SACW | Sept 19, 2009 / Afghan Election Fraud / Sri Lanka: Media Freedoms / Pakistan: Minorities / Bangladesh: Activists at Risk / Indo Pak Arms Race: Case Against Nuclear Tests ; Encounter Killings ; Narendra Modi
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Fri Sep 18 21:26:33 CDT 2009
South Asia Citizens Wire | September 19, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2653 -
Year 12 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 ]
 Afghanistan: Elections Fraud (A cartoon by Shadi Ghanim)
 Sri Lanka:
- Is the claim of full media freedom tenable? (Editorial, Daily
- The collective conscience of the silent majority in Sri Lanka
(Kishali Pinto Jayawardene)
- The sentencing J.S Tissainayagam: Not in my name! (Sandun
- Blow to media freedom (Editorial, The Hindu)
- Keeping Memories alive: 20th anniversary of Rajani’s
assassination in Sri Lanka (Dayapala Thiranagama)
 Bangladesh: The state in its fearsome symmetry (Syed Badrul Ahsan)
+ Open Letter: International Oil Companies in Bangladesh and State
Violence against Bangladeshi Activists
 Pakistan: Marginalisation and discrimination against the
minorities: An interview with Dr Charles Amjad-Ali (Muhammad Badar Alam)
+ Money can’t buy you love (Nirupama Subramanian)
 Pakistan - India:
(i) Whose Side Are We On? (Rajiv Kumar)
(ii) The case against further N-tests (Praful Bidwai)
(iii) India’s Nuclear Fizzle: What Should Pakistan Do? (Pervez
 India: Unrestrained and Unaccountable Policing & Eroding Human
- Ishrat is why encounters need judicial probing (Siddharth
- India: Text of Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate’s Inquiry
Report on The Death of Ishrat Jehan and others in Gujarat
- Q&N: 'Need judicial commission to probe J&K
disappearances' (Uma Chakravarti)
- ’Encounter Killings’ and the Question of Justice in India
 India: Resources For Secular Activists
(i) Bababudangiri, Karnataka’s communal smoke pit, is
(ii) Petition to oppose Oman Government's Invitation to Modi
(iii) The memory of Gujarat can't be erased (Savitri Hensman)
(iv) Q&A: 'It's worth upholding ideals that are good for
mankind' (Taslima Nasreen)
AFGHAN ELECTIONS FRAUD
A cartoon by Shadi Ghanim in The National, September 18 2009
 Sri Lanka
September 14, 2009
IS THE CLAIM OF FULL MEDIA FREEDOM TENABLE?
Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa could’t have said anything
different from what he has said while speaking to this newspaper
recently on media freedom, despite his consistent media-friendly
attitude. He repeats the statement that the government has not
introduced any legislation to curb media freedom and that he
disagrees with the contention that the country’s media institutions
and personnel are under threat. He asserts that the media in this
country are vibrant and free. It is indeed futile to expect Minister
Yapa to view government policies and actions objectively since he is
obliged to support and protect government interests as a leading
member of the government.
Although it is correct to assert that the government has not framed
any new laws to curtail media freedom, it is not a secret that media
institutions and personnel have increasingly come under attacks and
threats during recent times as the government has tended to use
existing laws to blunt dissent and criticism of government decisions
and actions. According to Sri Lanka Journalists for Democracy, from
2004, as many as 34 media personnel have been killed, 10 media
persons have been abducted and over 50 journalists have left the
country in fear of threats and attacks.
Does this record prove that media personnel in this country have
the full freedom to carry out their function of keeping the public
informed of matters affecting their lives and interests? True, these
things have happened at a time when the country was in the throes of
a fierce terrorist menace which required adoption of harsh measures
to ensure public safety. Yet, the administration was required to
abide by the basic principles of democracy that it claims to follow.
The situation certainly did not warrant the abuse of the adopted
measures to gain political advantage.
The government persistently denies involvement in attacks, threats or
unlawful acts to suppress media freedom and each time such an act is
committed it vows to conduct immediate inquiries and bring the
culprits to justice. But the widespread public complaint is that the
patent lack of interest, delays and unorthodox moves in the
investigations lend suspicion that either the government or its
myriad protectors have a hand in these acts to oppress media
personnel and suppress dissent and criticism of government. Most of
the incidents where journalists had been killed, abducted or attacked
still remain unresolved mysteries while it is officially claimed that
matters are being investigated or cases have been filed in courts.
The fact that the elimination of some of these media men has involved
removal of leading critics of government actions adds substance to
the suspicion that government has had a hand in these acts. It is
only by expediting the process of investigation and bringing culprits
to justice that the government could absolve itself of blame. It is
indeed an unpatriotic act to criticize, ridicule or trivialize, with
ulterior motives, the government efforts to make this country a safer
and prosperous place. But it is also equally unpatriotic and unjust
to brand all critics as treacherous enemies of the country and treat
such criticism as those motivated by malicious intention to discredit
Take, for example, the recent arrest of journalists who visited
Deniyaya and took pictures of a ‘palace’ being constructed there.
This visit reportedly was prompted by information their newspaper had
received that state resources were being used to construct this
building and that the residents there have complained about adverse
effect on the environment of the area as a result. The government
stand is that the conduct of these journalists who entered the
premises without permission had lent strong suspicion that they had
criminal intentions. The charges against the trio had ranged from
trespass to conspiracy to harm the high-ups on their visits to the
area. The authorities have thus used the provisions of the Prevention
of Terrorism Act against them.
Journalist J.S.Tissainayagam was also arrested under PTA. In that
case, of course, the broad legal procedure has been followed although
a number of flaws in the process were observed. However, it was
palpably wrong for the authorities to have hauled him before courts
under this law when the main charge against him involved expression
of opinion. There was no charge of possessing or wielding weapons
against him. Only weapon he wielded was his pen. Of course, the
mitigating factor was that the country’s condition remained unstable
at that time. In any event, maximum effort should have been made to
protect the precious right to freedom of expression which is
considered to be “the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly
every form of freedom.” It is hoped that the right of appeal that
Tissainayagam is left with, will ensure justice.
The inevitable overall effect of these actions against media
personnel is to instil fear in them thus restraining them from
engaging themselves in investigative journalism that exposes
corruption, fraud and other wrongs in the administrative system. It
has also to be conceded that in carrying out this onerous duty, it is
also the responsibility of media institutions and personnel to act
with genuine concern for individual rights and national interests.
o o o
THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE OF THE SILENT MAJORITY IN SRI LANKA
by Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
o o o
THE SENTENCING J.S TISSAINAYAGAM: NOT IN MY NAME!
by Sandun Ratnaweera
o o o
9 September 2009
BLOW TO MEDIA FREEDOM
The August 31 verdict of a Colombo High Court sentencing the veteran
journalist and columnist J.S. Tissainayagam to 20 years of rigorous
imprisonment under the country’s draconian anti-terror law has raised
concerns across the world on the state of freedoms in the country.
The punishment is extremely disproportionate to the alleged crime of
writing articles criticising the military in his North Eastern
Monthly magazine. Tissainayagam, an ethnic Tamil who wrote in English
and was a regular newspaper columnist, was arrested by an anti-
terrorism division of police in March 2008. He was not formally
charged or produced in court until August 2008, when he was indicted
under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The court made a
determination that his column, which was a mere expression of opinion
on the government strategy in the war against terror, was intended to
cause racial or communal disharmony. His raising money to run his
magazine was construed as raising funds for the promotion of
terrorism. The shock over the judgment is understandable as it is the
first case in which a journalist had been charged and convicted under
the PTA of 1979 and has come in the post-Prabakaran Sri Lanka that
eagerly awaits reconciliation, after the military defeat of the LTTE
in May this year.
