Unmarked graves found in Kashmir

While the Kashmir problem continues to boil a startling discovery has been made- Investigations by the Kashmir State Human Rights Commission has now found that 2730 bodies have been dumped in unmarked graves in four different districts of Kashmir.

An inquiry by the police investigation team of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has found 2,730 bodies dumped into unmarked graves in four of the state’s 14 districts. Thousands of Kashmiris have been forcibly disappeared during the last two decades of violence, their whereabouts unknown.

The Inquiry Report of Unmarked Graves in North Kashmir, submitted by the investigating police team to the commission states that the unidentified bodies had been buried in 38 sites in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, Bandipora, Handwara, and Kupwara districts. At least 574 have been identified as the bodies of local Kashmiris. The government had previously said that the graves held unidentified militants, most of them Pakistanis killed over the two decades of violence in Jammu and Kashmir whose bodies had been handed over to village authorities for burial. However, in response to commission inquiries, in March 2010 district police claimed that a total of 464 unidentified bodies had been buried in north Kashmir.

Meenakshi Ganguly the South Asia Director of the Human Rights Watch says that Kashmiris have been lamenting their lost loved ones, their pleas ignored or dismissed as the government and army claimed that they had gone to Pakistan to become militants. But these graves suggest the possibility of mass murder. The authorities should immediately investigate each and every death.

According to the Srinagar-based Association of Parents of Displaced Persons (APDP), at least 8,000 people have disappeared since the insurgency began. In February 2003, the government of Jammu and Kashmir, then led by the current opposition leader, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, told the state legislative assembly that 3,744 people were missing and that many of those reported missing since 1990 were actually in Pakistan, where they had signed up to be trained as militants.

In a September 2006 report, “Everyone Lives in Fear,” Human Rights Watch said: “The debate about the facts and the inconclusive nature of government and NGO claims make it clear why the government or a specially designated independent body should conduct a transparent investigation into each case of ‘disappearance’ reported since 1990.

The commission’s report, which was leaked to journalists over the weekend, is the first official confirmation that such deaths occurred. Pointing out that Kashmiri groups, including APDP and the International People’s Tribunal on Kashmir, have said there are similar unmarked graves in at least eight other districts, the report recommended a thorough investigation by an “impartial agency,” and at least $15,000 in compensation for each death. The Jammu and Kashmir state government and the central government in New Delhi have yet to respond to the findings.

When the new government of chief minister Omar Abdullah was elected in Jammu and Kashmir state in February 2009, Human Rights Watch wrote to him, saying: “Thousands of people remain victims of enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. The practices of ‘disappearances’ and extrajudicial executions violate basic human rights, including the right to life, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to a fair and public trial, as well as the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment. Under international law, an enforced disappearance is a continuing crime until the ‘disappearance’ is resolved.”

The report recommended that the commission call for immediate DNA sampling and other forensic tests to try to identify the bodies by matching them with the next of kin of people who have disappeared. Seventeen of the bodies found in the four districts have already been reburied by relatives in family graveyards. The investigation found that 18 of the graves contained more than one body.

Human Rights Watch has previously called for creation of an independent, transparent commission working within a specified time frame to which relatives and others can provide information about cases of enforced disappearance. This commission should be empowered to summon members of the security forces who might have been responsible, even if they are no longer posted in Jammu and Kashmir or have retired from service.

A similar pattern of abuses and took place in the neighboring state of Punjab during counterinsurgency operations from 1984 to 1995, Human Rights Watch said. Indian security forces were implicated in thousands of killings and secret cremations to hide the evidence.

The National Human Rights Commission, which was specially empowered by the Supreme Court to address these cases, narrowed its efforts to merely establishing the identity of the people secretly cremated in three crematoria in just one district of Punjab. It rejected cases from other districts and ignored intentional violations of human rights by India’s security forces. For more than a decade, the commission has failed to investigate a single case independently, and it refuses to identify any officials responsible for the abuses.

None of the key architects of the counterinsurgency strategy in either Kashmir or Punjab who bear substantial responsibility for these atrocities have been brought to justice.

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Jagan’s worries continue

In a major set back to Y S R Congress leader, Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Supreme Court of India rejected a petition filed by him challenging the CBI probe against him. The Bench of the Supreme Court observed that it could not intervene in this case at this point in time.

