Today in Karnataka

BS Yeddyurappa in New Delhi. Photo courtesy: NDTV
Karnataka is back in the headlines and this time too the key player in this crisis is B S Yeddyurappa. The crisis in Karnataka has become a repetitive issue and ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party formed its first government in South India there is been one crisis or another.

Yeddyurappa will await with bated breath to see what the Special Court will do in the cases filed against him in connection with the land scam. Two advocates had filed complaints before the special court after the governor of Karnataka had accorded sanction to prosecute B S Yeddyurappa.

Yeddyurappa’s legal team had initially decided on moving the High Court against the order of the Governor. However the team has decided not to file the case and seek a stay of the order. A member of the team told rediff.com that they did not want to jump the gun and instead wanted to see what action the Special court would take. These things take time and after much study and consultation they have found that the two advocates do not have much knowledge about the case. Moreover these advocates need to find their own witnesses and this entire process would take time.

The Special Court will also have to record the evidence, summon records and only then can it take cognizance of the case. We will wait and see what happens as this process could take at least another 20 days. When questioned whether or not it would be embarrassing for the CM if at all the Sessions Court took cognizance, the advocate from the Yeddyurappa camp said that the opposition may demand his stepping down, but by then some legal action will be planned. However we do not want to move the High Court right away.

Before the Special Sessions Court: The Special Court before which the two complaints were filed will have to deal with 15 issues. These issues were raised by two advocates and they had first petitioned the Governor. The Governor in turn accorded sanction for the prosecution of the CM following which the court was moved. The court will now have to study these allegations and if it finds that there is enough ground it could order a probe by an investigating agency into the matter. The court will look into the 15 allegations in which it has also been stated that the Chief Minister and his family gained Rs 189 crore due to these lands being denotified over the past two years.

At New Delhi: BJP MLAs and MPs would during the day meet with the President of India to complain about the Governor and also seek his recall. Yeddyurappa who was at New Delhi on Sunday discussed this issue with his party high command. Apart from this he also consulted with senior advocates and it was decided that they would file cases against the former chief ministers who also had allotted land illegally. A complaint has already been filed before the Justice B Padmaraj commission which is looking into the land scam against four former Chief Ministers including S M Krishna and Deve Gowda. This complaint running into over 500 pages was filed before the commission by a private advocate belonging to the BJP.

The rest of them: The Congress is gearing up to conduct a protest march after January 27th. They would also hold a massive rally to make public the alleged wrong doings of Yeddyurappa, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Chief, K Parameshwar informed.

The Janata Dal (s) is planning on moving the Supreme Court claiming damages as a result of the bundh call given by the BJP on Saturday.

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Bharadwaj- Agent or Governor?

Photo courtesy: http://www.healthcarendiet.com/
Hitting back hard at the Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj, Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa said that he is not a cowards, he will not turn around and run but will face all the problems and come out victorious.
Addressing a packed press conference in Bangalore an hour after two complaints were filed against him following the sanction for prosecution by the Governor, the CM said that the Governor should have had the basic courtesy to at least talk to him before issuing such an order. This order smells of malafide. He has not sent me a copy of the order neither has he given me a chance to explain my stand before passing such an order. Why was he in such a hurry to pass an order when there are two other forums probing the same case?

On being asked whether he would step down, Yeddyurappa asked would it be sensible to just step down when a complaint is filed. I have no reason to resign and I will not since I am confident that I will come out clean and as an honest person at the end of this. Yeddyurappa also refused to pass any comments on the statements made by Home Minister P Chidambaram who had said that the BJP had taken to the streets. He said he has great respect for him and would prove his innocence.

The Governor has come to Karnataka with a malafide intention. He has not only converted the Raj Bhavan into an opposition office, but has been acting against the BJP government. A Governor ideally should advise the government but in the case of Bharadwaj, he has done nothing but acted as an agent of the UPA and issued statements against the government after every public function. This is unbecoming of a Governor especially Bharadwaj who has so much experience. None of his statements have helped the government function in peace but each statement has had a bad intention and on most occasions it has been insignificant. The Governor is unable to digest the image and the support of the people that I have. I have time and again proven that I enjoy the support of the people. Be it the Corporation elections or the local body polls, the people have voted for the BJP and the Governor cannot digest this. What more can I say about him who we all know is an agent of the Congress and the Janata Dal(S).

The Governor has over stepped his brief and has been speaking a lot. I kept quiet respecting the chair, but he has no such consideration and does not want the government to function. I am going with my MLAs and the MPs to New Delhi and will complain against him with the President of India on Monday. I sincerely hope and wish that he functions with more dignity, he also said.

