Ishrat Jahan: Missing papers were not part of file before affidavit was filed

ishrat jahan- photo, outlookindia
ishrat jahan- photo, outlookindia

New Delhi, June 28: The missing documents in the Ishrat Jahan case were never placed in the file which was prepared to submit the second affidavit in the case. An inquiry conducted by the additional secretary (foreigners) in the home ministry of India had recently submitted a report on the missing papers in the Ishrat Jahan case.

The report stated that the files had gone missing between September 18, 2009 and September 24, 2009. It also states that there is possibility that papers went missing during the exchange between the former home secretary (G K Pillai) and the former home minister (P Chidambaram).

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What is NDA strategy on Ishrat Jahan files?

Pic::NDTV
Pic::NDTV

New Delhi, Mar 10: The Parliament may witness some stormy scenes today as Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh is expected to speak on the Ishrat Jahan issue today. There has been a lot in the news about Ishrat Jahan who was killed in an encounter at Gujarat.

The case has witnessed many flip-flops and the BJP today is relying heavily on the statements made by former Union Home Ministry G K Pillai who had accused the former Home Minister of India, P Chidambaram of revising the affidavit.

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The land tussle at Assam

People fleeing from Kokrajhar. Pic: http://manipur-mail.com/

Several persons dead and 17000 people homeless. This has been the result of the Assam riots at Kokrajhar. There are various reasons that have been pointed out for this incident which range from illegal immigration and also local issues.

The government of India has said that it is a local issue. Former Home Secretary of India, G K Pillai also told rediff.com that it is an issue that is local in nature and it needs the local leaders to sit across the table and sort it out.

The fight between the indigenous Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers in Kokrajhar could well erupt yet again if the issue is not sorted out amicably, sources in the Intelligence Bureau tell rediff.com. It is not an international issue and can be dealt with the leaders within the state, they point out.

The fact of the matter is that this is not exactly a new issue and has been on the boil for several years now. There has always been tension between the indigenous groups and the Muslim Bengali migrants for many years. Pillai points out that the new immigrant issue is not the reason. This is mainly because there are no new immigrants and that matter has been sorted out long back. The Bangladeshis have not been coming into Assam and are settling in other states. Hence that issue of new illegal immigrants is a saturated one, he pointed out.

The violence at Kokrajhar started when a man killed four youth in an area which was dominated by the Bodo tribe. The Bodos as a retaliatory measure attacked the Muslims and this led to violent clashes.

What one can make out while speaking to the experts is that this issue is not communal in nature. It is more to do with the fact that there is a major issue over land and this is why the riots erupted in the first place. It is to do with control of land and Kokrajhar was under the control of the Bodos. It was during the time of the British that settlers from East Bengal started coming into this area. They worked on the fields and gradually started becoming part of the land. Moreover they were able to earn a good sum of money as they were very hard working. Over the years there was a major migration of Muslims into these areas and the population grew by leaps and bounds. During the process the Muslim migrants procured land from the Bodos and over a period of time they outnumbered the Bodos in this area.

While the Bodos at first did not see this to be a major problem and did use many of these migrants for their own work, over a period of time they did realise that a major part of the control was slipping out their hands and also the lands were being taken away by these migrants. This in turn caused a great deal of problems for them.

Since then the Bodos have always targeted the Muslims in this area. Although there is a communal colour being given, it never was the issue. The fight was more for control of land than religion, sources also point out. During those years there was a major influx of Bangladeshi Muslims and the fact that they managed to outnumber the Bodos caused a great deal of heart burn.

Pillai points out that these problems are old and keep flaring up. The handling has been slack and if a proper plan is in place then it would be solved. The IB points out that the issue is social and the clashes for supremacy over land has been going on for a long time now. However clashes of this nature have been on the rise a lot since the 1990s and hence the experts feel that the local leaders need to step in and sort out this issue failing which we will see many more such clashes in the days to come.

How will Congress wriggle out of Telangana storm?

A file pic of Congress MPs from Telangana in New Delhi. Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The Congress in Andhra Pradesh finds itself in a  very uncomfortable position with nearly 40 per cent of the MLAs from the assembly resigning over the Telangana issue. Will the Congress continue to sit over these resignations and dodge the issue or does it have something in mind?

