Wednesday, March 30, 2016

[National Election Watch news] Press Release: Assam Assembly Elections (Phase 1)

Dear Friends,

Assam Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have analysed the self-sworn affidavits of all 539 candidates who are contesting in the first phase of Assam Assembly Elections to be held on 04 April 2016. Please find below details of the criminal background of these candidates. 
Criminal Background

·         Candidates with Criminal Cases: Out of all the 539 candidates, 30 (6%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

·         Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: 25 (5%) candidates have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc.

·         Candidates with cases related to murder: 2 candidates have declared cases related to murder (Indian Penal Code Section-302). Kushal Dowari of the BJP from Thowra constituency has declared 1 charge related to murder.  Janardan Hazarika, of Independent from Amguri constituency has declared 1 charge related to murder.

·         Candidates with cases related to Attempt to Murder: 1 candidate namely Kushal Dowari of BJP from Thowra constituency has declared 1 charge related to attempt to murder (Indian Penal Code Section-307).

·         Candidates with cases related to Crimes against Women: 1 candidate namely Ibungobi Singha an Independent from Sonai constituency has declared 1 charge related to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (Indian Penal Code Section-354).

·         Candidates with cases related to Kidnapping: 1 candidate namely Abdul Ahad Choudhury an Independent from Karimganj North constituency has declared 1 charge related to Kidnapping for ransom, etc. (Indian Penal Code Section-364A).

·         Party wise Candidates with Criminal Cases: 8 (12%) out of 65 candidates from Indian National Congress (INC), 3 (6%) out of 54 candidates from Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), 3 (11%) out of 27 candidates from All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), 1 (10%) out of 10 candidates fielded by Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M), 1 (17%) out of 6 candidates from Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (Liberation) (CPI(ML)(L)), and 14 (5%) out of 280 Independent candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

·         Party wise Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: 6 (9%) out of 65 candidates from INC, 3 (6%) out of 54 candidates from BJP, 2 (7%) out of 27 candidates from AIUDF, 1 (17%) out of 6 candidates fielded by (CPI(ML)(L), and 13 (5%) out of 280 Independent candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

·         Red Alert Constituencies*: 3 constituencies namely Karimganj North, Sonai and Hailakandi in First Phase of Assam assembly elections have 3 or more candidates with declared criminal cases. *Red Alert Constituencies are those which have 3 or more candidates with criminal cases contesting elections.

Media and Journalist Helpline

 +91 80103 94248


Monday, March 28, 2016

Rajmohan Gandhi responds to PM Modi’s question on why BR Ambedkar resigned in 1951

In his new book Understanding the Founding Fathers (Aleph), writer and historian Rajmohan Gandhi attempts to answer questions, such as: Would someone like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel have led India better than Jawaharlal Nehru did? Was Mohandas Gandhi a Hindu revivalist? In an email interview with Charmy Harikrishnan, the grandson and biographer of the Mahatma answers PM Narendra Modi's question on why BR Ambedkar resigned in 1951; comments on the Modi government's selective appropriation of Gandhi and other national heroes; and compares the present-day rhetoric on nationalism and "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" with the founding fathers' views. Edited excerpts:

You frame this book as a response to questions posed by two disparate individuals, Swami Sachidanand from Gujarat and Professor Perry Anderson from the University of California. Why did you choose these two characters?Actually, the criticisms of Gandhi and Nehru levelled by Swami Sachidanand and Professor Perry Anderson cancelled one another. However, answering them was useful. It produced a reminder of the exceptional leadership that Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Patel and Ambedkar gave to India between 1946 and 1951. My wish to answer the criticisms was independent of present-day rhetoric. The record of that old period simply needed to be set straight. None of the four figures mentioned above was perfect, but they comprised a superb team that gave our republic a start we can be proud of. A reminder of their words also serves as an antidote to some of today's toxic rhetoric. This book is a welcome by-product.

How valid is Modi's and the Sangh Parivar's belief that Patel would have made a better PM than Nehru, not least because Patel died in 1950?
An imagined Patel 10 or 20 years younger than he was in 1947 may well have made a wonderful PM, and possibly a better PM than Nehru. But the actual Patel of 1947, who was 14 years older than Nehru, was too unwell to be PM. Two months before his death in December 1950, he said that the choice of Nehru as PM had been the right one. Can anyone claim that Patel made that remark only to please someone? That would only be slandering the great man, whose tongue was always true to his mind. With all the friction between them, Nehru and Patel were, above all, partners who wonderfully complemented each other with their gifts and also their constituencies. Nehru carried the masses and the intellectuals with him, and Patel carried the party and the civil services. Their supposed rivalry was not even a tenth as important as their collaboration. Moreover, in 1946-47 the people of India loved Nehru and overwhelmingly wanted him as PM. Between 1947 and 1950, no one, neither Patel nor anyone else, suggested that Patel should have been PM. It was only decades later that hypothetical and pointless 'if only' questions were introduced.

