Archive for June 8, 2011

Maoists bulldoze school

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

In an unprecedented modus operandi, CPI(Maoist) rebels used earthmovers to destroy a school building in a marathon operation in neighbouring Chatra district, 64km from here, last evening.
According to eyewitnesses, around 150 men, clad in guerrilla fatigue and armed with semi-automatic weapons, led three bulldozers, which were being used to dig a pond in a nearby cluster, into Kaura village in Pratappur block around 6.30pm. They held around 40 people in the Kaura market at gunpoint and directed them to turn off mobile phones if any. While the petrified villagers watched, the Maoists commanded the drivers of the earthmovers to pull down every brick of the 10-room Kaura Government High School building situated in the heart of the market. By 9.30pm, the structure that once passed as school for 1,100 students was reduced to rubble.
Local residents alleged that though the Ghorighat police picket was barely 6km from the spot, a security team reached Kaura only at 2 ’ clock this afternoon. Sub-divisional police officer S.A. Rizwi confirmed the Maoist attack, saying area commander Ajay Ganjhu led the operation. “Raids have been launched in adjoining forests to nab the rebels,” he added, but did not delve into the charges of delayed action.
Sources in the police, meanwhile, admitted that Maoists had increased subversive activities in Chatra and Hazaribagh, and hinted at more violence in coming days. Last month’s attack on the camp office of GR Infraprojects in Morangi, Hazaribagh, where four dozen heavy vehicles were torched, was a definite pointer to rebels gaining lost ground in the region.
(  07/06/11, the Telegraph)


To regroup, SIMI taking help of Kerala Maoists?

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

The outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India and the Maoists have recently conducted a secret meeting in Kottayam district of Kerala, according to highly placed sources in the Indian intelligence agencies. The meeting was to formulate strategies for a joint action in Kerala. While both the groups had earlier met in Palakkad, this is the first time that such a meeting has taken place in central Kerala, sources pointed out.
Intelligence sleuths, who were tracking the movements of a couple who are allegedly leading the underground Maoist movement in Kerala, have found that SIMI activists were actually entering into some pact with the Maoists. The intelligence agencies are trying to find out as to what sort of understanding the two groups have. The view which is predominant among the intelligence officials is that the Maoist groups may be using the financial resources of SIMI.
In return they are providing safe halting places for the SIMI operators who arrive in Kerala from other parts of the country. With decades of underground activities, the Maoist groups are more familiar with stealth operations than SIMI operatives and this could be the major point of connection between the two. The SIMI is, according to sources, planning for some major terror operations in India and wishes to use Kerala as a safe haven.
Sources in the intelligence agencies are also of the opinion that several highly qualified youngsters drawn from different campuses across Kerala have joined Maoist movement in the state. The husband-wife duo who is allegedly heading the Maoist operation in Kerala is, according to intelligence sources, planning to conduct an overview of how things could be operated upon.
A top source in the state intelligence wing of the Kerala police while speaking to on conditions of strict anonymity said, “The police is gearing up for any eventuality and several people who have showed leaning to these groups are under our scanner.”
(  07/06/11, Rediff News)

35 detonators vanish from police custody

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Despite several terror alerts in the past few months, mystery shrouds the disappearance of 35 explosives, including ammonia nitrates and detonators, from police custody at Silvassa, barely 190 km from Mumbai. The cause of concern is that the corridor from Silvassa to Mumbai through the thick forests of Thane district is the breeding grounds of Naxal activities.

There is a strong possibility that the explosives may end up in the wrong hands and could be used in the city, said police sources. Special Inspector General of Konkan Range Param Bir Singh agreed that the areas adjoining Silvassa has a strong presence of naxal sympathisers.

However, there is very little to link them to the main hub of naxal activities in Maharashtra ruling out an armed struggle. The Ministry of Home affairs has ordered a high-level inquiry into the missing explosives. While investigators were unable to make any headway in the probe, the explosives that were in the custody of the police went missing mysteriously. There are strong reasons to suspect that some tainted policemen are supporting the naxals, police sources pointed out.

