Thursday, April 23, 2009

** India's 'Red Corridor'

Maoists rule India's 'Red Corridor'
By Sudha Ramachandran
Asia Times - April 24

BANGALORE - Indian Maoists hijacked a train with 800 passengers in the eastern state of Jharkhand on Wednesday morning. Although the crisis was defused within five hours, when the Maoists released the train and its passengers, the incident has sparked grave concern throughout the security establishment.

The ease with which the Maoists were able to stage an operation of this magnitude - and at a time when security has been tightened for general elections - has laid bare yet again that it is the Maoists' writ, not that of the government that runs through this part of the country. The train was on its way from Barkakana in Jharkhand to Mugalsarai in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh when it was hijacked near Hehegarha railway station in Latehar district.

Around 200 Maoists are said to have carried out the operation. A railway station in Palamu was bombed as well. In March 2006, a train was hijacked in the same district. Passengers were set free after 12 hours. The Indian Railways have been targeted repeatedly by the Maoists.

Besides holding-up trains, they have blasted railway tracks, burned railway stations, looted weapons from railway police and abducted personnel. No passengers were hurt in Wednesday's hijacking and hostage drama. The operation, which took place on the eve of the second part of India's month-long five-phase general election, was aimed at scaring voters into staying away from polling booths.

Maoists have called for a boycott of the polls in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. In a bid to disrupt polling during the first phase of voting last week, they detonated landmines, raided polling booths and torched electronic voting machines.

Around 20 people were killed and scores injured on polling day alone. Analysts have sought to downplay the impact of the Maoist's poll violence. Bibhu Prasad Routray, research fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management has written that "Maoist violence on April 16 affected a meager 0.09% (71) of the 76,000 polling stations that were identified as vulnerable in the first phase."

He argues that Maoists suffered damage in the violence they sought to inflict on the security forces in the run-up to voting. While the Maoists have carried out spectacular attacks and did disrupt polls to some extent, they were not fully successful in effecting a boycott.

Voter turnout in the constituencies worst hit by Maoist violence was a respectable 50%.

Maoist influence runs through a stretch of territory referred to as the "Red Corridor". This extends from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh through Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand up to Bihar. Areas in western Orissa and eastern Uttar Pradesh are also under Maoist influence. And they have some presence in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka as well.

The area where the Maoists operate has grown dramatically in recent years. In the early 1990s the number of districts affected by varying degrees of Maoist violence stood at just 15 in four states. This rose to 55 districts in nine states by the end of 2003 and to 156 districts in 13 states in 2004. Maoists are believed to be operating now in around 200 districts (of a total of 602 districts in the country) in 17 states.

Government officials point out that these statistics and the name Red Corridor have conjured up images of Maoists being in control of a large swathe of land and posing a threat to the Indian state. An official in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region told Asia Times Online that while the Maoists do control "some area" in Dantewada district and are able to carry out big attacks in several states, in most areas of the Red Corridor they operate as a hit-and-run force. "They do not threaten the government, either at the state or the federal level and they are nowhere near sparking off a general uprising," he said, drawing attention to the diminishing public support for the Maoists and increasing resistance to their diktats.

Human-rights activists argue that while the Maoist threat might "not have Delhi on its knees, it is a fact that the problem has laid bare India's failure to deliver good governance, to respond to the plight of the poorest and most marginalized sections of its population".

Unlike jihadi violence that comes from across the border in Pakistan, Maoist violence has its roots firmly in India. Indeed, the Maoist problem has left India red-faced. Districts that fall in the Red Corridor are rich in minerals like iron ore and bauxite. But the people living there, who are largely Adivasi or tribal are desperately poor.

Exploited by forest officials, contractors, mining companies and middlemen and neglected by the state, villagers in the Red Corridor are among the worst off in the country. And it is to liberate them from their oppressors and the Indian state that the Maoists claim to be waging their armed struggle. It is true the Maoists have improved life for the Adivasis by forcing local officials to dig wells or pay better wages to the villagers. But over time, the liberators have turned oppressors themselves.

