Category: Indian Politics

Foreign Observers Arriving in Bilaspur for Binayak Sen Hearing

IANS | Yahoo News | 24/01/2011

An-eight member delegation of the European Union (EU) is expected to arrive in Bilaspur town Monday to attend a bail plea of rights activist Binayak Sen that is to be heard by the Chhattisgarh High Court. The EU delegation members who landed Sunday night in state capital Raipur amid protests of ‘Go Back’ by somebinayak-sen local groups left for Bilaspur town Monday by car to attend the hearing. The high court is based in Bilaspur town, 110 km from here.

Sen, 60, who is a People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) leader, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a district and sessions court in Raipur Dec 24 on sedition charges and his links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal. The court verdict has been widely slammed by human right activists in India and abroad who say he was victimised by the Chhattisgarh government for highlighting human right abuses.

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India’s Apex Court Takes on Political Corruption

Article first published as India’s Apex Court Takes on Political Corruption on Blogcritics.

India’s apex court, the Supreme Court has been on collision course with the country’s top politicians and powerful bureaucrats. The apex court is furious at federal Human Resources Minister Mr Kapil Cibal, who is also dealing the Telecommunications ministry, for trying to downplay what is said to be the biggest fraud of the country ever since it achieved independence in 1947. Mr Kapil Cibal criticized the statutory and independent auditing body, theindian corruption CAG (Comptroller and Auditor Genera) for concluding that the nation might have lost $39 billion in revenue because of irregularities in awarding 2G spectrum licenses in 2008. He said the government did not lose single rupee in awarding 2G spectrum licenses adding that there was no ground for alleging that the nation had lost billions.

Indian left parties asked the minister why the previous minister resigned from his job if there was no fraud. The Supreme Court took a serious note of ministers’ comments and told the government counsel that the minister’s comments were unfortunate adding that the ministers had certain statutory responsibilities of respecting statutory bodies. It wondered how the minister could find wrong with the CAG’s report when it is based on government sources. The court observed the minister’s comments should not influence the investigation process looking in the matter. The CAG also responded to the minister’s comments saying that it was committed to its report.

Other Issues

The Supreme Court is also hearing some other politically sensitive issue of similar nature. The former justice minister and a renowned lawyer Mr Jethmalani appealed the apex court to order the government for initiating steps to bring back billions of dollars of Indian money hidden in offshore accounts of tax havens by the rich Indian politicians, bureaucrats and corporate owners. The Supreme Court yesterday said that the issue was not a routine one but about a big plunder of nation’s money. The court has asked the government to reveal the names of the people who hid the nation’s money illegally to escape from paying taxes. The court is worried that the black money was the source of financing terror groups operating against India.

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2G Scam: SC ticks off CBI for not questioning Raja

PTI | Yahoo News | 25/11/2010

The Supreme Court today came down heavily on the CBI for failing to question former Telecom Minster A Raja and Telecom Secretary in the 2G Spectrum scandal, saying it was "beating around the bush". A bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly wondered why the premier investigating agency failed to question the duo despite the CVC and CAG report sharply indicting them for their involvement.

"We are on the limited point. The CAG under the constitution has a very important position. It is an authority set up under the constitution. "Any responsible person will question the involvement of the Minister and the Secretary and you (CBI) say that 8,000 documents have been examined. You are beating around the bush. It was (questioning) minimum expected of the CBI. What do you take this court for," the bench observed during the argument.

Explaining the delay, senior counsel K K Venugopal submitted that the CBI has its own methods of investigations.

India’s Bihar leader Nitish Kumar in landslide victory

BBC News | 24/11/2010

The chief minister of India’s northern Bihar state has won a landslide victory in assembly elections. Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) party-led alliance won at least 200 of the 243 seats in the Bihar assembly. Mr Kumar described it as "a victory for the people of Bihar" and "a vote for development". Jubilant supporters danced in the streets and lit firecrackers in the state capital, Patna. Mr Kumar’s main rival, former federal Railways Minister and Bihar ex-chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, conceded defeat and congratulated Mr Kumar on his win. Bihar is one of India’s poorest and most corrupt states but many say it has turned the corner under Mr Kumar.

