South Asia Citizens Wire | July 10-12, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2643 -
Year 11 running
[ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the memory of Dr.
Sudarshan Punhani (1933-2009), husband of Professor Tamara Zakon and
a comrade and friend of Daya Varma ]
 Silence is Violence: End the abuse of women in Afghanistan (A
joint report by UNAMA and OHCHR)
 Sri Lanka: Witch-hunt against scribes (B. Muralidhar Reddy)
- State and religion (Dharmapala Senaratne / Sri Lanka
 Bangladesh: Muddying the Waters (Syed Zain Al-Mahmood)
- A toothless human rights commission at best (Editorial, New
- 1973 War Crimes Act: Getting it right (Jyoti Rahman & Naeem
- The Poison in Bangladesh Polity (J. Sri Raman)
 Pakistanis have lost the capability to separate the religious
from the secular? (Nadeem F. Paracha)
 India Needs Food Not More Bombs! Listen to these sane voices
- A Grain of Good Sense (Jean Dreze)
- 'Send food, not force to Lalgarh' (Mahasweta Devi)
 Stand Up to Fix the Secular Republic:
- Liberhan Commission: Painful wait for Justice (Ram Puniyani)
- NDTV Video - Better late than never?
- Breaking the Kabrastan Impasse (Vidyadhar Gadgil)
- Private virtues, public vices (Bibek Debroy)
 Why do India's Politicians fall at the feet of religious leaders
seeking secular salvation? [Thank Dog, the Left has got it right this
- Why no neta will talk straight on 377 (Antara Dev Sen)
- Three Videos:
- NDTV Verdict - Legally Gay (2 July 2009)
- NDTV We The People - Legalisation of Homosexuality
- Midday Video - Religious outfits demo against homosexuality
 India: Human Rights & Democratisation
- Compel government to implement police reforms ordered by SC
(S. R. Darapuri)
- North East India: Reaping the harvest of inequity (Patricia
 Book Review: A series on world religions, the right to free
speech, and the right to be offended (Shruti Rajagopalan)
SILENCE IS VIOLENCE: END THE ABUSE OF WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN
The 32-page report, issued jointly by the United Nations Assistance
Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), notes that "violence, in
the public and private spheres, is an everyday occurrence in the
lives of a huge proportion of Afghan women." (8 July 2009)
 Sri Lanka:
WITCH-HUNT AGAINST SCRIBES
by B. Muralidhar Reddy
o o o
11 July 2009
STATE AND RELIGION
In the essay, captioned ‘Unity is strength’ by J. B. Muller,
appearing in The Island of July 7, 2009 (http://www.island.lk/
2009/07/07/features2.html), there occurs the following proposition
after a brief analysis of the relationship between religion and the
state. ‘Religion and politics has been and still is an unholy
alliance that has grown into an unholy deception that creates more
hatred than love, more intolerance than open-mindedness’.
We, of the Sri Lanka Rationalist Association which, incidentally, is
a force to be reckoned with as at present, wholeheartedly endorse and
stand by this proposition. May I be permitted here to mention in this
connection that the then President of the SLRA, the late Dr. Abraham
Kovoor, on the recommendation of its executive committee, submitted a
memorandum of proposals, dated 25. 09. 1970, to the then Minister of
Constitutional Affairs to be considered for incorporation in the
Item No. 6 in the memorandum stated as follows, among other things:
‘In a multi-religious country, like Sri Lanka, the best protection
for freedom of conscience is a secular state’. The memorandum
implored the framers of the Constitution to emulate the Indian
Constitution in this regard.
Regrettably, this recommendation of ours was overlooked and instead
Buddhism was made the religion to which special state protection was
guaranteed. No doubt, it hurt the sensibilities of the other
religionists and we are still paying for that short-sighted policy of
pandering to the emotions of the hoi polloi in a vote catching
One would recall that neither the Donoughmore system of 1931 nor the
Soulbury Constitution of 1947 contained similar provisions. Buddhism
never suffered as a result. On the contrary, significant legislation,
such as Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance, was passed by the State
Council during the Donoughmore period, among many other things.
We, of the SLRA, therefore, are of the view that the suggestion by
Mr. Muller deserves serious consideration in order to undo the wrong
that has been done.
President – Sri Lanka Rationalist Association
Star Weekend magazine
8 Issue 77 | July 10, 2009
MUDDYING THE WATERS
by Syed Zain Al-Mahmood
India's plan to build a mega dam on the Barak river at Tipaimukh has
stirred primal fears in Bangladesh. For the 150 million people of
this low-lying delta, the rivers are the cradle of life. Bangladeshis
depend on the river system for food, water and transportation. After
the disaster caused by India's Farakka Barrage, Bangladesh can ill
afford another monstrosity that will squeeze the rivers' life-giving
flow. Public concern has been heightened by the extraordinary secrecy
that has shrouded Tipaimukh from the beginning. Although Indian
diplomats have been at pains to assure Bangladesh that Tipaimukh will
not have the same ecological effects as Farakka, people remain
fearful. Many critics have suggested the Tipaimukh Multipurpose Dam
project could cause desertification of the North-east and allow
salinity to move up from the Bay of Bengal. But the freewheeling
debate about desertification may be masking more critical social and
o o o
July 11, 2009
Editorial : A TOOTHLESS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AT BEST
THE ninth Jatiya Sangsad passed the Human Rights Commission Bill 2009
on Thursday, the last day of its budget session, so it was reported
in the media. The official claim is that the piece of legislation
provides legal coverage to the Human Rights Commission, formed on
November 18, 2008, in line with the Human Rights Commission Ordinance
promulgated by the military-controlled interim government, to help
safeguard the people’s constitutional rights to live with dignity.
However, a closer scrutiny of the bill may very well lead one to the
conclusion that the commission may have been conceptualised in the
very first place to be an ornamental organisation to please
Bangladesh’s so-called development partners. Let us explain why.
First and foremost, while the law empowers to have its own
investigation mechanism to probe allegations of human rights
violations, enjoy the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil
Procedure 1908 in such investigations and even periodically seek
reports from the government on the human rights situation, it can
only recommend redress for rights violations to the government and
the authorities concerned. In other words, its administrative
independence goes as far as conducting investigations and making
recommendations, but not taking any decisive action.
Worse still, its recommendations will be virtually non-binding.
According to the bill, if the authorities concerned fail to go by the
recommendations, or the action taken by the authorities is not
considered appropriate by the commission, it can refer the matter to
the president who will take steps for the submission of the matter in
the parliament. It is needless to point out that the president cannot
make such a decision without consultation with the prime minister.