FM Arun Jaitley said that 'the ideology of nationalism guides our beliefs and philosophy'. How different is this from the founding fathers' view of nationalism?
Gandhi's understanding of nationalism as expressed in Hind Swaraj in 1909, more than 100 years ago, never changed. He wrote then: 'India cannot cease to be one nation because people belonging to different religions live in it... Those who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere with one another's religion... In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India.' As for Ambedkar, this is what he wrote in a preface dated January 1, 1945, to the second edition of his significant book, first published in 1941, Thoughts on Pakistan: 'It is a pity that Mr Jinnah should have become a votary and champion of Muslim Nationalism at a time when the whole world is decrying against the evils of nationalism... But isn't there enough that is common to both Hindus and Musalmans, which if developed, is capable of moulding them into one people?... If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country...' Compare the Sangh Parivar's view of nationalism with these two conceptions and draw your own conclusions.

Should a refusal to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai be considered as disrespect to the Constitution?
When demonstrators in Mumbai supporting the abortive naval mutiny of February 1946 tried to force Mumbai-wallahs to shout Jai Hind, Gandhi responded by saying that to 'compel a single person' to 'shout Jai Hind' was to drive a nail 'into the coffin of Swaraj in terms of the dumb millions of India' (Harijan, March 3, 1946). Bharat Mata Ki Jai was favoured by many of our founders. I do not know whether Dr Ambedkar was enamoured of it. But forcing, coercing, or compelling anyone to recite any slogan, no matter how noble, is a violation of the constitutional guarantee of free speech, which includes the right to remain silent. Forcing you or me to say something is the only issue here, not the nobility of a slogan. When compulsion is legitimised, the weak — the helpless, the excluded, Dalits — are the worst sufferers. Then you are empowering the bullies.

What do you think of the selective appropriation of the founding fathers by the Sangh Parivar and the BJP government — when Gandhi's cleanliness is celebrated but not his pluralism; when Ambedkar is lauded in broad terms but his rejection of Hinduism is swept under the carpet?
This double-speak is so obvious. Still, I welcome the selective praise given by the Hindu Right to Gandhi and Ambedkar. It gives everyone the chance to ask leaders of BJP and the Sangh Parivar at any level, local, state or national: 'What do you think of Gandhi's insistence on pluralism? What is your comment on Ambedkar's apprehensions of Hindu Raj?'

PM Modi said at the 6th Ambedkar lecture: 'Why was it that Dr Ambedkar had to resign from the ministry? This part of history is either forgotten or diluted.' How do you respond to that? 

That resignation, which occurred in 1951, was indeed unfortunate. But why did Ambedkar resign? Because an obdurate Hindu Right (which had its presence in the Congress as well) was pressurising Nehru against the Hindu Code Bill which was piloted by Ambedkar with Nehru's strong support. Even when mouthed for purely political reasons, expressions from the Hindu Right in support of Dalit rights, and for equality among Hindus, should be welcomed. Yet a key question must be asked. Will the Hindu Right also demand justice for Muslims? Or does it only long for an anti-Muslim 'consolidation' of Hindus? The Hindu Right should ask itself: Why did Gandhi, and Ambedkar, and Patel, and Nehru, all four of them, oppose Hindu Raj? Why did they find Hindu Raj very different from liberty and justice for all?

What do you make of the persecution of Kanhaiya Kumar, on the charges of being anti-national, and the celebration of him?
It is only on TV that I have seen and heard Kanhaiya Kumar. He seems to be remarkably clear in his thinking and wise in his speaking, and remarkably resilient as well. Many, including me, have high expectations from him. I pray that he will remain true to himself and will neither be cowed down by attacks nor fooled by praise. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

On paper, electrified villages — in reality, darkness

Haldu Khata, a village in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh, is one of the 7,008 villages that the government claims to have “electrified” in the last year, under the Modi government’s flagship scheme of rural electrification, Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana. However, according to the government’s own field engineers, there is no electrical infrastructure in the village. Similarly, Dimatala in Assam, Kadam Jheriya in Chhattisgarh, Buknari in Bihar and Sunwara in Madhya Pradesh are misclassified as electrified villages in government books. These are not exceptional cases. The Hindu’s analysis of rural electrification data shows that the number of villages said to be electrified in the last year is exaggerated.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech of 2015, had announced that all remaining villages would be electrified within 1,000 days. As of April 1, 2015, according to government numbers, 18,452 Indian villages were still un-electrified. Note that a village is considered electrified if public places in the village and 10 per cent of its households have access to electricity.
To make the process transparent, real-time data on villages being electrified has been made available to the public through a mobile app and a Web dashboard called GARV. The platform was launched in October 2015. Alongside, 309 Gram Vidyut Abhiyantas (GVAs) were deployed by the government to monitor the electrification process and enter the data on the GARV application.
Discrepancies galore