Villagers who don't obey the Maoists have been killed and Maoist violence stands in the way of development projects. The scale of Maoist operations has grown dramatically over the years.

In November 2005, more than 1,000 Maoists stormed a jail in Jehanabad in Bihar and freed about 350 of their jailed comrades. Armories and camps of the police and paramilitary forces have been raided. A week ago, they signaled capacity to stand and fight the security forces.

Around 200 Maoists stormed a state-owned bauxite mining company in the eastern state of Orissa, taking around 100 employees hostage. They battled for more than nine hours with members of India's Special Operations Group and its Central Industrial Security Force before they finally retreated. Analysts have drawn attention to increasing Maoist attacks on infrastructure.

P Ramana, research fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, has pointed out that 62 telecommunication towers were damaged by the Maoists in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa in from 2005 to 2008, with 43 of these occurring in 2008.

These attacks are aimed at disrupting "communication amongst the security forces, as well as between 'police informants' - who have been provided cellular telephones - and the security forces, in order that operations against the rebels get impaired," he writes.

The Maoists have also been blowing up power lines and service towers. In May 2007, they blew up three 132 KVA high-tension towers in the Bastar region, plunging six districts into darkness for a week and disrupting normal power distribution for a fortnight. "Functioning of hospitals, communication systems and rail traffic, besides iron ore mines was badly affected," Ramana points out. In June of last year, two 220 KVA towers were blasted depriving 15,000 villages of electricity.

Maoists have displayed their military capability through their high-profile attacks on railways and other infrastructure. They have been able to inflict losses running into millions of dollars on the state they are seeking to overthrow. But simultaneously they are inflicting heavy losses on the people they claim they are going to liberate. They have worsened the daily lives of some of India's most exploited people.

Monday, April 20, 2009

** Crores in Secret Banks
'In 5 years, Indians stashed Rs 688,000 cr illegally'
April 20, 2009

S. Gurumurthy the leading chartered accountant who is also the convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, is a member of the taskforce created by the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate L K Advani to bring back the black money stashed away in various banks outside India if the National Democratic Alliance is voted back to power.

The first report by the taskforce was released a few days ago. Other than Gurumurthy, those involved in the preparation of the report was former Intelligence Bureau director Ajit Kumar Doval, Dr R Vaidyanathan from the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, and lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, the BJP candidate from the Mumbai North-Central constituency.

In this exclusive interview with Shobha Warrier, Gurumurthy discusses tax havens, secret bank accounts and what the taskforce's plans are.

You are part of the taskforce created to bring black money back from secret bank accounts abroad. The BJP has made it an election issue. Were you instrumental in getting Mr Advani to take up the issue?

This is a subject I have been working on since 1986. In fact, I was even arrested because I was trying to dig into the secret accounts of the Gandhi family. I have always been talking to many politicians on this subject; I had also spoken to the BJP.

At that time, it was more ideal to work on it than anything practical. It is not that India on its own can prevent global black money being generated, because there are countries which help the generation of black money by their laws, and Switzerland is the most important of them.

These countries provide secrecy, and anybody can go and deposit money incognito. Their laws prohibit the disclosure of names. Only rarely, where you can link the money to corruption or drugs, is it possible to trace the flight of capital. For that, they have treaties with different countries, including with India. But you need to know the name of the criminal and his account number to ask for the details.

It has always been a question on the minds of the Indian people and also those keen on establishing the amount of money that has gone there, but there was no proper estimate. But this has always been a topic of debate in the minds of those who are interested in the country.

Why did the BJP decide to take it up as an issue now?

It is essentially because of the turn in the Western nations' approach to secret banking due to the economic crisis in the West. The West began feeling the pinch of secret banking. They felt that the financial system is getting destabilised because of the generation of black money.

Black money in the West is not as much flight of capital as it is evasion of taxes. In India, it is both black money and flight of capital.

Were the recent developments in Germany, with its authorities asking for the secret names, the turning point?

The Germans took the step of bribing a bank official of the LGT Bank in Liechtenstein by paying $6 million. They got a secret CD containing 1,500 names of people who have stashed away money, and nearly 500, 600 of these were Germans. They acted against them, which included the head of the German postal system.