‘Move forward’

The election to the assembly was held in six stages staggered over a month. Mr Kumar has an alliance with India’s main opposition Hindu nationalist BJP. The win represented a huge jump from the 143 seats the alliance controlled in the last assembly.

"I thank the voters and people of Bihar for the massive win," Mr Kumar told reporters in Patna. "The people were faced with a question – will they move forward or will Bihar will return to the darkness of earlier times? People chose to move forward and that is why it is their victory," he said.

Mr Kumar said he had worked hard for the past five years and would "work harder" over the next five "to serve the people of Bihar". For decades, Bihar has been known as India’s most backward and lawless state. But after Mr Kumar took over, many say the state has seen development rise and crime rates fall.

Growth rate questions

The Janata Dal-BJP alliance is opposed by a number of other regional parties and the Congress party, which governs nationally. Despite widespread campaigning,

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Indian Government Mired in Corruption Scandals

Article first published as Indian Government Mired in Corruption Scandals on Blogcritics.

Indian Parliament’s winter session is facing a deadlock with the opposition parties demanding setting up of a Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) for probing into the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore ($39 billion) worth corruption scandal of the former Telecom minister A Raja. The government has been mired in series of scandals this year such as corruption in CWG arrangements because of which three top officials have already been suspended.

CAG Report

Telecom scandal has occupied headlines with the revelation of the government watchdog Comptroller and Auditor General in its report that the licenses for 2G spectrum were allotted at cheapest costs for a chosen set of companies. CAG has implicated the former Telecom minister A Raja, who resigned a week back for deliberately avoiding established procedures in sale of 2G spectrum to private companies.

CAG report said the government has lost $39 billion because of not auctioning 2G spectrumParliament licenses. Instead of going for auctions, the minister has sold the spectrum licenses on first-come-first basis. CAG alleged that the minister took interest in particular companies. He did not give much time to other companies to place their applications, CAG said. The minister did not even listen to the Prime Minister’s suggestion that he should go for auctioning spectrum licenses as per the CAG report.

Reprimanding Prime Minister

As if that is not enough, the Supreme Court has reprimanded the Prime Minister for keeping calm for 16 months on permission sought after by a lawyer through a Public Interest Litigation to prosecute the minister. The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is considered Mr Clean among Indian politicians. The bureaucrat turned politician, Manmohan worked as finance minister in the Congress government during 1991-96 period and introduced globalization policies for Indian economy. He is the most sought politician by the western countries that have been pushing India to open up its economy for foreign multinational companies.

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Nirmohi Akhara Finds Common Ground with Sangh Parivar

The RSS has achieved it. It is able to convince Nirmohi Akhara, one of the litigants in the title suit for the disputed landbabri_masjid to cooperate with its co-litigant Ramlala Viraajman for construction of the temple. The Allahabad High Court has awarded 1/3rd of disputed land to each of the litigants Ramlala, SCWB and Nirmohi Akhara on September 30. As the two parties of the Hindu groups have decided to co-operate, the site available for construction of Ram temple is doubled to 2/3rd of the disputed land.

Mahant of Nirmohi Akhara Bhaskar Das was quoted by PTI as telling that for mutual consent and cooperation for construction of the temple, a senior member of Ram Jahmbhoomi Nyas Ram Vilas Vedanti met him on Tuesday. He added they had a detailed discussion over the issue. He also said that the Akhara would cooperate provided it got prominence in whatever arrangements were made for the construction of the temple.

Mahant Bhaskar Das expressed his open opposition to the building of mosque anywhere on the disputed land. He opined the Sunni Central Wakf Board should not have been given a share in the disputed land as the court had rejected the suit filed by the Sunni Wakf Board.

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Ayodhya Verdict, If SCWB Accepts, a Blow to BJP’s Future

If Sunny Central Wakf Board accepts the Ayodhya verdict delivered by the Allahabad High Court, it will become a deathblow to the so-called Hindu nationalist political party, “Bharatiya Janata Party.” The BJP increased its Parliament seats from two to eighty by inciting communal hatred between the Hindu religion followers and the Muslim religion followers in India, stating that the 450-year-old Babri mosque was constructed demolishing Ram temple.