One major source of discrepancy is regarding those villages where the GVA has noted that the village is un-electrified, yet it is counted as electrified on the app. The Hindu was able to spot over 30 such villages on the app after scanning through GVAs’ comments. When this discrepancy was pointed out, a senior official of the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), the nodal agency for rural electrification which functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Power, said: “We put a lot of emphasis on photos. If there is a pole and distribution line visible in the photos, we call it electrified.” This perhaps could be one of the reasons leading to the inflated number, as the presence of electrical infrastructure doesn’t automatically translate into electrification.
A GVA from Pagara Buzurg village in Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh told The Hindu that the contractor did set up power lines in the village but they were stolen before they could be charged, and now there is no electricity in the village. Neither does a conductor exist there. For Birni village in Giridih, Jharkhand, the GVA remarks: “Work not started. Village located in remote location. No roads to reach. Situated on mountains..naxalite affected area (sic).” Both villages are counted as electrified villages.
Conversations with GVAs reflect the gap between official data and ground realities. The Hindu found 342 villages where the status marked by the GVA was ‘e0’, which means un-electrified (‘ee’ and ‘en’ mean electrified). And yet, in the ‘overall’ category, all of these villages have been marked as electrified.
Further, as of March 10, 2016, for around 300 villages, the status said: “Village declared electrified by discom [power distribution company]. GVA yet to visit the village for verification.” This indicates that villages have been declared as electrified without waiting for the government’s own representative’s verification, rendering the monitoring system redundant. For many others, a pattern is observed where the date of electrification is way before the first visit made by GVA. And further, if the GVA marks it as un-electrified after visiting, the status is not updated from ‘electrified’ to ‘un-electrified’.
Another concern is that uninhabited villages have been marked as electrified. The villages Panalomali, Kusadangar, Patyetapali in Odisha and Sunwara in Madhya Pradesh — all counted as electrified villages — have no people residing there. Reading comments in the application, more such villages were found by The Hindu, such as Akbarpur in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, which is a forest area.
Statistical jugglery

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech of 2016 said that the number of villages electrified in the last year was more than the combined number in the past three years. This claim may not be true, as The Hindu found that of the 7,000-plus villages said to be electrified last year, 3,604 villages were assigned the status, “Village found electrified during the survey.” This means that these villages were found electrified when GVAs first visited there. The REC official explained, “It is difficult to say when the work was done as the GVA visits started in October 2015. It could have happened after April 2015 (when the list of un-electrified villages was prepared in consultation with State governments), maybe two years ago or even earlier.” Conversations with GVAs and comments from the dashboard indicate that perhaps even the list of un-electrified villages was an overestimate. For instance, Changlang (Arunachal Pradesh) was electrified in 2001, Farbandhia Kahar (Assam) in 2012 and Mahdaili (Bihar) in 2013. But they were shown as un-electrified on the April 2015 list. It is also worth noting that work is ongoing even in villages declared as electrified; called “intensive electrification”, this aims to cover all households and not just 10 per cent.
A detailed questionnaire mailed to the REC on March 19 seeking its official response went unanswered.
The count of villages being electrified, ticking upward every day in the GARV application — extensively shared by Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on social media and cited by Prime Minister Modi in his speeches — is thus not a guarantee that all villages being claimed as electrified are actually so.
Some thing like the song in the Opera "Christoper Columbus" we had in school, with Anthony Gasper playing the part of Columbus.
Remember the song,
"So we say we have an army in the air,
When we really know there is no army there"
When will Modi's Jhumla end - never. As long as there are fools to believe him.
He seems to have mastered the art of fooling all his bhakts, all the time.

