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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Saffron Terror - Videos

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Investigating agencies suspect Hindutva extremists’ hand in 16 explosions across the country

'Saffron terror' role being probed
Anirban Bhaumik, New Delhi,
From Deccan Herald
The ''saffron terror'' might well be a much bigger phenomenon than previously envisaged, with the investigating agencies suspecting involvement of Hindutva activists in as many as 16 explosions across the country.

 A special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is understood to have recently told the state police chiefs that the Hindutva activists have either been suspected or are under investigation in 16 incidents of bomb blasts in the country.

The right wing activists’ role in four incidents of bomb blasts so far has come into public domain, but the top intelligence official’s remark during the annual conference of the Director Generals and Inspector Generals of Police from the states last week revealed that the saffron terror had assumed a much larger proportion.

Sources said that the IB official had not specified the 12 other cases in which the investigating agencies suspected or probed the role of Hindu extremists.

The phenomenon of ‘saffron terror’ first came to light with the arrest of Sangh Parivar activist Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Army officer Prasad Shrikant Purohit in connection with the September 29, 2008 blast at Malegaon near Nashik in Maharashtra.

The explosion killed seven people and left many other injured. The Maharashtra Police on January 19, 2009 filed a charge sheet, accusing Purohit of being the prime conspirator, who arranged explosives for the blast. It also accused Thakur of arranging the men who planted the bombs in Malegaon.

Making a presentation during the state top cops’ conference in New Delhi, the senior IB official is understood to have referred to the right wing Hindu organisations, who espoused emotive issues, leading to radicalisation of a section of majority community and thus contributing to spread of what is being called saffron terror.

Thakur, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, has since long been actively involved with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Durga Vahini, Hindu Jagran Manch and other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar. Purohit, a lieutenant colonel in the army’s intelligence wing, was also allegedly involved with Abhibav Bharat – another offshoot of the saffron brigade.

Mecca Masjid blast

Hindutva extremists’ roles in connection with the blasts on Samjhauta Express on February 18, in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007 and in Dargah of Sufi saint Mainuddin Chisti in Ajmer on October 11, 2007 came to light during subsequent investigations, particularly in the wake of the confession of Swami Aseemanand.

Aseemanand, who was arrested from Haridwar in November 2010, confessed in January this year that he and other right wing Hindutva activists had been involved with the Hindutva activists’ conspiracies to trigger blasts at Muslim shrines in Hyderabad and Ajmer, killing 10 and three people, respectively.

The National Investigation Agency on June 20 charged Aseemanand and four others – Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalasangra and Sunil Joshi – with triggering explosions on the India-Pakistan Samjhauta Express, killing 68 people. Joshi was later found dead and Thakur was being probed for her alleged role in the murder.
Malegaon blast

Proclaimed offenders


Dange and Kalasangra had been declared proclaimed offenders in the case and are currently on the run. Aseemanand, however, later claimed that the investigating agency had obtained the confession from him under duress.

Home Minister P Chidambaram’s remark on ‘saffron terror’ during the conference of the DGPs and the IGPs last year triggered widespread criticism from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress, which leads the ruling United Progressive Alliance, too disapproved the remark, stating that terrorism had no colour.

Chidambaram refrained from using the term ‘saffron terror’ in his inaugural address in this year’s top cops’ meet. However, while referring to Islamic extremists organizations like Students’ Islamic Movement of India and Indian Mujahideen, he did refer to “other Indian modules that espouse the cause of right wing religious fundamentalism or separatism”.