The Bench further stated that it cannot interfere in this matter at this point in time since it is too premature and moreover the probe and inquiry has already commenced and is on.

Based on several complaints a petition was filed before the Andhra Pradesh High Court seeking a CBI probe into the assets owned by Jagan. The court while allowing the petition order a CBI probe into the assets and also the wealth amassed by Jagan. It was alleged that he had amassed wealth disproportionate to his known source of income.

Based on this order the CBI had conducted a series of raids on all property owned by Jagan in both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Raids were also conducted on the properties owned by Jagan’s aides and family members apart from his investors as well.

Jagan while challenging the order of the High Court had also said in a press conference on August 15 that these raids were stage managed by the Congress. He had questioned why these raids had come about only once he left the Congress.

However today Jagan would have no option but to face the inquiry launched by the CBI. There is no official word from his office on the Supreme Court verdict, but one of the members in his camp said they would adopt a wait and watch policy.

The CBI raids have had quite an impact on the politics of Andhra Pradesh. 29 MLAs came out of the party in support of Jagan. Although it was claimed that these MLAs had quit since they were upset about the defamatory remarks by the Congress against YSR, in inner circles everyone knew that it was a retaliatory measure planned by Jagan.

However for Jagan the problems are only likely to increase in the days to come. The CBI raids and inquiries will continue, but the agency has decided to rope in the Enforcement Directorate too. The ED is expected to look into the role of two Mauritian firms which allegedly routed in illegal money into a power project. The CBI is planning on writing to the ED regarding this issue.

India and the maritime challenge ahead

Pic by-thoughtso.wordpress.com

The coming together of the Al-Shahbab and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba is something that has Indian agencies worried. In fact this combination would mean that India has its task cut out when it comes to protecting its waters against deadly attacks. Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that the many pirates who have been nabbed on Indian waters continue to be interrogated everyday and the details that they have been giving out is a cause for concern where maritime security in India is concerned. Some of the interrogations have revealed that the pirates from Somalia who have been pretty dominant on Indian waters have been sponsored directly by the deadly Al-Shahbab group which is a militant group operating out of Somalia. This group has links with the Al-Qaeda and carries out its operations. The cadres of this group specialize more on sea and have been using the pirates for their operations. The IB says that not all the pirates who come into Indian waters are associated with a terrorist group and while watching the pattern it becomes clear that every one out of ten attacks is attributed to some terrorist group. India has witnessed at least 200 attacks so far from pirates. Not all of them are terrorist attacks, but the worry is that such attacks go on to show that these people are picking up logistics and providing it to terrorist groups. Through such attacks they create a distraction for security agencies who tend to focus on one route while activity goes on in another. Further when they capture vessels they also do manage to raise funds for terror outfits. The detail that has been most revealing during the interrogation of these pirates is that the Al-Shahbab group which has been closely associated with the Al-Qaeda is now cozying up to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba which is probably India’s biggest headache. The intelligence reports suggest that the Lashkar-Al-Shahbab association will look to carry out more attacks on Indian waters and one could witness plenty of hostage crisis’ in the near future, if not acted upon. An officer dealing with maritime says that it is extremely difficult to keep a tab on the entire ocean. It is not just the job of India to keep such activities under check and there has to be maritime cooperation between countries in order to address this issue. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his visit to Africa recently has addressed this concern and his counterparts have assured of all cooperation in this regard. The officer points out that it is important that such activities are cut off at the source. It is a herculean task, but can be done if taken seriously. Based on the interrogation of these pirates, Intelligence has been picked up and this would go on to suggest that the Lashkar has created an entirely new wing under the leadership of a terrorist by the name Abu Yakoob to launch attacks from the sea. He in turn has roped in three different outfits to ensure that such attacks are well planned and coordinated. There is not much really that the Lashkar is looking from the pirate groups in terms of support during the actual attack. The pirates would continue to go about their operations since this would keep the Indian agencies engaged while the terrorist groups create newer routes. The Al-Shahbab which has control over such pirates has been told to increase the number of attacks and not worry too much about results for now. On the other hand the Yakoob has roped in the Abu-Sayaf and Jemaah Islamyah groups to help with their maritime operation. The Lashkar along with these groups has been training terrorists on a very large scale in Pakistan. There have been instances to show that there are movements between Pakistan and Somalia with an intention of planning more attacks on a larger scale. While the Lashkar will rope in more such groups in the days to come, the entire operation would be headquartered at Karachi as was like during the 26/11 attack. While the Lashkar would try and execute attacks on the sea, they would also use this team of theirs’ to launch attacks on land as well. Coastal areas in India will be under the scanner since these would be the obvious targets. The IB says that one should also look at this issue in various other ways. It is not sufficient if all precautions are taken to prevent an attack. Apart from launching attacks on Indian soil and waters, terrorist groups would also look to transport ammunition and also send in cadres into Indian soil. This gives an indication that the borders are no longer the favourite choice of terror groups to carry out an infiltration process. In the days to come they would use the sea more to infiltrate their troupes into Indian soil, the intelligence agencies also say. India’s coastal security team however say that the situation is not all that grim. We have our eyes open to this issue and there is a great deal of exercise which is on to prevent such attacks. The Indian navy has withdrawn a lot of its activities in various countries such as the UK and France and is focusing all its resouces on the Indian waters. Today there are at least 400 warships which are on guard which means that the deployment has gone up nearly 90 per cent after the horrid 26/11 attack. There is a great deal of reliance on human intelligence as well. In the coastal belts many more coastal police stations have been set up and fishermen have been roped in to provide intelligence regarding any suspicious activity. An attractive sum depending on the nature of the job is being paid and each one of them have been provided with cell phones to keep the police informed. While this has been helping the security agencies, they do still feel that the government should act faster on various other aspects. There is an extent that we can rely on human intelligence, says a coastal security officer posted on the Mangalore coast. We have been seeking for electronic survillience since it would make the job easier and effective. So far there have been communications galore, but there has been no clearence on this. The government post 26/11 had assured that such security measures would be given top priority and all issues pertaining to terror threats would be fast tracked. However not much has changed on this front, officials also point out.

