husband. The illegal court at the Gwaltoli-Kalyannagar village summoned the woman on July 8 and directed her to to remarry her second husband from whom she had divorced earlier, Superintendent of Police P Kanan said, quoting the FIR lodged by her.
Kanan said the woman's first husband died four years after the marriage and after some time she married a man named Mohammad Islam of the same village and the couple had a son. But, the marriage did not work and the couple divorced.
Subsequently, when her five year-old son was down with fever, she had to call her divorced husband as she was living in penury, the SP said. After the son recovered Islam left.
He said that Islam and his brother Samsuddin later connived in summoning the kangaroo court which was headed by a former mukhiya, Akalu. The kangaroo court first asked her to pay money equivalent to that required for construction of a house, besides wheat and rice to the former mukhiya.
As she refused she was dragged to a mango grove on the outskirts of the village stripped and whipped.
The SP said the woman lodged an FIR on July 11 after which Akalu and Samsuddin were arrested.
If we the majority remain silent, we won't be able to keep the barbarians at bay. Sooner or later, they will come for us too. And an effete Government, looking at caste vote-banks, won't lift its little finger in admonition. The Congress, remember, hasn't acted against khaps yet.

The Cabinet, which met on July 8, was divided on amending the CrPC to deal with crimes committed by khaps and the adherents of their regressive diktats. Strangely, Minister for Youth and Sports MS Gill put up the strongest objection to a "sweeping law". Our limp-wristed Prime Minister, of course, failed to exercise his authority, though not for the first time. Instead, he decided to set up yet another GoM to "study the complex issue". What's there to study?

A Prime Minister who can be so determined to push his agenda on foreign affairs, especially in regard to relations with America and Pakistan, can't take a decision on an important domestic issue? Indifference? Incompetence? Or plain scared?

Is this the India of 21st century we keep on boasting about? Can we truly claim to have entered a new era of development and modernity? What use is high GDP if such forces prevail?

Reflect. Resolve. React.

Sinister face of Islamism

Horrific bloodshed in Sufi shrine, mosques

Muslims kill Muslims in name of Islam!

On July 2, suicide bombers attacked Daata Darbar, an ancient Sufi shrine in Lahore, killing at least 44 people who had come to seek blessings. For the first time in 927 years, langar was stopped at the shrine. Some news reports say there were three suicide bombers, others say there were two.

Earlier, on May 28, two Ahmedi mosques in Lahore were attacked by suicide terror squads, owing allegiance to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, resulting in the death of at least 95 worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayers.

There have been similar terror attacks on mosques and shrines in Pakistan, including a mosque in Rawalpindi frequented by Army personnel and their families -- a 10 year old boy was killed, along with scores, in that attack.

Instead of looking within and coming to grips with the grim fact of Islamist terrorists turning on Muslims in Pakistan, most Pakistanis and the Government of that country continue to live in denial. The Jamaat-e-Islami blames Americans and Blackwater for killings by Islamist terrorists. Others blame India!

Arifa Moen, 32, a teacher in the central city of Multan, told the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times: "Washington is encouraging Indians and Jews to carry out attacks in Pakistan." If a teacher has such perverse views, what will Pakistani children learn? And who will save Pakistan's children from the monsters who kill so remorselessly?

And while denial rules the collective Pakistan conscience, the terrible slaying of Muslims by Muslims continues, ironically in the name of Islam.

Worse, if you dare criticise the outrages, you are labelled an Islamophobe.

Here's my commentary on the issue:

"We Muslims are one community... (my goal was to) injure people or kill people... One has to understand where I’m coming from, because… I consider myself a mujahid, a Muslim soldier.” It’s unlikely the American judge presiding over Faisal Shahzad’s arraignment was quite prepared for such a candid admission of Islamism ├╝ber alles by the would-be Times Square bomber. But this is not the first time that the jihadi impulse has been so baldly stated by those who believe that bloodshed serves the cause of Islam — the more horrific the bloodletting, the greater the piety of the perpetrator of what others consider to be both a crime and a sin.

The Fort Hood killer had no qualms about killing fellow soldiers; the underpants bomber was prepared to die to bring down a trans-Atlantic passenger plane, and Faisal Shahzad was comfortable with the idea of blowing up innocent people in New York’s fashionable Times Square. Before them, Mohammed Atta al-Sayeed had led a dozen hijackers on a suicide mission to terrorise America; in London, young Muslims of Pakistani origin had stuffed their backpacks with explosives and pulled the trigger in crowded compartments of underground trains.