Inspector General of Police Muktesh Chandra was not available for comments despite repeated efforts yesterday. He did not reply to a text message. Social activist Jitendra Maru, who filed a RTI seeking details about the missing explosives has yet to get a reply from the district administration at Silvassa. “Everyone wants to bury the incident,” remarked Maru.

Local sources informed that anti-social elements in Silvassa, many having links with naxal groups, have been operating from the reserve forests adjoining the tiny Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. They are involved in rampant illegal mining and poaching in the area. A senior police officer pointed out that a thorough probe could lead to the source of the explosives. It is very likely that the suppliers could have terror links.

Ammonia nitrate, Gelatine sticks and detonators laced with high explosives like RDX and SEMTEX have been used in carrying out almost all the blasts like 7/11, Malegaon blast and Mulund train blasts in the past. The jungles in Silvassa are contiguously connected by a forest corridor to villages like Padga and Borivali, known for terror links. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway connects to suburbs like Mira Road, where some of the terrorists were holed up recently.

Arms cache

A huge cache of 35 detonators, gelatin sticks and large quantity of ammonia nitrate were seized from Umarkui and Sayli village in Silvassa on May 20. The Mamlatdar asked the local police to investigate into the matter after the explosives were found in a huge cavity near a famous resort.

The local police at Silvassa filed a FIR No 0033 (copy with MiD DAY) against an unknown suspect. The explosives were taken into custody for further investigations at the behest of the Collector Sanjay Goel. Goel was not available for comments despite repeated calls. He did not respond to a text message yesterday.
(  08/06/11, Mid Day)

HRW’s letter to PM encouraging: Geelani

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

The Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has described the Human Rights Watch’s letter to Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, as an encouraging and timely step. The veteran leader also urged the HRW to depute its team to Jammu Kashmir to assess the magnitude of human rights violations and play its role in providing protection to the civilians. 

In the letter to Dr Manmohan Singh, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday said India should live up to its legal and moral commitments after becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act in Kashmir. “AFSPA provides armed forces a license to kill anyone in Jammu Kashmir and the PSA is such a cruel law through which anyone can be put behind the bars for years together. The detention under this law cannot be challenged in the court of law,” Geelani said. 

Geelani said though the voice raised by the HRW was an encouraging and timely step, but there were apprehensions that India would not take it seriously. “For, Indian rulers are intoxicated by power and don’t care even a hoot for international community,” he said. He said that the Government of India has not taken any notice of the Amnesty International’s detailed report on PSA in which it had termed it a “Lawless Law”.
“Despite passing of three months since the AI released the report, no detainee serving detention under PSA has been released so far,” he said. Geelani claimed that there won’t be any change in the ground situation until International Forum takes serious steps to exert effective pressure on India. 

Meanwhile, Geelani has announced that he would himself visit the Martyrs’ Graveyard on June 11, Saturday, to participate in the Fateh Khawani being held for those who were killed in last three years in the Valley. “June 11, Saturday will be observed as Memorial Day in honour of all those who were martyred during peaceful struggle and on this day there will be complete state-wide shutdown. Special prayer meetings will be organized for all the martyrs. An oath of reaffirmation will be taken on the occasion to take mission of martyrs to its logical end,” Geelani said.
(  07/06/11, Greater Kashmir)