Also, such an arrangement is highly unlikely to make the government
accountable for human rights violation, although it is perceived as a
major perpetrator of rights violations.
The commission will not have any financial autonomy, either.
Although the law says it will enjoy financial independence and will
need no approval from the government for its expenditures, it will
depend on grants from the government and the local authorities to
sustain its functions. Simply put, the string of the purse will be in
the hands of the government.
Curiously, the law empowers the commission to launch
investigation against the former, either on its own or based on
allegations, but keeps the armed forces out of its purview. Indeed,
every step needs to be taken to strengthen the armed forces; after
all, they are assigned the task of defending our territory as and
when attacked. However, there have been allegations of human rights
violations by members of the armed forces, in the Chittagong Hill
Tracts in general and during the tenure of the interim government in
particular. Investigations into these allegations are imperative to
not only uphold human rights but also enhance people’s respect for,
and faith in, the armed forces as an institution.
Last but not least, the government’s attitude towards the human
rights commission is poignantly reflected in the condition that it is
in at present. According to a report published in New Age on Friday,
the commission could not investigate any of the 48 allegations of
rights violations that it received till June 30 because of manpower
shortage. Overall, as several legal experts were quoted as saying in
a New Age report on Thursday, the commission will neither be
financially or functionally independent nor will it ensure protection
of human rights. While the country needs a human rights commission,
the one that it has got is certainly not the one it has bargained
for. Hence, we demand that the law be amended to make way for an
effective human rights commission.
o o o
The Daily Star
July 10, 2009
1973 WAR CRIMES ACT: GETTING IT RIGHT
by Jyoti Rahman & Naeem Mohaiemen
THE Law Minister Shafiq Ahmed presented the International Crimes
(Tribunals) (Amendment) Act 2009 in parliament this week, with the
Speaker urging quick passage before the end of the current
parliamentary session. The 2009 act presents some amendments to the
original 1973 act to make it "contemporary" (jugupojogi), "fair and
neutral," and "globally acceptable."
Newspaper reports suggest amendments have been made to: provision to
try individuals and groups of individuals; provision for appeal; and
English being the official language of the trial along with Bangla.
While we applaud the steps to amend the act, we are, nonetheless,
concerned that the amendments were not rigorous enough. In a rush to
pass the amendments, insufficient attention has been given to major
developments in last three decades in international law, especially
as per International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and International Criminal Tribunal for
former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Let us consider some key issues that were not addressed in the 2009
amendments, but are crucial for a durable prosecution of war criminals.
Definition of War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and/or Genocide:
Our definitions need to be synchronised with Article 147 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention and other international definitions. Such a
definition should include the following:
-Persecution against any identifiable group on racial, ethnic,
-Torture or inhuman treatment.
-Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, etc.
-Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement.
-Taking of hostages and enforced disappearance of persons.
-Intentionally directing attacks against buildings, material, etc.
-Extensive destruction and appropriation of property.
Definition of sexual violence: Definition of genocide in the 1973 act
does not identify rape as an instrument of genocide. Genocidal rape
in legal discourse has come particularly from ICTR and ICTY. We note
the Akayesu trial for Rwanda, where ICTR found him guilty of nine
counts of genocide and crimes against humanity including ordering
genocidal rape. It is important to note that "genocidal rape" is
distinct from "war rape." The former is rape with the purpose of
destroying another group. Rwanda and Bosnia provide some of the best-
documented examples of genocidal rape, which include statements made
by perpetrators during commission of the acts of sexual violence.
Definition of those under Military Command: A rigorous definition
should include the following:
-Person acting as a military commander shall be criminally
responsible for crimes committed by forces under his effective
authority and control
-That person either knew or should have known that the forces were
committing or about to commit such crimes.
Independence of judiciary: We believe that persons appointed to the
tribunal should have the following:
-Established competence in criminal law and procedure, and the
necessary relevant experience, whether as judge, prosecutor, advocate
or in other similar capacity, in criminal proceedings.
Independence of prosecutors: We believe that the prosecutors'
independence should be guaranteed by the following:
-The Office of the Prosecutor shall act independently as a separate
organ of the tribunal.
-Neither the prosecutor nor a deputy prosecutor shall engage in any
activity which is likely to interfere with his or her prosecutorial
-The prosecutor can appoint advisers with legal expertise on specific
Witnesses: There are no provisions made for protection of witnesses.
The ICC statute provides that the court will take appropriate
measures to protect the safety and physical well-being of the
victims. The court is directed to take factors such as gender and the
nature of the crime (including whether it was a sexual crime) into
account in deciding to grant special protections.
Sentencing: It should be stressed that death sentences are not
allowed under international law, even for genocide, crimes against
humanity, war crimes and crimes against peace. Death sentences would
hinder Bangladesh receiving and sustaining international support on
Reparations: Reparations to victims should be considered for
inclusion, even if they are not defined in detail at this stage. We
should consider whether individual compensation or community-based
reparations are more appropriate. For comparative purposes, Rwanda
created a graduated scale of specific losses to amount of reparations
The above and other issues should be considered during thorough legal
review. The primary purpose of doing a review of the 1973 act is to
ensure a robust legal structure, so that cases filed under this act
are strong and transparent, and do not get rejected in a future
appeals court. For those of us deeply committed to successful war
crimes trials, we believe it is absolutely essential that the trials
are rigorous and conform to international standards, so that the
verdicts can be internationally recognised and respected.
The authors are members of Drishtipat.org, a global network of
Bangladeshi human rights activists.
o o o
July 7, 2009
THE POISON IN BANGLADESH POLITY
by J. Sri Raman
Was Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed fed poisoned
food while in detention during 2007-08? The question should be a
matter of concern not for reasons of her health alone and not only
for the country that gave her a landslide election victory at the end
of last year.
On June 27, in a television program that went almost unnoticed
outside of Bangladesh, a top leader of Hasina's Awami League (AL)
alleged that Hasina was served poison-laced food for an unspecified
period as an under-trial prisoner facing charges of corruption during
her earlier term in elected office. She was arrested on July 16,
2007, by an army-backed regime and released on bail on June 12, 2008.
Speaking to a private TV channel, deputy leader of the
parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury said Hasina was still not fully
free from the effects of slow poisoning. In the prison, added Sajeda,
"the leader fell sick after taking the poisoned food and her mouth
was swollen. But she never gave in to (pressure from the regime to
quit politics and leave the country)."
