1984 Sikh Massacre Remembered

Indira's Sikh assassins met swift justice, but the murderers of 3,870 innocent Sikhs still roam free a quarter of a century later. In addition to the Sikh pogrom, the year 1984 also saw a deadly gas leak in a factory owned by Union Carbide in Bhopal that killed over 2,000 people and left permanent injuries for many more for life.

In reaction to the Sikh killings in Delhi and other places, Indira's successor and son Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared at a massive rally in the capital that "once a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it shakes".

One of the worst massacres took place in two narrow alleys in India's capital New Delhi's poor Trilokpuri colony where some 350 Sikhs, including women and children, were casually butchered over 72 hours, according to media reports.

The charred and hacked remains of the hundreds of dead in Trilokpuri's Block 32 on the smoky and dank evening of 2 November 1984 were stark testimony to the unimpeded and seemingly endless massacre, according to the BBC.

Soon after news of Mrs Gandhi's killing by her Sikh bodyguards spread, Hindu mobs swung into action - like they did elsewhere in the city armed with voters' lists - in Trilokpuri against the low caste Sikhs inhabiting one-roomed tenements on either side of two narrow alleyways barely 150 yards long.

With local police connivance they blocked entry to the neighborhood with massive concrete water pipes and stationed guards armed with sticks atop them.

For the next three days marauding groups armed with cleavers, scythes, kitchen knives and scissors took breaks to eat and regroup in between executing their bloodthirsty mission.

The history repeated itself in Guj arat in 2002, only the pretext and the victims were different this time.

According to Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond, the names of the politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen who colluded in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 are widely known. Some of them were caught on video, in a sting carried out last year by the weekly magazine Tehelka, proudly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims. But, as Amnesty International pointed out in a recent report, justice continues to evade most victims and survivors of the violence. Tens of thousands still languish in refugee camps, too afraid to return to their homes.

People like Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, BJP leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi represent the ugly underbelly of Indian democracy and a threat to India's secularism. Modi is currently in power in Gujarat, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his participation in 2002 anti-Muslim riots resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims. Mr. Advani has been held responsible for the destruction of Babri mosque and subsequent anti-Muslim riots. Mr. Thackeray is considered responsible for major anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai and continues to terrorize any one who disagrees with him.

While the India's western supporters and government leaders paint a very rosy picture of India's prospects, it is important for Indians and others to understand that there are significant risks in India. For example, the extreme Hindu Nationalists are continuing to stir up trouble in many parts of India. According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence has affected 14 districts out of of 30 and 300 Villages in the Indian state of Orissa, 4,400 houses burnt, 50,000 homeless, 59 killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 priests/pastors/nuns injured, 18,000 men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 churches destroyed and 13 schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages. Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in refugee camps.

SM Mushrif, the author of "Who Killed Karkare?" and former police chief of Maharashtra state, has raised some very serious questions about the role of the Indian intelligence in the increasing violence committed by Hindutva outfits against India's minorities, and how India's Intelligence Bureau diverts attention from it by falsely accusing Indian Muslims and Pakistan's ISI, as was done in Malegaon and Samjutha Express blasts.

Mushrif alleges the involvement of both Police Chief Raghuvanshi and Col. Purohit with Abhinav Bharat in Maharashtra, whose hand was evident in a series of blasts across the country. It has old connections with men like Veer Damodar Savarkar (whose relative Himani Savarkar leads the Abhinav Bharat movement), Dr Munje, who led the Hindu Mahasabha, and other Hindutva luminaries. It is at the Bhonsala Military Academy run by these groups that Purohit trained police officers, including Raghuvanshi. Mushrif asks a pertinent question: Will Raghuvanshi pursue the investigation against Purohit, his guru? A plausible answer is, perhaps no. Already charges have been dropped by a special court under MCOCA against 11 accused, including Purohit, on the grounds of insufficient evidence produced in the court by the prosecution.