Kashmir panel dissatisfied with governance in valley, Omar Abdullah miffed

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has virtually snubbed the Kashmir committee led by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani by not meeting its members, prompting the senior BJP leader to launch a scathing attack on the state government today.
While the Jethmalani-led Kashmir committee met most of the separatist leaders and some mainstream politicians during its five-day visit to the valley which ended today, Abdullah did not meet the panel. “Omar Abdullah did not meet us. So, I cannot confront him. But I am really dissatisfied with the state of governance here,” Jethmalani told reporters in Srinagar.
He claimed that there were some clear cases of injustice which any chief minister should have taken care of. “There are obvious cases of innocents where even common sense cannot say that this man requires to be detained. How can you detain a man for 18 years without trial?” he asked.
On whether last year’s summer unrest was due to governance deficit, Jethmalani said, “To some extent, yes, and to some extent (because of) outside interference. Some fault may lie in Delhi…but basically the disease is local…it is local incompetence”. He said the situation in Kashmir was fraught with dangers and it can take an ugly turn. “All kinds of dangers can emanate if the situation continues. If people are unhappy, they can revert to other methods of settling the cases of injustice,” he said.
Abdullah’s apparent snub to the Kashmir committee was the second setback to the unofficial initiative for finding a solution to Kashmir issue. Earlier, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik refused to meet the committee saying it was responsible for the split in the separatist camp during its foray into interlocution in the valley in 2002.
(  06/06/11, DNA India)