What will Jagan’s next move be?

It is interesting, but the next move that Jagan Mohan Reddy would make in Andhra Pradesh would totally depend on the Telegu Desam Party. There has been hectic activity in the Jagan camp since the 29 MLAs from the Congress came out and resigned in his support.
This has awakened the interests among many who have been watching the developments unfold in Andhra Pradesh since morning. The Congress government is safe as of now, but if ten more were to come out then the panic button would be hit and there is every chance of the government coming down.
An insider in the Jagan camp says that today 29 have come out in support and we have many more within the Congress who are waiting to join us the moment a green signal is given. They claim that in all Jagan has as many as 47 supporters inside the Congress including the 29 MLAs who resigned today. Sources say that the 29 MLAs who came out today did so specifically on the instructions of Jagan and this was just a counter attack against the CBI raids again Jagan.
So the big question is whether the intention of Jagan is to really pull down the government or would it more about playing the cat and mouse game? In public Jagan made it clear even today that his intention is not to pull down the Congress government. He maintains that if people have come out it is on their own will and he has no role to play with it. Moreover if MLAs feel that they should join me then I really cannot stop them.
While this is a statement for public consumption, the real strategy is something else. The Jagan camp is sure that if it gives the green signal then another 18 more MLAs are ready to come out immediately and this would spell doom for the Congress. But Jagan would not like to do this now since he would not want the game to go wrong as of now. The big issue he faces in this battle is more from the Telegu Desam Party which has decided within that if the Congress is faced with a trust vote most of their MLAs would abstain in order to save the government. Today in the state it is only the YSR Congress and the TRS which wants an election. All the rest of the parties and the TDP and Congress in particular would avoid an election since none of the surveys give them even a chance today. Hence both the Congress and the TDP have an internal understanding that if there is an issue of a trust vote then the TDP will secretly help it by ensuring that some of the MLAs abstain so that the house strength is down and the Congress does not look like a minority government.
Jagan is very aware of this and he had even mocked the two parties by saying that there is no opposition in Andhra Pradesh. Jagan is aware of this strategy and hence would hold on before he decides to pull out the rest of the MLAs. In case he does and the Congress wins the trust vote then it would mean that the government survives another six months and there is a chance of them going aggressive on him. Today’s action of pulling out 29 MLAs was more of a warning to the Congress of what is he is capable of. This was a clear retaliation to the CBI raids against him.
The Jagan’s camp however claims that their strength within the congress does not end with 47 MLAs. They feel that out of the 156 only 14 are not loyal to the name of Dr Y S Rajashekara Reddy. They feel all the rest of them are obligated to YSR since he was the one who picked them out and gave them tickets during the last election while the rest had got it directly from the high command. The Jagan camp feels that these MLAs who were given a ticket by YSR are aware that they have won only on the name of YSR and when it is time for the next elections, they would want to be associated with Jagan since they need a powerful leader to carry them through.
The cat and mouse game in Andhra Pradesh would continue in the months to come and to top it all there is also the Telangana issue which would only make life for the Congress living hell in Andhra Pradesh.