Why is the opposition making such a mess of everything? Why don’t they come to the assembly and discuss. I will go ahead with the budget session on February 3 and I sincerely hope that the opposition will play a more constructive role. The father son duo of Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy are making a lot of noise. Do you think I have nothing against them? Do you think that they have been very honest. Let them come down and meet me in the assembly and I am ready to debate with them about their misdeeds. I have had volumes of documents against these opposition leaders. I did not make any noise about it since I wanted focus on the development of the state first. But the opposition has mistaken this to be my weakness. Don’t hide and disrupt the assembly proceedings. Come there and I will show you the proof he warned the opposition.

The matter against me is now in the court. I will stand there and fight the cases and come out clean. I have faith in the court and I am not going to run away anywhere.

I want to thank the people of Karnataka for making the Karnataka Bundh a success. The people have expressed their anger against the governor and they have not taken lightly the Thief statement against me. This statement has hurt the sentiment of the people of Karnataka. The success of the bundh is only an indication that they have are disgusted with the Governor his insignificant letters, statements against the government and also his agent like role in the recent Karnataka government crisis.

The Legal Battle ahead for Yeddi

Photo courtesy: megamedianews
Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa finds himself in yet another mess and this time the trouble has been caused after the Governor accorded sanction for his prosecution in connection with a land scam. Even as the entire state of Karnataka remained shut following the bundh call given by the ruling BJP, advocates from both the BJP’s side as well as the opposition kept the courts busy.
The road ahead for B S Yeddyurappa is a tough one as he finds himself embroiled in at least three legal battles pertaining to the same land scam. We spoke to a couple of legal experts on this issue and they explained the road ahead for the Chief Minister.
The first question that has been raised by the opposition is whether he would tender his resignation following the sanction for prosecution. The Chief Minister and also the party high command have clearly ruled this out stating that mere filing of cases is no indication that he before is guilty. However Yeddyurappa cannot take these developments lightly since if any court finds him guilty he will find himself in an embarrassing situation.

The Chief Minister’s legal team is working overtime to protect their leader. The first thing that they would be doing is moving the High Court on Monday morning seeking a stay of the Governor’s order against the Chief Minister.

However the more important battle would be before the Special Lokayukta court before which two petitions seeking prosecution of the CM have been filed. Two advocates moved this court a while ago after they had been granted permission to file these cases by Governor H R Bharadwaj. This case would come up for hearing on Monday morning. When proceedings commence before the special court, the judge would hear the two lawyers who have filed their petitions and they would have to provide sufficient grounds against the CM. The lawyers will have to provide material to show that the CM and the rest of his men are guilty of indulging in a land scam. They would also have to substantiate their arguments with ample material which will be considered by the court.

If the Special Court is satisfied with the arguments advanced by the two lawyers then it can order an investigation into the alleged misdeeds by the Chief Minister. Since the court is a special Lokayukta court it would first ask the Lokayukta police to conduct an investigation into the case. However the court could also direct the Government to initiate an inquiry either by another agency which the government may deem fit.

The interesting part is that these two complaints have been filed before the Lokayukta court despite there being a similar complaint against the CM pending before the Lokayukta. In Karnataka there are only two courts which deal with the Prevention of Corruption cases- the Special CBI court and the Lokayukta court. However this complaint could not have been filed before the CBI court since the agency does not have the jurisdiction to probe a case against the Chief Minister in the absence of a specific order by the High Court, Supreme Court or the Union Government.

However these proceedings before the Special Court will be subject to an order of the High Court which will hear the petition on Monday. The CM’s team has decided to approach the High Court on Monday and seek a stay on the order of the Governor. In case the High Court does grant a stay then the proceedings before the Special Court cannot proceed. However the CM’s team may not get a stay soon since the opposititon has decided to file a caveat which would mean that no order can be passed without hearing the other party.

The troubles for the CM do not end here. While this case on hand may be the immediate headache for the CM, he still has to face proceedings by the Lokayukta and also the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice B Padmaraj. While the Lokayukta is acting on a complaint given to him by the opposition the commission of inquiry has been set up by the government itself.