The nation state and its territory

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

M.S. Prabhakara 

Every nation state, whether it formally came into being within living memory or has been a stable polity for centuries, views itself as a unique and inviolable territorial entity.
The nation state and its territory are symbiotically bound together, inseparable and inviolable. The diminishment of one leads inescapably to the diminishment of the other. This, the classic (and idealised) view of what constitutes the nation state, has remained more or less unchanged since the middle of the 17th century, despite the constant internal and external challenges to the supposedly inviolable territoriality of many sovereign nations, the changes that have come about in ‘unalterable borders,’ and the emergence of new nation states.
As explained in political science textbooks, the series of treaties known as the Westphalia treaties, which ended the Thirty Years War (1618-48), are the basis of the modern nation states in Europe. This concept has, over the years, acquired universal applicability and is now the foundational basis for modern nation states everywhere, including India. Over and above this is the Indian nationalist view that from times immemorial, India has been a civilisational state, Bharat Mata, mystically transcending the narrow legal definitions of European theorists of what constitutes the modern nation state.
This is not unique to India. Every nation state, whether it formally came into being within living memory or has been a stable polity for centuries, views itself as a unique and inviolable territorial entity. Many also evoke the image of the nation state as the Eternal Mother, especially in periods of national crisis.
Mother Russia remained a living idea even in the Soviet Union and was evoked by Stalin when the country faced great peril from the Nazi invasion. The territory where “not a blade of grass grows,” in Jawaharlal Nehru’s words half-a-century ago — or Siachen now — remains an area of contestation because of this inviolability of national territory. Thus the rhetoric of leaders at moments of foreign aggression: “We are not going to retreat from an inch of our territory.”
Interestingly, such passionate commitment to territoriality is not a unique expression of only an established nationhood. People struggling to attain nationhood are as fervid about the territory that is still in the realm of their imagination — imagined as part of their memory and aspirations, and not a reality on the ground that can be fought over — as established nation states.
The struggles for sovereignty going on in Assam and its neighbourhood in northeast India are a case in point. In popular perception, the whole region comprising seven States (with the artificial addition of Sikkim to the Northeastern Council, eight States) is aflame with violent separatist insurgencies. In reality, serious separatist or sovereignty struggles with some political and organisational substance to them, and a cadre trained in the use of arms to take forward such sovereignty aspirations, are a reality in only three States of the region — Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
While the leaders of the dominant separatist outfits in Assam and Nagaland are engaged in discussions with the Government of India — for over a decade in Nagaland — the situation in Manipur is rather more complicated. The prospect of such outfits in Manipur coming on board and talking to the government is now linked, in the view of the insurgent leaders — not all of whom are clear about their objectives or even their readiness to talk — to the Government of India accepting some preconditions. The most important of these is that the government must agree to hold “a plebiscite under international supervision” to ascertain the will of the people of Manipur on sovereignty and independence.
On the face of it, such a demand is unrealistic. It is also deeply flawed in its apparent perception that the “people of Manipur,” even those who have sovereignty aspirations, have a common perspective on sovereignty and independence. The fact is, the “people of Manipur” comprising three distinct communities do not share a common vision of their past or their future aspirations. The point hardly needs to be laboured.
However, this is not the place to discuss the nuances of sovereignty narratives of the region, every one of whose seven States, while unique, also shares a commonality of history and memories, and a measure of resentment against ‘India.’ Rather, in all States, the insurgencies have serious issues with others of their own kind, outfits that too are fighting the Indian state, on what constitutes the existing territory, and the territory of the putative sovereign and independent state that they aim to attain. In other words, while their principal contradiction is with the Indian state, there are serious problems over the territorial imagination of the mutually contending outfits.
The most striking of such contradictions prevails in Nagaland and Manipur. Nagaland is now one of the States of the Indian Union under the Constitution. It has all the formal appurtenances of a constituent State — executive, legislature, and judiciary, with Kohima having a Bench of the Guwahati high Court. However, the territorial imagination of the Nagaland government — its vision of what its territory should be — or of the political parties of Nagaland, including the Congress and the BJP (which had two Ministers in the previous National Democratic Alliance government), is no different from that of the three outfits fighting for or committed to Naga sovereignty. Each one of these claims nearly two-thirds of the territory of Manipur, to whose inviolability the government of Manipur is as fervently committed as the most uncompromising of separatist outfits fighting to secure Manipur’s sovereignty and independence.
These contradictions were sharply heightened during the prolonged blockade in April-May last year of NH-39, the principal point of entry into Manipur, by student groups in Nagaland protesting the Manipur government’s refusal to allow Thuingaleng Muivah, general secretary of NSCN (IM) to visit his ancestral village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district. Indeed, Nagaland has claims on the Changlang and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh, as well as the reserve forests on its border with Assam over which the armed police of the two States have fought pitched battles. It also has claims on Myanmar’s territory.
Territory is such an ‘emotive’ issue that even outfits with little muscle seeking greater autonomy within Assam, though the rhetoric remains sovereignty and independence, are hobbled by the territorial imperative. The demarcation of the boundaries of the territory of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD) is still not complete because of claims and counter claims and, more to the point, the reluctance of several villages on the border to be included. Violent separatist ‘roll call’ organisations (to borrow the terminology from Karnataka politics to designate groups engaged in extortion) in the two other autonomous districts, Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills, have unresolved territorial issues between themselves.
The Manipur government’s decision to upgrade the Phungyr sub-division of Ukhrul district, a key area of the future Nagalim dominated by Tangkhul Nagas, into a full-fledged district is opposed by the NSCN (IM), which runs the parallel government of the Peoples’ Republic of Nagaland (GPRN) on the ground that the State government cannot take even routine administrative initiatives in areas claimed by the NSCN (IM) to be part of the putative Nagalim.
In other words, territoriality is as central to established nation states that define themselves in terms of their territory, traced to the history and memories of the people, as to the organised or disorganised groups within the territories of a nation state seeking to challenge the territoriality of the larger structure, and carve out a separate territory for themselves. In turn, those who challenge the territoriality and lay claims on the territory of ‘existing nation states’ themselves have serious contradictions with others mounting similar challenges and, when these are weak, press hard on them. This Hobbesian conundrum is perhaps best summed up in these lines from the poem, On Poetry: A Rhapsody, by Jonathan Swift:
Hobbes clearly proves that every creature
Lives in a State of War by Nature.
The Greater for the Smallest watch,
But meddle seldom with their match …
So, Naturalists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey.
And these haves smaller Fleas to bite ‘em,
And so proceed ad infinitum:
(  08/06/11, The Hindu)

Categories: Articles/Op-eds

India’s corrupt protecting the terrorists

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

By M D Nalapat

PALANIAPPAN Chidambaram deserves credit for being open about acknowledging that the sole task of the government is to collect money from the people. This principle got completely enshrined in policy once Sonia Maino chose him as the Union Finance Minister in 2004. From then onwards, the collection agencies of the Government of India were set targets that they were asked to fulfill by using the coercive means at their disposal to the fullest. Anything beyond the target set could be shared among the officials, and this was no small figure, as the financial machinery of government was empowered by Chidambaram to confiscate, imprison and harass at will. As in the time of the British Raj, the country has been bled since 1947 for the benefit of its new rulers. And now the Nehru Era has given way to what may be described as the Maino Era.