Radha Yatra (Chariot Journey)

The then vice-president of the BJP Mr. L K Advani took out a journey on a Chariot, inciting communal violence along his path of journey, after which his party could raise its tally of seats from two to eighty in the parliament. The party continued its communal inciting and attacks on minorities with a single agenda of constructing Ram temple.

Hindu mob demolishing the mosque The BJP’s communal agenda culminated into the demolition of the 450 years old Babri Masque on 6 December 1992. The top brass of the party organized the demolition with a solid plan of bombing and blasting. It came to power with the slogan of building Ram temple for Ram Lalla (infant Rama) that were said to be found under the central dome of the Babri mosque.

The Myth

The BJP’s tag line of “Hindu nationalist party” is itself a misguided nomenclature. There is only a Hindu religion in this world but not any nation named “Hindu.” The Hindu religion followers worship many number of gods among whom Ram is only an Avatar. The BJP was able to symbolize the diet Rama as the representative of the Hindu religion to an extent of period for which the people believed what they said.

But the people of India have many problems other than religious faith, primarily the food and shelter. The BJP never bothered about the original problems of the people except the problem that it created for its own sake of coming to power.

Economic Agenda

Interestingly, the party did not hurry or worry to build temple after coming to power in 1998 and 1999. It limited itself to the continuation of the globalization agenda laid by the financial minister Mr. Mahmohan Singh, in its predecessor government. They rather increased the pace of implementing LPG (liberalization, privatization and globalization policies).

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Hi Athishay, Here is My Answer to Your Comment

(A friend named Athishay Jain asked me to honor my nation India after reading my article on CWG-2010 published on Technorati. As comments are limited to 300 characters, I could not post this as comment and hence I make it another article. I hope this may also be published).

Well Atishay, No doubt, I’m an Indian. But I will not support corrupt people only because they are Indians. Your name suites your feeling of honor.

If you follow news regularly, you should have come across a news of the Supreme Court asking the central government to distribute wheat kept in open air due to lack of place in ware houses, to poor people. The court asked so, because, the wheat kept outside the warehouses was becoming rotten and decayed. However, our agricultural minister Mr. Shard Pawar replied, “it is not possible to distribute freely the grains to any one.” Our Prime Minister said “the courts cannot indulge in the power of the parliament.”

While the courts were talking about rotting and decaying wheat due to space problem and the hunger of the poor people, our PM and agri. minister were talking about the power the parliament, forgetting they were in office by vote of the very people to whom they were denying to give food.

The double-digit growth rate for which our PM is aspiring, do not consider 60 percent poverty of our nation. It only considers two to five percent wealthy people of the nation.

Whom the commonwealth games have fed? As I said in my article, only the contractors, ministers and bureaucrats have been fed. They can be parasites eating away the wealth produced by the Indian labor in the form of commissions, but the same poor people who produce Indian wealth and wealthy, cannot eat mouthful for even half a day.

Is this the honor you are talking about?

You have right to feel it as honor, but don’t forget, the people have right to eat what they produce with their own labor. I feel it as a shame upon our leaders.

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Supreme Court issues interim stay order on Ayodhya case

The Supreme Court ordered the Allahabad High Court to delay its verdict on the ownership of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya. The central and state governments of India are preparing the nation for the outcome of the verdict, which many fear could have raised religious tensions.

AYODHYA The government has banned temporarily issuing bulk SMSes with the fear that the fanatics may spread their message of violent attacks fast. All state governments have appealed to the people to be calm whatever the verdict might be. On international peace day governments ordered all offices to take pledge that they would observe peace.

The decades-old case over the Babri mosque of 16th century has been biggest challenge for the governments as well as people of India. A Hindu mob, patronized by rightist Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) demolished the five century old mosque claiming that their god Ram borne there and the mosque was built on the structure of temple of Rama. They wanted to correct the mistake committed by the Muslim ruler Babar, a move campaigned by the so called Hindu nationalist party the BJP.

The demolition, the run up to the demolition have sparked religious tensions and violence erupted that killed above 2000 people. The run up to the demolition had made the BJP popular among Hindu voters and brought it to the power for a single term, after which it never came back to power.