Even before the court pronouncement, the case of Tissa made
international headlines. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day
on May 3, United States President Barack Obama referred to the lack
of media freedom in many parts and to the case of Tissainayagam along
with another as “emblematic examples of this distressing reality.”
Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that has consultative
status with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), has
called on the Council to intercede on behalf of the jailed Sri Lankan
journalist. The incarceration and prosecution by the state and the
court’s judgment have the effect of intimidating reporters and
editors who may want to question the government’s anti-terror
campaign and strategy. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has earned
all-round praise for his successful military campaign against the
LTTE, should heed democratic voices and intervene urgently in the
matter to set Tissainayagam free. Even in difficult times, the Sri
Lanka Parliament had in 2002, during the tenure of Ranil
Wickramasinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga, repealed law relating to
criminal defamation. The core post-war theme espoused by the
government is, “let’s forget the past and rebuild the battered
nation.” The Tissa episode is an opportunity for the government to
move towards reconciliation as well as to ensure that basic freedoms
o o o
KEEPING MEMORIES ALIVE: 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF RAJANI’S ASSASSINATION IN
by Dayapala Thiranagama
The Daily Star
September 9, 2009
THE STATE IN ITS FEARSOME SYMMETRY
by Syed Badrul Ahsan
THE sight of Professor Anu Muhammad lying prostrate on the street,
his young camp followers trying to protect him from the blows of
policemen gone berserk, was something we had come across before.
Remember the moment when a police officer, fury pushing his facial
features into contortion, landed his fist in the face of an elderly
photojournalist and sent the poor man tumbling? And do you recall how
a whole phalanx of policemen swooped on Sohel Taj (and he was a
lawmaker), back in the days when the country seethed in fury at the
misrule of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-Jamaat government, and
left him with a fractured arm?
Go back in time. In the early days of the Ershad military regime,
trucks were simply let loose on university students who dared to
question the legitimacy of the coup makers of 1982. Come back to
times closer. Every time the opposition called a general strike or
sought to enforce a siege of the capital in the days when Khaleda Zia
ran things, it was not uncommon for the police to seize anybody and
everybody they could lay their hands on, dump them on to trucks and
simply whisk them off to prison. It did not matter at all that all
these hapless men were innocent citizens trying to go about their
quotidian business of earning a living. The state ignored their
It all says something about the state we have given ourselves,
particularly in the post-1975 period. Before the murder of
Bangabandhu and then the assassination of his colleagues in prison,
the Bangladesh state cared for those who constituted it. Between
August and November 1975, light gave way to sinister darkness.
The welfare-oriented state of Bangladesh with alacrity mutated into
an insensitive one. Two military administrations, one cabal of killer
army officers and two periods of putative rule by the BNP (it was
anything but) were all that was needed to inject fear into the minds
of citizens. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men in the armed forces
perished in the five years of the Ziaur Rahman regime.
In a political dispensation where transparency and accountability
were expected to be the underpinning of governance, it was fear of
the state that began grinding citizens' rights into pieces. No wrong,
no act of immorality could be questioned. None was. Colonel Taher was
hanged in the dark loneliness of prison. Not even the uncertain
interregnum that was the Sattar presidency demonstrated any
inclination to be a little more sophisticated than its predecessor.
Military officers charged with planning and carrying out the Zia
murder were put to death in dubious circumstances.
Military rule was brought to an end through popular struggle long
ago. The elements of fear consequent upon such rule have remained,
though. That much was made obvious in the times of the Fakhruddin
caretaker administration. The frontal assault made on Dhaka and
Rajshahi universities in August 2007, through the arrest and remand
of some of our respected and reputed academics, remains our undying
shame. It was, in many ways, a throwback to the Pakistani occupation
in 1971, when academics were shot and bayoneted and then flung into
mass graves. Of course, no graves were dug in 2007. But is that any
consolation, knowing how a group of men in the service of the state
and its people blindfolded these teachers and subjected them to
indignities of the sort we have a hard time trying to imagine? That
humiliation (and it was also meted out to leading politicians and
students) was a reminder that the state had come to acquire a
Today, now that an elected government is in place, it becomes the
nation's collective moral responsibility to identify the men, be they
in the armed forces or in the intelligence structure of the
government, who so happily demeaned and diminished all these
respected citizens. If you believe in the rule of law, if you think
crime must be handled with a firm hand, you need to hunt down these
men and haul them up before the law.
It is not just Anu Muhammad's state-backed assailants who need to
answer for their criminal conduct. It is not enough that a minister
or two will visit the injured academic and say sorry. More crucial is
the job of liberating the state from those who, ruffian-like, have
come to identify themselves with the state in all the crudity that
Louis XIV once gave voice to. If you can go so purposefully into
bringing to justice the barbarians who put all those brilliant army
officers to death at the BDR headquarters in February, you can very
well do a similar act through having these truncheon-wielding
policemen face the music.
Democracy goes beyond the exercise of choosing a government. It is,
in the broadest sense, the instilling of the idea in the minds of
citizens that they matter, that the state is theirs to nurture,
modify and make substantive in their interest as well as in the
interest of the generations to be. Fear that the state has symbolised
in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and among the various indigenous
denominations in the country militates against the principles of the
twilight struggle we waged in 1971. And as long as you do not go back
home to secular politics, you will be an alien in your own land.
An Anu Muhammad under siege by the state is reason enough for us to
reclaim the state as our own. And for a government, which professes
faith in democracy, it is time for less volubility and much hard
Syed Badrul Ahsan is Editor, Current Affairs, The Daily Star.
o o o
OPEN LETTER: INTERNATIONAL OIL COMPANIES IN BANGLADESH AND STATE
VIOLENCE AGAINST BANGLADESHI ACTIVISTS
dawn, 12 September, 2009
MARGINALISATION AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE MINORITIES: AN
INTERVIEW WITH DR CHARLES AMJAD-ALI
by Muhammad Badar Alam
Activists of Christian community shout slogans against burning of
houses of Christian community in Gojra, during a demonstration
outside Karachi Press Club.– APP Photo.
Dr Charles Amjad-Ali is the Martin Luther King Jr Professor for
Justice and Christian Community and the director of Islamic studies
programme at the Luther Seminary in St Paul, the United States.
Ordained as a presbyter of the Church of Pakistan in 1987, he worked
as the director of the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi between
1985 and 1995 before joining the Aurat Foundation for a year. He is
also one of the founders of many civil society organisations in
Pakistan. These include the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
(HRCP), the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, Patan
Foundation, and Sungi Rural Development Foundation.
Dr Charles Amjad-Ali has studied Islamic Law and History from
Columbia University at the post-doctoral level after having done his
PhD in contemporary philosophy at Frederich Wilhelm University in
Bonn, Germany. His books include Islamophobia (2006), Liberation
Ethics (1985) and Passion for Change (1989).
Dawn.com exchanged e-mails with him a few weeks after the recent
deadly anti-Christian violence in Gojra, a town in central Punjab. In
the wake of Friday's attack on another church, the following is a
question and answer session with Dr Charles.