Within a week, more than indirect support for the allegation
came from 61-year-old Hasina's personal doctor, Syed Modasser Ali,
now also the prime minister's health affairs adviser. Stating that
he, too, suspected Hasina's poisoning, he said she was suffering from
some allergy causing her hair to fall.
"During those days (of Hasina's detention), I had several times
tried to collect her blood sample for diagnosis, but I was barred
from doing so," Ali told the media. He added that, before she was
taken to a hospital from the prison, the authorities promised that
they would let her personal doctors treat her. "But ... we were not
allowed to enter the hospital."
Following the AL's sensational allegation, the opposition
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Begum
Khaleda Zia, also detained by the army-propped regime, has charged
that its leader was fed toxin-laden food as well. The public focus,
however, has stayed on the fate of slow death which, according to
Hasina's followers, she has fortunately survived. The prime minister
herself has so far kept silent on the subject.
The allegation puts directly in the dock Maj. Gen. (retired) M.
A. Matin and Mainul Hosein, who served as advisers in charge of home
and law respectively in the military-backed government. Both of them
have denied the charge. They claim that the food served to Hasina
was, in fact, tasted first by a woman doctor attached to her and four
women security personnel, besides jail officials!
The former advisers find eloquent Hasina's own silence - now and
during her stay with family members in the US for medical treatment
last year. Few, however, would find inexplicable such silence in the
face of an army-supported regime that could, after all, hold a
popular leader like Hasina in helpless detention for nearly a year.
Matin and Hosein come up with a more serious question when they
ask why it took so long for the AL to make the allegation. The poser,
of course, does not prove the charge wrong. But it is not only the
officials of the ousted regime who wonder what the AL's obvious
decision to raise the issue, triggering off a truculent debate on it,
The snowballing issue may point to aggravation of strains
between the army and the democratic, civilian dispensation as a
whole. This should cause concern not only in Bangladesh, where the
people have repeatedly rejected either direct or indirect army rule
as a political option, but also in the South Asian region with stakes
in the country's internal peace.
A recent report in Bangladesh weekly Holiday quotes a senior
retired army officer describing the allegation as "a dangerous game
that could end up with more bloodshed." The strains have found other
expressions as well in the recent period.
On February 25, 2009, in less than two months of the new
government's takeover, a bloody mutiny by Bangladesh's border guard
unit, the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), broke out in Dhaka. The cause of
the revolt, which rocked the country and the elected rulers, is yet
to be conclusively established. It did, however, ring the alarm bells
for a Bangladesh that was beginning to recover from the trauma of two
years of army-backed rule.
The lingering legacy of 2007-08 found another illustration in
June 2009, when a top Bangladesh army officer reportedly sought
political asylum in the US to avoid returning home after his
diplomatic assignment was curtailed. Brig. Gen. Chowdhury Fazlul Bari
was the director of the powerful Directorate General of Field
Intelligence (DGFI) during the military-backed rule and had played a
major role in the arrest of several top politicians and bureaucrats
as part of an avowed official crusade against corruption.
The strains may seem to be small cause for worry, in view of
Hasina's popularity and parliamentary majority. But military
ambitions have prevailed over the people's democratic aspirations in
the past. A quick rundown of the coups, which dot the less than four
decades of post-liberation Bangladesh, shows why concern is warranted.
On August 15, 1975, came the first military coup, culminating in
the tragic assassination of the Father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman and his family (daughters Hasina and Sheikh Rehana escaped
only because they were in Germany at the time). Two more coups
followed on November 3 and 7 of the same eventful year.
Lt. Gen. Ziau Rahman took over power in 1976. He survived as
many as 21 coups during his five-year rule until he was killed in a
coup of 1981. Gen. Hussain Muhammad Ershad rose to power after a
bloodless coup in 1982 and stayed at the helm till 1990. Bangladesh
witnessed an unsuccessful coup attempt in 199l, but the army
succeeded in becoming the power behind the throne in 2007.
It may take a while for the people of Bangladesh to detoxify the
country's polity entirely and ensure that its democracy endures.
(A freelance journalist and a peace activist in India, J. Sri Raman
is the author of "Flashpoint" (Common Courage Press, USA). He is a
regular contributor to Truthout.)
9 July 2009
LOST IN SPACE
by Nadeem F. Paracha
Nadeem F. Paracha asks whether Pakistanis have lost the capability to
separate the religious from the secular?
When there is talk of Islamisation, we are not just discussing
Islamic laws being implemented by the state and government. What we
should also study in this respect is the Islamisation of public
space, or space that was historically and inherently secular in nature.
For example, the growth in the numbers of mosques and madrassas in
the last 25 years or so also saw this trend’s physical and symbolic
extension into the secular space of society.
Ever since the early 1980s, there has been a three-fold growth in the
formation of ‘praying areas’ in offices in both private and
government institutions, and the toleration of laxities at the
workplace regarding timings - especially for office hours during
Ramadan - have been unconditionally allowed.
Of course, as can be observed from the facts and figures of assorted
sociological studies in Pakistan of the last 20 years or so, all this
has not helped in making society any more law-abiding and
constructive than what it already was before the 1980s.
In fact, the rate of crime has increased dramatically; especially
sexual and financial, and social commentators have continued to
bemoan the ‘institutionalisation of the notion of social hypocrisy.’
But this trend of the supposed Islamisation of social space soon
seeped into other areas as well. For instance, beginning in the
1980s, there are more religious programs on the television and radio
than ever before.
Also, more and more lawns and drawing-rooms are becoming venues for
religious lectures and dars. In fact, even in modern, posh shopping
malls, the central sound system is used to broadcast the azaan and
naats while recitations from the Holy Qu’ran are played during holy
months and days.
Other peripheral trends such as the change of traditional Islamic
greetings – replacing Khuda Hafiz with Allah Hafiz – is also a case
Secular space is rapidly shrinking and the sociology of Pakistan
today is strikingly different from what it was between 1947 and 1976.
Apologists and defenders of these trends would rightly suggest that
social Islamisation could not have taken place without the consent of
the majority of the people. However, one need not be a professional
sociologist to determine the resounding failure of these trends to
convert the quasi-secular state of Jinnah’s Pakistan into a ‘truly
Islamic’ and morally sound community of people.
On the contrary, all social, cultural and economic indicators of the
last 25 years suggest a society disintegrating into a chaotic mixture
of new-found rituals and exhibition of Islamic piety convolutedly
trying to reach a synthesis with modern material want and ambition. 