Inside a Madrasa

Photo courtesy: http://www.timesofummah.com/

You say Madrasa and immediately there is a section which raises an eye brow. Madrasas have received mixed reactions in India and other parts of the world and there have been numerous ocassions when it has been termed as a hub of terror and also a nursery of hate.
Now is that really the case or has the issue been blown out of proportion in the case of the Madrasas in India? Dr Arshad Alam who teaches at the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies in the Jamia Millia Islamia pens down his thoughts in a very interesting book known as, “Inside a Madrassa: knowledge, power and Islamic identity in India.”
Dr Alam makes a very interesting point in this interview with rediff.com where he goes on to say that while Madrasa education is important it is essential that it is brought under the control of the state so that education is modernised. Further he also blames the state while saying that when it comes to taking decisions regarding the modernisation of a Madrasa they always stand back since it is believed that it may hurt the Mullahs who control the Muslims-which according to him is a misconception.
A bit about the book:
In an environment where madrasas are increasingly being seen as orthodox institutions that spawn terrorism and religious violence, this book argues that such a focus obviates an impassioned understanding of madrasas as social institutions and how they create and sustain a wide variety of possible interpretations of Islam. It contends that if madrasas are about the dissemination of Islamic knowledge, then they also problematise and compete over how best to approach that knowledge. At the same time, they play a significant role within the broader Muslim society where they are located by providing a degree of social mobility, however limited, to the often poor and low-caste Muslims students who study there, especially in the absence of competent government schools providing secular education.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the Madrasas. Some term it as schools of terror. What are your thoughts on the same?
The argument I would like to put forth is that there is a misconception about Madrasas that they teach the Muslims hate towards other religions. I am putting forth an argument only relating to the Indian Madrasas over here. What one should understand about a Madrasa in India is that it not some school of hate. It is basically internal to the Muslim community. One should understand that there are many groups within the Muslims and with these Madarasas they try and prove that their interpretation of Islam is the best. These groups are in competition with each other and not with the other religions only to have a one up man ship to show that their interpretation of Islam is the correct one.

Are you saying all Madrasas in India only speak about Islam or is there one section which preaches hate?
Not that I know of.

Over the years you may have heard people terming Madrasas as schools of hate and nurseries of terror. Why does this happen when everything is so clean according to you?
There is a reason for this and it is two fold. One the right wing groups tend to associate a problem with any issue pertaining to a minority. Madrasas are Islamic Institutions and hence it classifies as a problem for them and also an object of suspicion. While this remains one part of it the other part is the defiance by a certain sect of the Muslims who do not want the modernisation of a Madrasa. They prefer to remain shut out and this also adds to the problem.

What prevents the Muslims from modernising a Madrasa?
The state wants to modernise the Madrasas and there are also moderate voices within the Muslim community who want the same. I do not see anything wrong with this. Madrasas have to be made accountable of what they teach and how relevant these teachings are to the modern world. However there are a few within the community who don’t want this change and they will keep blocking any such attempts made by the state government to initiate a change.

Is there an accountability among these Madrasas?
There are the independent or the Azad Madrasas which are the problem in some cases. There are however some which are under the board which according to me is not so much of a problem since it is under the ambit of the state government. In the case of the independent institutions sometime there is not enough financial accountability. There is money coming in alright, but it is the community which has the right to know about it and how it is being spent or should be spent. Hence looking at all this one cannot just say that the spotlight on the Madrasas has increased only because of a ploy by certain non Muslim groups.