Q- How do you contextualise the anti-minority violence in Pakistan?
How and why in socio-political and historical terms have religious
minorities come to be so flagrantly victimised, so obviously
marginslised and so openly discriminated against?
A- One has to contextualise the continuing violence, flagrant
victimisation, marginalisation and discrimination against the
minorities in Pakistan, through a critical look at its history. This
is best expressed in the debate on the reasons for founding Pakistan.
The gist of the conservative stance is that Pakistan was made for
Islam. This resurfaced belligerently and with vehemence during the
Zia period, ending up in the slogan Pakistan ka matlab kya? La illa
ha illalah! This of course excluded the minorities completely. The
‘liberal’ side of Pakistan, or should I say the relatively more
authentic side of the debate, argued that Pakistan was made for
Muslims, not for Islam. The problem with this position is the high
level of subtlety and differentiation which escapes the majority.
Thus the sloganeers, playing on a common sentiment and simple
clichés, are able to control the discourse.
I want to add a little more nuance to this debate by arguing that
Pakistan was a nation exclusively created by and for a minority of
India. For some 700 years the Muslims ruled large parts of the Indian
subcontinent, which always had a Hindu majority. This rule ranged
from being highly accepting of the plurality of religious communities
(c.f. Akbar and the Din-e-Elahi) to being repressive (c.f. Aurangzeb
and his ‘Islamisation’ policies). As the independence of India became
certain, with its clear democratic ideals, the minorities were afraid
that the guarantees provided by the British Empire, no matter how
skewed, would not be upheld in the independent India. They had
grounds for their apprehensions, and part of their fear was that the
tyranny of the sheer majority of around 80 per cent Hindus would not
allow any other group to have a place on a level playing field. These
fears were accentuated by the Government of India Act of 1935, and
the subsequent provincial elections held in the winter of 1936/37.
It is interesting to note that on October 15, 1946, in the political
jockeying for power, the All India Muslim League nominated a
Scheduled Caste Hindu (a Dalit), Jogindar Nath Mandal, to Lord
Wavell’s Interim Government of India. He was among such Muslim League
luminaries as Liaquat Ali Khan, I I Chundrigar, Abdur Rab Nishtar,
Ghazanfar Ali Khan. This same Jogindar Nath was the chairman of the
Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, when Jinnah was
elected the Governor General of Pakistan and gave his oft quoted
famous speech about the democratic, egalitarian and fully
participatory nature and future of Pakistan. Mandal was also later
the highest ranking minority member of the Cabinet that the Quaid put
together; ironically he was the Minister of Law and Labour.
Furthermore, in 1947 three Christian members of the Punjab Assembly,
S P Singha, C E Gibbon and Joshua Fazal Din, voted with the Muslim
League and thus in favour of Pakistan, which is a clear indication of
what they saw Pakistan to be. They were taking the words of the Quaid
seriously. We all know about Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947, but
what we forget is that on August 12, the Constituent Assembly
appointed a special ‘Committee on Fundamental Rights of Citizens and
Minorities of Pakistan,’ to look into and advise it on matters
relating to the fundamental rights of the citizens, particularly the
One can expand these early democratic and rights oriented
understandings of Pakistan. The first real undoing of all this early
promise was the adoption of the Objectives Resolution on March 12,
1949, which played immediately into the hands of the more
conservative Muslim leadership.
The pre-Independence orthodox, conservative, and newly emerging
fundamentalist Islamic movements were all against the formation of
Pakistan. For them, if a state was created in the name of Islam for
the Muslim population of India, then Islam was being reduced to a
nation-state rather than a pan-ethnic, pan-national ummah with
Khilafat as its political order. This was seen fundamentally as a
product of a western nationalism. Also, this nationalism, and its
concurrent democratic ideals, was seen primarily as products of
liberal bourgeois democratic republicanism with no basis in Islam.
(It is no wonder that the Khilafat movement and the Independence
movement had two distinct groups of Muslims supporting them). While
it was perhaps a doctrinally accurate perception, it was based on an
ossified understanding of Islam.
Contrary to these groups, the people who struggled for the foundation
of Pakistan were much more familiar with western political and
philosophical ideas and ideals than with the Islamic sources on these
issues. These men were what has come to be called ‘Islamic
modernists,’ who never envisioned, even when they gave lip service to
Islam for the sake of republican democratisation policies, the kind
of Islam that is dominant in Pakistan today.
The Islamic influence, however, begins primarily as a way for the
conservative elements to try to influence and control the destiny of
Pakistan, first by adopting the Objectives Resolution, then creating
the Ahmedi Crisis of the early 1950s and then by naming the country
the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ for the first time in the
Constitution of 1956. This was a utilitarian and cynical shift in the
position of the conservative Islamic groups. They were first against
the formation of Pakistan on Islamic grounds, but once Pakistan came
into existence, without any input from them and even after their
active resistance, they decided to make Pakistan an ideal Muslim
state on the basis of an ossified interpretation of the early Islamic
state without seeing the sheer religious paradox of this position.
The irony is that their kind of Islam now provides the grammar, and
is stated as the raison d’etre of Pakistan. So the Islamic influence
has progressively grown. Pakistan today sits in the international
arena as the hotbed for the generation of Islamic fundamentalism,
Jihadists, ‘terrorists,’ such as al-Qaeda, Taliban or whatever new
nomenclature is given to them or a small group takes for itself.
Q- What role have religious laws such as those against blasphemy
played in perpetuating these trends?
A- The Hudood Ordinance and the blasphemy laws, especially those
covering blasphemy against the Quran and the Prophet of Islam, while
playing on the emotions of these issues, were slid through as
draconian laws to be used cynically against those groups which stood
for democracy and rights, and were to be victimised by the state.
That was the intention of a repressive state. Now, however, after the
events of 9/11 where the same fundamentalist Muslims who were once an
ally to the United States and Saudi Arabia and are now clearly the
Frankenstein enemies, are either using these laws or aiding and
abetting their use both to victimise the vulnerable minorities as
well as to destabilise the progress in good governance and in the
growth of participatory and just democracy.
So the state, which has been historically the producer of these
draconian laws, now finds itself the victim of these laws, because of
the regular events taking place at the grassroots levels. The state
is clearly not strong enough to meet both the external threat of the
Islamic forces in Afghanistan and the Tribal Area (and parts of NWFP)
and the internal threat of the Islamic sentiments that keep erupting
regularly to eat at the sinews of the current democratic dispensation.
Q- Do you believe the current global strategic situation charactrised
by 9/11 and perceived by many as a clash between Islam and Christian
West has something to do with the rising tide of violence against
Christians in Pakistan?
A- It must be remembered that the Islamisation of the society,
culture, polity and economics grew in fits and starts between
1956-1977. However, in 1977 things changed radically with the martial
law of General Zia-ul-Haq and at this point Islam begins to dominate
the state. Here the need for Zia to justify his regime on other than
democratic grounds, coincided with the needs of the US and Saudi
Arabia to refute the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan, both in 1979. There was already a precursor of this
confluence in the refutation of socialism, and even of Zulfiqar Ali
Bhutto. So the Islamisation process was not just an endogenously
produced element but was fully aided, abetted, and even engendered
exogenously by the US and Saudi Arabia as well.