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Vedanta replies to show-cause notices; denies violating norms

PTI | Sep 15, 3010 | 09:43 PM

Vedanta-Resources As the fate of its USD 1.7 billion bauxite-mining unit proposed in Orissa hangs in balance, Vedanta Resources today denied violating any laws in connection with the project while replying to the show-cause notices served by the environment ministry. "Vedanta Aluminium Ltd has submitted its reply along with supporting documents to both the show cause notices issued by the ministry on August 31," said Mukesh Kumar, chief operating officer (Lanjigarh) of the firm.

"Once again Vedanta would like to reiterate that no violation has been done by it on any account and Vedanta is a law abiding company and have high respect for the law of the land," he said in a statement here. However, officials in the environment ministry maintained that they were yet to receive the reply from the company.

The ministry had served the show-cause notices on the company based on a report submitted by the NC Saxena panel, which had accused the company of violating a host of regulations at the site. The UK-based Vedanta Resources has been

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Protesters battle with police in Kashmir

Reuters | Sep 14, 2010 | 4:00pm IST

Hundreds of stone-throwing protesters battled police in Indian Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after one of the worst single episodes of violence in two decades of separatist protests. Eighteen people were killed, nearly all of them in police firing, on Monday during anti-India and Koran demonstrations in the disputed region, increasing the pressure on the government to tackle the protests that have simmered through the summer. In the northern town of Baramulla and in Zainakote near summer capital Srinagar, clashes on Tuesday left five protesters and one policeman injured. But otherwise most of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley was quiet. Heavily-armed police patrolled the streets of Srinagar, and loudspeakers mounted on police vehicles asked residents to stay indoors in a bid to head off more protests. All flights to the city were cancelled due to security fears, the first time in 11 years. The latest deaths are a huge challenge for the federal government, which has been criticised for failing to treat the protests seriously, underscoring a policy limbo in New Delhi that may spill over into tension with Pakistan, which claims Kashmir.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi condemned "blatant violence by Indian security forces against Kashmiri people that have resulted in the loss of scores of innocent lives since June this year," according to a government statement. But Pakistan, long accused of stoking the separatist fire, may not be interested in stirring up too much trouble with nuclear neighbour India as it faces its own massive problems of floods and militant attacks. "Pakistan has shown maximum restraint on this issue and I think this is a very mature strategy that they have not intervened at the highest level," said Ershad Mahmud, a Pakistani expert on Kashmir affairs. On Monday, police killed at least 17 protesters and one policemen died as demonstrators torched a Christian missionary school and government and police buildings to denounce reports that copies of the Koran had been damaged in the United States. Kashmir has witnessed massive demonstrations against Indian rule in the last three months and police have killed at least 87 protesters. Demonstrations on other issues — such as the Koran — can often balloon into wider anti-government sentiment.

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Fourteen killed in Kashmir, Koran protests

Reuters | Sep 13, 2010 | 9:43pm IST

India Kashmir Violence Police shot dead at least 13 people on Monday in anti-government and Koran demonstrations across Kashmir in the biggest single death toll from protests in the disputed region in years. The toll includes nine people killed in police clashes after Muslim protesters set fire to a Christian missionary school and government buildings in two districts to denounce reports that copies of the Koran had been damaged in the United States. One policeman was also killed by stone-throwing protesters defying a curfew in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. The deaths are a huge challenge for the Congress-led government, which has been criticised for failing to treat the protests seriously, underscoring a policy limbo in New Delhi that may spill over into tension with Pakistan, which claims Kashmir. The nuclear-armed neighbours have twice gone to war over Kashmir since independence.

Police said these Koran demonstrations, attended by thousands in western Kashmir, quickly turned into separatist protests against the Indian central government — a day after authorities slapped a curfew on much of the restive Himalayan region. Protesters, many wearing green headbands, shouted "There is no God but Allah" and "Death to America". Witnesses said crowds in Budgam burned an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama. At least 113 policemen and 45 protesters were injured. Police in Kashmir said separatist leaders were inciting the violence. Kashmir has seen mass rallies against Indian rule in the last three months and at least 70 protesters had been killed by police. Demonstrations on other issues — such as the Koran — can often balloon into wider anti-government sentiment.