The Congress is aware that it cannot sit over this issue for too long since the protests regarding Telangana appear to be growing stronger with each passing day. Earlier it was being discussed that the Congress may try and save at least one region and that was most likely to be the Telangana region. However now it appears that the Congress has a strategy on hand and has chalked out something so that it could save all three regions in Andhra Pradesh.

The think tanks within the Congress have been discussing this issue since the past one week and have decided to remain non-committal at least till the end of this month.

They have decided to announce a package which would suit all regions. The Congress leadership has realized that it will need to announce the formation of a separate state. Hence they are planning on doing the same before dissolving the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly and then going in for elections. Once the formation of a state is announced then the party really would have no problem in getting the numbers in Telangana during the next elections. The biggest threat for the Congress would then be from the Telangana Rastriya Samithi. Sources in both the parties say that this aspect has been taken care of since in the days to come both the parties would enter into a tie up and then the Congress would announce a merger with the party. This is primarily being done so that the votes do not get split up between the two parties. The people of Telangana would be confused who to vote for once the formation of a separate state is announced. They would have to chose between the TRS which has been fighting for this cause for ever and the Congress which actually made this dream of theirs’ possible. Hence both the parties realize that a merger is the best option when the fight the elections in a sepearate Telangana state.

Now this brings us to the other two regions-Andhra and Rayalseema.  There is a major Jagan wave in these regions and any wrong move on part of the Congress could land them in big trouble. They are pretty sure that Jagan would not take a strong stance on the Telangana issue and hence he would end up being the hero in the Seema-Andhra region. Various polls and surveys indicate that when one speaks about the Telangana issue the big bone of contention has always been Hyderabad. When the people from the Seema-Andhra region speak of an united Andhra Pradesh they have always meant that they wanted Hyderabad. The people of this belt have a lot of investment in Hyderabad and they feel that they may be driven out if Hyderabad is taken away from the Seema-Andhra belt and made the exclusive capital of Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress is aware of this and has decided that it would keep Hyderabad as a common capital. Once this is done it would cool the nerves of the people from the Seema-Andhra belt and the Congress would not lose favour with its voters.

However this could create a problem again for them in Telangana. The people of this region have been saying that there is no question of sharing the capital and Hyderabad is a part and parcel of Telangana. They also quote the former Home Secretary of India G K Pillai who had also made a statement to this effect.

The Congress does realize that the Capital issue could become a problem and hence has decided that it would announce that Hyderabad be the capital of both regions for the next five years. This would basically be the period for those investors to make other arrangements. However the people of Telangana see this as a ploy and at the end of five years they feel that the Congress may end up maintaining a status quo in the case of Hyderabad. The Congress however feels that the people of Telangana must agree to some sort of a compromise formula and once the statehood is announced then they would not argue too much on this issue. The Congress says that it has to take care of the interests of each and every person and this is the best workable solution available to them.

While these issues continue to be discussed, the Congress is also planning on having an all party meeting on this issue. During the meeting the above points would be discussed and a quietus would sought to be achieved on this issue.

Headley’s flip flops, Rana’s silence hurts the Indian case

Photo courtesy: thehindu.com
As the Chicago court prepares its verdict in the Tawwahur Rana case, Indian agencies wait with bated breath for the result. Speaking to some of the persons who have been watching this trial closely, one gets the impression that it has been quite a damp squib. What they have to say is this-“we expected more on the ISI angle to the case and at the start it looked promising. However over a period of time, it started to fizzle out and the case is back to the basic facts which were already known.”

For India, nailing the ISI link is extremely crucial since this appears to be the toughest part of the case. There is enough and more evidence against the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and its players and this is a fact that has been accepted world over.

However it would be a fitting case if both Headley and Rana had spoken with the same steam about the ISI links to the 26/11 attack. Around 15 days before the trial, Rana had confessed that he was an operative of the ISI and it was the agency which staged the entire attack. However this confession was not admitted in the court. India did expect Rana to speak out the same thing during the trial, but he decided to sit mum and await the court verdict on him. Headley too had started off with the same vigour about the ISI, but then completely turned it on the Lashkar towards the end of his testimony.