Interestingly, the general discourse in this context has repeatedly
buried the inherent dichotomy between religious piety and the desire
to taste the fruits of amoral materialism. Instead, this discourse
has turned into a collective attempt to emerge as a workable synthesis.
For instance, a synthesis will be turned into a top-of-mind argument
offered by, say, Junaid Jamshed fans, when asked about the obvious
dichotomy between Jamshed’s exhibitions of Islamic piety with his
more material goals emitting from an equally passionate exhibition of
amoral materialism and financial profiteering in the form of his top-
of-line fashion boutique business.
The argument is that being spiritual doesn’t mean one can’t be
materialistic as well, even though in a number of ways this argument
can be challenged, especially when the spirituality that is being
exhibited is supposedly following the dictates of a dyed-in-the-wool
brand of spirituality that the former pop star is displaying: a
strain of religion in which music becomes ‘haram’, but getting paid
to endorse a western brand of chips as ‘halaal’ is fine?
Addressing such questions has become the work of televangelists and
preachers who have become popular amongst the country’s urban middle
classes. In a nutshell, their role can be defined as helping mould a
workable (albeit long-winded) model that is synthesised from certain
Qu’ranic verses and assorted hadidhs and then offered to their
audience as an Islamic rationale to survive in the modern material
world as a practicing Muslim without feeling guilt or angst.
Not only is the dichotomy converted into a religiously rationalised
normality, but the duality emerging from the social exhibitionism of
religious piety and personal materialistic ambitions is turned into a
matter-of-fact and unquestioned state of mind and existence.
The recent appearance of former bubble-gum pop poster boy, Ali Haider
on a popular religious TV show to announced his reborn status is a
case in point. The question arises, why did he have to announce this
on mainstream television? Why couldn’t it remain his personal
business? And more so, why announce his reborn status on a show that
was alleged to have triggered violence against minorities in Lahore
Of course, this duality of action and thought can be minimised if the
Islamisation of secular spaces is checked, but the question is, who
will check it and, more so, who is behind this trend?
The state and the government now seem incapable of checking this
trend. The power and initiative to do so was lost when in 1974 when
the government of Z. A. Bhutto ceded to the demands of Islamist
parties like the Jamat Islami and constitutionally turned Ahmadis
into a shunned minority, consequently emboldening his Islamist
In 1976, Bhutto once again buckled in the face of pressure of the
Islamists and closed down ‘unIslamic’ activities in public. Zia’s
Islamic regime only added two-fold to what the Islamists had already
succeeded in making Bhutto do.
As Zia’s political Islam failed to address the utopian expectations
of the people for the ‘ideal Islamic state,’ and political and
economic corruption further eroded Zia’s regime, the Islamists and
various fundamentalist groups that had risen in the 1980s, decided to
‘Islamise society from below.’
The idea was to Islamise all aspects of society so that people will
‘turn from being just Muslims into becoming Islamic’ and subsequently
set the scene themselves for a spontaneous Islamic revolution and the
imposition of the shariah.
Interestingly, the state and the government even after Zia’s demise
allowed this brand of social Islamisation to continue taking place,
as long as it didn’t exhibit any overt political ambitions.
The Islamists and the fundamentalists were free to carry on
Islamising social space, so much so that today it has become
impossible to escape Islamic symbolism and rhetoric in even the most
traditionally secular spaces and surroundings.
The socialisation of a theologically puritan but theoretically
contradictory strain of Islam has been an all-encompassing event. Its
symbols and rhetoric abound on billboards, in shopping malls, parks,
on cars, in buses, drawing rooms, on TV screens, in offices and in
everyday lingo – it seems Pakistanis have lost the capability to
separate the religious from the secular.
This trend has consequently moulded a common mind-set and a social
and cultural ground that has become almost voluntarily vulnerable to
This might answer the question as to why society at large goes up in
arms after a drone attack whereas it remains awkwardly quiet every
time a terrorist murders scores of common people in a suicide blast.
And perhaps that’s why after being mowed down by so many years of
extremist propaganda, Pakistani society has a ready consensus on the
dangers of, say, pornography and alcohol abuse, but still can’t seem
to reconcile to a common consensus on whom or what counts an extremist.
 The Economic Impact of Islamic Fundamentalism: Timur Kuran
Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn
Newspaper and Dawn.com.
 India Needs Food Not More Bombs! Listen to these sane voices
outlook magazine, 20 July 2009
A GRAIN OF GOOD SENSE
Legislating against hunger is a great idea that needs expansion ......
by Jean Dreze
The budget reiterates the government’s commitment to a National Food
Security Act, known as the ‘right to food’ law. In principle, this is
welcome. Our undernutrition levels are among the worst in the world
and have barely improved in recent years. Such a law could help focus
the nation’s energies on this burning issue.
In India, hunger and malnutrition have deep roots, not only in
economic insecurity but also lack of education, gender inequality,
social discrimination, skewed property rights and lack of basic
amenities. Serious commitment to the right to food would call for
action on all these fronts.
Broadened to address the many factors contributing to hunger, the
proposed Right to Food Act can be a solid complement to the NREGS.
The proposed act is unlikely to provide a blanket solution but could
make a big difference if it takes a broad view of the problem.
It’s especially important not to conflate the proposed act with the
Congress promise of 25 kg of grain every month at Rs 3 a kilo for BPL
families. Indeed, this happens to be little more than a repackaging
of the current BPL entitlements, with less quantity at a lower price.
Further, good nutrition depends not only on access to cheap grain but
also on other inputs, such as good food, childcare, clean water and
breastfeeding support. A serious right to food law should ensure
these needs are also addressed.
The NREGS is already a step towards the right to food. However, its
implementation is erratic and the principle of "work on demand" is
nowhere near being realised. Some families are unable to participate
in it because of ill health or old age. This is why the right to food
law must include the provision of cheap grain under the PDS beyond
the timid promise of "25 kg at Rs 3 per kilo". The current quota of
35 kg per month should not be reduced; ideally, the PDS should be
universal in order to avoid the inevitable exclusion errors of any
targeted system. But if we go for a targeted system, the selection of
BPL families should be transparent and verifiable. And it must cover,
say, at least 50 per cent of the population. Some marginalised
groups, such as SC/ST families in rural areas, should have BPL cards
as a matter of right.