Then they told the entire world that anyone could ask for the names and if the names of those countries' nationals were there, they would part with it free of cost. All the countries made a request, but not India. So, Advaniji wrote a letter in April last year, but an evasive reply was given.

Three other things also happened. One, after Germany acted very powerfully, there was a big diplomatic row between Liechtenstein and Germany. Liechtenstein is a place from where secret trusts are created and monies are deposited into Switzerland. It is a principality.

Then, Germany took up the issue in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's 17-nation platform (Switzerland is one of them) and asked for blacklisting and sanctions against Switzerland. France also joined Germany. This happened some time in October last year.
Switzerland did not know what to do then and they began lobbying. France and Germany then took it to the G-20 preparatory meeting. They said at the G-20 meeting on April 2 that they were asking for blacklisting of and sanctions against Switzerland and all those countries that were not cooperating.

So that was why Mr Advani wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise the issue at the G20 meet?

At that time Advaniji felt as the PM was attending the April 2 meeting, he should take up this issue. But our people remained silent at the G-20 preparatory meet.

See what India did. We didn't forcefully ask the Germans to give us the particulars. When Germany and France took up the matter in the OECD, we didn't welcome it. When they took up the matter in G-20 we did not support them or join them.

So, from all this arose a big question, whether the government was at all interested in working against illicit Indian monies abroad. That is why Advaniji took up the matter. As the government did not take it up, the BJP had to take it up as an electoral issue.

The Congress said Mr Advani was lying...?

It is like this: A theft has taken place, and you are arguing about how much has been stolen. Nobody denies the theft! Nobody denies the loot!

How much black money from India must be there in the secret Swiss accounts?

A global study was conducted by an expert, Raymond W Baker, which we have quoted in the report. He published a book in 2005, Capitalism's Achilles Heel: Dirty Money And How To Renew The Free Market System.
After 2001, secret money became an issue of security. So America became worried about terror funding which takes place only through secret banking channels.

His book estimated the black money to be $11.5 trillion which is increasing at the rate of $1 trillion every year, out of which $500 billion is stolen from developing countries.

Is the report one of the reasons why the BJP decided to raise the issue?

That alone would not have helped. The change in the economic situation made the Western countries try to break banking secrecy. That was the most important point. US President Obama has proposed a law to break the secrecy.

Like I said earlier, you have to join forces at the global level as the battle needs to be fought at the global level. That is the reason why the BJP decided to take it up.
The GFI study only indicated the magnitude of the problem.

It says between 2002 and 2006, the amount of money stashed away from India would be on an average $27 billion a year and totally about $137.5 billion which is equal to Rs 688,000 crores in just five years. So, the fact of the loot can never be disputed.

What the Congress is trying to do is to dispute the maths of the issue. The fact is, whatever be the amount, it is very big.

Why do you think the Congress is not taking up the issue?

Obviously, a large part of it must be Congressmen's money, they have ruled the country for 50 years.

Why did Sonia Gandhi not speak on this subject? She is said to be a close friend of Ottavio Quattrocchi and it has been established that he had received bribe money from Bofors through secret banking systems and tax havens. The Central Bureau of Investigation successfully traced the money and kept it frozen. He was allowed to leave India first and then take the money back.

I believe the lead family of the Congress party is a suspect in the matter of foreign money and that is why the family doesn't want the banks' secrecy to be unveiled.

Their friends are the only people who have been caught so far. No other Indian has been caught except the people associated with the Gandhi family in the Bofors scandal.

What are the taskforce's plans?

First, he (Advani) wanted us to find out what the global position was. That is the first report we gave. We have said it is doable if we work on an appropriate strategy. We have to also generate a national consensus and arouse a high level of consciousness among the people about the issue.

Is that the reason why a survey was conducted in Gujarat on black money in secret bank accounts?

Yes, the BJP wants to make people to proactively think and participate in the campaign.

You are talking about huge sums of money. If at all we manage to bring it back to India, what do you say India should do with it?