It is apparent that each time the Islamic identity is emphasized in
the larger political and policy discourse, it threatens the
minorities’ existence deeply; the more Islamic Pakistan becomes the
less secure is the status of the minorities in it. Therefore the
Christians remain under the closest scrutiny of these fundamentalist
groups. The state is either not powerful enough or unwilling to
protect these minorities in general and the Christian minority in
particular, against these conservative elements. Any protection
provided to these Christians is immediately classified as being based
on the dictates of the West, and particularly at the behest of the
hateful United States.
However, despite this picture, there still lies a deep-seated
condescension towards the Pakistani Christians because a large
majority of them comes from what the Hindus classified as the unclean
and untouchable classes (dalit). The prejudice of untouchability of
the caste-based Hindu ethos remains a very strong operational residue
in Indian and Pakistani Islam. It is applied particularly towards
Christians, not only because of their origins, but rather because
quite a large number among them are in the cleaning industry, and
belong to this untouchable class even today. The very conservative
Muslims who want to follow the puritanical rules of Islam and want to
live out their lives in imitation of the Prophet at this point become
quite Hindu in their caste-based attitude towards the Christians.
So there is a fundamental paradox in Pakistani society vis-à-vis
Christian-Muslim relations. One the one hand, the Christians are all
seen as being dalits, and therefore totally irrelevant and of no
consequence whatsoever. On the other hand, whenever something goes
wrong between Islam and the West, the first people to feel the full
brunt of reactions are the Christians who face the threat of mob
violence against which the state is either unwilling or unable to
protect them. What happens as an intermittent reality becomes an ever-
present sword of Damocles and makes the Christians of Pakistan
Q- What do you think should change to guarantee the security,
religious freedom and protection of the religious minorities' rights
A- The biggest problem is that the state does not show the spine or
the willingness to fight for a full blown democracy and extension of
rights which will be the only way to secure religious freedoms as
well as protection for religious minorities and their rights. The
state should go all out for educational policies from grassroots to
undergraduate levels, including teachers training, to extend the
concepts of democracy and rights into the very core of the society.
It should ensure the madrassas have a curriculum which reflects the
virtue of good citizenship and the virtue of being a good Muslim as a
way to opening the society for the full participation of all. All the
major institutions of the state such as the army, the bureaucracy,
the civil servants, the police, etc., must undergo continuing
education and formation with democracy and rights as the core value.
The more this takes place and the more these issues become the soul
of the society and the grammar of Pakistan, the more the most
vulnerable elements of the society will be protected and secured.
For, if everyone’s rights are central and protected, the minorities’
rights will also be automatically protected.
The intermittent lip service for the rights of the minorities,
especially Christian minorities, acts only as a makeup to cover the
huge non-democratic, non-participatory warts of Pakistan. Thus
whenever this makeup begins to wear off, the warts manifest
themselves in ever new pathologies, repressions and tyranny. The
minorities, being the most vulnerable, are therefore also the most
victimised under these circumstances.
Q- What do you think the minorities should do to get their rightful
place as equal citizens of Pakistan?
A- It must be remembered that where there is true respect for
democracy and rights, the minorities get a special privileged status
and privileged protections as a continuing affirmative action.
Therefore all the minorities should struggle, and continue to
struggle very hard, for democracy and rights for all Pakistanis,
rather than seeming or appearing to do it in a solipsistic manner
only for themselves with every new discrimination, victimisation, and
o o o
MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU LOVE
by Nirupama Subramanian
The U.S. is trying hard to win hearts and minds in Pakistan but so
far it has been a losing battle
 Pakistan - India Relations A Hostage To Security Hawks:
The Times of India
9 September 2009
WHOSE SIDE ARE WE ON?
by Rajiv Kumar
Security hawks, the media's foreign policy experts and the political
class had a field day after July's Indo-Pakistani joint statement.
Particularly for the BJP, whose astute leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee
once took the boldest of steps to liberate India from its Pakistan
obsession, nationalism seems confined to overtly displaying our
superiority over a smaller neighbour, one fighting with its back to
the wall against destabilising forces. Good foreign policy, however,
has to be more nuanced so that our long-term national interests are
To better appreciate complex diplomatic endeavours, we must start by
taking note of some facts. First, India accounts for about 80 per
cent of South Asian GDP. Being so dominant, it has to bear an
asymmetric responsibility for achieving stability, peace and
prosperity in South Asia. This must be the bedrock of our
neighbourhood policy. Second, we cannot choose our neighbours and
should work with whoever we can to help Pakistan defeat the jihadis.
Otherwise, there will be negative outcomes for our own experiment at
building a pluralistic, multi-ethnic and democratic society. Third,
the strategic balance between the two countries must surely rule out
any ideas of a decisive military victory. That road leads only to
mutually assured destruction. We may well have to bite the bullet one
day, but it is best avoided.
Fourth, there is not one monolithic Pakistan we can engage with. A
choice must be made. There is the Pakistan of the armed forces which
treats the country and its people as a fiefdom to be exploited for
personal benefit. There is another Pakistan toiling in poverty,
deprivation and backwardness for which succour from daily injustices
is welcome from any quarter. Fundamentalists, meanwhile, see
themselves as guardians of the Pakistani state and true
representatives of the Islamic republic. They see victory within
their grasp because they have duped the army into believing that it
can calibrate the growth of jihadism.
There is also the Pakistan of the rising middle class which wants
modernisation but equates it with neither westernisation nor
Islamisation. They are as horrified as we are at a video showing
Taliban goons caning a woman and yet like us do not want to succumb
entirely to the Coca-Cola culture. The sufi and pir traditions to
which prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and brave journalists, judges
and lawyers belong are also part of this Pakistan. The small, almost
inconsequential section of westernised, 'liberated' men and women is
yet another Pakistan. There is also the Pakistan of the Mohajirs who
see themselves as increasingly marginalised and resent that. Finally,
there is the Pakistan whose political leaders represent growing
popular aspirations for freedom and rule of law.
India must choose which Pakistan it wants to support, and which it
wants to isolate and hopefully defeat over time. Clearly, we must
work to erode the credibility and legitimacy of Pakistan's armed
forces establishment whose very reason to be is its festering
animosity towards India. Islamic fundamentalists are the second group
to be opposed. It is not mere coincidence the two are aligned in
vicious opposition to India and subvert by coordinated, violent means
any move to improve bilateral relations. Pakistan-bashing, on which
some sections of India's political spectrum and media thrive,
strengthens the hands of these two groups. Nothing serves their
purpose better than a bellicose India flexing muscles and vocal
chords against Pakistan which they claim to represent. The reaction
to Sharm el-Sheikh must have been music to their ears.
The Pakistan to be supported is today most effectively represented by
Gilani. He comes from a sufi family, is a thorough professional with
well-established credentials for integrity. He is seen as distinct
from his president who comes from a completely different background
and perhaps with his own agenda. Gilani represents the aspirations,
weaknesses and strengths of the Pakistani middle class which desires
better and open relations with its counterparts across the Wagah
border. Sharm el-Sheikh was manifestly designed to support him and
prevent him from relying completely on Rawalpindi, the jihadis or
Asif Zardari for his political survival.
India must continue to make bold attempts to improve ties and
strengthen Pakistan's elected leadership to give it the wherewithal
to begin confronting religious fundamentalists and resisting the
armed forces establishment, the two worst enemies of the Pakistani
people. At Sharm el-Sheikh, India gave away nothing in real terms. It
only provided Gilani an opportunity to claim a breakthrough with his
own hawks. If the strategy works, we would have an interlocutor with
credibility and some capacity to resist the two groups most inimical
to our interests.