Second, special PDS entitlements are required for the most vulnerable
families, including those in which no adult member is able to
participate in the labour market. Such entitlements already exist for
some such families under the Antyodaya Ann Yojana programme. This
programme should be expanded under the proposed act. Another form of
social assistance that works relatively well is that of cash pensions—
like old age pensions and widow pensions. This is a natural
complement to food-based assistance under the Antyodaya programme. An
integrated pension programme could form a third pillar of the
A fourth crucial component is direct nutritional support for
children. Schoolgoing children are already entitled to nutritious mid-
day meals under recent orders of the SC; these entitlements should be
consolidated under the proposed act, along with provisions for school
Similarly, for younger children, SC orders relating to the ICDS
should be incorporated in the right to food law. Under these orders,
all children under six years are entitled to all basic ICDS services—
nutrition, healthcare and pre-school education. In fact, the SC
directed the government to ensure that this happens by December 2008.
The finance minister’s statement that the ICDS would be universalised
by 2012 is a step backward in this respect. Whatever the budget may
have in store for the "aam admi", it’s a damp squib for "aam bacche".
This is a minimum list of interventions that need to be included in
the law if it has to have a serious impact on India’s "nutritional
emergency". Other provisions to consider are maternity entitlements,
breastfeeding support, rehabilitation of severely malnourished
children and community kitchens in urban areas.These entitlements
must be backed by adequate funds and strong grievance redressal
systems. Perhaps this is a tall order. But India has already set an
outstanding example of bold social legislation with the NREGS—it can
be done again with the right to food act.
(The writer is a development economist.)
o o o
'SEND FOOD, NOT FORCE TO LALGARH' (Mahasweta Devi)
 India: Stand Up and Fix the Secular Republic -
LIBERHAN COMMISSION: PAINFUL WAIT FOR JUSTICE
by Ram Puniyani
Liberhan commission submitted its four volume report to the
Government on 30 of June 2009. It might have been one of the longest
times taken by any commission. Liberhan’s claim that the report got
delayed due to non cooperation of leaders involved may have some
truth as one knows Kalyan Singh avoided appearing before the
commission for long time, and so was the attitude of many of those
alleged for demolition. Still all the hearings were complete by 2004.
Did it take 5 long years to write the report? Such a long delay in
the report coming out, defeats half the purpose of the same. One of
the minor reasons of delay has also been the differences in the
approach of Justice Liberhan and its chief counsel Anupam Gupta.
Gupta after he interrogated Advani, Justice Liberhan allrently told
him to apologize to Advani for being harsh. While Gupta maintains
that Justice Liberhan had been soft on Advani, despite his role of
the chief mobilizer for demolition.
One awaits the report to be tabled and see what the commission has to
say about things which have been reported in the media and seen on
the TV by most. One also await to see the attitude of this Government
towards this commission, is it going to be forthright objectivity or
dictated by political exigencies. That apart, since the report was
submitted some of the accused have been hiding for cover, and some
others are saying that since already 17 years have lapsed how the
report can be meaningful, if at all? Some of them have questioned the
timing of the report.
To expect that those involved in demolition will own up the crime and
honestly confess to that is something not to be expected. Still Uma
Bharati was honest enough to say that “I definitely wanted Ram temple
to come up (in Ayodhya) and I definitely wanted that building (Babri
Mosque) to come down but not in that manner. But I am not going to
apologize. I am ready to be hanged for it.” It was the same Uma
Bharti, who along with Sadhvi Ritambhra was exhorting the Kar Sevaks
by saying, Ek Dhakka Aur Do: Babri Masjid Tod do”. (Give one more
push, break the Babri mosque) She also expressed her joy after the
demolition by hugging another accused, Murli Manohar Joshi who was
sharing dais with her. Amongst others who shared the dais, when the
demolition work was in progress, were Lal Krishna Advani, Ashok
Singhal and ex- RSS chief K. Sudarshan himself.
How do people respond to the crime after executing it, is a matter of
great variance. Same Murli Manohar Joshi, who before the demolition
had said told his followers "…demolish the masjid, nature of Kar Seva
will be determined by Sants and not by courts/demolition is
prerequisite for temple building", in the hearing of the commission
he said that “With all humility, I say that the incident was never
remotely conceived by us”. This despite the fact that Vinay Katiyar,
the then Bajrang Dal chief had asserted that "Masjid will be
demolished and debris will be thrown in river Sarayu". During the
deposition he distracted form the main issue and doubted the need of
commission and said that Ram Lalla is the owner of the place. While
Lal Krishna Advani had stated the Kar Seva will done with Bricks and
shovels, kar sevaks are not going to Ayodhya to sing Bhajan and
Kirtans, later he declared that the day of demolition was the saddest
day of his life. Which is the real Advani is difficult to say.
K.Sudarshan, who later became RSS Sarsnghchalak, stated that he heard
Nirmala Deshpande saying that Mosque fell due to the explosion
inside. Nirmala Deshpande disowned the statement. Kalyan Singh takes
the cake as for as turn arounds are concerned. Before the demolition
he committed to National Integration Council and through a sworn
affidavit to Supreme Court, that he will protect the mosque. When
demolition began he did not deploy 20000 central forces stationed
barely 10 minutes from the place. Later he was imprisoned for a day
and he proudly justified his inaction in the path of Ram Temple. He
filed a 300 page affidavit, taking a line, which was in accordance
with his the then Party’s line, stating that it was a spontaneous act
by uncontrollable Kar Sevaks. With his problems beginning with BJP,
he hit out at A.B.Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi saying Babri was
destroyed on the instructions of senior BJP leaders.
The then Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao was famously having the
afternoon siesta when the Babri was being demolished and he covered
his inaction by putting the blame on Kalyan Singh. Immediately he
promised that Babri will be restored at the same spot.
It all raises the question of political morality. How the actors in
the tragic act have been taking stances according the political
necessities. How they regard that public memory is short and they can
wriggle out of their crimes by mere play of words.
And now with report on the table of the Congress Government can one
expect justice? The experience so far is far from optimistic.
Congress weighs the issues on the scale of political advantages or
otherwise. On one hand it tries to put a show that it will do justice
and when the crunch time comes one finds it wanting in resolve to
stand firmly for secularism and justice. Political calculations have
been its guiding load stones. So even now one is not sure about the
real justice coming through after 17 long years of wait.