Monday, 26 September 2011

In a clash between Gujjars and Meos, the police played a partisan role in the riots,

A Land Dispute Ends in Carnage


Sapat Khan had gone to pray only to get shot in the leg
Horror survivor Sapat Khan had gone to pray only to get shot in the leg
Photos: Tarun Sehrawat
IT WAS 14 September. Maulana Rashid, 27, owner of an automobile repair shop in Andhwadi village, had gone to Gopalgarh for some personal work. Finishing work in the afternoon, he went to the Masjid-e-Aisha for namaaz before returning home. A decision that cost Rashid his life. At 5 pm, the whole town of Gopalgarh erupted in violence and the mosque was the epicentre of it all. Rashid, like eight others, was shot inside it. On 14 September, Gopalgarh, a small town in Rajasthan 80 km away from Bharatpur, witnessed one of the worst carnage the town has ever seen. Nine people, all belonging to the Meo community, were killed and around 30 were injured. Of the 30 injured, 26 were Meo Muslims and four were Gujjars. On 21 September, the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government ordered a CBI investigation into the incident.
The inside of the mosque is covered with blood stains
Crime scene The inside of the mosque is covered with blood stains



Policemen standing guard outside the mosque in Gopalgarh
No faith in khaki Policemen standing guard outside the mosque in Gopalgarh
The road to the carnage was lain on 13 September, after an order asking Gujjars to vacate 12 bighas of encroached land sparked the violence. According to Noor Mohammad, a resident of Gopalgarh, around 12 bighas of land were purchased in 2000 to build a mosque, idgah and a graveyard. The mosque was for people from around 38 villages. A part of the 12 bighas was encroached upon by the Gujjars who staked claim to it. Meo Muslims of the area filed a case in the Pahadi district court against this encroachment. On 13 September, the tehsildar of Pahadi issued an order under Section 90 of the Land Revenue (LR) Act, asking the Gujjars to vacate the land. Reacting to this order, 10-15 agitated Gujjars gathered near the mosque and beat up Abdul Rashid, the imam of the mosque. The group threatened that they would not vacate the land.
On hearing that the Imam had been attacked, angry Meo Muslims gathered near the masjid, and the Gujjars gathered at the house of Abu and Sher Singh, local leaders in the market of Gopalgarh. Several rounds were fired in the air from both sides. Sensing the situation could go out of hand, leaders from both sides suggested that they go to the local police station to resolve the issue. A five-member team from each community was chosen to talk to the police. Sher Singh, leader of the Gujjars, even agreed to apologise to the Imam.
At that time, local leaders from Bajrang Dal and the VHP, claim Meo Muslims, started floating the rumour that four Gujjars had been killed by Muslims and no compromise could be acceptable. This spread like wildfire and within no time the whole town was simmering with tension. The Muslims also allege that these leaders, aided by a sizeable number of Gujjar policemen, literally forced the Collector into signing the order to open fire. The Meos allege that their mosque was surrounded by the police in riot-control vans and Gujjars attacked the mosque. In the firing that lasted close to an hour, nine Meo Muslims were killed and close to 30 were injured. What was even more shocking was that three to five bodies were burnt and thrown into a well inside the adjacent idgah. Several makeshift shops belonging to Meos were also burnt down. The Meos allege that the local police was hand-inglove with the Gujjar community in playing out this carnage. The police were prompt to deny the allegation and said they fired shots to prevent the riot from spreading. The Collector, SP and SHOwere later transferred under intense public pressure.
Social activist Ramzan Chaudhary says the whole incident smacks of conspiracy on the part of the Gujjar community and the local police, which has a sizeable Gujjar presence. "If what the police is saying is correct," he says, "that they opened fire to quell a riot situation, then how come the dead are only Meo Muslims." When asked by TEHELKA, the police had no reply to this question. "Even if I agree that the police were right in their intention, then how can they explain the burning of dead bodies and then being thrown inside the well? Even if they say that Gujjars did it, what was the police in-charge of the mosque doing?" adds Ramzan. The police have no retort to this charge either. When TEHELKA spoke to the IG, Bharatpur Range, Sunil Dutt about the burnt bodies found inside the well, he accepted that around three to five bodies were found burnt but could not explain how this happened.
As many as 219 rounds were fired that day, an excessive use of force by the police, says the PUCL report
FOLLOWING THIS, a fact-finding committee of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) also visited the spot to conduct an independent investigation. Members of this committee told TEHELKA that though it was initially reported in some sections of the media that the police firing was outcome of rioting between two communities, the reality is that there were no deaths before the police had arrived on the scene. The report quoted highly placed police sources who accepted that as many as 219 rounds were fired by the cops, which prima facie appears to be an excessive use of a measure that is supposed to be a last resort. No precautionary steps to disperse the mob, such as lathi-charge or use of rubber bullets, were taken. It also said that since most deaths took place inside the mosque, there is compelling reason to think that the firing targeted only one community.