That Sonia Maino has very little time for her so-called relatives on the Nehru side of the family is no secret. These unfortunates seldom get invited to Number Ten, and almost never to the holidays in the Maldives or off the coasts of Spain and France that are the locations for get-togethers with the extended branch of the Maino family. As for the Vadras, this clan too have been placed in the same bracket as the Nehrus, which is as a group to be largely ignored socially, even as one Maino after the other gets VVIP treatment in India courtesy the individual who is the fount of their prominence and prosperity, the charming and steely Sonia Maino. Under what provision of the Constitution of India the extended Mainos are given VVIP privileges at airports and elsewhere is not clear, but there must surely be some such provision that is not visible to the naked eye.

What is very clear is that the Maino Era has converted India into a land of scams. A few of these have come to light, although the overwhelming majority still remain hidden, locked up in the records of agencies that regard their foremost duty as the care, feeding and protection of a single clan. However, despite the complicity of the Indian media in this state of affairs, change seems to be beckoning. A second freedom struggle appears to be taking shape against India’s ruling elite. Civil society may be slowly getting astir about the volume of loot that is leaving the shores of the country. For the difference between other eras and that of the Mainos is that in this yuga, illegal cash mostly gets sent abroad, through hawala networks based in Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Dubai and Mauritius. Most such networks are linked to the unofficial headquarters of the South Asia hawala trade, the ISI. While Hassan Ali has been placed in jail—thanks to the patriotism and zeal of Chief justice Kapadia and his band of brother judges—there are dozens more still at large. They can be seen inside ministerial mansions or in 5-star hotels, and many take their orders from a shadowy fixer who doubles as a “political advisor” to a VVIP. This individual has intimate knowledge of the Nepal, Dubai and Mauritius hawala networks, although he is not familiar with the Malaysian and Thai networks, perhaps because the latter two are not as closely linked to the ISI.

However, despite his contacts and influence, this political fixer—sorry, advisor—is undisturbed by the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation and other agencies that are given the legal responsibility of taking action against illegal money transfers from India to foreign countries and vice-versa. It is this familiarity with hard cash and not any skill in politics that has enabled this fixer to remain at the core of governance in India since 2004. A check by the Intelligence Bureau into any of the nine mobile phones used by him would reveal details far more corrosive than the conversations of Niira Radia. However, for reasons that are opaque, the IB has refused to monitor the conversations and activity of this individual, just as it has been shooed off from intercepting the conversations and discovering the linkages of other key players within the ruling elite who are in close contact with ISI-directed hawala networks.

The arrest of an Al Qaeda operative from Kerala by the French authorities has shown the danger to national security posed by Home Minister Chidambaram’s policy of concentrating his attention only on protecting those close to The Madame, rather than focussing on those who are a threat to national security, including those at the higher rungs of certain political parties. That an Al Qaeda operative functioned freely in India was because of the lack of attention given to this network by the Union Home Ministry. Till today, none of this operative’s many associates in India have been rounded up or questioned. Nor has effective action been taken to discover and eliminate other Al Qaeda networks in India. Indeed, although agencies in Europe and the US have identified and apprehended more than a dozen suspected Al Qaeda operatives in India, thus so far the Home Ministry has not managed to locate even one such operative. We must remember that this is the same department of the Government of India that allowed David Headley to wander around unmolested in India. That allowed domestic networks to assist the ISI in executing the 26/11 Mumbai attack. There are more Headleys wandering around India, who are spotters for the ISI, but not a single one of them has been apprehended, except by foreign agencies, and that too only when these terrorists attempt to conduct operations elsewhere than in India.

These days, especially in UP, Maharashtra and Kerala, young people are being indoctrinated to join up with those who see Osama bin Laden as a hero. In this, they are in the same company as the All-India Congress Committee, whose general secretary mourned the demise of the Yemeni terrorist, even protesting against a burial at sea. Presumably, the AICC general secretary would have liked a state funeral for Bin Laden, presumably in India.