BJP on its part is a divided house. It has used the Ram Temple
agitation and the consequent demolition and the violence for
politically strengthening itself. It is around this agitation,
demolition and violence that it came to occupy the major position on
the political scene in India. Now having been in power and having
seen that Lord Ram cannot eternally help it to keep coming to power,
some of its major leaders have been rethinking the political line to
be adopted. What one sees around is the total opportunism for the
sake of power. They realize the necessities of such issues to be in
power, they also see that beyond a point it can be counter
productive. Now it’s up to them to keep adopting double standards or
to come to adopt democratic issues as their political base. Can BJP
shift away from such issues and take up the issues of the poor and
downtrodden? This is a million-vote question. This is also a question
related to the goals of its political father, the RSS. How does RSS
evaluate its future role in Indian political chessboard? Indications
are RSS will stick to Hindutva and Ram temple type of issues, come
what may. One only hopes in despair that people concerned have
honesty to own up their acts and face the legal consequences for
Posted on July 10, 2009
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Verdict on NDTV 24x7 > BETTER LATE THAN NEVER?
Seventeen years after it was set up to inquire into the 1992
demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the Liberhan Commission
submitted its report on June 30, 2009. Though the contents of the
report were not immediately known, it did not take much time for
politics to make its way into the aftermath. While many of the BJP
leaders were not too keen on commenting on the report, others were
bent on questioning the delay taken to release it.
For the people of Ayodhya, it’s a different story. We won't let
politicians divide us - that's the message that the people of Ayodhya
want to send out as they learn about the Liberhan report. It's clear,
Ayodhya has moved on and learnt bitter lessons.
Since the demolition of the Babri Masjid, many events that saw the
politics of religion winning over basic humanity have taken a toll on
us. Putting the bitter past behind us, are we now more concerned
about development and prosperity than divisive politics?
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BREAKING THE KABRASTAN IMPASSE
Herald, 10 July 2009
The denial of a kabrastan to the Muslim community in Salcete is a
violation of the right to die with dignity, says VIDYADHAR GADGIL
The kabrastan issue has once again come to the forefront of public
debate in Goa. Hanging fire for almost 30 years now, the lack of a
resolution to this vexed problem has led to a mounting sense of
frustration in the Muslim community over the denial of this perfectly
legitimate and justified demand.
For a long time now, the Muslim community in and around Margao has
been managing with a 125-year-old kabrastan at Pajifond in Margao,
which was donated by a Muslim family. But with the growth in the
population of Muslims, both due to natural growth and due to in-
migration, the kabrastan has been unable to cope with the load,
raising the need for either extending the existing kabrastan or
setting up a new one in the vicinity of Margao.
Various efforts (documented elsewhere; see http://tinyurl.com/md5zta)
have been made over the years towards this end, and politicians
across the board have promised to make arrangements for a kabrastan,
all without any actual progress on the ground. Not relying on the
government to provide land, the Muslim community also mobilised its
own resources to purchase suitable land in a number of places for the
purpose, but in all cases there were objections that stalled the
plans. Unfortunately, both Hindus and Christians in Salcete have been
against setting up a kabrastan, with the Christian community in fact
at the forefront of the opposition.
During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections there was, predictably enough, a
slanging match between the BJP and the Congress over the issue, with
BJP leader Manohar Parrikar castigating the Congress government for
failing to meet this demand – not that Parrikar himself, during his 4-
year rule as Chief Minister, did anything either. Congress Chief
Minister Digambar Kamat and Francisco Sardinha, the Congress
candidate for the South Goa seat, made counter-promises, of course,
but these appear to have been promptly forgotten once the elections
The right to die with dignity, which includes the right to perform
the last rites as per the dictates of one’s religion, is a basic
human right. Given that it is widely acknowledged that the existing
kabrastan at Pajifond is inadequate to meet the Muslim community’s
needs, there can be no reasonable justification for denying this
demand, and yet no solution to the problem has emerged.
Anti-Muslim prejudice – fanned by Hindutvavadi propaganda and George
Bush’s global war on terror, which demonised Islam and Muslims – has
developed into a kind of fear psychosis, and there are repeated
scares about masjids and kabrastans being set up in various villages.
In an incident in Moira last year, a Muslim worker mentioned that he
was carrying a load of stones to a “masjid”, which led to an uproar
in the village. It turned out later that the stones were intended for
renovation of a chapel; the Muslim worker only used what to him was
the generic term for place of worship.
Similarly, there have been protests in Panzarcone and Sarzora over
paddy fields allegedly being acquired for a kabrastan, though there
is no such proposal. But politicians across the board are always
ready to fish in these troubled waters in search of cheap popularity.
In Sarzora, Joaquim Alemao was quick to jump on the bandwagon and
asked the Village Panchayat not to grant any land for development of
The plan of the government to acquire land for a kabrastan in
Davorlim led to the Sarpanch convening a Gram Sabha meeting to
discuss the issue, and the proposal was unanimously opposed in this
meeting. The land is apparently Comunidade paddy fields, though not
actually being cultivated for some years. The whole incident evoked
an anguished reaction from Davorlim resident Tabrez Mahamad, “When it
comes to the kabrastan issue, everyone seems to become defensive and
uneasy...It is very difficult to understand how burying the dead of
one community would affect the peaceful existence of the other.”
The fact that some Muslims are migrants is used as an excuse to
justify denial of a kabrastan. This is completely illogical – are
migrants from other communities denied the right to bury/cremate
their dead? Further, how would Goans feel if they were denied the
same right in the places, both in India and abroad, where the Goan
diaspora has spread and settled? What does a human being’s Goan vs
migrant status have to do with this issue in the first place? As Dr
Nandkumar Kamat pointed out in a recent article, “Providing basic
facilities for final rites of the dead is a serious human rights
issue. It cannot be seen from the narrow perspective of who’s Goan
and who’s not.”
Other critics have resorted to criticism of the alleged practices of
the Muslim community to justify denial of a kabrastan. One critic
alleged that separate graveyards will be needed for Sunnis and Shias,
and criticised Muslims for burying their dead separately according to
sect. He apparently sees this as somehow different from the fact that
Christian sects bury their dead in separate cemeteries, or that Hindu
cremation grounds are often caste-specific. In any case, the Muslim
community is quite clear that when a kabrastan becomes available,
there will be separate sections set aside within it for Shias and
Sunnis, just as there already are in the existing Pajifond kabrastan.
It is also alleged that Muslims do not re-use their graves, thus
putting severe pressure on land. This is not true in Goa – the
community has recognised the multiple pressures on the limited land
resources, and in the Pajifond graveyard the graves are re-used every
two years. Even then, the land is grossly insufficient to meet the
community’s needs, and many bodies have to be taken to Maharashtra or
Karnataka for burial.
