Thursday, May 25, 2006

Interpol alert to arrest Godhra prime accused

Pramod Kr Singh | New Delhi
The Pioneer
May 26, 2006

Interpol has issued a red corner notice for the arrest of Salim Haji Ibrahim alias Salim Paanwala, the main accused in the Godhra train tragedy, in which 59 passengers were burnt alive on February 27, 2002.

Sources said that the red corner notice was issued after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) vetted material evidence furnished by the Gujarat Government and moved the Interpol to issue an alert for Paanwala's arrest.

Intelligence sources said Salim Paanwala is in Pakistan, which indicates that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may have a hand in the Godhra carnage.

The notice issued on April 11is a slap on the face of Justice UC Banerjee Committee. The committee - appointed by Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad - had said in its report that the Godhra incident was an accident.

In sharp contrast to Justice Banerjee Report, the fact sheet ascribed in Interpol's notice reads, "On February, 2002, an attack occurred on Sabarmati Express which was travelling between Muzaffarpur to Ahmedabad. The attack on the coach no S-6 of the train was pre- meditated and resulted in serious injury to 46 passengers and death to 59 passengers. As the train pulled away from Godhra station where it had a scheduled stop, four chains were pulled in four different carriages, causing the train to stop.

"Investigations have revealed that during the time the train was stopped, the offenders, collected eight canisters of petrol from the nearby co-conspirator. Shortly afterwards, the four emergency chains were pulled again and the train halted. Investigations have revealed that pulling of the emergency chains was part of a plan. As soon as the train stopped, it was attacked by mobs outside, who pelted it with rods and broke windows and attacked it with arms and inflammable material."

The Bannerji Committee had hit the headlines for its accidental theory but the police . investigation found that Razak Kurkur and Salim Paanwala, residents of Godhra, had hatched a conspiracy to torch the compartment. They took the help of six young boys to cut the vestibule that joins S-6 and S-7, to pour the petrol into S-6. Two other boys helped them pull the chain near the A cabin, a little distance away from the Godhra platform. Maulvi Umerji, a resident of Signal Falia, was charge-sheeted for masterminding the offence by Gujarat Police.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Media fanning communal riots

A perfect example of fanning fear thru half-truths, is the following article
by Seema Mustafa published in Asian Age....



"The Ugly Indian was at it again in Gujarat. The mobs were out in Baroda
this time, simply because the Muslims had dared to raise their voice against
the demolition of a 300-year old dargah. How dare they even speak, was the
message flashed down to the mobs that owe allegiance in Gujarat to its chief
minister Narendra Modi; and the same Vishwa Hindu Parishad chaps, the same
Bajrang Dalis, the same dirty policemen, the same administration had within
minutes joined hands to wreak terror on the streets of Baroda. Helpless
citizens of India spent a night in abject terror, calling every number they
knew and receiving no response except hate-filled messages from the police
control room, "Go to Pakistan." The mobs moved around freely, threatening,
burning a young man alive in his vehicle, indulging in rampant arson, while
the police insisted that there was no threat to the minorities, and Baroda
was as peaceful as it possibly could be"


Full text:

State of Fear
- By Seema Mustafa



There is something about Union home minister Shivraj Patil that makes it
appear that each time he speaks, the words are being dragged out of him. His
is an amazingly successful impersonation of the reluctant maiden, which
would have been fine had he not been the home minister of India. No one can
fault Mr Patil on his appearance, with every crease and strand of hair in
place. But the "there is nothing wrong, and if there is, it is being taken
care of" attitude does not inspire confidence, particularly as he manages to
completely play down the importance of the situation in the process, and
reduces government reaction to a non-assertive response. Unfortunately, the
attitude plays on the officials as well, with the government machinery under
the home minister now appearing uncertain as to whether it should be
"seized" of the situation, or whether it should follow the natty Mr Patil’s
lead in insinuating that there is actually no situation at all to be seized
about. One has to commend the home secretary, V.K. Duggal, for following a
straight and narrow official line, and at least trying to fill in all the
blanks created by his minister.

This is not to say that one expects the home minister to flap, but that he
should at least be convincing in his authority. Unfortunately, the
television persona is the same that meets Opposition leaders and delegations
that meet him on issues as important and as varied as Gujarat, the
Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir. "It is fine, we are doing all that we can, the
situation will not remain uncontrolled, it will be controlled," says the
home minister (or words to that effect). How? "Well, it is being worked out,
we are in touch, we are talking to them, we will see what we can do," is the
response. Those listening to him cannot be blamed for not exactly being
infused with confidence.