Justice N Santhosh Hegde, Lokayukta of Karnataka when contacted said that it is too early to say what would happen now. All the three cases are the same and each one will need to be investigated. I really do not know what to say about this since all the three appear the same to me and I do not know if there was a necessity to have three separate proceedings.
Counsel for Yeddyurappa, Vivek Reddy says that the case before the High Court will be extremely crucial since a lot would depend on its order. The High Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution has exceptional powers and can even strike down or stay an order of the Governor. Moreover there is no bar on the High Court to even issue notice to the Governor. Our first priority would however be to obtain a stay on the order of the Governor. Not only has he overstepped his brief, but he has also granted permission for proceedings when there are already similar proceedings before two other authorities. Another thing that is lacking in the Governor’s order is that there is no sufficient reason given when the order was passed.
The legal team for the opposition which has been gunning for Yeddyurappa’s head however says that there is no bar for the Governor to pass such an order. We will give a suitable reply in all the courts that they have decided to move. There is also no bar in having two proceedings and a complainant is entitled to move any forum that he is comfortable with. Hence the Governor has done no wrong in passing such an order.

The Karnataka Crisis

BJP supporters protest against the Karnataka Guv's grant of sanction to prosecute CM B.S. Yeddyurappa. Photo courtesy:The Hindu
A day after Karnataka Governor HR Bharadwaj gave his sanction to prosecute Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, two advocates — Sirajin Bhasha and K N Balakrishna — have filed separate petitions before the Lokayukta special court on Saturday.
The two lawyers, who had first moved the Governor seeking sanction to prosecute the Chief Minister, moved the special court with two separate petitions.
The chief minister has been made a prime accused in both the petitions.
While the first petition involves the chief minister and six others, the second petition names Yeddyurappa, his two sons and 14 others.
Both petitions seek proceedings against the chief minister and others for alleged land scams.
The petitions, which have been filed before Special Judge C B Happar, will come up for hearing on January 24. Meanwhile, the legal team of the chief minister has already begun preparations to move the Karnataka high court on Monday against the order of the Governor.

CM to move High CourtKarnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will move the high court on Monday challenging the order of Governor HR Bhardwaj granting permission to prosecute him in connection with a land scam.
A member of the chief minister’s legal team told rediff.com that the petition, seeking a stay on the Governor’s order, will be filed on Monday morning and could come up the same day, as there was urgency in the matter.
In the petition, the chief minister would contend that there has been bias while passing the order. Yeddyurappa would also state that dual proceedings in the same case cannot be initiated.
His contention would be that he has already set up a commission to probe the land scam and in such an event the Governor could not have ordered prosecution in the same case.
The last point that would be raised would be that a copy of the Governor’s order had not been served on him and specific reasons for prosecution had not been given.
Meanwhile, the Opposition too will move a caveat on Monday, seeking to be heard before any order is passed on Yeddyurappa’s petition.
While the political fiasco continues, parts of Karnataka remained shut in the wake of the bandh call given by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Schools and colleges remained shut in most parts of the state. Minor incidents of violence were reported in Bengaluru, Mysore and Shimoga following which security was beefed up.

Ministers pitch in:A group of ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka took out a protest in front of the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on Saturday expressing displeasure over Governor HR Bhardwaj’s order sanctioning the prosecution of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa in a land scam.
The ministers met Governor Bharadwaj and told him that he should have at least had the courtesy to send the Chief Minister a copy of the order.
Governor Bhardwaj’s order was delivered later in the morning to the Chief Minister’s office. The governor had on Friday sanctioned Yeddyurappa’s prosecution following a petition by two advocates.
Addressing the protesting BJP members, senior leader H N Ananth Kumar said the party would request President Pratibha Patil to recall the Governor.
In Karnataka, the Congress and the JDS lost the Assembly polls in 2008, Lok Sabha elections in 2009 and zilla and taluk panchayat polls last year, he noted.
“They (Congress and JDS) don’t have people’s mandate. They are indulging in back-door politics,” Ananth Kumar said.
Accusing the Governor of hatching a “conspiracy”, he asserted that the Yeddyurappa government would complete its five-year term
BJP members raised slogans like “get out, get out Governor” and “Raj Bhavan: Extension of 10, Janpath”.

The never ending Yeddy-Bhardwaj war

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Reacting to yesterdays demand by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa seeking an apology, the Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj has made it clear that a request for prosecution cannot be ignored in the interest of democratic principles.

The Governor of Karnataka wrote back to the Chief Minister in the light of a Cabinet decision which requested the Governor not to grant sanction for prosecution of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister in connection with a land scam. Two lawyers had petitioned the Governor seeking action against Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa and Home Minister, R Ashok in connection with a land scam. The governor had said that he was looking into this and if there was enough material he would sanction the prosecution of both the leaders.

However the Cabinet had met and wrote back to the Governor saying that it would be unwarranted for him to order the prosecution of the CM and the Home Minister. They also pointed out that the government had already set up a commission to look into the issue of land scams and hence the Governor’s actions would be unwarranted.