The violent Hindutva extremists represent a very serious threat to India's secular democracy, peace and stability. It is important for Prime Manmohan Singh's government to take seriously the warnings from patriotic Indians like S.M. Mushrif, Pankaj Mishra, Yoginder Sikand and others. Delhi needs to act by ordering a high-powered and comprehensive investigation into the allegations of the involvement of Intelligence Bureau and other Indian state officials in persecution of minorities in India.


Related Links:

Gujarat in 2002

21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Radical Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

India's Guantanamos and Abu-Ghraibs

Gujarat Muslims Ignored by Politicians

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Hindu Rashtra ideology was driving force for Malegaon conspirators

The Rise and Rise of Mangalore's Taliban

Who Killed Karkare?

Hindutva-Military-Intelligence Nexus

Malegaon Files

Samjhota Express Blast

Muslims Falsely Accused in Malegaon Blast

Hindu Nationalists Gang Up on Musharraf at Stanford

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Violence Against Indian Christians

Priest Survivor: Hindu Radicals are Terrorists

Gujarat Pogrom of 2002

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Anti-#Muslim Malegaon Accused #Hindu Nationalist Terrorist Sadhvi Pragya Denied Bail. #Modi #BJP #India http://www.ndtv.com/cheat-sheet/sadhvi-pragyas-bail-rejected-by-mumbai-court-in-malegaon-blast-case-1424419 … via @ndtv

Berating the NIA, the court said charges against Sadhvi Pragya under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act would stay.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that accusations against Pragya are prima facie true. It is difficult to accept the (bail plea) merely on the ground that the NIA has given a clean chit to Sadhvi Pragya," the court said.
The NIA had, in a new chargesheet last month, dropped charges against Sadhvi Pragya and five others citing lack of evidence against them.
The court said today that the NIA, which took over the case in 2011, launched a "fresh investigation" instead of taking forward the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad's work on the case.
Seven people were killed and 101 injured when two bombs fitted on a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon, around 270 km from Mumbai, on September 29, 2008.
Sadhvi Pragya, Army Colonel Srikant Purohit and others were arrested and were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group, Abhinav Bharat.
The Anti-Terror Squad said Sadhvi Pragya's motorcycle was used in the attack. It also alleged that Lt Col Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya had met Swami Aseemanand , the main accused in the Samjhauta Express blast of 2007, and plotted the Malegaon blasts. Many witnesses have since turned hostile.
The NIA said in its charge-sheet that "during investigation, sufficient evidences have not been found" against Sadhvi Pragya. It also said the motorcycle registered in her name was used by an accused who is missing.
Both the Sadhvi and Col Purohit, called the face of "saffron terror" by the Congress, have been in jail for about seven years now.
The case was first investigated by Hemant Karkare as the chief of Maharashtra's Anti-terror Squad. Mr Karkare was killed battling the Lashkar e Taiba terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008.

Riaz Haq said…
The hysteria over Bollywood’s baby Taimur shows that critics just don’t understand India’s medieval history by Shoaib Daniyal

http://qz.com/870136/the-hysteria-over-bollywoods-baby-taimur-shows-that-critics-just-dont-understand-indias-medieval-history/

Historical narratives are tricky things to construct, especially when people want to superimpose moral lessons on them. Who is a hero and who isn’t is extremely subjective and even more so when one goes as far back in time as the 14th century. The past truly is a different country and to make it fit modern standards of morality a fair bit of invention needs to be indulged in.