Even if 25 per cent of what they are talking about comes back, India's rating will go up because it's our own money and not borrowed money. It can transform the economic personality of the nation.

The BJP manifesto says if the money comes back, it will be used for fundamental purposes like rural roads, schools, poverty alleviation and things like that. It will be used for social causes and not building airports.

Will the current global recession make people look at globalisation from a different perspective?

Capitalism will undergo a lot of changes because today's capitalism is not what Adam Smith conceived or Karl Marx opposed. Today, capitalists are not the people who handle capital; it's the professionals. It's somebody else's money that the professionals are handling. So, it is not capitalist's capitalism; it's professionals' capitalism.

Now, a further change that has taken place is, it is not actual money, but virtual money that is being used. Imaginary money has been created by brain power and that is put to use as real power. That is the crisis today.
This kind of capitalism will be gone and the original capitalism where 'I look after my wealth' will come back again. That is good for the world. This other man's money I handle which has promoted the expenditure-driven market mechanism is a product of neo-capitalism.

Banking secrecy was considered one of the virtues of capitalism. Now, they call it an evil! This is the U-turn in one year!

In one of your earlier interviews, you told that globalisation was not sustainable.

Who is talking about globalisation today? Today, it's just not environmentally, ecologically and culturally sustainable. I have always maintained that it was not economically sustainable, because it is contrary to the very meaning and definition of economics which is associated with frugality.

It is an executive class economics different from the economy class which brings out the difference between economics and excessiveness.

Moreover, globalisation disregards the existence of countries; they talk about a global society, global rule, global citizens, global villages, etc. It was an absolutely idealistic idiosyncrasy. That is gone.

Who is talking about the WTO? I told you long ago that the WTO will not last. If you create an artificial structure, it will not stand. People in different parts of the world have their own models of living; you cannot homogenise them, make them wear the same dress, eat the same food, or see the same cinema or have the same goals. This is what West-centric globalisation attempted, and got the first taste of it in the last four, five years.

Will people start thinking in terms of swadeshi?

People will be more conscious of their surroundings, their people, their family and their society first, and not the distant world.
The distant world is good for a visit, but not for domicile.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

** Neo-nationalism

Neo-nationalism: The last stage of globalisation?
By R. Balashankar - Organiser
April 19, 2009

China cannot stop swearing by Communism though it has adopted western capitalism in its entirety. Similarly, the G-20 proclaimed that globalisation is still the most dominant economic idea though countries are increasingly turning protectionist and state ownership, in factors of production, has never been so critical as it is today. The synchronised macroeconomic stimulus package repeated over the last few months have not stopped the world from falling deeper into recession.

Socialism for the rich brought about by the zealots of globalisation is under attack with jobless rates in developed countries being pushed to double digit. So what has happened to capitalism and what is going to be the fate of globalisation?

Ten days before the world leaders assembled to rescue capitalism, the US administration insisted on a change of guard in the bankrupt Detroit automobile industry as a precondition for the bailout package. Similar was the fate of American International Group (AIG), when its executives were forced to pay up 90 per cent of the $165 million in bonuses, as tax after the finance company was helped survive on tax-payers’ money.

This is the unit whose manipulations came perilously close to bringing the world financial system to its knees. What has not yet been adequately addressed is the sea-change in social attitudes towards amassing wealth by a few for a few and its impact on politics in the coming years. The parties in India are becoming competitively populist in their election manifesto. The votaries of third generation reform and neo-liberalism have been silenced by the parties for fear of public wrath.

Indian politicians are turning pro-poor though a cursory glance at the declaration of assets at the time of filing of nominations show that Indian politicians have become filthy rich during the period of globalisation. Only that this is the season of “free lunch”, subsidy buttered with offers of free rice, electricity and loan.

Poverty has again become fashionable in India’s political discourse. Globalisation has not been an unmixed blessing. It increased poverty while it created millions of neo-rich politicians and business class.

The G-20 heads of state meet last week in London was the second major global effort in the last six months after the September 2008 meltdown. Globalisation in its present format is a tool to perpetuate Western, especially American hegemony.