Indian agencies say that this turn around has hurt the Indian case. If the two of them had stuck to their earlier versions regarding the ISI, then the court would have had something to say about the ISI role. When it comes in the form of a verdict especially from a court in the United States of America it always carries more weight. We know for a fact that not only a part of the ISI was involved in the case. Although Headley claims that only a few majors were involved in it, there is no way in which the ISI top bosses did not know about it.

However India does not want to lose hope in this case. A consultation process is underway to implead India in the law suit at New York filed by the relatives of Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka who were killed at the Chabad House. In the suit they have said that the ISI has long nurtured and used international terrorist groups, including the Lashkar to accomplish its goals and has provided material support to the outfit and other international terrorist groups.

India will pin its hopes on this case since the New York court appears to have taken the case against the ISI more seriously when compared to the Chicago court. The court had issued summons to the ISI officials as well as leaders of the Lashkar. However there appears to be some procedural hassles at the moment with Pakistan deciding to go all out in defending its spy agency. However Indian agencies say that should not be too much of a worry since everyone has a right to defend themselves.

While the consultation process is underway on whether to implead in this case or not, a final decision would be only be taken once Rana verdict is out.

India does have some expectations out of the Rana trial, the conviction of Rana being the first. They would also like to see stringent action being sought against the ISI officials and also the court making an observation on the larger role that the spy agency from Pakistan played during this attack.

Home Secretary, G K Pillai points out that Rana’s conviction would establish the credibility of an ISI link in the case. These papers would then go to the New York court and this would add to the pressure.

At the moment there are two opinions about joining the suit at New York. India does feel the need to speak out its version on the ISI in a US court. However the only danger would be if that court does not find fault with the ISI, then India does tend to weaken its case in the international community. However the opinion is that India should be willing to take that risk.

A final decision can be expected in the next 20 days. Once the verdict at Chicago is out and the case papers are studied, would a final decision on joining the suit come out, sources also added.

What will NIA ask Rana?

The National Investigating Agency is all geared up to question Tawwahur Rana, an accused in the 26/11 case who will be facing trial in the United States of America later this month.

NIA sources say that the questionnaire for Rana would be more on the lines of the David Headley one, but there would be more additions to it once his testimony before the US court is complete.

Although the ISI links of Rana will be the prime focus of the questioning, India would be looking to get more information regarding the role played by Rana while helping Headley undertake his mission in India. This is a crucial missing link in the NIA investigation which is looking into the Headley-Rana link to the case. It has been ascertained that Rana had helped Headley with the travel papers to India, but the other unanswered question is whether Rana and Headley had taken the help of any local elements while they were in India. Headley’s interrogation did not give a clear enough picture of the local link and they would be relying upon Rana to get the required information.

The next part of the questioning would be obviously the ISI angle to the case. Rana has made it clear that he never worked for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. He has maintained that he was working for the ISI as an agent and he carried out the job assigned to him since he thought of it as national pride to work for the ISI. Sources say that when India questions him, they would be interested in trying to find out who exactly were the men in the ISI that he reported to. There is Sajid Majid, Major Iqbal and Abu Qahafa who continue to remain a mystery in this entire case. These men are part of the ISI and they have been mentioned by Headley too. However Headley did not go on to provide more information on these men and said that he was not be too sure whether they had given him the real names while dealing with him. Various attempts to find the right names have gone in vain and India would be hoping that Rana will throw more light on these men.

The road ahead to get the real identities of these men is going not going to be an easy affair. The NIA says that they will have to depend on voice samples heavily and unless Pakistan offers any sort of cooperation it would be tough to crack this aspect of the case. Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik has assured to provide the voice samples and India feels that if at all he lives up to his word it would be truly helpful to track down these ISI agents.

The third aspect of the questioning by the NIA would of course deal with the role of the Lashkar. Although Rana has claimed that he didn’t deal with anyone from the Lashkar, the NIA would still go after this point since a large part of the charge sheet which is under preparation deals with the role of this dreaded outfit. The NIA has not prepared any specific questionnaire on the Lashkar link to Rana as yet. We would wait and see what he has to say at the trial since we do expect that the prosecution will question him about that and based on what he would say, we would question him on this aspect sources also pointed out. Apart from this the questioning would also be based largely on the investigation conducted by the NIA and also on what David Headley had spoken about Rana during his interrogation.