Let’s take a force that is near-universally seen as the good guys in popular Indian history: the Marathas. The Marathas were successful towards the end of the Mughal period, building up a confederation over large parts of the subcontinent. Of course, this was done through war and conquest, and in the chaos of the Mughal twilight, contemporary accounts of the Marathas are often rather negative, cutting across what we would today see as “Hindu” and “Muslim” sources.
In the 18th century, the Marathas invaded Bengal, killing, by one account, four lakh Bengalis. Repeated raids and conquests of Gujarat were also, as almost everything in medieval India, a rather violent affair. In another case, Maratha armies raided a thousand-year old Hindu temple to teach Mysore sultan Tipu Sultan–who was its patron–a lesson. The Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha state enforced untouchability so brutally that BR Ambedkar actually saw their defeat at the hands of the British to be a blessing.
Contemporary accounts of the Marathas in Bengal are obviously far from flattering. Similarly, as late as 1895, there were strong objections in Gujarat to the plans of Bal Gangadhar Tilak to institute a Shivaji festival across India, with the Deshi Mitra newspaper of Surat disparaging it as a “flare up of local [Marathi] patriotism”.
India’s medieval period did not have the sort of nationalisms and community mobilisation that modern India would see under the Raj. As newspapers and technology knit the people of India together, a Hindu consciousness would revise the image of the Marathas as “Hindu.” Calcutta city’s intelligentsia at the time, in fact, celebrated a Shivaji festival and the city still has statues of Shivaji. Gujarat, where Hindutva has been a powerful political force for decades now, has adopted Shivaji with even more gusto, building statues in cities like Surat, which, ironically, were sacked by the Maratha chief early on in his career. This confusion is nothing new. Today, Punjabi Muslims in Pakistan see themselves as inheritors of the Mughals but in 1857 signed up enthusiastically for the East India Company’s armies to defeat the Mughal-led revolt against the Raj.
That which we call a rose

Naturally, then, the name Shivaji or Bhaskar–a Bhaskar Pandit led the Maratha raids on Bengal–are hardly taboo in modern India, given this modern narrative of the Marathas.
Riaz Haq said…
S Khilnani Book: #India was "fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by #caste divisions, mired in poverty" http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/india-in-pieces … via @newyorker

Last year, a professor at the Indian Science Congress, in Mumbai, claimed that India possessed airplanes seven thousand years ago. He isn’t alone in such beliefs. When a certain swathe of India’s population considers the country’s ancient past, it doesn’t see a country fragmented into kingdoms, savaged by caste divisions, and mired in poverty; rather, what’s envisioned is a vast, unified Hindu empire stretching from Kashmir to the Indian tip at Kanyakumari. This imagined entity brims with characters from Indian epics and spits out grand inventions that would put scientists in the twenty-first century to shame—not only airplanes but cars, plastic surgery, and stem-cell research. What these Indians see, in other words, is an India that was once greater than any other nation on earth, and which has since fallen into a cruddy, postcolonial despair. Muslim and British invaders, they insist, have sapped the subcontinent’s energies over the past millennium.

This is a major strand of the nativist philosophy espoused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the flotilla of parties and social organizations that escorted him to power, in 2014. It is, in the rippling and echoing way of world events, in step with archaic right-wing movements everywhere—Make India Great Again would be a suitable slogan—and it is untroubled by facts. In the past year, right-wing mobs have lynched and beaten Muslims and Dalits (the former untouchables, who have often refused to be co-opted by upper-class-dominated Hindu nationalism) in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand for allegedly eating beef, a crime that these nationalists cannot condone after a millennium of their religion’s supposed persecution. (Hinduism has always been the majority religion on the subcontinent.) Dormant laws in Indian states banning cow-slaughter and beef consumption are now being enforced. In January, a Dalit Ph.D. student at Hyderabad University hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his room after right-wing groups bore down on him for his activism. Elsewhere, emboldened nationalist groups have intimidated fiction writers, scholars, and publishers into silence for wounding religious sentiments. Student protests are branded “anti-national” and slapped with sedition charges.

In India, right now, the past is violently alive, and it is being bandied about like a blunt instrument, striking down those who try to speak sense to the present or who try to point out that this past is itself a fiction.

One of the intellectuals involved in calling the right’s bluff is the Indian scholar Sunil Khilnani, who has just published an incisive work of popular history, “Incarnations: India in Fifty Lives.” Where the opposition is clamorous, the book is calm; where the opposition flexes its Vedic muscles, the book is undercutting, irreverent, and impish. It attempts to show, through prodigious but lightly worn scholarship, how complex and heterodox the Indian past was, and how it has been, and continues to be, constructed.