What is the way out this impasse? Objections can, of course, be
raised over any and every specific piece of land, but it is difficult
to believe that there is no land whatsoever anywhere for the purpose.
It is here that the religious authorities and the government have an
important role to play. A government that acquires massive tracts of
land at the drop of a hat for grandiose projects, despite widespread
public opposition, can have no excuse for inaction in this matter. As
for religious authorities, they need to provide guidance to their
flocks about the basic human rights involved here, and ask them to
refrain from opposing this legitimate demand.
Hearteningly, for some time various religious bodies have been making
some efforts for an inter-faith dialogue to help the various
communities understand one another better, and dispel prejudices and
misapprehensions about each other. While this is certainly laudable,
it has unfortunately remained stuck at the level of endless
discussions. Why are religious heads from the Christian and Hindu
communities not willing to issue public statements to their flocks to
help find a solution? Granted that in these times people may not
always follow the guidance of religious authorities, but that does
not absolve them from the responsibility of making the effort.
We would do well to pay heed to the recent impassioned statement of
Jesuit priest Fr Cedric Prakash, the well-known human rights activist
from Ahmedabad: “There are Catholics in Goa who refuse to give
Muslims the land to bury their dead. This is a sin, this is wrong.
Jesus never taught us to discriminate. I can say this with conviction
and with a full heart.” The local religious authorities, Hindu and
Christian, need to show similar resolve, and the government must find
the political will to live up to its constitutional mandate, in order
that all the Muslims of Salcete are enabled to get the six feet of
land, which, as Tolstoy points out in his famous short story, are all
that a man, in the ultimate analysis, needs – but which are still
denied to the Muslims of Salcete.
o o o
June 24, 2009
PRIVATE VIRTUES, PUBLIC VICES
by Bibek Debroy
Though it is early days, there may be bad news on the monsoon. The
economy is more affected by spread of rains across region and time,
rather than aggregate precipitation. It is understandable that people
should pray for rains or get frogs married off. We have been doing
this for thousands of years. But it is slightly different when
governments decide to indulge in prayers.
In Madhya Pradesh, "Som Yajnas" have been performed in Ujjain. As far
as one can make out, the Som Yajna in Ujjain was performed by
Sholapur's Veda Vijnana Ashrama, a private entity. The government
requested the private entity to come to Ujjain and perform the yajna.
Though the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, participated in
prayers, no financial transaction in terms of payment seems to have
been made to Veda Vijnana Ashrama. By most indicators, Andhra is
ahead of Madhya Pradesh and therefore, it is understandable that
Andhra CM should do better. Not content with appealing to Hindus,
Muslims and Christians to offer special prayers for rain, Y S
Rajasekhara Reddy has gone a step further. All temples, mosques and
churches in Andhra have been ordered to conduct special prayers. The
Endowments Minister, G Venkat Reddy, will personally supervise the
prayers being held, as per the orders.
Is this what a 21st century India is about? There is a difference
between personal practices and public policy. There is a narrower
question of whether governments should propagate obscurantism. But
there is a broader question about whether public policy should at all
be based on religion. Is that the right interpretation of secularism?
How can a government order religious organisations to undertake
prayers or even supervise prayers that are being held? The reason is
purse-strings, since such religious institutions receive endowments
Why should there be an Endowments Minister and Ministry? Tirumala
Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) was established in 1932 and at that time,
a colonial government may have wanted oversight. Regulation for
something like TTD is fine, but does one need the AP Charitable and
Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act of 1987, or the ones
that preceded it? Does one need the Board of Trustees of TTD to be
packed with IAS officers and MLAs? Does one need the government to
dabble in religion? That's a terrible idea. Since the government
messes up most things, it will also mess up religion. Let's keep
religion in the private domain.
 Why do India's Politicians fall facedown at the feet of religious
leaders seeking secular salvation? [Thank Dog, the Left has got it
right this time]
The Asian Age
9 July 2009
WHY NO NETA WILL TALK STRAIGHT ON 377
by Antara Dev Sen
We can’t talk about sex. Mere mention of the word diverts the blood
flow from the brain to other, more excitable areas of the body
politic. And we jabber on in demented frenzy, especially if we happen
to be in government.
Ask our ministers, leaders and decision-makers about cross-border
terrorism, nukes or China’s malicious moves and you will get big,
bold responses. Ask them about the fiscal deficit, Maoist terror,
pandemics, environmental catastrophes, our terrifying development
indices, and they will answer fearlessly. But ask them about
homosexuality and they will gurgle incoherently, demanding
ministerial meetings, special committees, national debates, and fall
facedown at the feet of religious leaders seeking secular salvation.
Which is precisely what they have been doing about Section 377 of the
Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised "carnal intercourse
against the order of nature" till last week, when the Delhi high
court ruled otherwise. In a historic judgment Chief Justice A.P. Shah
and Justice S. Muralidhar ruled that criminalising consensual sex
between homosexual adults violates their fundamental rights. This
decriminalising of homosexuality was long awaited, most countries
(including China and Nepal, in the immediate neighbourhood) have done
so years ago.
One would have thought that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government would be happy to build on this progressive line of
thought and amend the law, as it had earlier suggested. Instead, it
hopped from foot to foot, refusing to come out with a straight
response. The Congress said it had no view on the matter. The
ministers of health, law and home — who had earlier variously asked
for, opposed, then suggested and denied suggesting an amendment to
the law — huddled together, failed to find a cogent line and
consigned the matter to a group of ministers. They sought refuge in
parliamentary debate, religious consultation and political consensus.
The National Commission for Women (NCW), which has been superbly
shaming itself of late, went back on its demand of a repeal of
Section 377 and asked for a nationwide debate as "the entire society
But why is "the entire society involved" in a decision that
apparently affects a minuscule minority, as the traditionalists would
have us believe? And even if it was, how many laws on matters of
public importance have been amended after a thorough public debate? I
don’t recall anyone asking us about national security issues, do you?
And did anyone ask you about this ambitious Unique Identity Card
project? What kind of "all party consensus" did the Indo-US nuclear
deal enjoy? And why on earth would we need to muddy waters further by
bringing religious leaders into a secular debate?