However the letter by the Cabinet has had very little effect on the governor. He has written back to the Chief Minister stating that in the interest of the democratic principles he cannot ignore the request for prosecution. I am required to and also entitled to an independent decision on the basis of the material provided to me. Hence a Cabinet decision recommending that I drop proceedings is completely unwarranted.

The war of words is expected to continue since the Yeddyurappa camp is no mood to tone down. They are stepping up the pressure against the Governor and will seek his removal. In this regard they would be meeting with the President of India on January 24th. In addition to this the CM has also said that that the Governor should aplogise for his remarks in which he referred to Yeddyurappa as a thief. The Core committee of the BJP in Karnataka is also meeting to discuss this issue further.

Content of Governor’s letter:

You are aware, allegations relating to land scams, corruption and manipulation of rules and regulations regarding acquisition and denotifying of public lands regularly appeared in the media since September, 2010. Allegations of serious nature of corruption were leveled against the high office of the Chief Minister of the State by various groups, which delivered representations to me personally, thus creating a cloud on your personal integrity. You will recall that I addressed the letter of 15.12.2010 seeking factual information from you on the allegations levelled against you. In your reply dated 19.12.2010, you furnished no details and simply stated that the allegations were politically motivated and without any basis. However, you informed me that cases relating to land scams have been referred to a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Padmaraj, a retired Judge of the High Court.
On 28.12.2010, two Advocates namely Shri Sirajin Basha and Shri K.N.Balaraj came to Raj Bhavan with the petition that the land scams involving the Chief Minister are not being allowed to be investigated by the investigating agencies and even the Lokayukta Police refused to accept their complaint. Therefore, they intended to file a complaint before the designated Special Court and that they need a sanction to prosecute the Chief Minister and Home Minister. They also delivered large volumes of documents in support of their allegations.

When you visited Raj Bhavan for a courtesy call on 31.12.2010, I informed you of the receipt of this petition from the Advocates and during the discussion I informed you that this will have to be disposed of expeditiously and this cannot be kept pending indefinitely.
With your letter dated 19.01.2011, you sent to me a Cabinet decision dated 19.01.2011. The sum and substance of the Cabinet decision is it simply requires me to put a lid on the serious allegations of corruption against you. In this connection, I draw your attention to the dictum of the Supreme Court of India in M.P.Special Police Establishment vs. State of M.P. (2004) 8 SCC 788 wherein the Court held.

If on these facts and circumstances, the Governor cannot act in his own discretion there would be a complete breakdown of Rule of Law in as much as it would then be open for Governments to refuse sanction in spite of overwhelming material showing that a prima-facie case is made out. If, in cases where prima-facie case is clearly made out, sanction to prosecute high functionaries is refused or withheld, democracy itself will be at stake. It would then lead to a situation where people in power may break the Law with impunity safe in the knowledge they will not be prosecuted as the requisite sanction will not be granted”.
In the light of the above judgment, the Governor is entitled to and required to take an independent decision on the basis of the material available and therefore the Cabinet decision recommending to drop the consideration of the petition itself is unwarranted.

Will Pakistan confirm Bhatkals death?

It has been nearly a week since the gangster, Chota Rajan made a claim that his men had shot down the notorious Riyaz Bhatkal. The moment this claim was made, Indian agencies wrote to Pakistan seeking details regarding his death, but till date there has been no confirmation from that end.

This brings out the big question is whether Bhatkal is really dead. Another question that comes to mind is whether Pakistan will confirm whether he is dead or alive since they have always maintained that he is not in their country.

There are two things which are attached to the news regarding the death of Riyaz Bhatkal. One it could be part of a larger operation to track his whereabouts yet again since when such news breaks out family members tend to make calls to confirm the news and this is used as a means to track down the man himself. The second issue is whether Pakistan can afford the death of this man since a huge project known as the Karachi Project falls a great deal upon his shoulders.

Sources tell rediff.com that this is a tricky case and the last time the IB managed to track down the details regarding Bhatkal, he was living at an area called as Gulshan-e-Iqbal. This is a high profile locality and the ISI normally tends to shelter “very high profile persons” such as the likes of Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and the Bhatkal brothers in this area. The fact that the ISI ordered him to stay in this area itself is an indication that they wanted him to be under their care. This particular area is a high security zone and is under the constant monitoring of security forces and hence it becomes very difficult to carry out such an operation. Moreover the ISI has been protecting Bhatkal a great deal since they have a lot of value out of him to carry out the huge Karachi project which has also been mentioned on a couple of occasions by David Headley.