Khilnani begins with the Buddha, who lived around 500 B.C.E., and is thus, Khilnani writes, the “first individual personality we can recognize in the subcontinent’s history,” as well as an apostle of neutrality and nonviolence. The Buddha’s religion has receded in India, except as a balm to the Dalits, who escaped into it, and as a self-help tool for a sliver of the upper classes, who have embraced it the way that some people in the West do. Buddha prefigures many of the themes in the book. A sheltered man, he is moved by his first encounter with suffering, and leaves behind his wealthy family to wander India in the thrall of slowly budding new ideas. He is serene and centered amid violence. He is open-minded and against sects in a Brahmin-dominated society. He calls for a total reinvention of Hinduism—one that becomes its own religion.....
Riaz Haq said…
Stanford scholar Audrey Truschke on #Muslim rule in #India: #Mughal rulers were not hostile to #Hindus https://shar.es/1YGNDz via @Stanford

Truschke, one of the few living scholars with competence in both Sanskrit and Persian, is the first scholar to study texts from both languages in exploring the courtly life of the Mughals. The Mughals ruled a great swath of the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-18th centuries, building great monuments like the Taj Mahal.

Over several months in Pakistan and 10 months in India, Truschke traveled to more than two dozen archives in search of manuscripts. She was able to analyze the Mughal elite's diverse interactions with Sanskrit intellectuals in a way not previously done.

She has accessed, for example, six histories that follow Jain monks at the Mughal court as they accompanied Mughal kings on expeditions, engaged in philosophical and religious debates, and lived under the empire's rule. These works collectively run to several thousand pages, and none have been translated into English.

Truschke found that high-level contact between learned Muslims and Hindus was marked by collaborative encounters across linguistic and religious lines.

She said her research overturns the assumption that the Mughals were hostile to traditional Indian literature or knowledge systems. In fact, her findings reveal how Mughals supported and engaged with Indian thinkers and ideas.

Early modern-era Muslims were in fact "deeply interested in traditional Indian learning, which is largely housed in Sanskrit," says Truschke, who is teaching religion courses at Stanford through 2016 in association with her fellowship.

Hybrid political identity
Truschke's book focuses on histories and poetry detailing interactions among Mughal elites and intellectuals of the Brahmin (Hindu) and Jain religious groups, particularly during the height of Mughal power from 1560 through 1650.

As Truschke discovered, the Mughal courts in fact sought to engage with Indian culture. They created Persian translations of Sanskrit works, especially those they perceived as histories, such as the two great Sanskrit epics.

For their part, upper-caste Hindus known as Brahmins and members of the Jain tradition – one of India's most ancient religions – became influential members of the Mughal court, composed Sanskrit works for Mughal readers and wrote about their imperial experiences.

"The Mughals held onto power in part through force, just like any other empire," Truschke acknowledges, "but you have to be careful about attributing that aggression to religious motivations." The empire her research uncovers was not intent on turning India into an Islamic state.

"The Mughal elite poured immense energy into drawing Sanskrit thinkers to their courts, adopting and adapting Sanskrit-based practices, translating dozens of Sanskrit texts into Persian and composing Persian accounts of Indian philosophy."

Such study of Hindu histories, philosophies and religious stories helped the Persian-speaking imperialists forge a new hybrid political identity, she asserts.

Truschke is working on her next book, a study of Sanskrit histories of Islamic dynasties in India more broadly.

Indian history, especially during Islamic rule, she says, is very much alive and debated today. Moreover, a deliberate misreading of this past "undergirds the actions of the modern Indian nation-state," she asserts.

And at a time of conflict between the Indian state and its Muslim population, Truschke says, "It's invaluable to have a more informed understanding of that history and the deep mutual interest of early modern Hindus and Muslims in one another's traditions."