The G-20 summit did not give any hope to the developing countries that this format will change to their advantage. Apart from the plan to restructure the IMF there was not a single positive suggestion to liberalise the construct of world economic order. The rules are framed in such a way as to exploit the market and resources of the world to the economic and strategic interest of the developed countries. Our leaders, plead ceaselessly for better deal for the developing countries and reform in the structure of IMF and World Bank.

In the nineties the nationalist forces in the country opposed the WTO. We had serious doubts about the IMF, and globalisation regulations which systematically corroded the country’s economic sovereignty. The critique on capitalism is not to discourage private enterprise. Indian economic thinking has traditionally encouraged free trade and individual enterprises. Private property was at the core of our economic philosophy. The sentiments in support of the creation of a developed egalitarian society is not to suggest Socialism as a viable model.

Our economic agenda has to be uncompromisingly nation-centric and that is the value every great nation tries to promote even as it tries to cloak its real interest in the jargon of globalisation. The great recession has offset the sheen of globalisation as envisaged by the Washington Consensus which emerged out of the ashes of the Cold War and the fall of Communism. India has immensely gained as a result of the economic liberalisation and we are today the second fastest-growing economy in the world. But is this growth sustainable? Is the model of globalisation the panacea for our problems of underdevelopment and poverty? The big growth stories of the services and IT sector would suggest that globalisation has indeed changed the way India thinks and lives. We are adopting a new idiom, a new lifestyle, a new dress code and a new culture which are essentially western. We have a world view which is essentially money centric and we have replaced humanism with wealth creation. Profit justified the concept of gambling and gambling, greed and extravaganza replaced traditional business based on ethical regulations, manufacturing, agriculture and investment on value-added products.

One of the celebrated books on globalisation, The World Is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman vividly describes the impact of globalisation on a typical Indian company office. “…you see that all the computers are running Microsoft Windows. The chips are designed by Intel. The phones are from Lucent. The air-conditioning is by Carrier, and even the bottled water is by Coke. In addition, 90 per cent of the shares in 24/7(Call Centers) are owned by US investors.

This explains why, although the United States has lost some service jobs to India in recent years, total exports from America-based companies—merchandise and services—to India have grown from $2.5 billion in 1990 to $5 billion in 2003.

So even with the outsourcing of some service jobs from the United States to India, India’s growing economy is creating a demand for many more American goods and services.” (Page 29). (Import from US to India by 2006-07 increased substantially to $ 12.6 billion.)

That is not the entire story. The jobs being outsourced are mostly such no American is willing to do or they consider them below their dignity and low paying. Indians are paid one-fifth of the salary that an American will get because India is poor and the unemployment high with people willing to do any job for a smaller pay. This way, American companies save hugely on their labour bill.

For call centres immediately after recruitment the Indians are sent to an “accent neutralisation class” to make them speak like Americans. Their lifestyle and dress code undergo similar changes. See how globalisation is changing India. Indian units of US companies file thousands of patent applications on indigenous products they develop and market as theirs. The standards are set by them.

There are reasons to believe that the present crisis in the financial market of western economy is a great opportunity for the developing world, particularly India.

Now we have the leisure to think afresh on the direction of our economic growth. The world order seems distinctly moving towards multi-polarity. This possibility was discounted for long. The wave of protectionism, the antithesis of globalisation, has become a core philosophy with the West.

As a result, US which was the main destination of international migration has begun to repel migration. Reports talk of at least six million job losses in that country in the last four months. India will soon elect its next government.

The UPA government has unfortunately created a clientele mindset in the Indian establishment, vis-à-vis the US. The Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon during his recent visit to the US was so beholden to the big power that he justified not taking up the issue of denying Indians HI-B visa with the US authorities.

His plea was that it was a “sovereign function” of the US. After the mega bailout to stimulate its economy, the US does not want its own money leaking to other economies. So the government is enforcing “Buy American” clauses and restrictions on job outsourcing on companies availing the bailout benefits.