Sure, the holy keepers of the faith have dutifully objected to
decriminalising homosexuality. Muslim leaders said the Sharia
prohibits homosexuality — but we are a "secular democratic republic"
and not ruled by the Sharia. If we were, we would have to ban pork,
alcohol, magic, pet dogs and our stock markets. The Catholics oppose
gay marriage and sex outside of marriage. Well, no one is asking for
gay marriage right now and no law can prevent sex outside of marriage
in a free society where people are marrying late. Besides, if
Catholic rules shaped our laws, we would have to first ban more
mainstream personal matters like divorce, contraception and abortion
before moving to the private life of sexual minorities. And of course
certain Hindu fundamentalists have been clamouring against
homosexuality. Thankfully, our reformist laws have never given in to
majoritarian Hindu sentiment. If they had, we would never have been
able to legislate against sati, child marriage, female infanticide,
female foeticide, untouchability, child labour, dowry and honour
crimes. And widow remarriage, inter-caste and inter-religious
marriage would not be legal. In short, we would still be trapped in
the narrow, anti-life laws that smother human rights, justice and
democratic freedoms in the name of convention.
So why exactly does the state need to control the sex life of private
individuals? It usually does not inflict religious demands on us,
certainly not in the bedrooms of consenting adults. Sexual
preference, like religion, is a personal matter. And this 150-year-
old British law doesn’t just target gays, it demands that anyone —
gay or straight — be jailed for non-procreative sex or foreplay. Why
is the state so keen to barge into bedrooms and supervise sexual mores?
Because it believes that allowing homosexuals to love their partners
would destroy Indian family life? If so, we are forgetting that the
diversity of India is also reflected in its diversity of family
types. Bigamy may have been banned, but significant numbers of our
population have more than one partner, whether they married legally
or under common law, or whether they plain forgot to get divorced.
Many of our leaders also fall into this category. Besides, there is
legally accepted bigamy and polygamy among Muslims. There is also
polyandry among certain tribes and clans. And many of us make our own
mix and match family out of friends, relatives, pet cats and dogs.
Gays cannot destroy the Indian concept of the family by setting up
their own same-sex families, because there is no one ideal family
pattern that applies to all Indians.
Besides, how dare the government, the NCW and others suggest that the
private life of consenting homosexuals is the business of the entire
nation? For the rest, it can only be anybody else’s business when one
party complains. Even high-profile bigamous families live happily
ever after because no one complains. The law can enter the bedroom
only when one partner lodges a complaint. And in the case of
adultery, the law doesn’t even recognise the possibility of the wife
being adulterous. However flagrant her illicit affair, she is looked
upon as the victim, and the husband can only sue her lover. This is
another absurd law stuck in time and conventional patriarchal values.
The wife cannot be sued because she is not accepted as a free
individual but as the property of her husband, and her master must
drag to court the man who attempts to steal it. But even this law
doesn’t suggest that the sex lives of these adults is the nation’s
business. The nation only thrusts its rubber neck in when it’s sex
between gay partners.
Back in March 2000 the Law Commission had suggested that Section 377
be repealed, and the Delhi high court order last week referred to
that report. Repeal it or amend it, but you can’t ignore it. Because
Section 377 is not about sex, but about basic democratic freedoms.
And a democracy must protect these freedoms even if that means
hurting religious sentiments and making unpopular choices.
Antara Dev Sen is editor of The Little Magazine. She can be contacted
o o o
NDTV 24x7 > Verdict > Legally Gay (2 July 2009)
NDTV > We The People » Legalisation of Homosexuality
Barkha Dutt The Delhi High Court, in a landmark verdict on Thursday,
legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning a
While homosexuality has always been as much a part of Indian society
as anywhere else, it has had to lurk in the shadows.
Some see the ruling as crucial for the country’s battle against HIV/
AIDS. Gay advocacy groups say the fear of persecution by law
enforcement agencies leaves homosexuals without easy access to health
information and preventive care. Religious leaders, meanwhile, have
described homosexuality as "unnatural."
Contradictions are deeply interwoven in India’s social fabric. Will
the judgment make conservative Indians change their perception of the
gay community? Are Indians ready to accept same-sex couples?
Midday, July 05, 2009
Activists of National Akali Dal & Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha
demostrating against homosexuality as they are disagree with the
verdict of Delhi High Court, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday.
Video by Rajeev Tyagi
 India: Human Rights & Democratisation
Mail Today, 8 July 2009
COMPEL GOVERNMENT TO IMPLEMENT POLICE REFORMS ORDERED BY SC
by S. R. Darapuri
ON JULY 3, Dehradun police staged a fake encounter in which Ranveer
Singh, an MBA graduate who was going to join his new assignment, was
killed in cold blood. According to the details of the incident, the
deceased along with one or two friends, as alleged by the police,
were riding a motorbike. They were stopped by the police at a check
It appears that the police men misbehaved with them as usual and the
boys might have objected to it.
This might have infuriated the policemen who may have tried to detain
them. Out of fear, the boys might have sped away to escape torture at
the hands of police.
At this, the police might have issued a lookout call on wireless.
Later on, one of the boys — Ranveer — may have been traced and taken
If this sequence of events is true as presumed, the simplest course
of action by the police should have been to book the boys for an
offence under the Motor Vehicles Act. Otherwise, if the vehicle
papers were alright, even an admonition would have served the
purpose. But as the policemen are often intoxicated on power, they
don’t relish any opposition to their misbehaviour with the common
man. Now, as the boys had objected to their misbehaviour and sped
away, this might have infuriated the policemen, who decided to teach
them a lesson as they often resort to. They tortured Ranveer Singh at
the police station and when his condition worsened, they decided to
stage an encounter.
This action of the police shows how authoritarian and power- drunk
our police are. They can go to the extent of eliminating a person for
small opposition to their autocratic ways. This is the general
mindset of the police. They treat the ordinary citizen as a very
They are used to depriving the common man of his right to life and
liberty without any fear of punishment.
The misdeeds of the subordinate ranks are ignored and overlooked by
senior police officers who embolden them further. Often, senior
officers connive with their subordinates in wrongdoings and if
exposed, they go out of their way to defend them. It is also
sometimes alleged by subordinate ranks that they are compelled by
their senior officers to stage- manage fake encounters in order to
show good work. In the present case, the police station staff could
not have resorted to this type of action without the prior approval
of senior officers.
Hence, with my experience in the police department, I can say that at
present, there is not much difference in the mindset of the senior
officers and the subordinate ranks.
Due to this, even IPS officers have lost their credibility in the
eyes of the public. This mindset of senior a
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