- See more at: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/september/sanskrit-mughal-empire-090915.html#sthash.Y7zZog9s.dpuf
Riaz Haq said…
The indignity of being #Muslim in #India. #BJP #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia
https://qz.com/1152569/the-indignity-of-being-muslim-in-india/

by Sahil Wajid

I have, over the years, endured considerable discomfort and faced discrimination on account of my Muslim name—despite being wholly irreligious, despite having had a sheltered upbringing in a big city and access to education and employment, and despite having had many Hindu friends over the years who stood up for me.

Extrapolating from these personal experiences beyond my narrow prism of privilege, I can only imagine the horrors that the less fortunate Muslim men and women in the Hindi heartland would have had to endure. Especially, those who try to exercise their so-called freedom of religion and, unlike me, choose to assert their religious identity.

Sure, they are free to practice their religion and there are no legal obstacles (at least not yet), but for minorities in general and the beleaguered Muslims in particular, what this freedom essentially translates into is little more than the freedom to suffer marginalisation and humiliation.

And most of them do not even have “secular” first names to hide behind.

-------------------


My first name was chosen by my mother because it was, as she put it, a “secular” name. Being a mildly religious woman, that really meant the name came as close as it could to a Hindu one, without sounding like a complete cop-out to some of her more orthodox Muslim relatives.

At any rate, it was better than the more spiritual name that my father, an atheist working at a bank, had in mind: Khusro, which, she said, would have been a pronunciation nightmare (besides being, as I later realised, egregiously Muslim-sounding).

While the turmoil of 1992 was still a few years away when I was born, my mother, unlike my father, seemed to have foreseen the times to come. However, as I was soon to find out, while first names can be chosen, there are no such secularising remedies for family names.

Delhi pejoratives
At my Delhi school one day, a seven-year-old in my class found out that my middle initial “A” stood for “Abdul.” He declared it was something to be ashamed about—rather viciously for his young age and in the unrelenting manner that children do when they pounce on an embarrassing secret. I realised at that early age that my Muslim surname was unlikely to ever be an asset and was best kept to oneself when it could be helped.

Subsequently, I introduced myself only by my first name. Once, when pressed, I lied about the “A” standing for “Agarwal,” before eventually dropping the inconvenient middle-name altogether. Of course, there were more such instances along the way to high school, from being

bestowed with nicknames pertaining to the

I introduced myself only by my first name.

stereotypical Muslim occupations, such as Darzi (tailor) and Naai (barber), to the now all-too-common Pakistani.

I also became familiar, much to the horror of my scandalised parents, with the more unsavory pejoratives for Muslim men, thanks to some of the older boys in my Delhi locality.

In college, stereotypes dressed as harmless “jokes” were routinely flung in one’s face. With my Muslim name, they came in the form of gags centered on terrorism—about hijacking small vehicles, a supposed proclivity for explosions, and so on. My surname provided a sustained spark for creativity of this kind, and not wanting to be perceived as unsporting and risk isolation, I played along.
Riaz Haq said…
#India: #Hindu man lynches #Muslim, has nephew make video of killing and shares it via WhatsApp, raises thousands of dollars. #Modi #BJP #Islamophobia #Hindutva

http://www.newsweek.com/man-filmed-killing-muslim-worker-and-burning-his-body-raise-money-and-become-748555

A Hindu man got his 12-year-old nephew to film him killing a Muslim laborer in India, in an attempt to raise funds for his anti-Islam camapign, according to police in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.

The suspect, Shambulal Regar, shared his bank account details along with videos of the murder that mainly circulated on Whatsapp and received 300,000 rupees ($4,665) from more than 700 people across India.

“The accused wanted to become a Hindu hero after killing a Muslim man; his main aim was to collect money after committing the hate crime,” police officer Anand Shrivastava told Reuters.

Police have since frozen his wife's bank account as more than 500 people pledged donations to Regar's legal defense, local media reported. His supporters also staged a demonstration on Thursday. Ensuing clashes injured at least 30 demonstrators and 20 police officers, and there were 50 arrests, authorities told local media.