The US administration, recently cleared a $2 billion sale of maritime jets to the Indian Navy—something that was needed to keep the troubled airplane giant Boeing’s books looking good. It is not only the Indian money, market and services that America needs. American transnational companies like Boeing, General Electric, McDonnell-Douglas and General Dynamics will soon need to renew Indian contracts. Indian government has levers to apply on all these deals.

But it will need political will. And India has to apply them because globalisation is not a one-way street.

The writer can be contacted at

** The Besieged Sikhs
Congress, Tytler and the besieged Sikhs
V. Sundaram

On the 28 March, 2009, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed its final investigation report before a Delhi Court in the famous 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots Case allegedly involving former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler.

Tytler was accused by the Nanavati Commission, which probed the 1984 riots as having a "very probable" hand in organising attacks on Sikhs. In a politically dramatic manner, the investigating agency submitted its report in a sealed envelope before the Metropolitan Magistrate Ram Lal Meena.

The investigating agency in 2007 too had asked the court for permission to close the case arguing that it did not have sufficient evidence to proceed. However, the court had rejected the CBI plea. During the proceeding, the CBI said that it had completed its investigation relating to Tytler"s alleged role in the case of inciting a mob to attack a group of Sikhs in New Delhi 1984 and was submitting the concerned report before the Court.

The CBI has given a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler. The fact of the matter is that the UPA Government has "politically closed" the case against former Union Minister Jagdish Tytler after a period of 25 years. Concurrently and parallely, the Congress Party has announced the name of Jagdish Tytler as one of its candidates for the Lok Sabha Elections from the Union Territory of Delhi.

Thus the disgraceful tripod of partisan political governance, openly Congress-oriented if not Congress-promoting CBI investigative process and, above all the clinchingly blatant Congress Party interference from the top has now been planted firmly on the ground with less than two weeks to go for the Lok Sabha Elections, 2009. The dismal professional record of the CBI during the last 30 years and its exemplary political record (!!) as a hired mouthpiece and hatchet of the political party (the Congress party for more than 50 years!) in power in New Delhi have all become solidly established facts in the public mind.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has consistently argued during the last 15 years that the Congress has misused the CBI. The BJP has accused the Congress of backing and helping former central minister Jagdish Tytler in getting a clean-chit from the CBI in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case. The BJP"s Spokesman Prakash Javadekar has said: "The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has turned into "CONGRESS BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION".

The CBI has furthered Congress"s political agenda by giving a clean-chit to Jagdish Tytler. We have not seen such a misuse of CBI till date. They had earlier given clean-chits to Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav and now they have given to Jagdish Tytler also.

Giving a clean-chit to Tytler is like rubbing salt on the wounds of riot victims. We reject CBI"s clean-chit and now it is for the people to decide."H S Phoolka, Lawyer for 1984 Riots Victims has alleged: "This shows the loophole in the investigations by the CBI.

The day his candidacy for the Lok Sabha was announced it was obvious that the CBI was going to give him a clean chit."Greatly agitated over CBI"s clean chit to Tytler, leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) protested in front of AICC head quarters as well as in front of Sonia Gandhi"s residence. They were later detained by the police after their protest turned violent in the national capital. SAD leaders Onkar Singh Thapar, Manjeet Singh GK and Avtar Singh Hit were among those who were detained in the Tughlaq Road police station.

The demonstrators burnt effigies of Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in front of the AICC headquarters and raised slogans against Congress for nominating them for Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. They alleged that the two Congress leaders were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and their nomination should be withdrawn to respect the sentiments of Sikh community.

The police had to resort to water canon to prevent the protesters from entering the Congress headquarters. Thapar charged that by giving tickets to them, Congress has ignored suffering the Sikh community underwent during the riots when several people were killed and left homeless.

Mohan Singh, President of the All India Riots Victim Society, has said: "Sikh community considers Congress as a secular party but the nomination of Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler has deeply hurt them."The Sikh community in Punjab has voiced its great disappointment over the Central Bureau of Investigation"s (CBI) clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler. Upset over this development, former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and AICC Member Bir Devinder Singh, has resigned from the Congress Party.