This would mean that the NIA chargesheet would be filed only once the questioning of Rana is completed. The trial is expected to complete by the end of May and India expects access to Rana during the later part of June which would mean a chargesheet would be ready by the mid of July, sources also added. Post filing of the chargesheet, India will try and seek an extradition of Rana and if this does not happen they will have to try him and convict him in absentia like how they would do in the Headley case. Currently it is possible to extradite Rana since he has not entered into any plea bargain.

Home Secretary, G K Pillai says that they expect that the trial would be completed in two weeks once it commences on May 16th and one will have to wait for that result before commenting further on the case, he also said.

Is the Kashmir problem over?

Will this be a reality? Photo by realbollywood.com
The Hizbul Mujahideen one of the leading terrorists forces fighting a battle in Kashmir has been vanquished according to the Home Secretary of India, G K Pillai. The Home Secretary also went on to say that militancy in Kashmir is on the downslide and India had no issues if some of these militants came forward for talks provided they gave up violence.
Is this a lull before the storm or is it a permanent solution to the horrific violence that has been haunting the valley for so many years.
G K Pillai when asked about this new situation says that at the moment it is clear that violence is down. However I cannot say that the situation would remain this way and we are keeping a strict vigil. There is no proposal on part of the Indian government to extend an offer for talks with these militants, but if they shun violence they are welcome to come forward and speak. Giving up arms would be necessary for us to even talk to them, he also said.
The question is whether this lull in Kashmir is intentional on part of Pakistan sponsored militant groups or whether the Indian security agencies finally managed to get the better of them. Statistics go on to show that since the year 1989 nearly 70000 people in the Valley have lost their lives and India would do all it could not to let this number increase.
Sources in the Indian intelligence say that the violence has surely come down in the Valley and there is a great deal of improvement in manning the borders which has slowed down infiltration a great deal. In addition to this, there have also been a great deal of changes in the terror infrastructure in both Pakistan and Afghanistan which have put these Jihadis in Kashmir on the backfoot.
However the biggest problem which these terrorists in Kashmir are facing is the support from the locals which is coming down with each passing day. It is a well known fact that they were able to operate better when there was local support. They always got tips from locals about movement of Indian troops which in turn made it easier for the terrorists to plan their moves. However with a death toll of 70000 mainly civilians in the past 15 years, even the locals realize that they are fighting a losing battle in Kashmir. They feel that it would be better to side with the Indian establishment since on the long run that is what would help them out. There have also been voices within the locals that the separatists are only furthering their own cause and very little is being done to help the real cause of the public.
The IB also points out that it would be too early to say that these terrorist groups have given up their fight. Kashmir is the most emotive issue for them and under the new leadership of Badaruddin from the Haqqani-Al-Qaeda network there could be some new changes. They are breaking into groups and a strong force is dedicated to Kashmir and hence it would be too early to say that the battle is over. For these groups their recruitments and donations from sympathizers would come to a close if they gave on Kashmir since there are many who feel that the battle on Indian territory is a legitimate one.
However another question is that will India’s next move to open up to these separatists work. Professor S A R Geelani, a lecturer in the Delhi Univeristy who was acquiited in connection with the Parliament attack case says that the move by New Delhi will not work. What Pillay has said has also been said by Home Minister, P Chidambaram in the context of the maoists. It appears to be conditional. They should remember that talks when they are conditional always fail. The only way to win the battle in Kashmir is to win over the hearts of the people. If they are sincere about resolving the issue then talks should be held with no pre-condition. This according to me is nonsense and New Delhi should try and resolve the issue with more sincerity.
Pillay however adds that they are watching the situation and India is keen on resolving this issue. However the key is to be vigilant at all times and during the following months when there is a lot of snow fall which would make it easier for people to cross over into Kashmir.
India would however go all out to resolve this crisis and as a first step. The people of Kashmir would now wait and watch whether the offer for amnesty made by India last year would hold good and also would it be implemented. There are nearly 4000 Kashmiris who have crossed over to Pakistan who are now expressing their willingness to return. If the amnesty package works then these men would be allowed to return. However even during such an exercise a strict vigil would be maintained since India would not want some unwanted elements dropping by through the border.