The videos began circulating on December 6, the same day that a charred body was found by a passerby who informed the police. The victim was a laborer from the eastern Indian state of West Bengal who worked near the area where he was killed.

Regar was arrested the day after the body was found. Regar’s underaged nephew was also arrested last week as police said he was the one who shot the videos, The Indian Express reported.

In one of the videos, which have since been taken down, Regar is seen attacking the man with an iron rod and then stabbing him as he lies on the ground, local media reported. In another, he pours a liquid over the body of the man and then throwing a match on it as he rants about “jihadis.”

According to the police, the man described himself as a proud Hindu fighting against a “love jihad”—a term Hindu hardliners use to accuse Muslim men of marrying Hindu women to convert them to Islam.

The police don't believe Regar knew the victim of his hate crime, the latest in a string of attacks against India’s Muslim minority—less than 8 percent of the country’s 1.32 billion citizens—that has increasingly been the target of Hindu extremists.

Hindu vigilantes have killed at least 11 people this year whom they suspected of killing or eating cows, an animal that conservative Hindus consider sacred, according to data journalism organization IndiaSpend, and cow-related hate crimes have increased.

In one recent instance, a Muslim man was shot dead while transporting cows near the Rajasthan-Haryana border after he and his two aides were attacked by a group of people, as BBC reported in November.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has publicly condemned the cow-related violence, but his critics say he hasn’t done enough to stop the anti-Muslim attacks.

After Hindu vigilantes take the cows from Muslim farmers, these end up in cow shelters that often sell or give the stolen cattle to Hindu farmers, a practice that has seen a steep increase in states governed by Modi’s party, according to a Reuters investigation published last month.
Riaz Haq said…
#Bengaluru, #India: #Hindu Doctor forces #Muslim woman to chant 'Krishna Krishna'

https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/161217/bengaluru-doctor-forces-muslim-woman-to-chant-krishna-krishna.html

A woman has alleged that a government doctor forced her to chant “Krishna Krishna” to carry out a tubectomy surgery on her. The doctor, the woman claimed in her police complaint, threatened to cancel her surgery if she did not obey his order.

According to the complainant, Naseema Banu (22), a resident of Nandini Layout in Yeshwanthpur, she and her husband had decided that Naseema would undergo tubectomy surgery after the birth of their second daughter 10 months ago.

Knowing of a tubectomy surgery camp being held at Chintamani Government Hospital on Tuesday, Naseema, her husband and aunt left for Chintamani and enrolled her name in the hospital. After hours of waiting for her turn, when Naseema went to the operation area, she saw doctors asking patients to chant “Krishna Krishna” during the operation.

“I was asked to come for the surgery at 1 pm. The doctors operating on women were asking the patients to chant Krishna Krishna while being operated. As I was a Muslim, I started saying, Allah Allah, to which the doctors objected. I tried to convince them saying I am a Muslim and I cannot chant Krishna’s name, but the doctors refused to accept my explanation,” Naseema said in her complaint.

She further said that the doctors threatened to cancel her surgery if she did not chant “Krishna Krishna” and that she was forced into chanting it.

After the surgery, Naseema approached the Chintamani city police station and lodged a complaint, stating that her religious sentiments were hurt by the act of doctor Ramakrishna, who according to her forced her into chanting “Krishna Krishna”.
Riaz Haq said…
#samjhautablastcase: With ‘anguish’, NIA judge says crucial evidence was “withheld” by prosecutors resulting in ‘dastardly act’ going unpunished for want of proof. #Modi #Hindutva #terrorism #Islamophobia #Pakistan | #India News, The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/samjhauta-express-blast-with-deep-pain-and-anguish-nia-judge-says-dastardly-act-of-violence-unpunished-for-want-of-proof-5646743/

The court has also rapped the investigating agencies in general for what it called a "malaise" to "coin various terms like Muslim terrorism, Hindu fundamentalism etc or brand an act of criminal(s) as act(s) of particular religion, caste or community".