How Putin has changed the future of oil

On September 30, 2015, when Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised the world by sending in his air force to help out his beleaguered ally, Syria’s President Bashar-al-Assad, no one really expected a country fighting western sanctions, plummeting oil prices, falling ruble and domestic anxieties to become militarily adventurous.
It did not make sense to many strategists in western capitals why Putin should go to war when oil revenues had fallen so precipitously.
Five months after Russia’s triumphant stay in Syria where it changed the course of this messy war; it has managed to bring in more sanity to a volatile oil market.
The day Putin announced his military intervention, oil prices were $47 per barrel, which is far below the $100 mark, considered to be the level at which Russian development budget and its economy could be viable.
After sanctions, Russian economy had contracted by 4 per cent and soft crude oil prices were adding to its discomfiture. US President Barack Obama, too, could not conceal his surprise at Russia’s audacity when he said that they would not succeed in Syria and would get stuck in a “quagmire”.
A cheap war
Earlier in 2015, Obama had said that the Russian economy was in tatters after the sanctions. He did not bring in the issue of soft oil prices, but there were many takers for the theory that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer of crude oil, was party to the grand conspiracy to hurt Russia by flooding the market with oil and hammering down its prices.
There were other implications of Saudi’s obduracy not to bring down oil production: destroy shale oil industry of US, hurt Iran’s attempt to rebuild its economy by raising its production to pre-sanctions level.
How was Russia supposed to fund its Syrian operations? Fresh from its success in acquiring Crimea and stirring trouble in Eastern Ukraine by deploying what is known as “hybrid war”, Russia was confident of using its state of the art weaponry to change the balance of war in the West Asian country.
Russian economy watchers claim that most of the expenses of the intervention were met from its military budget as it involved using only a few aircrafts — about 40 bombers and fighters — and missiles that were near expiry date as they had not been used since the collapse of Soviet Union.
So in some ways, Russia mounted a war, which was inexpensive and managed to provide Moscow dividends far beyond everyone’s expectations.
Russian military strategists and intelligence were justifiably of the belief that the Islamic State’s war against the Syrian government was bankrolled by the smuggling of crude oil to Turkey. There were a number of commentaries available on Russian news sites on how smuggled cheap oil was dampening global oil prices.
Shift in balance
This was a lot of hogwash, but the Russians found plenty of reasons to target the long lines of crude-laden oil convoys snaking into Turkey. Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu briefed Putin on March 14, the day the decision was taken to withdraw the Russian forces.
Shoigou said their military had “hindered… resource support to the terrorists” by intercepting hydrocarbon trade to Turkey. “209 facilities for producing and processing and transferring of fuel were destroyed by the air force along with 2,912 sources of petroleum delivery (read trucks),” he said.
The Russians also managed to help the Syrians re-establish control over oil fields near Palmyra, which has been brought back to production. The Russian operations aggravated tensions with Turkey, which has been trying for Assad’s overthrow.
After notching significant military victories in Syria, Putin managed to broker a ceasefire with the help of the US, which has tenuously held on for more than three weeks now.
The shift in military balance also helped in kick-starting a moribund peace process in Geneva in which nearly all the important players are taking part, including the pugnacious Saudi Arabia, which does not want to deal with Assad’s government.
Russian presence in Syria has had a sobering influence at another level. A month before Moscow decided to bring down the curtains on their five-month-long campaign, Russia managed to hammer out a significant deal with the Saudis. Along with Venezuela and Qatar, they managed to freeze oil production at the peak of January 2016.
Deals and after
The impact of this agreement was that oil prices stopped sliding below $30 per barrel and began to inch up slowly. On the day Putin announced the withdrawal of his military, oil was in the vicinity of $40 per barrel. In real terms, it may have slid about $7 from the time the Russian air force went in to bomb the rivals of Assad in September 30, 2015, but clearly the prices would have gone lower if the Russians had not cobbled a deal with the Saudis.
What threatens to upset this deal is the outright rejection by the Iranian’s who want to increase their oil production to four million barrels of oil every day to fund their post-sanctions development programmes. They would not want a Russia-Saudi deal to cramp them in anyways, but some analysts claim that Tehran may not have an option but to fall in line.
The reason for this again lies in how Russia has managed to establish itself as a factor in West Asia. The US may hate doing that but the Russians have compelled them to back them in their fight against the Islamic State and also served to check Saudi Arabia’s desperate attempts to preserve its hegemony over the Sunni world.
At the face of it, the Saudis have put together a grand Sunni coalition along with the Turks and other countries to ostensibly fight the IS, but quite clearly, they would like to use their enormous money and muscle power to oust Assad, who has the backing of Iran and the Hezbollah.
The only reason why they have not attacked Syria after being so hawkish, is due to the looming presence of Russia and its promise to re-assemble their forces in Syria within a few hours if the ceasefire is violated or Syria’s sovereignty is threatened.
This worries the Saudis and the Turks, but also makes Iran conscious of the high stakes Moscow has in freezing oil production. Surely, Iran would not like to antagonise the Saudis and Russia at the same time. It is in this calculation lies the future stability of oil.
The writer is Editor, HardNews

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dentist beaten to death in Delhi road rage

In an incident of road rage, a 40-year-old dentist was beaten to death with hockey sticks and iron roads by over a dozen men outside his residence in Vikaspuri in the early hours of Thursday. The incident was preceded by a scuffle between the victim, Pankaj Narang, and two of the accused who brushed past him on their bike.
According to the police, the incident took place around 12:15 a.m. when the two bike-borne men brushed past him and he asked them to drive properly. A scuffle broke out between Mr. Narang and the duo.
They left their motorcycle outside Mr. Narang’s house, only to return with 13 others, all of them armed with sticks and rods, said the police.
“They then repeatedly attacked Narang with the rods and sticks causing blunt injuries all over, including on the head as he started bleeding,” said a police officer.
Due to the sheer size of the mob and the aggression with which they were attacking the victim, his family members, witness to the crime, could not intervene, said sources.
Once the attackers left, the police was called and Mr. Narang was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared brought dead.
Police sources say that eight accused have been held while efforts are on to trace the rest.
A police officer said all the accused have been identified and live in the same area working as e-rickshaw drivers and mechanics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Islamic State claims deadly bombings in Brussels