Bloody September
14 SEPTEMBER 2011 Nine people, all belonging to the Meo community, were killed. 30 were injured, of which 26 were Meo Muslims and 4 Gujjars
Masjid-e-Aisha, the mosque in Gopalgarh where agitated Gujjars and the police (allegedly) fired upon those trapped inside
Three to five bodies were burnt and thrown into a well in the adjacent Idgah, a fact accepted by the IG, Bharatpur Range
According to the PUCL findings, as many as 219 rounds were fired. No precautionary measure was taken, including lathicharge or rubber bullets
The Congress team, led by Rashid Alvi, also inspected the spot and concluded that violence had in fact escalated after the arrival of the police
Though Gujjars are a majority in Gopalgarh and the adjoining villages are dominated by Meo Muslims, there has been no tension between them prior to the riots
Additionally, the report alleges that the mosque bore evidence of excessive vandalism, lending credence to the allegation that after the firing, it was captured by a section of the Gujjar community in complicity with the police. It also raised serious questions on the conduct of the administration in handling the original dispute concerning the graveyard land and during the crisis of 14 September. There were confirmed reports about violent confrontations between the two communities but once the initial clash subsided around noon, the crowd was allowed to remain at the site, and re-arm for five hours even though the DM and SP were present. This smacks of a lax administrative machinery, if not of complicity.According to sources, the police firing in the air had happened at around 2.30 pm, when both groups were armed. But when the police fired at the people inside the mosque, they were unarmed. The police, on its part, is laying the blame on inflammatory speeches by the Meos.
The PUCL report was not the only one to have found the conduct of the state government wanting. A team of Congress MPs led by Rashid Alvi visited Gopalgarh to investigate the matter. Within 48 hours, Alvi submitted a report to Congress President Sonia Gandhi. In his report, Alvi confirmed that excesses were committed by the police, and that violence had in fact escalated after the arrival of the uniformed men at the scene. The report also came down heavily on the conduct of state Home Minister Shantilal Dhariwal, and accused him of taking sides. The Congress-led government, facing flak for inaction, went into overdrive and ordered a judicial inquiry and handed over the investigation to the CBI. It also announced a compensation of 5 lakh for the families of the deceased. Following a Cabinet meeting, Dhariwal has taken moral responsibility for the incident and promised that the inquiry would yield results in three months.
The harrowing tale of 35-year-old Sapat Khan confirms the fear that hounds the Meos of Gopalgarh. Sapat, a farmer, had gone to buy some farm products for his land, and like Rashid, decided to offer namaaz before going back home to Andhwadi. To his horror, he heard gunshots being fired at the mosque. Sapat hid behind a slab and was hit by a bullet in his thigh. He was down on the ground, when after 15-20 minutes, he saw police entering the mosque. Sapat alleges that the police dragged him outside like an animal and threw him inside a van. There were three other bodies in the van. That's all he remembers before he fainted. Now walking with a pronounced limp, Sapat says that more than being shot at, he cannot get over the fact that the local police and Gujjars desecrated a sacred place of worship by entering the mosque and killing people inside it.
WHEN TEHELKA visited Masjid-e-Aisha, entry to the mosque was barred. Only after the IG intervened were the premises opened, with strict instructions not to take any pictures. The sight there could make one's stomach turn. The mosque bore signs of a battle outpost with several bullet marks outside and inside the structure and blood stains all over the place.
The underlying surprise factor in all this is that this area has never seen violence before this incident. The Gujjars are a majority in this area, and the adjoining villages are dominated by Meo Muslims. Meos have customs different from other Muslim communities. Unlike other Muslims, they don't practise inter-marriage within their families. Other customs are also different. In fact, they seem closer to Hindus in their way of life.
Shamser Singh, a resident of Gopalgarh, is alarmed. "I am amazed at the intensity of the violence of 14 September," he says. "There has been no tension between Meos and Gujjars until now. Even families who have lost their sons or fathers in this carnage admit that they have had no problems with the Gujjars in the past."
So why did this violence happen? Nobody in Gopalgarh and adjoining villages has an answer to this question.
A pall of gloom has descended on Gopalgarh, and threatens to turn it into another tension-filled part of India with communal feelings colouring the fabric of daily life. Though a judicial inquiry and a CBI investigation have been ordered, work is yet to start on the ground. The victims of this carnage are also not too hopeful. Sixty-five-year-old Hazar Khan, father of the deceased Rashid, rues, "Yes, the government has ordered a CBI investigation, but will the dead get justice? Will that inquiry remove this disturbing thought in my head that my son was not only killed, but burnt by the very same people who were supposed to protect him?"
Hazar and others allege that bodies were burnt by Gujjars under the protection of the police. Whether the truth comes out or not, Gopalgarh has already found its way into the annals of communal violence of this country.
From Tehelka
Brijesh Pandey is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.