In his letter to AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Bir Devinder Singh has not only blamed her for committing the gravest error of fielding Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar and ignoring Sikh sentiments, but also of not adhering to the basic postulates of secularism. I am of the view that the CBI investigations were monitored and doctored by Jagdish Tytler with Sonia"s full knowledge.

As such the CBI has done great harm to the cause of Sikhs. Congress again has rubbed salt on the wounds... I am deeply hurt, especially the role of the Congress party, and my conscience does not permit me to stay in the Congress."The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, too has condemned the clean chit to Tytler.

SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar told the press in Amritsar: "The anti-Sikh attitude of the Congress has again been exposed. It has become clear that the CBI works in tandem with the Congress".

Radical Sikh group Dal Khalsa have also condemned the CBI move to favour Tytler. Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh has said: "This is shocking. It clearly shows that laws for one community in India are different from those compared to the minorities". Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal said that if the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, of which the ruling Akali Dal is a partner, is voted to power, the cases against Tytler and other leaders who led the anti-Sikh riots would be re-opened and re-investigated in the larger interest of equity and natural justice.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has declared: "The clean chit given to Tytler by the CBI only means a clean chit to all killers of thousands of innocent Sikhs, whom the Congress has decorated with party tickets for the parliamentary elections. I suggest that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene even at this late stage to ensure that the CBI is not allowed to be used as a tool to shield the killers of thousands of innocent men, women and children. The PM"s silence at this hour could prove a historic failure to discharge his basic constitutional responsibility. I view the giving of a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler as a shocking outrage against humanity-against all norms of civilized society, jurisprudence and natural justice. In my view, the innocent victims are being killed a second time through this denial of justice even a quarter of a century after the crime took place".

The embarrassed Punjab PCC acting President Mohinder Singh Kaypee has said that "the allocation of party ticket to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar is a serious matter and that it cannot be discussed in the open. I am going to tell the High Command about the wounded Punjabi sentiments on this issue."Thus the embers of the great anti-Sikh riots and conflagration planned, organized and launched in New Delhi in which more than 3000 innocent Sikhs were killed in a matter of two days after the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October, 1984 are refusing to die down even 25 years after the barbarous massacre.

The Congress record of perfidy against the noble, selfless, and heroic Sikh Community after Independence is a dark chapter in modern Indian history. When the Sikhs under the leadership of Master Tara Singh demanded greater autonomy for the Sikhs after independence, Jawaharlal Nehru tried to weaken the Sikh community by merging PEPSU with other areas (today"s Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh) to create the larger State of Punjab.

The government also declared that Punjab was a bilingual State with both Punjabi and Hindi being designated as official languages. In the merged state, Sikhs made up only 35 per cent of the population and thus lost the majority status they had held in PEPSU. This unilateral action wounded the feelings and sentiments of many Sikhs at that time.

I am mentioning this only to show that Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Party have always treated the Sikhs and the Hindus after our independence with indivisible contempt bordering on political hatred. On the contrary they treated the so called minorities, more particularly the Muslims, with unrequited romantic love and infatuation. Today State-sponsored secularism and State-abetted terrorism have become two sides of the same political coin. Likewise, State-abetted proselytism and Church-sponsored harvesting of heathen souls have become two sides of another political coin. Consequently, the Sikhs and the Hindus have been reduced to the status of KAFIRS by the UPA Government today as in the dark days of Aurangazeb.

Just as an eye wash to cover up the atrocities of Congressmen against the Sikhs, the Congress Government kept on appointing 8 Enquiry Commissions from time to time between 1984 and 1993: Marwah Commission (1984) Dhillon Committee (1985) Misra Commission of Enquiry (1985) Kapur Mittal Committee (1987) Jain Banerjee Committee (1987) Ahuja Committee (1987) Potti Rosha Committee (1990) and Narula Committee (1993). The NDA Government appointed "The Nanavati Commission (2004)" which gave its report in February 2004. This commission indicted Tytler and Sajjan Kumar and the Police Commissioner Tandon.

