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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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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | September 19, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2653 - Year 12 running From: www.sacw.net [ SACW Dispatches for 2009-2010 are dedicated to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 18, 2009
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | September 19, 2009 | Dispatch No. 2653 -
      Year 12 running
      From: www.sacw.net

      [ 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 ]

      [1] Afghanistan: Elections Fraud (A cartoon by Shadi Ghanim)
      [2] 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)
      [3] Bangladesh: The state in its fearsome symmetry (Syed Badrul Ahsan)
      + Open Letter: International Oil Companies in Bangladesh and State
      Violence against Bangladeshi Activists
      [4] 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)
      [5] 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
      [6] 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
      [7] India: Resources For Secular Activists
      (i) Bababudangiri, Karnataka’s communal smoke pit, is
      simmering again
      (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)


      [1] Afghanistan:


      A cartoon by Shadi Ghanim in The National, September 18 2009


      [2] Sri Lanka

      Daily Mirror
      September 14, 2009



      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
      the government.

      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

      by Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

      o o o

      by Sandun Ratnaweera

      o o o

      The Hindu
      9 September 2009



      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
      are protected.

      o o o


      by Dayapala Thiranagama


      [3] Bangladesh:

      The Daily Star
      September 9, 2009


      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
      fearsome symmetry.

      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

      SEE ALSO:



      [3] Pakistan:



      dawn, 12 September, 2009


      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
      extremely insecure.

      Q- What do you think should change to guarantee the security,
      religious freedom and protection of the religious minorities' rights
      in Pakistan?

      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


      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


      [5] Pakistan - India Relations A Hostage To Security Hawks:

      The Times of India
      9 September 2009


      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
      Economic Relations.

      o o o


      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
      in 2005?

      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



      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
      the explosion.

      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
      neighbouring China.

      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
      arsenal manifold.

      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.)


      [7] India: Unrestrained and Unaccountable Policing & Eroding Human

      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.


      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
      state. Why?

      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


      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

      3-4 September

      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,
      Assam, Nagaland.

      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
      Police Commandos.

      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.


      [8] India: Resources Secular Activists





      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
      <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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