The Ugly Indian was at it again in Gujarat. The mobs were out in Baroda this
time, simply because the Muslims had dared to raise their voice against the
demolition of a 300-year old dargah. How dare they even speak, was the
message flashed down to the mobs that owe allegiance in Gujarat to its chief
minister Narendra Modi; and the same Vishwa Hindu Parishad chaps, the same
Bajrang Dalis, the same dirty policemen, the same administration had within
minutes joined hands to wreak terror on the streets of Baroda. Helpless
citizens of India spent a night in abject terror, calling every number they
knew and receiving no response except hate-filled messages from the police
control room, "Go to Pakistan." The mobs moved around freely, threatening,
burning a young man alive in his vehicle, indulging in rampant arson, while
the police insisted that there was no threat to the minorities, and Baroda
was as peaceful as it possibly could be.

This columnist who started receiving messages and telephone calls from
Gujarat from 1 a.m. that night — and for those with the same filthy communal
mindset as the mobs on Baroda’s streets, let me tell you that the calls were
not from Muslims, but from secular and concerned citizens of India
comprising all religions — wanting people here to knock on doors to get some
protection for those "trapped" in Baroda. "They will be butchered, the mobs
are threatening a repeat of 2002" the messages screamed. And as one almost
tearful activist from Ahmedabad said, "We have no refuge, they can kill us
any time they want, we are here to die, not to live as there is no
protection for us." It is a tragedy, if after over 50 years of independence,
even a single citizen of India has to live for even a moment in complete and
total fear, not of the mobs, but of the Indian state. We all must
collectively hang our heads in shame.

Gujarat might have been controlled this time, because perhaps it did not
suit the Ugly Indian to change the golden star for excellent development
given to him by Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s Planning Commission — with all the
happy progressives on board — for a black mark. But he has happily
demonstrated yet again his control over the mobs and over the unhappy
destiny that he is determining for the people of Gujarat with the full
support of the BJP and the Congress Party. The minorities have to live in
the ghettos he has prepared for them, and accept all that comes their way.
If they — the Muslims, the Christians, the tribals — speak out of turn and
demand rights as citizens of India, they will have to bear the price. This
could be a night of abuse, threats; this could be largescale arson and the
burning alive of human beings; this could be 2002 with rape, arson, murder,
mayhem. It is for the Ugly Indian to choose, and for him to decide.

In 2002, the BJP extended total and complete support to the Ugly Indian to
preside over the killing of 2,000 citizens of India. The frightening thought
is that under the Congress-led coalition today, the man is still in a
position to preside over the killing of as many, if not more Indians in
Gujarat, at a moment of his choosing and with complete absence of remorse.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened a Cabinet meeting the morning after
the night of tension to discuss the developments. Ministers made it clear
that the government could not afford violence in Gujarat without paying a
heavy price. Shivraj Patil was shaken out of his complacent slumber to keep
an hourly watch over Gujarat, tiring and irksome for a minister seeking his
solace in the air-conditioned corridors of 10 Janpath and not the dusty and
hot states of India. But what is frightening is this entire argument that
the Centre cannot do anything, unless the state requisitions it.

An inquiry committee has been set up to look into the demolition of the
dargah. An inquiry committee must also be set up to examine the role of the
police and the administration, to find out how tainted policemen are back in
charge, and how a policeman or even a god for that matter, had the temerity
to ask a citizen of India to "go to Pakistan." As an Army daughter I was
taught early at home to hit out with all the force at my command against
those sick people who kept hounding the Muslims with the "go to Pakistan"
threat. I can only wish the civilian government will learn some lessons from
our struggle for independence (in which the jingoistic nationalists did not
participate), and help those who are feeling too helpless and vulnerable for
no fault of theirs, to hit out hard against those who dare to point a finger
at their identity and their patriotism. The policemen in Baroda should be
brought before the law and made accountable. And so should their patrons in
politicians’ garb. Also, a word of advice for the heir apparent. Leaders are
not made by campaigning for their mothers, but in holding the hands of the
victims of Doda and Gujarat in their hour of strife and grief.

Tailpiece: Pramod Mahajan is dead, and while one is sorry about the manner
in which he died, it is somehow difficult to understand the completely
hysterical media reaction. A weeping media — he was a good source —
virtually canonised the BJP leader and imbued in him many a virtue that was
not very visible when he was alive. Pramod was a dashing personality, but an
ordinary leader who had won only one election out of the three or four he
had contested, useful for sections of the BJP, a good fund-raiser, with
contacts in the corporate world. The media hysteria does raise one question
— if this was the coverage Pramod Mahajan got, 20 of the 24 hours on
television channels, 20 of the 30 pages in newspapers (or some such
figures), then what would we have done if Gandhi had been killed today?
Surely, not much more space would have been made available for him than has
been made available for this very ordinary MP, whose contribution to the
party might be worth a mention, but whose contribution to the nation remains
under a big question mark that even the frenzied media response has not been
able to turn into a halo.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The myth and truth of Godhra

By Arvind Lavakare May 7, 2006

Since no 'secularist' or 'liberal' or 'objective' person ever challenged the above sets of figures, some questions arise: Who killed 200-odd Hindus so early in those riots? Was it the police or the Hindus themselves? And what made those 40,000 Hindus rush to relief camps? Was it fear of Hindu mob violence, rape, arson and murder?