What possible end can be served if Indo-Pak relations remain
stalemated? Those who criticise initiatives to engage Pakistan should
then suggest a more effective means of improving ties and
collaborating with it to fight jihadi terrorists who, as agreed by
the two countries earlier, are a menace for both.
The writer is director, Indian Council for Research on International
o o o
(ii) THE CASE AGAINST FURTHER N-TESTS
by Praful Bidwai
WHY do we keep showering awards and honours upon the managers of our
security and space-science establishment despite the shoddy results
it produces after claiming stellar successes? "Missile Man" APJ Abdul
Kalam got the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, six
years before economist-philosopher Amartya Sen did, for a an
infinitely richer contribution.
Doesn't the recent winding up of the Integrated Guided Missile
Programme launched by Dr. Kalam in 1983 signify its terminal crisis?
Why doesn't India have a reliable intermediate-range missile barring
Agni-I? Why has the cost of the nuclear submarine risen 30-fold?
If the Defence Research and Development Organisation is the grand
success it's claimed to be, then why has it never completed a major
project without huge delays and cost overruns? Why did the Department
of Atomic Energy have to get critical Russian designs and equipment
for the N-submarine reactor after working on it for 34 years?
The DAE and DRDO have long been unmatched for their boastful claims,
missed targets, unaccountability and excessive secrecy. Now, the
Indian Space Research Organisation, earlier considered transparent
and honest, has joined their league.
ISRO's Moon mission has just been terminated because the orbiter got
overheated, leading to the collapse of vital subsystems, including
sensors that determine its orientation.
It's not the mission's premature termination, or ISRO's
miscalculation of the craft's surface temperature, that warrants
concern. Mistakes aren't uncommon in space programmes. ISRO did raise
the craft's orbit to prevent overheatingto no avail.
ISRO's real failure lay in misleading the public and its own
scientists. It falsely claimed that the orbit was raised to enable a
better view and "further studies" of the Moon.
ISRO didn't tell its scientists of the overheating crisis, noticed
one month after launch, for over three months. It kept its overseas
collaborating scientists in the dark for a month after the sensor
ISRO's bosses also gagged its researchers. Yet, three senior ISRO
officials asserted in May that there was "nothing wrong" with any of
the spacecraft's systems. It's this unethical non-disclosure of the
whole truth that's ISRO's greatest sin against science.
Truth is an even greater casualty in the nuclear weapons arenathe
holiest of the Holy Cows of national security. Anything nuclear
bureaucrats do, such as India's May 1998 nuclear explosions, is
described as a major scientific or technological feat.
Their greatest claimed achievement then was detonating a hydrogen
(fusion/thermonuclear) bomb on May 11, when two other devices were
also exploded: a fission bomb similar to that detonated over
Nagasaki, which killed 70,000 people, with an explosive yield of 12
kilotons (12,000 tonnes of TNT), and a sub-kiloton device.
However, claims Dr. K Santhanam, a DRDO official in the Pokharan-II
core team, the H-bomb fizzled out. Its fusion assembly, its heart,
didn't ignite or did so on a minuscule scale.
Both DAE and DRDO strenuously and peevishly deny this. They have
challenged Dr. Santhanam to produce hard evidence, knowing well that
under the rules of secrecy, he's unlikely to possess it. National
Security Adviser MK Narayanan called Dr. Santhanam "a maverick." He
may well be one, but that cannot demolish his claim.
What's the truth about the H-bomb? Does it warrant rethinking on
India's nuclear testing moratorium, announced in 1998 and reiterated
Dr. Santhanam isn't saying anything original. A US seismologist,
using publicly available data, concluded that the combined yield of
the three May 11 explosions was 10 to 25 kt, not the claimed 55 kt.
US Natural Resources Defence Council experts said the mid-point of
the probable yields was about 12 kt. Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory analysts concluded that the second stage of the two-stage
fusion assembly failed to ignite as planned. Some retired Indian
scientists had similar assessments.
The DAE called these "baseless" and said the tests were "perfect"
India had conducted their "full complement" and "obtained three
robust bomb designs."
It claimed it had kept the yield "deliberately low" it normally
should be 1,000 kt-plusto avert seismic damage to villages near the
test site. It also contended, incredibly, that Indian and Western
seismic readings differed because the simultaneous explosions caused
"wave interference." But such interference would have reflected in
India's sensors too.
I discussed this in my book (co-authored with Achin Vanaik) South
Asia On A Short Fuse: Nuclear Politics and the Future of Global
Disarmament (Oxford, 1999). On balance of probability, it seems that
the H-bomb didn't perform as planned. Even if it did, a single test
can't give weapons engineers enough confidence in its design.
States conduct multiple tests on a design under different conditions
before it's considered usable. But the DAE took shortcuts. DRDO has
similarly declared missiles battle-ready after just one or two test-
flightswhen technologically advanced countries conduct 10 or more
Further debate is necessary on the "fizzle." But we shouldn't fall
into the trap of demanding further nuclear tests. An H-bomb isn't
part of India's doctrine of "minimum credible nuclear deterrent."
Nuclear weapons are irrelevant to defence, and generate insecurity,
instability and a potentially ruinous arms race. The world needs and
deserves nuclear disarmament.
Even leaving aside the disarmament imperative, which India professes,
there's no case for an H-bomb. India has over 100 fission weapons,
each enough to kill up to o million people. This is deterrence enough.
There's a lesson here from the US. In 1949, a committee of top-level
scientists -- including Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimerurged
President Truman: "[A hydrogen bomb] would bring about the
destruction of innumerable human lives; it is not a weapon which can
be used exclusively for the destruction of … military installations …
Its use therefore carries much further than the atomic bomb itself
the policy of exterminating civilian populations."
The advice was ignored. But its wisdom remains valid today. An H-bomb
arsenal won't give India security. It will only raise our mass-
destruction capacity and escalate the South Asian arms race. We must
say no to further testing.
Praful Bidwai is an eminent Indian columnist.
o o o
INDIA’S NUCLEAR FIZZLE: WHAT SHOULD PAKISTAN DO?
4 September, by Pervez Hoodbhoy
Suspicion has now turned into confirmed fact: India’s hydrogen bomb
test of May 1998 was not the fantastic success it was claimed to be.
Last week’s dramatic revelation by K. Santanam, a senior RAW official
with important responsibilities at the 1998 Pokhran test site, has
essentially confirmed conclusions known from seismic analysis after
Instead of 45 kilotons of destructive energy, the explosion had
produced only 15 to 20. The bomb had not worked as designed.
Why blow the whistle 11 years later? An irresistible urge to tell the
truth or moral unease is scarcely the reason. Santanam’s "coming
clean" has the stamp of approval of the most hawkish of Indian
nuclear hawks. Among them are P.K. Iyengar, A.N. Prasad, Bharat
Karnad and Brahma Chellaney.
By rubbishing the earlier test as a failure, they hope to make the
case for more nuclear tests. This would enable India to develop a
full-scale thermonuclear arsenal.
As is well known, a thermonuclear (or hydrogen) bomb is far more
complex than the relatively simple fission weapon first tested by
India in 1974 and by Pakistan in 1998. Advanced weapons needs fine-
tuning to achieve their full destructiveness - France had to test 22
times to achieve perfection.