We in India have known for long what the West has discovered to its horror after the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center were felled on 9/11. Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s sophistry was useful distraction from the Muslim League’s coarse politics of separatism premised on the fundamentals of Islamic exclusivism, intolerance bordering on hatred of the ‘other’, the ummah’s presumed right to rule the world and hoist the banner of Islam atop every capital.

Tragic as the violence that accompanied partition may have been, far worse has since been witnessed. Islamists from Pakistan have struck again and again, in more ways than one, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. When excessive attention is focussed on 26/11 because it was jihad brought live on television screens, their other crimes tend to be glossed over. For instance the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir Valley. Or the subversion of the Indian Muslim’s mind.

Jinnah was given to lofty speech if not noble thought, but the lesser among the ranks must have sniggered when he declared on August 11, 1947, in a speech that is often quoted by those untutored in Islamism: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state... You will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”

That state is today rapidly sinking into the quagmire of Islamist fanaticism. Pakistan’s citizens have neither ceased to be Hindus and Muslims “in the political sense” nor has the Pakistani state steered clear of religion. The degeneration began within months of the Quaid-e-Azam’s death; a decrepit, derelict Islamic Republic of Pakistan, variously described as the “most dangerous place in the world” and an “international headache”, is now engulfed in the very jihad which it thought would destroy India.

Jinnah was able to wrench out of India what he despairingly (some would say, disparagingly) described as “a moth-eaten Pakistan”; what remains of Pakistan is being gnawed at from within by those who are so consumed by hate that they find the idea of Muslims cohabiting with Muslims an intolerable idea. Nothing else explains why suicide bombers should target worshippers at Daata Darbar, an acient Sufi shrine in Lahore, drenching a saint’s dargah with the blood of the innocent last Thursday, or kill believers gathered at a Rawalpindi mosque. Since by law Ahmediyas are not considered to be Muslims in Pakistan and treated as heretics by mullahs, their slaughter while at prayer, as it happened on May 28, is considered to be nothing extraordinary in the ‘land of the pure’.

So, when Faisal Shahzad says, “One has to understand where I’m coming from,” he means one has to look at Pakistan to understand what drives Pakistanis to kill with such ferocity and cite Islam as the reason. But Pakistan alone does not breed such monsters; look around and you will find that rare is the Muslim-majority country untainted by the violence propagated by Islamism and perpetrated by Islamists. Secular Egypt thought it would render the seeds of Islamism planted by Syed Qutb sterile by executing the man who called for “offensive jihad” as the true assertion of the Islamic identity. But the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen has flourished, carrying forth Qutb’s message that “true Islam will transform every aspect of society, eliminating everything non-Muslim”, and that Islam is the “ultimate solution”.

It would be a folly to believe that every Muslim subscribes to Qutb’s interpretation of Islam or that behind every Muslim name lurks a terrorist waiting for an opportunity to strike. For evidence of the deep schism that sets Faisal Shahzad and his ilk apart from those who just want to get on with their lives and live in peace we just need to look at Pakistan. For every suicide bomber there are thousands who are repelled by his act of terror, who weep at the sight of so much blood being shed for nothing. Muslims in Mumbai, let us not forget, refused to allow the bodies of Ajmal Kasab’s slain colleagues to be buried in their graveyards. Such examples abound.

Yet, it would do us no good if we were to gloss over the reality. Islamofascism exists and those who subscribe to it are unfortunately also those who are fashioning policy and influencing society in Islamic countries — individually and collectively. The Organisation of Islamic Conference bears evidence to this: Every time it demands the criminalisation of criticism of Islamist excesses and crimes against humanity because it allegedly “defames Islam”, it strengthens those very elements whom it should be condemning before anybody else does so but won’t because it conflates Islamism and Islam and views the former as a triumphalist, faith-driven assertion of the latter.

It’s easy to demonise critics of Islamism as ‘Islamophobes’ and call for global legislation to curb free speech. But if conceded, this will embolden the Faisal Shahzads and the suicide bombers and the fanatics for whom hate is a virtue and tolerance a sin. Rather than lash out at those who find Islamism abhorrent, its champions should ask themselves a simple question: After “eliminating everything non-Muslim”, what shall happen to ‘everything Muslim’? The terrible sight of Muslims killing Muslims in Pakistan, which was supposed to be the homeland of the Indian sub-continent’s Muslims, should provide a clue to the answer to that question.

[The comment originally appeared as my Sunday column Coffee Break in The Pioneer on June 4, 2010. (c)]