Riyaz Bhatkal has grown a great deal in the ranks over the past couple of years. Although there have been many such operatives like him, he has shown them the desired results and has managed to undertake a series of blasts and also set up one of India’s deadliest terrorist organizations, the Indian Mujahideen. Hence when the ISI is in the midst of such extensive planning to carry out more home grown terror strikes on Indian soil, the question always remains whether they would want to do away with Riyaz Bhatkal.

Sources in the Intelligence bureau point out that they would need more time and act on their own sources to confirm this news. Pakistan will not give us the information since they have always denied his existence in that country. Whether some gangsters can undertake such an operation in a high profile zone in Karachi is a matter which needs to be seen since we have always known that Bhatkal enjoys high security from the ISI.

If at all Bhatkal is really dead then it is once again a worrisome situation for India. Terrorism in India works on a tit for tat mode more than an ideologically driven one. The Indian Mujahideen has been trying to re-group and the Varanasi blasts was a pre-cursor to that. The death of such an important personality in the IM will not be taken lightly and the cadres could already planning a series of attacks to avenge this. This happened in the case of Shahid Bilal whose death led to a series of attacks by the Indian Mujahideen. The IB says that if at all Bhatkal is dead then the force would surely be demoralized. However it would be temporary in nature since the IM has shown in the past that it is aggressive by nature and they tend to retaliate only to show that they are never down and out.

No ‘Samjautha’ between MP cops & NIA

Photo courtesy: Sify
The National Investigating Agency has a tough task ahead as it continues its investigation of the Samjautha blasts which left nearly 60 persons dead. Like the rest of the agencies which are not investigating, but reinvestigating the various cases such as Malegaon, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid, the Samjautha blasts case too falls under the same bracket.

The biggest problem that the NIA faces today is that two very crucial persons alleged to be related to this case are dead. The name of Sunil Joshi has been doing the rounds for quite some time and does find a mention on several occasions in the Swami Aseemanand confession. The other name that has now cropped up is that of Ramprasad Kalouta from Madhya Pradesh.

Two days back the NIA had visited a village called Giroda in Madhya Pradesh to find out more about the death of Kalouta. Earlier his death which had been dismissed as a suicide has now taken another turn with investigators believing that it could have been a case of murder.

Investigations so far have led to the fact that both Kalouta and Joshi were linked. It is said that Kalouta had helped Joshi undertake the Samjautha blasts of 2007. They are also trying to find out whether Kalouta had helped Joshi with the other blasts which have been mentioned in the Swami Aseemanand confession. Sources say that at first it was made out that Kalouta had committed suicide as he was involved in a financial dispute and a case to this effect was on. However further investigations showed that he had been murdered and his body thrown near a railway track.

The name of Kalouta first cropped up during the time of the failed Nanded operation. There was a major swoop down at that point of time and the police had managed to pick up four persons in connection with that blast. The perpetrators of this operation were worried at that point of time and even wanted to disguise the entire operation. From the area of operation the police had also managed to seize fake beards and white caps which was an indication that these persons wanted to disguise the entire operation.

However at this point of time following police action, Kalouta who was believed to have been with the rest of the accused such as Himanshu ( who died assembling the bomb) Manoharrao Pande and Bhanurao Vithalrao Choudhary managed to flee and gain entry into Madhya Pradesh. The investigators now believe that he could have been killed by his own clan since they did not want him spilling the beans. Moreover he was close to Joshi who knew too much about the operation and they did not want the trail leading to him. However sources pointed out that these are preliminary findings and they would looking at the case from this perspective as well.

However the task for the NIA does not appear to be one bit easy. The death of the prime accused Joshi is a major stumbling block and they will have to work their way around this. Kalouta too falls under the same league and the NIA would first try and ascertain as to who killed him.

In addition to this there are also other problems such as the destruction of evidence. A big part of the evidence was the mobile phone belonging to Joshi which is believed to have had details of the Samjautha blasts. However on investigation they have stumbled upon another mobile phone which has absolutely no details and they believe that it has been replaced. However this has not happened recently but was done immediately after his murder. The investigators believe that the reason for Joshi’s murder is also very similar to that of Kalouta. When the NIA landed at the house Joshi they drew a blank since all articles that belonged to him had been moved and destroyed. The diaries were missing, a revolver belonging to him could not be found and more importantly his mobile phone had been inter-changed.