You said in a lecture that the data of terror activities and terrorists don’t support the hypothesis that madrassas make terrorists.
If one may call the Indian Mujahideen and the Students Islamic Movement of India as terrorist groups then this date is wrong. These two groups have been branded as terror groups and I am not too sure about that. If one looks at some of the attacks that have been carried out by these groups allegedly then one can say 99 per cent of the names attached to these organisations have studied in modern schools and not Madrasas. Hence one cannot say that they learnt terrorism at a Madrasa since all these alleged terrorists have studied in modern schools. Moreover the technological know how which these terrorists have could not have possibly come from a Madrasa. As per my knowledge most of the Madrasas do not have even a computer.

Do you think that Madrasa education is important for Muslims or should the children just go to regular schools instead?
Each community has the right to have a religious tradition of its own and this is a Constitutionally guranteed right. However I strongly am of the belief that Madrasas need to be modernised. However how it needs to be modernised is a very tricky question. Just by adding a few modern equipments and subjects one cannot modernise a Madrasa.

What according to you can modernise a Madrasa?
First and foremost it should be made more accountable and the independent Madrasas should be under the ambit of a board monitored by the state government. As I had pointed out earlier just by adding a few modern equipments a Madrasa does not become modern. Modernisation is in terms of secularism and gender equalityand that comes from modern social sciences classes.

Do you think it would be better if Madrasas are shut down completely?
No I would not agree with that. I would however want to say that this should not become a replacement for a modern school. Let us have a system where you teach your children about religion but ensure that it does not clash with the modern school system. Ideally let us dedicate two hours to religious education and the rest of the time for modern education.

Do you think the Maulanas are the culprits here?
Most religious entrepreuners who speak about the need for only Madrasas do not send their own children to Madrasa. They have one policy which keeps the community backwards and on the other send their children to modern schools. It is hypocrisy. i see Maulanas coming on TV and speaking English whereas that is not what they preach in the Madrasas. Where have they learnt English? Not at the Madrasa for sure (laughs).

Is the data by the Sachar Committee report that just 4 per cent of the Muslims go to Madrasas correct?
That is an incorrect data. I would put it at around 12 and 14 per cent.

Which states have the most Madrasas and why?
Most Madrasas are in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This is due to the collapse of the primary education system. Madrasas have moved in where the states have failed to deliver. Rather than having no education parents send their children to Madrasas so that they have basic education. These two states are the nurseries of Madrasas.

Do you think Madrasas should be brought under the ambit of the Government or should they all be run privately?
There are two kinds of Madrasas one by the board which is under state. What is required is that the independent or azad madrasas also be brought under the board. The azad madrasas run on a very lose structure and this ensures no change is possible. In order to have reforms one needs a centralised structure. The government had proposed a central madrasa board but then the Madrasas opposed and the government gave in. The government would not have done it if it was a Hindu issue. We have a peculiar situation where the state believes that Mullahs control the Muslims. This is false impression. I am making a bigger point and the state has to act like a modernising agent. There is no shying away from that responsibility.

Through your book what message have you managed to convey regarding Madrasas?
The message is very simple. Madrasa students want to change. They want to study modern subjects. There are some who don’t want to change and it is not the students. Madrasa students are hard working and they ought to be given the opportunity and some people don’t let them have it. It is high time they changed and if they want to spread their religion, they have to do it in this world only. In order to do that they have to know about this world .A Father in a Church is as knowledgible as anyone since he accesses higher education first and branches of to his specialisation. Here we have a situation where after you turn 5 you are into relgious text and don’t know the outside world.

Is the Anwar Alwakki pattern of education in Madrasas acceptable to you?
I have no opinion as I have not read it.

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The future of J M Reddy

The problems for Jagan Mohan Reddy have just begun with the Central Bureau of Investigation launching a series of raids against him. It is a well known fact that these raids are not so much as a penal exercise, but also do have some political ramifications where the politics of Andhra Pradesh is concerned.

Let us take a look at what the political observers and Jagan himself say about the sudden turn of events in Andhra Pradesh following a crack down by the CBI based on the order of the High Court.