Islamic extremists struck on Tuesday in the heart of Europe, killing at least 31 people and wounding scores of others in back-to-back bombings of the Brussels airport and subway that again laid bare the continent’s vulnerability to suicide squads.
Bloodied and dazed travellers staggered from the airport after two explosions at least one blamed on a suicide attacker and another reportedly on a suitcase bomb tore through crowds checking in for morning flights. About 40 minutes later, another blast struck subway commuters in central Brussels near the Maelbeek station, which sits amid the European Commission headquarters.
Authorities released a photo taken from closed-circuit TV footage of three men pushing luggage carts, saying two of them apparently were the suicide bombers and that the third dressed in a light-coloured coat, black hat and glasses was at large. They urged the public to contact them if they recognised him. The two men believed to be the suicide attackers apparently were wearing dark gloves on their left hands.
In police raids across Brussels, authorities later found a nail-filled bomb, chemical products and an Islamic State flag in a house in the Schaerbeek neighbourhood, the state prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
In its claim of responsibility, the Islamic State group said its members detonated suicide vests both at the airport and in the subway, where many passengers fled to safety down dark tunnels filled with hazy smoke from the explosion in a train pulling away from the platform.
European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks and warned that IS was actively preparing to strike. The arrest Friday of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought and that some are still on the loose.
“In this time of tragedy, this black moment for our country, I appeal to everyone to remain calm but also to show solidarity,” said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, who announced three days of mourning in his country’s deadliest terror strike.
“Last year it was Paris. Today it is Brussels. It’s the same attacks,” said French President Francois Hollande.
City-wide lockdown
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level, shut the airport through Wednesday and ordered a city-wide lockdown, deploying about 500 soldiers onto Brussels’ largely empty streets to bolster police checkpoints. France and Belgium both reinforced border security.
Medical officials treating the wounded said some victims lost limbs, while others suffered burns or deep gashes from shattered glass or suspected nails packed in with explosives. Among the most seriously wounded were several children.
The bombings came barely four months after suicide attackers based in Brussels’ Molenbeek district slaughtered 130 people at Paris nightspots, and intelligence agencies had warned for months a follow-up strike was inevitable. Those fears increased following Abdeslam’s arrest in Molenbeek, along with police admissions that others suspected of links to the Paris attacks were at large.
A high-level Belgian judicial official said a connection by Abdeslam to Tuesday’s attacks is “a lead to pursue.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Abdeslam has told investigators he was planning to “restart something” from Brussels, said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders. He said Sunday that authorities took the claim seriously because “we found a lot of weapons, heavy weapons in the first investigations and we have seen a new network of people around him in Brussels.”
While they knew that some kind of extremist act was being prepared in Europe, they were surprised by the size of Tuesday’s attacks, said Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon.
“It was always possible that more attacks could happen, but we never could have imagined something of this scale,” he said.
Officials at the airport in the Brussels suburb of Zaventem said police had discovered a Kalashnikov assault rifle and an explosives-packed vest abandoned at the facility, offering one potential lead for forensic evidence. Bomb disposal experts safely dismantled that explosive device.
Shockwaves from the attacks crossed the Atlantic, where city and airport officials at several U.S. cities increased security force deployments and raised security levels. A U.S. administration official said American intelligence officers were working with European counterparts to try to identify the apparently skilled bomb-maker or makers involved in the Brussels attacks and to identify any links to bombs used in Paris.
Let this be an eye-opener for those who were advocating that refugees from the ISIS affected countries should be allowed freely to enter Europe and the USA and putting pictures of children drowning while trying to enter.
I would suggest that all refugees should be stopped. I suppose this will give a greater impetus to the candidature of Donald Trump. I would have supported him, if in the US.
I too wish we were stricter in admitting people from Bangladesh and Pakistan but then our corrupt BSF takes money from them and allow them to enter freely and our corrupt legislators give them the required certificates to get Voter Cards and other KYC documents.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Tree That Replaced Auschwitz: Latehar And Signs Of Our Times