Coming down heavily on the NIA, the Panchkula special court judge, who last week acquitted all four accused in the Samjhauta Express blasts case, said he was doing it “with deep pain and anguish” because a “dastardly act of violence” was going unpunished.

In a 160-page order which was released Thursday — the verdict was delivered on March 20 — special NIA court judge Jagdeep Singh said the “best evidence” was “withheld” by the prosecution and was not brought on record. He said some of the cited independent witnesses were never examined or sought to be declared hostile for cross-examination when they chose not to support the prosecution case.

Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand, Kamal Chauhan, Rajinder Chaudhary and Lokesh Sharma were acquitted by the court on March 20. Sixty-eight people including 43 Pakistan citizens, 10 Indian citizens and 15 unidentified people were killed in the blasts which took place on the Attari-bound Samjhauta Express on February 18-19 night in 2007. Two explosions took place in two unreserved coaches between Diwana and Panipat in Haryana. Two bombs that did not go off were recovered later.

Three accused, Amit Chouhan (Ramesh Venkat Malhakar), Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, have been declared proclaimed offenders. Another accused, Sunil Joshi — the NIA called him the mastermind — was killed in December 2007 in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.

In his order, the judge said: “There are gaping holes in the prosecution evidence and an act of terrorism has remained unsolved. Terrorism has no religion because no religion in the world preaches violence. A Court of Law is not supposed to proceed on popular or predominant public perception or the political discourse of the day and ultimately it has to appreciate the evidence on record and arrive at final conclusion on the basis of relevant statutory provisions and settled law applicable thereto.”

“In the present case, there is no evidence regarding any agreement to commit the crime amongst the accused persons. There is no evidence regarding any meeting of minds between the accused to commit the crime. No concrete oral, documentary or scientific evidence has been brought on record to connect the accused, facing the trial, with the crime in question. There is not an iota of evidence to make out any motive on the part of the accused to indulge in the crime,” he said.

Observing that a large number of witnesses turned hostile in the case, the judge underlined the need for a sound and workable witness protection scheme in the country. Of 299 witnesses in the case, 224 deposed before the court. Of these, 51 were said to have turned hostile, changing statements recorded earlier.
Riaz Haq said…
In Samjhauta Case Order, Judge Expresses Anguish Over Lack Of Evidence

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/in-samjhauta-blast-case-order-judge-expresses-anguish-over-lack-of-evidence-2014365

"I have to conclude this judgment with deep pain and anguish as a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence," read the order, which rapped the prosecution for leaving gaping holes in the evidence it submitted.

The people responsible for the blast in Samjhauta Express, in which 68 people died, remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence, Special judge Jagdeep Singh wrote in the 160-page order which was made public today. The four men accused in the case, including Aseemanand, a saffron-robed monk, were acquitted by the court on March 20.
The blast on February 18, 2007, had ripped apart two coaches as the Samjhauta Express, reached Panipat. The train was on way from Delhi to Pakistan's Lahore, and those who died were mostly Pakistan nationals.

Four years later, the National Investigation Agency had filed a case against eight people, including Aseemanand.

The agency said the accused were upset with the terror attacks on several temples - including the Gujarat's Akshardham, Jammu's Raghunath Mandir and Varanasi's Sankat Mochan Mandir - wanted to avenge them. Only four were brought to trial - one of the accused died and three others could not be arrested.

"I have to conclude this judgment with deep pain and anguish as a dastardly act of violence remained unpunished for want of credible and admissible evidence," read the order, which rapped the prosecution for leaving gaping holes in the evidence it submitted.

The judge also criticised the investigating agencies for coining terms like "Muslim terror" or "Hindu fundamentalism".

"It is generally noticed that a malaise has set in the investigating agencies which coin various terms law Muslim terrorism, Hindu fundamentalism etc or brand an act of criminal(s) as act(s) of particular religion, caste or community," read the order.