The big question is whether through these raids the Congress in Andhra Pradesh which considers. Jagan as their biggest enemy managed to push him into the back foot? To an extent yes is what some will argue since the tirade he was on against the Congress has gone slow for a bit since he is too busy battling these cases. Although he appears unfazed and continues with his Odarpu Yatra, one cannot deny the fact that a lot of attention which he would have loved to have given to the Yatra is now being shifted to these cases.

The Congress has however achieved its objective although very temporarily. There was a lurking threat that Jagan would pull down the government, but these raids have put him on the back foot which means that the Congress has managed to safeguard its government till 2014. The raids are more of a message to the Congress MLAs sitting on the fence. The Congress could sense the uneasiness among some of the MLAs who were threatening to join the Jagan camp. In fact there were 32 MLAs who have openly supported Jagan and even attended the plenary of the YSR Congress party held in July. Now with the Congress going on an attack mode against Jagan, it has made these MLAs stay back at least for now and they would wait and watch how the events against Jagan would unfold in the future. Although the loyalties have not shifted these MLAs have at least for now decided to adopt a wait and watch policy.

Jagan too who had decided that it was time to go for the kill has been forced to change his strategy a great deal. He would not want any of the MLAs coming in from the Congress at the moment because any attempt to horse trade would put the Congress on a further offensive. The next move is most likely to be closer to the elections.

His loyalist MLAs who are still in the Congress today are surrounded with uncertainity today. Although they firmly believe that he would come out, they would still want to wait and watch as to what his next course of action would be. Although they would want to cross over, they would guage the situation and find out if they can bargain more with Jagan and also seek an assurance regarding tickets which he has so far refused to do.

The next question is whether these CBI raids have managed to cause a dent in the vote bank of Jagan. Trends that are been coming in from his Odarpu Yatra do not give that indication and his vote bank appears to be intact. In fact most of his followers feel that these raids are nothing but a witch hunt sponsored by the Congress as they fear Jagan.

Ever since Jagan left the Congress the trends have always been in his favour. The media blindly termed him as a giant killer and there was enough indication for the same. All along Jagan blamed the Congress and spoke about the raw deal he was given. However from now onwards he would have to battle in a different manner since the Congress in the months to come will try and give him and his late father a lot of negative publicity. They would go all out to tarnish the image of YSR and his son and this would only mean that Jagan goes on the defensive in a bid to safeguard his image.

Jagan Reddy is seen as a mass leader and there are many in the Congress who feel that he should have been given the top post as he could have single handedly led the party to power in the next elections. However even after coming out of the Congress, Jagan did prove that he is quite the mass leader. His strategy was clear and that was to eat into the vote share of the Congress in Andhra and Rayalseema apart from poach the rest of the Congress MLAs. However today his strategy with regard to the poaching of Congress MLAs is likely to change a great deal. In fact he has already started strategising ever since he got wind of the raids. He feels that some of the MLAs in the Congress may not come along and hence he has started to look for a fresh set of candidates just like how his father did in the 2009 elections. While chosing these candidates what he has been looking for is not mass popularity. The right caste mix is what is playing a major role in the selection of these candidates.

Although he continues to enjoy the support of 32 MLAs in the Congress, he would still look only for 15 candidates to be poached today. He does realise that only these 15 candidates are capable of winning an election just on their own power while the rest of them do need a mass leader behind them. Moreover he also expects that following these set backs most of them may not join him at the end of it and hence he does not want to keep his hopes too high.

Jagan Mohan Reddy however says that none of this has really even affected him or his prospects. Is the Congress trying to say that there is some new discovery? My accounts are clean and if the Congress thought it was not then why all these years did they not rake up this issue. When I was with the Congress they did not trouble me. Why have they raked all this up only now?

The members of the Jagan camp who are touring with him say that there is no change of love where the people are concerned. They know that their leader is being targeted for obvious reasons. Earlier out 10 persons, 8 sympathised with him and today there are 9. The loyalists he has both in his party and also those within the Congress will always stand by him. They have not stayed back for now because they are worried about these raids. They are there only because Jagan wants them to be there. He has the support of 32 MLAs and with a wave of his hand he can pull them out and this would mean the government comes tumbling down.