When human beings were pushed into a soon to be sealed chamber and gassed in the concentration camp of Auschwitz they scratched the cold, hard, thick walls with their nails. Who knows what they were trying to do? Leaving a mark that once they were alive too, also a human being. Or did they think that by sheer force of human will they could scratch the wall out and free themselves. Maybe it was utter desperation, maybe it was utter hope. Maybe more tragically, it was both at the same time. As I looked at the picture of Latehar Killings I was taken back to what I have read about Auschwitz and seen in the pictures. I was wondering when I saw the pictures of two human beings (one just a 12 year old boy) hung from a tree what had they to scratch to tell their story of torture and murder. The setting was diametrically opposite from that of the gas chamber. There were open fields and the lone tree on which this once-living bodies hung. It was not Auschwitz but it was equally, if not more, efficient in achieving the desired result which the camp set out to do. The tree had replaced Auschwitz.
There is now no more need of a camp. No more laying of the logistical apparatus of killing. The bureaucracy of citizen killing has been replaced by a form of free competition of butchery. The entire country has not been turned into a concentration camp. Camp would mean something which is stationary even if for a short time. A day, a month, years. Auschwitz camped from 1940 to 1945. It involved infrastructure, bureaucrats, doctors, army; an ensemble of state apparatus. Also gas. Even that must have cost money. Latehar might have lasted for just a few minutes. How many Latehars have we seen already and how many bodies have passed in front of our eyes? Do the math and tell me which one is more efficient and cost-effective? Everything is being contractualized and outsourced then why not the scientific extermination of people.
Like everyone else, I am trying to make sense of Latehar Killings. It has been variously called lynching, mob violence etc. I humbly disagree. Lynching and mob violence has an element of spontaneity, something devilishly elemental. This, on the other hand, was as cold as death. The calculation must have been precise and the chilling thing is that it becoming more and more precise with each incident. Compare Dadri to Latehar. If you are of a certain age in India hanging bodies from a tree is not a new thing that you would have witnessed. Sometimes the images came from abroad. Najibullah might still ring a bell. Then there was Badaun. The list could go on. I want to find a pattern here to make some sense. Maybe there is something to it. I am also making sense in a more autobiographical way. One of the alleged murderer in Latehar shares my first name: Mithilesh. I have lived my entire childhood in Jharkhand. I have been to Latehar. I lived in Khunti, Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur, and Ranchi in that order. I was in Khunti when a certain charioteer was arrested in Samastipur. That was the moment. A moment when a child of 10 could make the difference between one religion and the other and that the other is actually an alien. Needs to be driven out. It is a knowledge after which there is no forgiveness. Who knows what this Mithilesh who has been arrested for the alleged murder was doing on 23rd October 1990? But our fates, as it were, sealed that day. And maybe just here I could make some sense, not of the killing per se but of the planning and the politics of it. I must also add that this was precisely the time I heard the word Fascism apart from Scud Missiles, Patriot Missiles, Kuwait and a little later Sarajevo. I also for the first time saw on the pages of The Hindu (I think) a young couple kissing while a city was being bombed by NATO. These images are compressed in my memory but I hope it makes a point and I urge the reader to send me a copy of that picture if they find it. I have been looking all these years. But this is a digression.
The recent events need not be mentioned here as we all know it. One word which has come to be used to describe our times is Fascism. It is a useful term to think of our times after all it is the most odious form of state arrangement human civilization has yet seen. But it is my submission that we will be missing something important if we start looking for correspondence between the Fascism of yore and what is happening now. This is one thing which I think has been missing or not dealt enough in our analysis. We began with Auschwitz so let us dwell on it a bit. The Fuhrer wanted the Jews, in toto, to be exterminated. That was the final solution he was so assiduously seeking. For him there was no “Good Jew” or a “Bad Jew.” Being a Jew was enough. Not so now. One has to bow down on the altars of state and non-state power and prove that one is a good Muslim, a good Dalit or even a good Marxist-Leninist to escape punishment. All else is bad. The Fuhrer mobilized one against the other. But the one and the other were homogeneous. The Aryan and the Jew. What the modern leader seeks is to fracture the society at every point of identity. It will be fractured even, say among, Dalits and Adivasis. There will be concerted attempts to woo a section of these oppressed peoples. A wedge is then driven. This is micro-managing conflicts or rather micro-manipulating conflicts. It is not only Hindu and non-Hindu but if one looks closely the schism is sought to be created on every available identities. It is also not divide and rule. That is too crude an instrument for the rulers now. It is centralizing power through decentralization. It is mobilization by fragmentation. It is an inelegant phrase but it will have to do for now. It is precisely because of such decentralization that the camp is becoming increasingly unnecessary if not totally redundant. There will always be a need for a prison or an Abu Ghraib to concentrate the centrality of power.
With this fragmentary mobilization comes a new technology of killing. We do not need a bumbling bureaucrat of an Eichmann. Each file he had to push has now transmuted itself into a human capable of killing those who have been identified as enemies. The bureaucracy of killing is not needed. Bureaucracy leaves too much of a paper trail and can lead to trials as the governments have increasingly found out. The state, or at the least government, can be challenged and questions ask of it. Latehar will never lead to a file in a government department almost certainly. It is this informalization of killing by the state that is a new phenomenon. It is not giving up the monopoly of violence just networking and channelizing it differently. What it does then is that it makes every Latehar an issue of “law and order.” Even the progressive elements ask for the perpetrators to be arrested and punished. Law to be more assertive and punitive. We must be a little careful here for that is what the state wants too. A law punitive enough to discipline its subject closely and if possible to the point of the individual. Radical and emancipatory politics needs to come up with a vocabulary and politics to match this phenomenon.
Finally, to the tree that has witnessed the killings, which became the instrument of killing. Auschwitz is now a museum that reminds us of the horrors humanity is capable of. That tree perhaps one day will be cut down or felled by lightning or by itself but it will always remind us in its anonymity that we are living in a time when we can’t even erect a memorial for those innocent lives that have been massacred. There will be no nail marks. And maybe from this realization we have to learn new expressions, new vocabulary of resistance that strongly challenges the state that has failed its citizens.
Mithilesh Kumar is a PhD Candidate at Western Sydney University, Australia. His interest is in the issues of logistics, migration and labour, political philosophy and theory. He wants to work on the nature, evolution and innovation of the Indian state with respect to social and political movements in India. Email:
The above is from

What is Religion?