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Sonia Gandhi backs improved rights for farmers

Reuters | Thu Sep 9, 2010 | 3:17pm IST

PM Manmohan and Sonia Gandhi Ruling Congress party head Sonia Gandhi, the country’s most powerful politician, has thrown her support behind greater land rights for farmers as the issue becomes a key political battleground for the government. Gandhi’s support comes just weeks after her influential son, Rahul Gandhi, called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to pass legislation to support farmers, as rows over land acquisition threaten development projects across the country. Rapid urbanisation has led to disputes between authorities and farmers across India, where two-thirds of the 1.2 billion population is dependent on agriculture. The government is mulling a bill to quicken land purchases as well as help farmers.

India needs to spend $1.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2017. But construction targets have been missed as land rows hold up projects such as a new airport in the financial hub of Mumbai, hampering India’s efforts to compete with China. "Farmers must be provided with adequate compensation and alternative occupations," Gandhi said in speech in New Delhi. "Land acquisition must be done in a manner that does not result in the loss of large tracts of fertile and productive land that is so essential to grow food grains for our people." Prime Minister Singh has said a long-awaited reform of land acquisition legislation would be addressed in the next session of parliament. The current legislation dates back to 1894 and allows the government to take over land with little compensation.

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Social Activists Condemn Using Force against Protesting Stone Throwers in Kashmir

Even women Kashmir women to protest against police killings

Using live ammunition against protesting stone throwers in Kashmir valley is strongly condemned by social activists, working in various fields in India, in a conference held in Mumbai on Friday 3rd September. They demanded the government to immediately halt the use or arms by security forces against stone throwers to end the turmoil in the Kashmir valley that is raged as a consequence of killing innocent people of Kashmir for last 3 months. The conference is convened by Peace Mumbai, a network of several social organisations. The meeting also called for an immediate withdrawal of security forces from the civilian areas of Jammu & Kashmir. At least 70 people have been killed in firing by security forces, including boys and girls below the age of 15 years, only in August.

Resolution
The conference is held throughout the day on the issue titled “Kashmir at Crossroads: The Way Forward”. The meeting passed a resolution demanding all parties of various perspectives, to return immediately to the negotiating table that also said the solution can be obtained only by initiating the political process. The conference expressed concern over naked violations of human rights for the Kashmir people and urged the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to implement his promise of zero tolerance for all human rights violations in Kashmir. The Prime Minister is asked to repeal the draconian laws such as ‘the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) and ‘the Public Safety Act’ that provided the security forces every power to kill innocent people at their free will in Kashmir.
Draconian Laws
The Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) has attracted wide condemnation even in North-East states like Manipur. Some 12 middle-aged Manipur women protested without a single piece of cloth on their bodies in front the headquarters of the army forces displaying a banner reading “Indian Army, Rape Us” in protest against brutal rape and killing of a Manipuri woman aged about 30 years, named ‘Thanglam Manorama’. The Indian Army and security forces have been given extraordinary powers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 to search, seize, arrest and even kill anyone suspected of being an insurgent in order to "maintain the public order." Armed with these acts along with guns the security forces are causing enormous miseries and humiliation daily for Kashmiris.

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People stage demos in Sopore against setting up of army camp

KMS News | 04/09/2010 | 15:48 PST

In Kashmir, thousands of people staged protest demonstrations at Hardshiva in Sopore town against the setting up of an Indian Army camp in the area. Indian Army has acquired at least 18 Kanals of land from the puppet authorities in Pazalpora locality of Hardshiva to establish the camp. After demarcation, Army erected scores of poles on the land, which were later removed by the residents of the area during the protest.

The locals said that there were a primary school, high school and an Eidgah already existing on the hundreds of kanals of grazing land, a portion of which the Army had acquired from the authorities. “Eidgah served as prayer grounds for the residents of Dooru, Sempora, Macchipora, Mundji, Cherhaar, Kawal, Umran and adjoining villages,” they added. An Auqaf member talking to media-men said, “We will lay down our lives but will not allow the Army to set up the camp. We have grown up girls. Will they be safe, if Army comes to the village?” He warned the authorities of worst consequences if the troops tried to set up the camp. Meanwhile, an official confirmed that some land was being provided to the occupation troops for setting up a camp.

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