Although Jagan and his loyalists appear to be unfazed the fact remains that these raids have forced them rethink their strategy. They will need to now have a different strategy for Andhra-Rayalseema and another one for Telangana. Although Jagan has not made an favourable statement for Telangana, he would not like to lose that belt entirely. He would however wait and watch the game plan by the Congress. If the Congress fails to give Telangana before the next elections he is likely to enter into a tie up with KCR and fight the elections at least in the Telangana region. However if the Congress does manage to hand over a separate state then he will whip up an anti Telangana sentiment in the Seema-Andhra belts and try to eat into the Congress vote share.

There has also been talk that these raids against Jagan is likely to bring him close to the Congress. There is a demand by several MLAs that he should return to the party since he is the best mass leader the state has got today. However Jagan would not try and make any such move unless he tests the waters. He has sensed that he has a chance of coming to power in Andhra Pradesh on his own and he would not like to give in without a proper fight.

Anna not a dictator

Justice Santhosh Hegde has become a very popular face at the FreedomPark in Bangalore. He has been leading the protest since the past couple of days and has not budged from his place. Justice Hegde who retired as the Lokayukta of Karnataka after presenting the explosive mining report is back in action today at theFreedomParkin support of the Anna Hazare movement against corruption or for the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Justice Hegde who was pessimistic about the actions by the Government however adds that he has hope that the Government will bend since the kind of support this movement has been getting has really built up that hope. In this interview with rediff.com he says that it is sad to see that people are calling Anna Hazare a dictator. These are desperate attempts after the government has failed to take any sort of action.

Are you hopeful Justice Hegde that there will be a logical conclusion to this movement?

I get the feeling that the government will bend since no one expected that there would be such a huge response to the movement. We have been getting overwhelming support from across the nation and looking at the manner in which things are going I am very sure that the government will bend.

Anna Hazare has been acting like a dictator some say and he cannot impose the law on the government. What are your thoughts about that?

Whoever has said that is arrogant and a fool. Are we making the laws? We are suggesting because laws which are to be made affect the common man and all of us have a right to suggest. If you remember we had a long drawn deliberation process and the government had finally given us a watered down bill. The people are unhappy with it and hence we are making a demand. Anna Hazare is on the right path and his demands are valid and calling him a dictator is nothing but foolish.

The government says that such matters have to be discussed in Parliament and only then a bill passed. The accusation is that the rule of law cannot be imposed on Parliament.

We all understand what the process is. This is a democratically elected government by the people and if the people want to make suggestions then there is nothing wrong in it. Anna Hazare or any of us are not fighting any personal battle it is something that we want to do for the people. Also another thing I would want to add is why did the government not send out version of the bill to the standing committee in the parliament. Now who has violated procedure?

Do you think Anna Hazare has a personal agenda in all this?

What personal agenda? Can you point it out or for that matter can anyone point out what the personal agenda is. I can say confidently that this is just in public interest.

Ammonium nitrate-why the govt. can’t ban it?

A ban on Ammonium Nitrate is sought every time there is a blast in our country. For a couple of days journalists write about the need to ban ammonium nitrate and then the entire issue fizzles out.

The last blasts that rocked India was on July 13 2011 and there was ammonium nitrate found in the explosive. The government has said on various ocassions that it will ban ammonium nitrate, but the fact of the matter is that this substance is almost impossible to ban. The next question that comes to mind is a regulation of this substance. However if you go into the detail you could very clearly come to the conclusion that regulating the sale of this product is also a next to impossible affair.

Terrorists will continue to use Ammonium Nitrate only in the days to come for various reasons and the biggest one being the easy availability. Moreover ammonium nitrate gives an added advantage regarding an ionisation process since it breaks with very low voltage of electricity.

It is tough to put a number with regard to the quantity of ammonium nitrate that is being sold in the country. One could safely say that several thousand tonnes of ammonium nitrate is being purchased everyday.

The irony that the government faces today is whether to ban it completely or regulate the sale. It is next to impossible just to ban ammonium nitrate overnight. The entire farming community would suffer and a fact little known is that ammonium nitrate is very heavily used in small industries. The dye industry, ice candy factory which rely very heavily on this substance will come to a close if ammonium nitrate is used. As an official puts it, “for the incompetence of the security force, the bread and butter of a million people cannot be put at risk.