For Hindus - Is it the hundreds of festivals with all its rituals which we celebrate each year? Is it going to the temple everyday and paying your obeisance? Is it the rituals we observe during birth, mundan, thread ceremony, marriage or death? Is it the visit to Badrinath, Kedarnath and other holy dhams? Is it the building of temples and dharamshalas or giving alms during an eclipse?
For Muslims - Is it the circumcision ceremony, or reciting the Quoran daily, saying your namaaz five times a day or cutting meat the halal way or beating your breast and back with chains or greeting each one on EID after eating a good meal of Sewai? Is it the visit to the masjid every Friday or to Mecca and Medina once in a life time and becoming a Haji? Is it the action of a suicide bomber who kills hundreds of people and himself in the hope he will go to jannat in the next life?
For Christians - Is it the going to Church on Sundays and other auspicious days, celebrating Easter, Good Friday or Christmas? Is it the baptism of children and sprinkling of holy water or taking the communion?
Is it to visit the birth place of Christ in Jerusalem or the Holy city of The Vatican and kissing the hand of the Pope?
For Sikhs - Is it the going to the Gurdwara and reciting the Gurubani and conducting Langars?
For Atheists - Is it the negation of all the above?
Why is it that although all believe in the one God, yet trying to convert by force or enticement people of other religions into their own religion?
Why is it that people try to reconvert the converted back into their religion - gharwapasi?
Why is it that people cannot keep their own flock together by their own mistreatment of certain sections of society?
Why is it that people murder their near and dear ones in the name of "gothra" of some rishis who lived thousands of years ago and whose blood has been diluted in your system to such an extent that it makes no difference, whom you marry?
Do we need the crutches of religion, any religion, to embark on the spiritual path?
Are you then branded as atheist?
An atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of God but to be on the spiritual path you believe in the existence of God, Allah, Brahman but do not need the crutches of religion.
He may have been born to parents of any religion but does not follow the rituals of that religion or if he does follow, it is to just for the satisfaction of his parents or his spouse.
In his heart he knows he does not have to perform any of the rituals.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The following is from the mails I receive from PBT.
The historic criminal case filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120b (“criminal conspiracy”) and Section 201 (“giving false information to screen offender”)filed against almost the entire West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) including then state council president, Dr. Ashok Chowdhury, has been fixed for final hearing before the Apex Court on Monday, April 11, 2016 (SC SLP Cri. No. 8024/2013; Ashok Kumar Chowdhury & Ors. vs. Kunal Saha & Anr.). In 2011, a trial court in Kolkata found 17 doctor-members of WBMC prima facie guilty for “criminal conspiracy” while acquitting Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, a senior physician who was found guilty by the Supreme Court in 2009 for medical negligence causing death of Anuradha Saha, wife of PBT president Dr. Kunal Saha. However, Medical Council of India (MCI) later overturned the WBMC’s decision by holding Dr. Mukherjee (and two other senior doctors who have since died) guilty for medical negligence and directed to cancel his medical registration for a period of three months.
The WBMC, headed by then council president Dr. Ashok Chowdhury, found absolutely no fault with the treatment of Dr. Mukherjee in a closed-door meeting in 2002. While 17 doctor-members gave a clean chit to Dr. Mukherjee, only 2 members found the doctor guilty. The WBMC also refused to disclose any information about their closed-door investigation process even after Dr. Saha sought the information under the RTI Act, 2005. However, after the CPM-led government (where all doctor-members belonged) was toppled in West Bengal in 2011, information about the investigation of the complaint against Dr. Mukherjee was released by the newly formed WBMC where all members were backed by the anti-CPM Trinomial Congress party. Based on the evidence that nearly showed that the WBMC had conducted a sham investigation only to shield the accused doctor, Dr. Saha filed a criminal case under IPC Sections 120b and 201 against the 17 doctors who voted to exonerate Dr. Mukherjee.
After the trial court in Kolkata took cognizance of the criminal complaint against the 17 doctor-members of WBMC and issued warrants against them, the accused WBMC doctors moved Calcutta High Court to quash the complaint. The Calcutta High Court also dismissed the quashing petition in 2013 and directed the charged doctors to stand for trial, the criminally-indicted doctors moved the Supreme Court challenging the Calcutta High Court decision. After another long delay for more than two years, this historic case will now be decided by the Apex Court next month. It is a common knowledge that medical councils across India have turned into a den of corruption that primarily function to shield the negligent doctors without caring for the lives of the innocent victims of “medical negligence”. There can be no dispute that the unprecedented criminal case against the 17 doctor-members of WBMC may have enormous impact on the deep-rooted corruption inside the MCI and state medical councils.


After the above headlines in the last one month, I do hope the Supreme Court takes appropriate action to punish West Bengal MCI and the 17 doctors involved.

Is India presently following the same policy as Adolf Hitler in Germany in the 1930s & 40s? And will the result be the same.

In the 1930s and 40s, there were two world leaders who influenced the events in their countries.

Mahatma Gandhi, led India, peacefully against the British and won independence and hope for the 350 million people of India. He tried to bring peace between the Hindus and Muslims who had mischievously been divided by the British so that their departure from India would be delayed.
Of course, seeing the type of leaders we have post independence, he seems to have made a mistake in liberating India.

During the same time, Adolf  Hitler was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and served as dictator from 1934 to 1945. His policies precipitated World War II and the Holocaust. Instead of uniting his people he was said to have exterminated more than six million Jews.

There was a third force during India's freedom struggle who collaborated with the British to delay India's independence and did not like Mahatma Gandhi's policy of accommodating the Muslims since they were weaker. Their mentality was very similar to Adolf Hitler.

Ironically, it is this third force which is now ruling India and is following the same policy as Hitler followed in Germany against the Jews.

I just wonder, is India heading towards the same holocaust as Germany.

Time will tell.