Two recent 'news briefs' in print are critical evidence of a reality that's been totally ignored by our 'liberals' who have, for four years running, gone on and on and on about the 'genocide' of Muslims in Gujarat after the sudden inferno in the S-6 compartment of Sabarmati Express had consumed 58 Hindus, including 26 women and 12 children, returning home after performing kar seva at Ayodhya.

In its edition of March 19, 2006, The Sunday Express carried the following report from Ahmedabad:

"Post-Godhra riot case: 7 get lifer
The city sessions court on Friday convicted seven people in a post-Godhra riot case and sentenced them to life term for the murder of 35-year-old Mukesh Panchal, a resident of Lambha. He was attacked by the accused and went missing on November 7, 2003 from Shah-e-Alam Darwaza. His mutilated body was found near Chandoka Lake on November 11. One of the seven accused—Javed Shaukat Ali—meanwhile managed to give the cops a slip and fled from the court."

In its edition of Wednesday, March 29, 2006 The Indian Express carried the following report, also datelined Ahmedabad:

"Nine get jail in post-Godhra riot case
The city sessions court on Tuesday convicted nine accused in a post-Godhra riot case. Additional Sessions Judge Sonia Gokani sentenced Mushtaq alias Kanio Ahmed Sheikh to 10 years in jail for murder and attempt to murder. Eight others were sentenced to 18 months in prison for unlawful assembly, possessing weapons and rioting."

Out of the five convictions so far in l'affaire Godhra, the above two rip the blindfold on Godhra that the country was subjected to since March 2002. Those two convictions conclusively prove that even as some Hindus in Vadodra, Ahmedabad and a few other parts of Gujarat were provoked into insane killing, arson and loot by the S-6 carnage, the Muslims in that state were hardly the cattle hiding from the slaughter house that they have been made out by the "secularists" in and outside our national English media. Do you, for instance, recall reading about the mutilation of Mukesh Panchal's cadaver in any of the English print media? Did you hear a sound byte about it on our TV?

Yes, despite all the media and the consequent political, propaganda about the 'genocide' of Gujarat's Muslims, the reality is that some of that community were also engaged in murder, rioting and unlawful assembly with arms in hand.

This trend was discernible to the objective person four years ago itself. Thus, in its issue of April 28, 2002, The Times of India reporter, Sanjay Pandey, told us that of the 726 people who had been killed by then in the post-Godhra riots, 168 were Hindus. In its issue of June 24, 2002, India Today carried an article saying that the official figure of all people killed in Gujarat in the three months following the S-6 massacre was 800, of which a quarter were Hindus. The Union Home Ministry's Annual Report 2002-03 said that about a third of the total dead in the Godhra riots were Hindus. It also said that, at one stage, 40,000 Hindus were in riot relief camps.

Since no 'secularist' or 'liberal' or 'objective' person ever challenged the above sets of figures, some questions arise: Who killed 200-odd Hindus so early in those riots? Was it the police or the Hindus themselves? And what made those 40,000 Hindus rush to relief camps? Was it fear of Hindu mob violence, rape, arson and murder?

More proof of the blindfold on Godhra came in 2005, when the UPA coalition (comprising the 'secular' friends of Muslims) made a statement in Parliament that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in those riots.

But our national media simply refused to remove the blindfold on Godhra. Hence it was that the elites of our society continued to rant about the Gujarat 'pogrom of genocide'; some cussed Indians even conspired to deny a US visa to the Chief Minister of one of the country's fastest developing states.

Aiding and abetting that conspiracy were reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International et al. The National Human Rights Commission joined in; written lies by the likes of Arundhati Roy and fake e-mails added fuel to the fire. All of them went to town about the Gujarat 'genocide' with blinkers on, a blindfold underneath. None wanted to touch upon the minority community's role in that tragedy.

But the latest criminal conviction of 16 Muslims evokes the recall of the Justice Tewatia Report on the Godhra issue published on April 26, 2002 under the aegis of the Council For International Affairs And Human Rights, based in New Delhi.

It was a report based on a six-day field study of a team headed by Justice D.S. Tewatia, former Chief Justice, Calcutta High Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court. Its other members were Dr J.C. Batra, senior advocate, Supreme Court, Dr Krishan Singh, academician, Jawahar Lal Kaul, veteran journalist, and Prof. B. K. Kuthiala, Dean, Faculty of Media Studies, G.J. University, Hisar.