Following the last case in the month of July the government has once again started thinking about the action to be initiated in the case of ammonium nitrate. Currently they are looking for a proper inventory to check the sale of Ammonium Nitrate.

There have been a series of meetings at the highest levels regarding a ban and regulation of Ammonium Nitrate. On an average a factory would purchase 500 kilograms of Ammonium Nitrate and if half a kilogram does go missing then it is next to impossible to track it. To prepare an explosive a terrorist would need half a kilogram of Ammonium Nitrate and the procurement of this quantity is something that is next to impossible to be tracked. These factories or units which purchase ammonium nitrate do not put to use the entire quantity. One of the factory workers could steal half a kilo and it goes unnoticed. Secondly there could be a weighing error which again does not help in finding the trail and lastly there could be wastage during transport which again makes the issue tough.

The government could consider the following options if it is really serious about tackling the problem. Bring about a ban on ammonium nitrate but also find a substitute more importantly a non explosive one to cater to the industries which depend on it. The ionisation process is also something that could be looked into. Continue with the sale of ammonium nitrate but add a substance to ammonium nitrate which reduces the ionisation process completely so that it stops acting as an explosive. While this may not be a fool proof solution since a terrorist could work out a way to take out the substance preventing the ionisation, it would still mean that his job will be made a lot difficult and he could stop using this substance.

However what one must understand that banning a substance is not what will curb terrorism at the end of it. Terrorists are bound to look for other options to carry out subversive activities and more reliance ought to be given to human intelligence and constant monitoring in order to solve the real issue of terrorism.

Lokpal: What the govt should do

The Government of India may have blinked in the Anna Hazare case and permitted him to go on fast, but will the real issue be solved with this latest decision is the lurking question.

Professor Dipankar Gupta, a fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum in New Delhi feels that the Government cannot take forever to come to a conclusion on this issue. Professor Gupta explains exactly what the government should do now to salvage the situation.

Letting Anna Hazare go ahead with the fast for now is only a temporary solution. Things may quieten down a bit for now, but if there is no decision on the main issue and that is the Jan Lokpal Bill then things are bound to flare up yet again in due course of time.

Firstly the government will need to take up the issue immediately in Parliament and then debate it. It needs to be resolved immediately and they should not take three weeks to settle the matter since the very purpose will be lost then.

According to me the government has acted in the most stupid manner in this issue. If you had asked me three weeks back about the Anna Hazare movement, I would have said that the road ahead was very tough for him and his supporters. Basically by remaining adamant and worse carrying out an arrest the government has behaved in the most stupid manner which has only made his battle easier. What the government ought to have done is give out signals the moment they knew that Anna Hazare would go on fast. Instead they chose to stay adamant and today they are facing the music for the same.

If you would ask me how the movement would be in the days to come, I would say that it is tough to predict the same. When one talks about social movements, at times one never understands the logic and this is no different and hence one would have to wait and watch.

With regard to the Bill, according to me it needs to be debated no doubt and action initiated in very quick time. However there are various issues within the bill which I am sure that even the BJP may not agree to. Although I am in favour of including the Prime Minister and the judiciary, I really do not think that is the crux of the entire issue. Corruption according to me should be dealt right from the bottom level and only once that is done will the real issue of corruption be resolved.

Justice Hegde-we are open to discussion

Justice Santhosh Hegde who has been leading the movement on the Jan Lokpal Bill in Bangalore says that a wrong notion has been created that the members of the civil society are in no mood to even discuss issues with the government. We were always open to discussion, but it is important that even the government has an open mind about the issue.

However Justice Hegde who in an interview recently said that the bill has no meaning if the Prime Minister and the Judiciary are kept out now says that if this issue is the bone of contention then I personally have no issue, although I would have to convince my team members. I can persuade them to drop this issue, but the government should be open to considering the other six issues which they had disagreed when we had our deliberations.

On the ongoing agitation and the tussle, Justice Hegde says that the government behaviour has been shocking. I hope they have realised their mistake and at least get a proper bill in place since the entire nation seeks an explanation regarding the same.

They have not only behaved in a shocking manner but have also murdered democracy. How could a person have been detained even before he launched a protest, Justice Hegde questioned.