The court said that criminals cannot be projected as representatives of the religion, caste or community they belong to. Such branding is totally unjustified, the court added.

Highlighting that many of the witnesses turned hostile during trial, the judge said in the order that a system should be developed to protect witnesses.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed concerns about safety and protection of witnesses and "therefore it is again high time we put in place some sound and workable witness protection scheme at the earliest so that every criminal trial be taken to its logical conclusion," read the order.
Riaz Haq said…
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has earmarked Rs1,000 million for the development of Kartarpur in the Federal Budget 2019-20.

The funds will be used for land acquisition and development of infrastructure of Kartarpur under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the next financial year 2019-20.

According to the data released by Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, the estimated cost of the project is Rs3,000 million for the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

The Kartarpur Corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province holds religious significance for the Sikh community. It is where Baba Guru Nanak settled down after his travels as a missionary. He lived there for 18 years until his death in 1539.

Pakistan will build a corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.

In November last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan had laid the foundation stone for the corridor. Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Indian Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Indian Minister for Housing Hardeep S Puri had attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
Riaz Haq said…
Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-india

The morning of Shah’s arrest, Ayyub awoke to find that her reporting was the top of the news. A popular television anchor read the entirety of one of her pieces on the air. “I was just a twenty-six-year-old Muslim girl,” she said. “I felt people would finally see what I can do.” Her stories, along with others, set off a series of official investigations into the Gujarati police, who were suspected of killing more than twenty people in “fake encounters.” But, she thought, even Shah was not the ultimate kingpin. Her source had told her that the police were under intense pressure to stall the investigation and to hide records from federal investigators—suggesting that someone powerful was trying to squelch the case. The headline of one of her stories was “so why is narendra modi protecting amit shah?”

Despite the evidence piling up around Modi, he only grew stronger. Increasingly, he was mentioned as a candidate for national office. In 2007, while running for reĆ«lection as Chief Minister, Modi taunted members of the Congress Party to come after him. “Congress people say that Modi is indulging in ‘encounters’—saying that Modi killed Sohrabuddin,” he told a crowd of supporters. “You tell me—what should I do with Sohrabuddin?” he asked.

“Kill him!” the crowd roared. “Kill him!”

Within a few weeks of Shah’s arrest, Ayyub hit on an idea for a new article: “If I can go after Shah, why not Modi?” She told her editors at Tehelka that she suspected Modi of far graver crimes than previously reported. If she went undercover, she argued, she could insinuate herself into his inner circle and learn the truth.

In the United States, it is a cardinal rule of journalism that reporters shouldn’t lie about their identity; undercover operations tend to be confined to the industry’s yellower margins. In India, the practice is more common, if still controversial. In 2000, Tehelka sent a former cricket player, wearing a hidden camera, to expose widespread match-fixing and bribery in the sport. Later that year, two reporters posing as representatives of a fake company offered to sell infrared cameras to the Ministry of Defense. Thirty-six officials agreed to take bribes; the Minister of Defense resigned.

Tarun Tejpal, Tehelka’s editor, told me that he authorized stings only when there appeared to be no other way to get the story. In this case, he said, “Modi and Shah were untouchable. The truth would never come out.” He told Ayyub to go forward.

As she began reporting, Ayyub created an elaborate disguise, designed to appeal to the vanities of Gujarat’s political establishment. “Indians have a weakness for being recognized in America,” she said. “The idea that they would be famous in the United States—it was irresistible to them.” She became Maithili Tyagi, an Indian-American student at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles, visiting India to make a documentary. She invented a story about her family, saying that her father was a professor of Sanskrit and a devotee of Hindu-nationalist ideas. Ayyub, who has distinctive curly hair, straightened it and tucked it into a bun. She rehearsed an American accent, and, for added verisimilitude, hired a French assistant, whom she called Mike. Only her parents knew what she was doing; she stayed in touch on a separate phone.

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