Charges of fraud come to haunt forest minister of Karnataka


CP Yogeshwar
New face, same story Forest minister CP Yogeshwar
Photo: GK Hegde



JUST OVER a month into office, and the DN Sadananda Gowda-led BJP government in Karnataka finds itself under a cloud of corruption and charges of fraud. Newly inducted forest minister CP Yogeshwar has been charged with corporate fraud, criminal conspiracy for siphoning off funds, forgery and cheating by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) of the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs, following a probe into the dealings of his company, Megacity Developers and Builders Limited (MDBL). The SFIO took over the case after the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 2010 had charged Yogeshwar with criminal forgery.
The SFIO, which began its investigation in April 2010 into the Rs 71 crore scam involving the forest minister and his brother CP Gangadeshwar, has indicted them on 16 counts for siphoning off funds and cheating thousands of people who had paid money for plots in his Vajragiri Township project. The SFIO submitted its report on 30 July to the corporate affairs ministry and has sought the prosecution of the minister. If found guilty, Yogeshwar can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Megacity was promoted by Yogeshwar in 1995. Capitalising on the IT boom in Bengaluru, Yogeshwar promoted the Vajra Township as a property along the proposed Bangalore- Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) Highway. In 1995, land in this planned township was available at a throwaway price of Rs 40 per square feet.
According to the business model of the company, investors were encouraged to own a plot by paying monthly instalments over five years. The promoters spared no effort to ensure timely payments. Amitabh Bachchan was flown in to inaugurate their corporate office in Bengaluru. The firm ‘honoured’ veteran actor Pandari Bai and Kannada singer C Ashwath by gifting them plots.
Yogeshwar’s political fortunes soared after the 1999 election. He was elected to the Karnataka Assembly on a Congress ticket from the Bangalore Rural constituency. However, in March 2010, based on a PIL filed in 2002 by people who had applied for plots in his project, the state CID chargesheeted Yogeshwar with criminal forgery. In its chargesheet, the CID had stated that permission was granted by the state government for 1,094 plots on 117 acres of land. The rate was fixed at Rs 40 per square feet. Yogeshwar had facilitated that money be paid in monthly instalments of Rs 800 to Rs 6,400. During 1995-2001, the company collected more than Rs 71 crore from over 9,000 people. The investors included the middle class and some NRIs. Of the 9,000-odd investors, over 3,000 paid the amount in full, whereas the remaining 6,000 paid anywhere between two to 40 instalments. But, along with his brother Gangadeshwar and his brothers-in-law P Mahadevaiah and HR Ramesh, he misused the funds.
“A sum of Rs 67 crore was collected from the members and Rs 37.22 crore was withdrawn from a bank for buying the land and constructing a temple and a house in Chakkere in Channapatna,” says a CID official who probed the case. “MDBL officials also did not provide account details from 2006-07 to the Registrar of Companies.’’
Upholding the CID probe, the SFIO after further investigation, filed its report to the Union corporate affairs ministry and charged them for criminal breach of trust, forgery for the purpose of cheating, criminal conspiracy for willfully misleading representation in brochures/pamphlets to deceive investor public — punishable under Sections 415, 420, 120A, 405, 463, 468 of the Indian Penal Code.