2 Muslim Cattle Traders Attacked and Hung in Jharkand

In an incident shockingly reminiscent of the Dadri lynching, a 12-year-old Muslim boy and a Muslim man herding eight buffaloes on their way to a Friday market were beaten up and hanged to death from a tree by suspected cattle-protection vigilantes. The initial report and photographers were pasted on facebook by Ashif Nawaz. The double murders  of the two Muslims took place in Balumath, Latehar district of Jharkhand yesterday.

Reportedly, these young men were cattle traders and were on their way to a market when they were killed. The incident happened within 100 kms of the state capital of Ranchi and is closely reminiscent of the Dadri lynching in early September 2015. It is reported that it is not the first time that Muslim cattle traders in the area have been targeted. Despite several by the local people, the police and the BJP state government have failed in protecting the minorities engaged in this trade.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued a statement condemning the incident. This horrible incident is a result of the sustained communal campaign conducted by the Hindutva outfits, the statement says. It demanded that the Jharkhand police must immediately arrest the culprits and bring them to book. The BJP government in Jharkhand is duty bound to crack down against all those indulging in such criminal activities and also ensure protection of the minorities, the statement added.

The Times of India reports that, "The manner of their hanging showed that the assailants were led by extreme hatred," said Latehar SP Anoop Birthary. Local MLA from the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), Prakash Ram claimed that Hindu radicals were behind the killings. Reports said villagers who protested the deaths claimed the victims were targeted as they were cattle traders. Birthary, however, did not identify the assailants. "We are gathering leads to verify whether personal or business enmity led to the murder or it was due to some other motive. The buffaloes were freed. It is yet to be known if the buffaloes were taken away by the assailants or they strayed into the forest," Birthary said.

The hanging sparked protests by people in Jhabbar village that turned violent when police tried to take down the bodies. The situation poses a serious political and law and order challenge for the BJP government in Jharkhand. In the case of Dadri case when a Muslim man was killed over rumours of beef eating, BJP had said law and order was under the SP government.

But in the Jharkhand incident, the buck stops with the state and central leadership. SDO Kamleshwar Narayan and six cops were injured when villagers threw stones at officials who arrived in the morning to manage the situation and ensure that it did not take a communal turn. Injuries to senior officials forced police to fire in the air and lathi charge the villagers.

Sources said protesting villagers have periodically claimed that assailants have targeted them in the past because they are engaged in cattle trade. "Four months ago, a group of men tried to kill a cattle trader in Gomia village of Balumath. The man managed to escape," Latehar MLA Prakash Ram said.

Local MLA Prakash Ram from the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) party led by former BJP member Babulal Marandi alleged a group of Hindu radicals was responsible for the attack on the cattle traders. "They are supported by the police who do not act against them," Ram said.

The MLA's claims appeared to tally with statements of villagers who blocked Latehar-Chatra National Highway after the killings. An FIR was lodged against unknown persons for the murder and another FIR was lodged against unknown persons.

Three sentenced to 15 months in landmark female genital mutilation trial

A retired nurse, a mother of two girls and a Dawoodi Bohra community leader have each been sentenced to a maximum 15 months in prison after Australia’s first criminal prosecution for female genital mutilation.
A former midwife, Kubra Magennis, and a woman who cannot be named were found guilty in November of carrying out FGM on two girls, the woman’s daughters, between 2009 and 2012.
The older sister underwent a ceremony known as “khatna” in a community member’s home in the New South Wales south coast town of Wollongong. Her younger sister’s FGM was carried out in the family’s western Sydney home.
Both girls were aged seven at the time of the FGM, which was classed as either type one or type four, involving the cutting or partial removal of their clitorises without leaving a scar.
The older girl said in court she had been told to lie on a bed naked from the waist down and imagine she was a “princess in a garden” while FGM was carried out on her by Magennis, who had been asked by the girl’s mother to perform the khatna.
The girl’s grandmother was also in the room and prayers from the Qur’an were read while the ceremony took place.
The crown prosecutor, Nanette Williams, told the sentencing hearing in the state’s supreme court that neither woman had shown any remorse for the act and given only “qualified, ambiguous and self-serving” apologies, the ABC reported.
They were sentenced to 15-month prison terms on Friday and will be assessed for home detention.
Also jailed for 15 months was Shabbir Mohammedbhai Vaziri, a spiritual leader in the Dawoodi Bohra community, found guilty of helping the women cover up the mutilation inflicted on the two young girls.
Dawoodi Bohra is a sect of Shia Islam found across Africa and south Asia.
The defence had argued that Magennis had only touched the girls’ genitals with “forceps” in a symbolic gesture. 
Police used phone taps and other surveillance to record the mother and another community member concocting the story that the girls had only been given a “checkup” in Australia, and that if FGM had occurred it was while the girls were in Africa.
The maximum sentence for carrying out FGM was tripled in NSW two years ago to 21 years in prison.
Evil customs, no matter performed wherever in the world should be condemned and punished no matter whether in Australia or India. We see the punishment meted out in Australia, but do we punish the criminals in India.
We have the following evil customs in India:
1. Dowry deaths, 2) Honour killings for inter caste or same gothra marriage, 3) abortion of female foetus, 4) FMG, 5) not allowing dalit people to draw water from wells of entering temples, 6) superstitions spread on the occasion of eclipses and other celestial events. 
How many more evil customs should I mention?