By generating a pro-test environment, India’s nuclear hawks hope to
make life difficult for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s moderate
government whenever India’s signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT) comes up for discussion. Santanam’s revelation has been
spurred by the fear that if President Obama succeeds in his
initiative to revive the CTBT - which had essentially been shot dead
by the US Senate in 1999 - the doors on nuclear testing could be shut
worldwide. A race against the clock is on.
There are not the only ominous developments. India has begun sea
trials of its 7,000-ton nuclear-powered submarine with underwater
ballistic missile launch capability, the first in a planned fleet of
five. India became the world’s 10th-highest military spender in 2008
but now plans to head even further upwards. In July 2009, Indian
defence minister, A.K. Antony announced that for 2009-2010 India
plans to raise its military budget by 50 per cent to a staggering
$40bn, about six times that of Pakistan.
On the Pakistani side, the desire to maintain nuclear parity with
India has caused it to push down the pedal as hard as it can.
Although the numbers of Pakistani warheads and delivery vehicles is a
closely held secret, a former top official of the CIA recently noted
in a report released this month that: "It took them roughly 10 years
to double the number of nuclear weapons from roughly 50 to 100".
This is bad news for those Pakistanis, like myself, who have long
opposed Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Our Indian friends and colleagues
- who have opposed their country’s bomb with far greater vigour -
have failed even more spectacularly in stopping their nuclear
juggernaut. It is little satisfaction to note that post-1998
developments have repeatedly confirmed predictions, made by Pakistani
and India anti-nuclear activists separately, that the loud claims of
"minimal deterrence" by nuclear hawks on both sides are a proven
sham. Only the sky is the limit.
Stuck with an arms race that is fuelled by India’s newfound economic
strength, what should Pakistan do - Before contemplating
alternatives, one must calmly scrutinise India’s motives and
disaggregate the threats that Pakistan faces both externally and
First, an unpalatable truth - India’s nuclear planners want to play
in the big league, not with Pakistan. While nuclear Pakistan is
indeed seen as troublesome, it is a side consideration. India’s
newfound aggressive and dangerous nationalism now actively seeks new
rivals and enemies across the globe. This potentially includes its
present allies, Russia and the US. But it is strongly focused upon
An example: this month’s article by Bharat Verma, the hawkish editor
of the influential Indian Defence Review, makes the preposterous
prediction that China will attack India before 2012, leaving only
three years to the Indian government for preparation. He claims that
a desperate Beijing is out "to teach India the final lesson, thereby
ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century" and China is
working towards an end game rooted in the "abiding conviction of the
communists that the Chinese race is far superior to Nazi Germany".
Verma’s solution: India must arm itself to the teeth.
Pakistan should find reassurance in this kind of thinking, warped
though it is. It indicates that India’s China obsession is doing most
of the driving, not hostility with Pakistan or the Muslim factor.
Certainly, India’s military expansion deserves a full-throated
condemnation both because of the unnecessary tension it creates, as
well as the diversion of resources away from the actual needs of
India’s people. But the lesson for us is that we need not panic or
fear an Indian invasion. Pakistan already has enough military muscle
to stay safe in this regard, even if India increases its nuclear
On the other hand, Pakistan is not safe from dangerous internal
threats. These are: population growth, terrorism and provincial
Pakistan’s population is out of control. From 28 million in 1947, it
has shot up to 176 million today, roughly a six-fold increase over 60
years. This exploding population bomb makes it impossible to provide
even basic education and health facilities to a majority. Shrinking
per capita availability of water is inevitable and is certain to
become a source of serious internal violence as well as growing
tensions with India.
Terrorism, fortunately, is not yet out of control. But recent army
victories and the elimination of Baitullah Mehsud, while welcome, are
far from decisive. The epicentres of terrorism are highly mobile.
Religious radicalism has penetrated deep into the core of Pakistan’s
society, particularly its youth. The real problem lies in our cities,
not the mountains.
Nationalist struggles, with those in Balochistan being the most
serious, are a third important threat. They are indicative of the
deep unhappiness felt by a good fraction of Pakistanis living outside
Punjab. While too inchoate to seriously threaten the federal
structure at this point, circumstances could rapidly change.
These are serious existential threats. But they cannot be met by
following India’s path. Would tripling Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and
missile inventory, or having thermonuclear weapons, reduce their
severity even marginally?
Instead, the way to create a viable Pakistan lies in embarking on an
emergency population planning programme, building a sustainable and
active democracy on the back of a welfare state, restructuring the
economy for peace rather than war, remaking the federation so that
provincial grievances can be effectively resolved, eliminating the
feudal order and creating a tolerant society that respects the rule
of law and does not discriminate between citizens.
(The writer is chairman of the department of physics and professor of
nuclear physics at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.)
 India: Unrestrained and Unaccountable Policing & Eroding Human
ISHRAT IS WHY ENCOUNTERS NEED JUDICIAL PROBING
by Siddharth Varadarajan (The Hindu, September 10, 2009)
It’s time we stopped rotten elements in the police and security
forces from literally getting away with murder.
INDIA: TEXT OF AHMEDABAD METROPOLITAN MAGISTRATE’S INQUIRY REPORT ON
THE DEATH OF ISHRAT JEHAN AND OTHERS IN GUJARAT
Q&A: 'NEED JUDICIAL COMMISSION TO PROBE J&K DISAPPEARANCES'
The Times of India,11 September 2009
Human rights violations in J&K hardly create a ripple outside the
state. New Delhi-based academic Uma Chakravarti has
been associated with the Association of Parents of Disappeared
Persons (APDP) and has worked to mobilise public opinion about forced
disappearances in Kashmir. Humra Quraishi spoke to Chakravarti in the
context of the Shopian rape case controversy:
What prompted you to campaign about forced disappearances in J&K?
I'd met Parveena Ahangar of the APDP and was deeply moved by her
search for justice. Parveena embodied the tragedies of others like
her: mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers and sons. I have never been
able to forget her persistence in trying to get at the truth and her
determination to hold the state accountable for its actions. She
turned her own suffering into a cause with all the others like her,
keeping track of all reported cases of disappearances and travelling
to meet the families of the disappeared...
Human rights violations in Kashmir don't spark outrage outside the
Part of the problem is the uneven information available in different
parts of the country. I have been struck by the segmented nature of
the real news published in newspapers. But it is also because the
middle classes want to believe that the people's participation in
elections had solved the Kashmir problem. No one wants to address the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the immunity it gives to the
security forces, and that rapes, custodial killings and forced
disappearances will continue unless there is legal redress for
violations of people's rights. So the easiest thing seems to be to
not react or to pick up an item for a little while and then drop it.
What's been the response of the central government?
The government keeps talking about dialogue and confidence-building
measures but has done little in terms of action. The first thing it
should do is to set up an independent judicial commission into
disappearances so that the average Kashmiri and the individual
families that have been pursuing the cases of the disappeared can
have a sense of closure. This has been done in Sri Lanka to
investigate the large number of disappearances in the 1980s. It will
be the first step in pursuing state accountability. It will have a
tremendous impact in Kashmir. It will demonstrate the government's
commitment to a rule of law.
Are human rights groups sufficiently vocal about rights violations in
Right from 1990, democratic rights groups and women's groups have
investigated violations and produced numerous reports. Unfortunately,
these have a small circulation amongst a particular constituency.