The fact that both India and Pakistan get their legal tender from the same European source makes it easy for the ISI to print fake notes and get them disseminated in India. Thus far, we have been told by the UPA’s Maino men that it is truck drivers and the like who distribute fake currency. This is true. Some truck drivers allow themselves to be carriers, and spread fake currency across the country. However, Chidambaram is silent about the biggest user of fake currency, which is the political class. In election time especially, hundreds of crores of rupees of fake currency come into the hands of political leaders, who distribute them to unwary electors. A check on the money seized by the Election Commission may be expected to reveal to a degree the extent of political patronage of the fake currency networks. Because of their need for such counterfeit notes, political leaders protect the networks that distribute them in bulk. In the process, they protect networks that use the profits from the fake currency racket to fund terror activities in India. Such networks also spend large sums seeking to fanatisise elements of the population in India, thereby enabling them to get recruited into Al Qaeda. Since 2003, the fact is that India has become an important base for Al Qaeda. And the reason for this is the protection given by important politicians to the hawala networks that they use to send currency to Nepal, Dubai, Malaysia, Thailand and Mauritius for onward transmission to Swiss and other banks.

Hassan Ali is not the only hawala operator.While civil society must remain vigilant against the efforts of Ali’s VVIP friends to release him from either prison or life, there must be a demand to discover the other Hassan Alis operating with impunity in India. Recently the Government of India announced—you guessed it—a “High Level Committee to Tackle Black Money”. And who are the members of this revolutionary committee? The same individuals who have, in their official capacities, failed so comprehensively to eliminate Black Money in India. Unless elements within Civil Society are given the legal power to initiate action, to expect a compromised and corrupted officialdom to unearth Black Money is to indulge in fantasy. Anna Hazare is right in demanding that Civil Society and not what is so inaccurately called a Civil Servant needs to undertake the job of cleansing the system.

It is an easy matter to discover the extent of illegal flows. All that is needed is to compare the amount paid for items such as petroleum products, machinery and aircraft by state entities in India and compare them with the prices charged to buyers in Europe or in North America. Take the case of the $ eight billion deal for Airbus aircraft that was signed by Air India in 2007. Usually, there is a five per cent (sometimes even higher) discount given to the purchaser of such aircraft. European airlines have reflected this discount in their figures for cost of purchase. Has Air India done the same? And if such a discount was not given to the airline, to whom has it been paid? We are not talking of peanuts here, but of $400 million even if only a five per cent discount was given. Also, Airbus had committed to build a Euro 100 million facility in India as a consequence of the order. Has such a facility come up? If not, why not? In the case of oil, why is it that the oil sent to India costs more than that sent to some European countries? Is there a hidden discount that is going to undisclosed quarters? The same can be said about Defense deals, where India gets charged much more than more advanced countries. What needs to be done is for the Supreme Court of India to set up a committee that will look into international prices for the big-ticket items procured by the Government of India, and ascertain if the price offered to India is higher. If it is, then the conclusion is obvious.

A database needs to get created of the friends and relatives of VVIPs, whether these be Indian citizens or not, whether these are resident in India or not. If individuals with no visible expertise suddenly become flush with funds and get contract after contract from sundry entities—as they did in the course of the Commonwealth Games—they need to be closely examined, in conjunction with the law enforcement authorities of the countries where they are residing. Because of the widespread use of hawala channels that are ISI-controlled, a presumption has to be made that Black Money sent abroad is linked to terror. A swarm of letters rogatory need to be sent, based on the information already available to the CBI, the ED, the DRI and other agencies, information that they are at present doing nothing about. The agencies get active only when exposed and never pro-actively. Even in the CWG and 2G investigations, sources in Mauritius and elsewhere claim that informal requests have been received from high levels in India “to go slow with the response” or even to “claim that the information is not available, or is incorrect”. Someday, a government will come that will have the will and the competence to undertake an enquiry into the loot of India that is taking place. Fortunately, in this era of electronic money transfers, proof will remain for long periods of time, as such records cannot be destroyed as easily as paperwork can.
(  07/06/11, Organiser)

Categories: Articles/Op-eds