The five-man team visited three affected areas and relief camps in Ahmedabad, interacting freely with the public and members of both communities, and without government interference. In Godhra, five delegations from both communities and also of mixed composition presented their views and facts to the team. Similarly, free discussions with the public and affected communities were held in Vadodra at seven affected areas and five relief camps. It collected information from the staff at the Godhra Railway Station, district administration, including the Collector and Police Commissioner, passengers traveling in Sabarmati Express on 27.02.02 in S-6 compartment as well as in other compartments, staff of the Fire Brigade, Godhra, reports in 22 newspapers and nine magazines (local, regional and Delhi) and views on media coverage articulated by some 500 persons including intellectuals like lawyers, doctors and businessmen. The site where the train was initially stopped and stoned was also visited. A high point was that 13 delegations consisting of 121 citizens met Justice Tewatia's team and presented their viewpoints and information. The delegations ranged from the Association of Hoteliers to a group of Vanvasis and affected Muslim as well as Hindu women.

Based on the considerable oral, audio and visual evidence obtained from the above interactions, the Justice Tewatia team's conclusions most relevant to the blindfold on Godhra were as follows:

Burning of 58 Hindu pilgrims on February 27, 2002 was an act carried out at the behest of then government of Pakistan which had planned to burn the entire Sabarmati Express carrying some 2000 passengers. The primary objective was to create Hindu-Muslim communal conflagration in India. The actual perpetrators were jehadi elements in the predominantly Muslim town of Godhra where

a very high traffic of telephone calls was recorded between Godhra and Pakistan, especially Karachi, before the date of the carnage

an abnormally large number of passports were issued,

there was a large number of persons without ration cards

a large number of unemployed Muslims had mobile phones,

though there is no tradition of being a Muslim pilgrim center and the local Muslims are not affluent, three istema (religious gatherings) have been held and attended by large numbers of foreigners, and

an Assistant Collector (a young Muslim from eastern UP) went on leave two days before the gory incident and did not return till the middle of March though the district of his posting was aflame with communal riots much earlier.

The vacuum pipe between the Coaches No. S-6 and S-7 was cut thereby preventing any further movement of the train. Miscreants threw bricks and stones at the train as soon as it left Godhra railway station. The stoning intensified after it finally stopped about 700 metres from the station. The passengers of the train, particularly Coaches S-5, S-6 and S-7, were the main targets. Burning missiles and acid bulbs were thrown on and in the coaches. One such acid missile landed in Coach S-7 and a fire started which the passengers were able to extinguish. But the attack continued and more burning missiles were thrown into the Coach S-6.

In an effort to control the subsequent riots, the Gujarat government

Publicly announced its decision to employ the Army on the evening of the day riots began on February 28 (Within less than 24 hours at least one brigade of Indian Army had air-landed at Ahmedabad),

Made preventive arrests of over 33,000 people,

Fired over 12,000 rounds of bullets,

Fired over 15,000 rounds of tear gas shells,

The involvement of Vanvasis in the post-Godhra riots added a new dimension to the communal violence. In rural areas the Vanvasis attacked the Muslim moneylenders, shopkeepers and the forest contractors. They used their traditional bow and arrows as also their implements used to cut trees and grass while attacking Muslims. They moved in groups and used coded signals for communication. Apparently, the accumulated anger of years of exploitation by Muslim moneylenders (interest of 50 per cent per annum), shopkeepers and forest contractors had become explosive after moneylenders sexually exploited their womenfolk.

The media selected, distorted and added fiction to prove their respective points of view. The code of ethics prescribed by the Press Council of India was violated by the media with impunity. It so enraged the citizens that several concerned citizens in the disturbed areas suggested that peace could return to the state only if some of the TV channels were closed for some weeks. Even the Vanvasis complained that the media had no time to hear their agony and was spreading canards against the Hindus. Newspapers published in English from Delhi invariably editorialised the news. Direct and indirect comments in the news writing were so telling that the personal likes and dislikes of the news reporters were too obvious to be missed. They appeared to have assumed the role of crusaders against the State Government from day one. It coloured the entire operation of newsgathering, feature writing and editorials.

Conclusions 1 to 4 above are indicators as to why our national media, ever afraid to criticise the Muslim and ever ready to indulge in BJP/Hindu bashing, bypassed the Justice Tewatia Report, despite its high credentials and the fact that it was publicly released at a press conference in New Delhi. After all, our 'secular' national media simply could not have tolerated giving even a line to report's conclusion 5 above. Hence, they simply buried the whole report itself, put a blindfold on the country vision of it. After all, they had found their Hindu-bashing agenda in the post-Godhra riots and they were hell-bent in pushing it full steam, right up to the Supreme Court and beyond to the United Nations.

Will the criminal conviction of 16 by two separate sessions judges in Ahmedabad remove the blindfold on Godhra that the 'monster media' put on the people of this country?

(The writer can be contacted at 202, Dosti Erica, Antop Hill, Wadala (E), Mumbai 400 037.)


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