Now the whole artificial drama has been closed by the CBI.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

** Moderate Taliban???

There is nothing called the 'moderate Taliban'
Times of India
M.J. Akbar

If necessity is the mother of invention then politics is often the father. Barack Obama has invented a phrase that did not exist on January 20, the
day he became president. Anxious to win a war through the treasury rather than the Pentagon, he has discovered something called the "moderate Taliban" in Afghanistan. Joe Biden, his vice president, has found the mathematical coordinates of this oxymoron: only 5% of the Taliban are "extremists".

Welcome to Obama's first big mistake.

The war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not simply against some bearded men and beardless boys who have been turned into suicide missionaries. The critical conflict is against the ideology of a chauvinistic theocracy that seeks to remould the Muslim world into a regressive region from which it can assault every aspect of modernity, whether that be in political space or the social sphere.

Washington has a single dimension definition of "moderate": anyone who stops an active, immediate war against the US is a "moderate". Let me introduce him to a couple of "moderate Taliban". They are now world famous, having been on every national and international news channel these past few days, stars of a video clip from Swat. Two of them had pinned down a 17-year-old girl called Chand Bibi, while a third, his face shrouded, lashed her with a whip 37 times on suspicion of being seen with a man who was not her father or brother.

Obama should record the screams of Chand Bibi and play them to his daughters as the "moderate" music to which he wants to dance in his Afghan war.

These Taliban are "moderate" by the norms of the Obama Doctrine: they have come to a deal with America through Islamabad. Pakistani troops are not engaged in their medieval haven, nor are American Drones bombing their homes. All that remains, one presumes, is that they are placed on the Pentagon payroll as insurance of their ceasefire.

Perhaps, in their desperate search for moderation, Obama and Islamabad will promote the denial being manipulated into public discourse. The unbearable Swat-lashing video is now described as fake. It would be nice to know the names of the actors who played such a convincing part in the filming of this 'fake'. Chand Bibi has "denied" any such incident. Sure: but was any doctor sent to check the scars?

Such compromise with 'moderation' has also taken place next door, in Afghanistan, under the watchful eye of American ally Hamid Karzai. He has just signed a family law bill which compels Afghan women to take permission from their husbands before going to a doctor, seeking education, or getting a job. The husband has become complete master of the bedroom. Custody of children can only go to fathers or grandfathers; women have no rights. A member of Afghanistan's upper house, Senator Humaira Namati, has called this law "worse than during the Taliban (government). Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam". It makes no difference to the Taliban, of course, that the Quran expressly forbids Muslim men from forcing decisions on their wives "against their will". Karzai's justification is the usual one: politics. He wanted the support of theocrats in the election scheduled for August this year. Under pressure, there is talk of a review but no one is sure what that means.

If it's democracy, it must be "moderate", right?

One can understand a post-Iraq America's reluctance towards wars that seem straight out of Kipling. But we in the region have to live with the political consequences of superpower intervention, and the casual legitimacy that Obama is offering to a destructive ideology will create blowback that spreads far beyond the geography of "Afpak".

Benazir Bhutto and the ISI did not create the Taliban in the winter of 1994 for war against America. Its purpose was to defeat fractious Afghan warlords, and establish a totalitarian regime that would equate Afghanistan's strategic interests to Pakistan's. The ISI conceived an "Afpak" long before the idea reached the outer rim of Washington's thinking. Pakistan worked assiduously to widen the Taliban's legitimacy and would have drawn America into the fold through the oil-pipeline siren song if Osama bin Laden had not blown every plan apart. In some essentials, things have not changed. Pakistan's interests still lie in a pro-Islamabad Taliban regime in Kabul. The "moderation" theory is a ploy to provide war-weary America with an exit point. India's anxieties will be offered a smile in public and a shrug in private.

History is uncomfortable with neat closures. Neither the Taliban nor Pakistan are what they were in 1994: the former is much stronger, the latter substantially weaker. The fall of Kabul to the Taliban this time could be a curtain raiser to the siege of Islamabad.

There is nothing called a moderate lash, or backlash, President Obama.

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War with No Name @