During the investigation, the SFIO additionally found that Yogeshwar had forged about 450 sale agreements to show that Rs 37 crore was paid to farmers to purchase their land and illegally used the company’s money. It found that in some cases, survey numbers mentioned in the agreement did not exist. In some, agreements were made in the name of people who were not even alive. In others, the agreement had neither been signed by the particular landowner nor did he receive payment from Yogeshwar. Also, only part payments were made.
According to the report, Yogeshwar had illegally obtained three different Director Identification Numbers (DINs) using his name, his father’s name and address in three different ways in violation of the Companies Act as he was ‘ineligible’ to become a director of a company because he had not submitted the company’s annual returns during 2006-09. He was given one of these DINs when he was chairman and director of the state-owned Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation last year.
The SFIO found Yogeshwar had forged 450 sale deeds to show that Rs 37 crore was paid to farmers to purchase their land
Other charges include swindling Rs 3.6 crore from his company, constructing a building for another firm (Fashion Forum Pvt Ltd) and a house for himself near Channapatna by misappropriating Rs 1.59 crore from the company’s funds, not filing annual returns, balance sheet and profit and loss account, not holding general body meetings, not accounting for parcels of land belonging to the company, and not furnishing information during the investigation despite summons.
WHEN CONTACTED, JK Teotia, additional director, SFIO and Dhan Raj, director, investigations, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, refused to comment. However, Yogeshwar defends his actions. “The case has been going on for the past five-six years, and is nothing but a political vendetta on the part of JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy. The charges levelled against me are false propaganda on the part of the JD(S),” he says.
Responding to Yogeshwar’s allegations, Kumaraswamy’s press secretary Sadanand says, “There is no relation between Kumaraswamy and the SFIO. It is a case that is being probed by a reputed investigating agency, which also probed the Satyam scam. I don’t think we can influence it.”
Yogeshwar’s indictment has come at a time when several ministers, including former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, are facing corruption charges. A trial against Yeddyurappa is on in the antigraft court in the state’s capital. The CBI is grilling mining baron Janardhana Reddy, his brother Karunakara Reddy and aide Sriramulu in the multi-crore mining scam.
In another case, former minister of information technology and biotechnology Katta Subramanya Naidu has been arrested and remanded in judicial custody along with his son Katta Jagadish Naidu for the past two months.
“We have the information. Everything is all right. It is a smear campaign on the part of the opposition,” says state BJP leader KS Eshwarappa. Interestingly, the BJP had elevated Yogeshwar, who crossed over from the Congress in 2009, to a ministerial post hoping to use him to make inroads into the JD(S) bastion of Ramanagaram district. He trounced the JD(S) candidate by a huge margin in the Channapatna Assembly byelection. Asked if the party was mulling removal of the minister till the charges against him are cleared, Eshwarappa said, “We are not taking any action against him.”
The indictment of the forest minister comes at a time when the party is geared up for the byelections in the Koppal constituency.
Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
From T