Human rights groups have been focusing on state accountability, the
rule of law and the right to information. But many more voices need
to be raised to make a critical impact. There is not enough outrage
outside Kashmir and that is an inescapable fact.
o o o
’ENCOUNTER KILLINGS’ AND THE QUESTION OF JUSTICE IN INDIA
CDRO Press Release on Encounters
5 September 2009
Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO)
Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Andhra Pradesh
Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Association for Protection of
Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal), Bandhi Mukti Morcha (West
Bengal), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,
Nagpur), Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur), Human Rights
Forum (HRF, Andhra), Lokshahi Hak Sangathana (LHS, Maharashtra),
Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam), Naga Peoples Movement for
Human Rights (NPMHR), Organisation for Protection of Democratic
Rights (OPDR, Andhra), Peoples Committee for Human Rights (PCHR,
Jammu and Kashmir), Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka) ,
Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL, National), PUCL
Chhattisgarh, PUCL Jharkhand, PUCL Nagpur, PUCL Rajasthan, Peoples
Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi), Peoples Union for Human
Rights (PUHR, Haryana).
‘Encounter Killings and the Question of Justice’
Two Days of Protests in Delhi
On 3rd September Justice JS Verma former Chief Justice of India and
former Chairperson of the NHRC spoke on the topic ‘Encounters and the
Question of Justice’ at the 24th Dr. Ramanadham Memorial Meeting
organized by the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) and
Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR). Justice Verma focused
primarily on the directives issued by NHRC in 1996 regarding
investigation of encounter killings on the basis of a petition filed
by APCLC based on 285 fake encounter deaths in AP. In February 2009
the AP High Court ruled that FIRs be registered in all cases of
encounter killings and the plea of self- defense be proven before a
court of law. Justice Verma emphasized that the AP High Court had
only restated what was already there in law. Justice Verma expressed
his amazement at the Supreme Court’s giving an ex-parte stay on the
AP High Court order in response to a petition filed by the AP Police
Association seeking a stay on the HC ruling arguing that such an
order was de-contextualised and would result in the demoralisation of
the police force and growth of Maoists. He pointed out that Ranganath
Mishra's order and the letter of Justice Venkatchaliah are clear on
this matter, and that the interim ex-parte stay abrogates article
20,21 and 14 and goes against article 359 (emergency) which clearly
lays down that article 20-21 are non-derogable).
He emphasized that therefore “difficult” circumstances such as
terrorism or insurgency could not be an justification for encounters.
On 4th September the Coordination of Democratic Rights
Organisations (CDRO), a federation of twenty Civil Liberties and
Democratic Rights Groups from across the country organized a dharna
at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to protest against the increasing
number of encounter killings across the country. The member
organizations who came to Delhi and participated in the dharna were
MASS (Assam), COHR (Manipur), NPMHR (Nagaland), APCLC (Andhra
Pradesh), APDR (West Bengal), AFDR (Punjab), CPDR (Maharashtra), PCHR
(Jammu and Kashmir), PUHR (Haryana), PUDR (Delhi), PUCL Jharkand &
Rajasthan. The following organizations also participated in the dharna
CDRO strongly condemned the Indian state’s use of encounter
killings as an extra-judicial instrument used to eliminate
‘undesirables’ ranging from criminals and petty offenders to
political dissidents, Maoists, militants, sympathizers of people’s
movements, and members of ‘suspect’ communities like Kashmiris,
Muslims, and the peoples of the North-Eastern states. The Batla House
encounter in Jamia in New Delhi in which two alleged Indian
Mujahideen militants Atif and Sajid were killed in 2008, the cold-
blooded killing of Chungkham Sanjit in Imphal in July 2009, the
almost daily killings of Maoists in Andhra, Chhattisgarh, Lalgarh,
and militants in Kashmir are a few representative instances. CDRO
members emphasized that the history of the use of encounters showed
the maximum political use of encounter killings to be in areas where
the Maoist movement is active like Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh,
Jharkhand, and in militancy areas like Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur,
CDRO pointed out the lack of comprehensive figures on encounter
killings. No official figures are maintained by the Government of
India making the actual extent of the phenomenon impossible to gauge.
For example in a rare instance where any such attempt has been made,
the NCRB report of 2007 lists a category of ‘fake encounters’ by
police listing a ridiculously low figure of 10 in 2007. Even in these
10 cases though there were no convictions. In the NCRB report any
real approximation of the actual number of police encounters is
obfuscated under the loose category of ‘Police Firing’ in ‘Anti
Dacoity Operations’ and 'Anti-Extremists & Terrorists Operations’ the
figures for which are significantly much higher at 334 and 183
respectively for 2007. And this refers to just police operations.
CDRO argued that the distinction between real and false encounters
has been reduced to a fake distinction used by the state to give
legitimacy to encounter killings, which has widespread consent in
civil society. Any such distinction is untenable unless all cases of
encounter killings are investigated. Without this the term encounter
implies the state’s assuming of the absolute power to kill and the
right to punish by death, sidestepping the normal judicial processes
of investigation and trial, necessary for conviction and punishment.
Encounter killings by definition violate rule of law, and principles
of liberal jurisprudence, and constitutional rights.
CDRO unequivocally stated that the state’s use of encounters and
other forms of extra- judicial killings like disappearances cannot be
condoned on the basis that as many of the groups that the state is
fighting believe in armed resistance and reject the rule of law, the
state too can do the same. The state cannot be treated at par with
armed groups as it is responsible for upholding and guaranteeing
rule of law and fundamental rights.
Taking place in situations of increasing militarization, and under
the operation of laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in
Jammu and Kashmir and the North East which give complete impunity to
security forces to kill, there is complete lack of accountability of
state forces. The trigger- happy situation this creates is
illustrated by the Singaram encounter in Chattisgarh in which 19
people were killed by SPOs , and the killing of Sanjit by Manipur
CDRO also criticized institutions like the NHRC and the judiciary for
their failure to ensure justice in encounter cases. Thus despite
questions raised by rights Groups and local residents about the
encounter in Jamia Milia, the NHRC and Delhi High Court both upheld
the police version of events, absolving the police of any wrong doing.
Despite its having been a vociferous demand of rights group all
over the country that encounter killings be stopped, security forces
be made accountable, and justice be ensured for the victims families,
the state according to CDRO, has largely continued to remain
unresponsive and unwilling. It is now 13 years since the NHRC had
issued a directive in response to a petition filed by APCLC that all
encounter deaths be registered as a cognizable offence and
invetsigated. AP HC too had seconded the directives. But the
situation today stands at a critical juncture where the SC has
granted a stay against theAP HC’s ruling that FIRs be registered in
all cases of encounter killings and self defense not be permissible
as a reason to dismiss the case during investigation itself.
CDRO commented that it would be a highly ironic and a decisive
comment on the nature of Indian democracy and justice if the highest
court in the land were to uphold the AP police’s petition thus giving
judicial sanction to extra-judicial killings and violation of rule of
CDRO demands that:
1. The NHRC guidelines and Andhra Pradesh HC order of 2009 be
upheld and implemented.
2. Criminal cases be registered in all encounter killings since
1996 ie the date of the NHRC directive to all Chief Ministers.
3. The escalating militarization which leads to trigger happy
security forces be stopped.
4. Laws such as the AFSPA which give overriding powers to
security forces be repealed.