Over the days the NIA would meet more often with the Madhya Pradesh police and the latter will have a lot of explaining to do. They would try digging out details as to why the police had not pursued the case relating to the mobile phone any further. It as said that it was the MP police which retrieved the mobile and had not pursued it any further despite knowing fully well that it had been inter-changed. In addition to this they would also want to see whether the murders of both Joshi and Kalouta have any connection since as of now that is what the belief among the investigators is. The NIA feels that a lot of evidence surrounding the murder of Joshi has surprisingly appeared and disappeared and they would want a detailed explanation from the Madhya Pradesh police.

Another aspect that is being investigated is why the case of the pipe bombs never came to light. It was clear that Joshi and his men had been assembling bombs to carry out a blast but the case was never investigated thoroughly. However the NIA will now investigate and interrogate a businessman by the name Rajesh Mishra who is alleged to have supplied the raw material for the preparation of these pipe bombs. This will be a crucial part of the investigation since the pipe bombs that were being prepared in Bhopal are very similar to the one that was used in the Mecca Masjid blasts.

The Madhya Pradesh police which has come under the scanner following the NIA’s re-probe however says that they will cooperate. Sanjay Rana the Inspector General of Police, Indore Range under which jurisdiction this case falls says that they will extend any help required and they have already began summoning documents pertaining to the death of Kalouta.

The NIA says that although Aseemanand makes mentions about the Samjautha blasts in his confession statement, it is still a long way to go since there are too many dots to be joined. They will have to look at all the cases (Nanded, Jalna, Parbhani, Mecca Masjid, Ajmer and Malegaon) together since they are inter-linked and only then can a clear picture emerge.

The confusing case of Mecca Masjid

The Swami Aseemanand confession may have brought about a certain amount of clarity in respect to several cases. However doubts continue to linger on in respect of the Mecca Masjid case of Hyderabad which has a long way to go before it is solved completely.

For starters the Mecca Masjid case for some strange reason continues to be divided into two- the case of the exploded bomb and the case of the unexploded bomb.

Speaking to both the Hyderabad police as well as investigators in the CBI who are probing the Mecca Masjid case one gets the impression that there is a long way to go before this case is even cracked.

After the incident took place almost four years back, the Hyderabad police had started investigating the case. However the Muslims felt that they were getting a raw deal out of this since their community was being targeted and there was no way that they could have attacked their religious place of worship. After much pressure the case was handed over to the CBI which has been investigating this case since the past two years now. However this case was split up into two. The CBI commenced investigations of the case pertaining to the exploded bomb. However the police had found a bomb at the Mecca Masjid which did not explode and this case remained with the Hyderabad police.

Today there is pressure building up on the Hyderabad police to give up the case and hand it over to the CBI. Rights activists who have been espousing the cause of the Muslim accused who were booked in this case say that there is no reason why one case should be in the possession of the CBI. The bombs were planted with the same intention and hence it should be under one investigating agency.

The Hyderabad police however say that the very reason why they had retained that particular case was because they were digging more into it. However investigations today show that there is not much progress in that case and the police wants to give it a quietus. An officer in the Hyderabad police however pointed out that most of the officers who were part of the investigation have been transferred and they are now looking into why this case was retained in the first place. They are now waiting for a formal request from the CBI to hand over this part of the case.

The CBI however points out that the primary focus now is on the main portion of the case. The Aseemanand confession has helped the investigating agency a lot and there seems to be a direction they can head in now. The points and angles that the CBI are now looking into are- who planted the bombs at Mecca Masjid and who formed part of the logistic and local help in this case?

While Aseemanand had given bits and pieces of information relating to the Mecca Masjid blasts, the problem before the CBI is to join the dots between Sunil Joshi, Ramji Kalsanghra, Dange with Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma. Gupta and Sharma are part of the chargesheet filed by the CBI. The chargesheet also names Joshi ( now dead), Kalsanghra and Dange as the primary accused both of who are absconding. The CBI says that the dots need to be joined since all these men are not originally from Hyderabad and they could not have carried out such an operation unless they had the support of local forces. The interrogation of Gupta who has been in the custody of the CBI for quite sometime now has not revealed much regarding the local support. The Hyderabad police too have not been able to give much information regarding this aspect. Moreover they have also been questioning Sharma regarding this angle and have not been able to get too much information on the same. However what the CBI has managed to establish is that it is the same set of people who had carried out both the Mecca Masjid as well as the Ajmer blasts. The CBI says that nabbing of Kalsanghra and Dange will give them all the answers and there is already a reward on their heads put out both by the CBI as well as the National Investigating Agency which is probing the Samjautha Blasts.

The Aseemanand confession is just a tip off and there is a lot of ground work that remains to be done in order to bring about a clarity in this case. We need to ascertain for sure who planted the bombs and also find out who was the local help who provided the logistics in this case.

The Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee of India which has been fighting this case since day one says that they did not find the Aseemanand confession one bit surprising since they had been saying the same thing to the police since day one. The fact finding commission relating to the Mecca Masjid case had pointed out that the Hyderabad police were misguiding the investigation and were shielding the accused. The committee says that the confession of Aseemanand is selective in nature since at no point of time does he mention who had supported the group locally.

The CBI however says that such investigations take sometime and the case has not been exactly easy since this is the second time around that the investigation is taking place. The real picture has just started to unfurl and it may be a couple of months more before a final clarity is there in this case and moreover cracking this case also means solving the Ajmer case since both are directly connected.

Diggy has gone berserk

Photo courtesy: NY times
Congress leader, Digvijay Singh made yet another controversial remark when he alleged that the Madhya Pradesh leaders from the BJP had shielded the accused in the Samjautha Blasts which eventually helped them get away. He further went on to allege that the trio, Sunil Joshi (now deceased), Ramji Kalasanghra and Dange had the blessings of the BJP leaders and also the government in that state.

The Madhya Pradesh government has however not taken these reactions lightly and say that Singh is at it again and these statements by him will only ensure that the Congress gets wiped out even as an opposition party in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Advisor to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, G V L Narasimha Rao rubbishes these allegations and says that the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh had no role to play in this and had never shielded any of the accused. In this interview with rediff.com he goes on to say that the government of MP has and will only be fair when such things are concerned and whoever the culprits are they have to be brought to book.

How has the BJP in Madhya Pradesh reacted to the latest Diggy leak on the Samjautha blasts case?

He is being reckless in his words and the latest statement by him has made him a laughing stock in Madhya Pradesh. Earlier this man used to be a label of credibility but today the general impression in the state is that he is a man who has gone berserk.

It is a fact that the three persons he refers to are from Indore and they managed to get away.

We are all here framing and passing judgments on the basis of a confessional statement. Let me assure you that if there are some people alleged to be involved in this case then rest assured they will be brought to book.

But has the government opened its eyes to this new concept called as terror by Saffron elements?

For me it seems like mindless politics. The likes of Rahul Gandhi says that Lashkar-e-Tayiba is less dangerous compared to Hindu terror. What ever happened to the claim by the American investigators who too had pointed out that the Samjautha blasts were the handiwork of the Lashkar. It is mindless politics according to me.

Coming back to Digvijay Singh, have his statements caused a dent in the image of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh?

Not at all. I do not understand why he is making such baseless statements. If he continues to do so then Congress will also lose its opposition status in Madhya Pradesh. Personally Digvijay has lost all his credibility and if he thinks he will return to power by making such statements then he is mistaken.

Are all of you in denial regarding this new phenomenon in the world of terrorism?

A statement by Aseemanand is not enough to substantiate things. Just because Rahul Gandhi says that Hindu terror is more dangerous, that does not become the truth. These persons have gone public with their mindless statements without understanding the repercussions of passing such remarks.

Has the Madhya Pradesh government been cooperative with the probe on Samjautha?

Yes why not? The investigations are not happening within the state. There are links to the state which have been spoken about. Aseemanand’s claims are yet to be substantiated and Sunil Joshi is dead. The MP government has nothing to do with the probe into this case. The investigation is being carried out by the NIA. Let them do their job. I do not think it is fair for a Digvijay to make statements at such a juncture and trust me if he continues to do so it will only help the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.

Will the Madhya Pradesh government cooperate in this case?

If a formal request is made then it sure will cooperate. Any state government is obligated to extend support in such matters. The government will be fair in this case.

The connection is Indore since these men according to investigations were from this place. Is the government aware that there are fringe elements who can carry out terror activities?

The chief of the RSS, Mohan Bhagwat already said that none of them belong to the organization. If they have had something to do with the organization in the past then it is only unfair to blame the RSS now. These persons do not have any links to the RSS. If they are fringe elements and they are found in this state then the government will only deal with them in the manner in which they are to be dealt with. The government will clean the mess and as I said earlier the culprits will be brought to book.

Is Madhya Pradesh the hub for such elements?

No that is not correct. All these people say a lot about this case. I would like to pose a counter question to all these people including you. You need to understand that this is something that has been beaten to death to serve political ends and trust me it will boomerang. Have all the rest of the cases been solved. Barring the 26/11 case no other case has been taken to its logical end. Why is there no word on the Jaipur blasts? Why are people not talking about the twin blasts in Hyderabad and also what about the train bombings of 2006? There seems to be no progress in the Delhi blasts. On the contrary the Congress leaders go to Azamgarh and convince the people there that they have nothing to do with all these blasts. What sort of a precedent are these people setting? All this looks very political to me.

A crime is a crime and each case needs to be dealt with individually.

I agree, but I also must add that there should be no over enthusiasm in such cases so as to create a hype to serve political ends. All this will harm them and also security. At no point of time am I even suggesting that the real culprits should not be brought to book.

I am confident Jagan will return

Sai Prathap
The Congress which was almost un-touchable in Andhra Pradesh when Dr Y S Rajashekhar Reddy was alive today faces two rock solid problems- Jaganmohan Reddy and Telangana. Jagan even went up to the extent of saying in New Delhi that he was doing the Congress a favour by not taking away its MLAs at this point of time.

While these developments unfurl there was talk that Minister of State for Steel and senior Congress leader, Sai Prathap would shift loyalties and join the Jagan group soon. However the man himself dismisses this as a rumour. Interestingly in this interview with
rediff.com, Prathap also goes on to say that it would be a happy ending after all as he thinks and hopes that Jagan would come back to the Congress party.

There is talk that you will be shifting base and joining the Jagan faction.

Who has told you this? It is unfair to start such rumours since I have no such plans.

Are you sure because it seems pretty strong- the rumour.

(Laughs) I think I know better about what I want to do than what you people think. I am very sure that there is no such move on my part.

Do you at least agree that the Congress is in doldrums in Andhra Pradesh?

Again it is unfair to say that. Following the death of Dr Reddy there has been a vaccum and the party is coping up with this loss. He was a great leader and that goes without saying. The government in AP will sail through another three years as it has that much time. The party is strong and has come back to power in the state for the second time in a row and that itself says a lot about the position of the party.

I agree that the party was at a position of strength until Dr YSR passed away. However his son has made matters worse by breaking away. Isnt that correct?

Yes the Jaganmohan Reddy issue is there. We have to wait and see what shape this issue takes. It is actually difficult to comment on the position of the Congress at the moment since there are a lot of developments that are and have taken place. Do not under estimate Kiran Kumar Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He is a very strong man and I am pretty sure he will tide over this crisis.

Coming back to the alleged rumour regarding you there is news that you spoke with Jagan and assured that you would join him.

I do not know why you are stuck on this point. I have not approached him or spoken to him regarding changing the party. He has left the party and has his own plans but I am not in that now. I still do not understand why such a rumour has been floated about me. It is baseless.

There must be a reason why such a rumour has been floated. Do you know who it is who has been floating around such news?

I do not want to take names, but there are two persons within the party itself who have been floating these rumours. They have ruined it for the party and when the time comes their names will come out.

Are you entirely happy with the party? Has the Jagan factor never impressed you or has even tempted you to cross over?

I am a 6 time Member of Parliament and I have been recognized by the party. Why else would they give me the rank of Minister of State for Steel. They have recognized my work and dedication for the party. I have been with the party for 30 years now and I am happy with it. So when this is this why would I think of crossing over? Moreover I have not made any comments against the party or in favour of Jagan which would prompt the rumour mills to start talking.

The Telangana issue. Will that be the Waterloo for the Congress?

I do not think so. Everyone knows that Andhra Pradesh cannot be divided. You know what is more interesting? The leaders from Telangana too are aware that there cannot be a division of the state at any cost. I have been fighting and vocally expressing that Andhra should remain united. How much ever you may want to think, but the Telangana issue is not an issue at all for the Congress as Andhra will remain united.

Who does Dr YSR belong to today? Jagan or the Congress?

In the Congress we believe that we have to respect our senior leaders and also recognize the work that they have done for the party and also the people. YSR has sacrificed a lot for the people and the party and his name will always be associated with the Congress. His boy has however differed and left the party. We have to wait and see what happens in the near future. YSR will however be part of the Congress and even today all the leaders of the party mention his name and the works undertaken by him in public without fail.

So, there is no immediate danger for the Congress in AP?

No not at all. I am saying with all my experience. The party will remain safe.

What will the Congress do to remain safe?

Work for the people. That should be the primary focus of the party. All the developmental works will be completed and the people will benefit. You wait an see how things shape up because I can say with a lot of confidence that the people will not let go of the Congress.

There is an alleged link up between Jagan and the Telangana Rastriya Samithi. Your thoughts please.

No thoughts on this one brother. It is just a rumour and one should not read too much into that.

So, what is the future of Jagan in Andhra Pradesh?

Only time will tell. As of now all I want to say is that Jagan will come back to the Congress and that is my confidence.