5. Countrywide statistics of encounter killings be maintained.
 India: Resources Secular Activists
(i) BABABUDANGIRI, KARNATAKA’S COMMUNAL SMOKE PIT, IS SIMMERING AGAIN
(ii) PETITION TO OPPOSE OMAN GOVERNMENT'S INVITATION TO MODI
The Sultanate of Oman is inviting Gujarat CM Mr. Narendra Modi to
lead a business delegation (http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/
oman_100242843.html) to develop a port in Gujarat.
In February-March 2002, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi
presided over and orchestrated widespread riots in which about 2000
innocent men, women, and children were massacred and more than
200,000 were rendered homeless. Tens of thousands of displaced
Muslims are still unable to return to their homes for the fear of
further attacks. The process of justice has been subverted in Gujarat
in order to deny justice to the Gujarati minorities. There have been
many incidences of harassment of Christians and burning of their
Now Mr. Modi wants to become the Prime Minister of India some day.
Indian electorate, however, has rejected his politics of hate at the
last national election. So he is desperately courting foreign
investments and collaborations to mend his image as a progressive
leader towards that goal of becoming the prime minister. If Mr. Modi
succeeds in moving to the Center, it would be a slap in the face of
all those who care for human rights and seek justice for the victims
of Gujarat genocide.
The US and larger Europe have shut the door on Modi by denying him
the visa. He is courting smaller countries in a hope that once the
door opens, even if slightly, in time it will open wide enough to
propel him to the Center. We have to stop that. That process starts
by signing this petition.
Please sign the petition to Oman government to show your concerns
about their invitation to Mr. Modi. The petition URL is: http://
(iii) THE MEMORY OF GUJARAT CAN'T BE ERASED
Unanswered questions about the Gujarat riots mean Narendra Modi has
to be regarded with suspicion
by Savitri Hensman
(guardian.co.uk, 16 September 2009)
Earlier this year, fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) Magazine, a
financial publication which is part of the Financial Times group,
declared Narendra Modi Asian Personality of the Year. Gujarat, of
which he is chief minister, had attracted considerable foreign
investment in the past year.
It had also been the focus of scrutiny because of the state
government's role in brutal attacks on Muslims. Official
investigators have been delving into the murky goings-on in Gujarat
under the leadership of the extreme-right Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP), a political party linked with Hindu supremacists who have a
long history of organised violence. At times, Hindu moderates and
other Indians have struggled to counter the influence of these
hardliners. But now they are in political disarray, and the
activities of state officials and Narendra Modi in particular are
under intense public scrutiny.
In India in 2002, in an atmosphere of tension stirred up by the far-
right movement which had torn down a mosque at Ayodhya and were
seeking to build a temple in its place, a train caught fire at Godhra
in Gujarat and 59 Hindu passengers were killed. It later emerged that
the fire was accidental, originating inside one of the carriages, but
at the time it was widely believed that Muslim attackers had set the
train ablaze. State officials in Gujarat seized on this opportunity
to organise anti-Muslim violence on a major scale. Many Indians of
all faiths and none were outraged, though some were in denial about
the scale and brutality of the attacks. There was condemnation from
around the world, though at the time the BJP was in a strong position
nationally and Narendra Modi managed to stay in power in Gujarat.
RB Sreekumar, a senior police officer in Gujarat, was one of those
who publicly testified to the state government's role in blocking the
police from carrying out their duties in 2002. A Hindu himself, he
later described the demolition of the mosque and the Gujarat violence
as "sacrilegious crimes, which would make any self respecting and
committed Hindu to bury his head in shame … Both these Satanic acts
were the handiwork of miscreants, owing allegiance to BJP".
It is perhaps not surprising that, in late August 2009, when readers
of fDi Magazine in India discovered that Narendra Modi was the winner
of the award for Asian Personality of the Year, some were scandalised
into action. They alerted friends and acquaintances, and letters
began to pour into the offices of the fDi editor and Financial Times
group. "It was shocking to hear that a publication associated with
the Financial Times Group has chosen to confer an award on Narendra
Modi, when it is widely known that he was complicit in and personally
responsible for the communal carnage that occurred in Gujarat in
2002, when some two thousand people were butchered," read one letter.
There was an online petition against the honouring of Modi in this
way, and Indians overseas joined in making their objections known.
The magazine backtracked, announcing that "Following a review
prompted by the ongoing investigation into the 2002 Gujarat riots,
fDi has decided to present its award to Gujarat state, rather than Mr
Narendra Modi, the state's chief minister… Mr Modi was chief minister
of Gujarat at the time of the riots. Mr Modi's alleged role in
connection to the riots is under investigation but he denies any
Extremists are often skilled at manipulating religious and
nationalist sentiments, and exploiting people's fears and
frustrations, to gain power for themselves. They may portray
themselves as respectable and business-friendly, though in time the
destructive consequences of their ambitions become apparent. In
India, increasing numbers of people have seen through the facade of
those Gujarat leaders who have been involved in human rights
violations, though there is no room for complacency. Abuses continue
to occur. It is time for the international community to strengthen
its support for those in India who have been campaigning against
bigotry and injustice.
(iv) Q&A: 'It's worth upholding ideals that are good for mankind' -
The Times of India, 9 September 2009
The Indian government recently extended the residentship of
controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen . She spoke to
Susmita Mukherjee about her 15-year-long exile and search for a home:
Your residentship in India has been extended. Are you happy?
I was granted residentship five years ago. Every six months it gets
renewed. It is obvious that a Bengali would be happier living in
Bengal. My friends from Bengal visit me in the capital.
The last time you were in Delhi, you had to live as if you were under
house arrest. Is it better now?
I am grateful to Madanjeet Singh, freedom fighter and a secular
humanist, who made my return to India possible. After the famous or
infamous 'safe house' episode, now life is more relaxing as there are
few restrictions. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said, "We
recognise Taslima Nasreen's rights to remain in a country of her
choice... She shall also have the option to choose the city". I hope
the promise is kept.
You had pinned hopes on Sheikh Hasina helping you to return home.
That did not happen. Have you at any time thought that you ought to
have taken a less controversial path?
I tried my best to go back to my motherland. India has been my one
and only refuge. I hope i can continue to live in India. If India
refuses me, i will be dead. I have nowhere to go, no place to call my
own. The West is not a place where i belong.
I didn't create any controversy, people did. A healthy debate is
always welcome. It makes a society more democratic, liberal and
civilised. I am still struggling to believe that if my ideas are not
in consonance with those of extremists, i have to lose my home. I
hope i'll be able to see the right to freedom of expression respected
in my lifetime. It's integral to democracy. Whatever i wrote was done
to create consciousness. I am not anti-Muslim. I am pro-human. I will
always be with the oppressed whether they are the Hindus in
Bangladesh, Muslims in Palestine, Gujarat, Jews or Christians in
Pakistan. I think it's worth upholding ideals that are good for mankind.
As a writer do you think it is your responsibility not to hurt the
sentiments of people?
I never intended to hurt sentiments. I write for women's rights.
Misogynists abhor feminists everywhere. The reaction of fanatics also
hurts my sentiments. I believe in my right to express my ideas, as
well as the rights of those who oppose me. In a civilised society
there should be room for debate and dialogue. But you cannot have
people crying for your head, attacking you physically. I am willing
to be enlightened by my critics.
South Asia Citizens Wire
Buzz for secularism, on the dangers of fundamentalism(s), on
matters of peace and democratisation in South
Asia. From South Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
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necessarily reflect the views of SACW compilers.
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